Sunday, January 10, 2016

Can a few degrees of global temperature change make a big difference?

It is rare to get fact-based comments from Leftists on any of my blogs.  As other conservative bloggers will confirm, enraged and irrational abuse is what one normally gets.  Which tells you a lot about the Green/Left.  Their rage and hate make the horrors of Soviet Russia and Maoist China understandable.

So I was surprised and interested to find that, although he was abusive, one commenter did actually make an apparently rational argument. He said:  "The average global temp of the last ice age was only a few degrees cooler than the 20th century".  And from that he argued that a few degrees of change is all that is needed for big effects in general.  So a few degrees of warming could also  have a big effect.  As we know, Warmists have quite arbitrarily set a temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius as the knell of doom so are they right?  Could even that small change have a big effect?

But does that argument hold up?  If a few degrees of cooling made a big difference, would a few degrees of warming also make a big difference?  I think we can all see instinctively that "It ain't necessarily so" but let me flesh that perception out.

The earth as a whole is actually a rather cold place relative to the freezing point of water (zero degrees Celsius). The average global temperature at present is approximately 14 degrees Celsius.  And the average global temperature in the last ice age was around 9 degrees Celsius.  So the difference is only 5 degrees -- which does indeed sound alarming.

But any average implies a range above and below it so an average of 14 degrees will mean that there are a lot of places where the number is a lot lower than that.  An average of 14 degrees tells us that there will be a lot of places on earth where the temperature is a lot cooler than that. For circumpolar regions, the temperature will be getting close to zero degrees.

So that makes it very clear why we had an ice age.  Lots of the globe was already pretty cold so a drop of 5 degrees pulled a great part of it below the threshold for ice formation (zero degrees Celsius).

But there is no similar situation for warming.  A couple of degrees of warming is unlikely to cause anything to cross any threshold. It might melt a bit of sea ice but melting floating ice leaves the water level unaffected -- As Archimedes demonstrated about 3,000 year ago.

So yes.  A few degrees can make a big difference but only if you are near some threshold -- and it has not been shown that we are.

FOOTNOTE:  My academic background is in the social sciences.  I am no paleoclimatologist.  So when I first saw the argument by the Warmist, I was nonplussed.  I could see that the argument was invalid but I could not put my finger on why.  But my research background kicked in immediately and I said to myself: "What are the numbers?"  And when I looked up the numbers, I had the answer to the puzzle.  In science, the numbers make all the difference.

And the numbers make a lot of Warmism look absurd.  The annual announcements that the year just past was the "hottest", "third hottest" etc. sound important until you realize that the differences being talked about are in hundredths of one degree only. We actually live in an era of exceptional temperature stability.  It takes the perversity of the Left to call it an era of dangerous warming

Technical note: I have given 9 degrees as the temperature of the last ice age but that is very much an approximation. It is however a fairly conventional approximation and serves well for the purposes of illustration. There are lower figures, depending on how you balance out the different times and places in the era concerned. And the whole concept of an average temperature for the earth is a pretty hairy one anyway. -- JR.

This is "drought-stricken" California

Warmists have been vocal in blaming reduced precipitation recently on global warming. But the current flooding is being blamed on El Nino.  If the flooding is caused by a natural climatic event, why is the drought not also  caused by a natural climatic event?  The "drought" could not be just one part of a natural climate cycle, could it?

2015 may NOT have been the hottest year on record after all: Satellite data shows temperatures were lower than first thought

For months, reports have claimed 2015 was the hottest year on record, with temperatures reaching unprecedented levels globally.

However, this title may have been awarded a little hastily after scientists in the US found evidence to suggest it was actually the third hottest year since records began.

By studying satellite data, their results contradict the previous readings and predictions made using land-based weather stations.

The satellite readings were taken from the lower atmosphere. They show that the temperature anomaly for December 2015 was 0.44°C (0.79°F), which was up from November's 0.33°C (0.59°F), said the experts from University of Alabama, Huntsville (UAH).

Over the course of 12 months, this made 2015 the third warmest year since satellite records began in 1979, with an average global temperature of 0.27°C (0.49°F) above the average.

This is lower than the combined average temperature taken using land and sea-based equipment, which found the temperatures were 0.97°C (1.75°F) above the 20th century average of 12.9°C (55.2°F) in November alone.

Based on the satellite data, 1998 holds the record for the warmest year at 0.48°C, followed by 2010, at 0.34°C (0.61°F).

The most recent data has been published online by Dr Roy Spencer, a meteorologist at UAH.

'The tropics continue [to] warm due to El Nino conditions, with December unsurprisingly the warmest month yet during the El Nino event,' Dr Spencer wrote.

'Since 2016 should be warmer than 2015 with the current El Nino, there is a good chance 2016 will end up as a record warm year…it all depends upon how quickly El Nino wanes later in the year.'

Dr Spencer is a proponent of natural causes as the man driver of climate change, rather than man-made causes, chiefly through the burning of fossil fuels.

