Monday, March 19, 2007

Crisis? What crisis?

I figured enough feathers had settled down after the release of the IPCC's Fourth Summary a few weeks back to do a very brief summary about the record. Here's some graphs for you to ponder. First, the surface temperature record from 1850 to 2000:

The second graph shows the temperatures from 1979 up until the present day (the graph is compiled by the good folk at JunkScience, from the most reliable recent temperature record, the satellite (MSU) measurements in the lower atmosphere, recorded by from Dr. John Christy & Dr. Roy Spencer, Global Hydrology and Climate Center, University of Alabama - Huntsville, USA, and Remote Sensing Systems)

There are a few things of note when you actually study that surface record. As Arctic researcher Syun Akasofu notes [pdf], quite sensibly:
There seems to be a roughly linear increase of the temperature from about 1800, or even much earlier, to the present. This trend should be subtracted from the temperature data during the last 100 years. Thus, there is a possibility that only a fraction of the present warming trend may be attributed to the greenhouse effect resulting from human activities. One possible cause of the linear increase may be that the Earth is still recovering from the Little Ice Age [pdf].

Thus, natural causes cannot be ignored in the present warming trend, in addition to the greenhouse effect. [Emphasis in the original.]
Another point is the general trend across the twentieth century itself, described so succinctly by film-maker Martin Durkin when exploding via email last week:
Since 1940 we have had four decades of cooling, three of warming, and the last decade when temperature has been doing nothing. “Why have we not heard this in the hours and hours of shit programming on global warming shoved down our throats by the BBC? [Emphasis added. Well-earned swipe at the BBC in the original email.]
Across the twentieth century we've seen a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and a slight surface warming of between 0.3 and 0.6 degrees Celsius, much of that pre-194o -- that is, much of it before the 'great carbon deluge' from 1950 on. That's the record.

Now, what about that more recent graph. Have a good look. Earlier extrapolations of the temperature record suggested temperatures would be spiking after 2000. They didn't. Just to confirm what you see in that graph above, paleoclimate scientist Bob Carter notes: there is indeed a problem with global warming -- it stopped in 1998.
According to official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the UK, the global average temperature did not increase between 1998-2005... this eight-year period of temperature stasis did coincide with society's continued power station and SUV-inspired pumping of yet more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere...
Just to reconfirm the point, Christopher Monckton summarises from the UN/IPCC's draft Assessment Report [pdf] (whose conclusion he suggests should really be "the panic is officially over"),
Figures from the US National Climate Data Center show 2006 as about 0.03 degrees Celsius warmer worldwide than 2001. Since that is within the range of measurement error, global temperature has not risen in a statistically significant sense since the UN’s last report in 2001.
Not at all what was predicted by the IPCC in earlier reports.

So where's the warming? In particular, where's the man-made warming. As Richard Lindzen points out, climate always changes, "yet the definition of climate change assumes stationarity of the climate system." Just to repeat the point made by Syun Akasofu above, the surface temperature record shows climate changing in a linear fashion since 1800 (well before human-produced carbon emissions) and in a roughly upward direction.
"This trend," he says, is clearly a natural one, and "should be subtracted from the temperature data during the last 100 years. Thus, there is a possibility that only a fraction of the present warming trend may be attributed to the greenhouse effect resulting from human activities."
We've had a doubling of CO2 in recent human history ... and with that we've seen a temperature increase of just 0.6 degrees Celsius, and not all of that due to all that CO2. Even the IPCC is only willing to say "most" warming since the mid-twentieth century is our fault. As Dr Vincent Gray points out, that effectively means "most" warming from 1979 to 1998, which means, according to the IPCC, that
"most" of this 0.53ºC warming was caused by anthropogenic (human-induced) greenhouse gas increases. “Most” of this would be between 0.3ºC and 0.5ºC, the amount that the statement considers to be due to human influence.
Speaking on this point as to the difficulty of establishing who or what is responsible, the Fraser Institute's Independent Summary for Policymakers [pdf] points out:
Attribution of the cause in climate change is not formally possible. The term “attribution” means consistency with a climate model-generated scenario, rather than formal proof of causality. The same data could be consistent with contradictory hypotheses, including large or small greenhouse warming. Attribution studies rely on the validity of model-generated estimates of the climatic response to forcing, and model-generated estimates of natural variability. The reported uncertainties in attribution studies do not take into account basic uncertainty about climate model parameters.

