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Archive for October, 2008

Doomsayers’ Big Advantage

2008/10/31 3 comments

Something that may apply as well to climate as to stumbling financial markets…from Michael M. Grynbaum ‘s “Forecasters race to call the bottom to the market“, IHT, Oct 27, 2008:

[…] Even in normal times, forecasters have a strong incentive to make extreme predictions, which is why those “Dow 1,000!” reports persist. “It’s eye-popping. It’s relevant. It seems exciting,” Lamont said. Such predictions attract publicity, name recognition and a bigger client base in a business where investors pay thousands, if not millions, for stock advice and investment guidance.

And even if a forecast is off-base, there are few repercussions because they are almost always quickly forgotten […]

Even the guys forecasting in 1999 that the Dow would soon reach 36,000, are still well employed.

I have a feeling, there is something deep inside human nature that makes wild claims, especially wildly gloomy claims, simply too good news and marketing material.

Pity on us then if signs of worldwide cooling accumulate…the smart climatologist will simply extrapolate into upcoming billions of ice-encases deaths.

Global Warming Joke

2008/10/31 3 comments

(inspired by “How to Be Right About the Climate: Always!“)

An atmospheric physicist, a metereologist and a famous climatologist are interviewed for a position as climatologist. The atmospheric physicist is asked: “What do you predict for the climate next year?” and proceeds to answer:

I am not sure, but give me a supercomputer and I will set up the calculations for a rough forecast“.

It’s now the metereologist’s turn, and the answer is:

I am not sure, but provide me with the seasonal charts and the observations from previous years, I will set up the calculations in order for a rough forecast“.

The famous climatologist is finally asked “What do you predict for the climate next year?“. To that, the answer is:

Whatever you want me to predict…“.

How to Be Right About the Climate: Always!

2008/10/31 5 comments

(originally published on Nov 17. 2007. The Italian version is here.)

Vincenzo Ferrara, the scientist advising the Italian Environment Minister up to April 2008 on Climate Changes, explains how to become a famous Climatologist in a 1982 article (on the ”Rivista di Meteorologia Aeronautica”, Vol XLII n. 1, Jan-Mar 1982).

The following is an abridged translation:

If you are a climatologist and you want to survive as a climatologist, perhaps even increasing your reputation, all you have to do is provide the exact diagnosis and prognosis that people expect.

To the question “Is the climate changing?“, by all means, never, ever reply “No, everything’s normal“, or “It’s just fakery pumped up by newspapers and on television“: because people would unanimously conclude that you understand nothing about metereology, and nothing about climate.

It would be the end of your career.

The only sensible answer is: “Of course it is changing! It’s a well-known fact, scientifically confirmed and one that none cannot argue against“. You can then launch yourself in forecasting for the next hundred years a climate identical to the current one, amplifying the latest phenomena to extreme consequences.

If it is cold you’ll therefore predict “ice ages“, if it’s warm a “torrid period“, and if there are signs of strong variability “short-term climatic extremes” and more-or-less the same climate in the long term.

You may be wondering, how can a serious climatologist provide impossible, mutually-excluding forecasts without looking silly? Fear not: science will provide all the support needed.

Because climatology has already thought of everything and will supply the right solution in every circumstance, even in the most hopeless cases.

So if it is cold, here’s what you will have to say: “The climate is changing and we are approaching an Ice Age.

This fact has already been scientifically assessed because since 1940, the average temperature of the northern hemisphere has diminished by approximately 0,4°C, probably because of a decrease in atmospheric transparency due to air pollution.

The cooling of the air causes an increase in the extension of glaciers and of snow fields, furthering lowering temperatures with their highly reflecting (high albedo) surfaces. Glaciers therefore increase even more, in a positive feedback that will bring us to a new Ice Age in a hundred years or even less“.

What if it is warm? Then the discourse becomes: “The climate is changing and we are approaching a Torrid Age.

This fact has already been scientifically assessed because since 1850 the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere has progressively increased and just in the last twenty years has gone from 315 to 334 parts for million. That means that in 2020 the accumulation of carbon dioxide will have more than doubled, taking into account the continuously increasing energy demands and consumption of fossil fuels.

The increase of carbon dioxide reduces the Earth’s long-wave emissions to space (greenhouse effect) so within half a century the average air temperature will increase by approximately 2 or 3°C; the polar ice will dissolve and a sizeable sea level increase will submerge several coastal cities“.

