Tuesday, February 09, 2016

"Mr 97%" wimps out

On 31 January, I put up a challenge to Warmist John Cook.  Cook runs a blog that purports to debunk skeptical challenges to Warmism and is the author of one of the famous "97% consensus" papers. He is much quoted by Warmists and could reasonably be regarded as one of the heavyweights of Warmism -- although he is in fact a young psychologist who has not even got his doctorate yet.

So my challenge stemmed from his claim that he can debunk all climate skepticism.  As it happens, I live only about a 15 minute drive from where he works.  So I invited him to visit me and give me the evidence that would prove imminent catastrophic global warming.

Somewhat to my surprise, he responded -- by email.  He agreed to chat with me over coffee.  I then emailed him asking if it would be OK if I recorded the conversation.  I have not heard from him since!  So we have the situation where a skeptic is not afraid to have his words recorded but a Warmist is.  What does that tell you about who has something to hide?  I think it speaks volumes.

But he is on to a good thing.  He will undoubtedly get rapid promotion to a senior position.  He knows on which side his bread is buttered:  Definitely a young man going places -- JR

Are increases in global mean surface temperature a function of cumulative CO2 emissions?

The summary for policymakers issued by the IPCC in 2013 claims that they are and it has a graph here to prove it.  The graph and associated work was celebrated in "Nature Climate Change" in November 2013.  So are cumulative values the key to proving global warming?  Is it a valid statistical approach? Jamal Munshi below shows that it is not.  You can get similar results with random numbers


Jamal Munshi


Monte Carlo simulation shows that cumulative values of unrelated variables have a tendency to show spurious correlations. The results have important implications for the theory of anthropogenic global warming because e mpirical support for the theory that links warming to fossil fuel emissions rests entirely on a correlation between cumulative values


It is THICK ice that is killing polar bears

Thick spring ice due to natural causes is currently the single biggest threat to polar bears. Not declining summer sea ice – thick spring ice. That could change in the future but right now, the evidence supports that statement.

Polar bear deaths due to cyclical changes in Arctic sea ice thickness in the spring have continued despite rising CO2 emissions and declining summer sea ice extent (last major incident, 2004-2006): there is no reason to expect this will not continue. Unwarranted attention on summer ice extent has deflected attention from this major cause of local polar bear population decline.

Sea ice models do not address past or future changes in spring ice thickness and predictive models of polar bear survival blame all population declines on summer sea ice declines despite strong evidence to the contrary (Crockford 2015: The Arctic Fallacy).
Thick spring ice near shore drives seals to give birth elsewhere because they cannot maintain their breathing holes in the ice (below). This leaves mothers emerging from onshore dens with newborn cubs (above) with nothing to eat at a time when they desperately need food: cubs die quickly, mothers more slowly. Young bears on their own for the first time also die at higher rates than usual.

While some bears die, an unknown portion of the population size change is due to bears moving out of the region to find better hunting.

Despite the hype over September sea ice declines in recent years, the reality is that since 1973, when wanton over-hunting was halted, thick spring ice due to natural causes has been the single biggest threat to polar bears. Over the last 40 years or so, marked polar bear population declines have virtually always been associated with thick spring ice that reduced local ringed seal prey, although in some areas (like Hudson Bay) thick snow on top of sea ice have produced a similar result some years.

Thick spring sea ice conditions have occurred repeatedly in the Southern Beaufort (where numbers may have declined up to 50%, most recently in 2004-2006, but also in 1974-76) and occasionally in Hudson Bay. Historically, similar conditions have been noted in East Greenland.

Fortunately, when sea ice returns to normal, numbers have largely rebounded but where they have not, it’s possible some bears moved permanently out of the area. Evidence going back hundreds of years suggests this kind of population size fluctuation has always occurred and likely always will.

Despite these incidents, global polar bear numbers are higher than they have been in more than 50 years, although exact figures are still frustratingly uncertain after 40 years of research effort (newest estimate, by IUCN Red List 2015: 20,000-31,000).


