|The Week That Was
Feb. 26, 2005
New on the Web: We bring you a slightly shortened version of a report by Dr Benny Peiser on a recent meeting in Germany that allowed skeptical voices to emerge. It followed conferences in London (organized by the Scientific Alliance in Jan 2005) and (June 2002) in Munich. Even earlier, Prof Helmut Metzner, pres of the European Academy for Environmental Affairs organized conferences in Leipzig and Bonn (1995 and 1997). The lack of Global Warming consensus is becoming evident in Europe.
The Crichton book has made a tremendous impact in Germany,
and so has the demise of the Hockeystick, the icon of the IPCC claim for
anthropogenic warming. It is significant that Prof Hans von Storch, a
global warming supporter, now tries to claim all the credit for breaking
The Scientific American obviously hasn't got the word yet and is still vigorously defending the Hockeystick (see Item #1). Good for them; they will have to eat cold crow sooner or later - probably sooner. Meanwhile, our Prof Naomi Oreskes is still claiming a complete scientific consensus on GW -- in op-eds in the Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle -and who knows where else. We will soon be able to report here that her analysis (published in Science on Dec 3, 2004) is flawed. Stay tuned for the Oreskes saga
She has now branched out by trying to link the Tsunami disaster with GW (see Item #2). Kind of makes her bias obvious, doesn't it? Some scholar.
A Reuters report (Item #3) from Oslo, while uncritically spouting IPCC climate science, reminds us that Kyoto covers all GH gases not just CO2. The EU and UN are now gearing up to go after these minor gases -presumably by expanding the bureaucracy -- with an office, director, deputy director, and staff for each GH gas. These evil molecules include not only methane but also "ozone-friendly" HFCs that were introduced because of the Montreal Protocol. Car owners with air conditioners, watch out!
We cannot resist quoting the usual, vapid statement from UNEP: "Kyoto is without doubt only the first step," says Klaus Toepfer, head of the UN Environment Programme, which oversees implementation of the treaty. "We will have to do more to fight this rapid increase in temperature on our wonderful blue planet Earth."
On the other hand, as environmental journalist Gregg Easterbrook reminds us, the Bush initiative to reduce methane emissions globally has been largely overlooked (Item #4). "Europeans will be in for a big disappointment once they discover what Kyoto is really all about -- that it is a non-starter in the developing world and that it's all pain and little gain."
We now turn to climate science and give you the gushing report (Item #5) in The Times (London) about the "breakthrough" in the analysis of ocean temperatures and the breathless revelation by Tim Barnett that his work has ended the debate over GW. From his rather pompous claim I would like to extract just one phrase: "unbelievable." And then I explain why you should not believe any of his claims (Item #6).
I think it was Wolfgang Pauli who said: "That theory is worthless. It isn't even wrong!"
And before we forget, The Times reports also the work of Ruth Curry, who tries very hard to underpin the scenario of The Day After Tomorrow. "Unbelievable!"
Geologist Bob Foster gives us a view of climate science
as seen from "down under" (Item #7). GW skeptics are alive and
well in Australia. Not so the media. I was forced to protest some personal
name-calling in a Letter to the Editor that I would like to share with
you (Item #8).
The March 2005 issue (pp. 34-35) carries a paean of praise for Michael Mann, contributed by science journalist and blogger David Appell. It pictures Mann as the victim of persecution by evil forces, which remain unnamed throughout. We never hear about Stephen McIntyre, Ross McKitrick, or any of the others -- nor are their publications cited. Mann's Corrigendum in Nature is used to show the "errors of his attackers." Mann himself describes them as "contrarians" and "pathetic."
There are swipes at the Greening Earth Society and Tech Central Station, with mentions of "disinformation campaign" and "oil money." And there is a plug (in fact, several plugs) for Mann's blog site with Gavin Schmidt and other activists -- with no word on who is funding their effort.
Mann's cautious reply as to whether global warming is really a problem: "To some extent, that's a value judgment." Interesting.
OSLO, Norway (Reuters) - Cows and sheep grazing in fields, joggers' shoes, or even the kitchen fridge could all be targeted under a new U.N. pact meant to rein in global warming. And tennis balls may be an infinitesimal part of the problem.
The Kyoto Protocol is meant to brake a build-up of heat-trapping gases that some scientists fear will trigger more heat waves, droughts and floods, and could raise global sea levels by almost 3 feet by 2100. Kyoto focuses on cutting emissions of carbon dioxide, emitted by burning fossil fuels in power plants, factories and cars, and is widely blamed as the biggest contributor to nudging up world temperatures.
The 141-nation Kyoto pact will also seek to limit a cocktail of five less common gases found everywhere from cows' stomachs to aluminum smelters, from car tires to household refrigerators.
"There's been much less attention to these other gases even though some of them are very powerful in their greenhouse gas effect," said Bo Kjellen, a former Swedish climate negotiator, now at the British Tyndall Center environmental think-tank.
