|The Week That Was
January 31, 2004
John L Daly, a British-born marine-electronic engineer, lived in Tasmania. He was one of the early skeptics of greenhouse warming with his book "Waiting for Greenhouse" His website www.john-daly.com became a focal point for exposing some of the shallow thinking and junky science of global warming promoters. It was a privilege for me to meet him personally as his host in Washington DC in the summer of 2002
Dr. Michael J. Higatsberger, an Austrian physicist and professor
at the University of Vienna, served on the Advisory Board of SEPP from
the very beginning. He was an internationally known leader in nuclear
physics, founding director of the Austrian nuclear research center in
Seibersdorf, and a champion for nuclear energy. He had also been a personal
friend for more than 50 years and a great source of advice and support
for our efforts.
1. New on the web: JOHN
DALY DEBUNKS THE "BIG CHILL" SCARE PROMOTED BY GLOBAL WARMING
FREAKS. This is John's last article before his sudden death.
2. THE ROCKIES ARE KEEPING BRITAIN WARM - NOT THE GULF STREAM
3. GLOBAL WARMING WORSE THAN NUCLEAR WAR?
4. EVEN METEOROLOGISTS CAN BE WRONG ABOUT CLIMATE
5. WHY EXTREME SCENARIOS GET QUOTED
6. GLOBAL CHILLING PREDICTED - BY PUBLIC-HEALTH WORRIER
7. And Finally: "SCIENTISTS NEED TO SCARE US MORE"
2. Forget About The Gulf Stream: Britain Will Be Kept Warm Even Without It
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Generations of schoolchildren have been raised on the belief that the mild British winters and cool summers are due to the moderating influence of the Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current flowing from the Gulf of Mexico to the shores of western Europe. Without the Gulf Stream, our teachers told us, Britain's winters would be as cold and ice-bound as a frozen port in Newfoundland and its summers as hot and stuffy as a Moscow August.
But the textbooks have got it wrong, according to scientists who have just finished a study of what makes Western Europe cool in summer and mild in winter. The scientists found that Britain's moderate climate is due not to the Gulf Stream, but to the Rocky Mountains in the western US 4,000 miles away.
Using weather data gathered over the past 50 years and powerful computer models to describe how heat is shunted around the globe, they discovered that the contribution of the Gulf Stream was negligible compared with the influence of warm southerly winds originating in the Rockies. These winds, they said, played a big role in explaining why winters in Britain could be anything up to 15°C or 20°C warmer than the same latitude in eastern North America. "Belief in the benign role of the Gulf Stream is so widespread that is has become folklore," said Richard Seager, the scientist who led the study from the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York.
The belief that the Gulf Stream is responsible for Britain's mild, maritime climate appears to have originated with the publication in 1856 of a book by Maurice Fontaine Maury, a lieutenant in the American Navy.
"One of the benign offices of the Gulf Stream is to convey heat from the Gulf of Mexico, where otherwise it would become excessive, and to disperse it in regions beyond the Atlantic for the amelioration of the climates of the British Isles and of all Western Europe," Maury wrote.
"This idea is one reason why so much climate research has been focused on the impact of changes in the circulation of the North Atlantic Ocean," Dr Seager said. Several recent studies, for instance, have suggested that global warming might slow down or even stop the Gulf Stream which carries energy equivalent to 27,000 times the total output of all of Britain's power stations so bringing a far more variable continental climate to Western Europe. Dr Seager's study, published in the current issue of the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, suggests that the Gulf Stream accounts for no more than 10 per cent of the winter temperature differences between Britain and Newfoundland, Canada.
The scientists found that the real reason for Britain's mild weather was twofold. First, there is a genuine maritime effect of being surrounded by a relatively warm body of water, but this has nothing to do with the Gulf Stream.
Second, this maritime influence is bolstered by southwesterly winds bringing a warm air mass from the south. These winds would not blow if the Rockies did not exist, the researchers found.
