That’s the conclusion I gathered from a devastating essay Richard Lindzen published this past Saturday. Here are the lead 2 paragraphs:
The notion of a static, unchanging climate is foreign to the history of the earth or any other planet with a fluid envelope. The fact that the developed world went into hysterics over changes in global mean temperature anomaly of a few tenths of a degree will astound future generations. Such hysteria simply represents the scientific illiteracy of much of the public, the susceptibility of the public to the substitution of repetition for truth, and the exploitation of these weaknesses by politicians, environmental promoters, and, after 20 years of media drum beating, many others as well. Climate is always changing. We have had ice ages and warmer periods when alligators were found in Spitzbergen. Ice ages have occurred in a hundred thousand year cycle for the last 700 thousand years, and there have been previous periods that appear to have been warmer than the present despite CO2 levels being lower than they are now. More recently, we have had the medieval warm period and the little ice age. During the latter, alpine glaciers advanced to the chagrin of overrun villages. Since the beginning of the 19th Century these glaciers have been retreating. Frankly, we don’t fully understand either the advance or the retreat.
For small changes in climate associated with tenths of a degree, there is no need for any external cause. The earth is never exactly in equilibrium. The motions of the massive oceans where heat is moved between deep layers and the surface provides variability on time scales from years to centuries. Recent work (Tsonis et al, 2007), suggests that this variability is enough to account for all climate change since the 19th Century.
One of the reasons I constantly ask those who believe in AGW what the “perfect temperature” for the world is and how we can achieve it is I understand that the only constant in the earth’s climate is change. The world’s climate has always been changing in various cycles since its formation. History shows us that we’ve had periods of more CO2 than now, warmer periods than now and neither of the events can be explained away by blaming man.
How we got into this scared mode of screaming about gloom and doom if we don’t do something is both interesting and constructive. But a couple of things first. Lindzen discusses the role of models in the current debate and why anyone seeing their output should be very skeptical of their conclusions. He first discusses the “dominant role” of cumulus convection in the tropics and how the models handled that. His discussion is a scathing critique of the models used:
For warming since 1979, there is a further problem. The dominant role of cumulus convection in the tropics requires that temperature approximately follow what is called a moist adiabatic profile. This requires that warming in the tropical upper troposphere be 2-3 times greater than at the surface. Indeed, all models do show this, but the data doesn’t and this means that something is wrong with the data. It is well known that above about 2 km altitude, the tropical temperatures are pretty homogeneous in the horizontal so that sampling is not a problem. Below two km (roughly the height of what is referred to as the trade wind inversion), there is much more horizontal variability, and, therefore, there is a profound sampling problem. Under the circumstances, it is reasonable to conclude that the problem resides in the surface data, and that the actual trend at the surface is about 60% too large. Even the claimed trend is larger than what models would have projected but for the inclusion of an arbitrary fudge factor due to aerosol cooling. The discrepancy was reported by Lindzen (2007) and by Douglass et al (2007). Inevitably in climate science, when data conflicts with models, a small coterie of scientists can be counted upon to modify the data. Thus, Santer, et al (2008), argue that stretching uncertainties in observations and models might marginally eliminate the inconsistency. That the data should always need correcting to agree with models is totally implausible and indicative of a certain corruption within the climate science community.
It turns out that there is a much more fundamental and unambiguous check of the role of feedbacks in enhancing greenhouse warming that also shows that all models are greatly exaggerating climate sensitivity. Here, it must be noted that the greenhouse effect operates by inhibiting the cooling of the climate by reducing net outgoing radiation. However, the contribution of increasing CO2 alone does not, in fact, lead to much warming (approximately 1 deg. C for each doubling of CO2).
The larger predictions from climate models are due to the fact that, within these models, the more important greenhouse substances, water vapor and clouds, act to greatly amplify whatever CO2 does. This is referred to as a positive feedback. It means that increases in surface temperature are accompanied by reductions in the net outgoing radiation – thus enhancing the greenhouse warming. All climate models show such changes when forced by observed surface temperatures. Satellite observations of the earth’s radiation budget allow us to determine whether such a reduction does, in fact, accompany increases in surface temperature in nature. As it turns out, the satellite data from the ERBE instrument (Barkstrom, 1984, Wong et al, 2006) shows that the feedback in nature is strongly negative — strongly reducing the direct effect of CO2 (Lindzen and Choi, 2009) in profound contrast to the model behavior. This analysis makes clear that even when all models agree, they can all be wrong, and that this is the situation for the all important question of climate sensitivity.
So there is your “consensus” and, as Lindzen points out, the consensus is/was wrong. Furthermore:
According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the greenhouse forcing from man made greenhouse gases is already about 86% of what one expects from a doubling of CO2 (with about half coming from methane, nitrous oxide, freons and ozone), and alarming predictions depend on models for which the sensitivity to a doubling for CO2 is greater than 2C which implies that we should already have seen much more warming than we have seen thus far, even if all the warming we have seen so far were due to man. This contradiction is rendered more acute by the fact that there has been no statistically significant net global warming for the last fourteen years. Modelers defend this situation, as we have already noted, by arguing that aerosols have cancelled much of the warming (viz Schwartz et al, 2010), and that models adequately account for natural unforced internal variability. However, a recent paper (Ramanathan, 2007) points out that aerosols can warm as well as cool, while scientists at the UK’s Hadley Centre for Climate Research recently noted that their model did not appropriately deal with natural internal variability thus demolishing the basis for the IPCC’s iconic attribution (Smith et al, 2007).