One of the gases, sulfur hexafluoride, is estimated to be 23,900 times more powerful per molecule at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, according to the secretariat of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. Hexafluoride is used to give bounce to some sports shoes, tennis balls, or car tires.
The European Union has draft legislation to outlaw some of the gases, forcing industry to make upgrades costing hundreds of millions of dollars. "Most countries are not doing enough to control these gases," said Mahi Sideridou of the Greenpeace environmental lobby in Brussels, saying that the EU plans were a lowest common denominator. Outside the EU, many countries have no legislation on many of the gases, viewing them as harmless or the best available.
In 2001 carbon dioxide accounted for 83.6 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human sources, followed by methane at 8.7 percent and nitrous oxide at 6.1 percent, according to official U.S. figures. The other gases -- sulfur hexafluoride, perfluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) -- made up the remaining 1.6 percent.
Concentrations of some of the trace gases, albeit tiny, are rising. Methane concentrations have risen by about 150 percent since the start of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. Farmers worried about global warming may have to get used to phrases like "manure management" and "enteric fermentation" -- the latter referring to how methane is produced in the stomachs of livestock like cows and goats and expelled. Methane is also released from sources that include rice farming, rotting vegetation and coalmines. Changes in diet or in fertilizer use can help cut such emissions.
Kjellen said the non-carbon-dioxide gases would become more important in coming years when backers of Kyoto seek to encourage developing countries, where energy use is less intensive and agriculture more important, to sign up after 2012. "Some of the main problems relating to methane are linked to the developing countries -- rice fields in India, cattle and so on," he said. Some developed countries have big farming sectors. Methane from livestock is the biggest source of greenhouse gases in New Zealand, where 49.2 percent came from agriculture in 2002, more than from energy.
The world is sharply divided about how to axe some of the non-carbon
dioxide gases. Some, including those used in refrigerants, were introduced
as substitutes for gases that were banned after they were found to be
destroying the ozone layer, which helps shield the planet from damaging
solar radiation. The European Union, for instance, wants to phase out
use of HFC-134a, the refrigerant universally used in car air conditioners.
The United States, for instance, does not favor some of the HFC substitutes
because they are flammable.
The strongest evidence yet that global warming has been triggered by human activity has emerged from a major study of rising temperatures in the world's oceans. The present trend of warmer sea temperatures, which have risen by an average of half a degree Celsius (0.9F) over the past 40 years, can be explained only if greenhouse gas emissions are responsible, new research has revealed.
The results are so compelling that they should end controversy about the causes of climate change, one of the scientists who led the study said. "The debate about whether there is a global warming signal now is over, at least for rational people," said Tim Barnett, of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. "The models got it right. If a politician stands up and says the uncertainty is too great to believe these models, that is no longer tenable."
In the study, Dr Barnett's team examined more than seven million observations of temperature, salinity and other variables in the world's oceans, collected by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and compared the patterns with those that are predicted by computer models of various potential causes of climate change.
It found that natural variation in the Earth's climate, or changes in solar activity or volcanic eruptions, which have been suggested as alternative explanations for rising temperatures, could not explain the data collected in the real world. Models based on man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, however, matched the observations almost precisely. "What absolutely nailed it was the greenhouse model," Dr Barnett told the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Washington. Two models, one designed in Britain and one here in the US, got it almost exactly. We were stunned. They did it so well it was almost unbelievable."
Climate change has affected the seas in different ways in different parts of the world: in the Atlantic, for example, rising temperatures can be observed up to 700 meters below the surface, while in the Pacific the warming is seen only up to 100m down. Only the greenhouse models replicated the changes that have been observed in practice. "The fact that this has gone on in different ways gives us the chance to figure out who did it," Dr Barnett said. "All the potential culprits have been ruled out except one.
"This is perhaps the most compelling evidence yet that global warming is happening right now, and it shows that we can successfully simulate its past and its likely future evolution. The statistical significance of these results is far too strong to be merely dismissed and should wipe out much of the uncertainty about the reality of global warming."
Dr Barnett said the results, which are about to be submitted for publication in a major peer-reviewed journal, should put further pressure on the Bush Administration to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol, which came into force on Feb. 16. "It is now time for nations that are not part of Kyoto to reevaluate and see if it would be to their advantage to join," he said.
In a separate study, also presented to the conference, a team led by Ruth Curry of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has established that 20,000 square kilometers of freshwater ice melted in the Arctic between 1965 and 1995. Further melting on this scale could be sufficient to turn off the ocean currents that drive the Gulf Stream, which keeps Britain up to 6C warmer than it would otherwise be. "It is taking the first steps, the system is moving in that direction," Dr Curry said.
"The skill demonstrated by the climate models in handling the changing
planetary heat budget suggests that these scenarios have a high enough
probability of actually happening that they need to be taken seriously
Even assuming that Barnett's data are accurate and that the models have not been "tweaked" to produce agreement, there is a lot wrong here:
1. Nowhere is there any real support for an anthropogenic greenhouse effect (AGH). It's simply a statement thrown out after Barnett claims to have taken care of natural climate forcing, such as solar and volcanic. This is nonsense. We don't know the solar contribution well enough (see IPCC 2001 report), and the volcanic effect is short-lived compared to the timescale of Deep Ocean warming.