A climatology joke is in order…

Arctic Sea Ice: Animation of Thirty Years

2008/10/31 7 comments

Among the general boredom of reading about the latest awfully hollow “demonstration” that humans are at fault by way of exclusion (and in the process, finding the fingerprint of human-induced rise in temperature in places such as Antarctica where temperature has not risen…unless it’s the Peninsula they are referring to), here some animations of how arctic sea ice has appeared between 1979 and 2008, around October 28, according to Cryosphere Today (note: some years are missing, and for other years I had to take the nearest available image)

Animated Arctic Sea Ice - around Oct 28

Animated Arctic Sea Ice - around Oct 28

You may have to click on the images above to be able to properly see the animated GIFs.

One could be forgiven to think the following:

  • there isn’t much of a polar ice cover “shrinking trend”, but rather a lot of expansions and contractions, plus a freakish small configuration in 2007
  • the 2008 cover is very simiar to 2000’s, apart from an ice-free area East of Novaya Zemlja
  • one can almost sea the warm water flowing in through the Bering Strait, sometimes reaching East as far as Banks Island (1987, 1998)
  • the “losses” in sea ice in the Baltic and northwestern Siberia may or may not relate to a change in data processing between 2003 and 2005

Note how different the last 3 years look, as they include the snow cover exactly when, say, the ice in the White Sea suddenly goes.

The Unbearable Nakedness of Hyperbolic Reporting

2008/10/30 3 comments

According to GlobalWarmingClearinghouse, my headlines are a “good example of hyperbolic reporting!“.

Shall I take that as a compliment, a criticism, or both?

Well, I confess…some time ago I did publish a post on Tits, and yes, it proved for obvious reasons particularly popular, even if some new readers may have been disillusioned upon discovering the aforementioned Tits were just a type of birds.

The (Un-)wisdom of Bill McKibben

2008/10/27 1 comment

If the Gods of Olympus subscribed to the New York Review of Books, they would surely be laughing hard after reading the unwitting ironies peppering Bill McKibben’s “Green Fantasia” review of Thomas L Friedman’s “Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – and How It Can Renew America”.

One wonders if Mr. McKibben will find a way to display less hubris, and more wisdom next time around.

I will focus here on what I see as the two most glaring examples: first of all, about Katrina, the 2005 hurricane that devastated New Orleans and, in the words of Mr McKibben, “woke Friedman from his nap”.

At that point, Mr McKibben (who should have known better) implicity concedes Mr Friedman’s point: making a direct connection between Katrina, and human-induced Climate Change.

[Friedman:] “Have we introduced so much CO2 into nature’s operating system that we no longer know where nature stops and we start in shaping today’s weather”. [McKibben:] Well, indeed we have.

But no serious scientist will confirm that Katrina was caused by (anthropogenic) Climate Change. Within the IPCC itself, the question of “attribution” (how to identify the “signature” of Climate Change in the weather of today, rather than the climate in 15 or 20 years’ time) is still open, and no doubt we will hear more about it in the months leading to the December 2009 Copenhagen Conference.

After all, Katrina was a relatively average Category-3 hurricane when it struck the New Orleans area. And even if 2005 saw a record hurricane season, neither that nor the “duds” of 2006 and 2007 can be used as evidence for or against Climate Change.

In truth, Mr McKibben should have forcefully corrected Mr Friedman on Katrina, as it is extremely unwise to try to solve Climate Change, that he defines as the “most severe of our challenges”, starting from incorrect premises. In fact, by propagating the idea that New Orleans was destroyed by Climate Change, Mr McKibben and Mr Friedman help the real culprits “off the hook”, including the extreme lack of organization in the rescue efforts, of which FEMA’s now-legendary incompetence will forever be indicated as the most damning example.

Another point where Mr McKibben will surely regret his words, concerns “the largest story of the year, and indeed the dominant new trendline of our time”. Dire financial straits for the majority of the world’s economies, perhaps? No: “the sharply rising cost of oil”.

Evidently, Mr McKibben submitted the article long before Lehman Brothers went bust alongside the country of Iceland, before it became normal to hear of hundreds of billions of dollars being handled out to avoid a Depression-Mark II; and before the “cost of oil” sharply stumbled back to below $60 a barrel. No fault there.

The real irony is that Mr McKibben comments that Mr Friedman’s book is “out of date even before it’s published”: that is, exactly what McKibben’s article is. Images of motes and beams spring to mind…also, is it true that “we’re [possibly] starting to run out [of oil]”? Well, yes, it is possible. But as the precipituous fall in oil prices has shown, that was not the reason for barrels to be traded at more than $140 just a few weeks ago.

