|The Week That Was
May 27, 2000
NEW ON THE SEPP WEB:
SEPP is hosting a Workshop on May 28 and 29 for 14 climate experts from 7 countries. Its purpose is to complete a critical review of the UN-IPCC's Third Assessment Report (TAR), now in its second and near-final draft. The expert group includes official reviewers listed by the IPCC. On May 30, the group will brief a large contingent of Washington decision makers and media people on the conclusions of the Workshop. It is quite clear already that IPCC's politically inspired Summary for Policymakers (SPM) bears only a passing resemblance to the Report itself.
That pesky Energy Information Administration in the US Department of Energy is at it again: Putting out economic facts that make a shambles of White House policy initiatives. After scotching the White House claim that the Kyoto Protocol would be painless and even make money for the United States (by conservation and by selling energy-saving technology), the EIA has now dumped on Clinton's budget requests. The $1.4-billion energy-efficiency research program and the $4-billion tax benefits (over 5 years) would accomplish next to nothing: a 0.07% reduction in emissions and a 0.04% reduction in energy consumption by 2010 (relative to baseline). Compliant industries had been licking their chops in anticipation of federal subsidies; they may be disappointed.
Which brings us to the Ford Motor Company and its Green chairman. They continue to cover their behinds by spouting all the right words but are cashing in on gas-guzzling SUVs. Their humongous Excursion gets only 10 mpg but makes them an $18,000 profit. Their SUV factory makes about $3 billion pretax. But PC words will buy them good notices from eco-activists and more favorable treatment from federal regulators - they hope.
Watch for an IPCC special report coming out of a meeting in Montreal. It recommends disallowing carbon credits for forest growth on unused farm land. This would nix plans by Japan and others to gain carbon credits on the cheap. But it would also counter the finding of the Princeton group that North America absorbs more CO2 than it emits. That result has been very upsetting to Green regulators. They have tried to discredit the science; now they'll do it by legal means. Or illegal?
Scientists at NASA and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography report that airborne black soot has the capacity to raise regional temperatures far more than carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas that also comes from combustion. According to the research team, the intense sunlight of the tropics heats the soot present in polluted air. This heating burns off the flat tops of shallow cumulus clouds for hundreds of miles downwind of pollution sources. With less cloud cover reflecting sunlight back to space, increased solar energy reaches the Earth's surface. This can significantly heat the atmosphere and oceans:
The research team used measurements of the dark haze covering vast areas of the Indian Ocean (during the dry monsoon in Feb.-Mar., 1998 and 1999) as input to a sophisticated computer model of tropical clouds. Researchers obtained the measurements during the Indian Ocean Experiment (INDOEX). "This newly discovered mechanism amounts to a heating effect over the Indian Ocean that is 3 to 5 times as strong as the global effect of increases in carbon dioxide since pre-industrial times, " acc to lead author Ackerman .
It is only the soot component of pollution that causes this newly discovered cloud-burning effect. Prior research on aerosol-cloud-climate effects focused largely on other ingredients of aerosol pollution that increase cloudiness and oppose greenhouse warming. [Increased amounts of water-soluble aerosols produce more numerous and smaller cloud droplets. Such droplets reflect sunlight more efficiently and are less likely to result in rain.]
Solar heating measured during the most recent experiment in the tropics is not considered to be unique or specific to a given time and place, according to researchers. On the contrary, the authors noted that comparable amounts of soot have been measured by previous researchers in other polluted air masses such as those off the mid-Atlantic coast of the US.
Comment: So there you have it. Aerosols can heat as well as cool. This makes it ludicrous for the IPCC to claim agreement between observations and models. We recall that their most recent report (1996) used sulfate aerosols (neglecting all others) to explain the absence of warming and to support the fatuous conclusion that "the balance of evidence suggests there is a discernible human influence on global climate."
They have known for a long time that soot aerosol leads to warming rather than cooling. Even worse for their case, removal of clouds leads to a lot more warming . In fact, could increased anthropogenic burning be as or even more important in global warming than release of greenhouse gases? Will the Kyoto Protocol now try to stop such burning in the tropics and elsewhere?
These findings reinforce a point made by James Hansen -- climate science is not converging on an answer when it comes to the potential influence of human activities: "The forcings that drive long-term climate change are not known with an accuracy sufficient to define future climate change."
This says it all