Posts tagged ‘ice’

What is Normal?

I often raise the issue of "What is Normal" when discussing climate.  The media frequently declares certain weather events as so "abnormal" that they must be due to man-made factors.  A great example is the current Texas drought, which is somehow unprecedented and thus caused by CO2 despite the fact that the great dust bowl drought of the 1930's was many times larger in area and years in duration.

The EPA has a new slideshow purporting to aggregate these "abnormalities."  While I could spend all year going through each slide, I want to focus on just one.

Now we all know that the EPA is just full of sciency goodness and so everything they say is based on science and not, say, some political agenda.  And the statement and the pictures above are absolutely correct, as far as they go.  But they are missing a teeny tiny bit of context.  Here is a longer history of that same glacier (thanks to the Real Science blog for the pointer, this is a much better map than the one I have used in the past).

The 1948 position is way up at the top.  You can see that the melting since 1966, which according to the EPA is an "acceleration," is trivial compared to the melting since 1760.  Basically, this glacier has been retreating since at least the end of the little ice age.

Those who want to attribute the recent retreat to CO2 have to explain what drove the glacier to retreat all that way from 1760 to 1960, and why that factor stopped in 1960 at exactly the time Co2 supposedly took over.

By the way, this same exact story can be seen in glaciers around the world.  Glaciers began retreating at the end of the little ice age, and if anything that pace of retreat has slowed somewhat over the last few decades.


Green Cronyism

Megan McArdle looks into where all that green seed capital is going.  It turns out it is going the same place most other government "investments" go -- to large, well-connected companies who don't actually need the money but will sure appreciate it come election time.

But I have highlighted what jumped out at me: most of the money has gone to enormous companies that should have no trouble accessing capital.  Established utilities, large multinational auto manufacturers, a global warehouse owner.  The bulk of these funds are not going to rectify some gap in the capital markets.  They're straight subsidies to huge corporations.  Even some of the smaller firms/deals are owned by large corporations like Total SA.

Giving large, established companies extra-cheap loans to build power plants, run transmission lines, and fix up the roofs of their warehouses is, in the immortal words of P.J. O'Rourke, like paying a Dairy Queen owner to keep his ice cream freezers on.

I Must Be A Bad American

The title of this post comes from something my son said, after a few hours on Facebook with everyone in that forum dancing on Osama's grave.  He said he just couldn't work up the excitement felt, by, say folks on the local news last night chanting "USA, USA."

I know how he feels.  Certainly Osama is a mass murderer and deserves to die.  And I suppose it is important from a foreign policy standpoint that if we say we are going to do something, we do it, even if it takes ten years or so.  And Kudos to the military team that got him.

But I heard commentators say that this was another Kennedy moment when we would always remember where we would be when Osama was killed -- that seems a gross exaggeration.   I don't think I was in need of or received a nationalist ego boost last night.  The reaction almost reminded me of the US Olympic hockey victory in 1980, when people frustrated with internal and external problems found release in the victory on the ice over the Russians.   But cheering about killing a guy, even a bad buy, in the same way as one might for a sports team victory just leaves me a bit queasy.

Besides, isn't Bin Laden largely irrelevant now?  If he is the spider at the center of the global web of terrorism, I have certainly missed the evidence.  Frankly, this whole thing feels like grabbing the Kaiser out of the Netherlands in 1938 and hanging him.  Not only a  bit late, but  a diversion of attention from the source of current problems.

Update: How Bin Laden Changed America.  Example:  without Bin Laden, we probably would not have  a progressive Democratic President who claims the right to assassinate American citizens.

Update #2: It has been made increasingly evident to me that I am out of step with America on this.  Fine, not the first time.  Let me just say, then, that the precedent of sending US troops into a sovereign nation without that nation's permission or knowledge and kidnapping/assassinating a foreign national based on the President's say-so based on intelligence gathered in part from torture of people detained indefinitely without due process in secret CIA prisons is, well, a precedent we may some day rue.  From time to time Presidents may need to make such calls, but I am not going to be celebrating in the street.  If a Pakistani team did the same, even to, say, raid a California prison and kill Charles Manson, I still think we might be pissed off about it.

Update #3: After a few days introspection, I don't know why I am brooding so much about this.  I must admit it was a good move to go in and knock him off, and while I hate precedents for expansion of executive power, this particular move was entirely justified.   I am not sure why the initial response to this rubbed me the wrong way -- perhaps because the celebration seemed to be excessive vs. the strategic value.    I suppose I am not big on symbolic victories.  Had I been alive in 1942 I probably would have reacted negatively to the Doolittle raid.

Hey, I Can Like Ice Hockey But Still Hate Subsidies

Spend a few nights listening to the news on TV, and you will quickly discover the one of the bedrock logical fallacies of political discourse:

If it's good, the government should subsidize it.  If it's bad, the government should ban it.  If outcomes are in any way perceived by any group to be sub-optimal, then the government should regulate it.  Anyone who opposes these bans, subsidies, and regulations must therefore be a supporter of bad outcomes, hate poor people, want people to get sick and die, etc.

Just last night, I was watching the local news (something I almost never do) and saw a story of one of those kids' bouncy houses that blew out of someone's backyard into a road.  There was a girl inside who was scared but unhurt  (after all, she was surrounded on six sides by giant airbags).   Of course the conclusion of the story was a call for more government regulation of tie downs for private backyard bouncy houses.  And those of us who think it's absurd for the government to micro-regulate such things, particularly after a single freak accident when no one was hurt -- we just want to see children die, of course.

Which brings me to this little gem in a local blog, which reflects a feeling held by many area sports fans.  Remember that I have supported the Goldwater Institute in their opposition to the city of Glendale giving a rich guy $200 million to buy our NHL ice hockey team and keep it here.    My (and I presume Goldwater's) motivation has been opposition to a huge government subsidy that equates to nearly $1000 for every man, woman, and child in Glendale.  This subsidy appears illegal under the Arizona Constitution.  But that is not how political discourse works.  We are not defending the Constitution, we just hate hockey (emphasis added)

If you believe Canadian newspapers, tonight's game against the Detroit Red Wings will be the Phoenix Coyotes last game in the desert.