A final consideration on Mr McKibben’s polemic against Mr Friedman’s “optimism”, “the great imperative of the conventional wisdom”: the alternative to which is alas left unexplored.

Is Bill McKibben advocating “pessimism” by any chance? And what kind of pessimism, one asks? Obviously (or not?) McKibben is not the type to elicit apathy and desperation by advocating a frame of mind where everything we do is useless, because too little, and too late. Therefore: if “Global Warming, above all, should give one pause” (emphasis in the original), what is the next action (if there is any) after that pause has finished?

And by the way…the reason for Mr Friedman’s optimism can be found with a simple search in The New York Times archives, in the May 11, 2008 “Mother’s Day” column:

“But every time life knocked [my mother] down, she got up, dusted herself off and kept on marching forward, motivated by the saying that pessimists are usually right, optimists are usually wrong, but most great changes were made by optimists”

And so to you Bill McKibben…what would you rather be? “Usually right”, or able to “[make] great changes”?

October Snow in London

2008/10/27 1 comment

The BBC is forecasting a sunny, cloudy, rainy, snowy day for Oct 29 in London, UK.  Guess that’ll make it very difficult for such a forecast to be wrong.

But how often has it snowed in October in relatively mild England? From the Hollinsclough website:

1762, 1783, 1784, 1785, 1825, 1829, 1836, 1838, 1880, 1885, 1888.

Those values are confirmed at Netweather.tv.

Another website indicates snow in London on Oct 29 in 1922, and other episodes in England in 1925, 1926, 1934 (as snow showers), 1950, 1964, 1974, 1992, 2000.

Taking all the above as “true”, the average wait is 12.5 years (stdev: 13.1). A snowfall in two days’ time would therefore be not exceptional, really.

Also, there is no much sign of a warming either. The ongoing average has been between 10.8 and 15.75 years since 1825.

OCT 29 UPDATE: It actually did snow in London, but not where I live so I will proceed to shrug it off as a non-event 😎 . No, really: the BBC and the Evening Standard reported it as the first London snow in October since 1934: I suspect the actual date depends on the definition of “London”.

A Hundred Years of Bark Beetles’ Feasts

2008/10/25 2 comments

The owner of the Climate Progress blog laments NBC’s forgetfulness in mentioning global warming as the culprit for forest destruction in Colorado by mountain pine beetles.

However, there is something else to ponder:

(a) From the New York Times, 9/25/1998
“[Because of mountain pine beetles] By the year 2000, most of the lodgepole pine in Oregon ”will be dead, whether it is harvested or not’, said Ed Blaydon, a marketing specialist for the four national forests in southeastern Oregon.” (Lodgepole pines are alive and well in Oregon in 2008)

(b) From the New York Times, 6/6/1989
“[in Summit County, Colorado, because of mountain pine beetles] in 1986 […] green vistas turned rust”

(c) From the New York Times, 12/6/1932
“Director Horace Albright reports that he is greatly worried about the situation in the Yellowstone, where the mountain-pine beetle threatens the destruction of the lodgepole pine, which constitutes 80 per cent of the park’s forests”

(d) From the New York Times, 10/6/1907
“the mountain [pine] beetle refuses anything short of a high altitude. Here it abounds in destructive numbers, especially in the West: and as fast as it travels through those salubrious regions down go vast quantities of pine”

If one had read the article of 101 years ago, one would think we would have no trees left whatsoever by now. It didn’t happen. One worders why.

ps the not-so-mild 2008 winter has not killed as many beetles as expected. perhaps temperature is not that important.

October 2008 Possibly Set for Record Sea Ice Extent Increase Rate

2008/10/24 8 comments

UPDATE NOV 10: October 2008 did show the fastest ever growth in sea ice extent

What is the reason behind the fact that “[Arctic] sea ice area [is] approaching the edge of normal standard deviation“?

It’s because October 2008 is set to break all records in the daily rate of increase in sea ice extent in the Arctic, that’s why.

Just look at the graph below, extracted from the values available at the IARC-JAXA website.

Daily Change Rate (Sea Ice Extent) (sq km, by month)

Daily Change Rate (Sea Ice Extent) (sq km, by month)

(The Y values are the daily rates of change in sea ice extent in the Arctic, averaged across each month. Note that for October I have only computed and plotted the rates between the 1st and the 23rd day of the month).