Even without the Gulf Stream, Britain would be bathed in prevailing westerly winds that bring in the warmth stored in the Atlantic Ocean. Water retains summer heat far longer than land, which is why the winter-summer difference in temperature is about 5Â°C over the North Atlantic and yet nearer 50Â°C at the same latitude in Siberia.
Dr Seager said his study showed that this phenomenon which was independent of the Gulf Stream accounted for about half of the winter temperature difference between Britain and Newfoundland. The other half, he said, was due to the prevailing winds over the maritime regions of Western Europe--not westerlies, but from the southwest. Those south-westerlies brought additional heat to Western Europe. Their origins could be traced to a massive "meander" in the north-south wind patterns over North America, which was generated by the presence of the Rockies.
"One such meander occurs east of the Rocky Mountains and brings cold air into eastern North America and warm air into Europe," Dr Seager said.
"This vast kink in the atmosphere circulation helps to explain the
winter temperature contrast across the North Atlantic Ocean." When
the scientists removed the Rockies from their computer models in effect
making the Western US flat the temperature difference between Newfoundland
and Britain was reduced by about 9Â°C.
3. We're All Doomed: Nothing Will Stop Global Warming From Killing Off Life
The Times, 26 January 2004
In Science, Sir David King, the Government's chief scientist, urges immediate action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (report, January 9; letters, January 22, etc): "delaying action for decades or even just years is not a serious option." Sir David deplores the US refusal to participate in remedial action now or in the future and urges the US and all other countries to get involved "in what is truly a global problem".
In Nature, Professor Chris Thomas and his colleagues estimate that the higher temperatures to be expected by 2050 will cause the loss of more than one million plant and animal species (report, January 8). [BUT SEE NEW ON THE WEB]
The evidence is completely convincing that the future of life, human
as well as all other,
For my physicist father Max Born and his generation the most frightening prospect was nuclear warfare. Fifty years on, global warming is an even more frightening prospect because, unlike atomic weapons, it is insidious - no mushroom clouds, no dead cities - and, on the evidence so far, even more difficult to control.
Alternative sources coming into use can have little effect within Sir David King's time limit so that their short-term influence on global warming can only be minimal: a case of too little, if not too late.
4. The Ongoing Controversy About Global Warming.
Re: The ongoing controversy about Global Warming.
Environmental activist Christine Hagerbaumer (Jan 23) conveniently expands her definition of global warming to include snowstorms and any other calamity, floods, droughts, insect pests, rats, whatever.
But when it comes to science, global warming skeptics Fred Decker (emeritus professor of atmospheric science at Oregon State) and George Taylor (Oregon state climatologist and former president of the American Association of State Climatologists) are correct - and so is Oregon Senator Gordon Smith (Nov 5).
I believe that Prof Richard Gammon (U of Washington) and his 16 cosigners are wrong (Dec 5); and so are Prof Jim Croakley and his colleagues at OSU (who published a letter in the Corvallis Gazette-Times on Jan 20), plus your assorted editorials (most recently, Oct 29 and Dec 5).
It's really quite simple: All this whining about the threat of warming is based on the widely quoted claim in the Summary for Policymakers of a UN panel (IPCC) 2001 report: "There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities "
But there is no such evidence. In fact, this same IPCC report shows a global COOLING between 1940 and 1975! Since 1979 we have had the superior global data from weather satellites that report little warming, if any, of the earth's atmosphere in the past quarter-century. These negative results are backed by quite independent readings from thermometers carried on weather balloons. Any warming that's reported by weather stations on the surface is likely contaminated -- and in any case, less than what theoretical climate models would lead us to expect.
And what about the "new" evidence, the IPCC claim that the 20th century is the warmest in 1000 years? Well, it now turns out that the underlying data was badly mishandled by the scientists who published this amazing result. The journal Nature is currently conducting an investigation on how this could have happened and who is responsible. The jury is still out.
