Tuesday, May 01, 2012
Proof global warming isn't making weather wackier?
From hurricanes and tornadoes to deep freezes and droughts, extremes of weather are often blamed on global warming.
Greenhouse gases do much more than just warm the planet, some environmentalists warn: They cause hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, droughts, and even extreme cold spells. Or do they?
Steven Goddard, who runs the skeptical climate blog Real Science and has a background in geology and computer science, has spent thousands of hours studying bad weather events around the world.
He found that the weather was wilder and weirder in the past than it is today.
“People are claiming there are more disasters now,” Goddard said. “That’s crazy. The weather was terrible in the past, back when CO2 was below 350ppm."
1) Deadly hurricanes
The deadliest hurricane in U.S. history was not hurricane Katrina, but rather one that hit Galveston, Tex., more than a century ago. The Texas State Historical Association notes that, upon the first signs of the hurricane in 1900, a local weather official drove “a horse-drawn cart around low areas warning people to leave.”
For many, the warning was too late. “A storm wave… caused a sudden rise of 4 feet in water depth, and shortly afterward the entire city was underwater to a maximum depth of 15 feet.”
The hurricane destroyed most of the city, killing between 10,000 and 12,000.
“Hurricanes have not become more frequent or intense,” University of Alabama climate scientist John Christy told FoxNews.com. NOAA hurricane records back up that claim.
“The story on hurricanes is a mixed bag,” says Brenda Ekwurzel, a climate scientist at the Union for Concerned Scientists.
2) Melting Glaciers
Glaciers are melting around the world, and many worry that will cause flooding. But the melting is not necessarily due to greenhouse gases. Goddard points to places where glaciers nearly vanished due to natural warming.
Glacier Bay, in Alaska, is one such place. The glacier was discovered in 1794, but the National Park Service reports that “by 1879… naturalist John Muir discovered that the ice had retreated more than 30 miles ... By 1916 it … had melted back 60 miles.”
3) Extreme Cold
It was so cold in New York City that the rivers around Manhattan froze over for five weeks -- in 1780, that is. British troops occupying the city at the time rolled cannons from Manhattan across the ice to Staten Island. They even built temporary fortifications on the ice, which stayed solid enough to support men on horseback until March 17. Throughout the 1800s, the rivers froze over at least six times.
4) Extreme Heat
Many scientists argue that greenhouse gases have made extreme heat events more common.
“If we keep putting heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere at current rates, we can expect a city like NYC to go from having less than 10 days over 100F to between 30 and 45 [such days] by the end of the century,” Ekwurzel of the Union for Concerned Scientists told FoxNews.com, citing a government study.
But Goddard notes that heat waves are nothing new. One newspaper reported that on June 5, 1921, the temperature in New York rose to 107 degrees. In Washington, DC, “an egg carefully broken ... on an asphalt pavement … as an experiment was completely fried in 9 minutes.”
The deadliest heat wave in U.S. history also struck long ago, in 1936, causing some 5,000 deaths nationwide.
“Twenty-four of the lower 48 states set their all-time temperature records in the 1930s,” Goddard said. “Just one state [Arizona] has set a new record since the turn of the millennium.”
That shows that U.S. weather has been more extreme in the past, but does not indicate whether climate has warmed in general.
“The warmest month in U.S. history was July of 1936 -- and the coldest month in U.S. history was February of that same year,” Goddard said, noting that such rapid changes were due to fluctuations in a major air current known as the jet stream.
The worst drought in U.S. history also took place in the 1930s, destroying so many crops in the Midwest that, as a USDA report put it, “The eroding soil from once-productive range and crop lands filled the air with billowing clouds of dust that subsequently buried farm equipment, buildings and even barbed-wire fences.”
The disaster became known as “The Dust Bowl,” as 2.5 million Americans abandoned their farms.
“Climate was never safe,” Goddard said. “You had horrific fires, droughts, floods, heat waves -- it hasn't gotten any worse with the CO2 increase.”
