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AP "Science Writer" criticized
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Apparently there's been some blowback among scientists concerning an AP story on global warming I blogged about a couple of days ago. As you recall, AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein wrote that global warming is "a ticking time bomb that President-elect Barack Obama can't avoid," and that "global warming is accelerating."

Said David Deming, a geology professor at the University of Oklahoma:
"Reporters, as I understand reporters, are supposed to report facts,"Deming said. "What he's doing here is he's writing a polemic and reporting it as fact, and that's not right. It's not reporting. It's propaganda.
Deming goes on to lay a few facts out there:
"The mean global temperature, at least as measured by satellite, is now the same as it was in the year 1980. In the last couple of years sea level has stopped rising. Hurricane and cyclone activity in the northern hemisphere is at a 24-year low and sea ice globally is also the same as it was in 1980."
Michael R. Fox, a retired nuclear scientist and chemistry professor from the University of Idaho says of the story:
"There's very little that's right about it," Fox said. "And it's really harmful to the United States because people like this Borenstein working for AP have an enormous impact on everyone, because AP sells their news service to a thousand news outlets.

"One guy like him can be very destructive and alarming. Yeah it's freedom of speech, but its dishonest."
As Deming and Fox both note, these are cyclical events, the same ones the earth has been seeing for millions of years.

James O'Brien, an emeritus professor at Florida State University who studies climate variability and the oceans takes exception to a particular part of the story:
"When the Arctic Ocean ice melts, it never raises sea level because floating ice is floating ice, because it's displacing water," O'Brien said. "When the ice melts, sea level actually goes down.

"I call it a fourth grade science experiment. Take a glass, put some ice in it. Put water in it. Mark level where water is. Let it met. After the ice melts, the sea level didn't go up in your glass of water. It's called the Archimedes Principle."

He called sea level changes a "major scare tactic used by the global warming people."
O'Brien doesn't dismiss the impact of climate change, however he says politicians need to be very careful about who and what they believe:
"There is no question that the Obama administration is green and I'm green, and there's no question that they're going to really take a careful look at what we need to do and attack problems, and I applaud that," O'Brien said.

"But I'm really concerned that they're going to spend all the money on implementation of mitigation, rather than supporting the science."
I think he's hit on an inconvenient truth - most selective science will be cited to support the agenda of the AGW crowd, while "deniers" are pilloried and money is thrown at the wrong problem. In the meantime, beware of propagandists pretending to be "science writers" attempting to advance that agenda.
 
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Comments
Isn’t it curious now that a Democrat is elected president that suddenly the religion of global warming and environmentatlism is getting actual criticism in the press. This will lead to a rejection of the movement sometime over the next four years as economic reality trumps the fraudulent environmental science. When will global warming or the next great environmental dilemma hit us? Of course, as soon as a non Democrat takes over the government.
 
Written By: Orlando Armaswalker
URL: http://
To be fair — as water warms (and ice melts at the same time) it expands which will cause the water to take up more space. Therefore, sea levels do rise as the oceans’ temperatures rise.

The seas are not rising because of melting ice. They are rising because they are getting warmer and expanding.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
I wish we could stick all of the "Climate Change" morons in the Arctic and let them freeze to death. That would be funny, as the last words on their lips would be, "The world is warming up...the world is warming up...the world is warming up."

I like little stories like that. It’s just me, but I call it justice.
 
Written By: James Marsden
URL: http://
To be fair — as water warms (and ice melts at the same time) it expands which will cause the water to take up more space. Therefore, sea levels do rise as the oceans’ temperatures rise.

The seas are not rising because of melting ice. They are rising because they are getting warmer and expanding.
and what happens when you introduce cold water into that equation? The water that’s purportedly melting?

What’s absurd here is that nobody talks about what, precisely, needs to happen for all that ice to melt. We’d need global temperatures to rise by a few degrees, not just 1 in 100 years.
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
and what happens when you introduce cold water into that equation? The water that’s purportedly melting?
The entire ocean is larger in volume than what’s melting. Overall it is not going to cool the ocean more than it is heating. When something’s temperature increases, it is going to expand.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Remind me, JWG - how often do pipes burst in the summer, as opposed to in the winter?
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Water expands when it freezes. As one of the scientists linked in the post explains, floating ice categorically does NOT increase the volume of water when it melts.
 
Written By: Phil Smith
URL: http://
1. The AP article is indeed a ridiculous example of hysterical advocacy passed off as reportage. But ...

2. I think he’s hit on an inconvenient truth - most selective science will be cited to support the agenda of the AGW crowd, while "deniers" are pilloried and money is thrown at the wrong problem.