These uncertainties can be considerable. Evidence for a human influence on climate relies on model-based detection studies. On average, models used for attributing recent climate change to human interference assume that natural forcings alone would have yielded virtually no change over the 20th century, and global cooling since 1979 [something rendered rather foolish by Akasofu's point above]. Attribution studies to date do not take into account all known sources of possible influence on the climate.
They conclude, "Due to the uncertainties involved, attribution of climate change to human cause is ultimately a judgment call."

So where's the crisis? The crisis is not in the record, it's in the predictions for the future generated by those computer-generated climate models, and there is considerable uncertainty and much opportunity for bias in the 'tuning' of these models, which involves an almost amusing degree of circularity; expectations of warming induce a certain method of 'tuning' the models, producing the desired predictions, inducing more 'certainty' about more warming, more tuning etc. On top of that, the mathematics underlying the models is frequently beyond the capacity of all but the most highly qualified mathematical specialists (which does not begin to describe most climate scientists). Indeed, as the IPCC themselves pointed out in their Third Assessment Report (2001),
In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible. The most we can expect to achieve is the prediction of the probability distribution of the system’s future possible states by the generation of ensembles of model solutions. (Third Assessment Report, Section 14.2.2.2)
The 'crisis' then is largely in the models, and the scary predictions made by these models is decreasing as each new IPCC report is released. I'll let author and former warmist Michael Crichton conclude, with comments he made in the New York debate I described on Saturday.
[B]ecause I look for trouble, I went at a certain point and started looking at the temperature records. And I was very surprised at what I found. The first thing that I discovered ... is that the increase in temperatures so far over the last hundred years, is on the order of six-tenths of a degree Celsius, about a degree Fahrenheit. I had'nt really thought, when we talked about global warming, about how much global warming really was taking place.

The second thing I discovered was that everything is a concern about the future and the future is defined by models. The models tell us that human beings are the cause of the warming, that human beings producing all this CO2, are what‘s actually driving the climate warming that we‘re seeing now.

But I was interested to see that the models, as far as I could tell, were not really reliable. That is to say, that past estimates have proven incorrect. In 1988, when James Hanson talked to the Congress and said that global warming had finally arrived, The New York Times published a model result that suggested that in the next hundred years there would be twelve degrees Celsius increase. A few years later the increase was estimated to be six degrees, then four degrees. The most recent U.N. estimate is three degrees.

Will it continue to go down? I expect so. And this left me in a kind of a funny position. But let me first be clear about exactly what I'm saying. Is the globe warming? Yes. Is the greenhouse effect real? Yes. Is carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, being increased by men? Yes. Would we expect this warming to have an effect? Yes. Do human beings in general effect the climate? Yes. But none of that answers the core question of whether or not carbon dioxide is the contemporary driver for the warming we‘re seeing.

And as far as I could tell scientists had postulated that, but they hadn't demonstrated it.

So I'm kinda stranded here. I've got half a degree of warming, models that I don‘t think are reliable. And what, how am I going to think about the future? I reasoned in this way: if we‘re going to have one degree increase, maybe if climate doesn't change, and if there‘s no change in technology – but of course, if you don‘t imagine there will be a change in technology in the next hundred years you‘re a very unusual person. [Emphasis mine.]
It has to be said in this regard that there are very many "unusual persons" about. Few people would have been prepared to predict in 1900 the technology we would be using a century later, but a century later many "unusual persons" are both happy to do so, and at the same time actively hindering potential changes in technology by promoting measures that strangle the necessary advances in technology.

Rather than help, these "unusual persons" are in fact a threat to human life on this planet -- at least to the extent that their stories of crisis and their nostrums to avert it are taken seriously. As George Reisman summarises, "Global Warming Is Not a Threat But the Environmentalist Response to It Is." Or as Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary puts it so colourfully, "You can't change the world by wearing sandals."