The basic reason we’re still battling this nonsense? Uh, would you believe the usual – power and money:
When an issue like global warming is around for over twenty years, numerous agendas are developed to exploit the issue. The interests of the environmental movement in acquiring more power, influence, and donations are reasonably clear. So too are the interests of bureaucrats for whom control of CO2 is a dream-come-true. After all, CO2 is a product of breathing itself. Politicians can see the possibility of taxation that will be cheerfully accepted because it is necessary for ‘saving’ the earth. Nations have seen how to exploit this issue in order to gain competitive advantages. But, by now, things have gone much further. The case of ENRON (a now bankrupt Texas energy firm) is illustrative in this respect. Before disintegrating in a pyrotechnic display of unscrupulous manipulation, ENRON had been one of the most intense lobbyists for Kyoto. It had hoped to become a trading firm dealing in carbon emission rights. This was no small hope. These rights are likely to amount to over a trillion dollars, and the commissions will run into many billions. Hedge funds are actively examining the possibilities; so was the late Lehman Brothers. Goldman Sachs has lobbied extensively for the ‘cap and trade’ bill, and is well positioned to make billions. It is probably no accident that Gore, himself, is associated with such activities. The sale of indulgences is already in full swing with organizations selling offsets to one’s carbon footprint while sometimes acknowledging that the offsets are irrelevant. The possibilities for corruption are immense. Archer Daniels Midland (America’s largest agribusiness) has successfully lobbied for ethanol requirements for gasoline, and the resulting demand for ethanol may already be contributing to large increases in corn prices and associated hardship in the developing world (not to mention poorer car performance). And finally, there are the numerous well meaning individuals who have allowed propagandists to convince them that in accepting the alarmist view of anthropogenic climate change, they are displaying intelligence and virtue. For them, their psychic welfare is at stake.
So essentially, Lindzen is appealing for us all to stop this madness and, in a calm, rational way, discuss what we do know and why it isn’t a threat that needs drastic and expensive intervention – for instance:
Given that the evidence (and I have noted only a few of many pieces of evidence) strongly implies that anthropogenic warming has been greatly exaggerated, the basis for alarm due to such warming is similarly diminished. However, a really important point is that the case for alarm would still be weak even if anthropogenic global warming were significant. Polar bears, arctic summer sea ice, regional droughts and floods, coral bleaching, hurricanes, alpine glaciers, malaria, etc. etc. all depend not on some global average of surface temperature anomaly, but on a huge number of regional variables including temperature, humidity, cloud cover, precipitation, and direction and magnitude of wind. The state of the ocean is also often crucial. Our ability to forecast any of these over periods beyond a few days is minimal (a leading modeler refers to it as essentially guesswork). Yet, each catastrophic forecast depends on each of these being in a specific range. The odds of any specific catastrophe actually occurring are almost zero. This was equally true for earlier forecasts of famine for the 1980′s, global cooling in the 1970′s, Y2K and many others. Regionally, year to year fluctuations in temperature are over four times larger than fluctuations in the global mean. Much of this variation has to be independent of the global mean; otherwise the global mean would vary much more. This is simply to note that factors other than global warming are more important to any specific situation. This is not to say that disasters will not occur; they always have occurred and this will not change in the future. Fighting global warming with symbolic gestures will certainly not change this. However, history tells us that greater wealth and development can profoundly increase our resilience.
Trying to claim there is a “global climate” and define it with a perfect temperature seems a fools errand in light of what Lindzen points out above about regional variability. The models don’t explain those regional variables or their effects very well at all. In fact, they insist on a “global” view vs. the view Lindzen gives us, and that makes the attempt to globalize regional events even more suspect.
My favorite paragraph though, is Lindzen’s parting shot , er, conclusion:
With all this at stake, one can readily suspect that there might be a sense of urgency provoked by the possibility that warming may have ceased and that the case for such warming as was seen being due in significant measure to man, disintegrating. For those committed to the more venal agendas, the need to act soon, before the public appreciates the situation, is real indeed. However, for more serious leaders, the need to courageously resist hysteria is clear. Wasting resources on symbolically fighting ever present climate change is no substitute for prudence. Nor is the assumption that the earth’s climate reached a point of perfection in the middle of the twentieth century a sign of intelligence.
I’m still laughing over the last sentence. Given any intelligence and a smattering of curiosity about climate history, even a cursory examination of that history makes one immediately suspicious of the claims by the AGW crowd and very skeptical of the science. For those who Lindzen describes as “well meaning individuals who have allowed propagandists to convince them that in accepting the alarmist view of anthropogenic climate change, they are displaying intelligence and virtue”, he’s saying it is neither intelligent or virtuous.
All I can say is, “agreed”.
A favored myth of the warmist alarmist is we’re killing off the polar bears through AGW by melting their habitat.
Not so fast says the Obama administration:
The Obama administration is sticking with a George W. Bush-era decision to deny polar bears endangered species status. In a court filing Wednesday, the Fish and Wildlife Service defended the previous administration’s decision to give the polar bear the less-protective “threatened” species designation, a move that will frustrate environmentalists who hoped for stronger protections under the Endangered Species Act.
One of the more obvious things most should understand, at least by now, is getting an animal on the endangered list isn’t so much about the animal is about power. All sorts of regulatory restrictions kick in with such a designation.
