In their weekly “Science in the News” e-mail, the folks at American Scientist have just managed to include a series of good news about the climate, without much of an acknowledgment. So here they are:
- “scientists have been drilling beneath the Dead Sea to extract a record of climate change and earthquake history stretching back half a million years. So far, their findings include a wood fragment that’s roughly 400,000 years old“: linked NYT article also includes news about the Dead Sea’s water levels increasing by 300m between 50,000 years ago and now, and “wildly varying layers of salt and mud [representing] dry periods and wet ones” indicating how big local climate changes have been in the past, and how many of them there have been, without much human intervention
- “researchers have found an ancient mummified forest in a nearly treeless section of the Canadian Arctic that is now surrounded by glaciers“: indeed, linked National Geographic article mentions a time in the past when “the Earth’s climate was drastically changing“, and mentions another NGS article yet, showing how forests contain in-built mechanisms to quickly expand to new areas when the conditions are warm enough. Hopefully nobody’s suggesting those mechanisms haven’t evolved in the remote past..
- “the White House has issued guidelines to insulate government scientific research from political meddling and to base policy decisions on solid data. Under the guidelines, government scientists are free to speak to journalists and the public about their work“: actually, there is more, as mentioned in the linked NYT article, e.g. with clear wordings that would have hit hard the “hide the decline” Team: “the agencies are instructed that when communicating a scientific finding to the public, they should describe its underlying assumptions. For instance, they are told to describe “probabilities associated with both optimistic and pessimistic projections”“
I do expect AS to come out against current mainstream AGW theory sooner rather than later (sooner than the hopeless critical-thinking-free Scientific American, at least). One little chip at a time, even the strongest wall will come down.
“My friends, each of you is a single cell in the great body of the State. And today, that great body has purged itself of parasites. We have triumphed over the unprincipled dissemination of facts. The thugs and wreckers have been cast out. And the poisonous weeds of disinformation have been consigned to the dustbin of history. Let each and every cell rejoice! For today we celebrate the first, glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directive! We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology, where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths. Our Unification of Thought is a more powerful weapon than any fleet or army on Earth! We are one people. With one will. One resolve. One cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death. And we will bury them with their own confusion! We shall prevail!“
Yes, hammers are still and sorely needed.
(no £33M supercomputer was harmed in the making of this blog)
- All atmospheric, oceanic, glacial, geological and public-health phenomena with any kind of negative impact will be linked to (anthropogenic) global warming with no shortage of experts confirming how we’d known that all along, and of computer models showing how obvious those consequences have always been
- No atmospheric, oceanic, glacial, geological and public-health phenomena lacking any kind of negative impact will be linked to (anthropogenic) global warming
- Romm will continue his fishing expeditions, hoping this or that weather-related mass killing can be taken advantage of, in order to promote the concept of anthropogenic global warming
- Hansen will get (willingly) arrested once or twice, ready to proclaim 2011 as the warmest year ever, mostly due to extremes of heat in faraway places devoid of people and weather stations
- McKibben will get even thinner, and just as ineffectual, while identifying new enemies forever closer to himself
- RealClimate will keep its absurdist censorship policy, and in post after post the Team will “demonstrate” their intellectual superiority
- Skeptical Science will keep building climate salad surgeries to no end, sprinkling statements of various robustness with seemingly limitless references to the Literature, to be used by the lazy and most scientifically-ignorant among its readership (i.e. the journalists)
- The Climate Change Rapid Response Team will say nothing of relevance that hasn’t been already said
- The nastiest criticisms by rabid AGWers will be thrown in the direction of Curry
- Revkin will keep reaffirming his absolute confidence in mainstream AGW science despite the evidence to the contrary presented in Revkin’s blog
- Pielke Jr will be distracted by other things, thereby avoiding Revkin’s problem
- The IPCC will make sure nothing really is changed in its procedures or results
- McIntyre will be made privy to secret information showing how deeply unpopular in the mainstream climate community is anything remotely linked to McIntyre
- Goddard (S.) will publish his 25,000th blog post
- Goddard (NASA’s) will discover that recent thermometer readings must be adjusted upwards, and past ones downwards, for purely scientific reasons of course
- Watts will be criticized (for being Watts and) for providing web space to people with strange theories
- ScienceOfDoom will busy himself with explaining the first law of thermodynamics (again!) thereby missing all the fun
- Connolley will not notice the rest of the planet