UPDATE 1: I liked this comment over at Steve McIntyre's 'Climate Audit' blog:
I’m on the side of Michael Crichton, though, not for the science, but for what is a crisis. AIDS in Africa is a crisis, Darfour is a crisis, Iraq is a crisis, Malaria is an ongoing crisis that prevents many African countries from moving forward. My sister who practices as a doctor in Mali for one month a year says that because most of the people there have either malaria or anemia, they’re just too weak to be productive the way we are. That’s a crisis. If we had the same here, we would be in real trouble too.

Now is climate change a crisis? No. Nobody has died from climate change so far. And don’t talk to me about heat waves or Katrina, as they could have happened without any extra CO2. Katrina would not have been a crisis if the levees had held...
UPDATE 2: Film-maker Martin Durkin makes his more measured, public response to critics of his Channel Four film The Great Global Warming Swindle. It's good reading. He concludes:
Too many journalists and scientists have built their careers on the global-warming alarm. Certain newspapers have staked their reputation on it. The death of this theory will be painful and ugly. But it will die. Because it is wrong, wrong, wrong.
LINKS: Why has global warming become such a passionate subject? Let's keep out cool - Syun Akasofu [5-page PDF]
News - Junk Science
Is the earth still recovering from the little ice age? A possible cause of global warming - Syun-Ichi Akasofu, International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks [14-page PDF]
There IS a problem with global warming ... it stopped in 1998 - Professor Bob Carter, (UK) Daily Telegraph
IPCC Fourth Assessment Report 2007: Analyis and Summary - Christopher Monckton [10-page PDF]
"New report says global warming is negligible, short-lived, and now ended" - Dr Vincent Gray - Not PC
Independent Summary for Policymakers - Fraser Institute [64-page PDF]
Global warming is not a crisis - DEBATE TRANSCRIPT, Intelligence Squared US [79-page PDF]
Global Warming Is Not a Threat But the Environmentalist Response to It Is
- George Reisman's Blog
"You can't change the world by wearing sandals." - Michael O'Leary interview, (UK)Daily Telegraph

RELATED: Global Warming, Science, Politics-World

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19 Comments:

Anonymous Luke H said...

One link, PC. One link.

3/19/2007 01:44:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Luke, May I invite you to read (or re-read) the comments regarding the degree of uncertainty regarding their modesl attempting to attrite causes:

"Attribution of the cause in climate change is not formally possible. The term “attribution” means consistency with a climate model-generated scenario, rather than formal proof of causality. The same data could be consistent with contradictory hypotheses, including large or small greenhouse warming. Attribution studies rely on the validity of model-generated estimates of the climatic response to forcing, and model-generated estimates of natural variability. The reported uncertainties in attribution studies do not take into account basic uncertainty about climate model parameters.

"These uncertainties can be considerable. Evidence for a human influence on climate relies on model-based detection studies. On average, models used for attributing recent climate change to human interference assume that natural forcings alone would have yielded virtually no change over the 20th century, and global cooling since 1979 [something rendered rather foolish by Akasofu's point above]. Attribution studies to date do not take into account all known sources of possible influence on the climate.They conclude, "Due to the uncertainties involved, attribution of climate change to human cause is ultimately a judgment call."

A judgement call that is reflected in how exactly the models themselves are tuned.

3/19/2007 02:01:00 pm  
Anonymous kg said...

pc. it's useless to present religous fanatics with facts.
Fun, but useless. :-)

3/19/2007 05:40:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As much as "denialists" like to portray "warmists" as fanatical to the point of religiosity. Sorry guys its just not the case, it more the pot calling the kettle black.

Any case its hardly likely we will kill the planet worst case scenario we kill ourselves eventually. Then when the planet finds a balance again, maybe descendants of cockroaches gain consciousness just before it all ends as the sun implodes.

And as for this rubbish about... it all a vast conspiracy by warmists just fucking keeping themselves in a job.
Do you honestly believe that? Anyway isnt that just what the global resource companies have been doing for a lot longer.
Anyway research is on going its just possible that nuclear fusion power generators will be a reality in 100yrs.. maybe!
But Its looking as if relying on fossil fuels till then is not a good bet. So dont you think investing in renewables, which are making great strides at the moment, is a good idea. And while we're about it maybe break up some of the monopolies in that sector. Make it possible for people to go off the grid build energy efficient houses so there are no high voltages AC lines everywhere, also they look ugly. Yeah I know a lot are buried now which is even more absurd.
The climate is changing and I dont know how you can go on denying that 6 billion people have nothing to do with it. Its sun spots or hippies keeping themselves in a job, if those are your explanations well, Im going to start thinkig there is a teapot circling the sun

3/19/2007 07:16:00 pm  
Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

'Anyway research is on going its just possible that nuclear fusion power generators will be a reality in 100yrs.. maybe!"