And the enviros get to help enforce them. Go out on Ft. Bragg NC’s maneuver areas and marvel at the red-cockaded woodpecker’s power – and the the enviro monitors who sit out in the habitat area and ensure soldiers don’t invade the woodpecker’s space.
The same sort of power would accrue the enviros with the placement of the polar bear on the endangered list.
FWS Director Rowan Gould said the 2008 "threatened" listing was made "following careful analysis of the best scientific information, as required by the ESA." At the time, the service determined the bears weren’t danger of extinction, so did not warrant the “endangered” status.
The bears were listed as "threatened" because they face serious threats from projected decline in its sea ice habitat due to global warming would result in them likely being in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future.
Typical of the "science" used by the alarmists is this:
In a news release issued after its conference last July, the PBSG concluded that only one of 19 total polar bear subpopulations is currently increasing, three are stable and eight are declining. Data was insufficient to determine numbers for the remaining seven subpopulations. The group estimated that the total number of polar bears is somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000. (Estimates of the population during the 1950s and 1960s, before harvest quotas were enacted, range from 5,000 to 10,000.)
So the polar bear population has more than doubled from the high 1950′s estimate yet they’re "endangered" according to some? This little caveat is also listed:
However, the PBSG quickly acknowledged that “the mixed quality of information on the different subpopulations means there is much room for error in establishing” the numbers, and “the potential for error, given the ongoing and projected changes in habitats and other potential stresses, is cause for concern.”
Or said another way, "we don’t know what the real polar bear population is but it must be in decline and, btw, our projected decline is based on those stellar climate change models that have been so accurate to this point". Regardless, it is hard to sell endangered species when the species has had a 100% plus growth in 50 years (with harvesting).
Harry Flaherty, chair of the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board in the capital of Iqaluit, says the polar bear population in the region, along the Davis Strait, has doubled during the past 10 years. He questions the official figures, which are based to a large extent on helicopter surveys.
“Scientists do a quick study one to two weeks in a helicopter, and don’t see all the polar bears. We’re getting totally different stories [about the bear numbers] on a daily basis from hunters and harvesters on the ground,” he says.
Want to make a bet on who is right?
Bottom line: “Science” in the name of a political agenda is no science at all. And as more information continues to come out, it appears that the “science” of AGW isn’t based in science so much as it is the accrual of power and control to those who would love to dictate how you must live – for the planet, of course.
While what David Rose of the Mail calls “another giant, 15,000 delegate UN climate jamboree” is underway in Cancun Mexico, the British press is hard at it again, pointing out that in the world of AGW there’s just no “there there”. As an example, Rose and others point to the Met Office and its claims:
A year ago tomorrow, just before the opening of the UN Copenhagen world climate summit, the British Meteorological Office issued a confident prediction. The mean world temperature for 2010, it announced, ‘is expected to be 14.58C, the warmest on record’ – a deeply worrying 0.58C above the 1961-1990 average.
World temperatures, it went on, were locked inexorably into an ever-rising trend: ‘Our experimental decadal forecast confirms previous indications that about half the years 2010-2019 will be warmer than the warmest year observed so far – 1998.’
Met Office officials openly boasted that they hoped by their statements to persuade the Copenhagen gathering to impose new and stringent carbon emission limits – an ambition that was not to be met.
Never mind that Britain, just as it was last winter and the winter before, was deep in the grip of a cold snap, which has seen some temperatures plummet to minus 20C, and that here 2010 has been the coolest year since 1996.
Globally, it insisted, 2010 was still on course to be the warmest or second warmest year since current records began.
But buried amid the details of those two Met Office statements 12 months apart lies a remarkable climbdown that has huge implications – not just for the Met Office, but for debate over climate change as a whole.
Read carefully with other official data, they conceal a truth that for some, to paraphrase former US VicePresident Al Gore, is really inconvenient: for the past 15 years, global warming has stopped.
Of course, that won’t stop the “jamboree” from recommending the looting of the “richer” nations to help the “poorer” nations with “global warming”. After all, that’s what the meeting is really all about. Just as Democrats are all about income redistribution and “taxing the rich” in this country, their counterparts in the world body are obsessed with the same. AGW is the perfect pseudo-scientific cause on which to pin the extortion.
In fact, say the Brits, 2010 was an “unexceptional El Nino” year.
As for that infamous “scientific consensus?” Not so much any more:
But little by little, the supposedly settled scientific ‘ consensus’ that the temperature rise is unprecedented, that it is set to continue to disastrous levels, and that it is all the fault of human beings, is starting to fray.
Earlier this year, a paper by Michael Mann – for years a leading light in the IPCC, and the author of the infamous ‘hockey stick graph’ showing flat temperatures for 2,000 years until the recent dizzying increase – made an extraordinary admission: that, as his critics had always claimed, there had indeed been a ‘ medieval warm period’ around 1000 AD, when the world may well have been hotter than it is now.
Other research is beginning to show that cyclical changes in water vapour – a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide – may account for much of the 20th Century warming.
Even Phil Jones, the CRU director at the centre of last year’s ‘Climategate’ leaked email scandal, was forced to admit in a littlenoticed BBC online interview that there has been ‘no statistically significant warming’ since 1995.