The inverse is also true (except for the money part). Honestly, no offense intended, but an example can be found in this post and many posts challenging global warming. You cite a scientist who criticizes an aspect of global warming inaccuracy or hype, but who also states that global warming is real and (to a significant extent) man-made.Meanwhile, your overall post advances the idea that it’s purely cyclical temp variation.

3. "The mean global temperature, at least as measured by satellite, is now the same as it was in the year 1980. In the last couple of years sea level has stopped rising. Hurricane and cyclone activity in the northern hemisphere is at a 24-year low and sea ice globally is also the same as it was in 1980."

Other rebuttal/contradictory info:

http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/16/a-cooler-year-on-a-warming-planet/?ref=science

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/12/2008-temperature-summaries-and-spin/

4. I really don’t know what to make of global warming. On the one hand, I am familiar with areas of science that become quasi-religious or political belief, failing to back up extraordinary claims with extraordinary evidence (models strike me as inadequate), so I understand the skepticism. On the other hand, if one were to rank "consensus", it’s (at least) 70/30 or 75/25 in favor of global warming.

Which leads me to believe only that a. warming is happening, b. man-made emissions MIGHT be contributing to it, c. natural climate variability might contribute either most or a minority of it and d. I’m not educated enough to aggressively promote either stance on the matter.
 
Written By: Bill
URL: http://
Temperature (degrees Celsius) Density (grams per cubic centimeter)
0 (solid) 0.9150
0 (liquid) 0.9999
4 1.0000
20 0.9982
40 0.9922
60 0.9832
80 0.9718

So, you can see that water expands 6 10th of one percent at 40 C - which is over 100 F. It expands 8.5% when it freezes.

Warming water, by itself, will not raise sea levels enough to notice.
 
Written By: Phil Smith
URL: http://
Warming water, by itself, will not raise sea levels enough to notice
A likely story!!

The oceans only fail to rise because Teh One has commanded that it not...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Which leads me to believe only that a. warming is happening, b. man-made emissions MIGHT be contributing to it, c. natural climate variability might contribute either most or a minority of it and d. I’m not educated enough to aggressively promote either stance on the matter.
Don’t mind me if I question your belief in ’a.’
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
Water expands when it freezes.
Yes, yes it does. It is one of the few substances that expands right before it freezes.

It also contracts as it is getting colder (like most other substances) until right before it freezes.

It also expands as it gets warmer (like most other substances).

If you want to argue physics with me, go right ahead. You’ll lose.

Look up "thermal expansion" and water.

The oceans aren’t rising because of melting ice. They are rising because of the physics involved in thermal expansion.
Warming water, by itself, will not raise sea levels enough to notice.
BS
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
how often do pipes burst in the summer, as opposed to in the winter?
You evidently are not familiar with the term "water hammer" as it relates to plumbing systems. It occurs when the pressure isn’t released properly from the pressure buildup of water heating in a pipe and expanding.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Bill,

If you do science you will know that "consensus" has nothing to do with hard sciences. Hard (chemistry, physics, etc.) have a validation framework and methodology for determining whether the results produced are valid. It is called the scientific method.

Really soft pseudo sciences like sociology, psychology, etc. have no real validation frameworks outside of statistical techniques to validate their results. It is from these fields of study that "consensus" is an acceptable means of validation. If enough learned people believe an idea then it is accepted.

The reason why "consensus" is so widely used for global warming studies is that a majority of these pushing these ideas are from fields of study where consensus is the way to do your job. Those scientists supporting global warming see a multi billion dollar payday coming their way.

So whenever someone argues consensus, it means they are no worth listening to.

Also, if you compare the other validation technique from the soft sciences, statistical analysis, you will find that there are countless mistakes. Look at Climateaudit.org where Steve McIntyre destroys the statistical models of GCM on a daily basis.

The real climate site is a combination of two groups, watermelons pushing red politics masked as green and a number of scientists who are getting rich on the global warming doom show. Both of which are bad at stats.


 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Also Bill, those scientists in the AGW big payday camp will not even release their data until forced to do so because as they put it "why should we make our data available to you, when your objective is to find something wrong with it?"

Generally the scientific method is to challenge and verify all data and the assumptions around it. Belief and consensus has no place in science. The moment this happens, then science is corrupted and people’s beliefs overrule the facts of the universe. That is all well and good, but the universe generally does not care what we think and acts according to its rules not ours.