True to form, the overwhelming majority of press outlets failed to report the juiciest global-warming gossip of the week — a change of heart on the issue by one of the world’s most celebrated environmentalists. Also true to form, the press failed to report the most profound science story of the week — a startling theory that not only absolves humans of blame in global warming but sheds light on another taboo subject: shortcomings in Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Take the juicy global-warming story I referred to. Several years ago, environmentalist James Lovelock made headlines when he announced that global warming would end the world as we know it — he predicted that “billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.” Google searches associating his name with global warming and climate change now exceed one million hits, and understandably so, given his reputation. Lovelock has infused environmental thought for decades through best-selling books describing Earth as a living organism — Lovelock is the one who coined the Gaia concept. Among many other honours heaped on Lovelock, Time magazine featured him in a series on Heroes of the Environment.
So, why, when Lovelock this week recanted his past views on global warming as being “alarmist,” did virtually every major news outlet on the planet ignore his change of heart? It wasn’t because he minced his words: “The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago,” he admitted, adding that temperatures haven’t increased as expected over the last 12 years. “There’s nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now.”
What else has the press, in its wisdom, decided to keep from the public in recent days? One eye-opener is the advance of ice in both the Arctic and the Antarctic — both are now at or above average levels. Another is an announcement by researchers at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and the Riken research foundation that the world may be heading into a prolonged period of global cooling — the Japanese study compared sunspot activity today with sunspots that preceded the Little Ice Age in the 17th century to find close similarities.
Had questioning of global warming not been taboo to most journalists, these stories would have doubtless merited ink and air time, not least because they tell a fresh story. Because the subject is taboo, the press censors itself.
The freshest story of all this week, which by rights should have rated stellar coverage, involved a powerful refutation of Darwin’s theory of evolution and its mechanism, natural selection. “Natural selection acts only by taking advantage of slight successive variations; she can never take a great and sudden leap, but must advance by short and sure, though slow steps,” Darwin wrote. Now, suggests a study published by the U.K.’s Royal Astronomical Society, life on Earth did not evolve smoothly at all: To the contrary, the planet owes its diversity to intense periods of productivity interspersed with immense periods of stagnancy. The mechanism for this evolving theory? Climate change on Earth, driven by galactic cosmic rays originating from exploding supernovas — the final act of stars.
This study, Evidence of nearby supernovae affecting life on Earth, does have a problem, although it convincingly correlates the development of life on Earth with the explosion of nearby stars over the past 510 million years. The problem is its author, Henrik Svensmark, a professor of physics at the Center for Sun-Climate Research at the Danish Space Research Institute, who is reviled in the global warming science establishment for studies showing that the Sun and cosmic rays, not man, drives the current climate on Earth.
Reporters on the global-warming beat and their editors have long ignored if not disparaged Svensmark. His latest study, which shows cosmic rays to have also driven the ancient climate, provides most journalists with reason enough to continue to ignore him, even though his study has been published by the world’s oldest and one of its most illustrious astronomical societies.
There is hope, however, both for Svensmark and for the information-consuming public, which is not only starved of balanced information on global warming and evolution but on numerous other politically correct scientific subjects, popularly known as junk science. Svensmark has shown that evolutionary change can occur very rapidly after long barren periods. Journalists themselves may soon evolve into science-capable skeptical practitioners.
Attacks on Lovelock are absurd
James Lovelock has been called the godfather of global warming. He’s one of the world’s most honoured scientists and environmentalists. His “Gaia theory” — that the Earth operates as a single, living organism — created an entirely new field of Earth science studies following its publication in 1979.
His electron capture detector first enabled scientists to detect CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and other pollutants in the atmosphere, which in many ways was the start of the modern environmental movement. His inventions have been used by NASA.
His books on the potentially cataclysmic effects of man-made climate change — The Revenge of Gaia and The Vanishing Face of Gaia — are required reading for anyone wanting to understand modern-day thinking on global warming.
