|The Week That Was
Oct. 30, 2004
1. New on the Web: A KEY PIECE OF EVIDENCE LINKING HUMAN ACTIVITY TO CLIMATE CHANGE TURNS OUT TO BE AN ARTIFACT OF POOR MATHEMATICS, WRITES UCAL PHYSICIST RICHARD MULLER. At issue is the famous "hockey stick" graph, which purports to show that we are now experiencing the warmest climate in a millennium, and that the earth, after remaining cool for centuries during the medieval era, suddenly began to heat up about 100 years ago--just at the time that the burning of coal and oil led to an increase in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide. But now two Canadian scientists have uncovered a fundamental flaw in the computer program that was used to produce the hockey stick.
2. STEVEN MCINTYRE AND ROSS MCKITRICK PROVIDE A MORE TECHNICAL DISCUSSION ON WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE HOCKEYSTICK
[Readers should also consult http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/trc.html ]
3. HOW COULD THE HOCKEYSTICK HAVE HAPPENED?
4. GLOBAL "WARPING"
5. ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY AFFECTS HEALTH, ECONOMY, SECURITY
6. ENVIRONMENT NOT KEY CAMPAIGN ISSUE:
7. that didn't take long
8. OUR VIEWS ON GLOBAL WARMING AND KYOTO
9. NSF WORRIES ABOUT GROWING ANTARCTIC ICE
Multi-proxy studies have been the primary means of transmitting paleoclimatic findings to public policy. The best-known and most widely applied multi-proxy study is Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998) ("MBH98") and its 1999 extension, which claimed to have exceptional "robustness" and "skill".
We attempted to replicate MBH98 results and found, among other problems,
that MBH98 methodology included two important unreported steps:
We show that, due to high early 15th century values, their results are not robust for the following cases:
a) Presence or absence of the extrapolation of 4 years at the beginning
of the Gaspé tree ring series;
The subtraction of the 1902-1980 mean dramatically inflates the role of the bristlecone pine sites, which then impart a distinctive hockey stick shape to the MBH98 PC1 and then to the NH temperature reconstruction.
MBH98 claimed "skill" through apparently significant Reduction of Error (RE) statistics, reporting 0.51 in the AD1400 step, as compared to a reported 99 percent significance level of zero, which they calculated through simulations using "red noise" with low AR1 coefficients (0.2). We benchmarked a more realistic significance level by applying MBH98 PC methods to 10,000 sets of 70 red noise series modeled through fractional difference models to have the same red noise persistence as the critical North American AD1400 tree ring network. These calculations regularly resulted in "hockey-stick" shaped PC1s with sharp inflections at the start of the 20th century. We then modeled the resulting 10,000 PC1s against NH temperature and found that the 99 percent RE significance level was 0.59. By this benchmark, the reported RE statistic (0.51) in MBH98 for the AD1400 step lacks statistical significance.
Most dendroclimatic reconstructions also provide statistics other than an RE statistic, including R2 and Coefficient of Efficiency, but MBH98 does not and the authors have refused to provide supporting data from which the statistics can be calculated. In our emulations of their calculations, we have been unable to replicate anything close to the reported RE results other than through re-tuning, a procedure not described in MBH98. With a re-tuning step, for the critical AD1400 step, we have obtained an RE of 0.46, but with an R2 of only 0.02 and a CE of minus 0.26, all of which lack statistical significance.
This case study illustrates the need for extreme caution in basing public
policy on articles, such as MBH98, whose claims cannot be verified.
The question arises, how such a methodically poor paper (MBH98) could pass peer-review for NATURE, contradicting hundreds of excellent studies that demonstrated existence of global range Medieval Warming and Little Ice Age? And how could it pass the reviewing process at the IPCC? The apparent scientific weaknesses of IPCC and its lack of impartiality were diagnosed and criticized in the early 1990s in NATURE editorials [1,2]. The disease seems to persist.
1. Editorial, IPCC's ritual on global warming. Nature, 1994. 371:
His latest escapade was to flounce out of an international conference like some overblown Prima Donna, because the organisers refused to censor contributions from reasoned opposition, even after sustained bullying by the Foreign Secretary. This man has the audacity to call himself a scientist. He puts his cards on the table by calling the Government "We".
