Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Science of Deception

I have twice pointed out some of the holes in the recent Marcott paper but the media have made so much of the study that I offer below some further points by Doug Hoffman.  He points out that the authors have used the same "trick" that Michael Mann did in his fraudulent "Hockeystick" paper -- tacked together incomparable data:  proxies for most of the history with thermometer data in more recent times.  In Mann's data, proxies and thermometer data gave opposite conclusions for the C20 temperature trend.  How much confidence does that give us in any paper that merges the two as if they were the same? -- JR

There was much made in the media about a new report that claims modern day temperatures are the highest in 5,000 years. Moreover, the investigators assert that this century's temperature rise is “unprecedented,” echoing the assertions of climate change alarmists over the past 30 years. Various news outlets seized upon this report as final proof that the world is headed for a hot steamy demise because of human greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

There are, however, a number of problems with that assertion. First among them is the methodology used to generate the global temperature history and the comparison of proxy data with instrument data from recent times. This may be science but it is being used to deceive the public into believing that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is a crisis on an unprecedented scale.

Appearing the the journal Science—a publication with a notably biased stance regarding the theory of AGW—the report of a new study of historical global temperatures has reignited global warming fever in the news media and blogosphere

Aside from mostly getting the story wrong—the report did not claim that the present is the hottest time since the end of the ice age—the news mavens were beside themselves with glee. Nothing like pending disaster to help increase ratings and readership. It really is amazing the level of scientific ignorance among the news media “experts” that cover the environment. For them, climate change is the gift that keeps on giving.

The study itself, titled “A Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years,” was authored by Shaun A. Marcott, Jeremy D. Shakun, Peter U. Clark, and Alan C. Mix. Beginning with a bow to climate science convention, the report's abstract is not as bombastic as the media reporting but clearly does obeisance to global warming dogma.

"Surface temperature reconstructions of the past 1500 years suggest that recent warming is unprecedented in that time. Here we provide a broader perspective by reconstructing regional and global temperature anomalies for the past 11,300 years from 73 globally distributed records. Early Holocene (10,000 to 5000 years ago) warmth is followed by ~0.7°C cooling through the middle to late Holocene (less than 5000 years ago), culminating in the coolest temperatures of the Holocene during the Little Ice Age, about 200 years ago. This cooling is largely associated with ~2°C change in the North Atlantic. Current global temperatures of the past decade have not yet exceeded peak interglacial values but are warmer than during ~75% of the Holocene temperature history. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change model projections for 2100 exceed the full distribution of Holocene temperature under all plausible greenhouse gas emission scenarios."

No wonder the warmist media was excited. But should they be? Notice that even in the abstract, the authors admit that current temperatures have not exceeded the temperatures of more than 5,000 years ago, a time commonly known as the Holocene Climate Optimum. In fact, they reinforce the commonly held history of Holocene temperatures, including the Little Ice Age, a cool period that several previous studies have tried to erase. Even more important is how this study was conducted and the experimental limits on its results. To examine these we need to understand something about the use of foraminifera as a proxy for temperature.

There are a number of problems with using foraminifera sediment data to reconstruct a history of ancient temperatures. Here is a quote from chapter 3 of the Global Warming Field Guide by John Weaver, Jeff Braun, and William J. Szlemko, “Measuring Temperature in the Distant Past, The Art of Developing Temperature Proxy Data”:

    "The theory is that these creatures form near the surface at a certain sea temperature, then fall to the ocean floor over time, leaving behind a permanent record of historic sea temperatures – which are loosely related to air temperatures. Unfortunately, settling rates can be variable due to ocean currents and other, lesser, factors. Plus, settling rates are extremely slow for these tiny shells, so there can be mixing of many years before they actually make it all the way to the bottom. In the end, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that sediment layers contain much longer records than do ice core samples. The bad news is that it is nearly impossible to resolve the year-to-year differences that are possible with ice core data. The resolution for sediment cores is more likely on the order of hundreds of years, although the records cover several million years. In this sense, perhaps, ice core data and sediment cores sort of provide complimentary information."

