The third attempt to erase the global warming "hiatus"
The fact that the global temperature record was showing a "hiatus" (was not showing any rise) was first pointed out some years ago by the late Bob Carter. Scorn and contempt was heaped on him for his pains. Warmists said it was just a "blip". Not unreasonably, they pointed to previous hiatuses -- such as the long hiatus of 1945 to 1975 (30 years!) -- and noted that temperature rises re-started after that.
A 30 year temperature hiatus while CO2 levels were rising strongly did not seem to embarrass them, despite it being totally contrary to their theory. They just explained it away as due to "special" factors.
But as the current hiatus got longer and skeptics got increasingly irritating about it, they had to do something. And in the best Green/Left tradition, their first response was to lie. They started to declare that various years were warmest, warmer etc. We got such declarations annually. The fact of the matter is that the fluctuations in the 21st century were tiny, differences in hundredths of one degree only -- so were statistically non-significant and hence non-existent from a scientific point of view. But who cares about science when an ideology is at risk?
Riding differences so tiny must have got irritating however, at least to the scientists among Warmists. They knew about statistical significance so ignoring it was undoubtedly embarrassing.
Then Tom Karl of NOAA rode to the rescue. He made large "corrections" to the ocean temperature record and thus erased the hiatus. That attracted such a lot of criticism, including Congressional criticism, that even the Warmist establishment in the Fyfe paper eventually disowned it and reaffirmed that there was a 21st century temperature slowdown, which they again explained as due to "special" factors.
The next attack on the hiatus was by crowing about the unusually large temperature rise in 2015. It actually amounted to 13 hundredths of one degree. Exciting! That it was just the expected effect of the El Nino weather phenomenon was pooh-poohed. But it was ENTIRELY due to El Nino and other natural causes because CO2 levels did not rise in 2015
All the fun so far had been with the surface temperature record, always a slender reed to lean on. In the background was the pesky satellite record showing no warming trend at all.
There has been a slight reprieve from that glowering satellite record recently in that it now shows some rise in early 2016. El Nino has not run its course yet, however, so there is no reason to think that that rise is anything but an El Nino effect. Additionally, El Nino should be followed by La Nina, which brings cooling, so the record for 2016 is likely to rejoin the hiatus. So the Warmists know they can't crow too loudly.
So we come to the latest erasure attempt: by Carl Mears, proprietor of RSS, one of the satellite records. As he himself admits, he has been mightily irritated by people accusing his temperature record of supporting the climate skeptics. He has in fact been expressing irritation with that for quite some years. He has declared several times that he still supports Warmism despite what his own data show.
So he has finally devised a solution to his embarrassment. He has "adjusted" his data. He said his old data had errors in it and he has now corrected the errors, to show some warming -- a warming of 18 hundredths of one degree over nearly 20 years, no less! One hundredth of a degree per annum! If there had been errors in it, one wonders why he rode with the "erroneous" data for so long but let that be by the by.
And the explanation he gives for his adjustments is reasonable in principle, but, as always, the devil is in the details. And the details do contain devilry, as Roy Spencer has pointed out. Carl's adjustments were so bad in fact that the paper in which he described them was rejected as unpublishable by a major climate journal, eventually being accepted by a meteorological one.
So Warmists seem to be back where they were when they first heaped contumely on Bob Carter, saying that the hiatus is just a blip due to "special" factors and warming should resume "real soon now". That is faith, however, not science. Geologically, we are at the end of a warming period so cooling is in fact somewhat more likely. But nobody knows and nobody can know.
The fourth word in Seth Borenstein's article below amuses me: "may". Even faithful old Seth clearly had his doubts about how strong Carl's arguments are
Climate change doubters may have lost one of their key talking points: a particular satellite temperature dataset that had seemed to show no warming for the past 18 years.
The Remote Sensing System temperature data, promoted by many who reject mainstream climate science and especially most recently by Sen. Ted Cruz, now shows a slight warming of about 0.18 degrees Fahrenheit since 1998. Ground temperature measurements, which many scientists call more accurate, all show warming in the past 18 years.
