Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Global cooling

As expected, Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” received an Oscar the other night for best documentary. A second, and in my view, more appropriate award went to the film for best original song. A few weeks ago there was much publicity regarding the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, which the media hailed as conclusive proof that global warming is real and that it is caused by human agency—the anthropogenic thesis (AGW).

In fact, the earth has been cooling since 1998. This is a fact that the AGW crowd-—the supporters of anthropogenic global warming—-do not want you to know. In this field groupthink has taken over entirely.

Is the effect since 1998 temporary? Of course it is. All climate situations are temporary; just look out the window. Over the last 106 years there have been two periods of warming and three periods of cooling. We are in a period of cooling now.

Then what about those glaciers we keep hearing about? Glaciers, by their nature, are always melting off into valleys or bodies of water. Only about one-third of glaciers are being tracked. Of these, some are getting smaller, others are getting bigger.

To be sure the peninsula projecting north from Antarctica is getting warmer. But Antarctica as a whole is getting colder. AGW enthusiasts cherry pick the data, and the results of their culling are what get into the news reports that are all that most people have to go on. The current IPCC Report, like the others, was not written by scientists, but by publicists using the cherry-picking principle. Nonetheless, careful reading reveals “holes in the ozone layer”-—the cloud of misinformation spread by the AGW group.

One observer has trenchantly put the matter as follows:

“[I]f climate change is caused by the use of fossil
fuels, then it is within our power to change it, even if it is at
great cost and pain.

“But if climate change is just one of those things, like continental
drift and the solar cycle and earthquakes, completely out of our
hands, something which we can't change and must endure, well,
that's even scarier. It is a well-recognized phenomenon that many
people have a deep psychological need to believe that they have
control over factors which are in reality out of their control.
That's usually called ‘superstition.”

Another correspondent, George P, has coined a new term for the tendency: apocalyptophilia. An early example was Paul Ehrlich’s 1966 prediction of a “population bomb.” It never occurred.

Why is so much credulity on display about this matter? For one thing, reports of disasters, even hypothetical ones, get more attention. Once the meme develops, it spreads by groupthink. Another motivation is the desire of the “small is beautiful” people to impose their lifestyle on others. If someone wishes to move to a cabin in Maine with no indoor plumbing and only a wood-burning stove, let them do it. But they must not be allowed to impose their lifestyle on others who do not elect it.

In the meantime I wish to pass on one of several remarkable summaries I have read about the matter. I trust that Eric Baum will pardon me for plagiarizing his brilliant account, which I reproduce below with just a few cuts and tiny editorial alterations.

The United Nations just upgraded confidence in anthropogenic global warming (AGW) from 66% (in 2001) to 90% today, but their summary doesn't give any grounds for this increase in confidence. I [EB] am eager to know why increased confidence is justified. . .

It would seem that the principal events of the last five years pertaining to confidence in AGW are the following:

(1) Antarctica hasn't warmed significantly in 40 years. The penguins are starting their march later in the spring. The southern hemisphere hasn't warmed much in twenty-five years. The northern hemisphere warmed fast enough in the 1980's and the 90's to compensate so that the world average was consistent with GHG model projections, but only the Arctic seems to be measurably warming since 2001.

(2) Since 2001, figures from the US National Climate Data Center show the world has warmed by 0.03 degrees, within the range of measurement error and thus consistent with no warming at all. Also since 2003 the oceans have cooled. Since 2001 atmospheric methane has mysteriously declined.

(3) A recalibration has brought the satellite data into better agreement with warming than it was in 2001. This is the only event, it seems, that might lead to increased confidence. However, even after the recalibration, it remains true that "none of the satellite data sets show warming in the tropical troposphere, and only one [of three] shows warming higher above the tropics." The tropics are not of fringe importance--they account for half the world's atmosphere, and "GHG models predict strong warming in the upper troposphere over the tropics." Also, according to Lord Monckton, the agreement that does exist is dependent on treating as part of the trend a single potentially outlying event, the '98 El Nino.

(4) The hockey stick graph, which was the flagship argument for AGW, featured in the 2001 summary, has been debunked, most recently by the USNAS. Today, if one were to draw a best guess graph going back far enough to give some perspective, it would look like the graph featured in UN reports in the 1990s, with a Medieval Optimum and a Maunder Minimum, in which the current run of warming doesn't seem remarkable. That a published paper on which one had relied so centrally was in error might seem cause for increased humility, as might discovering one's instruments were not correctly calibrated.

