Saturday, March 03, 2007


Simultaneous warming on Earth and Mars suggests that our planet's recent climate changes have a natural-and not a human-induced-cause, according to one scientist's controversial theory. Earth is currently experiencing rapid warming, which the vast majority of climate scientists says is due to humans pumping huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Mars, too, appears to be enjoying more mild and balmy temperatures. In 2005 data from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions revealed that the carbon dioxide "ice caps" near Mars's south pole had been diminishing for three summers in a row. Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of the St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, says the Mars data is evidence that the current global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun. "The long-term increase in solar irradiance is heating both Earth and Mars," he said.

Abdussamatov believes that changes in the sun's heat output can account for almost all the climate changes we see on both planets. Mars and Earth, for instance, have experienced periodic ice ages throughout their histories. "Man-made greenhouse warming has made a small contribution to the warming seen on Earth in recent years, but it cannot compete with the increase in solar irradiance," Abdussamatov said.

By studying fluctuations in the warmth of the sun, Abdussamatov believes he can see a pattern that fits with the ups and downs in climate we see on Earth and Mars. Abdussamatov's work, however, has not been well received by other climate scientists. "His views are completely at odds with the mainstream scientific opinion," said Colin Wilson, a planetary physicist at England's Oxford University. "And they contradict the extensive evidence presented in the most recent IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report." Amato Evan, a climate scientist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, added that "the idea just isn't supported by the theory or by the observations."

The conventional theory is that climate changes on Mars can be explained primarily by small alterations in the planet's orbit and tilt, not by changes in the sun. "Wobbles in the orbit of Mars are the main cause of its climate change in the current era," Oxford's Wilson explained. All planets experience a few wobbles as they make their journey around the sun.

Earth's wobbles are known as Milankovitch cycles and occur on time scales of between 20,000 and 100,000 years. These fluctuations change the tilt of Earth's axis and its distance from the sun and are thought to be responsible for the waxing and waning of ice ages on Earth. Mars and Earth wobble in different ways, and most scientists think it is pure coincidence that both planets are between ice ages right now. "Mars has no moon, which makes its wobbles much larger, and hence the swings in climate are greater too," Wilson said.

Perhaps the biggest stumbling block in Abdussamatov's theory is his dismissal of the greenhouse effect, in which atmospheric gases such as carbon dioxide help keep heat trapped near the planet's surface. He claims that carbon dioxide has only a small influence on Earth's climate and virtually no influence on Mars. But "without the greenhouse effect there would be very little, if any, life on Earth, since our planet would pretty much be a big ball of ice," said Evan, of the University of Wisconsin.

Most scientists now fear that the massive amount of carbon dioxide humans are pumping into the air will lead to a catastrophic rise in Earth's temperatures, dramatically raising sea levels as glaciers melt and leading to extreme weather worldwide. Abdussamatov remains contrarian, however, suggesting that the sun holds something quite different in store. "The solar irradiance began to drop in the 1990s, and a minimum will be reached by approximately 2040," Abdussamatov said. "It will cause a steep cooling of the climate on Earth in 15 to 20 years."


Proof that warming in Western Australia is all about the sun

Post lifted from Gust of Hot Air

I promised you some good analysis on Southern Pilbara (central-west Western Australia) yesterday when I analysed the temperatures and I keep to my promise so here it is:

Yesterday we came up with the very unusual result that despite the fact that there was no significant increases in temperature from 9pm to 6am in southern Pilbara - and not even any recogniseable patterns - we found that the area recorded a significant increase in minimum temperature. This is very surprising. We also found that in the area temperatures were significantly higher from 9am thru to 3pm when the sun is at it's hottest.

At first look it's quite clear that the reason southern Pilbara is heating up is solely due to the sun. The sun is just getting damned hotter. So why the increase in minimum temperatures, especially when there is no difference in temperatures throughout the night?

I decided to have a look at the differences in temperature anomalies for neighboring times over the years. In other words, I looked at the temperature anomalies for Midnight minus 9pm. As previously noted, 9pm doesn't have a lot of data for Southern Pilbara so it is hard to find a pattern, and the statistics suggest no difference (t = 0.24, p = 0.81). In other words, Midnight has not been heating up at a quicker rate than 9pm over the years in Southern Pilbara.

The same goes for 3am minus Midnight, only this time we have a good amount of data. There is no pattern. Temperatuers at 3am have not been heating up quicker or slower than Midnight over the years (t = 1.4, p = 0.15).

