The Sky is Falling ... The Sky is Falling - Lecture One
I found this piece on Reuters recently.... in part it reads...
HOBART (Reuters) - Rising sea levels and melting polar ice-sheets are at upper limits of projections, leaving some human population centers already unable to cope, top world scientists say as they analyze latest satellite data.
A United Nations report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in February projected sea level gains of 18-59 centimeters (7-23 inches) this century from temperature rises of 1.8-4.0 Celsius (3.2-7.8 Fahrenheit).
"Observations are in the very upper edge of the projections," leading Australian marine scientist John Church told Reuters.
"I feel that we're getting uncomfortably close to threshold," said Church, of Australia's CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research said.
Past this level, parts of the Antarctic and Greenland would approach a virtually irreversible melting that would produce sea level rises of meters, he said.
The Antarctic Peninsula is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth, and glaciers are in massive retreat.
So they are telling us that this that this is one overt sign and outcome of global warming ... interestingly, two years eariler .. during a period of time firmly entrenched in our out of control cycle of human caused global warming the magazine Science published a piece that carried this headline: "Ice and snow piling up over a large area of Antarctica "
- 19 May 2005 - According to a new study published in the online edition of Science, the East Antarctic Ice Sheet gained about 45 billion tons of ice between 1992 and 2003. The ice sheets are several kilometers thick in places, and contain about 90% of the world's ice.
Using data from the European Space Agency's radar satellites ERS-1 and ERS-2, a research team from the University of Missouri, Columbia, measured changes in altitude over about 70% of Antarctica's interior. East Antarctica thickened at an average rate of about 1.8 centimeters per year over the time period studied, the researchers discovered.
This means that most of the world's glaciers are growing thicker … while the media keeps yelling about the ones that are melting.
Also from 2005 comes this bit of environmental enlightenment from Reuters from the journal Science:
20 Oct 2005 - Greenland 's ice-cap has thickened slightly in recent years despite wide predictions of a thaw, scientists said today. Satellite measurements show that more snowfall is thickening the ice-cap, especially at high altitudes, according to the report in the journal Science.
"The overall ice thickness changes are ... approximately plus 5 cms (1.9 inches) a year or 54 cms (21.26 inches) over 11 years," according to the experts at Norwegian, Russian and U.S. institutes led by Ola Johannessen at the Mohn Sverdrup center for Global Ocean Studies and Operational Oceanography in Norway.
So it's melting and building ... But if the melting is - according to the "experts" is consistent with global warming ... what about this build-up? Apparently, no problem, because the article goes on to explain that the "build-up is consistent with global warming."
Another "true" indicator that we are headed for a human caused Climatic Armageddon is the "massive" retreat of the world's glaciers.
National Geographic News headlined a story that originally appeared in the Contra Costa Times ... from August 2002:
"Glaciers Melting Worldwide, Study Finds
Robert S. Boyd Contra Costa Times August 21, 2002
New surveys from satellites and aircraft document an alarming acceleration in the melting of glaciers around the world."
It goes on to say ...
"The swift retreat of these great ice streams is helping to raise ocean levels and is threatening significant changes in human, animal, and plant life—some good, but mostly bad.
... Like a canary in a coal mine, the dwindling of the glaciers is visible evidence that the earth really is getting hotter.
"Receding and wasting glaciers are a chief telltale sign that global climate change is real and accelerating," said Jeffrey Kargel, a glacier expert with the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Most of Earth's 160,000 glaciers have been slowly shrinking and thinning for more than a century as the climate warms up from both natural causes and human activity."
Oh, my God, it MUST be happening ... but wait, in February of this year, the Hindustan Times ran this piece, "Experts question theory on global warming (Himalayan glaciers not shrinking)"
"New Delhi - 11 Feb 07 - Some glacial experts have questioned the alarmists theory on global warming leading to shrinkage of Himalayan glaciers. VK Raina, a leading glaciologist and former ADG of GSI is one among them.
He feels that the research on Indian glaciers is negligible. Nothing but the remote sensing data forms the basis of these alarmists observations and not on-the-spot research.
Raina told the Hindustan Times that out of 9,575 glaciers in India, research has been conducted only on about 50. Nearly 200 years data has shown that nothing abnormal has occurred in any of these glaciers.
The issue of glacial retreat is being sensationalised by a few individuals, Raina claimed.
"Claims of global warming causing glacial melt in the Himalayas are based on wrong assumptions," said Raina
There are only about a dozen scientists working on glaciers in India under the aegis of the Geological Society of India. How can one talk about the state of glaciers when not much research is being done on the ground, he wondered."
Are glaciers shrinking ... some are, however, more than 90 percent of the world's glaciers are growing thicker … while the media keeps yelling about the ones that are melting.
Many people have asked why some glaciers in South America are melting. I think it is perfectly understandable. Remember, we have had two of the strongest El Ninos on record during the past 21 years. During an El Nino, a narrow band of the Pacific Ocean warms by as much as 14 degrees. This band of warm water travels east essentially along the equator until it slams into South America.
It seems logical that the increased rainfall caused by El Nino, plus the warmer winds blowing across the warmer water, could hasten glacial melt. But let me say it again. I do not believe that this is caused by humans, I think it is caused by the El Nino phenomenon.
But, let me point out many glaciers in South America remain stable, and some - including the Pio XI Glacier and the Perito Moreno Glacier - are growing. The Pio XI Glacier is the largest glacier in the southern hemisphere. The Moreno Glacier is the largest glacier in Patagonia.
I find it curious that news reports do not mention these two glaciers.