- Tamino will pop up once around here and other places, posting an inane, canned comment that could be written in reply to any other blog post written by anybody on any topic
- Some people with a very nasty mindset will suggest that the glowing comments to Tamino’s posts might as well have been written by people sharing the same identical DNA with Tamino
- The recipient of the 2010 Edward Davis Wood, Jr.’s Climate “Blogging Turkey” Award will sink to new lows
- The art of obfuscating FOI and non-FOI answers will be perfected by the CRU and the BBC
- Popular media will be filled by photographic reports about a changing climate, with no picture showing anything remotely connected to climate change in a proper scientific way
- Popular media will be filled by countless breakthroughs in climate science showing how worse it is than we thought
- Scientifically speaking, there will not be any breakthrough in climate science
- A very large number of well-known and otherwise knowledgeable scientists will make complete asses of themselves by appearing on TV and in print with idiotic regurgitations of mainstream AGW theory, mostly inconsistent with the very statements made by the IPCC
- If the weather will keep cold, a major European scientific institution will break ranks with mainstream AGW theory before the summer
- Popular interest will wane as most people will be titillated about the 2012 “end of the world” instead
- The EU will find new ways to use climate change to transfer money to the rich, and to China
- China will happily go along the EU cash-transfer schemes
- The US Congress and President will strike a united front in protecting climate-change-related pork (money not meat)
And finally for the real world…
- It will rain, otherwise it will be sunny, foggy, cloudy or overcast. It will snow in places, with sandstorms in other places (or the same ones). It will be cold, then hot, then cold again, or viceversa more or less overall. Some droughts, some floods, and places experiencing drizzle. Unprecedented weather will be experienced for the 200,000th year running, with lack of morals among humans indicated as main culprit for the 200,000th time as well
- Many people will die of poverty in weather-related events around the world, with the keys being “poverty” and “weather” but all action concentrated on “climate change”
- Children will keep dying of soot, while the world concerns itself with CO2 emissions only
- Elderly people will keep dying of fuel poverty, while the world concerns itself to increase fuel prices in order to reduce CO2 emissions
After days of extremely-silly reports trying to argue that a warming world means a colder world or part of it, as if a winter or two meant anything in the context of climate (usually defined as a 30-year average), a ray of hope for the serious parts of climate science has shone at DotEarth. After all, whenever a rabid warmist claims success after having fished around for any instance of weather extreme anywhere in the world, it’s hard to tell the ensuing climate looting from any claim about Nostradamus.
The whole brouhaha about the cold weather of December 2010 actually highlights three issues that are pushing climate science towards irrelevance:
- If somebody like Judah Cohen publishes a NYT Op-Ed focused on explaining how to “reconcile” the “snow and record cold” with “a World Meteorological Organization report showing that 2010 will probably be among the three warmest years on record“, then what exactly are climate projections for?
As every newspaper reader outside of North Korea should know by now, a warmer world is expected to be a world perhaps with more snow, perhaps with less snow, perhaps with both; perhaps with more floods, perhaps with more droughts, perhaps with both; perhaps with more cold, perhaps with more heat, perhaps with both…That covers more or less every possibility, apart from “no change at all”, hence it is similar to expecting at the roulette table any number between 0 and 14 and between 16 and 36, having seen “15” come out several times in a row. There is no need of peer-review or statistical analysis to do that. There is not even any need to model the roulette wheel and its pockets. And as any trip to the Casino can show, there is no reward at all in betting upon such an extremely-wide-ranging set of “projections”.
- In a new blog, Revkin mentions “Jay Fein, program director in N.S.F.’s climate dynamics program” as saying “weather impacts peoples’ lives and the global economy on a daily basis“
Why then should anybody care about 30-year averages? What is the meaning of spending considerable resources to mitigate or even adapt to some hard-to-tell thing that might or might happen in 2050AD when the impact of atmospheric patterns is felt “on a daily basis“? Imagine asking anybody in 1900 to put aside money for good use in 1940…
- And even if one willingly forgets the two objections above…as mentioned here already a few weeks ago, and independently reaffirmed at Real Science, the very concept of a “global anomaly” by which we can measure a “warming planet” might be meaningless, as an unevenly-warming world might see everybody having to face a life of cold
Imagine if a cold place where the average temperature is -20C warms by 4C, and a temperate place where the average temperature is 10C cools by 2C. Obviously the resulting “average anomaly” is +2C and people can run around screaming about “global warming”. Apparently logical…and yet: the result is that people will have a choice between living at -16C or leaving at 8C, i.e. between where it’s still as cold as ever, and where it’s not warm enough any longer.