That’s not to say the true believers (or deceivers, take your pick) aren’t going to continue to try – especially with the “jamboree” going on. Christopher Booker of the Telegraph reports:
Between their tequilas and lavish meals paid for by the world’s taxpayers, they heard how, by 2060, global temperatures will have risen by 4 degrees Celsius; how the Maldives and Tuvalu are sinking below the waves faster than ever; how the survival of salmon is threatened by CO2-induced acidification of the oceans; how the UN must ban incandescent light bulbs throughout the world.
“Scientists”, we were told, are calling for everyone to be issued with a “carbon ration card”, to halt all Western economic growth for 20 years.
Meanwhile, Dr Rajendra Pachauri was telling us that we must spend hundreds of billions on covering the world’s oceans with iron filings, on building giant mirrors out in space and on painting all the world’s roofs white to keep out the heat from the sun.
The most obvious thing about all this ritualised scaremongering was how stale it all was. Not one of these points hasn’t been a cliche for years.The only scientist who believes we should all be issued with carbon ration cards is a Prof Kevin Anderson, who has been saying it since 2004. It is only those same old computer models that predict that Tuvalu and the Maldives are about to drown, when real measurements show the sea around them not to be rising at all. Far from the oceans acidifying, their pH currently ranges between 7.9 and 8.3, putting them very firmly on the alkaline side of the threshold, at 7.0.
The prediction that global temperatures will rise by four degrees in 50 years comes from that same UK Met Office computer which five weeks ago was telling us we were about to enjoy a “milder than average” winter, after three years when it has consistently got every one of its winter and summer forecasts hopelessly wrong. (And the reason why our local authorities are already fast running out of salt is that they were silly enough to believe them.)
Wonderful stuff, eh? Oh, and speaking of the Met Office’s ‘mild winter prediction’ even when wrong “scientists” see an opportunity to push the AGW argument:
RESEARCHERS have warned the last three winters’ cold spells could be a taste of things to come for Wales – with even a chance glaciers could return to Snowdon within 40 years.
According to one theory, global warming could paradoxically trigger a collapse in temperatures in Western Europe.
There’s always that “one theory” which will, even paradoxically, doggedly try to pin even bitterly cold temperatures on “global warming”. It’s a religion, I tell you, not science.
Some truths most of us have learned while following this is 1) the real science is far from settled, 2) the climate is far more complex and still barely understood, and consequently the present day computer models and their predictions are less than useless, 3) the fact that temperatures have remained flat over the past 15 years with a slight trend toward cooling has blown the predictive models out of the water, 4) until there is much better science (and if based in models, models that can at least replicate past climate results) no major public policy initiatives – initiatives that would most likely spend money we don’t have and have a crippling effect on the economy – should be undertaken. And finally 5) alternative renewable and clean energy sources should be pursued with vigor, but until they’re viable and cheap, traditional fuel sources should be exploited to the maximum (with government getting the heck out of the way).
Of course the Third World Debating Society, aka the UN, won’t leave this scam alone until they manage to rope the richer nations into it and bleed them of a few hundred billion or so. If ever there was a time to adapt the Nancy Reagan drug slogan to other duty it is now.
“Just say ‘no’.”
In case you missed it, this weekend all those who’ve made an industry of global warming climate change will be gathering in Cancun, Mexico to again try and find a way to tax the world into submission based on dubious science and and obvious political agenda.
Apparently, faced with the fact that the Goreish climatic apocalypse warnings have mostly been refuted and in the wake of Climate-gate, it appears the reaction of warmists is to again ratchet up the scare factor.
In a series of papers published by the Royal Society, physicists and chemists from some of world’s most respected scientific institutions, including Oxford University and the Met Office, agreed that current plans to tackle global warming are not enough.
Unless emissions are reduced dramatically in the next ten years the world is set to see temperatures rise by more than 4C (7.2F) by as early as the 2060s, causing floods, droughts and mass migration.
Of course readers here are familiar with the arguments (and the fact that the Met office admitted to serious problems with its temperature data used as a base for previous projections) and the fact that skeptics seem to be winning the day. As mentioned in a previous post, the public’s belief in the science supporting the warmist cause has dropped to an all time low, with a vast majority now seeing no reason to engage in cap-and-trade to tax emissions of CO2.
So the answer, of course, is to make the consequences of ignoring the warmists seem worse. We’re now likely to see 7.2F increases as soon as 2060 if we don’t do what they want now!
Oh, and by the way, rich nations, here’s more that you should do:
In one paper Professor Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said the only way to reduce global emissions enough, while allowing the poor nations to continue to grow, is to halt economic growth in the rich world over the next twenty years.
This would mean a drastic change in lifestyles for many people in countries like Britain as everyone will have to buy less ‘carbon intensive’ goods and services such as long haul flights and fuel hungry cars.
Prof Anderson admitted it “would not be easy” to persuade people to reduce their consumption of goods.
He said politicians should consider a rationing system similar to the one introduced during the last “time of crisis” in the 1930s and 40s.
This could mean a limit on electricity so people are forced to turn the heating down, turn off the lights and replace old electrical goods like huge fridges with more efficient models. Food that has travelled from abroad may be limited and goods that require a lot of energy to manufacture.
“The Second World War and the concept of rationing is something we need to seriously consider if we are to address the scale of the problem we face,” he said.