Scientists know that all sources of palaeoclimatic proxy data differ according to their resolution, spatial coverage and the time period to which they pertain. There are several types of uncertainty lurking in the proxy method used in this study, including temporal, spatial and measurment. To start with, the number of samples is fairly small, only 73 scattered around the world, and they vary in quality. The southern hemisphere is acknowledged as being under represented. Then there is the resolution with which the proxy temperatures can be dated.

“The 73 globally distributed temperature records used in our analysis are based on a variety of paleotemperature proxies and have sampling resolutions ranging from 20 to 500 years, with a median resolution of 120 years,” they authors state. How did they compensate for differences in their datasets? “We account for chronologic and proxy calibration uncertainties with a Monte Carlo–based randomization scheme.” they explain.

“In addition to the previously mentioned averaging schemes, we also implemented the RegEM algorithm to statistically infill data gaps in records not spanning the entire Holocene, which is particularly important over the past several centuries.” It seems that their complete record of Holocene temperature contains a lot of gaps and uncertainties that have been filled with estimates and randomness. Far from the conclusive record of global temperatures trumpeted by the media.

In the past a number of studies based on tree rings have gotten things notoriously wrong—for example Mann's “hockey stick” graph resulted from the improper merging of several tree ring studies. “Published reconstructions of the past millennium are largely based on tree rings and may underestimate low-frequency (multicentury-to-millennial) variability because of uncertainty in detrending ... whereas our lower-resolution records are well suited for reconstructing longer-term changes,” the authors claim.

Notice how they include a sharp uptick in temperature at the end of each graph, supposedly those unprecedented temperatures mentioned at the beginning of the article. The only reason they seem so anomalous is that the older temperatures are averages, of at least 20 years and as many as 120 years, due to the inherent temporal uncertainty in the foram data. Modern temperatures, taken directly with instruments, should not be compared directly with the foram proxy derived data. To present an unbiased representation the graphs should all have stopped a decade ago.

“Because the relatively low resolution and time-uncertainty of our data sets should generally suppress higher-frequency temperature variability, an important question is whether the Holocene stack adequately represents centennial- or millennial-scale variability,” the authors confess. What this means is that sudden excursions in temperature during times past would be totally undetectable from the proxy data. To merge modern data with historical proxy data in this manner is disingenuous to say the least and, given the tone of the abstract, might even be construed as intentionally misleading.

What was the hottest year of the Holocene? What was the hottest decade? No one knows, but they almost certainly occurred during the “temperature plateau” extending from 9500 to 5500 years ago. Even by the flawed comparisons made in this paper the averaged temperatures during the Holocene Climate Optimum were higher than today. If the year to year variability could somehow be reconstructed we would surely find many years with much higher temperature spikes during that 4,000 year period of global warmth.

While this study is interesting and useful in its results, it is clear that the authors tried to spin the results into a prop for the failed AGW theory. It certainly had the intended result, news outlets around the world announced the new conclusive proof of AGW causing an unprecedented temperature increase—none of them realizing, or perhaps caring, that the comparison was invalid.

This may be science, but it is science distorted, it is the science of deception

More HERE  (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

The latest U.S.  temperature trend

Swedish blogger Sophia has obtained the official figures for January/February and compared them with equivalent figures in previous years.  She finds a distinct COOLING trend.  Excerpt below

The trend for 1990 to 2013 is - 0.56 F / Decade

The trend for 2000 to 2013 is - 1.13 F / Decade

So the “warming trend” 2000-2013 for Jan-Feb is exactly - 1.13 F degrees a decade.  That is a whopping - 11.3 F COOLER in 100 years. That’s what I call “warming”!

And this is also the decade that the Global Warming Hysterics have been screaming at the top of their lungs, trying to scare us to death, about the catastrophic treat that the “extreme increase” in temperature is to mankind and earth.