But wow, look at this. When looking at 6am minus 3am, we find that temperatures have increased at a significantly higher rate at 6am than 3am (t = 5.3, p < 0.01). Keeping in mind that we did not find a significant increase in temperature at 6am, however we have found that the temperature increase at 6am is significantly greater than 3am. This has occurred with especial magnitude in the last 10 years as shown in the graph.

And a similar pattern occurs when looking at the 9am - 6am anomalies. A significant increase occurs (t = 6.04, p < 0.01). With temperatures increasing on average 0.5 degrees more in the past 10 years. If you look at the 6am and 9am graphs, this makes sence, as in the last 10 years 6am was about average temperature whilst 9am temperatures were about 0.5 degrees above the norm.

Surprisingly this is where the large boom stops. Analysis of Noon minus 9am temperatures suggest no increase or decrease in temperature (t = -0.6, p =0.55). A cyclic pattern can be seen, but this could be purely due to random variation.

And now for the even more surprising results. 3pm minus Noon saw a significant decrease in anomaly temperatures (t = -8.1, p < 0.01). The decrease is almost perfectly linear and is clearly obvious. So despite significant increase in temperature for south Pilbara for Noon and 3pm, 3pm isn't heating up as much as it has been 3 hours before.

The obvious linear line in the graph of 6pm to 3pm is startling. So perfect is the line, that the amount of variability is very small. The decreasing trend is very significant (t = -10.8, p < 0.01).

There was no significant difference in temperatures when looking at the differences between the 9pm and 6pm anomalies, however a smaller database for temperatures at 9pm could have been a factor (t = 1.3, p = 0.18).

So what does all this mean? How is this all relevant. Well let's summarise what we have just found. The rate of increase or decrease in temperatures with respect to the time 3 years prior makes little difference at night, but when the sun is a factor the difference is significant. Temperature anomalies at 6am and 9am have increased significantly with respect to the time 3 hours previous over the years, whilst temperatures at 3pm and 6pm have decreased significantly with respect to the time 3 hours previous.

But to understand fully what this means, we have to discuss very briefly how daily temperature works. Basically we reach a maximum temperature, and from that point on the temperature generally decreases. When the sun as set, there is no general reason why temperatures will be on the rise, so they decrease until the sun makes an appearance again. In southern Pilbara the sun rises in general half way between 6am and 9am depending on the season.

We suggested before that is was relatively obvious that the sun was a major factor in determining the average maximum temperature in Southern Pilbara, as we saw no increases in temperature over night. We have also proven that the sun has made significant increases in maximum temperature rather than minimum during years when Australia is heating up. So would a stronger sun therefore also have an influence on minimum temperatures? Our analysis suggests so.

Whilst no increases in temperature were found for Southern Pilbara from between 9pm and 6am when the sun was set, at 6am, the temperature increase as compared to 3am was highly significant. The sun, whilst not risen, quite possibly was warming up neighbouring areas more than normal, and adding heat to the air above at a greater rate than normal. Thus paving the way for when it makes its grand entrance at sunrise.

Hence, whilst not making a significant temperature difference at 6am before sunrise, it made a significant increase in temperature compared to 3 hours prior at a time where normally the minimum temperature would have been reached. This extra layer of heat paved the way for massive increases in temperature at 9am after the sun had risen. Following, due to the massive increases in temperature 9am, Noon and 3pm also had increasing temperatures due to the intensity of the sun, but not quite as dramatic as that when the sun rose. Hence we have a situation where we have a significant increase in temperature at 3pm but a highly significant decrease in temperature at 3pm with relation to Noon. I guess there's only so much difference that the sun can make.

So what can we conclude about Southern Pilbara? That increases in the suns intensity has caused the area to heat up during the day, to stay at a constant temperature during the night, and most importantly, that increased intensity in the sun has not only caused increases in maximum temperatures but also increases in minimum temperatures.

Who would have thought that the sun has something to do with heat?


On Sunday, Al Gore's film about climate change, An Inconvenient Truth, won two Oscars. Today, the Royal Society starts a two-day event showcasing the science of climate change according to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Both the film and conference are based on an understanding that the science is settled. It isn't. But, in the meantime, the environmental bandwagon rolls on, and no self-respecting politician wants to be left without a seat.

Over the past century, the average global temperature rose by about 0.6C. This doesn't sound a lot, but represents changes noticeable to all of us. At the same time, levels of carbon dioxide (CO2 ) in the atmosphere have also risen, due, almost certainly, to our increasing use of fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas. All else being equal, this would be expected to lead to some moderate warming, as experienced.

The mainstream view, promulgated by the IPCC, is that this moderate warming is enhanced by the extra water vapour that higher temperatures put into the atmosphere. This positive feedback leads, in theory, to a much greater temperature rise and has led to speculation about runaway global warming.