Or said another way “let’s do a wartime command economy” among the rich nations, because command economies works so well history tells us. Meanwhile China and India? Keep on keeping on. And don’t worry, our eminent scientist tells us it won’t be so bad:
Prof Anderson insisted that halting growth in the rich world does not necessarily mean a recession or a worse lifestyle, it just means making adjustments in everyday life such as using public transport and wearing a sweater rather than turning on the heating.
“I am not saying we have to go back to living in caves,” he said. “Our emissions were a lot less ten years ago and we got by ok then.”
You know, I’ve always thought scientists should stick to science and let the politicians concentrate on political agendas. Someone – anyone – tell me this isn’t “science” wrapped in politics? And surprise – the agenda will cost you money, freedom and the ability to live the lifestyle you now live.
All for a trace amount of a trace gas that until recently has always been found by science to be a lagging indicator of warming.
You may remember this line from President Obama’s inaugural speech: " We will restore science to its rightful place … "?
The implication, of course, is that science had been held hostage to politics and that was no longer going to be tolerated.
Well, until it was necessary to skew it to support Obama’s political agenda, that is:
The White House rewrote crucial sections of an Interior Department report to suggest an independent group of scientists and engineers supported a six-month ban on offshore oil drilling, the Interior inspector general says in a new report. In the wee hours of the morning of May 27, a staff member to White House energy adviser Carol Browner sent two edited versions of the department report’s executive summary back to Interior. The language had been changed to insinuate the seven-member panel of outside experts – who reviewed a draft of various safety recommendations – endorsed the moratorium, according to the IG report obtained by POLITICO.
Of course the usual suspects claim no intention of mislead exists. That it was just part of the "normal editing process".
“At 2:13 a.m. on May 27, 2010, Browner’s staff member sent an e-mail back to Black that contained two versions of the executive summary,” the IG report states. “Both versions sent by the staff member contained significant edits to DOI’s draft executive summary but were very similar to each other.
“Both versions, however, revised and re-ordered the executive summary, placing the peer review language immediately following the moratorium recommendation causing the distinction between the secretary’s moratorium recommendation – which had not been peer-reviewed – and the recommendations contained in the 30-Day Report – which had been peer-reviewed – to become effectively lost.” [emphasis mine]
Unless you’re a totally inept editor and not able to read for comprehension, this should have been obvious to everyone involved. The IG figured it out. Why didn’t Browner and Salazar?
Because, most likely, it said what they wanted said (implications included) exactly as they wanted it said so they could support the position they had already decided was necessary.
But the denial, as absurd as it is, continues:
Black said he didn’t have any issues with the White House edit; he and his staffer both told the IG it never occurred to them that an objective reader would conclude that peer reviewers had supported the six-month moratorium.
Really? Seriously? Well what about the "objective" readers on the panel:
Nevertheless, Interior apologized to the peer reviewers in early June after some of them complained they were used to support the controversial ban. Salazar also held a conference call with the peer reviewers and met personally with some of them.
Obviously their "objective" reading of the executive summary caused them to conclude otherwise, didn’t it?
Glad to see science is back in the position the president promised it would be under his administration.
Change – a wonderful thing to behold, huh?
The New York Times editorializes today on the fact that many of the Republicans running for Senate who have a good chance to win reject the notion of man-made global warming. The canard used is a familiar one:
The candidates are not simply rejecting solutions, like putting a price on carbon, though these, too, are demonized. They are re-running the strategy of denial perfected by Mr. Cheney a decade ago, repudiating years of peer-reviewed findings about global warming and creating an alternative reality in which climate change is a hoax or conspiracy.
Really? Or are they instead, like Carly Fiorina, “not sure”. I’m certainly not sure. And neither is science if you actually take the time to look into it. There’s more and more coming out daily about the uncertainty within the scientific community that anything that has been theorized before is correct. There is no “consensus” except in the propaganda cobbled together in the politically driven and discredited IPCC report.
So do I think it is a purposeful hoax? Not in the beginning, but now you have to wonder as those who’ve been shown their “science” is deficient appear to want to double-down. Is it a conspiracy? Not as one is generally thought of but again, as this continues and more comes out about this subject, the less credible those who claim previous findings are settled science appear.
For instance, speaking of peer reviewed work, this study recently came to light (check out the excellent graphic at the link):
In “Short-lived uncertainty?” Joyce E. Penner et al. note that several short-lived atmospheric pollutants—such as methane, tropospheric ozone precursors and black-carbon aerosols—contribute to atmospheric warming while others, particularly scattering aerosols, cool the climate. Figuring out exactly how great the impacts of these other forcings are can radically change the way historical climate change is interpreted. So great is the uncertainty that the IPCC’s future climate predictions, which are all based on biased assumptions about climate sensitivity, are most certainly untrustworthy. As stated in the article:
It is at present impossible to accurately determine climate sensitivity (defined as the equilibrium warming in response to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations) from past records, partly because carbon dioxide and short-lived species have increased together over the industrial era. Warming over the past 100 years is consistent with high climate sensitivity to atmospheric carbon dioxide combined with a large cooling effect from short-lived aerosol pollutants, but it could equally be attributed to a low climate sensitivity coupled with a small effect from aerosols. These two possibilities lead to very different projections for future climate change.