According to the computer models that the Global Warming Hysterics love so much, worship and blindly follows (especially our intelligent politicians), it should be EXACTLY the opposite.

And we are supposed to be very worried about a predicted rise of 3-4 F?  But not this ACTUAL trend?


New ‘green’ petrol could drive up prices and damage cars

Britain has signed up to an EU directive which means that suppliers must dilute petrol with environmentally-friendly alternatives.

The oil companies have chosen ethanol, made from corn, which will make up 10 per cent of a new petrol called E10.

Due to be launched later this year it will be available at the pump alongside standard petrol and other green fuels

However, a study today warns it will add around £80 a year extra to the average family’s fuel bill as it gives less miles to the gallon.

The high ethanol content could also ruin the engines of some older cars and motorbikes as it could melt some components,The Daily Mail reported.

The Department for Transport estimate that up to 8.6million vehicles may not be compatible with the new fuel, which is being introduced to cut the use of fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gases.

Drivers may be confused by its arrival on forecourts unless pumps are clearly labelled and they know whether it is safe for their car.

The study by the respected think-tank warns: "The increased use of ethanol in petrol to meet EU sustainability targets is resulting in drivers paying extra at the pump."

Under the EU's Renewable Fuel Transport Obligation five per cent of fuel used in member states must be renewable by 2014, due to increase to 10 percent by 2020.

Oil companies have chosen ethanol, which mainly comes from the US, as this renewable source.

But using ethanol generally cuts a vehicle's fuel efficiency. If the 2020 target of 10 per cent of transport energy coming from renewable sources had been applied in the UK last year it would have cost motorists £1.5billion.

Author of the study Rob Bailey, a senior research fellow at Chatham House, warned E10 petrol is not compatible with millions of older vehicles and could cause corrosion and drivability problems for vehicles of ten years or older.

The green petrol was introduced in Germany two years ago and many drivers decided not to use it in case it damages their engines and because they are uncertain about the wider “environmental and social impacts of ethanol,” said Mr Bailey.

The Government has asked suppliers to delay introducing of E10 to allow time so that drivers can be fully informed and a list of incompatible vehicles can be compiled.

Mr Bailey added that taking farmland out of food production to grow fuel crops also threatens to put up food prices.

The study was funded by Olleco, a business which collects and refines waste cooking oil to be used as biodiesel in vehicles, which Mr Bailey found was a better option to be mixed with fuel than ethanol.


Japan cracks seabed 'ice gas' in dramatic leap for global energy

Japan has extracted natural "ice" gas from methane hydrates beneath the sea off its coasts in a technological coup, opening up a super-resource that could meet the country's gas needs for the next century and radically change the world's energy outlook.

The state-owned oil and gas company JOGMEC said an exploration ship had successfully drilled 300 metres below the seabed into deposits of methane hydrate, an ice-like solid that stores gas molecules but requires great skill to extract safely.

"Methane hydrates available within Japan's territorial waters may well be able to supply the nation's natural gas needs for a century," said the company, adding that the waters under exploration also contain large reserves of rare earth metals.

Government officials said it was the world's first off-shore experiment of its kind, though Japan been working closely with the Canadians. The US and China have their own probes underway.

The US Geological Survey said methane hydrates offer an "immense carbon reservoir", twice all other known fossil fuels on earth (illustrated in pie chart below). However, it warned that the ecological impact is "very poorly understood".

The immediate discoveries in Japan's Eastern Tankai Trough are thought to hold 40 trillion cubic feet of methane, equal to eleven years gas imports. The company described the gas as "burnable ice", saying the trick is free it from a crystaline cage of water molecules by lowering the pressure. Tokyo hopes to bring the gas to market on a commercial scale within five years.

The breakthrough comes after 17 years of research and several hundred million dollars of investment. It could be the answer to Japan's prayers, ending its reliance on expensive imports of fuel to meet almost all energy needs.