Bird protection society betrays its mission

The cover of the January-February 2016 issue of Audubon Magazine  proclaims: "Arctic on the Edge: As global warming opens our most critical bird habitat, the world is closing in". In reality, it is the magazine’s writers and editors who have gone over the edge with their misleading reports on the Arctic.

This magazine is so awash in misstatements of fact and plain ignorance of history, science, and culture, that they must not go unchallenged – especially since they epitomize the false and misleading claims that have characterized far too much of the U.S. and worldwide “news coverage” of “dangerous manmade climate change.” The following analysis corrects only some of the most serious errors, but should raise red flags about virtually every claim Audubon makes from the front cover to the back page.

Country-by-Country Deceptions

The first part of the January-February issue devotes pages to each of the countries surrounding the Arctic Ocean. The Finland page says “storms become more severe” with warming. The writers are either clueless or intentionally misleading. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, as they likely did not take Earth Science or Meteorology, and they certainly have no clue about atmospheric fluid dynamics. The pole to equator temperature difference drives the strength of storms. If there actually is more warming in the Arctic, that temperature difference declines, and storm strength becomes less severe – not more so.

The Russia page mentions a familiar location, the Yamal Peninsula, home of one of climate science’s most famous trees. Both the Russia page and the Finland page say that current warming is causing “soggy tundra,” which is certainly not the case in North Slope Alaska, as discussed later in this article.

The Norway page describes the Black-legged Kittiwake and speculates that warming in the Barents Sea attracts herring which feed on Kittiwake prey. The authors are clearly unaware that natural warming and cooling cycles have been occurring for centuries. In the map below (Figure 2), the green dashed line shows extensive warming in the Barents Sea in 1769, just prior to the American Revolution, as derived from the Norwegian Polar Institute’s recent examination of ship logs to determine the extent of Nordic Sea ice. During that particular warm period, ocean currents and weather conditions made Svalbard and even parts of Novaya Zemlya (where the Soviets conducted their nuclear tests) ice-free.

Arctic Sea Ice

 The Greenland page features “Greenland Warming,” with an image of tundra and a glacier in the background. However, only about 80% of Greenland is ice-covered; Greenland was warmer than today during the Medieval Warm Period; and abundant new ice formed in Greenland during the past century. A recent blog post estimates that only 0.3% of Greenland’s ice was lost during the twentieth century, and enough snow and ice accumulated on the Greenland Ice Sheet that Glacier Girl, the P-38 airplane that landed there in 1942, was buried in 268 ft of ice before she was recovered in 1992. That’s 268 feet in 50 years, well over 5 feet a year of ice accumulation, much of it during a period when Earth was warming and Greenland supposedly losing ice.

The cover photograph features a Russian oil rig amid an ice-covered Arctic Ocean. It, too, is supposed to instill fear, based on the suggestion that a once solidly icy Arctic is rapidly melting. However, history shows that the Nordic ice extent has been decreasing since at least the 1860s, and probably since the depth of the Little Ice Age, around 1690. The historic data, shown in Figure 3 below, indicate that multi-decadal variability of the Nordic Sea extent (on the order of 30-45% up or down each time) has been occurring for over 150 years.

Melting tundra deceptions

Toward the end of the January-February issue is an account of a visit to Wainwright, Alaska, an Inupiat village of about 556 natives, located on the Arctic Ocean in North Slope Borough. The native Inupiat desire to maintain their subsistence culture, which has been their tradition since their ancestors settled nearby about 13,000 years ago.

The article on Wainwright cites a 5 degree F increase in temperature on Alaska’s North Slope, an apparent reference to a supposed increase of that amount around Barrow. However, that increase was found to be contaminated by the urban heat island effect: even in Alaska, a winter average contamination of +4 degrees F to an extreme of almost +11 degrees F. In reality, there has been little or no warming in Barrow or the North Slope, as proven by the fact that, a mere four miles east-northeast of Barrow, the Berkeley Earth measuring station shows no temperature change over the past decade.

The caption to Figure 4 (from Audubon magazine) emphasizes rising ocean waters. However, most of Alaska has falling sea levels, the result of the isostatic adjustment of northern North America. This rebound effect began with the melting of the Wisconsin Ice Sheet, as Earth emerged from the Wisconsin Ice Age and entered the Holocene between 15,000 and 10,000 years ago. The nearest tide guage to Wainwright is Prudhoe Bay, and sea-level rise there is very small, 1.20 mm/year +/- 1.99 mm/year – so small that sea levels might actually be falling there, as well.

The Audubon writers mention “melting permafrost” numerous times, but when the natives spoke in 1979, they clearly did not think this is a problem. In fact, in their own words, as recorded in The Inupiat View, the natives specifically note that melt water is scarce in the North Slope Borough. What has happened in the years since?

First, the North Slope has a summer, and from early June until mid-September air temperatures average warmer than 32 degrees F; Wainwright’s extreme maximum once reached 80 degrees Fahrenheit! During the summer months, the soil melts, creating an “active layer,” meaning the surface is not permanently frozen, but is melted part of the year. Whether there actually is a “melting permafrost,” as claimed by Audubon, can be determined only by finding the long-term trend in the thickness of the active layer.

Specialists do study this phenomenon and publish reports on it in the Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring Network, NOAA’s annual Arctic Report Card and elsewhere. Not all the Arctic Report Cards address permafrost issues, but the 2012 edition had an extensive section on permafrost.  A quote from this edition pours freezing water on Audubon’s “melting permafrost” claim:  “Active-layer thickness on the Alaskan North Slope and in the western Canadian Arctic was relatively stable during 1995-2011,” it notes.

The literature seems rife with alarmist claims, many of which seem to be politically motivated, as is this issue of Audubon. The NOAA Arctic Reports have a heavy dose of alarmist rhetoric, especially in the boilerplate introductory sections. But the actual measurements and data present nothing that supports the alarmist polemic of the day. If you look at the data, especially long-term data, the pattern which emerges is a centuries-long slow warming, with multi-decadal fluctuations. Significant or alarming anthropogenic trends are simply not there.

Audubon should focus on real problems

The Audubon Society and its magazine should stay away from areas where they have no expertise – specifically the imagined or invented catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. Audubon’s equivocal policy on wind power ostensibly calls on wind energy developers to consider planning, siting, and operating wind farms in a manner that avoids bird carnage and supports “strong enforcement” of laws protecting birds and wildlife. On the other hand, the same Audubon policy speaks about “species extinctions and other catastrophic effects of climate change” and “pollution from fossil fuels.”

When read together, this schizophrenic policy clearly puts Audubon on the side of climate alarmism – with the loss of protected, threatened and endangered birds and bats merely a small price to pay in an effort to save the planet.


No Dissent Allowed: U.S. Senators introduce amendment to muzzle climate ‘denial apparatus’

A Warmist report below

Democratic U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Ed Markey (MA) and Brian Schatz (HI) introduced an amendment into the energy bill yesterday intended to express Congress’s disapproval of the use of industry-funded think tanks and misinformation tactics aimed at sowing doubt about climate change science.

The amendment evokes the history of notorious anti-science efforts by the tobacco and lead industries to avoid accountability for the damage caused by their products, focusing similar ire on the fossil fuel industry’s decades-long climate cover-up.

Although it doesn’t name specific companies, the amendment is surely inspired by recent revelations about ExxonMobil’s early and advanced knowledge of the role of fossil fuels in driving climate change — which was followed by the company’s subsequent, unconscionable climate science denial efforts.

Just as tobacco and lead companies sowed doubt about the dangers of their products through the use of front groups and third-party experts, so did ExxonMobil — through its funding of a sophisticated network of denialists — work to deceive the public about climate science and the need for political action to end the fossil fuel era.

The most recent and damning #ExxonKnew revelations were published late in 2015 in investigative articles by both InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times in collaboration with the Columbia School of Journalism.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) joined the amendment as a co-sponsor once it was introduced.

“It is the sense of the Senate that according to peer-reviewed scientific research and investigative reporting, fossil fuel companies have long known about the harmful climate effects of their products,” the amendment reads.

