Thursday, August 14, 2008

Greenies beginning to see that abuse alone is not enough

Writing below, Andrew Dessler even acknowledges that there is a climate "debate". Wow! And he even argues his case instead of just saying that the skeptics are in the pay of "Big Oil". His arguments are nonsense but we must be thankful for small mercies, I guess. For instance, Einstein's theory didn't "extend" anything; Einstein REMOVED assumptions that Newton (and others, implicitly) had used to derive a theory of universal gravitation.

And there is NO need to go back a century to find scientific consensus being overturned. Instances crop up all the time on my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog. For instance, the recognition of the role of helicobacter pylori happened only in the 1990s and that overturned a centuries-old consensus that bacteria could not survive in the acid environment of the stomach. Where stomach ulcers were once universally treated with antacids and surgery, they are now treated with antibiotics. Similar revolutions already under way this century in the treatment of burns, snakebite, the use of blood transfusions and the use of N2O in anesthesia etc., etc.

And as for 100% certainty that global temperature is increasing, that's true only if you believe the "cooked" figures of Jim Hansen. Other sources show no increase over the last 10 years

One of the biggest problems in the climate change debate is the fact that many people out there fail to understand the finer points of "scientific consensus." For an example of this misunderstanding, see Ron Rosenbaum's recent article in Slate. His article trots out one of the staples of the denial industry: Science has been wrong in the past, so how do we know that a scientific consensus on climate change is right? Because of this, reporters should report all sides of the argument.So if you're writing an article about climate change, you can interview one of the thousands of climate scientists out there who basically agree with the scientific assessment described by the IPCC reports, and then you can balance them out by quoting one of the the dozen or so credible scientific skeptics out there. After all, you don't want to be biased.

To support this well-worn canard, he trots out the usual examples of scientific consensus being overturned, such as Ignaz Semmelweis, who recognized that proper hygiene could greatly reduce disease, and Einstein, whose theory of general relativity superseded Newton's. Of course, the fact that the author had to go back more than a century to find these examples should give the reader pause. And never mind that Einstein's theory didn't overturn Newton's, but extended it.

Why is this such a ridiculous argument? As all scientists know, the confidence in any "consensus" can range from low to very high. For some, such as the connection between cigarettes and lung cancer, or the observation that the Earth's temperature is increasing, there is virtual 100 percent certainty that the scientific consensus is correct.

For the statement that humans are responsible for most of the recent warming, the consensus is slightly weaker. The IPCC estimates that there is about a one-in-ten chance that this statement is wrong. For statements about changes in precipitation patterns under climate change, the consensus is weak. We think we know generally how precipitation will change, but no one would be surprised if it turns out to be substantially wrong.

Dissenting voices exist on just about every scientific question that touches the political sphere. For example, there are dissenters out there arguing that HIV does not cause AIDS, such as Kary Mullis, the 1993 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry. Because they are always out there, the existence of dissenting voices actually tells you nothing about the actual scientific strength of a position. I doubt that even Rosenbaum would argue that journalists writing an article about HIV should balance their work by providing the dissenting view that perhaps HIV does not cause AIDS.Rather, journalists need to evaluate the strength of the consensus that they are reporting on.

For confidently held scientific views, such as the connection between increasing greenhouse gases and climate change or the connection between cigarettes and cancer, it is highly unlikely that the scientific community is wrong. What Rosenbaum fails to understand is that promoting uncertainty is a technique to forestall action. In other words, those opposed to action want the debate to focus on the science. As long as people are debating whether climate change is happening or not, and whether humans are responsible or not, then the debate will not be about what to do, and the status quo is maintained.In these cases, providing balance is, in reality, bias.


It does not add up!

There's been no net global warming in the 21st century. Although seldom reported by the mainstream media, it's quite a story, because no climate model predicted it.

This graph, courtesy of atmospheric scientist John Christy, shows how climate models and reality diverge. The red, purple, and orange lines are model forecasts of global temperatures under different emission scenarios. The yellow line shows how much warming we are supposedly "committed to" even if CO2 concentrations don't change. The blue and green lines are actual temperatures as measured by ground-based (HadCrut) and satellite (UAH LT) monitoring systems.

What's really rather remarkable, is that since 2000, the rates at which CO2 emissions and concentrations are increasing have accelerated. According to a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, fossil fuel and cement emissions increased by 3.3 percent per year during 2000-2006, compared to 1.3 percent per year in the 1990s. Similarly, atmospheric CO2 concentrations increased by 1.93 parts per million per year during 2000-2006, compared to 1.58 ppm in the 1990s.