March 16, 2007, The headlines blared, "Winter has been world's warmest on record" ...
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- This has been the world's warmest winter since record-keeping began more than a century ago, the U.S. government agency that tracks weather reported Thursday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the combined global land and ocean surface temperature from December through February was at its highest since records began in 1880."
The Associated Press ran the SAME story ... from the SAME source .... however, with one difference ... one SLIGHT little difference ...
In the Reuters/CNN piece ... it was stated,
"A record-warm January was responsible for pushing up the combined winter temperature, according to the agency's Web link.
"Contributing factors were the long-term trend toward warmer temperatures, as well as a moderate El Nino in the Pacific," Jay Lawrimore of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center said in a telephone interview from Asheville, North Carolina.
The next-warmest winter on record was in 2004, and the third warmest winter was in 1998, Lawrimore said.
The 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1995.
"We don't say this winter is evidence of the influence of greenhouse gases," Lawrimore said.
Let's compare to the AP piece .. Same material, same source ...
"The report said that during the past century, global temperatures have increased at about 0.11 degrees per decade. But that increase has been three times larger since 1976, NOAA's National Climatic Data Center reported.
Most scientists attribute the rising temperatures to so-called greenhouse gases which are produced by industrial activities, automobiles and other processes. These gases build up in the atmosphere and trap heat from the sun somewhat like a greenhouse.
Also contributing to this winter's record warmth was an El Nino, a periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean."
Alright class ... can you see the difference???
When selling the issue of global warming, it is important to modify certain facts or when these facts or statements are inconvenient - leave them out all together.
Suspiciously absent from the AP report was Lawrimore's statement ... "We don't say this winter is evidence of the influence of greenhouse gases."
But what about El Nino ... This might have proven to be an unavoidable obstacle to mankind being the destroyer of the planet .... Evidentially it proved no problem for the Associated Press' Environmental writers ... simply take a direct quote ... eliminate the quotation marks ... and add a word — suddenly El Nino becomes second banana.
Again here is the phone quote from Lawrimore .. "Contributing factors were the long-term trend toward warmer temperatures, as well as a moderate El Nino in the Pacific."
And now the more Global Warming/Politically Correct Associated Press' pronouncement:
"Also contributing to this winter's record warmth was an El Nino, a periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean."
You can draw your own conclusions ...
But I give you one more item to chaw on ...
Reuters/CNN March 9th of this year ....
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Polar bears, sea ice and global warming are taboo subjects, at least in public, for some U.S. scientists attending meetings abroad, environmental groups and a top federal wildlife official said Thursday.
Environmental activists called this scientific censorship, which they said was in line with the Bush administration's history of muzzling dissent over global climate change."
However, according to an article published on-line in the Telegraph - the first online daily UK newspaper in the UK.
March 9th, 2007
"Pictures of a polar bear floating precariously on a tiny iceberg have become the defining image of global warming but may be misleading, according to a new study.
A survey of the animals' numbers in Canada's eastern Arctic has revealed that they are thriving, not declining, because of mankind's interference in the environment.
In the Davis Strait area, a 140,000-square kilometre region, the polar bear population has grown from 850 in the mid-1980s to 2,100 today.
"There aren't just a few more bears. There are a hell of a lot more bears," said Mitch Taylor, a polar bear biologist who has spent 20 years studying the animals.
His findings back the claims of Inuit hunters who have long claimed that they were seeing more bears."
It is a matter positioning, the act of putting something in a certain place or location. Placement, they will tell you in advertising, is an all important factor in selling the importance of your product. As it is in the world of Human Caused Global Warming.
For example in the often read or heard media line, "Most scientists attribute the rising temperatures to so-called greenhouse gases which are produced by industrial activities, automobiles and other processes. These gases build up in the atmosphere and trap heat from the sun somewhat like a greenhouse," we are told that We humans are the main reason for the "greenhouse" effect that is coming to destroy the climate balance ... Why are temperatures rising, why it's because of greenhouse gases, and what causes those gases? We do ... industrial activities, and those automobiles! Anything else? Oh yeah, "other causes" But since they are not "manmade" they are relegated to barely an honorable mention. See, that proves it Man ... terrible MAN is the villain here ... man, with his big factories belching out bellowing clouds of pollutants into the atmosphere. What about those dag-gum cars ... millions and millions of them (and that, some would argue are found on the freeways around LA, alone) choking the air with tons and tons and tons of Carbon dioxide (the dreaded CO2) each and every day. "It is Humans ... The masters of the universe, the destroyers of the environment that are responsible for all this greenhouse stuff!" Well, it does say "and other processes" ... but how important can this be ... they don't even have names, just "other processes."
Just what are these "other processes" ... well, water vapor, nitrous oxide, and methane, to mention a few.
As an example ,,, and there are so many, in March of 2004, The Associated Press ran a global warming story that made the following statements:
"Carbon dioxide, the gas largely blamed for global warming, has reached record-high levels in the atmosphere after growing at an accelerated pace in the past year..."
"Carbon dioxide, mostly from burning of coal, gasoline and other fossil fuels, traps heat that otherwise would radiate into space."
"Global temperatures increased by about 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.6 degrees Celsius) during the 20th century, and international panels of scientists sponsored by world governments have concluded that most of the warming probably was due to greenhouse gases."
According to Amy Ridenour, the president of The National Center for Public Policy Research,
"Faulty "news" stories like this one, which mislead people all over the world, are one of many alarmist global warming reports by the news media that do not reflect a consensus of scientists. What is more alarming than what scientists genuinely know about global warming is that a media outlet as influential as the AP would run a wire story this faulty, and that so many news editors would be gullible enough to run it."