"There are people that like to claim there was no warming; they really can't claim that anymore," said Carl Mears, the scientist who runs the Remote Sensing System temperature data tracking.
The change resulted from an adjustment Mears made to fix a nagging discrepancy in the data from 15 satellites.
The satellites are in a polar orbit, so they are supposed to go over the same place at about the same time as they circle from north to south pole. Some of the satellites drift a bit, which changes their afternoon and evening measurements ever so slightly. Some satellites had drift that made temperatures warmer, others cooler. Three satellites had thrusters and they stayed in the proper orbit so they provided guidance for adjustments.
Mears said he was "motivated by fixing these differences between the satellites. If the differences hadn't been there, I wouldn't have done the upgrade."
NASA chief climate scientist Gavin Schmidt and Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M, said experts and studies had shown these problems that Mears adjusted and they both said those adjustments make sense and are well supported in a study in the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate.
The study refutes the idea of a pause in global warming, "but frankly common sense and looking at how Earth was responding over the past 18 years kind of makes this finding a 'duh' moment," wrote University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd.
Chip Knappenberger of the Cato Institute, who doesn't doubt that human-caused climate change is happening but does not agree with mainstream scientists who say the problem is enormous, said this shows "how messy the procedures are in putting the satellite data together."
The other major satellite temperature data set, run by University of Alabama Hunstville professor John Christy, shows slight warming after 1998. But if 1998 is included in the data, it sees no warming. But that should change with a warm 2016, Christy said. In fact, Christy used his measurements to determine that February 2016 was 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit above the average for the month — the largest such disparity for any month since records were first kept, in 1979.
As far as what this means for people claiming no warming, scientists don't expect them to change.
"I don't know what Cruz, et al., will do now," Dessler said in an email. "I think it will be increasingly difficult for them to claim that the satellite data show now warming, although it may be possible to say that it shows 'no significant warming.'"
The doctored science of global warming
Fraud in pursuit of politics undermines trust in government everywhere
Pure science undertaken for science’s own sake is as rare as a rainbow. It’s certainly scarce in Washington, where the quest for knowledge is vulnerable to the bias of politics. Skeptics of President Obama’s climate change agenda say they see new evidence of fraud. If administration officials are colluding with scientists to cook the evidence, such as it might be, to demonstrate that the planet is warming, the skeptics deserve everyone’s thanks.
Whistleblowers within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) complained last year that a major study by agency researcher Thomas Karl, refuting evidence of a pause in global warming, had been rushed to publication. The implication was that the study was coordinated with Obama administration officials to add to the urgency of the president’s climate change agenda in advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. Republicans on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology issued a subpoena of records of NOAA communications dealing with the study
The inquiry began afresh last month when Rep. Lamar Smith, wrote to NOAA expressing disappointment “with the slow pace and limited scope of the agency’s production [of such records],” which had yielded only 301 pages. Mr. Smith directed officials to broaden their search for relevant documents. He said the committee had received a letter signed by 325 scientists, engineers, economists and other scholars questioning whether the agency had properly peer-reviewed the “quality, objectivity, utility and integrity” of the data used in the Karl study.
Data consist of facts, and facts can be cherry-picked to yield a desired effect. In the NOAA study, researchers found that ocean temperatures measured by ships were warmer than those recorded by buoys anchored in place, and scientists “developed a method to correct the difference between ship and buoy measurements.” Ship’s engines, however, can heat nearby water and produce false readings. By including those values, critics contend, the agency may have effectively erased evidence of the global warming pause.
President Obama’s efforts to “re-engineer” the American energy industry is based on the argument that combustion of fossil fuels endangers the planet, and a rapid transition to renewable power sources is essential. The argument was the basis for the Paris climate change agreement, endorsed by nearly 200 nations. If documents were to emerge suggesting temperature data was doctored to reach an expedient conclusion in the NOAA study, and if White House officials were part of such a scheme, that would be proof that science had been recruited to serve politics. Trust in government would be further eroded.