Canadians like hockey. Judging by attendance at Coyotes games, Phoenicians don't (at least not enough to drive to west side), which is why Canadians are so optimistic that their beloved Winnipeg Jets will be returning to our overly polite neighbors to the north.

The Coyotes ended the season with the second worst attendance in the NHL. That, coupled with the Goldwater Institute's crusade to drive the team out of the Valley, is not helping the city of Glendale's attempt to keep the team.

A few facts to remember:

  • As the article states, local residents have already voted with their feet, since the team has nearly the lowest attendance in the league despite going to the playoffs both last year and this year.  They have trouble selling out playoff games.
  • The team has lost money every year it has been here.  It lost something like $40 million this year
  • The team is worth $100 million here in Phoenix.  That is the going rate for warm-market teams.  The buyer is willing to pay $100 million of his own money for the team.   So why is a subsidy needed?  The NHL insists on selling the team for $200 million or more.  Though it piously claims to want to keep hockey in Arizona, it is selling the team for price than can only be paid by buyers who want to move the team.
  • The City of Glendale appears to have lied outright in selling this deal to the public.  In particular, it claimed the $100 million was not a giveaway, but a payment for the team's rights to charge for parking.  But many insiders say the City always retained this right, and it strains credulity that while losing money for seven years, the team would not have exercised this right if it really owned it.
  • Glendale has only itself to blame, confounding an already difficult marketing task (ice hockey in the desert) by putting the stadium on the far end of a sprawling city.   The location is roughly the equivalent in terms of distance and relationship to the metropolitan area of moving the Chicago Blackhawks or Bulls stadium to Gary, Indiana.  The stadium ended up in Glendale because neither Tempe, Scottsdale, nor Phoenix was willing to make a $200 million, 30-year taxpayer-funded bet on the profitability of ice hockey.

When You Have A Hammer, Everything Looks Like A Nail

Via Tom Nelson, here is an article today at Grist about today's Tsunami's called "This is what climate change looks like"

So far, today's tsunami has mainly affected Japan -- there are reports of up to 300 dead in the coastal city of Sendai -- but future tsunamis could strike the U.S. and virtually any other coastal area of the world with equal or greater force, say scientists. In a little-heeded warning issued at a 2009 conference on the subject, experts outlined a range of mechanisms by which climate change could already be causing more earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity.

"When the ice is lost, the earth's crust bounces back up again and that triggers earthquakes, which trigger submarine landslides, which cause tsunamis," Bill McGuire, professor at University College London, told Reuters.

When I look at events today, I think not of "climate change" but of "development".  Compare the casualties from today in Japan and Hawaii and the US west coast to those in, say, Indonesia.  Development saves lives through better construction, better communication, better early warning systems, and better transportation networks.   If one really wants to think about today's events in the context of climate change, think about the alarmists' proposed tradeoff between small and uncertain changes in the climate vs. almost certain reduction in development through climate-change programs.

Room Temperature Ice

Some scientists claim to be able to make room temperature ice (yes, I presume at 1 atm pressure).  Not sure what to make of it:

Earth's climate is strongly influenced by the presence of particles of different shapes and origins "” in the form of dust, ice and pollutants "” that find their way into the lowest portion of the atmosphere, the troposphere. There, water adsorbed on the surface of these particles can freeze at higher temperatures than pure water droplets, triggering rain and snow.Researchers at Spain's Centre d'Investigació en Nanociència i Nanotecnologia (CIN2) have studied the underlying mechanisms of water condensation in the troposphere and found a way to make artificial materials to control water condensation and trigger ice formation at room temperature. Described in the Journal of Chemical Physics, which is published by the American Institute of Physics, their work may lead to new additives for snowmaking, improved freezer systems, or new coatings that help grow ice for skating rinks.

The next step? The researchers' goal now is to produce environmentally-friendly synthetic materials for efficiently inducing snow. "If water condenses in an ordered way, such as a hexagonal structure, on such surfaces at ambient conditions, the term "˜room temperature ice' would be fully justified," adds Verdaguer. "The solid phase, ice, would be produced by a surface effect rather than as a consequence of temperature. In the long term, we intend to prepare smart materials, "˜intelligent surfaces,' that will react to water in a predefined way."

I remember some work on how water boiling could be suppressed by polishing surfaces where bubbles form (watch a pot of water boiling, the bubbles appear on the pan surfaces).  I presume this may be a related effect.

Eskimos Running Out of Ice

At least, that is, when the government is managing the ice supply:

Venezuela's economy is in trouble despite the country's huge oil reserves. Blackouts plague major cities. Its inflation rate is among the world's highest. Private enterprise has been so hammered, the World Bank says, that Venezuela is forced to import almost everything it needs.....

This is not the way it was supposed to be. Venezuela is one of the world's great energy powers. Its oil reserves are among the world's largest and its hydroelectric plants are among the most potent.

Markets in Everything, March Madness Edition

Sorry to steal the phrase from Marginal Revolution, but it seems appropriate for this story -- Surgery as an excuse to be laid up in bed watching TV

Come to find out that untold numbers of American males at this very moment are propped up in front of their television sets at home, bags of ice strategically placed in their respective crotches.

Cleveland urologist Dr. Stephen Jones has noted a 50 percent increase in recent years in vasectomies performed a day or two [before] the start of the NCAA men's tournament.

That's a lot of slicing and dicing.

You can imagine the dialogue, first between the dude and his woman:

"Honey, doc says I gotta take it easy for a couple of days. I'll be back to normal after the weekend."

Or this one with the boss:

"Sorry, I'll be out Thursday and Friday. Surgical procedure. Nothing big. No, I'll be laid up and it probably will be better if I start up fresh on Monday, OK?

Not sure I have the cojones to try that.