But there are good reasons to believe that such a catastrophe is a remote possibility, rather than a near certainty. The rise in temperature has been far from smooth. The early decades of the 20th century showed a distinct warming trend, peaking in the 1930s. However, from the 1940s through to the early 1970s, temperatures fell - sufficiently for commentators to raise the spectre of global cooling as we slid into the next ice age. A sudden jump in the mid-1970s heralded the return of a warming trend and led to the current concern about global warming. But peak temperatures were recorded in 1998; since then, we have had eight years with no warming. In the meantime, CO2 levels have risen inexorably.

Since we cannot experiment to test the effect of this on climate, scientists rely on observation and, in parallel, produce mathematical models of how the climate system operates. These models - fed with a range of assumptions about how population and energy use may change - are run on the world's most powerful supercomputers to give projections for future climate changes. It is these on which tales of future catastrophe are based.

But the climate over the past century has not behaved as simple models predict. Scientists have tweaked the models to reproduce the stop/start pattern, by adding in the effect of volcanic eruptions and man-made sulphate aerosols. Because they can be made to simulate the actual pattern of 20th-century temperature change, the assumption is that they provide a good model of future changes.

What the modellers do not explain are documented changes to the climate during recorded history. During the Roman Warm Period, England was a significant wine producer, a thousand years later Greenland was settled and farmed during the Medieval Warm Period, and harvests failed and ice fairs were held on the frozen Thames in the Little Ice Age of the 17th and 18th centuries. None of it was a result of man-made CO2 emissions.

The answer may lie in the ultimate source of warmth and life on Earth: the sun. Solar activity varies in a cyclic way, with sunspots being an obvious sign of changes. The more spots, the more active the sun. On a simple level, we know that the Little Ice Age coincided with a very low level of solar activity. We also know that the sun is currently in a particularly active phase.

The IPCC's view is that these changes are too small to cause the climate changes we have seen. But there is another factor, about which they are equally dismissive: variations in the sun's magnetic field can have a significant effect by influencing cloudiness. It has been suggested that high energy cosmic rays, which arrive at the Earth's surface all the time, could induce cloud formation. Recently, experiments have shown that this can happen. And clouds, as we are all aware, have a major effect on temperatures. The hypothesis is that the more intense magnetic field of an active sun shields the Earth from some of the rays. So, if we have a more active sun, we should have fewer clouds and higher temperatures. This is not fully tested, but seems as plausible a mechanism for climate variation as the greenhouse effect. Knowledge of solar cycles may be a better guide.

The scientific mainstream, however, refuses to concede that it could be wrong. It insists we must act now to decarbonise our economy, whatever the consequences. If the science were as certain as suggested, it would have a point. But it isn't and, in the meantime, we are being forced down a single policy direction that may be ineffectual and takes resources away from the real and present problems in the world. Increasing food security, providing access to clean water and basic education, building defences against the floods that inevitably hit low-lying regions: these are the sort of initiatives that have to take second place to the drive to reduce carbon emissions.

In any case, there is little likelihood that a global carbon reduction regime can be made to work. Most EU member states will not meet their commitments under the Kyoto protocol. How likely is it, then, that China and other expanding economies will compromise their growth to meet much more demanding targets? To shut down debate is unscientific. Science progresses by observation and deduction, by setting up hypotheses and testing them. Allowing one view to be pushed forward with no dissent sets a precedent that will stifle innovative thinking. Whatever Al Gore may believe, there is an even more inconvenient truth: he could be wrong.


Al Gore Is a Greenhouse Gasbag

Democrat-voting Penn geology professor puts science before politics

A recent Time magazine cover featured a polar bear in danger of drowning and the warning: "Be Worried. Be Very Worried." I've come to Penn to see the skeptic. In Room 100 of the classic Christopher Wren-inspired Towne Building, Robert Giegengack seems much less than worried. The 67-year-old professor is preparing to give one of the semester's final lectures to his 150-student class in environmental analysis, a popular science elective among Penn's arts and sciences undergrads.

For decades, Giegengack was content to be a relatively obscure geologist who taught more than he published. Recently, though, he's stepped into the swirling tempest surrounding global warming, in part because he says it's not even one of the top 10 environmental problems we face. To make that point, he occasionally joins in a panel discussion, or gives a quote to a science writer. He's thinking about writing something for one of the smarty-pants magazines. "I've always been interested in this question," he says, "but when I first started working, no one cared - you couldn't get an article published if you wanted to." Now, though, "The public appetite for all this crap seems to be insatiable." ....

There's no way to watch An Inconvenient Truth without getting worried - at least a little worried. Not Bob Giegengack. He has described Al Gore's documentary as "a political statement timed to present him as a presidential candidate in 2008." And he added, "The glossy production is replete with inaccuracies and misrepresentations, and appeals to public fear as shamelessly as any other political statement that hopes to unite the public behind a particular ideology." This from a guy who voted for Gore in 2000 and says he'd probably vote for him again....

A few years ago, Giegengack told the Pennsylvania Gazette, the school's alumni magazine, that the environmental analysis course he's teaching today often attracts students who want to be environmental activists and carry picket signs outside the offices of the bad guys in the military-industrial complex. "But I want them to understand that these questions are enormously complex," he went on.

Yes, they are. I ask Gieg for a private tutorial based on the lectures he gives his students to make them consider the scientific complications of climate change. We sit one afternoon at a conference table near his office, his laptop open and the PowerPoint ready to go. Charts appear, one after another.

Giegengack may have a personal 50-year perspective on global warming, but the time range he prefers to consult is more on the geologists' scale. The Earth has been warming, he says, for about 20,000 years. We've only been collecting data on that trend for about 200 years. "For most of Earth history," he says, "the globe has been warmer than it has been for the last 200 years. It has only rarely been cooler." Those cooler periods have meant things like two miles of ice piled over much of what is now North America. Nothing to be nostalgic for.

The professor hits a button on his computer, and the really long-term view appears - the past 650,000 years. In that time, the Earth's temperature has gone through regular cycles of rise and fall. The best explanation of those cycles was conceived by a Serbian amateur scientist named Milutin Milankovic. Very basically, Milankovic said this: The Earth's orbit around the sun is more or less circular, but when other planets align in certain ways and their gravitational forces tug at the Earth, the orbit stretches into a more elliptical shape. Combined with the tilt of the Earth on its axis as it spins, that greater or lesser distance from the sun, plus the consequent difference in solar radiation that reaches our planet, is responsible for long-term climate change.

NOW TO THE CRUX OF THE Al Gore argument - the idea that rising carbon dioxide levels are causing an increase in temperature. To determine temperatures and carbon dioxide levels in the distant past, scientists rely on what they call the "proxy record." There weren't thermometers. So researchers drill deep down into the Antarctic ice sheet and the ocean floor and pull up core samples, whose varying chemical elements let them gauge both the CO2 levels and the temperatures of the distant past.

Gieg clicks a button, and three charts come together. The peaks and valleys of the Milankovi'c cycles for planetary temperature align well with the ocean-floor estimates, and those match closely the records of carbon dioxide concentrations and temperature indications from ice cores. So, the professor maintains, these core samples from the polar ice and ocean floor help show that the Earth's temperature and the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have been in lockstep for tens of thousands of years.

Of course, that was long before anybody was burning fossil fuels. So Giegengack tells his students they might want to consider that "natural" climatic temperature cycles control carbon dioxide levels, not the other way around. That's the crux of his argument with Gore's view of global warming - he says carbon dioxide doesn't control global temperature, and certainly not in a direct, linear way.

Gieg has lots more slides to show. He points out that within his lifetime, there was a three-decade period of unusually low temperatures that culminated in the popular consciousness with the awful winter of 1976-77. Back then, scientists started sounding the alarm about a new ice age.

Of course, it's long been thought that the world would end either in fire or in ice. These days, the scientists are shouting fire. And in all his years around environmental issues, Giegengack has never heard so much shouting. "I don't think we're going to have a rational discussion of this question in the present environment," he says. "The scientists are mad because they think nobody in Washington is listening to them. So it's all either apocalyptic disaster or conflict of interest. If you suggest that we're not going to hell in a handbasket because the rate of global warming is low compared to so many other environmental issues that we're enduring, then you're accused of being in the employ of the oil companies and you're labeled a Republican." ....

It’s afternoon in America, and Oprah is offering her millions of viewers a class with Dr. Gore that the producers are calling Global Warming 101. I’ve asked Gieg to watch it with me. The show turns out to be pretty much a synopsis of An Inconvenient Truth, with Gore clicking through his hyper-produced PowerPoint program and Oprah exclaiming “Wow! Wow!” with dramatic concern. To dramatize the melting of the floating ice cap at the North Pole, Gore has inserted an animated clip of a polar bear swimming desperately to a tiny ice floe that isn’t strong enough to hold him. Global warming is drowning helpless bears. Oprah thinks it’s the coolest and saddest thing in Gore’s whole movie. Gieg starts shouting:

“We don’t know that. We don’t know that! We don’t know that polar bears haven’t drowned in every interglacial period. Nobody was watching them back then.”