And last week, in an interview with msnbc.com, he admitted he has been unduly “alarmist” about climate change, along with others like Al Gore. Lovelock said it’s not happening as quickly as he feared and that he and many others have been “extrapolating too far” from computer models. “The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing,” Lovelock said. “We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books — mine included — because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened.
Even though Lovelock is revered by global warmists for his Gaia theory and his previous writings predicting billions would die from it by the end of this century, his latest comments have prompted outrage from the same quarters.
Suddenly, the godfather of global warming is being condemned as everything from over-the-hill (he’s 92 and shows no signs of slowing down) to allegations he’s just seeking publicity for his new book and playing into the hands of climate deniers.
All these allegations are absurd.
Lovelock is a self-made genius, who already has all the fame he needs.
He hasn’t broken with the theory of man-made global warming. He still believes it’s happening, just not as quickly as he once thought.
His next book will outline ways in which he believes mankind can help regulate the Earth’s natural systems.
What’s marked Lovelock’s scientific career, however, most of it spent outside the academic establishment (his laboratory is a converted barn near Cornwall, England) is his willingness to test theories against real-world observation.
As “an independent and loner,” Lovelock told msnbc.com, he doesn’t mind admitting “all right, I made a mistake”, as opposed to university and government scientists whom, he said, fear admitting error will lead to a loss of funding.
Indeed, Lovelock regularly angers global warmists and environmentalists by refusing to toe the party line. He’s long argued wind turbines and solar panels are useless when it comes to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, as well as being blights on the landscape. He says the most effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally is through the increased use of nuclear power.
He compares environmentalists who demand the world must rapidly abandon fossil fuels to passengers on an airplane, who, having discovered it is pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, insist the pilot turn off the engines, thinking that will fix the problem.
“We cannot turn off our energy-intensive, fossil-fuel-powered civilization without crashing,” Lovelock warns. “We need the soft landing of a powered descent.” Exactly.
Lovelock’s only real problem when it comes to dealing with the global warming establishment, is that he’s always been too smart for the room.
Hellfire and Heresy: Global Warming Hotheads Inflamed About Skeptical Challengers
Nobel Physics laureate Ivar Giaever has called global warming (now “climate change”) a “new religion”. Its temple is built on grounds of faith rather than scientific foundations.
Author Michael Crichton articulated the essence of this creed in a 2003 speech whereby “There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with Nature; there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result from eating from the tree of knowledge; and as a result of our actions, there is a judgment day coming for all of us. We are energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability.
Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment, just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs imbibe.”
It seems the deepest, hottest pit of fossil-fueled climate change hell is reserved for crisis “deniers”. These are the heretics who have either turned their backs on true villainy of human climate sin, or worse, are its evil agents.
An article written by Forbes contributor Steve Zwick last month charges the latter. Moreover, he called for retribution, venting: “We know who the active denialists are–not the people who buy the lies, mind you, but the people who create the lies. Let’s start keeping track of them now, and when the famines come, let’s make them pay. Let’s let their houses burn. Let’s swap their safe land for submerged islands. Let’s force them to bear the cost of rising food prices. They broke the climate. Why should the rest of us have to pay for it?”
After his article ignited a firestorm of inflamed reader responses, Steve has subsequently posted a second one clarifying that it wasn’t really his wish to incite burning of skeptical households. And it’s unlikely that most ever saw that as his literal intent. I certainly understand that opinion columns, very much including mine, should often be expected to present controversial viewpoints that provoke reflection and commentary. No doubt, he clearly accomplished that.
Environmental blog author Mark Lynas has expressed a similarly harsh moral view of climate crisis skeptics: “I wonder what sentences judges might hand down at future international criminal tribunals on those who are partially but directly responsible for millions of deaths from starvation, famine and disease in decades ahead. I put this in a similar moral category to Holocaust denial-except that this time the Holocaust is yet to come, and we still have time to avoid it. Those who try to ensure we don’t will one day have to answer for their crimes.”