This would not be the first instance of Obama-era back-channel scheming. Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee issued a report last summer accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of colluding with the Natural Resources Defense Council and other “green” organizations to develop the president’s landmark Clean Power Plan, which will saddle Americans with billions of dollars in higher energy bills for decades to come. EPA officials quietly schemed with environmentalists to write regulations reinforcing their shared climate change agenda. The agency has denied the accusations.
Science must be free from pressure to validate political goals. If findings and measurements are altered to serve a political agenda, the findings are flawed. It’s called fraud, and should be punished.
ACADEMIC GIBBERISH WATCH: WE HAVE ANOTHER WINNER
Take in this abstract from the obviously mis-named journal Progress in Human Geography:
Glaciers, gender, and science: A feminist glaciology framework for global environmental change research
Mark Carey, M Jackson, Alessandro Antonello, Jaclyn Rushing
Glaciers are key icons of climate change and global environmental change. However, the relationships among gender, science, and glaciers – particularly related to epistemological questions about the production of glaciological knowledge – remain understudied. This paper thus proposes a feminist glaciology framework with four key components: 1) knowledge producers; (2) gendered science and knowledge; (3) systems of scientific domination; and (4) alternative representations of glaciers. Merging feminist postcolonial science studies and feminist political ecology, the feminist glaciology framework generates robust analysis of gender, power, and epistemologies in dynamic social-ecological systems, thereby leading to more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions.
Yes, I too was sure this was a parody, but in fact the lead author is the associate dean at the University of Oregon. Do they really sit around and say, “Gee—the gender of that glacier is uncertain to me. It might be a trans-glacier, perhaps reversing course in the next cycle. I’ll have to cross-reference it with my post-colonial epistemology thesaurus.”
Well why not? I notice the recent Paris Agreement on climate change has, among other nonsense, this paragraph:
Acknowledging that climate change is a common concern of humankind, Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity. . .
This is why you get Trump.
Opec has failed to stop US shale revolution admits energy watchdog
The current crash in oil prices is sowing the seeds of a powerful rebound and a potential supply crunch by the end of the decade, but the prize may go to the US shale industry rather Opec, the world's energy watchdog has predicted.
America's shale oil producers and Canada's oil sands will come roaring back from late 2017 onwards once the current brutal purge is over, a cycle it described as the "rise, fall and rise again" of the fracking industry.
"Anybody who believes the US revolution has stalled should think again. We have been very surprised at how resilient it is," said Neil Atkinson, head of oil markets at the International Energy Agency.
The IEA forecasts in its "medium-term" outlook for the next five years that US production will fall by 600,000 barrels per day (b/d) this year and 200,000 next year as the so-called "fracklog" of drilled wells is finally cleared and the global market works off a surplus of 1m b/d.
But shale will come back to life within six months - far more quickly than conventional mega-projects and offshore wells - once crude rebounds to $60. Shale output is expected to reach new highs of 5m b/d by 2021.
This will boost total US production of oil and liquids by 1.3m b/d to the once unthinkable level 14.4m b/d, widening the US lead over Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Fatih Birol, the IEA's executive director, said this alone will not be enough to avert the risk of a strategic oil crisis later in the decade, given the exhaustion of existing wells and the dangerously low levels of spare capacity in the world.
"Even if there were zero growth in demand, we would have to produce 3m b/d just to stand still," he said, speaking at the IHS CERAWeek summit of energy leaders in Texas.
Mr Birol said investment in oil exploration and production across the world has been cut to the bone, falling 24pc last year and an estimated 17pc this year. This is a drop from $520bn to $320bn a year, far below the minimum levels needed to keep up with future demand.
"It's not good news for oil security. Over the past 30 years we have never seen oil investment dropping two years in a row," he said.
"It is easy for consumers to be lulled into complacency by ample stocks and low prices today, but they should heed the writing on the wall: the historic investment cuts raise the odds of unpleasant oil security surprises in the not too distant future," he said.
The warnings were echoed by Opec's secretary-general, Abdalla El-Badri, who said the current slump will lead to serious trouble when the cycle turns. "It sows the seed for a very high price in the future," he said at the CERAWeek forum.