Climate and Religious Fundamentalism

I thought this was funny.  I am not going to deconstruct or lampoon this guy's beliefs, nor am I knowlegeable enough to argue whether Genesis 1:28 really mandates that man should forecast the climate system.  I am in fact trying really hard to say that I am not making an ad hominem attack here, but merely pointing out an irony:  Many dismiss skeptics as all part of the religious fundamentalist Right, I presume to try to lump us in with evolution deniers.  I can't tell you how many emails I get calling me some sort of religious fundamentalist freak, which is actually hilarious given a) I never mention religion of the g-word on either of my sites almost ever and b) the actual nature of my beliefs.

So this is funny in an ironic way:  The guy that originally wrote a bunch of the CRU code that has since been criticized as forcing a warming result is Tim Mitchell, who has shared some of his thoughts online (via Odd Citizen):

The climate system is made up of the earth's atmosphere, oceans, ice, vegetation, and streams. It is both beautiful and complex. Humans have a mandate to forecast its behavior and use it (Genesis 1:28). However, we feel in awe of its destructive potential, seen in such things as hurricanes and floods, which are part of the curse inflicted upon the earth following the Fall (Genesis 3.17). Moreover, control and certainty belong to God alone (Job 38-41). So there is a possibility that our actions may affect the climate system in unexpected ways. It was claimed in the 1970s that the earth might be about to enter an ice age. The evidence for this was minimal, but the decades of painstaking research that have followed the 1970s have unveiled both the natural variability in the climate system, and the dramatic effects of human actions....

What can individual Christians do? Some, but not many, are called to be scientists and politicians. However, we all have the vote, and environmental issues ought to be among those that we weigh up carefully before casting our vote. We are also each responsible for a small part of the daily emissions of greenhouse gases. Do we use our energy-intensive cars wisely? Are we guilty of worldly attitudes to public transport? With domestic heating and insulation, do we spend more and pollute more than is necessary? The government urges us to reduce our energy usage so that we may indulge ourselves in other ways, but we have a higher motive for reducing waste (1 Timothy 6.17-19). Although I have yet to see any evidence that climate change is a sign of Christ's imminent return, human pollution is clearly another of the birth pangs of creation, as it eagerly awaits being delivered from the bondage of corruption (Romans. 19-22).

Tim Mitchell works at the Climactic Research Unit, UEA, Norwich, and is a member of South Park Evangelical Church.

Again, I am not trying to purge the scientific ranks of Christian fundamentalists, I just think this is funny given all the accusations of blind Christian fundamentalism aimed (often with no basis) at skeptics.

Climate Updates

Believe it or not, I am not going to update on the CRU emails.  The insights into the science process are illuminating, and confirm much that we have suspected, but faults in transparency do not automatically win the game -- they lead to [hopefully] future transparency which then allows for better criticism and/or replication of the work.

My frustration today is a recent article in Scientific American [with the lofty academic title "Seven Answers to Climate Contrarian Nonsense"] which purports to shoot down the seven key skeptics arguments.  Many others have shown how the author does not do a very good job of shooting down these seven, but that is not my main frustration.  The problem is that, like many of the global warming myth buster articles like this, the author completely fails to address the best, core arguments of skeptics, preferring to snipe around at easier prey at the margins.

In this post, I discuss his article and suggest 7 better propositions alarmists should, but never do, address.

You can see discussion of all of these in my recent lecture, on video here.

Don't have 90 minutes?  Richard Lindzen of MIT has a great summary in the WSJ that mirrors a lot of what I delve into in my video.

Here are my seven alternative skeptics' claims I would like to see addressed:

Claim A: Nearly every scientist, skeptic and alarmist alike, agree that the first order warming from CO2 is small.  Catastrophic forecasts that demand immediate government action are based on a second theory that the climate temperature system is dominated by positive feedback.  There is little understanding of these feedbacks, at least in their net effect, and no basis for assuming feedbacks in a long-term stable system are strongly net positive.   As a note, the claim is that the net feedbacks are not positive, so demonstration of single one-off positive feedbacks, like ice albedo, are not sufficient to disprove this claim.  In particular, the role of the water cycle and cloud formation are very much in dispute.

Claim B: At no point have climate scientists ever reconciled the claims of the dendroclimatologists like Michael Mann that world temperatures were incredibly stable for thousands of years before man burned fossil fuels with the claim that the climate system is driven by very high net positive feedbacks.   There is nothing in the feedback assumptions that applies uniquely to CO2 forcing, so these feedbacks, if they exist today, should have existed in the past and almost certainly have made temperatures highly variable, if not unstable.

Claim C: On its face, the climate model assumptions (including high positive feedbacks) of substantial warming from small changes in CO2 are inconsistent with relatively modest past warming.  Scientists use what is essentially an arbitrary plug variable to handle this, assuming anthropogenic aerosols have historically masked what would be higher past warming levels.  The arbitrariness of the plug is obvious given that most models include a cooling effect of aerosols in direct proportion to their warming effect from CO2, two phenomenon that should not be linked in nature, but are linked if modelers are trying to force their climate models to balance.  Further, since aerosols are short lived and only cover about 10% of the globe's surface in any volume, nearly heroic levels of cooling effects must be assumed, since it takes 10C of cooling from the 10% area of effect to get 1C cooling in the global averages.

Claim D: The key issue is the effect of CO2 vs. other effects in the complex climate system.  We know CO2 causes some warming in a lab, but how much on the real earth?  The main evidence climate scientists have is that their climate models are unable to replicate the warming from 1975-1998 without the use of man-made CO2 -- in other words, they claim their models are unable to replicate the warming with natural factors alone.  But these models are not anywhere near good enough to be relied on for this conclusion, particularly since they admittedly leave out any number of natural factors, such as ocean cycles and longer term cycles like the one that drove the little ice age, and admit to not understanding many others, such as cloud formation.

Claim E: There are multiple alternate explanations for the 1975-1998 warming other than manmade CO2.  All likely contributed (along with CO2) but it there is no evidence to give most of the blame to Co2.  Other factors include ocean cycles (this corresponded to a PDO warm phase), the sun (this corresponded to the most intense period of the sun in the last 100 years), mankind's land use changes (driving both urban heating effects as well as rural changes with alterations in land use), and a continuing recovery from the Little Ice Age, perhaps the coldest period in the last 5000 years.