Again we see science noting that as we get more and more into the details of climate, we find we know much less than we thought. Hardly "settled science" then. Dr. Penner goes on to point out the complexity of climate science and what they’re just now learning and what is still unknown:
Of the short-lived species, methane, tropospheric ozone and black carbon are key contributors to global warming, augmenting the radiative forcing of carbon dioxide by 65%. Others—such as sulphate, nitrate and organic aerosols—cause a negative radiative forcing, offsetting a fraction of the warming owing to carbon dioxide. Yet other short-lived species, such as nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds, can modify the abundance of both the climate-warming and climate-cooling compounds, and thereby affect climate change.
Quantifying the combined impact of short-lived species on Earth’s radiative forcing is complex. Short-lived pollutants—particularly those with an atmospheric lifetime of less than two months—tend to be poorly mixed, and concentrate close to their sources. This uneven distribution, combined with physical and chemical heterogeneities in the atmosphere, means that the impact of short-lived species on radiative forcing can vary by more than a factor of ten with location or time of emission. The situation is further complicated by nonlinear chemical reactions between short-lived species in polluted areas, as well as by the interactions of clouds with aerosols and ozone. These processes add further uncertainty to the estimates of radiative forcing.
What she’s basically saying is they’re just now actually beginning to identify and get into all the complexities that are the climate. They’re discovering variables that can either intensify or mitigate. They can also heat or cool. And sometimes the same variable can do both. If anyone thinks the models that have been cited as the basis of the "settled science" used all these variables and used them correctly, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in buying.
Which brings us back to point one – the NYT claiming that the GOP are deniers and implying they’re anti-science. No, they’re just not as gullible as the NYT and many on the left who want believe that man is ruining the planet and see it as a justification for even more government control of our lives. They’re skeptics – thank goodness – as are most respectable and reputable scientists. Climate science, as Dr. Penner’s work points out, is in its infancy. Making policy decisions based on questionable science is a fool’s work. Thankfully the GOP has realized this and taken a stand against rushing into horribly expensive solutions which will hurt the economy and further extend the government’s already extensive intrusion into our lives.
I’ll say this now – if and when science – and not the climate hustlers of today – is able to prove to my satisfaction that a) man has a significant role in climate change and b) changing behavior would be beneficial and something that could actually be accomplished without impoverishing the world, I’ll listen. Until then, I remain a skeptic – and the more new science I see, the more I think I’m right to be a skeptic.
Bill McKibben wonders why the right is so down on man-made global warming. He’s convinced it’s the hottest thing to come along politically since woman’s suffrage. What is it we folks on the right don’t get? Or is it we have a vested interest in other things that run contrary to wanting to see this problem solved.
Hmmm. First, I’ve always believed that climate change occurs. It seems to me that the left has suddenly awakened in a world in which the climate is changing for the first time. Obviously that’s not the case and, as someone said, the only thing consistent about the climate is change. So to address an implied question of the McKibben piece, the right certainly understands and accepts climate change as a reality of life.
However, that brings us to the second question – how significant is man’s part? That’s where we differ. Most of those who are skeptics question the science that claims man’s part is significant – more significant than the natural forces out there such as the sun and clouds and, well, just about everything else. Add into that the fact that the present “science” claims that a trace gas of which we add a trace amount is the one primary reason for the rise in global temperature.
Uh, yeah, still not buying. Factor in that until science decided otherwise, that gas was a trailing indicator of warming – not a cause. There in a nutshell is the objection to the thesis that says any warming (or cooling apparently) is caused by man. And we further object to the notion that if we would just stop emitting carbon (something that is and has been an integral part of our lives since our species emerged) all this would be fine.
McKibben is sure, at least on the political side, that it’s all about the right and oil:
One crude answer is money. The fossil fuel industry has deep wells of it—no business in history has been as profitable as finding, refining, and combusting coal, oil, and gas. Six of the ten largest companies on earth are in the fossil-fuel business. Those companies have spent some small part of their wealth in recent years to underwrite climate change denialism …
But as most know who keep up with this, their contributions pale into significance with the government grant money that has flowed unceasingly to the other side for years. And, many claim, that’s had a significant part in corrupting the science. The most recent to say this is Professor Harold Lewis:
A TOP American professor has quit a prestigious academic body after claiming that global warming has become a “scam” driven by “trillions of dollars” which has “corrupted” scientists.
Professor Harold Lewis, 87, described his “revulsion” at last year’s leaked “Climategate” emails which appeared to show scientists at East Anglia’s world-leading Climate Research Unit rigging evidence in favour of man-made climate change.
He branded man-made climate change “the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud” he has ever seen.
The scientists involved have been cleared of wrongdoing by a series of investigations. But Prof Lewis, Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has formally resigned from the American Physical Society after nearly 70 years as a member.
He claims that the APS, the society for America’s top physicists, has refused to engage in proper scientific debate about climate change and ignored climate sceptics.
McKibben offers a second reason.
Conservatives possess some new information about climate science. That would sure be nice—but sadly, it’s wrong. It’s the same tiny bunch of skeptics being quoted by right-wing blogs. None are doing new research that casts the slightest doubt on the scientific consensus that’s been forming for two decades, a set of conclusions that grows more robust with every issue of Science and Nature and each new temperature record.
After telling us it is a massive conspiracy funded by the oil companies, we’re told that it’s just a tiny bunch of contrarians doing no research. And note how he swings the phrase “scientific consensus” around. Really, how 20th century is that? I thought by now even the most ardent of warmists had figured out that real science has nothing to to with “consensus”.