The horrifically offensive Holocaust/climate denier conflation has come to be indelibly inculcated into the attack lexicon through repeated references. For example, when television commentator Scott Pelly was asked in a March 23, 2006 CBS PublicEye blog post why he didn’t interview anyone who didn’t agree that global warming is a threat, he compared scientists who are skeptical about human-caused catastrophic climate change to Holocaust deniers: “If I do an interview with [Holocaust survivor] Elie Wiesel, am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?”
David Roberts, a regular contributor to Grist, a prominent environmental news and commentary blog site, carried the denier Holocaust theme even farther. Referring to the “denial industry”, he stated that we should have “war crime trials for these bastards—some sort of Nuremberg.”
UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) chairman, Rajendra Pachuri, even went beyond the Holocaust to compare the views of global warming crisis skeptics with those of Hitler himself. Referring to the well-known skeptic Bjorn Lombord, Pachuri stated, “What is the difference between Lomborg’s views on humans and Hitler’s? You cannot treat people like cattle.”
Another broadly applied denigration strategy is to accuse skeptical scientists and organizations of having nefarious financial ties to “evil” special interest sponsors, most particularly, being in the pockets of Big Oil companies. An example is Al Gore’s claim in a Rolling Stones article last year that: “Polluters and Ideologues are financing pseudoscientists whose job it is to manufacture doubt about what is true and false [and] ….spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year on misleading advertisements in the mass media.”
Al didn’t happen to mention, however, that his alarmist Alliance for Climate Protection organization reportedly netted more than $88 million in 2008, that the Natural Resources Defense Council took in more than $95 million in 2011 operating revenues, or that the World Wildlife Fund raised more than $238 million last year. Nor did he call attention to his Generation Investment Management hedge fund that realizes huge profits from investors in government subsidized “green” projects.
But Gore hasn’t been the least bit reticent about taking high-profile positions in support of personally lucrative cap-and-trade legislation and alternative energy subsidies. Speaking before a 2007 U.S. Joint House Energy and Science Committee, he enthused: “As soon as carbon has a price, you’re going to see a wave of investment in it–there will be unchained investment.”
Yes, what better way to reduce evil carbon than to make it a profitable commodity?
Some bent on linking climate crisis skeptics to greedy corporate agendas have reverted to the desperation tactic of fabricating such evidence. A recent incident involved noted climate skeptic critic Peter Gleick who, ironically, chaired the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Task force on Scientific Ethics. Gleick illegally obtained confidential materials including financial sponsorship documents from the conservative Heartland Institute. He then publicly distributed them along with a forged document which falsely reported a $200,000 contribution from the Koch Foundation along with other intentionally misleading claims.
In reality, Heartland had received only $25,000 from Koch interests over an entire ten year period to help support a health care newsletter. None of that money was either intended or used for their climate-related research and information services. The organization had received no funding from Exxon or other petroleum companies.
Al Gore’s assertion that climate alarm skeptics, motivated by prurient interests, are “manufacturing doubt about what is true and false” ignores a far different reality. Most of that media climate reporting emanates from tax-supported government and university climate scientists whose jobs depend upon stoking alarm-fueled funding pots.
Disquieting and costly consequences of this circumstance have become apparent through Freedom of Information Act exposure of scandalous e-mail exchanges between international researchers within the U.K.’s University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit (CRU) network. Many of these communications clearly reveal that top IPCC scientists consciously misrepresented and actively withheld vitally important information …then attempted to prevent discovery. As Myron Ebell, Director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center on Energy and Environment observes stated: “Several of the new e-mails show that the scientists involved in doctoring the IPCC reports are very aware that the energy-rationing policies that their junk science is meant to support would cost trillions of dollars.”