It’s got to be a frustrating experience, seeing a topic you’ve spent some 50 years studying turned into an Oprah episode. “I like her,” Gieg says. “She’d beat Al Gore if she ran for president.” Then Gore clicks again to dramatic footage of a collapsing polar ice shelf. “That’s irresponsible,” Gieg says. “What he’s doing is no less than the scare tactics used by people like Karl Rove.”

Oprah says she had no idea all these terrible things were happening until she interviewed the noted authority Leonardo DiCaprio. Gore is now into his segment on the melting of glaciers and the possibility of catastrophe if Greenland goes, or parts of Antarctica. The deadly blue water seeping over the world’s great lowland cities comes onto the screen. “Sea level is rising,” Giegengack agrees, switching off the sound. But, he explains, it’s been rising ever since warming set in 18,000 years ago. The rate of rise has been pretty slow — only about 400 feet so far. And recently — meaning in the thousands of years — the rate has slowed even more. The Earth’s global ocean level is only going up 1.8 millimeters per year. That’s less than the thickness of one nickel. For the catastrophe of flooded cities and millions of refugees that Gore envisions, sea levels would have to rise about 20 feet. “At the present rate of sea-level rise,” Gieg says, “it’s going to take 3,500 years to get up there. So if for some reason this warming process that melts ice is cutting loose and accelerating, sea level doesn’t know it. And sea level, we think, is the best indicator of global warming.”

By now, Al Gore is taking Oprah on an anti-global-warming shopping trip, buying compact fluorescent light bulbs and programmable thermostats. We should all buy those things, the professor says, but he’s had just about enough of Dr. Gore. “See,” Gieg says, “the thing he doesn’t mention is that there are 2.4 billion people in India and China who have launched a campaign that will increase their energy consumption by a factor of 10. No matter what we do. If we somehow cut our CO2 emissions in half, you wouldn’t be able to measure the difference because of the role played by India and China. “It’s over. If CO2 is the problem, we’ve already lost.”

When Gieg gets to this point in his argument, as he often does when talking about global warming, he gets a little frustrated. “I always get sidetracked because, first of all, the science isn’t good. Second, there are all these other interpretations for what we see. Third, it doesn’t make any difference, and fourth, it’s distracting us from environmental problems that really matter.” Among those, Gieg says, are the millions of people a year who die from smoking and two million people a year who die because they don’t have access to clean water.

Bob Giegengack likes to point out that there was a time when people like him were called natural philosophers, and he wouldn’t mind a return to the days when scientists spent more time asking questions and less time testifying before committees. But that won’t happen soon. Now that Democrats run Congress again, they’re likely to ramp up the hearings to chide the Republicans for what they see as nearly a decade of stonewalling and misinformation on global warming. After all, the outgoing chairman of the Senate Committee on the Environment, Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe, ignited a wildfire in the groves of environmentalism when he called the idea of catastrophic global warming a “hoax.”

In the long view, a geologist like Giegengack can take some comfort in, well, the long view. “There’s all this stuff about saving the planet,” he says. “The Earth is fine. The Earth was fine before we got here, and it’ll be fine long after we’re gone.”

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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Anonymous said...

I've found an article by David Ignatius that illustrates a whole bunch of the themes I've seen mentioned on this blog. How many do you count?

Anonymous said...

re: "Proof that warming in Western Australia is all about the sun"

The article presents data for something for which I intuitively feel I have qualitative "proof," . . .

. . . true, this isn't very "scientific" but the fact that the temperature drops at night, and very precipitously on clear dry nights, is a pretty strong indication that the sun drives heating.

It is also very hard to immagine that the atmosphere is a greater heat resevoir than more massive objects (like rocks). So that means if the atmosphere is doing anything, it's slowing the radiant cooling.

And, since a good experiment might be in order. . .

May I suggest:

. . . take a well insulated column of air, with varying CO2 concentrations, with a good absorber at the bottom, and a source of sunlight at the top, and compare rates of change of radiant cooling of the absorber with different CO2 conc's., when the "sun" is "switched off."

In fact, a good approximation could probably be done by a high school student for a science project.

For extra credit, determine how heat capacity of absorber, atmospheric humidity, occlusion (cloud cover) of the orifice through which heat is aborbed/irradiated, etc., affect rate of heat retention, if at all.

Redo at different pressures, for extra extra credit.

If this has been done, I'd like to know where. If not, I think it might be a good place to start.