Friday, November 28, 2008

Gore and the collapse of the Mayan civilisation

The just-written paper below is by statistician Dr. Richard Mackey []. It debunks Gore's Warmist linkage to the collapse of the Mayan civilisation

"The following appeared on Albert Gore's website of Nov 19, 2008:
"Looking Back to Look Forward November 19, 2008 : 3:04 PM

A new study suggests the Mayan civilization might have collapsed due to environmental disasters: "These models suggest that as ecosystems were destroyed by mismanagement or were transformed by global climatic shifts, the depletion of agricultural and wild foods eventually contributed to the failure of the Maya sociopolitical system,' writes environmental archaeologist Kitty Emery of the Florida Museum of Natural History in the current Human Ecology journal."

As we move towards solving the climate crisis, we need to remember the consequences to civilizations that refused to take environmental concerns seriously. If you haven't read already read it, take a look at Jared Diamond's book, Collapse."

This is a most curious reference. It means that Gore is advocating the abandonment of the IPCC doctrine and barracking for the study and understanding of climate dynamics that ignores totally the IPCC/AWG doctrine and focuses on all the other variables, especially how climate dynamics are driven by atmospheric/oceanic oscillations, the natural internal dynamics of the climate system and the role of the Sun in climate dynamics.

Brian Fagan in Floods, Famines and Emperors, El Nino and the fate of civilisations (Basic Books 1999), shows that the Maya collapse, whilst having complex political, sociological, technological and ecological factors, was largely driven by the natural atmospheric/oceanic oscillations of ENSO and NAO. The book is one of three by Brian Fagan, Prof of Anthropology UC Santa Barbara, that documents how natural climate variations, ultimately driven by solar activity, have given rise to the catastrophic collapse of civilisations. The book has a chapter on the Mayan civilisation which collapsed around 800 to 900 AD. Here are some quotes from his book:
"The "Classic Maya collapse" is one of the great controversies of archaeology, but there is little doubt that droughts, fuelled in part by El Nino, played an important role." "The droughts that afflicted the Maya in the eighth and ninth centuries resulted from complex, still little understood atmosphere- ocean interactions, including El Nino events and major decadal shifts in the North Atlantic Oscillation, as well as two or three decade-long variations in rainfall over many centuries."

"Why did the Maya civilisation suddenly come apart? Everyone who studies the Classic Maya collapse agrees that it was brought on by a combination of ecological, political, and sociological factors." "When the great droughts of the eighth and ninth centuries came, Maya civilisation everywhere was under increasing stress." "The drought was the final straw." "The collapse did not come without turmoil and war."

Brian Fagan describes how the ruling class (the kings had divine powers, they were also shamans and there was a vast aristocracy and their fellow-travellers that the tightly regulated workers toiled to maintain) encouraged population growth beyond what the land could carry; how the rulers enforced rigid farming practices which were supposed to increase food production and the ruler's incomes but had the effect of undermining farm productivity and diminishing the quality of the poor soils of the area. When there were heavy rains the soil was washed away. In times of drought the soil blew away. More quotes from Brian Fagan:
"The Maya collapse is a cautionary tale in the dangers of using technology and people power to expand the carrying capacity of tropical environments." "Atmospheric circulation changes far from the Maya homeland delivered the coup de grace to rulers no longer able to control their own destinies because they had exhausted their environmental options in an endless quest for power and prestige."

Gore says that we should use our understanding of the Maya collapse help us solve the climate crisis, noting that "we need to remember the consequences to civilizations that refused to take environmental concerns seriously". Given what we know of the Maya collapse, what is Gore really saying? He is saying that we should take all the IPCC/AWG publications and related papers to the tip and bury them there and put all our efforts into the study and understanding of the reasons for climate dynamics that address every theory except that of IPCC/AWG doctrine.

Specifically, we should understand as well as we can how climate dynamics are driven by atmospheric/oceanic oscillations, the natural internal dynamics of the climate system and the role of the Sun in climate dynamics.

In an overview of his work Brian Fagan concluded: "The whole course of civilisation . may be seen as a process of trading up on the scale of vulnerability". (Fagan (2004, page xv)). We are now, as a global community, very high up on that scale. Allow me to quote a little from my Rhodes Fairbridge paper because of its relevance to Brian Fagan's work and what Gore is really trying to say, but can't quite find the right words.
"In his many publications (for example, NORTH (2005)), Douglass North stresses that if the issues with which we are concerned, such as global warming and the global commons, belong in a world of continuous change (that is, a non-ergodic world), then we face a set of problems that become exceedingly complex. North stresses that our capacity to deal effectively with uncertainty is essential to our succeeding in a non-ergodic world.

History shows that regional effects of climate change are highly variable and that the pattern of change is highly variable. An extremely cold (or hot) year can be followed by extremely hot (or cold) year. Warming and cooling will be beneficial for some regions and catastrophic for others.

Brian Fagan has documented in detail relationships between the large-scale and generally periodic changes in climate and the rise and fall of civilisations, cultures and societies since the dawn of history. The thesis to which Rhodes Fairbridge devoted much of his life is that the sun, through its relationships with the solar system, is largely responsible for these changes and that we are now on the cusp of one of the major changes that feature in the planet's history.

As Douglass North showed, the main responsibility of governments in managing the impact of the potentially catastrophic events that arise in a non-ergodic world is to mange society's response to them so as to enable the society to adapt as efficiently as possible to them. Amongst other things, this would mean being better able to anticipate and manage our response to climate change, to minimise suffering and maximise benefits and the efficiency of our adaptation to a climate that is ever-changing - sometimes catastrophically - but generally predictable within bounds of uncertainty that statisticians can estimate.

At the very least, this requires that the scientific community acts on the wise counsel of Rhodes W Fairbridge and presents governments with advice that has regard to the entire field of planetary-lunar-solar dynamics, including gravitational dynamics. This field has to be understood so that the dynamics of terrestrial climate can be understood."


North, D. C., 2005. Understanding the Process of Economic Change Princeton University Press.

Fagan, B., 2004. The Long Summer. How Climate Changed Civilization. Basic Books."


Abstract only below. Full paper at link given. It shows that advice given to the EPA was grossly unscientific

Polar Bear Population Forecasts: A Public-Policy Forecasting Audit

By J. Scott Armstrong et al.

Calls to list polar bears as a threatened species under the United States Endangered Species Act are based on forecasts of substantial long-term declines in their population. Nine government reports were written to help US Fish and Wildlife Service managers decide whether or not to list polar bears as a threatened species. We assessed these reports based on evidence-based (scientific) forecasting principles. None of the reports referred to sources of scientific forecasting methodology. Of the nine, Amstrup et al. [Amstrup, S. C., B. G. Marcot, D. C. Douglas. 2007. "Forecasting the rangewide status of polar bears at selected times in the 21st century". Administrative Report, USGS Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, AK.] and Hunter et al. [Hunter, C. M., H. Caswell, M. C. Runge, S. C. Amstrup, E. V. Regehr, I. Stirling. 2007. "Polar bears in the Southern Beaufort Sea II: Demography and population growth in relation to sea ice conditions". Administrative Report, USGS Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, AK.] were the most relevant to the listing decision, and we devoted our attention to them.

Their forecasting procedures depended on a complex set of assumptions, including the erroneous assumption that general circulation models provide valid forecasts of summer sea ice in the regions that polar bears inhabit. Nevertheless, we audited their conditional forecasts of what would happen to the polar bear population assuming, as the authors did, that the extent of summer sea ice would decrease substantially during the coming decades.

We found that Amstrup et al. properly applied 15 percent of relevant forecasting principles and Hunter et al. 10 percent. Averaging across the two papers, 46 percent of the principles were clearly contravened and 23 percent were apparently contravened. Consequently, their forecasts are unscientific and inconsequential to decision makers. We recommend that researchers apply all relevant principles properly when important public-policy decisions depend on their forecasts.

Interfaces. Vol. 38, No. 5, September-October 2008, pp. 382-405

Glaciers in Norway Growing Again

After years of decline, glaciers in Norway are again growing, reports the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE). The actual magnitude of the growth, which appears to have begun over the last two years, has not yet been quantified, says NVE Senior Engineer Hallgeir Elvehoy. The flow rate of many glaciers has also declined. Glacier flow ultimately acts to reduce accumulation, as the ice moves to lower, warmer elevations.

The original trend had been fairly rapid decline since the year 2000. The developments were originally reported by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK). DailyTech has previously reported on the growth in Alaskan glaciers, reversing a 250-year trend of loss. Some glaciers in Canada, California, and New Zealand are also growing, as the result of both colder temperatures and increased snowfall.

Ed Josberger, a glaciologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, says the growth is "a bit of an anomaly", but not to be unexpected. Despite the recent growth, most glaciers in the nation are still smaller than they were in 1982. However, Elvehoy says that the glaciers were even smaller during the 'Medieval Warm Period' of the Viking Era, prior to around the year 1350.

Not all Norwegian glaciers appear to be affected, most notably those in the Jotenheimen region of Southern Norway.


Why Scientists Sometimes Lie Or "Never trust a man trying to sell you a horse"

The problem with the "scientific consensus" on global warming is that participants in the debate are not objective. In other areas of science, it is assumed without question that researchers will follow the evidence wherever it leads with an open mind that is neutral as to the outcome. That is not the case with global warming.