In one e-mail, a scientist warned: “It is inconceivable that policymakers will be willing to make billion-and trillion-dollar decisions for adaptation to the projected regional climate change based on models that do not even describe and simulate the processes that are the building blocks of climate variability.” Another admits: “…clearly, some tuning or very good luck [is] involved. I doubt the modeling world will be able to get away with this much longer.” Still another modeler complained: “Mike, the Figure you sent is very deceptive — there have been a number of dishonest presentations of model results by individual authors and by IPCC …”
Of course climate model projections are fatally compromised from the get-go when based upon poor global temperature records. One e-mail posted by database programmer Ian “Harry” Harris reports: “[The] hopeless state of their [CRU] database. No uniform data integrity. It’s just a catalogue of issues that continues to grow as they’re found…There are hundreds if not thousands of pairs of dummy [surface temperature recording] stations…and duplicates…Aarrggghh! There truly is no end in sight. This project is such a MESS. No wonder I needed therapy!!”
One key source of that data is NASA’s Goddard Institute of Climate Science (GISS), headed by the Father of Fright, James Hansen. For example, on December 6, 2005 Hansen stated that the Earth’s climate was already reaching a tipping point that will result in the loss of Arctic ice as we know it, with sea levels rising as much as 80 feet during this century (40 times higher than even the upper end of the most recent IPCC summary report has projected), thus flooding coastal areas.
A GISS researcher confessed in an e-mail that “[the United States Historical Climate Network] data are not routinely kept up-to-date, and in another that NASA had inflated its temperature data since 2000 on a questionable basis. “NASA’s assumption that the adjustments made the older data consistent with future data…may not have been correct.”
Under Hansen’s influence, irresponsible GISS performance has been a long-term embarrassment to many at NASA who believe it reflects very badly upon its public reputation. This concern prompted 49 former NASA scientists and astronauts to send a letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on April 10, admonishing the agency for its role in advocating a high degree of certainty that man-made CO2 is a major cause of climate change, while neglecting basic empirical evidence that calls the theory into question.
The group, which includes seven Apollo astronauts and two former directors of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, are dismayed over the failure of NASA, particularly GISS, to make an objective assessment of all available scientific data on climate change. They charge that NASA is relying too heavily upon complex climate models that have proven to be scientifically inadequate for climate predictions as little as one or two decades in advance.
Senator John Kerry, who civil servant Hansen had famously endorsed for his 2004 presidential run, recently lamented a political climate change regarding what he referred to as “the flat-Earth caucus” of global warming skeptics, saying: “Even amid the ‘Tuesday Group’…a bi-partisan block of lawmakers, mostly Democrats, who are interested in energy issues… you can’t talk about climate now. People just turn off. It’s extraordinary. Only for national security and jobs will they open their minds.”
More and more Americans no longer buy that indictment. Nor, apparently, do many Democrat senators who are currently facing hot challenges from skeptical cooler-headed opponents.
Solar Climate Change is happening now
The sun is entering a ‘muddled’ magnetic state. 'Little Ice Age ' (Maunder-Dalton) circulation patterns are emerging and more rapid world cooling is taking over -- says Piers Corbyn, astrophysicist and forecaster
"The Sun’s magnetic field is getting into a muddle as one half of it changes out of step with the other and this muddled behavior is likely to become very marked in MAY.
"This strange behavior was pointed out by Japanese researchers from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and the Riken research foundation* who say this was the sort of behavior which probably took place during low periods of solar activity in the past** and which drove the world into a cold state of longer winters, cold Spring months and lousy summers.
"At the same time independent observers have noticed an increase in Little Ice Age type (Maunder-Dalton type) weather events and circulation patterns around the world such as more extreme hailstorms and cyclonic cold weather in Britain and Ireland with the Jet stream shifted well south***.
"These changes and findings increase our confidence in our forecast made two years ago of general world cooling and our specific forecasts for individual months and regions such as for an exceptionally cold May this year in central and east Britain and West Europe – and which comes with the present very warm weather in East Europe which we predicted 4 weeks ahead.
"Although these developing circulation patterns are generally cold the wide-amplitude swings of the jet stream of which they are part also mean there will be some warm or very warm spots. This happened in March with a generally cold or very cold Northern Hemisphere while the UK and USA were warm and extremely warm respectively.
"May will also see dramatic contrasts and we will have more of a grasp on the boundaries between contrasting parts in our detailed May forecasts for Britain and Ireland, Europe and the USA issued at the end of April.
Global Warming Alarmist Steve Zwick's 'Science' Is More Troubling Than His Vitriol
Scientists and public policy analysts were justifiably appalled by Steve Zwick writing in his Forbes.com column last week that firemen should let houses burn down if they are owned or occupied by global warming “denialists.” Lost in Zwick’s over-the-top rhetoric, however, has been his even more troubling assertion of what constitutes sound science.
Before we get to the science, however, let’s clarify one point about the rhetoric.
For all the crying by global warming alarmists about the lack of civility in the global warming debate, almost all of the over-the-top vitriol among spokespersons for each point of view emanates from the alarmist crowd. Zwick’s call for skeptics’ houses to burn down is actually mild compared to other prominent alarmists calling for the murder, imprisonment, and execution of skeptics. These violent and hateful statements are made by alarmists on a fairly regular basis, yet the predominantly left-leaning media ignores it. By contrast, when serial name-caller Michael Mann cries “woe is me” because people actually follow the Scientific Method and criticize his methods or theories, the media goes on a tear-jerking bender of stories about scientists being under attack. Oh, please…..
Now, on to Zwick’s science.
When you dig beneath the vitriolic rhetoric of Zwick’s column, he makes the following scientific argument: “A recent poll by Yale and George Mason Universities shows that most Americans are at or near that point on climate change, with 72% of us seeing a link between extreme weather and our own actions. It’s a link that climate models have long predicted, and with the benefit of hindsight we see that even the earliest models have proven accurate over time.”
Let’s take a closer look at the survey Zwick cites.
The Yale Project on Climate Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication have released a joint survey about Americans’ impressions of recent extreme weather events. Much like the phenomenon where millions of people claim and apparently believe they were actually at the 1969 Woodstock music festival, a ridiculously high percentage of people claim in the Yale/George Mason survey to have personally experienced severe weather events like hurricanes and tornadoes during the past year.
Twenty-one percent of survey respondents say they personally experienced a tornado last year. This is astonishing. Unless the survey was conducted almost exclusively in Joplin, Missouri, or Tuscaloosa, Alabama, I am guessing the Woodstock effect is occurring here.
Even more remarkably, 16 percent say they personally experienced a hurricane last year. Not a single hurricane struck the United States last year. Tropical Storm Irene, often mislabeled as a hurricane, came the closest, with 70 mph winds striking small portions of the minimally populated North Carolina Outer Banks. So how did 16 percent of Americans personally experience a hurricane last year? Perhaps they were all together on a cruise ship off the Mexican coast in October when Hurricane Rina spun around in the Caribbean Sea for a few days.
While the Yale/George Mason survey showed people are prone to altered memories and imagining they have experienced mythical extreme weather events, this hasn’t stopped global warming alarmists like Zwick from waving the survey as “proof” of an asserted global warming crisis. Indeed, it is entirely fitting that alarmists like Zwick are using people’s imaginations about mythical extreme weather events to justify their call for emergency action to fight a fictitious global warming crisis.
So here we have an all-too-clear glimpse into the alarmist playbook: Create climate models that predict catastrophes. Objective data show catastrophes are not materializing. Call an audible by asking people if they believe they have experienced a catastrophe. Take the patently ridiculous subjective survey results to claim the catastrophes actually did occur. Assert these reconstructed memories as proof that your models were correct after all. Repeat these steps as necessary.
There you have your global warming crisis.
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Posted by JR at 4:11 PM