Finally – note that he simply ignores those recent findings that destroy his hypothesis that no new research supports the skeptical side. Except of course that which has talked about sun spots, the fact that there’s been no real warming over the last ten years and the trend is toward a colder climate, not a warmer one. Skip all that and he may have a point.
But mischaracterization by McKibben isn’t confined to just global warming. He even mischaracterizes the right’s role in the civil rights movement – a common and easily rectified mistake if one would only do some research. Speaking here about a recent poll of conservatives who found Jimmy Carter to be one of the worst presidents ever, he says:
If Jimmy Carter was the worst guy the country ever produced, we’re doing pretty well—but surely it was his nagging reminders that there were limits to our national power that account for his ranking. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat wrote an embarrassed piece earlier this fall about the failure of conservatives to take climate change seriously—it was the ’70s, “a great decade for apocalyptic enthusiasms,” that turned many of them off, he concluded. That’s not much of an argument—it’s like saying “conservatives mostly got it wrong on civil rights, so let’s never listen to them again about liberty and freedom.”
But, of course, conservatives didn’t get it mostly wrong about civil rights – their vote was the critical part of passing the legislation that Democrats tried to filibuster and block. Yes, they were “Southern Democrats”, but they certainly weren’t “conservatives”, i.e. “the right”.
Anyway, this all boils down to McKibben wanting a carbon tax and assuring us that if we’d do that and do it quickly we’d probably be 90% of the way to solving the problem. Of course, no word from the sun as to whether it would cooperate if we’d just take a bit more money into government for our emissions. After McKibben chastises his lefty friends for their desire to do away with the internal combustion engine, he gives us this simplistic “solution” in its place. And then wonders about the right’s skepticism?
Finally McKibben appeals to the tradition of right intellectualism hoping that it will reassert itself and go along with the Chicken Little faction. I wonder – given his obvious unfamiliarity with the real arguments of the right and the science that supports it if perhaps that intellectualism has already “asserted” itself and is calling on the left to do the same.
Don’t hold your breath.
In the vein of Jon Henke’s “The Ultimate Metablog” with the satire of a good Monty Python skit (is there any other kind?), Martin Robbins lays out the definitive article for how scientific journalism is constructed. Here’s the heading:
This is a news website article about a scientific paper
In the standfirst I will make a fairly obvious pun about the subject matter before posing an inane question I have no intention of really answering: is this an important scientific finding?
My favorite bits:
In this paragraph I will state in which journal the research will be published. I won’t provide a link because either a) the concept of adding links to web pages is alien to the editors, b) I can’t be bothered, or c) the journal inexplicably set the embargo on the press release to expire before the paper was actually published.
This fragment will be put on its own line for no obvious reason.
This paragraph contained useful information or context, but was removed by the sub-editor to keep the article within an arbitrary word limit in case the internet runs out of space.
Be sure to read the comments as well, where most everyone plays along with the theme. But beware of the related links … you may be taken to a place you never, ever want to be.
Lots to comment on, little time in which to do it (it is a holiday weekend after all). But here are some stories that caught my eye that I may do a more extensive commentary on at a future date.
Thomas Friedman pens a column in which he explores what it will mean if America is no longer the superpower of the world. Quoting Michael Mandelbaum, the Johns Hopkins University foreign policy expert, he makes the case that our debt and the subsequent frugality it will require is essentially going to make us retrench and probably withdraw much of our foreign aid (not just money, but troops and fleets, etc., which have helped keep the peace over the years). He notes that when Great Britain gave up its “global governance role”, the US stepped in. The question is, when the US pulls back and creates the expected power vacuum, what country will try to fill the role?
After all, Europe is rich but wimpy. China is rich nationally but still dirt poor on a per capita basis and, therefore, will be compelled to remain focused inwardly and regionally. Russia, drunk on oil, can cause trouble but not project power. “Therefore, the world will be a more disorderly and dangerous place,” Mandelbaum predicts.
Cast your eyes toward a the Middle East. While Turkey and Iran don’t have what it takes to step into the shoes the US has filled, each certainly feel that the withdrawal of us influence presages a much greater leadership role for them in their respective region. China may feel the same thing about the Far East. Friedman concludes:
An America in hock will have no hawks — or at least none that anyone will take seriously.
That’s true, I believe – at least while a Democrat is in the White House or Democrats control Congress – not because they’re suddenly frugal, but because they’d prefer to spend the money on other things.
But this is my favorite paragraph:
America is about to learn a very hard lesson: You can borrow your way to prosperity over the short run but not to geopolitical power over the long run. That requires a real and growing economic engine. And, for us, the short run is now over. There was a time when thinking seriously about American foreign policy did not require thinking seriously about economic policy. That time is also over.
Some of us Americans have know this was a probable result for years. Welcome on board, Mr. Friedman. It’s about freakin’ time.
If you read no other column today, read George Will’s about the global warming industry.
The collapsing crusade for legislation to combat climate change raises a question: Has ever a political movement made so little of so many advantages? Its implosion has continued since "the Cluster of Copenhagen, when world leaders assembled for the single most unproductive and chaotic global gathering ever held." So says Walter Russell Mead, who has an explanation: Bambi became Godzilla.
In essence, it’s analogous to something else we discussed not to long ago, the UAW is now "management". Will’s point is the former "skeptics" – environmentalists – are now the establishment. Funny how that works.