Some considerations:

(a) The October 2008 average daily rate so far is the largest overall, both in actual value (around 122,400 sq km of increase per day, previous record 100,500 in 2005) and in absolute terms (the overall minimum is around 94,000 sq km of decrease per day, in July 2007)

(b) If confirmed in a week’s time, the above will become the fifth record set in 2008:

largest January daily increase rate (44,000, previous record 39.800 in 2003)
largest February daily increase rate (27.500, previous record 25,400 in 2005)
largest May daily decrease rate (47,100, previous record 46,000 in 2005)
largest August daily decrease rate (66,800, previous record in 62,600 in 2004)

(c) Compared to 2007, the current year 2008 has so far shown

larger daily rates of increase in January (44,000 vs 35,400), February (27,500 vs 12,100), September (8,800 vs -600) and October (122,400 vs 93,500)
larger daily rates of decrease in April (39,800 vs 27,100), May (47,100 vs 44,200) and August (66,800 vs 55,400)
smaller daily rates of decrease in March (11,900 vs 12,200), June (57,900 vs 63,000) and July (78,800 vs 94,000)

========

Let’s see what happens during the upcoming week.

Past values suggest that the final average daily rate of increase for October may be slightly less than today’s. Still, as the current rate is some 20% larger than the previous record in October 2005, it would surprise nobody if October 2008 will remain the month with the largest value ever recorded by JAXA.

ps Who knows what NASA will have to say?

WWF’s Weak Warming Foundations

2008/10/23 8 comments

All hail the WWF’s “Climate change: faster, stronger, sooner – A European update on climate science” report, released “just in time” as the EU discussed ratification of the economy-busting, climatically-inconsequential 20-20-20 Plan?

Not so fast.

Report compiler Dr Tina Tin sets out to show that “important aspects of climate change seem to have been underestimated and the impacts are being felt sooner“, in order to justify the WWF’s call for “an emission reduction target of at least 30% below 1990 levels by 2020” in the EU.

What does Dr Tin mention to support her case?

(a) “The Arctic Ocean is losing sea ice 30 or more years ahead of the projections presented in the Fourth Assessment Report“.

This is a rather weak point. All it takes to refute it is a couple of years of increasing sea ice. Note that 2008’s minimum was higher than 2007’s, and the recovery in the past month has been impressive.

(b) “Floating tide-water glaciers in the Antarctic Peninsula are losing ice faster and are making a greater contribution to global sea level rise than reported“.

It is another weak argument. The Antarctic Peninsula is a peculiar place where lots is happening that is not happening anywhere else. The more the Peninsula behaves “strangely”, the less it may mean for the warming of the whole planet.

(c) “Since 1990, global sea level has been rising one and a half times faster than forecast in…2001“.

This is a simplification. As reported in Accuweather’s Global Warming blog, the rise has been “far from uniform” and great parts of the ocean have seen almost no change at all.

(d) “Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions released as a consequence of human activity have been accelerating“.

This is no change in climate per se. And with CO2’s intrinsic global warming effect growing with the logarithm of the concentration, it may be quite inconsequential.

(e) “A re-examination of the climate impacts reported in the Fourth Assessment Report indicates that 80% cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are needed by 2050 to keep global average temperature rise below 2°C“.

That’s where Dr Tin starts with the abuse of future predictions. These have by definition little to do with any climate change impact being already felt. For the same reason, I’ll skip most of the “Climate Change Tomorrow” list (everything that doesn’t deal with the past and present).

(g) “The analysis of 542 plant and 19 animal species across 19 European countries demonstrates without doubt that the timing of activities of plants and animals, especially in spring and in autumn […] have changed following national warming trends (Menzel et al 2006)“.

This is a an incorrect statement built upon a less-than-solid paper. Menzel at al can be read in full here. They write: “The pattern of observed change in spring efficiently matches measured national warming across 19 European countries“. Note: in spring. Also “The autumn signal was vague“.

(I won’t even start dealing with Menzel et al’s underlying issue, their assumption that changes are always linear)

======

The impression is that in “Climate change: faster, stronger, sooner – A European update on climate science” report, as in much else concerning climate change and global warming, the politics has preceded the science.

That’d be perfectly fine, and I won’t ask to curtail WWF’s political activities: but why oh why can’t they just trying to be more sincere in their aims? Do they have such a weak political (and economical, and ethical) case for CO2 emission reduction, they are forced to write quasi-scientific reports?