Claim F: Climate scientists claim that the .4-.5C warming from 1975-1998 cannot have been caused natural variations.  This has never been reconciled with the fact that the 0.6C warming from 1910 to 1940 was almost certainly due mostly to natural forces.  Also, the claim that natural forcings could not have caused a 0.2C per decade warming in the 80's and 90's cannot be reconciled with the the current claimed natural "masking" of anthropogenic warming  that must be on the order of 0.2C per decade.

Claim G: Climate scientists are embarrassing themselves in the use of the word "climate change."  First, the only mechanism ever expressed for CO2 to change climate is via warming.  If there is no warming, then CO2 can't be causing climate change by any mechanism anyone has ever suggested.   So saying that "climate change is accelerating" (just Google it) when warming has stopped is disingenuous, and a false marketing effort to try to keep the alarm ringing.  Second, the attempts by scientists who should know better to identify weather events at the tails of the normal distribution and claim that these are evidence of a shift in the mean of the distribution is ridiculous.  There are no long term US trends in droughts or wet weather, nor in global cyclonic activity, nor in US tornadoes.  But every drought, hurricane, flood, or tornado is cited as evidence of accelerating climate change (see my ppt slide deck for the data).  This is absurd.

Best Kept Secrets

Some of the best kept secrets in today's world are not in the CIA, but in climate.  For example, I am sure you saw all the news a couple of years ago that Arctic sea ice extent hit an "all-time" low (by all time they mean since 1979 when we had satellites watching the ice).  But, did you know that on the exact same day, the Antarctic sea ice hit extent an "all time" high?  No?

OK, try this.  When people talk about rising oceans, only land ice matters (since sea ice floats, like ice cubes in your drink, their melting has no effect on ocean levels).  I am sure you have heard that scientists think that Greenland ice caps, representing 10% of the world's land ice, have melted at record high rates over the last couple of years  (yet again, keeping in mind the observation period is only about 30 years).  Did you know, though, that during the exact same period, Antarctic land ice representing 89% of the world's land ice has melted at record low rates?  No?  But the studies are done by the same people who did the Greenland work that were published everywhere.

You see, the press really can keep a secret nowadays.


At first, I thought the headline was a joke on government programs.  It read something like "NASA Spitzer telescope discovers ring around Saturn."  I mean, duh.

But it turns out they did find a big, really cool and nearly invisible ring around the larger Saturn system.  Via the Reference Frame

Saturn's Largest Ring

This artist's conception shows a nearly invisible ring around Saturn -- the largest of the giant planet's many rings. It was discovered by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

The artist's conception simulates an infrared view of the giant ring. Saturn appears as just a small dot from outside the band of ice and dust. The bulk of the ring material starts about six million kilometers (3.7 million miles) away from the planet and extends outward roughly another 12 million kilometers (7.4 million miles). The ring's diameter is equivalent to roughly 300 Saturns lined up side to side.

I May Have Been Wrong When I Said Government Officials Weren't Dumb

I often say that most government officials are not dumb or evil, they just have bad incentives that make them act that way, and they look dumb because they attempt to tackle problems that even a 250IQ can't solve (e.g. planning the economy).

But I may have been wrong.  Evidence is mounting that people in Congress, at least, really are just plain dumb.  From an interview on NPR:

[Congressman Henry] Waxman: Well, there have been scientists brought together to see if they could figure out the science and make it clear whether this is a danger or not, whether it's a danger that's a great one or one that we can postpone for a while, and the overwhelming consensus of all the leading scientists that have looked at this issue is there is a warming of the planet, it's manmade, caused by our burning of carbon fuels, and it's happening faster than anybody ever thought it would happen.

We're seeing the reality of a lot of the North Pole starting to evaporate, and we could get to a tipping point. Because if it evaporates to a certain point - they have lanes now where ships can go that couldn't ever sail through before. And if it gets to a point where it evaporates too much, there's a lot of tundra that's being held down by that ice cap.

If that gets released we'll have more carbon emissions and methane gas in our atmosphere than we have now. We see a lot of destruction happening because of global warming, climate change problems, so we've got enough warning signals and enough of a scientific consensus to take this seriously.

Oh my heavens, we are certainly in good hands.  Via Tom Nelson.

Postscript: For those who slept through high school science:

  • North Pole ice melts, it does not evaporate (liquids evaporate).  Occasionally a solid will go straight from a solid to a gaseous state (e.g. with dry ice) - that is called sublimation.  Ice on Kilimanjaro, for example, sublimes rather than melts.
  • There have been a number of years this century, including several times in the 1930's, when the Northwest Passage opened up in the summer, so a recent opening was far from the "first time."
  • The ice cap does not hold down the tundra.  The concern, as I understand it, is that large stretches of Siberia are essentially permanently frozen peat bogs.   If the permafrost (which is under the tundra) melts, this allows the previously frozen organic matter to start to decompose, releasing methane which is a strong greenhouse gas.
  • When Waxman refers to a tipping point, he means that a positive feedback cycle, much like nuclear fission, is created causing temperatures to accelerate rapidly.  As an aside, such runaway positive feedback processes are rare among long-term stable natural systems, as at some point, given 5 billion years of history, they should have already run away by now.  Why temperatures would reach a tipping point now when they did not in millennia past when both global temperature and CO2 levels were much higher remains unexplained by Mr. Waxman and other tipping point advocates.
  • As of today, global sea ice extent is higher than the last 30 year average.  (this graph is updated regularly)

Environmental Question

I am honestly curious here.  Apparently, Seattle does not use salt to melt ice on roadways because they believe " it's not a healthy addition to Puget Sound."  I could understand if the salt was all washing into a trout stream or perhaps a reservoir, but isn't Puget Sound part of the ocean, which has, um, salt water?  Is it a different kind of salt  (e.g. calcium chloride vs. sodium chloride) that causes the problem?  Or is this another typical "don't understand the math of concentration" story?  Or perhaps are they using environmental concerns as cover for lack of preparation?

Explaining Temperature History

I post most of my more detailed climate work over at my other blog.  But I wanted to repost here something I wrote in response to a number of request for a brief version of what is driving global temperatures.