2. Barnett completely ignores the atmospheric AGH effect; but to account for ocean GH warming, the energy must come from the atmosphere. But the satellite and balloon data of the past 25 years don't show any appreciable warming.
As reported, Barnett then made this strange claim:
3. Nowhere does Barnett mention the time factor. It takes years or decades for any surface trend to show itself in the deep ocean. But when we consult an earlier paper of his [Science 2001] that used the same basic data, we can see a cooling trend in the deep ocean between 1976 and 1985. He gives no explanation for this and his models don't show it. [Note: There was a strong warming of the atmosphere and sea surface between 1976 and 1980.]
I am curious to see if this paper is published with its conclusions intact.
by Bob Foster <email@example.com>16 October 2002
Remember the Oslo Statement of 7 December 2001 (after the 9/11 tragedy)
for the centenary of the Nobel Peace Prize? It was edited by John C. Polyani
of Canada (1986 Chemistry Prize); and the 108 signatory Laureates (30
didn't sign, including late Chairman Arafat) told us:
Never mind that over the past 20 years and more, most warming has been north of 30 0N, with very little in "equatorial climates". Never mind that Osama was not "poor"; although, as the 17th of 52 siblings, he must have suffered a poverty of paternal quality-time when young. However, you can understand why the Laureates are worried. When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Third Assessment Report in 2000, the most-publicized conclusion was an average global surface temperature increase of up to 5.8 degrees Celsius between 1990 and 2100. Frightening!
Greenhouse is a phenomenon of the atmosphere. Human-caused emissions (for example, carbon dioxide from coal-fired power stations) supplement the dominant greenhouse gas, naturally-occurring water vapour, in the atmosphere - and thus intercept a little more of the heat leaving Earth. The lower atmosphere is supposed to warm as a result; and some of this extra warmth should be then redistributed to the surface, rather than escape to Space as before. We call this consequent surface warming the 'greenhouse effect'.
But from 1979 onward we have satellite records. The lower atmosphere has warmed less, not more, than the surface; and more, not less, heat is now departing the top of the atmosphere. The simplest explanation is that for 23 years, at least, most surface warming was not 'greenhouse effect' warming. If there is some detectable human-caused greenhouse warming, it appears confined to northern continental areas, Alaska/Yukon, and Siberia, under the intensely cold (and bone dry) stationary high-pressure cells of winter. The result would be a slightly longer growing-season up north - and stronger growth, too, because of the CO2-enriched atmosphere.
In Europe, the latest manifestations of a long-running ca 1500-year warm/cold cycle are the Roman Empire Warm Period, cold Dark Ages, Mediaeval Warm Period, and Little Ice Age. The last cold snap of the Little Ice Age was AD1800-20, with a warming trend since. Warmth is better.
Geologist Bob Foster is a director of the Lavoisier Group www.lavoisier.com.au,
which is putting to Australians a view on climate change contrary to that
of the UN's IPCC.
Permit me to respond to Ms Peggy Balfour, who seems to be rather careless with the truth. To wit:
1. My organization, the Science and Environmental Policy Project, was never funded by the Rev. Moon or his Unification Church.
2. SEPP is not supported by energy companies or any other industry, or by government. We subsist, rather modestly to be sure, on private donations.
3. I never "worked" for oil companies. According to my biography, posted on www.sepp.org, I served as a consultant on oil economics during the oil crisis about 25 years ago -- as a result of having written a well-regarded monograph on world oil prices. This has nothing whatever to do with climate or other environmental issues.
4. My views on global environmental issues are well known and are all based on scientific publications. I believe that acid rain, ozone depletion, and greenhouse warming are all real, but they are not real problems.
**Acid rain disappeared from sight as soon as legislation passed that would reduce acid emissions gradually over the next few decades.
**Ozone depletion hasn't been in the news since the Montreal Protocol
was adopted in 1987. For the record:
**On global warming and greenhouse effect, there is an ongoing dispute between those who believe in theoretical model calculations and those of us who believe atmospheric temperature measurements.
Let's be clear . The GH effect is real and we all expect some warming of the climate as a result of fossil fuel burning. But such a scientific consensus is trivial. The question is: How much warming?
Modelers insist on 2 - 5 C for a CO2 doubling -- or even higher. But actual observations suggest much less. My own best estimate is 0.5 - 1.0 C.
The question is: Why do the models show so much more than observed? Answer: Models cannot as yet simulate the real atmosphere; perhaps they will in future.
5. And as far as her concern about my publications: Two of my most recent ones are featured in the 9 July 2004 issue of Geophysical Research Letters (a peer-reviewed journal)
I always find it sad when people need to invoke "authorities" to bolster their case. I wonder how much Nobel Prize winners (in literature, peace studies, or medicine) know about climate science. It is even sadder when activists like Ms Balfour have to resort to ad hominem attacks and smears in place of facts.