UPDATE: read also on Climate Skeptic, “Global Warming … Accelerating?

EU’s 20-20-20: Travesty or Scam?

2008/10/21 4 comments

A few interesting facts about the European Union “Climate Pact”, aka “20-20-20“:

(1) EU’s current CO2 emissions are 14% of the world’s

(2) 20-20-20 will reduce that by 20%. Even if everybody else’s emissions don’t grow in the next 12 years, the overall reduction will be 14×0.2=2.8%. Therefore, instead of emitting 100, in the best circumstances the world will emit 97.2

(3) Given the logarithmic nature of the greenhouse effect, log(97.2)/log(100)=99.38

(4) The EU is therefore planning to spend 0.66% of its PIL for 12 years (total: 7.92% of a single year’s PIL) to ameliorate the world’s temperature by 100%-99.38%=6.2 tenths of a percent.

(5) Think about the efficiency: a grand total of 8 hundredths of a percent of cooling for each % of PIL.

Still wondering why not everybody is enthusiastic about “20-20-20”?

The Tragedy of The Conformist Scientist

Sadly, great comments are lost in millions of blogs, simply because they can only be found by scrolling down (=wasting time) through giant lists of other comments. Here’s an example of something that I am not sure many people will spot.

It’s from Willis Eschenbach, posted in Climate Audit, and it’s an appeal to all scientists that have seen their work twisted in the name of Climate Change, and still cannot be bothered to make the point clear.

Perhaps believing that it is right to the say the wrong thing for the right reason.

[…] IF you feel that Mann is mis-using your datasets, you have a scientific obligation to make that fact known. […] science is not built upon agreement. It is built upon falsification, and for science to work, somebody has to be the bearer of the bad news. Somebody has to speak up, to post notice each and every time the Emperor is more than threadbare, to point out when in fact he’s buck naked.

This, to me, is the most discouraging part of climate science in general, and dendroclimatology in particular. You guys rarely seem to find a single fault in even the most egregious examples of your compatriots’ work. Observing the silence of all of you lambs, I’m left with two choices for an explanation of the pervading stillness:

1) Climate science is in such an advanced state that nobody is making any mistakes, or

2) Climate science is in such a pathetic state because nobody is making any waves.

Don’t you guys care that your chosen scientific field is becoming the butt of jokes? Don’t you care when someone makes unsustainable claims based on the data you worked so hard to acquire and analyze? Don’t any of you folks care that Michael Mann is dragging the good name of paleoclimatology through the mud?

I keep waiting for someone in the field, anyone, to have the balls stand up and publicly say something like “Linah Abaneh’s thesis reveals a deep problem with the Graybill proxies, and possibly with proxy data collection in general,” or “Mann is using the Brown proxies upside down”, or anything but the deafening silence […]

science is a blood sport, it is built on proving that the other guy is wrong. If you don’t have the stomach to stand up for your principles, if you don’t have the balls to name names and dissect fraudulent claims, then go be an auto mechanic or something.

Because a man who won’t speak out to keep his own scientific backyard clean, a man who is unwilling to point out both scientific mistakes and scientific malfeasance in a clear loud voice, is only pretending to be a scientist. […]

You do not gain points by silence in the position that you are in. You do not gain points by ignoring the errors of your fellow scientists. […]

Climate science is sick, and dendroclimatology is moribund. That’s the problem, and no amount of golden silence will be enough to cover that up. It’s time for you guys […] to take on the task of cleaning out the Augean Stables that have sprung up in your very own backyard.

Autumn Colors Enhanced or Fading Way Due to Climate Change

2008/10/20 1 comment

<sarcasm>Of course!</sarcasm> The colors of the leaves in autumn are getting enhanced, or are fading away, all due to unusual weather and climate change.

<sarcasm>Who would have guessed?</sarcasm>

One thing that hasn’t happened yet, but I am sure it will soon happen, is for some piece of research demonstrating that autumn colors are BOTH getting enhanced and fading away, due to climate change…

Two Graphs To Dismiss Mann

2008/10/17 2 comments

From The Air Vent’s Online Experiment With the Latest Hockey Stick:

Data used by Mann for extrapolation

Data used by Mann for extrapolation

Data used vs not used for extrapolation by Mann

Data used vs not used for extrapolation by Mann

Mann used a select few data sets to paste an up slope on the end of 90% of the data in his latest paper. The series used to make the pink line above could have been used in the process but were conveniently eliminated from the paper without mention. […] It [is] my guess that these series would have a reduced up slope compared to the data selected in the last 50 years […]

Thomas Jefferson on Climate Change

2008/10/15 1 comment

Found it in Dr Richard Keen’s Global Warming Quiz, via Roger Pielke, Sr.’s Climate Science.