My sense is that medium to long scale 20th century temperature trends can be explained mostly through three drivers:

1.  A cyclical variation driven by multi-decade oceanic cycles like the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO):


2.  Changes in solar output, either directly as increased heating or indirectly via a variety of theories on things like cosmic rays and cloud formation:


3.  A long term trend of up to +0.05C per decade that may include a CO2-warming component.

I am willing to posit a CO2 impact net of feedbacks of perhaps 0.5-1.0C over the next century.  This may appear low, but is the only scale of number reasonably supported by history.  Any higher number would result in temperatures way too high historically.  And even assuming a number this high runs into the following problem:  There was probably a trend of about this magnitude emerging from the little ice age 200+ years ago and extending into the 20th century.  You can see it in the glacier numbers below:  (source)


Those that want to assign the temperature trend, once the sun and the PDO are removed, post-1950 to CO2, need to explain what effect was causing the nearly exact same trend from 1800-1950, and why that trend conveniently switched off at the exact moment man's CO2 takes over.  In the context of the glacier chart, what was causing the glaciers to retreat in 1880, and why is that effect not the one at work today?

With evidence that the PDO has reversed to its cool phase and that the sun may be shifting into low gear, I think it is reasonable to posit warming no more than 0.5-1.0C over the next century.  For those who have not seen it, Roy Spencer has a new paper on the PDO, clouds and temperature history.   My video on why climate models overstate future warming through absurd assumptions of high positive feedbacks is here.

If They Could Do Math, They Wouldn't Have Been Journalism Majors

Further proof that no one in the media is capable of even the simplest reality-checks when it comes to publishing numbers they get from activist press releases.  This whole concept below is a howler (the idea is that global warming causes volcanoes) but it is the last paragraph that really caught my eye:

So much ice in Iceland has melted in the past century that the pressure on the
land beneath has lessened, which allows more of the rock deep in the ground
to turn to magma. Until the ice melted, the pressure was so intense that the
rock remained solid.

Carolina Pagli, of the University of Leeds, led research which calculated that
over the past century the production of magma had increased by 10 per cent.

The research team, reporting their findings in the journal Geophysical
Research Letters
, said an extra 1.4 cu km of magma has been created
under the Vatnajökull ice-cap in the past 100 years.

Since 1890 the ice-cap has lost 10 per cent of its mass, which has allowed the
land to rise by up to 25m (82ft) a year. The volume lost between 1890 and
2003 is estimated at 435 cu km.

Leaving aside cause and effect (e.g. does ice cap melting cause more hot stuff in the ground or does more hot stuff in the ground melt ice), consider the statement that the ground has risen under the ice cap by 82 feet per year for 118 years.  This gives us a rise in the land of 9,676 feet after just 10% of the ice mass has supposedly melted.  Note that this is an enormous, totally non-sensical value.  It implies that a full melting of the ice might increase the land height by 10x this amount, or nearly 100,000 feet  (airplanes stay away!!)  As another check, 9,676 is more than the entire depth of the Iceland ice sheet (it is about the same as what scientists think the Greenland ice sheet depth is).  Another way of looking at this is this is about 1/8-inch land surface rise PER HOUR for the last century. 

I am not sure how any writer or editor on the planet could look at "82 feet a year for 118 years" and not smell a rat.


On Sunday, CBS claimed that Antarctica is melting.  In fact, once small
portion of the Antarctic peninsula is warming and may be losing snow, while the
rest of Antarctica has not been warming and in fact has been gaining ice cover. 
The show visits an island off the Antarctic Peninsula which has about as much
weather relevance and predictive power to the rest of Antarctica as Key West has
to the rest of the United States.  Absolutely absurd.

Unfortunately, I have a real job and I don't have time to restate all the
rebuttals to the CBS show.  However, I took on the Antarctic
issue in depth here
, and this post at NC Media
has more.

Rorchach Test

Over at Climate Skeptic, I administer a 20-second Rorchach test on a sea ice chart.

The Catastrophe Stems Completely From Feedback

Over at Climate Skeptic, I dissect climate models to show that the future warming in the models from CO2 alone is not much more than 0.5C.  All the catastrophe comes from positive feedbacks that modelers assume dominate the climate, an odd assumption for such a long-term stable system.  I summarize as follows:

  • Climate sensitivity is the temperature increase we might expect with a doubling of CO2 to 560 ppm from a pre-industrial 280ppm
  • Nearly every forecast you have ever seen assumes the
    effect of CO2 alone is about a 1C warming from this doubling.  Clearly,
    though, you have seen higher forecasts.  All of the "extra" warming in
    these forecasts come from positive feedback.  So a sensitivity of 3C
    would be made up of 1C from CO2 directly that is tripled by positive
    feedbacks.  A sensitivity of 6 or 8 still starts with the same 1C but
    has even higher feedbacks
  • Most thoughtful climate scientists will admit that
    we don't know what these feedbacks are -- in so many words, modelers
    are essentially guessing.  Climate scientists don't even know the sign
    (positive or negative) much less the magnitude.  In most physical
    sciences, upon meeting such an unknown system that has been long-term
    stable, scientists will assume neutral to negative feedback.  Climate
    scientists are the exception -- almost all their models assume strong
    positive feedback.
  • Climate scientists point to studies of ice cores and
    such that serve as proxies for climate hundreds of thousands of years
    ago to justify positive feedbacks.  But for the period of history we
    have the best data, ie the last 120 years, actual CO2 and measured
    temperature changes imply a sensitivity net of feedbacks closer to 1C,
    about what a reasonable person would assume from a stable process not
    dominated by positive feedbacks.

Analysis of "New" UN Climate Warming

mounting pressure from climate catastrophists to ignore uncertainties
in the science and to produce definitive statements that can be used as
calls for government interventionism, the UN will apparently release a new "warning" this week:

warming is destroying species, raising sea levels and threatening
millions of poor people, the United Nations' top scientific panel will
say in a report today that U.N. officials hope will help mobilize the
world to take tougher actions on climate change.