According to the New York Times, Democratic leaders are in the middle of doing what can only be characterized as “political triage” concerning the upcoming House mid-term elections. Reality, as they say, has finally penetrated the happy talk and leaders are taking a brutal look at the chances of all their House members:
In the next two weeks, Democratic leaders will review new polls and other data that show whether vulnerable incumbents have a path to victory. If not, the party is poised to redirect money to concentrate on trying to protect up to two dozen lawmakers who appear to be in the strongest position to fend off their challengers.
My guess is the Blue Dog contingent is about to be cut loose. The leadership probably figures that losing those seat isn’t as big a problem as losing seats in which automatic votes for whatever the leadership puts forward are assured. That would be members of the Progressive caucus and the Congressional Black caucus for instance. The good news for Democrats is most of them are found in what are considered “safe” districts. So they’ll go in the “will live with minimal treatment” category.
The Blue Dogs will most likely go into the “mortal” category and receive little money or backing. They’ll simply let them die, politically It is those in the big middle, in perhaps marginal districts that could go either way or those who’ve survived tight races previously in districts that may lean slightly to the Democratic side which will get the money. These “critical but can be saved” members will get the lion’s share of the money and support allocated for the mid-terms.
Whether they can save enough of them to avoid the magic 39 seats the GOP needs, however, remains to be seen. My guess is it would require a miracle – and possibly that would require some of the Blue Dogs to squeak out a victory. But if those patients are left to pass quietly away when some might have been saved, the Dems may rue the day they decided to pitch them outside the tent and leave them to be brutalized by the political elements. Or said another way – the Dems may outsmart themselves, this strategy could easily blow up badly in their faces and it may be they that assure the 39th seat by not fighting for all of them.
That’s the basic message our friend Warren Meyers (of Coyote Blog and now Forbes) makes in an article. His points are not only good, but valid. And if one thinks about how inaccurate the models we’ve seen drive debate and spending are, we’d insist on better data before those decisions are made.
Meyer points out that there are few, if any CEOs in non-financial firms who would invest a penny based solely on computer models. Yet we have this propensity to place much more confidence in models that have done nothing to earn that confidence than they deserve.
Last week the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) released its congressionally commissioned study on the effects of the 2009 stimulus. The panel concluded that the stimulus had created as many as 3.6 million jobs, an odd result given the economy as a whole actually lost something like 1.5 million jobs in the same period. To reach its conclusions, the panel ran a series of complex macroeconomic models to estimate economic growth assuming the stimulus had not been passed. Their results showed employment falling by over 5 million jobs in this hypothetical scenario, an eyebrow-raising result that is impossible to verify with actual observations.
Not only is it impossible to verify, it was issued as a defacto “truth” and the “stimulus” was declared a “success”. And don’t forget the inclusion, now, of one of the world’s best weasle words to pad the results – jobs “saved”. However the administration goes to great lengths to ignore its previous claim that if the “stimulus” was passed, unemployment wouldn’t rise above 8%. One has to guess, given the results, that the computer model was wrong about that.
Meyer goes on to point out how the modeling which can’t predict the complex world of economics, is somehow considered the “gold-standard” of predictability when it comes to the exponentially more complex climate. So much so that governments everywhere are basing trillions of dollars of taxes (cap-and-trade) on the results of such models in an supposed effort to “save the planet”.
While we have been bombarded with hockey sticks and forlorn polar bears, our focus in climate should really be on the computer models. The primary scientific case for man-made CO2 as the main driver of global temperatures is made in exactly the same way that the stimulus was determined to have created 3.6 million jobs: computer modeling. No one yet has been clever enough to structure a controlled experiment to isolate the effect of rising CO2 levels from other changing variables in the complex global climate. So, just like the CEA did in scoring the stimulus, climate scientists use computer models to run virtual experiments, running the models backward over the last century with varying assumptions for CO2 levels.
This modeling approach yields amazingly circular logic. Like macroeconomic models built by devoted Keynesians, climate models are constructed by academics who passionately believe that a single variable, CO2 concentration, is the dominant driver of the whole complex climate system. When run retrospectively, the models they create unsurprisingly give the result that past temperature increases are mainly attributable to CO2. The problem with these models is that when run forward, as in the case of the Washington Redskins election model, they do a terrible job of predicting the future. None of them, for example, predicted the flattening of global temperatures over the last decade.
Yet policy has been proposed and written based on results that are nonverifiable and questionable at best. That’s insanity. But the purported case for using the results is if we wait for real data it may be too late. But when the real data appears (such as the flattening of global temps for this past decade) the modelers and proponents of the government action want to ignore it and deny its importance.
This all goes back to two themes I’ve been hammering for quite some time – common sense and scientific skepticism. Both are necessary tools of a rational person. And Meyers nails the point:
Our common sense about government stimulus tells us that the government is highly unlikely to invest money more productively than the private entities from whom the government took the money. Unfortunately, we have allowed this common sense to be trumped by computer models. Once our imperfect understanding the economy was laundered through computer models and presented with two-decimal precision, smart people somehow lost their skepticism.
We are now facing what is potentially an even more expensive decision: to regulate CO2 based mainly on computer models that claim to be able to separate the effects of trace concentrations of CO2 from a hundred other major climate variables. If your common sense is whispering to you that this seems crazy, listen to it. Otherwise all we get is garbage in, money out.
The “garbage in” should be obvious. Unfortunately, the “money out” is money coming out of your wallet to pay for unproven science and unfounded economic models.