Here’s the full relevant text from Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, query VII (1781):

A change in our climate however is taking place very sensibly. Both heats and colds are become much more moderate within the memory even of the middle-aged. Snows are less frequent and less deep. They do not often lie, below the mountains, more than one, two, or three days, and very rarely a week. They are remembered to have been formerly frequent, deep, and of long continuance. The elderly inform me the earth used to be covered with snow about three months in every year. The rivers, which then seldom failed to freeze over in the course of the winter, scarcely ever do so now. This change has produced an unfortunate fluctuation between heat and cold, in the spring of the year, which is very fatal to fruits. From the year 1741 to 1769, an interval of twenty-eight years, there was no instance of fruit killed by the frost in the neighbourhood of Monticello. An intense cold, produced by constant snows, kept the buds locked up till the sun could obtain, in the spring of the year, so fixed an ascendency as to dissolve those snows, and protect the buds, during their developement, from every danger of returning cold. The accumulated snows of the winter remaining to be dissolved all together in the spring, produced those overflowings of our rivers, so frequent then, and so rare now.

Response to Zombie Blog (Greenfyre’s)

2008/10/15 12 comments

Hello Greenfyre

I certainly support letting everybody perfectly free to use their own definitions. As long as it is clear what they are talking about.

That 1961 New York meeting I have blogged about, was sponsored by the American Metereological Association and The New York Academy of Sciences. That should be enough to consider it an important conference. And it was co-chaired by Rhodes W. Fairbridge, not a minor figure in the last 40/50 years of climatology. Furthermore, it was followed by another meeting in Rome, organized by UNESCO and again with major climatologists in attendance (J. Murray Mitchell, Jr. C. C. Wallén , E. Kraus).

Once again in Rome, they all agreed that the world was cooling. The full proceedings are available and I extracted some interesting snippets.

If scientific experts meet once, and then meet again, and there is general agreement among them that the world is cooling, I’d say most people will agree that THAT is evidence for “global cooling scientific consensus”.

I am just using perfectly common and sensible definitions for “cooling”, “global” and “consensus”.

If instead you decide e.g. that “global cooling” has to mean “predicting future cooling”, feel free to do so: but please do yourself a favor and provide reasons for your choice.

Because of course the more we restrict a definition, the less the chance that anything will fall into that category.

This “restricting the definition until there is nothing left” is after all what Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolley, and John Fleck have done in their largely mistitled “The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus”.

Definitive Evidence for Global Cooling Consensus in the 1970s (3)

2008/10/15 7 comments

A series of blogs analizing Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolley, and John Fleck’s (PCF) largely mistitled “The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus” (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society Volume 89, Issue 9, September 2008, pp 1325-1337). Previous considerations about a global cooling consensus in the 1960’s can be read here and here.

4 – AN INCOHERENT TIME FRAME

In the previous blogs in the series, we have seen how the very statements made by Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolley, and John Fleck’s (PCF) The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensuscan be used to demonstrate that there was indeed a global cooling scientific consensus, in the 1970s.

The whole concept of the “myth” is merely based on definitions. Besides, PCF’s own methodology meant disregarding almost everything written about global cooling anyway.

Moreover: they have been cavalier with the temporal series of events.

=====

What is the meaning of “the 1970’s”? In the “Perpetuating the Myth” Box (page 1326, page 2 in the PDF file), PCF are particularly disingenuous in their criticism of Singer and Avery (2007), Balling (1992), Giddens (1999), Michaels (2004) and pretty much everybody else.

From PCF’s own analysis, in fact, one can distinguish two eras, with a “cooling consensus” up to 1975:

PCF: “Indeed, the Earth appeared to have been cooling for more than 2 decades when scientists first took note of the change in trend in the 1960s. The seminal work was done by J. Murray Mitchell [in 1963, showing that] global temperatures had increased fairly steadily from the 1880s, the start of his record, until about 1940, before the start of a steady multidecade cooling (Mitchell 1963). By the early 1970s, when Mitchell updated his work (Mitchell 1972), the notion of a global cooling trend was widely accepted, albeit poorly understood.