Unlike other scientific questions, the answer to whether humans are causing dangerous global warming has massive political implications for economic and social policy. Scientists are human beings with political and ideological preferences just like the rest of us. If a scientist has a strong preference for a certain political ideology, and that ideology will either be advanced or inhibited based on the results of his research, it is reasonable to view his interpretation of the data with an increased level of skepticism.

If anthropogenic global warming is accepted as real, it will produce wide-ranging political and economic changes that have been long advocated by the political left. There will be massive tax increases and much stricter regulation of business. It should therefore be no surprise that almost all non-scientists who are on the political left insist that global warming is real and use it as an indictment of free market capitalism and the traditional American lifestyle based on consumerism.

In the same way, almost all non-scientists who are on the political right insist that global warming is nothing more than liberal hysteria. On both sides, their conclusions are not based on an impartial evaluation of the data. Neither Al Gore nor Rush Limbaugh are competent to assess the accuracy of a sophisticated computer climate model. Yet they both believe with absolute certainty.

Flawed human beings will always tend to interpret information in such a way that it reinforces our pre-existing ideological preferences or self interest. Given the huge amounts of funding involved, professional standing in academia and personal political preferences, it would be foolish to assume that scientists are not subject to the same failing.

I do not claim that scientists who support anthropogenic global warming are wrong, merely that it is unwise to massively reorder our society based on interpretations of extraordinarily complex data conducted by people who are not neutral as to the result.

When scientists who believe in global warming stop calling colleagues who disagree with them "Flat Earthers" and "Neanderthals", or insist that "the debate is over" and therefore it is illegitimate to question them, then I may be willing to listen to their arguments. Not until then.


International poll: 'Growing public reluctance' to support global warming efforts

There is both growing public reluctance to make personal sacrifices and a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the major international efforts now underway to battle climate change, according to findings of a poll of 12,000 citizens in 11 countries, including Canada.Results of the poll were released this week in advance of the start of a major international conference in Poland where delegates are considering steps toward a new international climate-change treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

There already are reports emerging that some countries, such as coal-dependent Poland, are pushing for special treatment to avoid making major commitments to slash carbon emissions during a global economic downturn.

Less than half of those surveyed, or 47 per cent, said they were prepared to make personal lifestyle changes to reduce carbon emissions, down from 58 per cent last year.Only 37 per cent said they were willing to spend "extra time" on the effort, an eight-point drop.And only one in five respondents - or 20 per cent - said they'd spend extra money to reduce climate change. That's down from 28 per cent a year ago. The Canadian results, from a poll of 1,000 respondents conducted in September, were virtually identical to the overall figures. There are no comparative figures for Canada because Canadians weren't included in the global study in 2007.

The 11 countries surveyed were Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Malaysia, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States. There were 2,000 respondents surveyed in China, including 1,000 in Hong Kong. The survey was conducted as part of a joint collaboration between the financial institution HSBC and environmental groups, such as the Earthwatch Institute.

"There's consumer reluctance that's creeping in, and we've seen that some are being stunned into inaction by the enormity of the task," said Earthwatch executive vice-president Nigel Winser.

Results of the poll suggested that 55 per cent of respondents in the 11 countries said their governments should be doing more by investing in renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and wave power. That's more than double the 27 per cent who wanted their governments to participate in Kyoto-style international agreements to reduce emissions. In Canada, the same portion favoured renewable-energy options, while 32 per cent supported collective international efforts.

"People believe governments are focusing too much attention on indirect actions that pass responsibility for climate change onto others, such as increasing taxes on fossil fuels, encouraging individual environmentally friendly activities and participating in international negotiations, such as the Kyoto Protocol," the report said."More needs to be done to inform consumers about measures such as green taxation or carbon trading to help them understand how tangible these can be.

"The poll helps explain why outgoing Liberal Leader Stephane Dion had so much difficulty during the election campaign trying to sell his Green Shift platform that proposed a carbon tax in order to encourage emission reductions.

Earthwatch's Winser said the silver lining in the poll was that it stresses public dissatisfaction with the performance of all governments."We welcome this survey because it shows that individuals want their governments to do more."


Bravo New Zealand
The government has also suggested a possible review of the science behind climate change, a move that has outraged environmental groups, who say New Zealand's reputation will be damaged if the concept of global warming is questioned.

Have you ever heard such unadulterated nonsense in a single sentence? Did I read that correctly? A possible review has "outraged environmental groups"? Sorry, is this science we're talking about, or the dogma of religion? Perish the thought that the divine words of the IPCC, as spoken through the prophet Al Gore, should ever be questioned. Quick, throw another heretic on the fire.

As for their reputation being damaged, in my book, it's quite the reverse. Bravo New Zealand.



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