The report
argues that only firm action, including putting a price on
carbon-dioxide emissions, will avoid more catastrophic events.

actions will take a small part of the world's economic growth and will
be substantially less than the costs of doing nothing, the report says.

For the first time, the UN is trying to
argue explicitly that the cost of CO2 abatement is lower than the cost
of doing nothing.  They are arguing that a cooler but poorer world is
superior to a warmer and richer world.  I am glad they are finally
arguing this point.  Because while we can argue about the truth of how
much the world has warmed and how much is due to man, the UN is DEAD
WRONG on this point.  The cost of aggressive CO2 abatement is far, far
higher than the cost of doing nothing.

The report presumably will be released by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, who demonstrated his stunning ignorance of climate science, geology, and geography on a recent climate-junket to Antarctica.  Let's take it line by line.

Is man destroying or threatening species?  Absolutely.  Is this threat from CO2 and warming? No, and I have read every inch of the UN IPCC report and you can find no evidence for this proposition.
But saying this rallies the environmental base (the hard core
environmentalists don't really care about poor people, at least when
their interests conflict with animals).  Most of the evidence is that
species thrive in warmer weather, and polar bears have survived several
inter-glaciation periods where the north pole melted entirely in the

Are sea levels rising?  Yes.  In fact, they have been
rising for at least 150 years, and in fact have been rising steadily
and at roughly the same rate since the last ice age.  We have seen
absolutely no acceleration of the underlying sea level rise trend.
Further, the UN's IPCC does have a forecast for sea level rise over the
next century.  Even using temperature forecasts I consider exaggerated,
the UN does not forecast more than about a foot of sea level rise over
the coming century, only a bit more than what the sea level has risen
over the last 150 years.  This is a great example of the disconnect
between the UN political climate reports and the science underlying
them.  The guys writing the summary know that their report says only a
few inches of sea level rise, so they just say it is rising, and then
let the crazies like Al Gore throw around numbers like 20 feet.

Here is an interesting thought:  If I say the sea levels
will rise 0" over the next 100 years, the UN will call me out and say I
am wrong.  However, when Al Gore said sea levels will rise 20 feet in
his movie An Inconvenient Truth, no one at the UN or the IPCC
called him out, despite the fact that my forecast was only a few inches off from theirs and his was 19 feet off the mark.

And of course, there are the poor.  The number one biggest
losers in any effort to abate CO2 emissions will be the poor.  In
wealthy countries like the US, the poor will be the hardest hit by $10
or even $20 gas prices that would be necessary to rolling CO2
production back to 1990 levels.  In the third world, nearly a billion
people just starting to emerge from poverty will have no chance of doing so if their economies are hamstrung with CO2 limits.  The poor will be devastated by aggressive CO2 limits.

Weighed against this economic disaster would be, what?
How would rising world temperatures hurt the poor?  Well, its not at
all clear.  A foot of sea-level rise is very unlikely to hurt many poor
people, though it might inconvenience a few rich owners of beach-front
luxury homes.  Here is a clarifying question I often ask people --
would you rather fifteen Atlantic hurricanes each year, or sixteen
hurricanes each year and Carribbean economies that are twice as rich
and therefore have twice the resources to handle hurricanes.  This is
the colder and poorer vs. warmer and richer choice.  We see this in Bangladesh today.  Why do orders of magnitude more people die in Bangladesh cyclones than class 5 hurricanes on the US shore?  Because they are poor, not because of anything having to do with global warming.

It is often claimed that global warming will cause
droughts, but in fact warmer world temperatures will vaporize more
water in the atmosphere and should net increase rain, not drought.  And
many of the farmers in the northern hemisphere would enjoy longer
growing seasons and thereby more food production.

and ice caps are melting at a rapid rate; animals and plants are
shifting their range to accommodate warmer air and water; and planting
seasons are changing, the report said.

Yes, land-based ice is melting in the Northern Hemisphere.  This is 15% of the world's ice.  85% of the world's ice is in Antarctica, which is increasing.
Seriously.  I know you don't believe this if you trust the media, but
the ice that is melting in Greenland is tiny compared to the ice that
is increasing at the South Pole.  In fact, the IPCC gets most of its
prjected sea rise from thermal expansion of warmer oceans, not from ice
melting.  And don't you love the "planting seasons are changing."  That
sounds like its scary, or something, until you recognize the truth is
that planting seasons are changing, becoming longer and more beneficial to food production!

On many occasions, I have discussed the bad science that
goes into these apocalyptic forecasts.  But that science is of top
quality compared to the economics that must have gone into the
statement that:

The most
stringent efforts to stabilize greenhouse gases would cost the world's
economies 0.12 percent of their average annual growth to 2050, the
report estimates.

This is absolute, unmitigated crap.
Though I have not seen specifics in this report, the UN's position has
generally been that emissions should be rolled back to 1990 levels (the
target embodied in the Kyoto treaty).  Such a target implies reductions
of more than 20% from where we are today and well over 50% from where
we will be in 2050.  These are enormous cuts that cannot be achieved
with current technology without massive reductions in economic growth.
The world economy is inextricably tied to the burning of fossil fuels.
And, unlike ancillary emissions like SO2, CO2 emissions cannot be
limited without actually reducing carbon combustion since it is
fundamental to the combustion chemistry.  Even supporters of
legislation such as the Bingaman-Specter bill admit that as much as a
trillion dollars will need to be spent to reduce global temperatures
about 0.13C.  And that is a trillion for the first tenth of a degree --
the law of diminishing returns means that each additional tenth will
cost more.