The first satellite records showed increasing snow and ice cover across the Northern Hemisphere from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. This trend was capped by unusually severe winters in Asia and parts of North America in 1972 and 1973 (Kukla and Kukla 1974),which pushed the issue into the public consciousness (Gribbin 1975). The new data about global temperatures came amid growing concerns about world food supplies, triggering fears that a planetary cooling trend might threaten humanity’s ability to feed itself (Thompson 1975).

The start of the “warming” era is placed by PCF around 1976:

PCF: “It was not long, however, before scientists teasing apart the details of Mitchell’s trend found that it was not necessarily a global phenomenon.Yes, globally averaged temperatures were cooling, but this was largely due to changes in the Northern Hemisphere. A closer examination of Southern Hemisphere data revealed thermometers heading in the opposite direction (Damon and Kunen 1976).

Therefore, according to PCF themselves, scientists up to 1975 would have mostly agreed that the world was cooling. What is wrong then in stating that global cooling was at the time “scientific verity” (Bray 1991)? “Orthodox scientific opinion” in 1974, that is 25 years before Giddens wrote the text below, was exactly as he described it:

Giddens: “Yet only about 25 or so years ago, orthodox scientific opinion was that the world was in a phase of global cooling.

What one could say is that Singer, Avery, and most of those mentioned in that Box, are as guilty as PCF in viewing the 1970’s with glasses tinted with today’s mindframes (eg exaggerating any mention of “global cooling” into “ice ages”).

But is PCF’s the one truly unmissable statement:

PCF: “Clearly, if a national report in the 1970s advocates urgent action to address global warming, then the scientific consensus of the 1970s was not global cooling.

The U.S. National Research Council report they refer to, is from 1979. How could people know about that report, in 1975?

PCF’s analysis is not temporally sensible.

QED.

=====

In a lyrical passage, PCF state their research is all the more interesting because it shows the emerging in the 1970s of “the integrated tapestry that created the basis for climate science as we know it today“. That’s a myth in its own right, and the topic for the next blog in the series.

(continues…)

Definitive Evidence for Global Cooling Consensus in the 1970s (2)

2008/10/15 4 comments

A series of blogs analizing Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolley, and John Fleck’s (PCF) largely mistitled “The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus” (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society Volume 89, Issue 9, September 2008, pp 1325-1337). Previous considerations about a global cooling consensus in the 1960’s can be read here and here.

3 – GLOBAL COOLING: PRESENT VS. IMMINENT

In the previous blog in the series, we have seen how the very statements made by Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolley, and John Fleck’s (PCF) The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensuscan be used to demonstrate that there was indeed a global cooling scientific consensus, in the 1970s.

The whole concept of the “myth” is merely based on definitions. But an even larger issue lies with PCF’s methodology, to the point of showing that despite their claims, they have not done “a review of the climate science literature from 1965 to 1979” looking for a global cooling consensus.

Rather, they have carefully made sure they could find no such a thing, under any circumstance.

PCF: “the literature search was limited to the period from 1965 through 1979. While no search can be 100% complete, this methodology offers a reasonable test of the hypothesis that there was a scientific consensus in the 1970s regarding the prospect of imminent global cooling

Apparently, they have chosen to restrict their interest only to scientific works about future climate prospects (note the slightly different and unexplained definition for “global cooling”, as “the prospect for imminent global cooling”).

But this has meant disregarding all the (ultimately, scientifically right at its time) bibliography about global cooling up to around 1975. In fact: were “projections” of future climates really of much interest to scientists in the 1970s? Not really, as shown by PCF themselves:

PCF: “While some of these articles make clear predictions of global surface temperature change by the year 2000, most of these articles do not. Many of the articles simply examined some aspect of climate forcing.

Most” of the available articles for the chosen period 1965-1979 “do not […] make clear predictions”. Sounds like an apparent article-killing flaw, doesn’t it?

How do you conduct a survey when the subjects are not interested in responding?

And still, PCF decided to move on nevertheless. Where the texts would not reach, PCF’s interpretation will do:

PCF: “However, it was generally accepted that both CO2 and anthropogenic aerosols were increasing. Therefore, for example, articles that estimated temperature increases resulting from doubling CO2 or temperature decreases resulting from anthropogenic aerosols would be listed in Table 1 as warming or cooling articles, respectively. […] Articles were not included in the survey if they examined the climate impacts of factors that did not have a clear expectation of imminent change, such as increases in volcanic eruptions or the creation of large fleets of supersonic aircraft.