Mr El-Badri said he had lived through six oil cycles over his career but the surge of shale oil supply from the US has made this one of the most vicious. "It is a supply bubble. This cycle is very nasty," he said.
The Opec chief admitted that the cartel has been caught badly off guard by crash, blaming the wild moves on speculative forces with control over 5m "paper barrels" on the derivatives markets. "The fundamentals have not changed that much," he said.
But Mr El-Badri sent mixed signals about the real problem in the crude markets, letting slip that Opec and the US shale industry may not be able to "live together" and that frackers will take advantage of output cuts intended to stabilize the market. "If there is any increase in price, shale will come back immediately," he said.
Contrary to widespread assumptions, the IEA report said Saudi Arabia and the Opec club will lose market share, treading water as North America and Brazil's "pre-salt" basin in the Atlantic account for most of the growth in global output by the early 2020s. Algeria, Venezuela, Nigeria and Indonesia are all going into decline.
Iran's grand plan to reach 5m b/d and regain its place as the cartel's number two is dismissed as "aspirational". It will struggle to add much once it has recaptured its pre-sanctions level of 3.6m b/d. Iran's major fields are 70 years old and need sophisticated technology, yet foreign investors are wary of taking the plunge.
Outside Opec, there will be a steady erosion of output in China, Mexico, Colombia, Egypt, Oman and the North Sea, all chipping away at global supply and leaving the world vulnerable as demand rises by an average of 1.2m b/d each year - hitting 100m b/d by 2020.
China's demand will ratchet upwards by an accumulated 2.5m b/d even as its own output slips, a scissor effect likely to tighten the global market relentlessly from 2017 onwards.
A table showing selected sources of non-Opec supply changes
The IEA report implicitly calls into question Opec's strategy of flooding the market in order to cripple of the US shale industry. Asked if the policy had failed, Mr Birol deflected the question diplomatically.
"I wouldn't could call it failure of this group or that group, but there is a new fact of life: we can produce oil at $50-$60. It is the success of oil industry," he said.
While the Opec strategy is finally forcing frackers to shut down, it has taken far longer than expected and may prove fleeting since private equity groups armed with a $60bn war chest are waiting to buy up the assets of failed shale companies.
The strategy has been prohibitively costly for Opec itself. Annual revenues have dropped from a peak of $1.2 trillion to around $400bn at today's prices, and a large part of this is a result of Opec's own actions.
A graph showing US oil production
The IEA said US frackers have been able to cut costs by 25pc-30pc and even more in the Permian Basin of West Texas. "A year ago it was widely believed that this would happen by the end of 2015 but that view has proved to be very wide of the mark. In 2014 and again in 2015 supply exceeded demand by massive margins," it said.
Much of the confusion is over the US "rig-count", which has dropped from 1,500 to 440. "Oil production has not fallen nearly as quickly as the rig-count alone would suggest," it said.
Russia is perhaps the biggest casualty, given that it is trying to fund a superpower military status and cover half its budget comes from oil and gas revenues. Its output will fall by 275,000 b/d as the old Soviet fields in western Siberia go into decline.
The Vankor, Uvat and Verkhnechonsk fields all boosted growth last year but there is little else new on the horizon. "Russia is expected to see the steepest output declines," said Mr Birol.
A table showing the Chinese oil demand
Ultimately, a fresh oil price spike or just a return to prices of $80 sows the seeds of its own destruction for the industry. It is likely to accelerate the shift to electric cars as the technology comes of age, and the COP21 climate accords start to bite.
That is a story for the 2020s. Mr Birol said it is a "heroic task" to interest anybody in the Houston oil fraternity in climate change
Scientists are ‘exaggerating carbon threat to reefs and marine life’
The article below points out something that I have often reported, that coral reefs are not easily damaged, bounce back well from damage and can be found in a wide range of water temperatures. One lot even bounced back after being hit with a thermonuclear detonation!