We already have a Green House emission free method of generating energy. It's called Nuclear Fission. And the waste produced by all the Nuke plants in the world (including those in China and India - two countries who will present their middle finger to sandal-wearing clods like Anon and Luke) would fill a 10 story parking building.

And if Australia ever gets off it's anti nuke high horse (it provides Uranium for Nuke plants for F--ks sake!) and allowed a private company to store the waste in its arid, barren and geologically inactive deserts about 200 mi inland from Perth, they'd be making Billions from the funds allocated by each US Nuke plant for safe disposal of the waste.

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/ockhamsrazor/stories/2005/1491985.htm

The interesting thing is to see who stands in the way of building more nuke plants? Why, the very people who advocate CO2 taxes and all the other tripe.

One wonders why they don't practice what they preach and stop producing CO2 themselves thereby doing their bit to save the Planet. Easiest thing in the world, don't exhale.

3/20/2007 02:45:00 am  
Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

Luke,

Observe the graphs you posted. Observe that the conclusions (natural vs arthopogenic) are being made based on computer projections.

The natural model assumes that the mean temperature change due to natural forcings will remain constant. Why is that?

The Sun (as one example) is not a bazillion watt light bulb producing a constant amount of energy.

And yet the model of 'natural' forcings assumes that the sun will & has behaved just as a light bulb does, producing the same radiant energy at the same wavelength until the filament goes out.

Can you not see the problem in this argument?

Does it not worry you that this is claimed to be established science and that this science is being used as the basis for political policy?

Does the fact that Greenpeace et al. are treating CO2 (vital for microbiological and plant photosynthesis) as a pollutant not strike you as odd? Even while you sit there exhaling CO2 reading this?

Does the fact that Greenpeace aren't marching militantly in China and India - places that are building coal-fired power-plants just as fast as the bricks come out of the kiln - not strike a discordant note? They will become the major producers of nitrous, sulfurous and CO2 gas emissions in the very near future. Far more so then SUV driving Americans or NZers.

Religiously anti-global warming? No I just don't like bullshit science. And I like political opportunists (Al Bore) and socialists in green cloaks even less (Al Bore and Greenpeace).

3/20/2007 04:13:00 am  
Anonymous Sean said...

Anon's post may not help me choose between man-made warming vs natural warming, but it shakes to the core my belief in the existence of rules of grammar.

Sean.

3/20/2007 09:10:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Dear the argument about India and China just doesnt stack up. And your presumption that they will just thumb their nose at the west smacks of deeply held prejudice.
Oh by the by, they are signatories to Kyoto, and doing a lot of research into nuclear, you really need to keep up. Saying, why do anything because what is saved by the west using renewables is just going to be taken up by China and India is patently dumb.

As for Australia storing waste when did that happen?
I know a lot of people think it a good idea like Howard and the liberals, but this is stymied by state govts.
Also a lot of your other statements seem to be assertion without basis sure the Australian nuclear policy is riddled with contradiction, mainly because of the sleight of hand practiced by the present govt.
Anyway a NZer saying Australia should get off its "high horse" is ludicrous as NZ is highly unsuitable as a place to site any nuclear power stations. Whaddaya want a power cable across the tasman?

Oh Fuck what ever, and sean get a new saying.. what are you a fucking grammar nazi.

3/20/2007 12:30:00 pm  
Anonymous Sean said...

Grammar is the back bone of communication. Further, it is essential for purposes of logic. As you disdain grammar so much it is hardly surprising that your posts are, at best, muddled and at worst, simply unintelligible.

Sean.

3/20/2007 01:37:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gwammer is the bwacbone of your bwain. Fwurther it stops you saying anything that has any depth becaause its difficult to rwite with a pen up one's awse.