Well, just how "faulty" are the facts presented in the AP piece and are still trotted out today?
Quote One: The AP said: "Carbon dioxide, the gas largely blamed for global warming, has reached record-high levels in the atmosphere after growing at an accelerated pace in the past year..."
Fact or embellishment? For answers, let's turn to Gerald Marsh, National Center for Public Policy Research National Policy Analysis; Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Richard S. Lindzen, PhD, professor of meteorology at MIT, and member of the National Academy of Sciences panel on climate change
Facts: Carbon dioxide is not the major greenhouse gas (water vapor is).
Carbon dioxide accounts for less than ten percent of the greenhouse effect, as carbon dioxide's ability to absorb heat is quite limited.
Only about 0.03 percent of the Earth's atmosphere consists of carbon dioxide (nitrogen, oxygen, and argon constitute about 78 percent, 20 percent, and 0.93 percent of the atmosphere, respectively).
The sun, not a gas, is primarily to "blame" for global warming -- and plays a very key role in global temperature variations as well.
Quote 2: The AP said: "Carbon dioxide, mostly from burning of coal, gasoline and other fossil fuels, traps heat that otherwise would radiate into space."
Fact: Most of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does not come from the burning of fossil fuels. Only about 14 percent of it does.
Quote 3: The AP said: "Global temperatures increased by about 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.6 degrees Celsius) during the 20th century, and international panels of scientists sponsored by world governments have concluded that most of the warming probably was due to greenhouse gases."
Facts: From the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change we learn that most of 20th Century global warming occurred in the first few decades of that century, before the widespread burning of fossil fuels (and before 82 percent of the increase in atmospheric CO2 observed in the 20th Century7).
I know this is nit-picking but, the Earth does not have "world governments." It doesn't even have even one, as the United Nations is not a government, but an association of nations.
If the AP was referring to the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the AP and other new gathering organizations should become aware that the IPCC report itself (the part written by scientists) reached no consensus on climate change. What did reach a conclusion was an IPCC "summary for policymakers" prepared by political appointees. Most reporters quote only the summary, being either too lazy or too undereducated to understand the actual report. This does not explain, however, why reporters don't more frequently interview scientists who helped prepare it -- scientists such as IPCC participant Dr. Richard Lindzen of MIT, who says the IPCC report is typically "presented as a consensus that involves hundreds, perhaps thousands, of scientists... and none of them was asked if they agreed with anything in the report except for the one or two pages they worked on." Lindzen also draws a sharp distinction between the scientists' document and its politicized summary: "the document itself is informative; the summary is not."
In fact a number of the scientists listed as part of the "2500 leading scientists, worldwide," asked the IPCC to remove their name from a report in which they had no actual input into its contents and/or when they attempted input that ran contrary to the summary conclusions, those statements were ignored and can be found nowhere in the final report. The IPCC ignored these requests and only after some of the 2500 threatened legal action, were their names removed.
Reason Public Policy Institute Senior Environmental Analyst Joel Schwartz, states that,
"While those who believe in global warming cite many observations in support of their conclusions, for those who do not agree, much of that evidence is either open to criticism or deemed inconclusive."
He goes on to say,
"Air pollution is a serious problem in many areas of the world, accounting for significant damage to human health. Unfortunately, efforts that distort these risks or inflate potential benefits of response measures can do great harm to the cause of improving human well being."
And, perhaps more ominously, in a piece titled, F for Science, A for Politics, he contends that,
"It can be a powerful communications tool--school-like letter grades to rank how a government, city, or other entity is tackling a challenge or providing a service. Unfortunately, some groups use simplistic grades to distort and score political points.
We have been discussing the UK4's documentary "The Great Global Warming Swindle" at a forum I belong to that has nothing to do with the environment or science or politics, rather it is Microsoft Flight Simulator site devoted to Vintage Aircraft and the Golden Age of aviation called the Old Hangar so I can assume that the commentary comes not from a scientist or environmentalist – pro or con on the issue. He goes by the screen name of "jimslost" and describers himself as only a "Hopeless FS Addict" but I would add to that, astute observer of the world around him. He writes,
"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the combined global land and ocean surface temperature from December through February was at its highest since records began in 1880."
"Setting aside for a moment the thorny issue of cause and effect as it relates to this issue, how about the more basic question - given the age of the earth or even just the fact that Man in his present form has been walking on it for at least the last 30,000 years, do the temperature records of the last 127 years really constitute a statistically significant sample?"
Let's take a look at a 500 year period Between the 800CE and 1300CE, when Earth's average global temperature may have been warmer than it is today The existence of this Medieval Warm Period was initially deduced from historical weather records and proxy climate data from England and Northern Europe. Interestingly, the warmer conditions associated with this interval of time are known to have had a largely beneficial impact on Earth's plant and animal life. In fact, the environmental conditions of this time period have been determined to have been so favorable that it is often referred to as the Little Climatic Optimum.
The degree of warming associated with the Medieval Warm Period varied from region to region; and, hence, its consequences were manifested in a number of different ways. In Europe, temperatures reached some of the warmest levels of the last 4,000 years, allowing enough grapes to be successfully grown in England to sustain an indigenous wine industry. Contemporaneously, horticulturists in China extended their cultivation of citrus trees and perennial herbs further and further northward, resulting in an expansion of their ranges that reached its maximum extent in the 13th century. Considering the climatic conditions required to successfully grow these species, it has been estimated that annual mean temperatures in the region may have been about 1.0 °C higher than at present, with extreme January minimum temperatures fully 3.5 °C warmer than they are today.