The country's trade surplus has vanished since the government shut down all but two of its 54 nuclear reactors after the Fukushima disaster in 2011 and switched to other fuels, mostly liquefied natural gas (LNG).

It imported a record 87m tonnes of LNG last year at roughly five times the cost of shale gas available to US chemical companies and key industries, putting Japanese firms at a huge disadvantage.

Japan's Institute of Energy Economics said methane hydrate could be the "game-changer" that restores Japan's flagging fortunes, acting as a catalyst for revival much like the shale revolution in the US.

The state oil group plans to drill as deep as 7,000 metres below the sea floor eventually, going out in seas with depth of up to 4,000 metres.

Environmentalists are deeply alarmed by new focus on ice gas, fearing that it will set off a fresh energy race in the fragile eco-systems of the oceans and may cause landslides on the seabed.

The risk of methane leakage into the atmosphere could be a major snag. The US Geological Survey says the gas has ten times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide.


Being Green Isn’t Harmless

We all care about the environment. But now we’re going to foolish extremes. And real people are getting hurt.

In conversations with individuals young and old, I’ve run up against a constant theme. Perhaps I’ve tried to explain why a particular green proposal is nonsensical once ill-founded assumptions are separated from cold facts. Perhaps I’ve mentioned that green activists alarm me because they are unelected and unaccountable.

The default, fallback position of good, solid, well-intentioned people usually amounts to: “Well, I think it’s important to protect the environment.”

Yes, we all love the environment. As a gardener and a photographer, few things attract me more than healthy, lush greenery.

But in the political arena, people who claim to be standing up for the environment often use that as a cover for something else. They’re trying to sell us on vegetarianism. They think capitalism should be swept away. They’re nostalgic for a simpler, Eden-like existence. They’re trying to convince themselves that they’re superheroes saving the planet rather than ordinary working Joes.

Or, they’re simply paying the bills, feeding their own machine. All those attorneys on staff at high-powered green groups cost money. All those rent payments for offices in multiple countries don’t come cheap.

When people say they think it’s important to protect the environment, surely we need to reply: Yes, but now we’re going to foolish extremes. And real people are getting hurt.

This past weekend, Christopher Booker, that iconoclastic granddaddy of UK newspaper columnists, published a tour de force titled: Eco madness and how our future is going up in smoke as we pay billions to switch from burning coal to wood chips at Britain’s biggest power station.

It’s a keeper. It’s the kind of essay we need to pass around because it demonstrates beyond a doubt that governments are prepared to do insane things in the name of protecting the environment.

In this instance, the UK is trying to meet emissions reduction – as well as renewable energy – goals. Therefore, its largest coal-fired power plant will, over the coming years, be retrofitted to burn wood chips instead.

In this brave new world that we who care about the environment have created, wood is call “biomass.” Green geniuses have decided that the CO2 that’s emitted when wood gets burnt doesn’t count. They’ve waved a magic wand and decided it doesn’t really exist. As Booker explains:

    "biomass is considered ‘sustainable’, because it supposedly only returns back to the atmosphere the amount of CO2 it drew out of the air while the original tree it came from was growing."

Take that accounting trick and add the bureaucratic ruling that wood is good because it’s a “renewable” source of energy and presto! we arrive exactly where the UK is today. In Booker’s words, most of the wood chips that will be burned at the UK power plant

    "will come from trees felled in forests covering a staggering 4,600 square miles in the USA, from where they will be shipped 3,000 miles across the Atlantic to Britain."

How, in a world in which we’re urged to obsess over our personal carbon footprint, can that possibly make sense?

For good measure, it turns out that huge piles of wood chips are a significant fire risk (the industry calls this “spontaneous ignition” or “spontaneous combustion“). And did I mention that everybody knows that the above plan will double the electricity bills of ordinary people?