This is why we cannot say that PCF have reviewed “the climate science literature from 1965 to 1979”. Simply, they have been looking at 30/40-year-old articles that would ultimately fit today’s patterns: making future climate predictions, and strictly fixated around “forcings”.

There was no chance for them to find many articles about “global cooling”. And they didn’t.

QED.

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PCF’s work is about the 1965-1979 period. One would expect good care to be taken with the time series of events. That’s the topic for the next blog in the series.

(continues…)

EU Climate Policy Will Solve The Immigration Issue

2008/10/14 1 comment

The European Union looks determined to press ahead with the 20-20-20 climate-change-fighting plan, despite an official estimate of around €60bn of costs (in EU jargon, that translated to around €100-120bn of additional burden on the Union’s economies).

And everybody agrees the environmental impact will be negligible, given the power-plant construction boom in places like China.

So what is the point of such madness, in the midst of a financial crisis? Well, there is another thing the 20-20-20 plan may achieve. And that is to stop further immigration towards the EU.

With the European economies in ruins, after all, who would want to come to Europe…

Definitive Evidence for Global Cooling Consensus in the 1970s (1)

2008/10/14 12 comments

A series of blogs analizing Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolley, and John Fleck’s (PCF) largely mistitled “The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus” (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society Volume 89, Issue 9, September 2008, pp 1325-1337). Previous considerations about a global cooling consensus in the 1960’s can be read here and here.

1 – INTRODUCTION

In an act of supreme irony, incontrovertible evidence for a “global cooling scientific consensus in the 1970s” is spelled out loud and clear in Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolley, and John Fleck’s (PCF) The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus.

How did they manage then to show “global cooling scientific consensus in the 1970s” to be a “myth”?

By carefully adopting their own particular definitions for common words; by using the very “selective misreading of the texts” they accuse others to be guilty of (page 1326); and by using quite uneven criteria, strict regarding “cooling” and “consensus”, and loose on the “warming” side.

In the process, they have ended up discarding or having to liberally interpret most of the available literature. Furthermore, for an article dealing with a particular time period, PCF’s comments do appear temporally jumbled up. And they have created their own myths: the isolation of different types of climate research before the 1970’s, and the sudden appearance of CO2 as a factor affecting climate.

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2- THE SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS FOR GLOBAL COOLING

What is “global cooling”? At least at the beginning, PCF take it as synonym of “imminent ice age”:

PCF: “There was no scientific consensus in the 1970s that the Earth was headed into an imminent ice age. Indeed, the possibility of anthropogenic warming dominated the peer-reviewed literature even then.

Isn’t that a tad too catastrophist, too “2008”, to say the least?

Couldn’t there have been people in the 1970s convinced of, and worried about global cooling, without necessarily expecting “an imminent ice age”? It’s like trying to look at the past with our thoughts firmly anchored to the present, catastrophiliac era.

And what is a “scientific consensus”? Here’s PCF’s definition:

PCF: “[A global cooling scientific consensus] would be easily shown by both the presence of many articles describing global cooling projections and the absence of articles projecting global warming

So they would be satisfied of a “global cooling scientific consensus” only by “the absence of [scientific] articles projecting global warming”.

But that is an almost impossible feat. Even now in 2008, still there are peer-reviewed articles that do not agree with what is incessantly referred to as the “global warming consensus”.

A more open-minded approach would be to define as “scientific consensus” what most people would consider a “consensus”: having a large majority of scientists thinking global cooling was underway (just as a large majority of scientists think global warming is underway right now).

And that is exactly what PCF describe (referring to the 1972/1974 period):

PCF: “Meanwhile, newly created global temperature series showed cooling since the 1940s.[…] By the early 1970s, when Mitchell updated his work (Mitchell 1972), the notion of a global cooling trend was widely accepted, albeit poorly understood

“Widely accepted”: check. “Global cooling”: check.

So according to PCF, a lowering of global temperatures was indeed the mainstream view in 1972. And up to sometimes in the 1970s at least, the available scientific evidence pointed towards global cooling being a reality.

On the basis of what PCF have written, a “global cooling scientific consensus” did exist in the 1970s, if only for a few years.

QED

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One could still wonder, if there was indeed a “global cooling scientific consensus” in the 1970s, why didn’t PCF find more articles supporting it? That’s the subject of next blog in the series.

(continues…)

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