(5) There is a new appreciation of the importance of aerosols, which are believed to exert a cooling influence. Even direct effects are poorly understood, and indirect effects (such as influences on cloud formation!) are simply omitted from most of the models relied on by the IPCC. IPCC estimates that the Direct Radiative Effect of natural and anthropogenic aerosols is 3 times the estimated radiative forcing of anthropogenic CO2, with anthropogenic aerosols estimated to cancel 1/3 of anthropogenic GHG forcing. But different models of the effect of aerosols differ by an order of magnitude, and it doesn't seem to be ruled out either by theory or experiment that overall anthropogenic contribution (aerosols + GHGs) may be cooling.

(6) Since 2001, peer reviewed alternative theories of climate change have advanced strongly. In particular, evidence has been provided that fluctuations in cosmic ray background explain climate moves over earth's history much better than atmospheric CO2 concentration (which seems to have been a trailing indicator over paleohistory). Recent lab experiments provide a mechanism by demonstrating that increased cosmic rays can cause increased clouds. These authors claim to naturally explain the recent lack of Antarctic warming (since snow, like clouds, is white), and argue this hypothesis already better explains the data than GHG theories. Cosmic ray theories predict the temperature will start to cool in coming decades.

(7) "The third assessment report reported that solar activity was exceptionally high in the 20th century in the context of the last 400 years. Since then, new reconstructions have indicated it may be exceptionally high compared to the last 8,000 years." Direct measurements of solar activity (done since 1978) show it increasing steadily, although this may be due to calibration problems. Solar activity was low at the Maunder minimum. The IPCC believes solar activity is not important, yet indirect effects, "for which new evidence has emerged," are ignored. Other peer reviewed publications differ. Recent publications project that solar activity is likely to decline over the next several decades, and some peer reviewed articles predict advancing ice sheets within the 21st century. (I'm not endorsing this!)

(8) Over the last few years, Mars's icecaps have been melting, and observations also indicate global warming on Triton, Pluto, and Jupiter.

(9) "The IPCC assumes temperature data are not contaminated by upward biases, ... many studies have shown that changes in land use and land cover can have large regional effects on the climate that are comparable in magnitude to temperature and precipitation changes observed over the last several decades ... the IPCC uses trend estimation techniques that likely overstate the statistical significance of observed changes, and the results of trend analysis often depend on the statistical model used."

Quotations above are from the Fraser Institute's Independent Summary for Policy Makers of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report which reviews the draft fourth assessment report chapter by chapter and reproduces many graphs and data. This doesn't however mention cosmic rays or the warming of other planets/planetoids, which leads me to speculate these events aren't covered in the draft fourth report. (So far as I'm aware [EB], the draft fourth report itself is not publicly available.[a very significant absence—WRD]) Lord Monckton (former advisor to Thatcher) more briefly reviewed the draft fourth assessment report, and comments "In the final draft report of the new report there is a change in tone. Though carbon dioxide in the air is increasing, global temperature is not."

That isn't the impression one gets from the official summary for policymakers. If there is valid reason why confidence in AGW has increased from 66% to 90% over the last fourth years, I would be very interested in learning of it. If there are any errors in the above, or if data is merely presented above in a misleading way, I would be very interested in hearing of them. If there are not, if in fact evidence and events are going the other direction, it would be good if policymakers and the public were so informed.

Eric Baum


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting post. Whether the IPCC report was written by publicists (rather than scientists) is news to me, but 600 scientists from more than 60 countries around the world all endorsed the report (despite who actually crafted the language). The conclusion was determinate: Human technology is depleting the natural balance within the biosphere and the imbalance is resulting in adverse phenomena. Whether it is cooling one year, warming the next, is too close to discern trends. But if one maps in over decades and even centuries, the probability goes in one and only one direction, however intermittently it vascillates in 365 days. It's the direction overall, not any small period in particular, that is predictive. From a purely aesthetic perspective, if I can see black air, my eyes burn, and I feel compressed lung capacity -- but only in tandem, we can infer a cause and effect. Likewise, if we discern a direction of deterioration that is consistent (cf., "constant") which a particular "fit," then it is reasonable to infer a cause and effect, too. The IPCC made just that inference after many decades of hesitancy. I think it's worth considering seriously.

2:08 PM  
Blogger DavoGrande said...

Gay Species--

They may have had 600 scientists endorse the report, but now 400 have spoken against it... and when they say these scientific organizations endorse it, it is usually a case of the leaders endorsing it without consulting the large numbers of MEMBERS who disagree.

There is NO consensus. This is entirely a political move designed to increase the financial burden on wealthy countries and redistribute wealth, siphoning off plenty for themselves along the way...

Why do you think they spent 11 days in Bali, for heavens sake? Flying hundreds of private jets all over the world to stand at a podium complaining about exhausts from jets ruining the world!

Sitting on the beach, waiters bringing them fancy drinks, all paid for by UN dues of which 95% are contributed by the United States...

It's a giant ripoff. Get used to it.

8:30 PM  

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