I have for some time now been collecting on one site all the stories I see about coral reefs and a browse through that site will show you what I mean. The academic journal article underlying the report below is here
An ‘inherent bias’ in scientific journals in favour of more calamitous predictions has excluded research showing that marine creatures are not damaged by ocean acidification.
Claims that coral reefs are doomed because human emissions are making the oceans more acidic have been exaggerated, a review of the science has found.
An “inherent bias” in scientific journals in favour of more calamitous predictions has excluded research showing that marine creatures are not damaged by ocean acidification, which is caused by the sea absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
It has been dubbed the “evil twin of climate change” and hundreds of studies have claimed to show that it destroys coral reefs and other marine life by making it harder for them to develop shells or skeletons.
The review found that many studies had used flawed methods, subjecting marine creatures to sudden increases in carbon dioxide that would never be experienced in real life.
“In some cases it was levels far beyond what would ever be reached even if we burnt every molecule of carbon on the planet,” Howard Browman, the editor of ICES Journal of Marine Science, who oversaw the review, said.
He added that this had distracted attention from more urgent threats to reefs such as agricultural pollution, overfishing and tourism.
Dr Browman, who is also principal research scientist at the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, found there had been huge increase in articles on ocean acidification in recent years, rising from five in 2005 to 600 last year.
He said that a handful of influential scientific journals and lobbying by international organisations had turned ocean acidification into a major issue.
“Such journals tend to publish doom and gloom stories ... stated without equivocation,” he said. The bias in favour of doom-laden articles was partly the result of pressure on scientists to produce eye-catching work, he added.
“You won’t get a job unless you publish an article that is viewed as of significant importance to society. People often forget that scientists are people and have the same pressures on them and the same kind of human foibles. Some are driven by different things. They want to be prominent.”
Dr Browman invited scientists around the world to contribute studies on ocean acidification for a special edition of his journal. More than half of the 44 studies selected for publication found that raised levels of CO2 had little or no impact on marine life, including crabs, limpets, sea urchins and sponges.
Dr Browman said that the edition had demonstrated that there was “a body of work out there that people had difficulty publishing elsewhere” and that “not every study shows that Nemo is going to be doomed”, a reference to the reef-dwelling clownfish in the Disney film Finding Nemo.
The term ocean acidification was also a misnomer, he said, because it suggested that the oceans could become acidic instead of alkaline.
“The oceans will never become acid because there is such a huge buffering capacity in the oceans. We simply could never release enough CO2 into the atmosphere to cause the pH to go below 7 [the point in the pH scale at which a solution becomes acidic].
“If they had called it something else, such as ‘lower alkalinity’, it wouldn’t have been as catchy,” he said.
Dr Browman, a marine scientist for 35 years, said he was not saying that ocean acidification posed no threat, but that he believed that “a higher level of academic scepticism” should be applied to the topic.
Hoagy strikes back -- rejecting the above claims
Hoagy is the go-to man about coral at the University of Queensland -- and a fervent Warmist. He has come out of his shell in order to hype up alarm about Australia's Great Barrier Reef. He went quiet for a while when his own research showed the reef to be very resilient but he seems to have recovered from that blow, as he has returned to the fray a few times in recent years.
Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg
I was born a short distance from the reef in Far North Queensland so I have heard about it off and on for most of my life. And for most of my 72 years, I have heard of imminent doom facing it. But the doom has not happened. All that has happened is that the reef has gone through periods of death and rebirth that differ from human cycles of death and rebirth mainly in that the coral deaths have never affected the whole reef. And so the reef is still thriving. It is still a major tourist attraction.
Hoagy's reply is below. As you can see it actually does nothing to refute the many research findings about coral survival in all sorts of settings. He just skates around them. Hoagy is losing it.
But maybe he lost it long ago. As I have often pointed out, corals are at their most prolific in the Torres Strait area, Queensland's warmest waters. So how is warming harmful to them? Hoagy has never answered that as far as I can see. The most that warming would do would be a slight alteration to the distribution of species -- and I am sure Hoagy knows that
If you read The Australian or Britain’s The Times this week, you might have concluded that concerns about ocean warming and acidification are all a big beat-up.