The British government – which is responsible for writing the rules and regulations that have brought about this state of affairs – has lost its way. It’s now forcing power companies to do unbelievably dumb things in the name of being green. It’s playing games with an essential service on which lives and jobs depend.

Doubling electricity bills will harm pensioners, those on disability benefits, and impoverished kids. It will cause jobs to disappear. Piling hardship on top of hardship in this manner, pretending that real people won’t really suffer, is not morally defensible.

Even in the name of protecting the environment.


Researchers put pristine Antarctic peninsula at risk

Scientists' activities on King George Island could harm the environment they are trying to study

Men and women wanted for hazardous duty. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Compensations include off-road driving, penguin spotting and no-hassle waste disposal.

That could be a job advertisement for station staff at Fildes Peninsula Antarctic research stations. It's not as noble as the apocryphal advertisement for explorer Ernest Shackleton's expedition in the early twentieth century, which promised honour and recognition, but then some of the site's modern occupants deserve neither, according to a report released last month by Germany's Federal Environment Agency1.

Fildes Peninsula is on King George Island, 120 kilometres off the coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula, and just across the Drake Passage from Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Because the island lies so far north compared with the rest of the region, it hosts one of the most diverse collections of life in Antarctica.

Six research stations crowd Fildes Peninsula, operated by Chile, China, Russia and Uruguay. The report's authors surveyed the Fildes Peninsula and human activity there from 2003–06 and again in 2008–12, and identified numerous and systematic violations of the Antarctic environmental protocol, which sets out basic principles for all human activities in the region.

Although some 27,000 tourists visited Antarctica last year, the report estimates that scientists have a larger impact on the Fildes Peninsula.

“It caught my attention that it’s scientists,” says environmental toxicologist Gustavo Chiang of the University of Concepci√≥n in Chile, who does fieldwork on Fildes Peninsula. Most researchers are careful not to damage the fragile environment they work in, Chiang says, but he has seen a few dispose of waste improperly or leave students unattended.

Such carelessness undermines the very raw material that scientists are there to study, the report says. Damaging activities cited in the report include the quarrying of rock from ancient beach ridges over an area of more than 5 hectares, which could contain fossils or clues about past climate change, and construction activity that has displaced Antarctic tern nesting grounds.
Research impact

One of the authors of the report, ecologist Hans-Ulrich Peter of Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany, and his colleagues have noted in a previous study how the high density of research stations and uncoordinated activity on the peninsula interferes with data collection and the environment2.

German scientists have advocated naming part of the peninsula an Antarctic Specially Managed Area (ASMA), which would mean that any new human activity there would require the prior approval of all parties to the Antarctic Treaty.

Under the Antarctic environmental protocol, individual countries already agree to conduct environmental assessments before they construct anything new in Antarctica, but they do not need to consult other countries before they build. And the protocol's liability annex, which would establish penalties for violations, remains unratified. Chile has plans to expand its airport on the peninsula, for instance, which would require foreign approval if the peninsula became an ASMA.

The next opportunity to tackle the waste problem will be the Antarctic Treaty meeting is in Brussels in May, when Germany could convert the report into a working paper for discussion.

Victor Pomelov, the Russian Antarctic Expedition's delegate to the Committee for Environmental Protection, says that the German report “will be useful for the development of joint actions to protect the environment”.

He explains that Antarctic stations that were built before the signing of the environmental protocol in 1991 have difficulty with old landfills and historical waste disposal. “It is important that the process of waste disposal is carried out systematically,” he says, adding that the Russian government plans to use a new ship to transport waste away from the region.

Pomelov’s Chilean counterpart, Ver√≥nica Vallejos, says that Chile has banned at least three scientists from returning to its Antarctic installations, including one for driving off-road. There is a high turnover of staff at the bases, she says, and despite pre-trip briefings, “It’s very difficult for them to internalize all the Antarctic environmental protection information.”




Preserving the graphics:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here


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