Any claim for a substantial greenhouse warming is therefore based on
ideology and/or wishful thinking - not on solid data. We'd be more than
happy to debate these issues with the 30-odd faculty members who disagree
with the three of us. Ten-to-one is not a bad ratio when the facts are
on your side.
5. Why extreme scenarios get quoted
By Lain Murray
James Hansen, one of the fathers of global warming theory, commented in the online journal Natural Science in September last year, "Emphasis on extreme scenarios may have been appropriate at one time, when the public and decision-makers were relatively unaware of the global warming issue... Now, however, the need is for demonstrably objective climate forcing scenarios consistent with what is realistic under current conditions." It seems that few in the movement got the memo, however. Recent weeks have provided a couple of excellent examples of how the environmental alarmist movement works. Emphasis on "extreme scenarios" is still at the forefront of its tactics.
For instance, several news reports recently concentrated on an alarming suggestion that the Gulf Stream might shut down as a result of global warming, an event that would cause major cooling in North America as well as Northern Europe. It is undoubtedly true that an end to the Gulf Stream would be catastrophic for many of mankind's most prosperous areas, but how likely is it? The researcher concerned, Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, simply told a press conference, "In the worst case it (the Gulf Stream) could shut down... it might even happen this century."
Those words, "in the worst case," cover a multitude of sins. It could simply be the most worrying of a few equally likely scenarios or an event so unlikely that it should be discounted. Yet, from the press accounts of the conference, we have no way of knowing how likely the occurrence is. If Rahmstorf did attempt to quantify the likelihood, that was not picked up by the press. The news consumer is left with a disturbing absence of context. He or she has been told by scientists and journalists that something worrying might happen, but has no idea of how to apply this to daily life.
Yet it is clear that the main offender in circumstances like this is not the reporting journalist (although the question of likelihood should have been raised and reported), but most often the scientists themselves. Academic press releases very often focus on extreme events or worst-case scenarios, for the simple reason that their research is unlikely to be reported on if they don't.
A January 15 press release from the National Science Foundation is a case in point. It covered the unglamorous study of Siberian peat bogs, but used alarm over the prospect of global to draw attention to itself. The main news hook in the release is the contention, "If, as many scientists predict, a regional Arctic warming trend thaws the bogs and causes the trapped gases to be released into the atmosphere, that could result in a major and unexpected shift in climate trends, according to the researchers." The worry is that these bogs have acted as a carbon sink for thousands of years, but with thawing of the permafrost that could change.
Yet again, that scenario is, in the researchers' own words, extreme: "In an extreme scenario, not only would they stop taking up CO2, they would release a lot of the carbon they have taken up for centuries." The researchers also admit that they had found no evidence of such an event ever happening.
Those who despair at the way climate science is manipulated in the panic over global warming are used to such tactics. Whenever anyone mentions the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's forecast of temperature rises in the next century of up to 10° F., they are relying on an extreme scenario that is incredibly unlikely. As two distinguished scholars -- the economist David Henderson and the statistician Ian Castles -- have shown, that scenario relies on economic forecasts in which American economic performance is overtaken by Libya, Algeria and North Korea (and which The Economist called "dangerously incompetent.") If commentators were to take Hansen at his word and look for objective and realistic projections of warming, they would agree with him that, even if nothing is done to restrict greenhouse gases, the likely temperature increase over the next 50 years is around 1.5°F, something mankind could easily adapt to.
Realism and objectivity are, as Hansen says, what are required in taking
us forward in this scientific, economic and political debate. Neither
side does itself any favors if it disregards those requirements. Yet the
realistic assessment says that global warming is happening, it is probably
insignificant and we will be able to adapt to it. If the only counter
to that argument is extreme or worst-case scenarios, then they should
be exposed for the tiny risks they are.