The latest satellite data comes after datasets published at the end of last year from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showed 2015 to be the hottest year on record.

However, unlike the satellite measurements from the UAH group, the NOAA readings are taken from land and sea-based weather stations.

According to the agency: 'The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for November 2015 was the highest for November in the 136-year period of record, at 0.97°C (1.75°F) above the 20th century average of 12.9°C (55.2°F), breaking the previous record of 2013 by 0.15°C (0.27°F).'

Meteorologists said the current El Niño has stormed its way into the record books, tying 1997-1998 as the strongest recorded.

Mike Halpert, deputy director of the federal Climate Prediction Center, said initial figures for October-November-December match the same time period in 1997 for the strongest El Nino.

Meteorologists measure El Niño based on how warm parts of the central Pacific for three consecutive months.

El Niño is caused by a shift in the distribution of warm water in the Pacific Ocean around the equator.

Usually the wind blows strongly from east to west, due to the rotation of the Earth, causing water to pile up in the western part of the Pacific.

This pulls up colder water from the deep ocean in the eastern Pacific.

However, in an El Niño, the winds pushing the water get weaker and cause the warmer water to shift back towards the east. This causes the eastern Pacific to get warmer.

But as the ocean temperature is linked to the wind currents, this causes the winds to grow weaker still and so the ocean grows warmer, meaning the El Niño grows.

This change in air and ocean currents around the equator can have a major impact on the weather patterns around the globe by creating pressure anomalies in the atmosphere

The findings highlight the mammoth task facing climatologists in analysing and making predictions from a number of highly variable datasets.

The North Pole recently experienced something of a heatwave as temperatures came close to melting point, making the Arctic region as warm as some major cities in Europe and the US.

According to ocean measurements from the North Pole Environmental Observatory, the mercury tipped -1.9°C (28.6°F) on Wednesday 30 December, as the Arctic bathed in an unseasonably warm spell.

The hike in temperature was reportedly due to the same low pressure system which has brought flood chaos to England and Scotland, and made areas of the Arctic up to 35˚C (63°F) warmer than the seasonal average.

The unseasonably warm and wet winter is believed to have been driven by the El Niño event in the Pacific.

According to space agency Nasa, satellite data indicated that the current El Niño could be as strong as that of 1997 and 1998 which was the strongest on record.

This tallies with the atmospheric satellite data from the UAH group.

Commenting on the findings, Professor Jo Haigh, co-director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, told MailOnline: 'The University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) record is based on satellite measurements of microwave radiation given off by oxygen in the lower atmosphere.

'There are a number of differences between this approach and that used by, for example, the UK Met Office.

'The intensity of the radiation measured by the UAH satellites is proportional to the temperature of the air in the lowest few kilometres of the atmosphere, i.e. not actually at the surface.

'The Met Office incorporates data from other instruments directly measuring temperature, e.g. at surface weather stations and from balloons and aircraft.

'Another difference is the way in which satellites orbit the Earth so that there is a drift in the time of day at which the measurements are made.

'For these reasons, and others, a precise one-to-one correspondence between the records would not be expected.

'Whether or not 2015 was the warmest, or second or third warmest, is rather less important than the unquestionable observation that nine of the ten hottest years on record have occurred since 2005 and that each of that past three decades has been warmer than the previous, and warmer than any previous decade since 1850.' [If you think differences of tenths and hundredths of one degree are important]


The latest Greenie brainstorm

THE wind flowing over your roof is packed with energy, if you could only harness it. A new type of wind power generator carpets a surface with plastic strips that sway in the wind like grass, producing renewable energy where traditional windmills would be impractical.

The generator is made by fixing flexible strips of plastic to a board, so they stand upright like rows of dominoes. The strips have nanowires etched on one side and a coating of indium tin oxide (ITO) on the other. When the strips flail in the wind, the nanowires slap against the ITO surface of neighbouring strips. This temporary contact allows electrons to leap from one material to the other, creating a current through a phenomenon known as the triboelectric effect.

Covering a 300-square-metre rooftop with the strips “would be expected to deliver an electrical energy of 7.11 kW, which should mostly power a household,” says Weiqing Yang at Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu, China.

Yang worked on the project with Zhong Lin Wang’s group at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. The goal was to tap energy not just from steady winds, but from the choppy gusts typical of built-up areas too. “Compared with a wind turbine, our triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) is effective at harvesting the energy from natural wind blowing in any direction,” says Yang. He adds that the harvesting system is simple to make, and easy to scale to larger systems.

So far, the generator has only been tested in the lab, aiming an electric fan at a model rooftop covered with 60 strips. This generated enough electricity to light up 60 LEDs. The strips work at wind speeds as low as 21 kilometres per hour, but the most useful power was generated with direct wind at almost 100 km/h – or storm force 10.

That’s neither easily available nor desirable, says Fernando Galembeck, who investigates energy harvesting at the University of Campinas in São Paulo, Brazil. “Significant amounts of power are obtained but we are still far from installing these devices on our rooftops and building walls.”

Galembeck says that, as with any energy scavenging technique, energy storage will be crucial for the system’s success, allowing the variable amounts of power generated in gentle winds to be stored until needed.

Yang says they are seeking a storage solution, as well as working on integrating the nanogenerator with solar panels to boost output.

Galembeck also points out that indium tin oxide isn’t a suitable material, due to its poor mechanical properties, cost and toxicity. “The concept is highly promising but its realisation depends on shifting to other materials,” he says.


EPA Chief: Climate Change Is Certain But You Can't Predict the Future

When asked Thursday about federal data showing that fossil fuels will provide about 80 percent of the world’s energy needs through 2040 and that U.S. carbon emissions are at the lowest they’ve been in decades, the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator said that it’s impossible to predict the future. asked EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, “According to the Energy Information Administration – although alternative and renewables are growing slightly – fossil fuels will still account for 80 percent of U.S. energy needs through 2040. Federal data also shows that U.S. carbon emissions are at almost a 20-year low right now. How do those facts fit into the picture the EPA is painting of the U.S. energy landscape?”

“I think just as climate change is a long-term issue – clearly addressing that is, but I don’t think anyone disputes the direction in which the world is heading,” McCarthy said at an event focused on the threat of climate change at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C.

“How quickly it gets there – including in the U.S. – is going to be up for debate, but what I always have to constantly remind people – and this is again, maybe, an infatuation with new technology for me – is that no one could have predicted what the world looked [sic] like today 20 years ago,” she said. “No one. Zero.”

McCarthy then compared phone technology to the transformation from fossil fuel to other energy sources.

“If you told me 30 years ago there wouldn’t be a phone in my house, sitting on a wall, I would have thought you were nuts, right?” McCarthy said. “And now nobody is investing in land lines. Would you?

“And so the world changes dramatically, and I think in the energy world, it’s not going to be different, because people are looking for continued opportunity for investment,” she said.

“Frankly, a lot of the investment that would have been made before is so old and has not been invested in that now there is an opportunity for significant investment [in alternative energy], and that is going to be, I think, in a direction which we are seeing the energy world is heading,” McCarthy said.

“So I think you’re going to see an escalation of that transition moving forward,” she said.

McCarthy did not directly respond to the statistics on U.S. carbon emissions. According to the EIA, electricity production reached a 27-year low in April 2015.

Carbon emissions from U.S. power plants are at near 20-year lows, according to the American Petroleum Institute 2016 State of American Energy report.

McCarthy spoke about the United Nations climate change agreement that the Obama administration signed onto late last year in Paris. McCarthy did not provide specifics in her remarks about how the U.S. would comply with its agreement commitments, including the need for Congress to approve funding that was promised to help developing nations address climate change.


For Now, Green Lobby Is Dead Meat in Dietary Debate

Every five years, the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services revise nutritional standards for what is considered a balanced diet. The new edition, released Thursday, contains most of what you would expect — a recommendation to drastically reduce artificial sugar intake and consume more fruits, vegetables and grains. But the guidelines retained one surprising element that was thrust to the forefront of the debate last year: Red meat. It all ties back to a controversial proposal that was weighed by a panel of nutritional experts who appear to be covertly working to do the environmental lobby’s bidding. The Hill explains:

    "The recommendations for what Americans should and shouldn’t be eating … created unprecedented controversy in 2015 when the federally appointed panel of nutritionists that helps draft them considered environmental concerns in recommending that people should eat less meat. The USDA and HHS relented to industry outrage and promised the environment would not be considered, but congressional leaders wanted to be sure, adding language to the year-end $1.1 trillion spending bill requiring the agencies to conduct a ‘comprehensive review’ of the guidelines and the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee within 30 days. Groups in the meat industry were relieved to see that lean meats had ultimately been left in the description of a healthy diet.“

That’s not to say the meat industry was given a free pass. "The guidelines note that there is strong evidence to support that eating less meat, including processed meats, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease,” The Hill adds. Nevertheless, Americans can keep chomping away at modest proportions of red meat with the government’s blessing. But for how long?

Writing in The Wall Street Journal in November, Julie Kelly and Jeff Stier discerned how the meat-cancer link was conveniently well-timed and may have been a clever ploy ahead of the Paris climate talks. And it’s possible now that those talks are over and considered successful by most environmentalists that USDA and HHS have a little leverage to back off the pedal for a time. But rest assured, the proposals will be back.

After all, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change proposes no less than a 25% reduction in global meat consumption, and maybe up to 75%, arguing that fewer livestock means less methane emissions escaping into the atmosphere — rather ironic considering livestock is nature. The war on meat is a coordinated effort that won’t be easily overcome. On the bright side, the dietary guidelines also put a positive light on caffeine. Which is great news. We’ll need all the coffee we can get to expose behind-the-scenes fraud like this.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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