In North America, tree-ring chronologies from the southern Canadian Rockies have provided evidence for higher tree-lines and wider ring-widths between 950 and 1100 A.D., suggesting warmer temperatures and more favorable growing conditions. Similar results have been derived from tree-ring analyses of bristlecone pines in the White Mountains of California, where much greater growth was recorded in the 11th and 12th centuries. By analyzing 13C/12C ratios in the rings of these trees, it was also found that soil moisture conditions were more favorable in this region during the Medieval Warm Period. Simultaneous increases in precipitation were additionally found to have occurred in monsoonal locations of the United States desert southwest, where there are indications of increased lake levels from A.D. 700-1350. Other data document vast glacial retreats during the Medieval Warm Period in parts of South America, Scandinavia, New Zealand and Alaska; and ocean-bed cores suggest global sea surface temperatures were warmer then as well.
In the area of human enterprise, the climatic conditions of the Medieval Warm Period proved providential. The Arctic ice pack, for example, substantially retreated, allowing the settlement of both Iceland and Greenland; while alpine passes normally blocked with snow and ice became traversable, opening trade routes between Italy and Germany. Contemporaneously, on the northern Colorado Plateau in America, the Anasazi Indian civilization reached its climax, as warmer temperatures and better soil moisture conditions allowed them to farm a region twice as large as is presently possible. Certainly food for thought.
In March of 2002, Science published a study claiming that a tree ring analysis found striking similarities between 20th century increases in global temperature and the Medieval Warm Period -- a period lasting from 1330 AD to 1600 AD which saw similar increases in temperature.
Researchers examined ancient tree rings at 14 sties on three continents. According to Edward Cook of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory,
"We don't use this as a refutation of greenhouse warming, but it does show that there are processes within the Earth's natural climate system that produce large changes that might be viewed as comparable to what we have seen in the 20th century."
Not surprisingly, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's climate models simply ignored the Medieval Warm Period. The models simply compare current temperatures to those of the immediately preceding pre-industrial societies. It is almost as if the Medieval Warm Period simply never happened as far as the IPCC is concerned, which makes it a lot easier to claim the current warming trend is completely unprecedented and, therefore, must be due to human-induced changes in the climate.
However, that report also elicited this response from science writer Ken Miles,
"While I haven't read the newspaper article, I have read the Science paper on which it is based*, and it should be noted that the MWP is comparable to modern temperature change up until 1990**. Since then, the temperature has only increased, and at a rate far exceeding the MWP. Therefore the current warming is significantly greater than the MWP and increasing at a rate far faster than what has been observed in human history. This is supportive of the conclusion that human activity is playing a significant role in the recent warming."
Scientists now believe that the temperatures in the MWP may have been as much as ten degrees warmer globally, allowing certain crops to be grown more than 300 miles further North than they now are able.
Does this pose a problem for the "Our Global Warming is better (or worse, if you will) than yours."Not in the least ... The research was questioned; the 2001 IPCC report summarizes this research, saying "…current evidence does not support globally synchronous periods of anomalous cold or warmth over this time frame, and the conventional terms of 'Little Ice Age' and 'Medieval Warm Period' appear to have limited utility in describing trends in hemispheric or global mean temperature changes in past centuries".
It goes on to state ... "During the MWP wine grapes were grown in Europe as far north as southern Britain although less extensively than they are today (however, factors other than climate strongly influence the commercial success of vineyards, such as advancements in the agrarian sciences, proper land use practices, etc.) So one would suspect that if the climatic change isn't "global" than it doesn't count.
According to the headline that touted that "U.S. HAS ITS WARMEST WINTER ON RECORD," citing the NOAA ... and again I quote from the Reuters/CNN story,
"This has been the world's warmest winter since record-keeping began more than a century ago, the U.S. government agency that tracks weather reported Thursday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the combined global land and ocean surface temperature from December through February was at its highest since records began in 1880."
We look to NOAA's website for the damning information and here is what we find. Related to the news piece, we find two stories ... one indeed carries the headline .. U.S. has its warmest winter on record ... but the complete headline reads, "U.S. HAS ITS WARMEST WINTER ON RECORD, 1999-2000, NOAA REPORTS"
But I thought news was "immediate" and relevant to things happening "today". Was NOAA silent on this past winter? No, but while they don't give you details of the article referencing the winter of 2007, the Reuters/CNN piece does provide a proper link. The NOAA headline reads,
"NOAA SAYS U.S. WINTER TEMPERATURE NEAR AVERAGE" but it is the sub-headline that the news organizations grabbed on to ... and misquoted. That headline reads ... "Global December-February Temperature Warmest on Record"
Make no mistake, we are indeed experiencing warming, Global? To be sure ... but not without regional exceptions. Also, make no mistake that the data being released is relaxant, but so too is the historical data that can be obtained by examining the Medieval Warm Period. But to dismiss it because to embrace the similarities and to try to better understand how our ancestors coped with and took advantage of their environment, would be to man and man alone is the culprit when it comes to climate change.
If not mighty man, then who or what else could be the major player in the change that is occurring?
Earth is heating up, but so are Mars, Pluto and other worlds in our solar system. This is leading some scientists to speculate that a change in the sun's activity is the common thread linking all these baking events.
But others argue that such claims are misleading and create the false impression that rapid global warming, as Earth is experiencing, is a natural phenomenon.
While evidence suggests fluctuations in solar activity can affect climate on Earth, and that it has done so in the past, the many of climate scientists and astrophysicists agree that the sun is not to blame for the current and historically sudden uptick in global temperatures on Earth, which they contend seems to be mostly a mess created by our own species.
