Sunday, December 26, 2010

A very selective precautionary principle

Good to take precautions against warming but wrong to take precautions against cooling?

The so-called "precautionary principle" is the last refuge of the Warmist when confronted with evidence that the global warming scare rests on very shallow foundations. "But it might happen so we should take precautions against it", they say.

But it such thinking is incoherent. How do we decide what we should take precautions against? There are many hazards in life and we can afford to take precautions against only the most likely ones of them.

The incoherence was in evidence in the article I excerpted yesterday under the heading: "Britain's one time chief alarmist rejects the Warmist Met office advice". (Originally here)

The argument was that Britain should not prepare for any more severe winters as continued cooling is unlikely. In other words, the precautionary principle is abandoned and opposed in that case.

A reader comments: "I guess they just invoke the precautionary principle when it's their unproven fantasies (not to mention the greening of their pockets) that are at stake. They want us to throw trillions at non-existent AGW (oops, sorry, I mean "climate change"), but investing in something that'll save lives and prevent real massive economic loss? ...well, you've gotta draw the line somewhere, after all. Hey, what are the lives of a few peasants, anyway, if you can't make a buck off 'em; and what's economic catastrophe, if you can't profit from it?"

Assessing the accuracy of ice-core CO2 records

In the excerpt below, David Middleton points out large problems with ice-core data and suggests that fossil Plant Stomata give a much more accurate account of past CO2 levels -- an account that gives no support for Warmism at all and which in fact supports the obvious physics of the matter: Warming causes higher CO2 levels rather than vice versa

A record of atmospheric CO2 over the last 1,000 years constructed from Antarctic ice cores and the modern instrumental data from the Mauna Loa Observatory suggests that the pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 concentration was a relatively stable ~275ppmv up until the mid 19th Century. Since then, CO2 levels have been climbing rapidly to levels that are often described as unprecedented in the last several hundred thousand to several million years.

Three common ways to estimate pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 concentrations (before instrumental records began in 1959) are:

1) Measuring CO2 content in air bubbles trapped in ice cores.

2) Measuring the density of stomata in plants.

3) GEOCARB (Berner et al., 1991, 1999, 2004): A geological model for the evolution of atmospheric CO2 over the Phanerozoic Eon. This model is derived from "geological, geochemical, biological, and climatological data." The main drivers being tectonic activity, organic matter burial and continental rock weathering.


The advantage to the ice core method is that it provides a continuous record of relative CO2 changes going back in time 800,000 years, with a resolution ranging from annual in the shallow section to multi-decadal in the deeper section. Pleistocene-age ice core records seem to indicate a strong correlation between CO2 and temperature; although the delta-CO2 lags behind the delta-T by an average of 800 years.


Stomata are microscopic pores found in leaves and the stem epidermis of plants. They are used for gas exchange. The stomatal density in some C3 plants will vary inversely with the concentration of atmospheric CO2. Stomatal density can be empirically tested and calibrated to CO2 changes over the last 60 years in living plants. The advantage to the stomatal data is that the relationship of the Stomatal Index and atmospheric CO2 can be empirically demonstrated.

When stomata-derived CO2 (red) is compared to ice core-derived CO2 (blue), the stomata generally show much more variability in the atmospheric CO2 level and often show levels much higher than the ice cores.

Plant stomata suggest that the pre-industrial CO2 levels were commonly in the 360 to 390ppmv range.


GEOCARB provides a continuous long-term record of atmospheric CO2 changes; but it is a very low-frequency record.

The lack of a long-term correlation between CO2 and temperature is very apparent when GEOCARB is compared to Veizer's d18O-derived Phanerozoic temperature reconstruction. As can be seen in the figure above, plant stomata indicate a much greater range of CO2 variability; but are in general agreement with the lower frequency GEOCARB model.


Ice cores and GEOCARB provide continuous long-term records; while plant stomata records are discontinuous and limited to fossil stomata that can be accurately aged and calibrated to extant plant taxa. GEOCARB yields a very low frequency record, ice cores have better resolution and stomata can yield very high frequency data. Modern CO2 levels are unspectacular according to GEOCARB, unprecedented according to the ice cores and not anomalous according to plant stomata. So which method provides the most accurate reconstruction of past atmospheric CO2?

The problems with the ice core data are 1) the air-age vs. ice-age delta and 2) the effects of burial depth on gas concentrations.

The age of the layers of ice can be fairly easily and accurately determined. The age of the air trapped in the ice is not so easily or accurately determined. Currently the most common method for aging the air is through the use of "firn densification models" (FDM). Firn is more dense than snow; but less dense than ice. As the layers of snow and ice are buried, they are compressed into firn and then ice. The depth at which the pore space in the firn closes off and traps gas can vary greatly. So the delta between the age of the ice and the ago of the air can vary from as little as 30 years to more than 2,000 years.

The EPICA C core has a delta of over 2,000 years. The pores don't close off until a depth of 99 m, where the ice is 2,424 years old. According to the firn densification model, last year's air is trapped at that depth in ice that was deposited over 2,000 years ago.

I have a lot of doubts about the accuracy of the FDM method. I somehow doubt that the air at a depth of 99 meters is last year's air. Gas doesn't tend to migrate downward through sediment. Being less dense than rock and water, it migrates upward. That's why oil and gas are almost always a lot older than the rock formations in which they are trapped. I do realize that the contemporaneous atmosphere will permeate down into the ice. But it seems to me that at depth, there would be a mixture of air permeating downward, in situ air, and older air that had migrated upward before the ice fully "lithified".

The stomata data routinely show that atmospheric CO2 levels were higher than the ice cores do. Plant stomata data from the previous interglacial (Eemian/Sangamonian) were higher than the ice cores indicate.

The GEOCARB data also suggest that ice core CO2 data are too low. The average CO2 level of the Pleistocene ice cores is 36ppmv less than GEOCARB.

Recent satellite data (NASA AIRS) show that atmospheric CO2 levels in the polar regions are significantly less than in lower latitudes.


The current "paradigm" says that atmospheric CO2 has risen from ~275ppmv to 388ppmv since the mid-1800?s as the result of fossil fuel combustion by humans. Increasing CO2 levels are supposedly warming the planet.

However, if we use Moberg's (2005) non-Hockey Stick reconstruction, the correlation between CO2 and temperature changes a bit.

Moberg did a far better job in honoring the low frequency components of the climate signal. Reconstructions like these indicate a far more variable climate over the last 2,000 years than the "Hockey Sticks" do. Moberg also shows that the warm up from the Little Ice Age began in 1600, 260 years before CO2 levels started to rise.

As can be seen below, geologically consistent reconstructions like Moberg and Esper are in far better agreement with "direct" paleotemperature measurements, like Alley's ice core reconstruction for Central Greenland.

What happens if we use the plant stomata-derived CO2 instead of the ice core data?

We find that the ~250-year lag time is consistent. CO2 levels peaked 250 years after the Medieval Warm Period peaked and the Little Ice Age cooling began and CO2 bottomed out 240 years after the trough of the Little Ice Age. In a fashion similar to the glacial/interglacial lags in the ice cores, the plant stomata data indicate that CO2 has lagged behind temperature changes by about 250 years over the last millennium. The rise in CO2 that began in 1860 is most likely the result of warming oceans degassing.

More HERE (See the original for graphics)

Global warming 'will give Britain longer, colder winters' as melting sea ice plays havoc with weather patterns

Greenie logic below. For a start the Arctic has been GAINING sea ice in the last 2 or 3 years so that cannot explain recent events; They admit that warming has been very uneven across the Arctic, so how is that explained by GLOBAL warming? How does their explanation explain contemporaneous cooling half a world away from the Arctic -- in Australia?

Britain will be hit by longer and colder winters in coming years because of global warming, scientists have said.

Melting Arctic Sea ice has changed wind patterns in the northern hemisphere - bringing blasts of colder air across the UK. Scientists believe the changes could be why we have been experiencing such a bitterly cold December.

In future we are three times as likely to be hit by bitterly cold winter months because of the changing climate.

Vladimir Petoukhov, who conducted the study at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact in Germany, said the disappearing sea ice will have an unpredictable impact on the climate.

'This is not what one would expect. Whoever thinks that the shrinking of some far away sea-ice won't bother him could be wrong,' he said. 'There are complex interconnections in the climate system, and in the Barents-Kara Sea we have discovered a powerful feedback mechanism. 'Our results imply that several recent severe winters do not conflict with the global warming picture but rather supplement it.'

Rising temperatures in the Arctic - increasing at two to three times the global average - have peeled back the region's floating ice cover by 20 percent over the last three decades. As the Arctic ice cap has melted the heat from the relatively-warm seawater escapes into the colder atmosphere above, creating an area of high pressure. That creates clockwise winds that sweep south over the UK and northern Europe.

The study was completed last year - before Britain was hit by a freezing winter and heavy snowfall.

Scientists said it was too early to say if the freezing conditions this year and last year were caused by changes in the Arctic. But as the ice continues to melt, Britain will begin to have warmer than average winters - but not for another half a century.

Stefan Rahmstorf, professor of physics of the ocean at the Potsdam Institute, said: 'If you look ahead 40 or 50 years, these cold winters will be getting warmer because, even though you are getting an inflow of cold polar air, that air mass is getting warmer because of the greenhouse effect. 'So it's a transient phenomenon. In the long run, global warming wins out.'

The paper was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research last month.


Glory be to Gaia, I'm dreaming of a green Christmas

CHRISTMAS is when two great religions collide: Christianity and environmentalism. It's God v Gaia, Christmas trees v tree huggers, and peace on earth v Greenpeace. Christians do not see nature as an end in itself. As Genesis puts it: "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

To greenies, this is a horror story: a recipe for overpopulation and the exploitation of nature. And how dare the Bible put man in charge of fish and birds and all living creatures? This is so anthropocentric, isn't it?

So along comes Christmas. It celebrates not only the arrival of yet another baby in this overpopulated world but life as such. It is about God saying yes to mankind: "peace to men on whom his favour rests", as the Gospel according to Luke records it. For an environmentalist, people are nothing to celebrate. They consume resources, they leave their carbon footprints wherever they go, and they pollute the air and the sea. A world without humans would be a much better place.

The following tips for a green Christmas are not made up. They can be found on numerous websites.

For a start, stop sending Christmas cards. Apparently, there are about a billion Christmas cards sent every year, which means 20,000 tons of paper. This is just a big waste. So abolish them. Or at least rip out the front page of a Christmas card so you can reuse it next year.

The same is true for gift wrapping. OK, nicely wrapped presents look good. But, seriously, why not use newspapers or at least recycle old gift wraps? It may not always fit the next present perfectly, but the recipient will understand that sacrifices for the environment must be made.

Talking of presents, don't give any new goods. Go to vintage and second-hand markets to find gifts that are pre-owned. This means their environmental footprint is limited. Better still: give environmentally useful presents. How about a new rainwater tank for your wife?

Christmas trees do look green, but of course they are not. It's wrong to cut a perfectly healthy tree so you can look at it for a couple of weeks. Think of the water it consumed to grow. Plastic trees are no alternative, because their production used up a lot of energy and emitted a lot of dirty carbon. Besides, plastic trees can contain PVC and that's just evil. It's a chemical and chemicals are generally suspicious.

The best tree is no tree. But if you really need to have one, make sure it is decorated with energy-saving light bulbs. Better still, use LED lights. And don't forget to switch them off when no one looks at the tree. By the way, using wax candles is not an acceptable option, as robbing the bees of their wax is ethically wrong.

The species that suffers the most at Christmas is the turkey. Millions of innocent turkeys are slaughtered every year. The least you can do is use organic turkeys. Of course, there are very few non-organic turkeys around because they all consist of living matter. But making sure that the turkey had a good life before it was killed is obviously a good thing.

Having no turkey at all is even better. In fact, don't have any meat. "If you really want to use less energy with your Christmas dinner, consider serving a vegetarian dinner," a green Christmas website suggests. "Each pound of meat raised requires far more energy (and carbon) to produce than vegetables, pulses and grains. While some families might be reluctant to try different dishes when they're expecting the usual Christmas turkey, this is a great chance to learn how to cook new and exciting dinners.'

So instead of Christmas turkey, try some home-grown organic green beans with mash. That can be very festive indeed.

Finally, resist the temptation to wash down your alternative Christmas meal with the usual beers and champagne from the big liquor chain store. There are many locally brewed organic beers, and even for sparkling wine you now have a vast range of environmentally sensible options. And apparently, as Britain's The Independent says, there is "organic champagne, which is rounder and softer than the Bollinger I used to fill up on".

So as you sit at home in front of a pot plant decorated with energy-saving light bulbs, unpacking second-hand solar-powered battery chargers from recycled newspaper wrappings, just before having a modest vegetarian organic dinner, you will surely feel the very warm inner glow of a morally superior Christmas deep inside you.

Glory to Gaia in the highest, and peace to all those who know how to celebrate a fully compostable Christmas.


Severe freeze in Alaska too

Cold temperatures again forced the Alaska Dog Mushers Association to postpone the start of the sprint sled dog racing season.

The opening event of the Annamaet Challenge Series was postponed when the official National Weather Service temperature at 8:15 Sunday morning was 25 below.

The five-race series is now scheduled for Dec. 26, Jan 2, Jan. 9, Jan. 16 and Jan. 30.


Polar bears numbers increasing, say those who live beside them

The European Union ban on polar bear trophies could be lifted, depending on the outcome of an upcoming survey of the animals in the Baffin Bay-Kane Basin area.

The EU banned the import of trophies from the area between Greenland and Nunavut in 2008, after its scientific review group reviewed population and hunting numbers provided by the territorial and federal governments and decided polar bears in the region were being overhunted.

The ban could be lifted relatively quickly, however, if the survey planned for next year finds higher numbers of the animals than previously reported, said Marco Valentini, chair of the EU's scientific review group.

The EU ban, which came soon after a U.S. ban was imposed, has hurt Inuit communities, hunters say, as fewer sport hunters are coming from Europe because they can't take their bear hides home.

"It has been one of the difficulties for the hunters, as they have lost the source of income for their family," said Harry Alookie, a hunter in Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut. "If it was lifted, it would help the community, as it had benefited in the past."

Nunavut Environment Minister Daniel Shewchuk announced in March that the total allowable harvest in Baffin Bay would decrease by 10 bears a year over the next four years, reducing the quota from 105 bears to 65 bears by 2013. Hunters from Greenland kill 68 each year, a drop over the last three years from as many as 200 bears a year.

Inuit hunters say the number of bears has been increasing, but most [Warmist] scientists disagree.

More here


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