Sunday, September 07, 2014
Big Al to the rescue
Whatever Happened to Global Warming?
Now come climate scientists' implausible explanations for why the 'hiatus' has passed the 15-year mark?
On Sept. 23 the United Nations will host a party for world leaders in New York to pledge urgent action against climate change. Yet leaders from China, India and Germany have already announced that they won't attend the summit and others are likely to follow, leaving President Obama looking a bit lonely. Could it be that they no longer regard it as an urgent threat that some time later in this century the air may get a bit warmer?
In effect, this is all that's left of the global-warming emergency the U.N. declared in its first report on the subject in 1990. The U.N. no longer claims that there will be dangerous or rapid climate change in the next two decades. Last September, between the second and final draft of its fifth assessment report, the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change quietly downgraded the warming it expected in the 30 years following 1995, to about 0.5 degrees Celsius from 0.7 (or, in Fahrenheit, to about 0.9 degrees, from 1.3).
Even that is likely to be too high. The climate-research establishment has finally admitted openly what skeptic scientists have been saying for nearly a decade: Global warming has stopped since shortly before this century began.
First the climate-research establishment denied that a pause existed, noting that if there was a pause, it would invalidate their theories. Now they say there is a pause (or "hiatus"), but that it doesn't after all invalidate their theories.
Alas, their explanations have made their predicament worse by implying that man-made climate change is so slow and tentative that it can be easily overwhelmed by natural variation in temperature—a possibility that they had previously all but ruled out.
When the climate scientist and geologist Bob Carter of James Cook University in Australia wrote an article in 2006 saying that there had been no global warming since 1998 according to the most widely used measure of average global air temperatures, there was an outcry. A year later, when David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London made the same point, the environmentalist and journalist Mark Lynas said in the New Statesman that Mr. Whitehouse was "wrong, completely wrong," and was "deliberately, or otherwise, misleading the public."
We know now that it was Mr. Lynas who was wrong. Two years before Mr. Whitehouse's article, climate scientists were already admitting in emails among themselves that there had been no warming since the late 1990s. "The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998," wrote Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia in Britain in 2005. He went on: "Okay it has but it is only seven years of data and it isn't statistically significant."
If the pause lasted 15 years, they conceded, then it would be so significant that it would invalidate the climate-change models upon which policy was being built. A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) written in 2008 made this clear: "The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more."
Well, the pause has now lasted for 16, 19 or 26 years—depending on whether you choose the surface temperature record or one of two satellite records of the lower atmosphere. That's according to a new statistical calculation by Ross McKitrick, a professor of economics at the University of Guelph in Canada.
It has been roughly two decades since there was a trend in temperature significantly different from zero. The burst of warming that preceded the millennium lasted about 20 years and was preceded by 30 years of slight cooling after 1940.
This has taken me by surprise. I was among those who thought the pause was a blip. As a "lukewarmer," I've long thought that man-made carbon-dioxide emissions will raise global temperatures, but that this effect will not be amplified much by feedbacks from extra water vapor and clouds, so the world will probably be only a bit more than one degree Celsius warmer in 2100 than today. By contrast, the assumption built into the average climate model is that water-vapor feedback will treble the effect of carbon dioxide.
But now I worry that I am exaggerating, rather than underplaying, the likely warming.
Most science journalists, who are strongly biased in favor of reporting alarming predictions, rather than neutral facts, chose to ignore the pause until very recently, when there were explanations available for it. Nearly 40 different excuses for the pause have been advanced, including Chinese economic growth that supposedly pushed cooling sulfate particles into the air, the removal of ozone-eating chemicals, an excess of volcanic emissions, and a slowdown in magnetic activity in the sun.
The favorite explanation earlier this year was that strong trade winds in the Pacific Ocean had been taking warmth from the air and sequestering it in the ocean. This was based on a few sketchy observations, suggesting a very tiny change in water temperature—a few hundredths of a degree—at depths of up to 200 meters.
Last month two scientists wrote in Science that they had instead found the explanation in natural fluctuations in currents in the Atlantic Ocean. For the last 30 years of the 20th century, Xianyao Chen and Ka-Kit Tung suggested, these currents had been boosting the warming by bringing heat to the surface, then for the past 15 years the currents had been counteracting it by taking heat down deep.