By Myron Kukla
Scientists recently announced that global warming is heating up our world, and we can expect a 10-degree increase in temperature over the next 100 years. They made this announcement in January, during a week of bitter cold and snow, with temperatures near zero. Like many people freezing their socks off this week, all I could think was, "Global warming can't come soon enough for me."
Please realize, I am not trying to make light of a serious environmental problem that has potential one day to turn us all into Pillsbury brown-and-serve rolls whenever we step outside. This is a major environmental issue, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, and we are all ignoring it as we fire up our SUVs to drive to work at the fossil fuel-burning plant.
People are not taking global warming seriously because scientists just don't know how to sell future catastrophes very well. Take the name "global warming," for example. Every time I hear global warming, I get this picture in my mind of me lying on a beach on some beautiful island as warm tropical breezes caress my body.
The term "global warming" just does not strike fear in my heart like, say, "nuclear fallout." Global warming sounds more like a term Mister Rogers would invent. "Hi children. We're going to play inside today because global warming is blistering the paint off our cars. Isn't that special?"
The other name for this potential world disaster that scientists like to toss out is greenhouse effect. In a nutshell, greenhouse effect means the Earth is capturing heat and spiking up the thermostat on the world climate at a rate faster than at any other time in our history. The last time this happened was the two decades just before the last ice age started.
I should be worried. But, I hear the term greenhouse effect and it sounds like a good idea to me. For me, greenhouse effect means my part of the world is getting warmer and I might be able to play golf in Michigan for nine months out of the year, instead of six. I may be able to grow orchids in my garden in the summer. I can plant palm trees in my front yard someday. I might not have to shovel 6 inches of snow off my car every time I drive anywhere.
Need a scarier name. Scientists are not getting me or anyone else to pay attention to this climatic warming problem because they keep using cuddly words like "warm" and "green" to describe this potential planetary disaster.
They need to scare us.
I think they should start telling us that, within the next century, we could see puppy dogs exploding on the sidewalk from increased heat. They could call it the "puppy dog in the microwave on high effect." From what I read in science journals, that is not too far off base.
On the other hand, you are probably wondering right now, how does the greenhouse effect on world climate affect me, personally? The answer is simple. As temperatures rise, the polar ice caps melt, raising the ocean levels, which causes penguins to move their nesting grounds to higher, drier land. If this trend is not reversed, scientists speculate that, by the year 2100, penguins may be nesting in Denver. The upside is, if ocean levels keep rising from global warming, you can soon have an ocean view in Iowa.
Luckily, our government is doing something about global warming. By White House decree last year, global warming simply does not exist. Yep. That's how the United States of America has handled the crispy fried critter future. We "just say no" to global warming.
Now, if we can only get the rest of the world and the United Nations to go along with us and declare global warming over, the problem will be solved.
I was truly amazed at our government's new stance on the potential of becoming a shake-and-bake world. Four years ago, during the Clinton administration, we were very concerned about global warming. They thought it was a threat to the world environment and our future. Today, if you go to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Web site (epa.gov), the warnings of the threat of global warming of a few years ago have disappeared. The new EPA view on global warming makes it sound like we are all about to go on a Caribbean cruise.
Here are the actual words the EPA uses to describe global warming:
"Without this natural 'greenhouse effect,' temperatures would be much lower than they are now, and life as know it today would not be possible. Thanks to greenhouse gases, the Earth's average temperature is a more hospitable 60 degrees (Fahrenheit)."
The Web site downplays global warming so much these days, it does everything but offer a full-color brochure on how destroying the Earth's climate is a good thing.
There is more. The EPA blames the rise in temperature that has the potential to destroy life on this planet on -- are you ready? -- plants. That's right. Your house plants, farmers' corn fields and the rainforest are causing the greenhouse effect because plants give off carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as they die and decompose.
So, if you want to stop global warming, kill your house plants, don't plant shrubbery, gardens or flowers, and we'll all be saved.
Anyway, I can't worry about global warming anymore right now. I think
I just saw a bunch of penguins run across my back yard.