Sowwy if my post is unintelligible to you, please let me know when you will be observing the gwammer herein, so I can be sure to widdle as much as I can and get you vewy upset, Herr Doctor Goebbels.
And all you ever seem to say Is The wules of gwammer have been bwoken I will give this person an E- for their lack of cowwect gwammer.

Boy you are a ponce, one, who in this times of vast changes will be checking for gwammer ewwors. A pencil pusher if ever I saw one.
I have no disdain of gwammer just contempt for schoolmarnish pwigs like you.
Why does evewything you write sound like a very trite english teacher(failed writer) who loathes the days he has to spent teaching mischevious schoolboys. Oh if only the world could see you are actwually the reincarnation of Lord Bywon.

Oh how I love wwiting to annoy those who rwide around the english language like sargent majors in a dirty playgwound. Who have no love of ideas just the dusty remnants of their wigour. If you get my dwift.

Gwammer is not the bwacbone of communication, understanding is, good Herr Doctor Goebbels. And you it seems wouldnt understand good communication if it mangled a vowel, and bit you on your wrinkled buttocks.

I guess you are libertawian if you wander around here complaining about gwammer, so a reminder. Libertawianism is just another way of justifying being an arsehole.

But enough of you Herr Goebbels.
Winey, The sun does put out the same amount of radiant energy, it is some other, as yet unknown) variable that causes fluctuations.
And you are wrong Greenpace does not consider all CO2 as a pollutant that is a total misrepresentation, another one, by you in your zealotry.

A disclaimer I didnt preview this on purpose.

3/21/2007 01:59:00 am  
Anonymous Sean said...

Wow, such anger. I didn't realise my opinion was so important to you. Amazing. I shall try to wield my extraordinary influence with more care in the future!

Sean.

3/21/2007 08:23:00 am  
Anonymous Sus said...

Nah, Sean. He's not angry. He fancies you!

3/21/2007 01:10:00 pm  
Anonymous Wicket said...

Nah, Sean. He's not angry. He fancies you!

I wouldn't be surprised if the he is a she, Ruth Anonymous.

3/21/2007 02:52:00 pm  
Blogger Luke H said...

Robert,

"the model of 'natural' forcings assumes that the sun will & has behaved just as a light bulb does, producing the same radiant energy at the same wavelength until the filament goes out."

Actually, observations show that in recent years, solar output has been steady at 1366 watts per square metre. Maximum variation up or down from this figure is 0.7 watts. Variations in total solar output are so slight that they were barely detectable until satellites were invented.

There just isn't enough variation in solar output to explain climate change.

3/21/2007 03:57:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robert, just to throw a little spanner in your works, steam (a by-product of nuclear power generation) is often presented by AGW skeptics as a more important greenhouse gas than CO2. :-)

3/21/2007 06:45:00 pm  
Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

Yes water vapor is the premier 'green house gas.' And despite the release of steam being synonymous with industry since the invention of tempered steel, the world is still here and I had to suffer through -20 degree temperatures a couple of times this winter. This despite the fact that Kansas has a Nuclear Power Plant that generates 25% of the State's electricity.

And the proportion of vapor produced by humans is miniscule compared to the action of the sun on the oceans - which cover 70% of the globe.

Oh but that's right, compared to human action, according to the GW-crowd, the sun is an insignificant factor in heating this planet.

Idiot.

3/22/2007 09:25:00 am  
Anonymous Wicket said...

...steam (a by-product of nuclear power generation) is often presented by AGW skeptics as a more important greenhouse gas than CO2.

That is correct Anonymous Ruth. Don't you know that this is an undeniable fact, whether you're a warmist or a skeptic?

3/22/2007 10:51:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke H:

Recent years?

Earth Sciences measure trends over centuries!

You really expect to distinguish between nature-driven warming and cooling by looking at 'trends' over a measly decade?

And given that the only measurement available to judge the Sun's energy output prior to the invention of Space craft is to count sun spots I hardly think that the jury is even in a position to close the book on Sun-driven warming of the Earth.

3/23/2007 09:37:00 am  
Anonymous Luke H said...

Anon, certainly it is most useful to measure solar output over hundreds, thousands, or millions of years, but the question under consideration is, what is the source of warming in the last 100 years?

Hence, solar output measurements 'in recent years' will certainly be relevant.

3/23/2007 01:56:00 pm  

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