Lets look at history as our guide.  Most of the European
countries and Japan signed onto the Kyoto Treaty to reduce emissions to
1990 levels.  They have taken many expensive steps to do so,
implemented many more controls than in the US, and have gas prices as
much as double those in the US.  During the period since 1990, most of
these countries, unlike the US and China and India, have been in a deep
and extended economic recession, which tends to suppress the growth of
fossil fuel consumption.  Also, the CO2 numbers for countries like
Russia and Germany benefit greatly from the fall of the old Communist
Block, as their 1990 base year CO2 numbers include many horribly
inefficient and polluting Soviet industries that have since been shut
down.  And, given all this, they STILL are going to miss
their numbers.  These countries have experienced reductions in economic
growth orders of magnitude greater than this 0.12 percent quoted by the
UN, and that still is not enough to reduce CO2 to target levels.  Only
outright contraction of the world's economy is going to suffice [note:
A strong commitment to replacing coal plants with nuclear might be a
partial solution, but it will never happen because the people calling
for CO2 controls are the same ones who shut down our nuclear programs.
Also, technological change is always possible.  It would be awesome if
someone found a way to roll out sheets of efficient solar cells like
carpet out of Dalton, Georgia, but that has not happened yet.]

The UN has gotten to such low cost estimates for their
government controls because they have convinced themselves, much like
the promoters of building football stadiums for billionaire team
owners, that they will get a huge return from the government CO2

"There is high
agreement and much evidence that mitigation actions can result in
near-term co-benefits, for example improved health due to reduced air
pollution, that may offset a substantial fraction of mitigation costs,"
said the report, which summarizes research over five years of more than
2,000 of the world's top climate-change scientists...

The U.N. panel embraced the arguments of British economist
Nicholas Stern, who concluded last year that the cost of taking tough
measures to curb pollution will be repaid in the long run.

Stern?  Haven't we heard that name before?  Why, yes we have.  He is
the man that said that all of the world's climate problems would go
away if we forced all the western economies to look just like India.

Stern, the former chief economist of the World Bank, sends out a very
clear message: "We need to cut down the total amount of carbon
emissions by half by 2050." At current levels, the per capita global
emissions stand at 7 tonnes, or a total of 40-45 gigatonnes. At this
rate, global temperatures could rise by 2.5-3 degrees by then. But to
reduce the per capita emissions by half in 2050, most countries would
have to be carbon neutral. For instance, the US currently has, at 20-25
tonnes, per capita emissions levels that are three times the global

The European Union's emission levels stand at 10-15
tonnes per capita. China is at about 3-4 tonnes per capita and India,
at 1 tonne per capita, is the only large-sized economy that is below
the desired carbon emission levels of 2050. "India should keep it that way and insist that the rich countries pay their share of the burden in reducing emissions," says Mr Stern.

by the way, is exactly my point.  I very much hope Mr. Stern continues
to make this clear in public.  One of the ways catastrophists support
their cause of massive government interventionism is to try to portray
the answer as little cutsie actions, like your 5-year-old helping with
the recycling
.  This is not what is require to meet these targets.
What is required is ratchet down the US economy until we are all about
as wealthy as the average Indian.  I guess that would at least take
care of the outsourcing "problem."

One of the ways that the UN gets away with this is that no
one has the time to read the detailed scientific report, and so
reporters rely on the summaries like these.  Unfortunately, the same
people who write the scientific sections are not the people who write
the summaries.  Careful language about uncertainties, which are still
huge, in the science are replaced by summaries written by politicians
that say:

The near-final draft,
approved Friday by representatives of more than 140 governments meeting
in Valencia, Spain, said global warming is "unequivocal" and said man's
actions are heading toward "abrupt or irreversible climate changes and

"This will be viewed by all as a definitive report. It is
the blueprint for the Bali talks," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who
will be at the Indonesian U.N. meeting beginning Dec. 3 as part of a
U.S. senatorial delegation.

technique used by the UN that we see in play here is their willingness
to cherry-pick one author that follows the UN narrative to refute a
whole body of science that is contrary to the narrative.  Thus, the UN
latched onto Michael Mann's hockey stick to overturn a consensus that
there was a Medieval warm period, and now they have latched onto
Nicholas Stern to overturn the opinion of, approximately, every other
economist in the world who think CO2 mitigation will be really

As always, you are encourage to view my movie What is Normal:  A Critique of Catastrophic Man-Made Global Warming Theory or check out my book (free online) called A Skeptical Layman's Guide to Anthropogenic Global Warming.

By the way, in the title I put "new" in quotes.  Here is why.  I just read a presentation by Dr. Richard Lindzen from 1992 that shows that catastrophists were declaring the debate "over" as early as 1989, before any real research had even been performed:

By early 1989, however, the popular media in Europe and the United States were declaring that "all scientists'' agreed that warming was real and catastrophic in its potential.
In the meantime, the global warming circus was in
full swing. Meetings were going on nonstop. One of the more striking of
those meetings was hosted in the summer of 1989 by Robert Redford at
his ranch in Sundance, Utah. Redford proclaimed that it was time to stop research and begin acting.
I suppose that that was a reasonable suggestion for an actor to make,
but it is also indicative of the overall attitude toward science.
Barbara Streisand personally undertook to support the research of
Michael Oppenheimer at the Environmental Defense Fund, although he is
primarily an advocate and not a climatologist. Meryl Streep made an
appeal on public television to stop warming. A bill was even prepared
to guarantee Americans a stable climate

Anatomy of A False Panic

I am trying to keep most of my long climate posts off this site and over at Climate Skeptic.  However, I have cross-posted this one because it is a good example for laymen of just what crap gets put forward in the media today about global warming.  It demonstrates the gullibility of the media, the gross exaggerations that exist in nearly every climate catastrophe article, and, as an added bonus, demonstrates the scientific incompetence of the man who leads the UN, the organization that has taken onto itself the role of summarizing the state of climate science. 

OK, here is a great example of the media blithely accepting panicky catsrophism where none is warranted (Link HT to Maggies Farm)

welcomed Ban Ki Moon to Antarctica with a glass of Johnny Walker Black
Label served "on the rocks" with 40,000-year-old polar ice. But the
researchers delivered an alarming message to the UN Secretary-General
about a potential environmental catastrophe that could raise sea levels
by six metres if an ice sheet covering a fifth of the continent

The polar experts, studying the effects of global warming on the icy
continent that is devoted to science, fear a repeat of the 2002
collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf. The 12,000-year-old shelf was 220
metres (720ft) thick and almost the size of Yorkshire.