Habibullo Abdussamatov, the head of space research at St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, recently linked the attenuation of ice caps on Mars to fluctuations in the sun's output. Abdussamatov also blamed solar fluctuations for Earth's current global warming trend. His initial comments were published online by National Geographic News.
"Man-made greenhouse warming has [made a] small contribution [to] the warming on Earth in recent years, but [it] cannot compete with the increase in solar irradiance," Abdussamatov told LiveScience in an email interview last week. "The considerable heating and cooling on the Earth and on Mars always will be practically parallel."
But Abdussamatov's critics say the Red Planet's recent thawing is more likely due to natural variations in the planet's orbit and tilt. On Earth, these wobbles, known as Milankovitch cycles, are thought to contribute to the onset and disappearance ice ages.
"It's believed that what drives climate change on Mars are orbital variations," said Jeffrey Plaut, a project scientist for NASA's Mars Odyssey mission. "The Earth also goes through orbital variations similar to that of Mars."
As for Abdussamatov's claim that solar fluctuations are causing Earth's current global warming, Charles Long, a climate physicist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratories in Washington, says the idea is nonsense.
"That's nuts," Long said in a telephone interview. "It doesn't make physical sense that that's the case."
In 2005, Long's team published a study in the journal Science showing that Earth experienced a period of "solar global dimming" from 1960 to 1990, during which time solar radiation hitting our planet's surface decreased. Then from the mid-1990's onward, the trend reversed and Earth experienced a "solar brightening."
These changes were not likely driven by fluctuations in the output of the Sun, Long explained, but rather increases in atmospheric clouds or aerosols that reflected solar radiation back into space. Once again, it's OUR fault.
However, more difficult to explain away as simply Human disregard for the planet (Make no mistake that we have NOT been stellar stewards of the planet) is the anomalous warming on other worlds in our solar system.
Benny Peiser, a social anthropologist at Liverpool John Moores University who monitors studies and news reports of asteroids, global warming and other potentially apocalyptic topics, points out that,
"Global warming on Neptune's moon Triton as well as Jupiter and Pluto, and now Mars has some [scientists] scratching their heads over what could possibly be in common with the warming of all these planets … Could there be something in common with all the planets in our solar system that might cause them all to warm at the same time?"
Peiser included quotes from recent news articles that take up other aspects of the idea.
"I think it is an intriguing coincidence that warming trends have been observed on a number of very diverse planetary bodies in our solar system," Peiser said in an email interview. "Perhaps this is just a fluke."
In fact, scientists have alternative explanations for the anomalous warming on each of these other planetary bodies.
The warming on Triton, for example, could be the result of an extreme southern summer on the moon, a season that occurs every few hundred years, as well as possible changes in the makeup of surface ice that caused it to absorb more of the Sun's heat.
Researchers credited Pluto's warming to possible eruptive activity and a delayed thawing from its last close approach to the Sun in 1989.
And the recent storm activity on Jupiter is being blamed on a recurring climatic cycle that churns up material from the gas giant's interior and lofts it to the surface, where it is heated by the Sun.
The radiation output of the Sun does fluctuate over the course of its 11-year solar cycle. But the change is only about one-tenth of 1 percent—not substantial enough to affect Earth's climate in dramatic ways, and certainly not enough to be the sole culprit of our planet's current warming trend, scientists say.
"The small measured changes in solar output and variations from one decade to the next are only on the order of a fraction of a percent, and if you do the calculations not even large enough to really provide a detectable signal in the surface temperature record," said Penn State meteorologist Michael Mann.
The link between solar activity and global warming is just another scapegoat for human-caused warming, Mann told LiveScience.
"Solar activity continues to be one of the last bastions of contrarians," Mann said. "People who don't accept the existence of anthropogenic climate change still try to point to solar activity."
This is not to say that solar fluctuations never influence Earth's climate in substantial ways. During a 75-year period beginning in 1645, astronomers detected almost no sunspot activity on the Sun. Called the "Maunder Minimum," this event coincided with the coldest part of the Little Ice Age, a 350-year cold spell that gripped much of Europe and North America.
Recent studies have cast doubt on this relationship, however. New estimates of the total change in the brightness of the Sun during the Maunder Minimum suggest it was only fractions of a percent, and perhaps not enough to create the global cooling commonly attributed to it.
"The situation is pretty ambiguous," said David Rind, a senior climate researcher at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who has modeled the Maunder Minimum.
Based on current estimates, even if another Maunder Minimum were to occur, it might result in an average temperature decrease of about 2 degrees Fahrenheit, Rind said.
This would still not be enough to counteract warming of between 2 to 12 degrees Fahrenheit from greenhouse gases by 2100, as predicted by the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.
So once again, if there are other instances that display similar conditions, namely indications of planetary "warming" going on our solar system neighbors, this does not easily fit the current Politically correct assertion it is the fault of a human species run amok, the result are written off as being coincidence or"just a fluke." If something doesn't fit the model, ignore or trivialize it.
Global Warming is real and can't be ignored, its impact on humanity can and will be dramatic and even catastrophic if we are unprepared for massive climate change. But equally catastrophic would be to be myopic in our focus for finding and understanding its cause. When that happens, the tendency is to become obsessed with finger pointing rather than coming up with effective solutions for dealing with this new environment.
One would expect that the problem would best rest within the world of science, "sound science."
But can they be trusted? Especially when it is possible that science today has less to do with science than it does politics.
That topic was recently addressed in an article by Iain Murray, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
In his piece titled, "Our Science Can Beat Up Your Science: Playing Politics with Data", Murray suggests that a new front in the war over "sound science."
In it, Murray argues that this new front officially opened on February 29, 2004 with the publication of a Washington Post Op-Ed by former American Prospect Online editor Chris Mooney, "Beware 'Sound Science.' It's Doublespeak for Trouble." In this article, Mooney argues that the Bush administration has twisted the idea of "sound science" so that "instead of allowing facts to inform policies, preexisting political commitments have twisted facts and tainted information." He warns that, as a result, "The once-cooperative relationship between politicians and scientists in this country seems to be in serious jeopardy." But Murray writes that a "Yet a close look at the facts reveals that Mooney's argument is as much doublespeak as anything he criticizes the administration for."
In the op-ed, Mooney accuses the Bush administration of putting "the policy before the science" of global warming. However, he uses a sleight of hand or two to misrepresent the state of the debate. Mooney argues that the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has confirmed that global warming is occurring.
Murray says that, "This is true. But then he asserts that the IPCC found that this was happening "thanks to our relentless pumping of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere." This is a distortion of the facts, one commonly believed because of unsatisfactory summaries of the scientific findings in the IPCC report. Mooney further alleges that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) "confirmed the IPCC's findings," thereby embarrassing the president."
Even the IPCC lead author and NAS contributor Richard Lindzen of MIT has repeatedly said, these characterizations of the state of the science are inaccurate.
Writing recently in Canada's Hill Times newspaper, he said,
"[I]t is quite wrong to say that our NAS study endorsed the credibility of the IPCC assessment report. We were asked to evaluate the IPCC "Summary for Policymakers" (SPM), the only part of the IPCC reports that is ever read or quoted by the media and politicians. The SPM, which is seen as endorsing Kyoto, is commonly presented as the consensus of thousands of the world's foremost climate scientists. In fact, it is no such thing. Largely for that reason, the NAS panel concluded that the SPM does not provide suitable guidance for the U.S. government...
The full IPCC report, most of which is written by scientists about specific scientific topics in their areas of expertise, is an admirable description of research activities in climate science. It is not, however, directed at policy. The SPM is, of course, but it is also a very different document. It represents a consensus of government representatives, rather than of scientists. As a consequence, the SPM has a strong tendency to disguise uncertainty, and conjures up some scary scenarios for which there is no evidence.
Similarly, in the case of our NAS report, far too much attention was paid to the hastily prepared summary rather than to the body of the report. The summary claimed that greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Yet, the full text noted that 20 years was too short a period for estimating long term trends, a crucial point that the summary neglected to mention. Our primary conclusion was that despite some knowledge and agreement, the science is by no means settled. "
Murray asks the question; "So who is misrepresenting the science, the Bush administration or its political opponents? The doublespeak surely comes from those who claim reports say one thing when the text says another. Far from making the policy choice first, in the area of global warming the administration seeks a careful review of the actual science, not just a brief reading of an unsatisfactory summary.
The idea that either Left or Right has a monopoly on the correct interpretation of science is dangerous nonsense. Attacks on the idea of sound science, whether in the pages of the Washington Post or in a report from the politically active Union of Concerned Scientists, represent attempts to promote "our science" over "their science."
Sound science remains a useful concept, preserving the usefulness of the tool by applying objective rules that discount political considerations. That is why both Congress — through the Federal Data Quality Act — and the Supreme Court — through the Daubert Ruling on admissibility of scientific evidence — have recognized the need for such rules. Condemning objective rules because you don't like the political results of those rules helps no one other than partisan forces. Science needs to rise above that."
Just as it is important to counteract arguments from those who would sow fake "uncertainty" in the climate debate. It is equally important that we view with a skeptical and hopefully reasoned eye reports from those who are unjustifiably certain about our knowledge, let us look at a recent example of the opposite tendency: too much certainty.
A the recent BBC Horizon documentary raising the issue of 'global dimming', it argued that this 'killer' phenomena's newly-recognized existence would lead to huge re-assessments of future global warming. As part of the hyperbole, the process of global dimming was linked very clearly to the famines in Ethiopia in the 1980s and the implication was left that worse was to come. Media reports with headlines like "Fossil Fuel Curbs May Speed Global Warming" swiftly followed.
This prompted Beate Liepert, of The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, at Columbia and who was interviewed by the BBC for the documentary to write,
"I haven't yet seen the documentary. I have only read the transcript and hence was spared the pictures of the potential apocalypse and the invocation of biblical-scale famines."
He goes on to, I believe, accurately remind us that,
"Currently, the best climate models include estimates of all these effects: anthropogenic greenhouse gas forcings, aerosols, natural solar cycles, and volcanic eruptions."
He also left us this warning,
"Finally a comment on language. It concerns me that articles from scientists and journalists alike have a tendency to use biblical and apocalyptic terms. This might be an appropriate way to describe a baroque church in Bavaria or a painting of P.P. Rubens but I would rather keep this emotive language out of scientific discussions."
Global warming, and the climate changes that may result from it, is a source of concern to many people, and rightfully so. Radical changes in climate could cause severe disruption to ecosystems and human societies, regardless of the underlying causes of that change.
We know that nature can kill. What most people don't know is that stupid ideas about nature can kill, too.
Let me illustrate, in 2004, Ron Bailey, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, testified before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.
Let me read to you excerpts from his testimony,
Since the hearing was devoted to trying to assess the impacts of scientific information on public policy, Bailey took a look back at the forecasts of what the state of the planet was predicted to be at the end of the last millennium. He did so by chiefly at past predictions dealing with three topics: depletion of nonrenewable resources, global population growth and famine, and projected rates of species extinction.
"First, let us look at concerns over depleting so-called nonrenewable resources. This thesis was most famously propounded in the 1972 Limits to Growth report to the Club of Rome and later in President Jimmy Carter's Global 2000 report. The Limits to Growth thesis got a big boost when the Arab countries unleashed their oil embargo in 1973. It didn't hurt that the Limits to Growth report was also featured on the front page of The New York Times when it was released.
Ultimately, the report sold 10 million copies worldwide.
The Limits to Growth report includes a table listing all the resources that were supposedly going to run out. The report's authors projected that, at the exponential growth rates they expected to occur, known world supplies of zinc, gold, tin, copper, oil, and natural gas would be completely exhausted in 1992.
Harrison Brown, a respected member of the National Academy of Sciences, published predictions in Scientific American in 1970 which estimated that humanity would totally run out of copper by 2000, and that lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver would all be gone by 1990.
In 1976, MacArthur Foundation Fellow and Heinz Award in Environment laureate Paul Ehrlich chimed in with his book, The End of Affluence. He stated that "before 1985 mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity...in which the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be facing depletion." In 1980, the Carter administration issued its gloomy Global 2000 report, which projected that the price of oil in 1995 would be $40 per barrel in 1979 dollars.
In the 1990s, textbooks like The United States and Its People told impressionable schoolchildren that "some scientists estimate that the world's known supplies of oil, tin, copper, and aluminum will be used up within your lifetime." Another textbook, Concepts and Challenges in Earth Science, asserts that once "nonrenewable resources are used up, their supplies are gone" (just try arguing with logic like that!). A science text, Biology, An Everyday Experience, connects the dots to draw the obvious conclusion: "Governments must help save our fossil fuel supply by passing laws limiting their use."
In a 1990 Forbes magazine piece, Bailey traveled up to MIT to interview Professor Jay Forrester and asked him, "I re-read The Limits to Growth report; what happened?" Basically,
Professor Forrester, who was the godfather of this project, told him, "I think we stressed the physical resources side a little too much." Of course, the report would not have made it to the front page of The New York Times had they not stressed the imminent depletion of nonrenewable resources.
On the topic of population growth, Bailey cited a 1968 book by Stanford University biologist,
Paul Ehrlich, who predicted with great certainty that "The battle to feed all humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will undergo famines; hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now." He went on to say,
"For the first Earth Day in 1970, Ehrlich, in an article entitled "Eco-Catastrophe" in The Progressive magazine, offered a scenario in which four billion people would starve to death between 1980 and 1989, 65 million of whom would be Americans.
Ehrlich is not alone in making dire predictions of imminent global famine. Lester Brown, the founder of the Worldwatch Institute, declared in 1981 that "the period of global food security is
over. As the demand for food continues to press against supply, inevitably real food prices will rise. The question no longer seems to be whether they will rise, but how much." In 1994, Brown wrote in his annual State of the World report: "The world's farmers can no longer be counted on to feed the projected additions to the world's population." And Brown warned in his 1997 report: 'Food scarcity will be the defining issue of the new era now unfolding, much as ideological conflict was the defining issue of the historical era that recently ended." He continues: "rising food prices will be the first major economic indicator to show that the world economy is on an environmentally unsustainable path.'"
Well what did happen? The population has exploded, going from roughly 1.6 billion in 1900 to an estimated 6.5 billion plus today. What happened? As Harvard University demographer Nicholas Eberstadt puts it: "Global population increased not because people started breeding like rabbits, but because they stopped dying like flies."
What happened is that babies stopped dying shortly after being born, as had been the case throughout the millennia for human beings. The global infant mortality rate dropped from a couple of hundred per thousand to below 50 per thousand today. The result is that human life expectancy has more than doubled from an average of only 30 years in 1900, rising to 46 years by 1950, and is now 66 years in the year 2001. That is a global figure. The World Health Organization thinks life expectancy will increase to 73 years on average by the year 2020. As Bailey told the committee, "I would submit to you that this is truly evidence for the greatest improvement of the human condition in all of history."
But what about the dire predictions that were made in the 1970s? Bailey says "If famine were somehow miraculously avoided, Paul Ehrlich and Lester Brown both predicted that world population in 2000 would be seven billion people. In fact, as I have already mentioned and as we all know, world population is only a bit over six billion. Keep in mind that there is no predictive theory of demography. However, everyone acknowledges that the rate of world population
growth is rapidly decelerating now."
This decline in the growth rate is going much faster than many people think. According to many other demographers, this impressive drop indicates that the world population trends are likely to track the UN's low variant trend, in which world population will top out at around 7.5 billion or so in 2040 and then begin to drop. Even Nature magazine in July 2001 published work that concludes that it is exceedingly unlikely that world population will ever exceed ten billion people.
What has happened, of course, is that women are having fewer children than they did, dropping from nearly six children per woman in the 1960s to around 2.6 today, and that rate continues to fall. The replacement rate is 2.1 children per woman, and all developed countries have already fallen below that, including the United States.
Finally with regard to species extinction, Bailey says, "Again the predictions by concerned scientists were way off the mark."
In 1970, Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, predicted that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals would be extinct. That is between 75 and 80 percent of all species of living animals would be extinct by 1995.
In 1975, Paul Ehrlich and his biologist wife, Anne Ehrlich, predicted that "since more than nine-tenths of the original tropical rainforests will be removed in most areas within the next 30 years or so, it is expected that half of the organisms in these areas will vanish with it."
In 1979, Oxford University biologist Norman Myers suggested in his book The Sinking Ark that 40,000 species per year were going extinct and that 1 million species would be gone by the year 2000. Myers suggested that the world could "lose one-quarter of all species by the year 2000."
What did happen? Most species that were alive in 1970 are still around today. "Documented animal extinctions peaked in the 1930s, and the number of extinctions has been declining since then," according to Stephen Edwards, an ecologist with the World Conservation Union, a leading international conservation organization whose members are non-governmental organizations, international agencies, and national conservation agencies.
What have we learned, if anything, some would argue "not a thing." The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) release of their Summary to Volume 2 of its Third Assessment Report (TAR) on climate change appears to be carrying on the doomsday, "the end is at hand" traditions exhibited by experts in the 60s and 70s.
Rational policymaking requires an understanding of climate issues that reflects the true state of knowledge, not biased representations used to justify pre-selected policy objectives.
While everyone is rightly concerned about prospective changes in the global climate, it's questionable whether the TAR reports contribute to the process of developing effective climate policies.
The Volume 2 "Summary for Policymakers" makes predictions based on simple models that: do not take into account current or historic climate phenomenon, are not calibrated to observed climate phenomenona, fail to emulate fundamental climate processes, and project a veneer of certainty that is not supportable from underlying technical reports or statements regarding similar exercises made in mainstream science journals.
As Dr. Kenneth Green director of the Environmental Program at Reason Public Policy Institute puts it,
"The ramifications of climate change policy are too far-reaching to be based on distorted representations of the current state of knowledge in either climate science, or climate predictive ability. The newly released summary of IPCC's Third Assessment Report on Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability follows a pattern of policymaker summaries that weaken the link between climate policy and reality, and subvert the goal of ranking environmental policy interventions based on rigorous use of scientific principles."
What are the lessons to be learned from these badly exaggerated predictions of environmental disaster? First, scientists, even well meaning ones, don't know as much as they think they do. They generally go wrong because they ignore or misunderstand how human beings interact with the natural world and with other people, that is, they are largely ignorant of economics.
While Global Warming is indeed, a very clear and present danger, no mater what the actual cause or causes, Global warming has also become the ideal scare campaign for those who are doing all they can to secure strict control over society, business, and the minutest details of individual life.
Sadly, like so many other things that need the focused attention of humankind, manipulation of environmental issues seems to be driven more for political purposes.
As Bailey cautioned Congress, "The problem is that biologists and ecologists tend to think that human beings are merely more clever herds of deer. When deer run out of their sustenance, they die. When human beings begin to run out, they turn their brains and their social institutions to producing more. Science can tell us what may be problems, but it can't tell us what to do about them. Solutions depend on a deep understanding of human values, politics, and economics. Scientists are no more qualified to pronounce on those topics than their non-scientific confreres and fellow citizens.
Policy makers must be very cautious about rushing to adopt policies to respond to alleged environmental crises. As physicist Edward Teller reminded us: 'Highly speculative theories of worldwide destruction—even of the end of life on Earth—used as a call for a particular kind of political action serve neither the good reputation of science nor dispassionate political thought.'"
You hear it everywhere. Catastrophic Global Warming is a fact. It is here. It is now unstoppable. We are assured that scientists are in near total agreement with the assessment.
The media is in a frenzy, rushing to report the latest news release from special interest groups with the latest report or prediction. Al Gore wins an academy award for his hi tech (though somewhat flawed) docudrama. Corporations are being forced to turn "green" to show their "corporate social responsibility" in the wake of the coming disaster.
Catastrophic Global Climate Change has become Catastrophic "Human-Caused" Global Warming. As such, it has become no more than a euphemism for a political agenda.
It has become a religion run by fanatics reminiscent of the leaders of the darkest days of the Inquisition that nearly destroyed civil society only a few hundred years ago.
Instead of identifying probable causes to help us develop plans for dealing with and adapting to change, we are using this for a platform for something that seems to be the dominate trait of our species, namely finger pointing. For some groups on the left, it has become a "bully pulpit" to condemn technology and as such the potential of man. For others, it is a way for the "outs" to challenge the "ins."
Solutions are offered more as "feel good" statements and no one seems to challenge them on the basis of their realistic feasability or their potential to not only, not really address the problem, but also to create more harm than any possible good. What comes to mind is that many of these so-called solutions do more to repress the down trodden than to protect the species.
By deluding ourselves to believe that Catastrophic Global Climate Change is "Catastrophic "Human-Caused" Global Warming" we are perpetuating the very dangerous myth that "man is the mater of all he surveys", he is both the reason for all that is good, and the fault for all that is bad. Perhaps this is what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, our incredible arrogance.
But, for whatever the reason ... whatever the cause, Catastrophic Global Climate Change has happened before and will happen again. But in the past, mankind survived. Though enduring varying degrees of hardship. We did so not through a plethora of "scientific studies", mass rallies, concerts, or media hype that seems more concern with stirring up mass hysteria that in turn sells newspapers, drives ratings, and for the scientific community, generates funding, rather the species survived because our ancestors were able to recognize that something was happening, that their world was dramatically changing and they adapted to that change. Obviously they did something right, as we are still here today to talk about it. We forget this undeniable fact, as great as we have convinced ourselves that we are, we are really no more than passengers on a rock that is hurdling through a massive cosmic shooting gallery. As such, in the final analysis is still comes down to this ... you roll the dice and take your chances, because no matter what you do, think you can do, or should do ... there are no guarantees.
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