When I see people buy into this stuff I see the leftist analog of the craziest of creationists



 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
I’m not sure where this story belongs, but something about it makes me think there is an Al-Gore-wannabee out there with eyes glowing ...
A new map plotting deaths resulting from forces of nature reveals where Mother Nature is most likely to kill you.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
You evidently are not familiar with the term "water hammer" as it relates to plumbing systems. It occurs when the pressure isn’t released properly from the pressure buildup of water heating in a pipe and expanding.
Actually, "Water Hammer" is the sudden, "impulse" pressure change when you rapidly shut a valve. It’s what causes the pipes in your basement to rattle when the washing machine is done filling.

When you shut a valve quickly, it causes a surge of pressure at the valve. It has nothing to do with water temp in any way, shape or form.

How do I know? I’m the guy that usually performs the "Water Hammer Test" on products the company I work for makes. 40psi flow will see spikes at shutoff up to (and not infrequently higher) than 150+psi. Yes, the water WOULD change temps do to the pressure change, but that temp increase is because of the pressure, not the other way around.

You’re likely thinking "thermal expansion" which is more a case of the pipe itself not heating evenly, or boiling of trapped water, which would cause GAS to escape, increasing internal pressure. A pipe filled with water is pretty freaking hard to heat anyways. Wanna see something neat? take a large-ish copper pipe, and cradle it in a one dollar bill. Now, hold a lighter under the dollar.

Guess what doesn’t happen.

Anyways, water only "expands" when heated in the sense that it releases gasses (water holds less gas the warmer it gets), which then would increase pressure in a sealed system. I don’t see boiling oceans, and it isn’t a sealed system anyways.

you don’t teach fluid dynamics, do you? I sure hope not.
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
"Warming water, by itself, will not raise sea levels enough to notice."

Well then, why does my bathwater get shallower lower as it cools? Hah! Gotcha!



"The oceans only fail to rise because Teh One has commanded that it not"

Canute? Is that you?


"Anyways, water only "expands" when heated in the sense that it releases gasses (water holds less gas the warmer it gets),"

The table cited by Phil Smith is, I think, at the first site below, and is for pure water. The third site has a graph of thermal expansivity, which increases with temperature.


http://www.simetric.co.uk/si_water.htm
http://www.watts.com/pro/divisions/watersafety_flowcontrol/learnabout/learnabout_thermexpansion.asp#generalinfo
http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/water/explan2.html#expan
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
capt joe -

re: scientific method:

In one sense, that’s why I said extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence (or at least just evidence). But while I’m aware of the scientific method in its purest form, I also believe that there are implications we can draw from observations. Think about it this way: by your standard, if (big if, though famous skeptic Bjorn Lomberg says it is happening, as one example) we agree on the data that says the planet is undergoing a warming trend you might require a standard of evidence that man-made gases are behind global warming that is impossible. How do you conduct and replicate an experiment on the scale of planetary climate beyond modeling?

As far as only weak sciences basing conclusions on stats, I assume that you agree with the statement that smoking causes cancer. We still haven’t identified the EXACT why, but we know that there is such a massive statistical correlation between smoking and cancer that it entered a realm of fact long before any particular deleterious mechanisms of smoke inhalation were found. Individuals studying smokers came to this conclusion long before, say, cigarette companies, who continued to assert that the standard of proof had not been met.

Now I’m not saying scientific consensus means that something is correct. Scientific thought ulcers were causes by stress for a long time before H Pylori was understood.

But when enough exceptionally smart people come to a conclusion based on available evidence, it is certainly an indicator to take it seriously and examine that evidence very closely.
 
Written By: Bill
URL: http://
It has nothing to do with water temp in any way, shape or form.
Wrong.
Yes, the water WOULD change temps do to the pressure change, but that temp increase is because of the pressure, not the other way around.
A container with water in it can increase in temperature for a number of reasons. One possibility is an environmental increase in temperature that causes the container and its contents (like water for instance) to heat up.
you don’t teach fluid dynamics, do you? I sure hope not.
Actually, I do. I can see you either didn’t take it in college, or did very poorly.
water only "expands" when heated in the sense that it releases gasses
That is so wrong I can only shake my head and wonder why this is so hard to understand.

Typical solids, liquids, and gasses expand when heated. This means they take up more volume as long as they are not restrained. The volume of the ocean, being made of water, increases as it warms. It takes up more volume which means that sea levels will rise (subtracting for the increased evaporation and other variables that we are ignoring when we simplify the science). It’s not hard to visualize.

If you have some sort of evidence that standard physics does not apply to the oceans that all the scientists of the world are not aware of, then by all means present it.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
If you have some sort of evidence that standard physics does not apply to the oceans that all the scientists of the world are not aware of, then by all means present it.
JWG, every substance on the planet has a different coeffecient of expansion at every state. Just have a quick peek at the table I posted. Then tell us the percentage that the oceans will rise due to temperature related expansion if the mean temperature goes up by 1, 5, or 10 C.