The warming in the last three decades of the 20th century, to quote the news release that accompanied their paper, "was roughly half due to global warming and half to the natural Atlantic Ocean cycle." In other words, even the modest warming in the 1980s and 1990s—which never achieved the 0.3 degrees Celsius per decade necessary to satisfy the feedback-enhanced models that predict about three degrees of warming by the end of the century—had been exaggerated by natural causes. The man-made warming of the past 20 years has been so feeble that a shifting current in one ocean was enough to wipe it out altogether.
Putting the icing on the cake of good news, Xianyao Chen and Ka-Kit Tung think the Atlantic Ocean may continue to prevent any warming for the next two decades. So in their quest to explain the pause, scientists have made the future sound even less alarming than before. Let's hope that the United Nations admits as much on day one of its coming jamboree and asks the delegates to pack up, go home and concentrate on more pressing global problems like war, terror, disease, poverty, habitat loss and the 1.3 billion people with no electricity.
Recovered data from the 1960s reveal big variations in ice cover at the poles
In 1964, the Beatles took the world by storm, Lyndon Johnson won his second term as President—and NASA launched the first of seven Nimbus spacecraft to study Earth from space.
Fifty years later, experts at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder are recovering long-lost images from old Nimbus data tapes and black and white film, and finding treasures in the pictures.
“By extending the satellite record back to the 1960s, we can understand more about the history and natural variability in things like sea ice extent in the Arctic, and the Antarctic,” said David Gallaher, technical services manager at NSIDC. The modern satellite record of sea ice goes back only to 1979.
In the Arctic, sea ice extent was larger in the 1960s than it is these days, on average. “It was colder, so we expected that,” Gallaher said. What the researchers didn’t expect were “enormous holes” in the sea ice, currently under investigation. “We can’t explain them yet,” Gallaher said.
“And the Antarctic blew us away,” he said. In 1964, sea ice extent in the Antarctic was the largest ever recorded, according to Nimbus image analysis. Two years later, there was a record low for sea ice in the Antarctic, and in 1969 Nimbus imagery, sea ice appears to have reached its maximum extent earliest on record.
When NASA launched Nimbus-1 50 years ago, the agency’s key goals were to test instruments that could capture images of clouds and other meteorological features, Gallaher said.
The Nimbus satellites dished up such excellent observations, NASA eventually handed over key technologies to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), for use in weather forecasting, including hurricane forecasts.
But even with such success, data tapes and film that recorded Nimbus observations slipped through the cracks.
“At the time, the satellites’ real-time observations, including clouds, for example, were what people wanted most of all, for weather forecasting,” Gallaher said.
He and colleagues with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, tracked down old Nimbus film to a NOAA facility in Suitland Maryland, where they were stored for about 25 years, and then Asheville, North Carolina. There, hundreds of 35-millimeter film reels lay in an old storage facility.
With funding from NASA, the researchers located and made operational an old film reader that could digitize the images. The team figured out how to determine geographic location for each image, given the orbit of the satellite. And they’ve now made more than 250,000 images public.
Denton, Texas City Council Rejects Fracking Ban
The city council of Denton, Texas rejected a proposed citywide ban on producing oil and natural gas through hydraulic fracturing techniques. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, entails injecting water, sand, and small amounts of other chemicals deep underground under high pressure to open seams in rock formations, thereby releasing oil and gas deposits for production.
Denton sits atop the Barnett shale formation, one of the most productive natural gas deposits in the nation.
Had the ban passed, it would have been historic, making Denton, a city of 121,000 people, the first Texas city to ban fracking. Having failed at the city council level, anti-fracking activists have put a fracking ban on the November ballot. To do so, the activists produced a petition signed by fewer than 2,000 people.
EPA Finds No Pollution
Frack-Free Denton, the group behind the petition, claims fracking jeopardizes the environment and can threaten human health. Federal, state, and local officials have tested thousands of water sites throughout the country near fracking sites. President Obama’s former EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, has repeatedly admitted under oath EPA has never identified a single instance of the fracking process polluting groundwater.
Gary Stone, vice-president of engineering for Five States Energy Capital, said, “Study after study shows fracking results in no health threats either from the process itself or from the production of oil and natural gas. If oil and gas production caused significant health problems, we should expect to see people in the Permian basin and Midland and Odessa constantly walking around in gas masks, if not full hazmat gear.”
Threatening Economic Opportunity
Should the voters approve the ban, Denton will have to forgo the billions of dollars in salaries, economic development, and tax revenue provided by oil and natural gas production.
“These unfounded concerns threaten not only tax revenues for the city, county, and state, but royalty payments to landowners as well,” Stone noted.
Kathleen White, director of the Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, agreed a fracking ban would be economically calamitous for Denton.
“A recent report by the Perryman Group estimated if Denton were to ban fracking, this would cost the city over 2,000 jobs and $254.1 million over the next 10 years,” said White.
Anti-fracking activists are hopeful about victory in the November election, while energy supporters express strong confidence voters will reject the ban.
Neither side, however, expects the vote to be the final word on the matter. If the ban passes, landowners, energy producers, and other groups will likely challenge the city’s authority to ban a practice authorized and regulated by the state. If the ban is rejected, anti-fracking activists and environmental groups will likely follow the example of activists in other states and take to the courts to challenge fracking.
How global warming policies have led to global insecurity
Global warming policies abet terrorism and global insecurity. If Western governments weren’t spooked by global warming, ISIS would be less of a threat to the West, the Middle East would be less of a cauldron of hate, Europe wouldn’t be held hostage by Russia and China wouldn’t be threatening its neighbours over islands in the South and East China Seas.
Over the last two decades, global warming activists succeeded in slowing the development of the oil sands, blocking major pipelines like Keystone XL, phasing out coal plants and banning shale gas and oil projects. Without their activism, the Western world would have years ago not only become self-sufficient in fossil fuels, it would have become an exporter. Even with the roadblocks, the U.S. managed a miraculous transformation — once the world’s largest energy importer, it is now becoming a major exporter. Only Europe among the Western continents remains subject to dictates from energy exporters, most of them from unsavoury and hostile areas such as the Middle East, Russia and Venezuela.
Had the West earlier become a major energy exporter, these hostile economies would have lost their chief markets and the bulk of their revenues, particularly since prices would also have collapsed in a world awash in energy. Russia, for example, relies on energy for 30% of its GDP, Venezuela for 33%, some Middle East countries for more than 50%. Their economies would have retrenched, unable to finance social services at home let alone military adventures abroad. Their regimes would have focused on self-preservation rather than spreading ideologies abroad.
Funders of Islamic terrorism would have been strapped for cash
In a world of low-cost, plentiful energy, ISIS could never have emerged as a major threat. This ultimate-Islamic-terror group largely relies on generous grants from energy-exporters like Qatar, a Muslim Brotherhood-friendly emirate, and on sales from its own oil fields, captured in battle. Without global warming dogma, neither of these revenue sources would have taken ISIS far.
Likewise Iran, Qatar’s rival for the title of No. 1 funder of Islamic terrorism, would have been strapped for cash. It would have been unable to bankroll such notables in the region’s terrorist gallery as Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Assad in Syria, not to mention their terror cells in the West.
Russia would also have been sapped of strength and unable to threaten its neighbours, much as occurred in the 1980s, when the USSR’s failed economy led to its breakup and the release from its grasp of Ukraine and the rest of eastern Europe. The potent Putin we created would instead have been Putin the Impotent.
China, too, would have been less belligerent with its neighbours. Its territorial disputes with Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam often focus on barren islands — sometimes mere outcroppings — in the East and South China Seas. Their value lies mostly in the prospect that oil and gas will be found in their offshore waters. That value would greatly diminish, along with the logic of going to war for them, if energy became cheap and plentiful.
Ironically, the environmentalists who pushed global warming policies on the West thought they would be enhancing global security. Wars — particularly those in the Middle East — stemmed from the West’s desire for oil, they argued. By getting the West off oil and onto CO2-free renewables, the West would lose its lust for the Middle East’s energy resources, ushering in a new era of peace.
They were half right — it did make sense to rid the West of dependence on Middle East energy. And half wrong — the alternative to oil and gas from the Middle East was not renewable energy but oil and gas from Western countries. And they were entirely misguided — contrary to their claims, the planet has not warmed in almost 20 years now.
Today, most Western governments are reining in their global warming policies, slashing their ruinously expensive subsidies to renewables and aggressively developing fossil fuels. All that the global warming scare accomplished was to make people pay with their pocketbooks — tens of millions of Europeans now suffer “fuel poverty,” the household term in Europe for those who now can’t afford to pay their power bills — and to increase wars, terrorism and global insecurity.
Global Warming Democrats Invite Election Backlash
Recent polling numbers may induce Republicans on the November ballot to turn certain Democrats’ obsession with global warming into a Republican weapon, slamming Democrats for ignoring much more important issues.
Several Democratic politicians and funding groups are attempting to make global warming a key issue in the November elections even though the public considers global warming a very low priority. To date, Republicans in such elections have assumed a low-key approach, trusting the global warming attacks will not find much political traction. Recent polling numbers, however, may induce Republicans to be bolder on the issue.
In mid-August, Gallup asked over 1,000 American adults the following open-ended question: “What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?” Gallup listed the top 12 responses, which accounted for 99 percent of the answers. Global warming did not make the list. If any of the 1,032 American adults answered global warming, the response failed to reach even the 1 percent threshold.
In another poll released just last week, the Pew Research Center and USA Today presented over 1,500 American adults with a list of nine potential threats to the United States and asked the respondents to indicate which ones they consider to be “major threats.” Global warming ranked dead last among Republicans and Independents, but first among Democrats.
Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer – who ironically made his fortune by bankrolling coal projects – is spearheading a $100 million effort to produce and air campaign ads targeting Republicans who will not sign on to global warming alarmism. There has been little Republican pushback as yet, but the recent polling data appear to offer an opportunity to turn on its head the Democratic narrative that Republicans are out of touch on global warming.
Six years after the 2008 elections, the economy continues to be stuck in neutral, at best. Obamacare failed to deliver on its promises and even most Democrats say it needs fixing. Gasoline and electricity prices have soared to all-time records. The Russian foreign relations “Reset” button appears to have been a cleverly disguised “Reconquer” button. The Middle East is an utter mess. Terrorism appears on the upswing again with the rapid emergence of ISIS. Iran continues on its path toward a nuclear weapon. Yet a hefty number of Democrats say the real issue on which American leaders should focus is global warming.
Steyer is pulling out all the stops to assist incumbent U.S. Democratic Senators Mark Udall (Colorado) and Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire). He is also pouring money into the Bruce Braley (Iowa) and Gary Peters (Michigan) election efforts. At the state level, Steyer is giving financial muscle to Charlie Crist’s attempt to make global warming a decisive issue in the Florida gubernatorial race.
At what point do Cory Gardner in Colorado and Scott Brown in New Hampshire ask, “What the heck are Mark Udall and Jeanne Shaheen doing spending so much time, money, and attention on global warming while they ignore or have screwed up the national economy, healthcare, energy prices, and foreign policy?”
The Joni Ernst campaign or a pro-Ernst political action committee could produce a very powerful campaign ad saying, “Bruce Braley seeks election to the Senate because he thinks global warming is our most pressing concern. Joni Ersnt seeks to revive the economy and restore American power and respect around the world.”
The polling numbers are clear, compelling, and begging Republicans to fire back on certain Democrats’ global warming obsession. Charlie Crist, Gary Peters, and other global warming Democrats should be very worried.
An Australian senator with his head in the clouds
But he's a Greenie so what do you expect?
GREENS senator Peter Whish-Wilson has been condemned for suggesting Islamic State fighters should not be described as “terrorists” because Australian forces could also be viewed by some as terrorists.
The Tasmanian senator, in a speech to parliament, claimed that describing the militants as terrorists “demonises people” and “implies a very one-sided view of the world”.
“I think we need to find better words than ‘terrorist’ and ‘terrorism’ because, to me, this implies a very one-sided view of the world,” Senator Whish-Wilson told the upper house on Monday night.
“Often our forces could be seen by Iraqi civilians as being terrorists.
“Anything that creates terror is, by definition, terrorism. We use that word because it is a very simple word to use and it demonises people.”
The Greens have opposed military intervention against Islamic State fighters in northern Iraq, calling on the government to seek parliamentary consent for any deployment.
Liberal MP Andrew Nikolic, a former commander of Australian forces in southern Iraq, accused Senator Whish-Wilson of “playing ideological, peripheral word games” while civilians face danger.
“While Peter Whish-Wilson is playing word games, thousands of people are dying in Syria at the hands of what should properly be described as a barbaric and evil organisation,” Mr Nikolic told The Australian.
Note further: In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is having a shot at Peter Whishy-washy Wilson. Wilson has had such a charmed and privileged life that he has obviously developed no feeling for the fact that nasty things sometimes happen to people. He became a Green only when there was a threat of a pulp mill being built next door to his family farm
For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.
Preserving the graphics: Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere. But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases. After that they no longer come up. 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 or here
Posted by JR at 12:48 AM