And yet, despite accelerating emission rates and concentrations, there's been no net warming in the 21st century. It don't add up! Skeptics have long said climate models aren't accurate enough to base policy decisions on. That may be truer now than ever


Are the ice caps melting? Climate science's bipolar disorder

The headlines last week brought us terrifying news: The North Pole will be ice-free this summer "for the first time in human history," wrote Steve Connor in The Independent. Or so the experts at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado predict. This sounds very frightening, so let's look at the facts about polar sea ice. As usual, there are a couple of huge problems with the reports.

Firstly, the story is neither alarming nor unique. In the August 29, 2000 edition of the New York Times, the same NSIDC expert, Mark Serreze, said: "There's nothing to be necessarily alarmed about. There's been open water at the pole before. We have no clear evidence at this point that this is related to global climate change." During the summer of 2000 there was "a large body of ice-free water about 10 miles long and 3 miles wide near the pole". Also in 2000, Dr Claire Parkinson at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center was quoted as saying: "The fact of having no ice at the pole is not so stunning." Submarines regularly surface at the North Pole

Satellite records have been kept for polar sea ice over the last thirty years by the University Of Illinois. In 2007 2008, two very different records were set. The Arctic broke the previous record for the least sea ice area ever recorded, while the Antarctic broke the record for the most sea ice area ever recorded. Summed up over the entire earth, polar ice has remained constant. As seen below, there has been no net gain or loss of polar sea ice since records began.

Last week, Dr James Hansen from NASA spoke about how CO2 is affecting the polar ice caps. "We see a tipping point occurring right before our eyes... The Arctic is the first tipping point and it's occurring exactly the way we said it would," he said.

Well, not exactly. Hansen is only telling half the story. In the 1980s the same Dr Hansen wrote a paper titled Climate Sensitivity to Increasing Greenhouse Gases [pdf], in which he explained how CO2 causes "polar amplification." He predicted nearly symmetrical warming at both poles. As shown in Figure 2-2 from the article, Hansen calculated that both the Arctic and Antarctic would warm by 5-6 degrees Centigrade. His predictions were largely incorrect, as most of Antarctica has cooled and sea ice has rapidly expanded. The evidence does not support the theory.

In 2004, Dr Hansen returned to the subject. This time, he explained (pdf) that most of Arctic warming and melting is due to dirty snow from soot, not CO2. "Soot snow/ice albedo climate forcing is not included in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change evaluations. This forcing is unusually effective, causing twice as much global warming as a CO2 forcing of the same magnitude," he wrote. Once the snow dirties, it absorbs sunlight, warms, and quickly melts. Then the land and air above warms, causing higher temperature readings. This affects the Arctic more than the Antarctic simply because there aren't many people living near the Antarctic. The Arctic is polluted by European cities and oil fields in Siberia - where gas flaring generates huge amounts of soot. In fact, scientists at the University of California have estimated that up to 94 per cent of Arctic melt is due to dirty snow.

In other words, then, Antarctic temperatures and ice are going the opposite direction of what Dr. Hansen predicted, and most of the Arctic warming is due to soot, not CO2. His own research directly contradicts his recent high-profile statements about the Arctic and CO2.

Dr Hansen also talks frequently about the unprecedented temperature rise in the Arctic, yet his own temperature records show that much of the Arctic (including Greenland) was warmer from 1920-1940 than now. The NASA graph below from Nuuk, Greenland is typical of long term records of the region. Nuuk, Greenland is a key location because it is located in the southwest portion of the island and is not far from the mouth of the Jakobshavn Glacier - the most rapidly moving glacier in the world and a poster child for global warming campaigners. It is also the largest city and capital of Greenland, located just south of the Arctic Circle. NASA literature from the last few years focuses heavily on anomalous melt in southwest Greenland as a concern for sea level rise.

During the ice age scare in the 1970s the Arctic cooled dramatically, and is only now returning to temperatures comparable to sixty years ago. Most of the other Arctic locations with long-term records show similar trends. Long-term NASA temperature records in the Arctic are very sparse, but most show a pattern similar to Nuuk. Most of the other Arctic locations with long-term records show similar trends. Ostrov, Hatanga, Gmo, Bodo Vi, and Reykjavik are good examples.

Another pollution problem reported by NASA is known as the Arctic Haze. This is a human-generated brown cloud which hovers over the Arctic and traps heat. Additionally, we know that the summer of 2007 had unusually low cloud cover in the Arctic, which contributed to the unusual melt. But probably the most important factor in the anomalous "melt" was a spate of strong winds which blew all summer up the Bering Strait, across the pole and out into the warm waters of the North Atlantic. This compressed the sea ice towards Greenland and revealed a large area of open water north of Siberia and Alaska.