It’s utterly nominal. Do the math. I’ll reiterate for you - water expands 6 10ths of one percent at 40 C - which is over 100 F. It expands 8.5% when it freezes. This also means that as the ice melts, it contracts by that same amount.

Thanks for reminding me how unbelievably hard-headed grad students can be.
 
Written By: Phil Smith
URL: http://
It’s not hard to visualize.
It is when the average water temp is dropping.

So which direction do you want to take this argument? The ocean is rising because water expands as it cools, or that the ocean is rising because water expands when it cools...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
JWG, from your link:
General Information - What is Thermal Expansion?

When water is heated it expands. For example, water heated from 90ºF to a thermostat setting of 140ºF in a 40 gallon hot water heater will expand by almost one-half gallon.
Wake me up when the temperature of the oceans doubles.
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
Bill,

I said soft not weak. Sciences are classed into hard and soft.

Sure, with regards to your statement about smoking, I agree that the stats indicate a definite causal relationship. The same is not true for AGW. The stats used are actually faulty and in some cases wrong. Steve McIntyre of climateaudit.org was able to should the famous hockey stick teorem of Mann et al is wrong. If you want to see his work go there, but it is math heavy so be warned.

The biggest sort of "proof" is a GCMs (global climate models). The problem with a computer model is that all models are essentially simplifications of the underlying systems. Complexity theory states that unless you know the exact initial conditions, any prediction rapidly diverges from the actual outcome exponentially with time. By exact I mean to the last decimal place not 11 places or even 30 places. That is why weather predictions cannot be made more than 5 or so days into the future. Now I am not equating weather with climate, merely showing that models of non linear systems have very real limits.

As for warming trends, there was a definitive one up to about 1998. After that point the rate of increase slowed to where it can shown to be leveling off and overall mean temperatures are decreasing from that time.

The GCMs were designed to match the initial warming trend up to 1998. There are currently quite inaccurate and predictions are about 50% of what the GCMs predict.

Many of the scientists pushing these have enormous career and reputation issues should this be proven not the case.
But when enough exceptionally smart people come to a conclusion based on available evidence, it is certainly an indicator to take it seriously and examine that evidence very closely.
You do know what the Appeal to Authority fallacy is about, right.

However, I will grant that when enough apparently learned people start talking about something you should definitely pay attention. But, if when you study enough points of view, you are allowed to come to your own conclusions.

There is a certain degree of propaganda that thousands of scientists agree with the IPCC position on AGW. If you actually look at the names on the list you will find that a majority of them are social activists and politicians. The actual number of real scientists contributing theory is in the hundreds.

You will also find that the number of scientists disagreeing with the AGW position is increasing. Recently 650 signed a petition to that fact.

AGW is no longer science. It is watermelon politics masquerading as science.





 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Wake me up when the temperature of the oceans doubles
No one is talking about that. The argument is whether the volume of water can expand significantly. It can.
It is when the average water temp is dropping
You are shifting the argument. The point that was made is what makes sea levels rise. The answer is thermal expansion (among other reasons). It cannot be argued that the oceans will not rise when the heat up. They will function as a part of reality as humans define it using physics, and the physics of thermal expansion have yet to be thrown out as inaccurate.

Phil Smith wants to dismiss the physics by simplifying thermal expansion to the point that he can just look at a chart showing the density of pure water at various temperatures and overturn the entire field of fluid dynamics. Phil needs to take into account the coefficients of thermal expansion along the range of temperatures for ocean water and plug them into the equations for changing volume for a given amount of liquid, and he’ll see that the oceans can indeed rise more than enough to notice.

Notice that the theoretical ability of the oceans to expand in volume does not mean that they will. We are likely not doing a good enough job measuring the temperature changes to accurately predict what will happen. And even if the temperatures increase, that does not mean man-made CO2 is the cause.

Some of you are so wrapped up in your anti-AGW reactions that you want to dismiss fundamental physics. The oceans can expand more than enough to notice with little change in temperature. That is mathematical fact.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Remind me, JWG - how often do pipes burst in the summer, as opposed to in the winter?
Pipes burst from the pressure of ice, garden hoses tend to drip or leak at the connection from the pressure of liquid.