“[A]nd contrary to the scientific findings of the fossil fuel companies and of others about the danger fossil fuels pose to the climate, fossil fuel companies used a sophisticated and deceitful campaign that included funding think tanks to deny, counter, and obstruct peer-reviewed research; and used that misinformation campaign to mislead the public and cast doubt in order to protect their financial interest.”

In closing, the amendment lends support to the ongoing state Attorneys General investigations in both New York and California into what ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel interests knew, and when, about climate change risks and why the industry chose instead to attack the science to prolong its profits.

The amendment states the Senate “disapproves of activities by certain corporations and organizations funded by those corporations to deliberately undermine peer-reviewed scientific research about the dangers of their products and cast doubt on science in order to protect their financial interests…and urges fossil fuel companies to cooperate with active or future investigations into their climate-change related activities and what the companies knew and when they knew it.”

The Senate will continue deliberations on the full energy bill this week. Unfortunately, it is rife with fossil fuel industry giveaways, including expedited permitting for liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, subsidies for coal technology and more.

So it’s nice to see an amendment designed to shame, and hopefully stop, industry misinformation campaigns that have delayed much-needed action to usher the end of the fossil fuel era.


Warmists hoist with their own petard

Judith Curry comments on the cutbacks to climate science at Australia's CSIRO research organization

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, CSIRO was the word leader on atmospheric boundary layer research.  In the 1970’s and 1980’s, CSIRO was a leader in atmospheric physics research, producing such scientists as Graeme Stephens and Peter Webster (who both  left Australia for the U.S. in the 1980’s).  Since the 1990’s, CSIRO has done important climate monitoring, and has also done climate modeling research, participating fully in the various CMIP and IPCC exercises.  One has to wonder whether the health of climate science in Australia would be better if they hadn’t bothered with global climate modeling and playing the IPCC games, but rather focused on local climate issues and the climate dynamics of the Southern Hemisphere.

Now that the UN’s community of nations has accepted a specific result from consensus IPCC climate science to drive international energy and carbon policy, what is the point of continued heavy government funding of climate research, particularly global climate modeling?  I have argued previously [e.g. link] that we have reached the point of diminishing returns from the current path of climate modeling.  That said, we still don’t understand how the climate system works on decadal to centennial time scales, and have very little predictive capability on these time scales, particularly on regional scales.

To make progress, we need to resolve many scientific issues, here is the list from my APS Workshop presentation:

* Solar impacts on climate (including indirect effects)
* Multi-decadal natural internal variability
* Mechanisms of vertical heat transfer in the ocean
* Fast thermodynamic feedbacks (water vapor, clouds, lapse rate)

See also my previous post The heart of the climate dynamics debate. It is critical that we maintain and enhance our observing systems, particularly satellites. And we need much better data archaeology to clarify what was going on in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and also some more serious paleoclimatic reconstructions (that avoid Mannian tree ring ‘science’.)

Looking forward to a new U.S. President next year, whether the Democrats or the Republicans are in power, I don’t expect a continuation of the status quo on climate science funding.  The Democrats are moving away from science towards policy – who needs to spend all that funding on basic climate science research?  Global climate modeling might be ‘saved’ if they think these climate models can support local impact assessments (in spite of widespread acknowledgement that they cannot).  If the Republicans are elected, Ted Cruz has stated he will stop all funding support for the IPCC and UNFCCC initiatives.  That said, he seems to like data and basic scientific research.

In any event, I don’t think the current status quo regarding scientific research will continue.  We will undoubtedly see many climate scientists redirecting their research, or leaving research positions for the private sector.  Ironically, circa 1990, the DOE Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program [link] was seeded by retreading nuclear scientists and engineers from the DOE labs to radiation and climate science.

JC message to climate scientists advocating for more funding at the same time they are claiming ‘settled science’ [e.g. Marcia McNutt]:  you have been hoisted on your own petard.  You are slaying climate science in the interests of promoting a false and meaningless consensus.



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


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