In such a situation, as in trying to build an effective policy from an extremely-wide range of expected scenarios, and as in trying to convince the people of today to suffer for something that we don’t know and might or might not happen far in the future, politicians actively applying what contemporary climate science tells them will find themselves victims of unintended consequences at best, and of complete misleading at worst. The most likely outcome? Nobody in their right mind will ever listen to a climate scientist again…
Not that they really wanted to be so generous, mind you…but in the printed (IHT) version of this long article about the Keelings and CO2 concentration measurements, somebody at the NYT decided to include this graph:
And so millions around the world will be able to see that temperatures have gone up and down in the past 400,000 years, with a characteristic shape (sharp increase with an even more marked peak, slow decline, then sharp increase again) that is currently being replicated (and the top temperatures of the past haven’t been reached yet). The usual reply is that in the past it’s been changes in the Earth’s orbit what drove the temperature changes: and yet, even if CO2 is the “culprit” this time there is evidently something in the Earth’s climate that:
- Keeps temperatures from going unimaginably high
- Counteracts the warming, whatever the CO2 concentrations
- Mantains temperatures on average as much colder than at present
In the medium and long run, humanity should be preparing for a cooler world. Preparation means of course adaptation, the one thing nobody wants to do.
I have been insulted as a “denialist” if not “baby-eater” for far…warmer words than what has appeared last night on the BBC Science & Environment pages (as usual, one has to see things through the rather silly title of the piece).
Extract from “Polar bears can be saved by emissions cuts, study says”
by Neil Bowdler (BBC, 15 Dec 2010):
Dr Ted Maksym, of the British Antarctic Survey (Bas), said he agreed there was little evidence of “tipping points” in the Arctic.
“All the literature that has looked for a tipping point for sea ice has essentially found none. This has been drowned out a bit by the noise surrounding the 2007 minimum [for summer ice loss] and a possible ‘death spiral’ for Arctic sea ice.”
“The suggestion that if global temperature rise is kept below 1.25 degrees that polar bears will survive is encouraging; but given current trends this is not likely to be achieved. So we are by no means out of the woods.”
Professor Julian Dowdeswell of the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, said such research was important, but that reality could turn out to be different – something the authors of the paper have recognised.
“To have a good physical understanding of the natural world, it’s important that we do run predictive models,” he said.
“But it’s equally important to remember that they are only models and not reality. Usually there is an envelope of possible futures, rather than one future.”
A comment I have posted at Scientific American’s “Cross-check” blog by John Horgan, in reply to the entry titled “The truth we’ll doubt: Does the “decline effect” mean that all science is “truthy“?“. Reposted here for future memory:
> Jonah Lehrer dismisses the notion that “The Truth Wears Off”
> implicitly undermines the status of the theory of
> evolution by natural selection and global warming,
> which are “two of the most robust and widely
> tested theories of modern science.”
I wish people were more confident in their science and less defensive on subjects that they consider “robust” and “widely tested”. To me, it is obvious that the “Truth that wore off” about evolution was Eugenics. It has all the characteristics indicated by Lehrer, including Galton’s “dramatic correlation” and a huge bandwagon that was eliminated only by the horrors of WWII.
Likewise for “global warming”: a misnomer as everybody now agrees, should be “climate change” at least, and it has evolved from simplistic claims of an increase in temperatures everywhere to a whole load of nuances and lots of studies still to be carried out at a regional (and even more, local!) level. The “Truth” that is wearing off “climate change” is the idea that it only takes a few years to properly understand the behavior in the free atmosphere of something that can be seen in the lab. Other “global warming Truths”/bandwagons that are slowly disappearing include the notions that (a) every environmental phenomenon is caused by increases in CO2 emissions, (b) we have all the technology we need to stop emitting CO2, (c) cap-and-trade is the solution to CO2 emissions, (d) it is ok to present data devoid of uncertainty for policy reasons, (e) reconstructions of past temperatures can be done without involving statisticians, etc etc.
Please do note that Evolution (in a modern form) has survived the demise of Eugenics, just like “climate change” will likely survive (in an updated form) all semi-idiotic studies forever linking it to the disappearance of mostly-cute animals.
Sometimes I feel like we have learned nothing of the useless debates of old, Newtonians vs Leibnitzians, light-is-a-particle vs light-is-a-wave, relativity vs quantum mechanics. Science shouldn’t be a place where people sacrifice themselves and their principles for pet theories, closing their minds rather than accepting the challenge: rather, Science should be an open battlefield where the truly powerful ideas don’t even need defending. But I suppose that might not chime right if the worry is the preservation of the status quo.