Even if liquid water expanded faster than ice for given temperature changes, it still wouldn’t be as likely to burst your pipes. Liquids (and gases) expand freely to wherever density is lower. The expanding volume of hotter water in one area of a pipe would increase the pressure throughout the entire system, so it would be dissipated evenly. Any leak would be at the weakest point in the system – the joints and vavles. The strength of that weakest point would determine the form of the release, from a drip for relatively weak system to a torrent of water (or steam) for a more robust one.

Solids expand in all directions. Ice expanding in the diection of flow does little to releive pressure outward in the middle of the ice block, and is only effective as long as the ice can still slide in the pipe. Once its position is fixed, the expansion will occur where the ice is, without adding much pressure to the rest of the system
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Actually, Phil’s chart shows JWG’s point.
Temperature (degrees Celsius) Density (grams per cubic centimeter)
0 (solid) 0.9150
0 (liquid) 0.9999
4 1.0000
20 0.9982
40 0.9922
60 0.9832
80 0.9718
In an open system with a flat sided container, a change in a liquid’s density is directly proportional to a change in depth (ie for water in a dinking glass, then 1% less density = 1% higher level).
Average ocean temp is about 17deg. Celsius.
Using the chart values the change in density between 20 C and 4 C is (1.00 - .9982)/16 or .0001125 per degree C.
According to Encarta the average ocean depth is 12,430 ft

.0001125 change/deg C * 12430 ft * 12 in/ft = 16.78 in/ deg C

Of course, the shape of the ocean’s cross section has a large impact on how much volume changes affect depth. A perfect ’Vee’ would cut that estimate to 6.96 in/deg C (doubling the area of an isoceles triangle multiplies the height by about 1.41). The real cross section is flatter along the bottom but I’m not trying to give the exact figure, just a decent approximation.

Estimates of sea-level rise in the last century are about eight inches. It seems pretty reasonable that thermal expansion, by itself, could account for observed rises in sea level.

 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Apparently, ’Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me’ is a common Seth Borenstein theme.

Here is a debunked snapshot from last year:

http://oldsarges.blogspot.com/2007/11/sea-level-rising-not.html
 
Written By: Adriane
URL: http://
The argument in this thread is of interest not only because of the science but moreso because it underscores part of the problem in discussing AGW: people cannot (will not) agree on the basic nature of the argument. This thread started with the argument about whether the ocean levels will rise due to rising temperatures or to rising temperatures causing arctic / antarctic ice to melt. It then shifted to an argument over whether or not water expands when it gets warmer, with some plumbing problems (!) and a number of insults thrown in.

Does water expand when it gets warmer? Yes, unquestionably.

Does water expand when it gets colder? No; it contracts until it reaches a maximum density at (IIRC) about 0.4degC; it very rapidly expands as it turns to ice. Natch, saline content affects this.

If all the water in the world grew warmer by some amount, would the level of the seas rise by a noticable amount? Oh, what a question! First of all, one would have to take into account what the effect would be if ice melted. Second of all, as Ted points out, the topography of the earth plays a role. Finally, what is a "noticable" amount? In places with significant tides, a couple of inches wouldn’t be a big deal. In low-lying areas like the Mississippi delta or Holland, a couple of inches increase in average depth might be very significant.

JWG puts his finger on what, to my mind, is the biggest problem with AGW:

We are likely not doing a good enough job measuring the temperature changes to accurately predict what will happen. And even if the temperatures increase, that does not mean man-made CO2 is the cause.

BINGO! Not only are there serious question about our ability to accurately measure the temperature of the earth’s surface AND compare that measurement to historical data (which can safely be assumed to be increasingly INaccurate as we go back in time), there is no way to prove that our SUV’s and incandescent lightbulbs are the cause of any warming that has occured.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
For what it’s worth:

If the volume of water changes .18% for a change in temp from 32F to 68F (based on the table in Phil Smith’s comment), then a change in temp of 1 degree F produces a change in volume of .005%. If the average depth of the ocean is 12,200 feet, and assuming the volume increase affects all parts of the ocean proportionately, then an increase of .005% will cause a rise of roughly 7 inches.

Of course, that’s a maximum, and would be offset by lateral expansion of the ocean up a sloping coastline, and there are lots of other factors that will reduce the impact.

Short version: If doubling atmospheric CO2 causes a 1 degree increase in ocean temp, then doubling CO2 could cause a 6 to 7 inch rise due to thermal expansion.

Mind you, throughout the entire industrial revolution, we’ve only managed to increase atmospheric CO2 by about 40%. We’re nowhere near doubling.

JWP, we’ll give you a small "ok" — there’s enough thermal expansion that it might be noticed, but not enough really to get into a twist about. Alright?
 
Written By: Plumb Bob
URL: http://www.plumbbobblog.com

 
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