Based on a study of the expert literature, the newspapers ran with a line that the marine science expert community has a penchant for “doom and gloom stories which has skewed academic reporting” because we only report the bad bits and rarely the good.
Given that the majority of scientists in this area (including the hundreds working in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change process) do not feel this is the case, what is going on?
Newsflash: the dog isn’t barking
Reporting that a dog isn’t barking can sometimes be as important as reporting when it is. However, if we were to follow the newspapers' rationale, the scientific community should be pumping out endless scientific papers that report that nothing has happened. This would lead to numerous and repetitive studies showing that there is no significant effect (if that were indeed the case).
Print space in science journals is in short and coveted supply. To publish in a respected journal, you need to have something new, significant and well supported to say. In the case of the impacts of ocean acidification, it would indeed be newsworthy if a study reported that a set of organisms was unaffected by ocean acidification (to use our analogy, a newsworthy non-barking dog).
Indeed, some studies have shown precisely that, in the case of some invertebrate and fish species. These studies have received considerable attention given their departure from a literature that is finding a vast number of species that are affected.
This is not surprising. But after several studies have convincingly documented how one group of organisms responds, the novelty, significance and appeal of publishing further papers about those organisms quickly falls away. That doesn’t mean that the observations of no effect have been discarded or demoted in importance. The conclusion of “no effect” will remain until credible studies demonstrating the opposite come along. That is, until a study finds a dog that is barking.
Of course, once we have established that dogs bark, there are likely to be many papers to produce about the significant nuances of dogs and their barking such as the effect of size on barking, how important evening light might be for stimulating juvenile dogs to bark and so on. Again, this the way science produces detailed insight into significant issues like ocean warming and acidification.
Paper weight versus significance?
The importance of an idea is not a simple function of the number of papers. We don’t rate an idea or conclusion solely on the weight of the pages on one side versus another. This is where the newspapers and the original study wrongly assumed that the smaller proportion of “no effect” papers on the subject of ocean acidification was an indication of “skewed academic reporting”.
In reality, the massive and growing proportion of studies showing that ocean warming and acidification have real effects on ocean life shows that there is much to learn and be concerned about when it comes to these issues.
If the headlines from The Australian and The Times were correct, then conclusions about risks associated with ocean warming and acidification could be refuted at every turn. Our projections of the future of coral reefs, based on our allegedly distorted scientific literature, could be safely ignored.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Over the past year or so, many marine scientists like myself have been watching a very large blob of ocean water, up to 2℃ warmer than normal, across the equatorial Pacific and Atlantic oceans. We have been predicting substantial mass coral bleaching across the planet as 2016 unfolds.
At first, you might question our hypothesis and projections – these changes seem to be small changes in sea temperature. Yet we know these small variations can have huge implications. An increase of as little as 1-2℃ on top of regular summer temperatures can mean the difference between life and death for coral reefs.
However, the past, plus a rich and valuable scientific literature, has taught us that these changes are serious. The Great Barrier Reef, for instance, has lost up to 10% of its corals to these warming events over the past three decades. Over the past 25 years, relatively short periods of anomalously high sea temperatures have killed up to 95% of corals on some reefs.
The evidence suggests that we are likely to lose most corals worldwide in as little as 30 to 40 years if we continue to warm the climate at current rates.
The ultimate test is whether the elevated sea surface temperatures (the “warm blob”) translates into impacts on the ground. True to expert predictions, Hawaii and many other parts of the Pacific, including Australia, have begun bleaching on cue – hardly evidence of biased and unreliable science.
And as the year rolls out, we should see mass coral bleaching and mortality across the western Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia and, later, the Northern Hemisphere as the year progresses and the third global bleaching event rolls out around the planet. We should also see the significant loss of corals from many parts of the world.
There is no doubt that this type of information sounds alarming. It is not, however, a consequence of biased or skewed science. Rather, it is a function of the careful build-up of significant ideas to which we would be well advised to pay attention.
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