"I was told by scientists that the entire Western Antarctica is now
floating. That is a fifth of the continent. If it broke up, sea levels
may rise as much as six metres," Mr Ban said after being briefed at the
Chilean, Uruguayan and South Korean bases during a day trip to King
George Island, at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. ...

Eduardo Frei Montalva Air Force Base, a year-round settlement of
corrugated-iron cabins belonging to Chile, lies in one of the world's
worst "hot spots" "“ temperatures have been rising 0.5C (0.9F) a decade
since the 1940s.

I don't even know where to start with this.  So I will just fire off some bullets:

  • Over the last 30 years, satellites have found absolutely no warming trend in Antarctica  (from UAH via Steven Milloy):


  • The tail is measuring the dog.  The Korean station
    couldn't possibly be more irrelevent to measuring Antarctic
    temperatures.  It is on an island labelled 26-34 north of the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula in the map below.  One might as well declare she is measuring temperatures in the continental US from Key West.


  • It is well known that the Antarctic Penninsula,
    representing 2% of Antactica's area, is warming while the other 98% is
    cooling.  I discussed this more here.
    Al Gore took the same disingenuous step in his movie of showing only
    the anomolous 2%.  The Antarctic Penninsula in the first graph below shows
    warming.  The rest of Antarctica shows none  (click to enlarge)

Antarc35_2 Antarc34 Antarc33_2

  • The IPCC (run by the Secretary General and his organization) predicts that with global warming, the
    Antarctic penninsula will see net melting while the rest of Antarctica
    will see net increases in ice.  The penninsula is affected more by the
    changing temperatures of sea currents in the surrounding seas than in
    global climate effects.  For most of Antarctica, temperatures will
    never concieveably warm enough to melt the ice sheets, since it is so
    cold even in the summer, and ice sheets are expected to expand as
    warming increases precipitation on the continent.
  • Scientists studying Antarctica have been there at most a few
    decades.  We know almost nothing about it or its histroy.  We certainly
    don't know enough about "what is normal" to have any clue if activities
    on the Larson B ice shelf are anomolous or not.
  • The UN Sec-gen said that this ice shelf represented a fifth of
    the continent.  Here, in actuality, is the Larsen ice shelf.  The red
    box below greatly exaggerates Larsen's size, and Larsen-B is only a portion
    of the entire Larsen shelf.


  • The statement that the entire Western Antarctic is floating is
    just absurd.  God knows what that is supposed to mean, but even if we
    ignore the word "floating", we can see from the map above we aren't
    even talking about a significant portion of the Antarctic Pennninsula,
    much less of Western Antarctica.  Here are actual pictures of the 2002 event.  (by the way, if ice is really "floating", presumably in sea water, then it's melting will have zero effect on ocean levels)
  • Such a feared collapse already happened 5 years ago, and sea levels did not budge.  But
    the next time it happens, sea levels are going to rise 20 feet??  Even
    the UN's IPCC does not think sea levels will rise more than 8-12 inches
    in the next century due to their overblown temperature forecasts.

As always, you can consult my my book and my movie (both free online) for more details on all these topics.

Worst Ever

One of the recurring themes in my climate video "What is Normal?" is that despite the fact that we have only observed climate for about 100 years, and have only studied it with modern tools like satellites for about 30 years, we want to insist on calling some condition "unusual."  My favorite example of late was when a number of news sources claimed "Arctic Ice at All-Time Low."  Really?  The lowest in the 6 billion year history of Earth?  Well, no, "all-time" means since satellite measurement began ... 28 years ago.  (By the way, the simultaneous story that Antarctic ice hit an "all-time" high on the exact same date failed to be mentioned in the press for some reason).

has a great post (mercifully unrelated to climate, for all of you with climate fatigue):"¦

As the price of crude oil approaches $100 a barrel, New Englanders are bracing for their most expensive winter ever.

May I suggest that the average family expended more hours of labor
to procure their firewood in 1650, and more hours of labor to procure
their coal in 1750, and more hours to procure their gas in 1850 than
they are spending, today, to heat their (much larger, much better
furnished) homes today?

I swear, whenever a journalist says the word "ever" I hear
"since I was in high school, or since 1990, whichever was more
recent"¦and I was drunk at the time, so I honestly can't tell you which
one that was".


More Ways to Watch My Climate Video

There has been a lot of interest in my new climate video.  Already we have nearly 450 1500 views at Google video and over 200 700 downloads of the video.  I am now releasing the video through YouTube.

YouTube requires that all videos be under 10 minutes, so I have broken the film into six parts.  If you want to just preview a portion, the second half of the fourth film and the first half of the fifth are probably the most critical.

A Youtube Playlist for the film is here.  This is a cool feature I have not used before, but will effectively let you run the parts end to end, making the 50-minute video more or less seamless. 

The individual parts are:

Climate Video Part 1:  Introduction; how greenhouse gases work; historical climate reconstructions
Climate Video Part 2:  Historical reconstructions; problems with proxies
Climate Video part 3:  How much warming is due to man; measurement biases; natural cycles in climate
Climate Video Part 4:  Role of the sun; aerosols and cooling; climate sensitivity; checking forecasts against history
Climate Video Part 5:  Positive and negative feedback;  hurricanes.
Climate Video Part 6:  Melting ice and rising oceans; costs of CO2 abatement; conclusions.

You may still stream the entire climate film from Google Video here. (the video will stutter between the 12 and 17 second marks, and then should run fine)

You may download a 258MB full resolution Windows Media version of the film by right-clicking here.

You may download a 144MB full resolution Quicktime version of the film by right-clicking here.

Things I Didn't Know

The length of a day varies slightly year by year.  I would presume this is due to small changes in the Earth's core, which would effect angular momentum.  I wonder if the water cycle on the earth (ie moving water from the ocean say to lakes or high-altitude ice) measurably affects angular momentum.


Things I Didn't Know

The length of a day varies slightly year by year.  I would presume this is due to small changes in the Earth's core, which would effect angular momentum.  I wonder if the water cycle on the earth (ie moving water from the ocean say to lakes or high-altitude ice) measurably affects angular momentum.