When you consider the comprehensive way in which the "evidence" for the global warming hypothesis has been blown out of the water by recent genuine scientific analysis, it all takes on the quality of a mediaeval nightmare, like The Inquisition.
Out rolled the doom-laden claims - more floods, droughts, forest fires, sunburn, drowning Maldives (do the sums, it is the calculus of extinction), Earth losing the battle with its polluted environment, the USA in a state of denial (but China is quite innocent!). We had other old favourites , such as the Hadley super computer and the egregious David Viner. He earned a holiday on the Spanish beaches for a ten second cameo; for this was a lavish production. Quite unnecessarily it was presented live from the Gobi Desert, Greenland (forgetting, of course, the fertile time of Eric the Red in the Mediaeval Warm Period), Alaska etc. Shrinking Glaciers, run-of-the-mill erosion and other random events were all ascribed to the dreaded carbon dioxide. Let us forget the fact that it is essential to life on Earth, like the Greenhouse Effect.
Lord Reith, the illustrious creator of the finest broadcasting organisation
in the world, must be, as the cliché has it, spinning in his grave.
Greenhouse Gases Are The Most Imminently Threatening Weapons Of Mass Destruction
Global warming poses an increasingly sizeable threat to the continued existence of man. James Lovelock, atmospheric chemist and author of Gaia warns that the gravity of the situation facing Earth's inhabitants is greater than we have yet realized and accepted. .
The laws of Gaia -- a hypothesis set forth by Lovelock -- imply that any species that makes changes in the composition of the air and the nature of the land surface risks altering the world to a state that will disfavour its progeny. In other words, if humans continue in their current path of alteration of the environment, they will become a target of elimination from the world.
In his commentary, Lovelock outlines the two major approaches to the threat of global warming. One approach, adopted by some, is to deny the existence of global warming and enjoy more temperate climates while they last. Others recognize the threat but choose to react in the Green way, eating organic foods, using renewable energy sources and alternative medicines. Lovelock argues that taking either of these approaches will ultimately result in the elimination of humans as well as civilization.
Instead, he believes that in order to come to terms with Gaia and its implications for the future of humans, we must embrace technology and use it to lessen our impact on the atmosphere of the Earth. Amongst his recommendations are: development of a portfolio of energy sources, including nuclear; adopting a practice of synthesizing food products, thereby allowing the Earth a chance to rest; and a reduced focus on the minute statistical risks of cancer from chemicals and radiation.
Lovelock, James. Something nasty in the greenhouse. Atmospheric Science
Letters. 2004. DOI: 10.1002/asl.75 .
With the election just days away, the environment has not been seen as
a key point of debate among the presidential candidates. The Chicago Tribune
wrote recently about the frustration of environmental groups at being
unable to engage the public. Although polls indicate that most Americans
support action by the federal government to control pollution and protect
wilderness areas, these issues have not caught public attention amid discussions
of war in Iraq and the economy. According to the Tribune article, some
environmental groups are disappointed that Senator Kerry lists the environment
seventh in his "Plan for America," - after national security,
the economy and jobs, health care, energy independence, homeland security
and education. However, groups such as the League of Conservation Voters
still give Kerry high marks - a 92 percent favorable rating, compared
to just 64 percent for Al Gore in 2000.
Yet the claims appear to fly in the face of scientific evidence. While research continues into links between climate change and specific weather events, scientists have strongly cautioned against concluding that one particularly deadly hurricane season is the result of global climate change.
The billboards are financed in part by Environment2004 and Scientists and Engineers for Change -- two groups created prior to the election specifically to oppose Bush's re-election. The NAACP's National Voter Fund has also footed some of the cost for the billboard campaign.
The billboards are placed along Interstate 4 -- a major highway that runs through Tampa and Orlando, two areas that were ravaged by last summer's record four Florida hurricanes. Campaign activists for both parties have described the "I-4 corridor" as a key area in determining which presidential candidate carries the state's 27 electoral votes.
Officials from the groups responsible for the billboards tried to defend the ads yesterday, saying their message was not that global warming can be blamed for the recent hurricanes, but that hurricanes could get stronger in the future because of man-made changes to the Earth's climate.
"If you ask the question about today -- it would not be an accurate, with the science we know, to say that today's hurricanes are affected by global warming," said Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton professor who studies climate change and who spoke at a press conference announcing the billboards. But he later added, "I think it's a scientific consensus that as the Earth warms, hurricanes will get stronger."
Comment: Just the opposite, as even the IPCC concludes in its 2001
8. Our View On Global Warming And Kyoto
Changing Political Climate
Lost among the charges and counter charges about lost explosives during the last week of the presidential campaign, was a last-gasp attempt by the environmental community to impact the election. The assault came from Dr. James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who traveled to Iowa from his Manhattan home to charge that the Bush Administration is purposely ignoring growing evidence that sea levels could rise significantly unless prompt action is taken to reduce heat-trapping emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes." And that "delay of another decade is a colossal risk."
Scary stuff if true; but is it? Dr. Hansen himself hasn't always thought so. His own most recent research, in which he has argued mainly for quickly limiting emissions of methane, rather than CO2, contradicts this claim. Smoke stacks and tailpipes don't emit methane; cattle and rice fields do.
It appears that Dr. Hansen's speech in Iowa during the climax of the election is just the latest example of a willingness to change his scientific position depending on his perceived direction of the political winds. For example, Dr. Hansen told former Vice President Al Gore that he predicted high-end estimates of warming, and attributed that to emissions of CO2. More recently, Hansen has embraced lower-end estimates of warming, and suggested that we should control methane emission more than CO2. Yet policy that impacts every area of our economy should be set on sound science, not science that bends to the political winds.
Back to his current charge; is it accurate, are CO2 emissions causing sea levels to rise dramatically? He apparently bases his assertion on his own publication [Proc Nat'l Acad Sci 2004] that to preserve global coastlines, global warming must not exceed one degree Celsius. As sole support for this unusual claim, he cites his own recent article in the popular Scientific American [vol 290, pp 68-77, 2004].
All independent evidence, however, shows sea levels rising steadily - by about 400 feet in the past 18,000 years, since the peak of the most recent ice age. Significantly, empirical evidence has demonstrated that there has been no acceleration of sea level rise during the strong warming in the early 20th century. Evidently, warming leads to faster evaporation from the oceans and an increased rate of ice accumulation on the Antarctic continent - producing a drop in sea level that mostly offsets the rise from the thermal expansion of the oceans.
In addition, as is well known, prompt policy action (by cutting emissions of greenhouse gases in accord with the Kyoto Protocol) would lower the calculated temperature rise by 2050 by at most a tiny one-thirtieth of a degree C - too small to even measure.
Further, it is important to remember that President Bush did not "withdraw" from the Kyoto Protocol on global warming - as his critics so falsely claim. He simply has not submitted the treaty to the Senate for ratification; but neither did his predecessor, former President Bill Clinton. Clinton decided not to submit the treaty that was negotiated on his watch because the Senate at the time had voted unanimously against any treaty that would have such damaging economic consequences. That vote was unanimous, including the junior Senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry.
It's hard to see how 'prompt action' of any kind could affect sea level.
Dr. Hansen's critique is disingenuous and not founded on science, and
is a prime example of why it is important not to base important public
policy decisions on any one scientist's predictions.
Disingenuous Critique of Bush Climate Policy not Founded on Science.
The New York Times has been trying to nail George Bush in every way possible in the days before the elections. The major attack has been on the disappearance of 380 tons of high explosives from an Iraqi arms depot (representing less than one percent of various armaments stored by Saddam Hussein). That one just backfired when it became known that the explosives had been removed before the invasion - likely trucked to Syria.
But a perennial Bush-bashing target has been the climate issue - with the enthusiastic participation of UK chief science adviser Sir David King ("Global Warming is a greeter threat than terrorism") Now the NYT has arranged to interview a notorious global warmer, Dr. James E. Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan. He criticizes White House climate policy (NYT 10/26/04), claiming the "Bush administration has ignored growing evidence that sea levels could rise significantly unless prompt action is taken."
He apparently bases this assertion on his own publication [Proc Nat'l Acad Sci 2004] that to preserve global coastlines, global warming must not exceed one degC. As sole support for this unusual claim, he cites there his recent article in the popular Scientific American [vol 290, pp 68-77, 2004]. But all evidence shows sea levels rising steadily -- by about 400 feet in the past 18,000 years, since the peak of the most recent ice age. Significantly, the measured rate of rise did not accelerate during the substantial warming of the early 20th century.
In addition, as is well known, prompt policy action (by cutting emissions of greenhouse gases in accord with the Kyoto Protocol) would lower the calculated temperature rise for 2050 by at most a tiny one-twentieth of a degree C - too small to even measure.
Further, Bush did not "withdraw" from Kyoto -- as his critics
claim. While he has not submitted Kyoto for ratification, neither did
Clinton -- probably because the US Senate in 1997 had voted unanimously
against such a treaty -- including also Senator Kerry.
Bush Bashing on Climate Policy
First, the good news. We have heard next to nothing about global warming in this campaign -- although just last week in another failed "October Surprise" the NY Times tried valiantly to promote a NASA researcher who had some unkind words about White House climate policies. The public just doesn't seem interested. And Kerry has avoided the subject since he was one of the 95 senators who voted against the US becoming involved with the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The myth that Bush "withdrew" from Kyoto just doesn't jibe with Clinton/Gore's unwillingness, for three years, to submit the treaty for ratification.
The bad news is that Bush-bashing continues and will likely intensify after his re-election. Unfortunately, these attacks are often led by scientists who may be famous biologists, medical doctors, etc. but have no credentials in climate science and even refuse to acknowledge the massive observational evidence against any significant human influence.
S. Fred Singer is an atmospheric physicist and former director of
the US Weather Satellite Service
No to Kyoto! Unfair to US
However, because of the initiative of then-Vice President Al Gore, the US signed just such a treaty, the protocol negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, in December1997. But President Bill Clinton never submitted it for Senate ratification. And George Bush has consistently declared Kyoto "fatally flawed." Neither Bush nor the Senate has pointed out, however, that Kyoto is not only costly and unfair to the US, but also completely ineffective in averting a feared Global Warming. Scientists all agree that at best it would reduce the calculated temperature rise in 2050 by an insignificant one-tenth of a degree.
Russia has been more outspoken. The Russian Academy of Sciences, in its May 2004 report, questioned the reality of a substantial future warming - concluding that Kyoto lacks any scientific base. President Vladimir Putin declared Kyoto "scientifically flawed" and intimated that Russia would not ratify.
Yet, ironically, the Duma will likely ratify before the end of the year, making Kyoto binding on all ratifiers. Why? The reason may be short-term economic gain, as the Protocol permits selling Russia's unused emission rights to Europeans nations anxious to ease the economic penalties of Kyoto's energy restrictions. Russia's economic collapse after 1990 nearly halved its emissions -- and the base year chosen for Kyoto is 1990. This arbitrary choice also favors Germany, which took over a faltering East German economy, and Britain, which switched its electric generation from coal to natural gas -- at about that time.
We would lose out -- and maybe that's why our economic competitors are
so anxious to get us to ratify Kyoto.
The fact sheet supporting your editorial (Oct. 21) on the Kyoto Protocol claims that President Bush "withdrew" the U.S. from Kyoto in 2001. Not so. In March 2001 he simply reaffirmed his long-held and consistent opposition to Kyoto, because it is unfair to the U.S.-as fully explained in the Opposing View article by Prof. S. Fred Singer.
Since then Bush has expanded the Clinton policy of limiting carbon-dioxide
emissions on a voluntary basis, adding important guidelines to raise energy
efficiency. Note also that over a 3-year period (1997 - 2000) Clinton
never submitted the Protocol to the Senate for ratification.
Resupply of two research stations by ship is raising a problem. Now if only had some global warming