But in 2008 we are not seeing that. The winds and temperatures in the Arctic are quite different, and as of today there is more ice than normal around Siberia. The Arctic melt season ends in about seven weeks because the sun will get too low. As of June 26, there is no indication that the North Pole is in danger of melting.

The BBC's Richard Black wrote an article last week claiming that Arctic Ice is melting "even faster than last year." Looking at the Cryosphere Today map, it is abundantly clear that ice is melting more slowly than last year. By the end of June, 2007 the Hudson Bay was essentially ice-free. This year it is close to normal, with cold temperatures predicted for most of the rest of the short melt season. Someone is apparently having trouble reading maps at either the BBC and/or NSIDC.

Last summer, the headlines read "First ever traversal of the Northwest Passage". This sounds very dramatic, except that it is entirely incorrect. As the BBC reported: "In 1905, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first person to successfully navigate the Northwest Passage, in a wooden sailboat." The Northwest Passage has been navigated at least one hundred times over the last century. According to official US Weather Bureau records (pdf) from 1922, there was open sailing very close to the North Pole that year. Anthony Watts unearthed this quote from the Weather Bureau: "In fact, so little ice has never before been noted. The expedition all but established a record, sailing as far north as 81 degrees in ice-free water.


Is there a cold future just lying in wait for us?

Comment from Ulster

Our own observatory at Armagh is one of the oldest in the world and has been observing solar cycles for more than 200 years. What this work has shown is that, over all of this time, short and intense cycles coincide with global warmth and long and weak cycles coincide with cooling. Most recently, this pattern continued in the 1980s and 1990s when cycles 21 and 22 were short (less than 10 years) and intense and it was notably hot. But all this now looks set to change.

Cycle 23, which hasn't finished yet, looks like it will be long (at least 12 to 13 years) and cycle 24, which has still to start, looks like it will be exceptionally weak. Based on the past Armagh measurements, this suggests that over the next two decades, global temperatures may fall by about 2 degrees C - that is, to a level lower than any we have seen in the last 100 years. Of course, nothing in science is certain. Perhaps (though I doubt it) Armagh's old measurements are wrong or perhaps there are now other factors, such as CO2 emissions, which may change things somewhat.

However, temperatures have already fallen by about 0.5 degrees C over the past 12 months and, if this is only the start of it, it would be a serious concern. Northern Ireland is not noted for extreme warmth at the best of times and has much more to fear from cold weather than it does from hot. We really need to be sure what is going to happen before spending too much money on combating global warming. We may need all the money we can save just to help us keep warm.


Decade has had fewest 90-degree days since 1930

Comment from Chicago

August is the wettest and often the muggiest month of the year. Yet, summer heat continues in short supply, continuing a trend that has dominated much of the 21st Century's opening decade. There have been only 162 days 90 degrees or warmer at Midway Airport over the period from 2000 to 2008. That's by far the fewest 90-degree temperatures in the opening nine years of any decade on record here since 1930.

This summer's highest reading to date has been just 91 degrees. That's unusual. Since 1928, only one year-2000-has failed to record a higher warm-season temperature by Aug. 13.


More global cooling: Abnormally cold winter in Southern Queensland, Australia

It's not your imagination. This is shaping up to be Brisbane's coldest winter in years with minimum temperatures about four degrees below average. So far this August Brisbane has averaged 7.4 degrees in the morning compared with 11.4 degrees at the same time last year. Bureau of Meteorology senior forecast Vikash Prasad said the long term average for August was about 10 degrees. "We're certainly seeing some cooler temperatures associated with the dry south-westerly airstream," Mr Prasad said.

This morning was no different with the mercury sinking to 6.5 degrees in the City and just 2.8 at the Airport. But farther west it was much colder with Amberley reaching a freezing -2.1 degrees, Oakey -3.6, Warwick -4.5 and Applethorpe a bone rattling -5 degrees.

Mr Prasad said the clearing of yesterday's cloud cover contributed to the colder morning. "There's still a bit of high cloud about but with the cloud clearing forward we'll probably see similar temperatures tomorrow as well," he said. Although the cold snap was expected to continue across inland parts, coastal areas should see slightly warmer minimums from next Monday or Tuesday as the winds changed from south-westerly to south-easterly. "That means there's more onshore flow and it should increase the moisture in the air a little bit," said Mr Prasad.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


No comments: