Tuesday, November 01, 2011

I knew it! (See my 2nd post of Oct. 30)

Recent N. American blizzards a sign of global warming! The writer below fails to note that they are having unusually warm weather in England at the moment -- so there is nothing global involved. He is not a total nit however. Unlikle many Warmists he has picked up: "Dr. Richard Miller still doesn’t support human activity as the cause"

There’s frost on the pumpkin and then there’s snow, which was all over pumpkins in the Northeast because of a blizzard that didn’t wait even for November. Nearly one million people in Connecticut alone were without power.

Coincidentally, last week a former global warming skeptic announced that he had become a believer.

He changed his mind because of research he had begun last year that he thought would enable him to challenge data that climatic scientists have cited to prove the Earth is getting warmer because of human activity.

But instead of discovering that the Earth is not getting warmer, the scientist confirmed that it is. Dr. Richard Miller still doesn’t support human activity as the cause, but he agrees that warming is happening.

One sign of that warming is freakish weather, and the weekend storm certainly qualifies. Connecticut hadn’t had an October snow like this since 1804, and that was caused by a hurricane. It’s the sort of freakish weather that is happening more often.

There’s a good debate to be had about the long-term effects of global warming. Climate scientists disagree on the severity and the timetable. All say, however, that the impacts eventually will be serious unless we stop pumping so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

We believe that the weekend blizzard shows again the effects of global warming.


Disobedient trees

The Warmists were sure that a big study would show a Northward movement of tree species -- but it isn't happening. I wonder why? Could it be that there has been NO warming for a long time now?

More than half of eastern U.S. tree species examined in a massive new Duke University-led study aren't adapting to climate change as quickly or consistently as predicted.

"Many models have suggested that trees will migrate rapidly to higher latitudes and elevations in response to warming temperatures, but evidence for a consistent, climate-driven northward migration is essentially absent in this large analysis," says James S. Clark, H.L. Blomquist Professor of Environment at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.

Nearly 59 percent of the species examined by Clark and his colleagues showed signs that their geographic ranges are contracting from both the north and south.

Fewer species -- only about 21 percent -- appeared to be shifting northward as predicted. About 16 percent seemed to be advancing southward, and around 4 percent appeared to be expanding in both directions.

The scientists analyzed data on 92 species in more than 43,000 forest plots in 31 states. They published their findings this month in the journal Global Change Biology.

The study found no consistent evidence that population spread is greatest in areas where climate has changed the most; nor do the species' response patterns appear to be related to seed size or dispersal characteristics.

"Warm zones have shifted northward by up to 100 kilometers in some parts of the eastern United States, but our results do not inspire confidence that tree populations are tracking those changes," says Clark, who also holds appointments at Duke as a professor of biology and statistics. "This increases the risk of serious lags in tree migrations."

The concept of climate-driven migration is based on the assumption that as temperatures warm, the southern edge of some tree species' ranges could begin to erode as adult trees die and the seeds they leave behind in the soil can no longer sprout. At the same time, the species could spread to higher latitudes as seedlings dispersed on their northern boundaries are able to take root in newly favorable climates there.

To test whether this predicted response was occurring in real life, Clark and his colleagues pored through decades of data compiled by the U.S. Forest Service's Forest Inventory and Analysis Program. They compared the relative distributions of seedlings, saplings and adult trees of 92 widely distributed eastern U.S. species at 43,334 plots in 30 different longitudinal bands, and factored in things like seed characteristics, and changes in climate and precipitation.

"The patterns of tree responses we were able to document using this seedling-versus-tree analysis are more consistent with range contraction than with northward migration, although there are signs some species are shifting to higher elevations," Clark says.

The fact that the majority of the northernmost latitudes documented for seedlings was lower than those for adult trees of the same species indicates "a lack of evidence for climate-mediated migration, and should increase concern for the risks posed by climate change," he says. [A complete non-sequitur]


Disobedient animals too

Last month we spotlighted a study that claimed global warming would shrink animals by causing them to grow faster and stop growing sooner, leaving them smaller.

Scarcely 30 days later, however, San Francisco State University researchers report that global warming is making birds get bigger. Here’s the media release:
Birds are getting bigger in central California, and that was a big surprise for Rae Goodman and her colleagues.

Goodman uncovered the trend while working as a graduate student for San Francisco State University biologist Gretchen LeBuhn, analyzing data from thousands of birds caught and released each year at two sites near San Francisco Bay and the Point Reyes National Seashore.

The SF State scientists, working with researchers from PRBO Conservation Science and the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory who collected the data, found that birds’ wings have grown longer and birds are increasing in mass over the last 27 to 40 years.

What’s making the birds bigger? The researchers think that the trend is due to climate change, but their findings put a twist in the usual thinking about climate change and body size. A well-known ecological rule, called Bergmann’s Rule, states that animals tend to be larger at higher latitudes. One reason for this rule might be that larger animals conserve body heat better, allowing them to thrive in the generally colder climate of higher latitudes.

Under this reasoning, some scientists have predicted that animals would get smaller as the Earth has warmed up over the past 100 years. But the study, published in the journal Global Change Biology, suggests that the connection may not be so simple.

Climate change may affect body size in a variety of ways, they note in their paper. For instance, birds might get bigger as they store more fat to ride out severe weather events, which are expected to be more common under global climate change. Climate change could also alter a region’s plant growth, which may eventually lead to changes in a bird’s diet that affect its size.

LeBuhn, an assistant professor of biology, said she was “completely surprised” to find that the central California birds were growing larger over time. “It’s one of those moments where you ask, ‘what’s happening here?’” The results were so unexpected, she said, that the findings made them take a step back and look more closely at how climate change could influence body size.

The bird data come from two long-term “banding stations” in central California, where a wide variety of birds are captured, banded about the leg with an identification tag, and weighed and measured before being released. Many of the same birds were captured each year, allowing the researchers at the sites to build up a unique database that could be used to track changes among the birds over several decades.

The researchers used data from 14,735 individual birds collected from 1971 to 2010 at the Palomarin Field Station, near the southern end of the Point Reyes National Seashore, by researchers from PRBO Conservation Science. Their study also included data on 18,052 birds collected between 1983 and 2009, from the Coyote Creek Field Station at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay by the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory.

“At the time I started my research, a few studies had looked at body size changes in a few species in Europe and the Middle East, but no one had examined bird body size changes in North America,” said Goodman, who now teaches Biology and Environmental Science at San Francisco’s Jewish Community High School of the Bay.

“We had the good fortune to find an unexpected result — a gem in research science,” she added. “But we were then left with the puzzle of figuring out what was going on.”

After testing and discarding a number of other explanations, Goodman and her colleagues were confident that climate change was behind the longer wings and bigger bodies in most of the birds. The birds may be responding to climate-related changes in plant growth or increased climate variability in central California, the researchers suggest in the paper.

“The fingerprint of climate change is showing up in many of our ecosystems,” explains Nat Seavy, research director for the Central Coast at PRBO Conservation Science. “The challenge is to use the long-term data we’ve been collecting to understand how, where and why these changes are occurring.”

The findings offer a glimpse at the potent effects of climate change across a wide range of species, LeBuhn said. “Even over a pretty short period of time, we’ve documented changes in important traits like body size, where we don’t expect to see much flexibility.”

“But in some ways,” she added, “it gave me a little more hope that these birds are able to respond — hopefully in time — to changes in climate.”

“Although it is encouraging that species are changing in response to climate change,” said Seavy, “it is also troubling that environmental stressors are pushing and pulling on species in diverse ways…What will happen to our ecosystems as some species get larger and others get smaller? We need long-term monitoring to help us understand the impact of these changes.”

Well, whatever is going on, if anything at all, you can be sure that these researchers are clueless.


And disobedient flooding!

Al Gore, where are you?

No — or, more precisely, not yet — conclude R.M. Hirsch and K.R. Ryberg of the U.S. Geological Survey in a recent study published in Hydrological Sciences Journal.

“One of the anticipated hydrological impacts of increases in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere is an increase in the magnitude of floods,” note Hirsch and Ryberg. Righto! Google “global warming” and “flood predictions,” and you’ll find more than 2.7 million sites where this hypothesis is affirmed or at least discussed. The researchers explain:
Greenhouse gases change the energy balance of the atmosphere and lead to atmospheric warming, which increases the water-holding capacity of the atmosphere, which in turn, potentially changes the amount of precipitable water.

Sounds plausible, but all weather is local or regional, and a lot more goes into making weather than average global temperature. In addition, all flooding is local or regional, and a lot more goes into determining flood risk than local or regional weather patterns.

As Hirsch and Ryberg point out, “human influences associated with large numbers of very small impoundments and changes in land use also could play a role in changing flood magnitude,” and “at time scales on the order of a century it is difficult to make a quantitative assessment of the changes in these factors over time.”

That, however, did not stop good ol’ Al Gore from claiming that global warming is responsible for a decade-by-decade increase in the number of large floods around the world (An Inconvenient Truth, p. 106). Gore’s source was a chart from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (Figure 16.5, p. 448):

The chart does appear to show significant decadal increases in the number of floods. However, what the chart actually measures is the number of “damaging” floods, and whether or not a flood is classified as “damaging” is influenced by socio-economic and even political factors. As the MEA report explains:
Only events that are classified as disasters are reported in this database. (An event is classified as a disaster if it meets at least one of the following criteria: 10 or more people reported killed; 100 or more people reported affected; international assistance was called; or a state of emergency was declared . . .

Obviously, the database is going to be skewed towards more events in later decades simply because of better reporting, more declared states of emergency, and more calls for international assistance. As the MEA report observes, “although the number has been increasing, the actual reporting and recording of floods have also increased since 1940, due to the improvements in telecommunications and improved coverage of global information.”

The MEA report identifies several non-climatic factors that influence flood risk: wetlands loss and deforestation, changes in engineering practices, irrigation, urbanization, and, perhaps most importantly, population growth and economic development in flood plains.

In short, teasing out a greenhouse warming “signal” from flood damages influenced by both natural climate variability and a host of societal factors is a daunting task. Yet Gore treats flood damage data as unambiguous evidence of a warming-ravaged planet.

Okay, let’s get back to the USGS scientists. Hirsch and Ryberg acknowledge they cannot entirely filter out “reservoir storage, urban development, or other human activities in the watersheds” without narrowing their study “almost entirely to very small watersheds, typically in remote and often mountainous areas.” As a reasonable compromise, they examined flood data from “200 streamgauges operated by the US Geological Survey (USGS) in the coterminous USA, of at least 85 years length through water year 2008, from basins with little or no reservoir storage or urban development (less than 150 persons per square kilometre in 2000).”

What did they find? From the paper’s abstract:
In none of the four regions [Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, Southwest] defined in this study is there strong statistical evidence for flood magnitudes increasing with increasing GMCO2 [global mean carbon dioxide concentration]. One region, the southwest, shows a statistically significant negative relationship between GMOC2 and flood magnitudes.

For further reading, the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change summarizes the results of 21 peer-reviewed studies on flooding and climate variability in North America. The Center concludes:
Taken together, the research described in this Summary suggests that, if anything, North American flooding tends to become both less frequent and less severe when the planet warms, although there have been some exceptions to this general rule. Hence, although there could also be exceptions to this rule in the case of future warming, on average, we would expect that any further warming of the globe would tend to further reduce both the frequency and severity of flooding in North America, which, of course, is just the opposite of what the world’s climate alarmists continue to claim would occur.


Why climate change demands skepticism

In "Why I Deny Global Warming" geophysicist David Deming recounts, "When I testified before the US Senate in 2006, I stated that a major climate researcher told me in 1995 that "we have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period."

It "had to be erased from history for ideological reasons," he explains.

Now, as if on cue, fellow Examiner Paul Hamaker reports that the other politically incorrect historical event, the non-human-caused Little Ice Age that so vexes Climate Changers has been debunked.

In "Proof: Climate change is not normal" he cites Swedish climate research claiming that the Little Ice Age was localized to the northern hemisphere and therefore not a case of global climate change.

Unfortunately, climate change science has been thoroughly polluted with blind faith, corruption, greed, and lies (you can read proof and disproof all over the internet. Take your cherry-pick).

When progressives smell something fishy in the non-progressive world they chant, "Follow the money!"

So why don’t they do the same with climate change? "Follow the government subsidy money!"

It’s because they apparently can’t see climate change as a Get Rich Quicker Scheme for the ruling class.

Climate change today is part religion, part politics, part big money corporatist opportunism, and part science. The part that is genuine science has been so unscrupulously steamrolled by the other, dominate parts, that it ceases to be science once it leaves the hands of the scientists, becomes bastardized by a watchdog-turned-neutered-lapdog media, and is put on display as fact.

Failure, or refusal, by the dogmatic left progressive environmental religionists to follow the climate change subsidy money while screaming, "Follow the money" at everyone else is hypocritical.

Remove all the subsidy money from climate change and the whole issue disappears overnight.

With so much corruption, we may never know in our lifetimes whether climate change is human-caused or not, whether climate science is a real science or just palm reading for the rubes, or a religion that would have remained a cult if only big bucks weren’t involved.

Remove the religious fervor, political corruption, profit motive and media mendacity from climate change and there might be a chance for intelligent discourse.

And then, considering that every anti-libertarian anti-freedom "solution" to the climate change "problem" demands trillions more tax dollars and thousands more coercive government-dictated regulations, deep skepticism is the only intelligent position possible.


Foolish population scares

English demographer Thomas Malthus issued his dire warning of global famine in 1798 as the population was approaching 1 billion. He and all of his successors - including Aldous Huxley, William Vogt, Paul Ehrlich, the Club of Rome and Lester Brown and Dick Smith - have been insistent for two centuries now, and they have all been wrong.

Not only that, but trends suggest that population growth is a self-limiting phenomenon. The rate of population increase peaked in the 1960s. It has been falling steadily ever since. The UN now projects that world population will peak in about 2050. And later this century it will start to fall, perhaps quite quickly. If the growing global population is a problem, it's one that is in the process of solving itself.

India and China are now not so sure that their policies of forced population repression were such a good idea. Both the Indian policy of forced sterilisation and the Chinese one-child policy have created unforeseen problems of gender imbalance, with serious social consequences.

And China's policy was so successful that it has set the country up for a new problem it had not imagined - in a few decades China will become the fastest-ageing country in the world. It will lack the working-age population to support the elderly. This is just one of the reasons that China has maintained the policy on its books but now pursues only partial and haphazard enforcement.

So how are we to make sense of these apparent contradictions?

The reason Malthus was wrong is that he observed two trends that he argued were irreconcilable. Population grew exponentially, while food supply grew arithmetically; drawn on a graph, the two lines grew apart at an ever-steepening rate as population far outstripped food. Result - global famine.

It turns out that he was wrong about both parts of the equation. The population growth rate behaved as he thought, but only for a while. It changed and has been slowing, not accelerating, for half a century because the improving prosperity of the people in the fast-developing poor countries has led them to curb the size of their families.

Prosperity is a contraceptive. The solution, it turned out, was not to limit poor people's reproductive freedom by government diktat. It was to enable ordinary people to grow wealthier.

And the rate of food output turns out to have been the exact opposite of the Malthusian Armageddon - it has grown exponentially, not arithmetically.

The Green Revolution of the postwar years saw stunning increases in crop yields thanks to plant genetics and modern farming techniques. Indeed, the world today is already producing enough food to feed 12 billion, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

If there is so much food available, why are food prices soaring? And why is one-sixth of humanity permanently hungry?

There are very serious problems that the world needs to address. It's just that the reflexive Malthusian worry - that we are destined to have too many mouths for the planet to feed - is the wrong problem.

What are the right problems to work on? We do churn through the planet's resources faster than nature replenishes them. At the present rates of consumption, we'll need a second Earth to supply the raw materials we need and absorb the wastes we produce, according to the US environmental group the Global Footprint Network.

And if all the world's people enjoyed Western standards of living and consumption, we'd need five planets right now. It's self-evident that our species needs to become more efficient and more creative in the ways it harvests its food, water and fuel.

A staggering amount of food is wasted each year in the process of getting it from the farm gate to the consumer.

If the food that is today thrown away, spoiled or eaten by pests along the way were instead delivered to kitchen tables, the amount of food available for eating would increase by an astonishing 50 per cent, according to a major new research project co-ordinated through Canada's McGill University.

Governments need to set frameworks, but it's markets that do the work of improving efficiency. One of the increasingly fashionable reactions by governments is to resort to protectionism under the misnomer of ''food security''.

The distribution of food in the world is already bastardised by the protectionism in the richest nations. Closing borders and supply lines will make the problem worse, not better.



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


No comments: