Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Having Never Heard of Global Warming

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global warmingItem: Honolulu (KHNL), October 25, 2009 — “Protestors staged a worldwide rally against climate change, and Hawaii joined in on the call for action to stop global warming. It’s an effort to literally draw the line on climate change. Thousands of Hawaii students across the state, including a group at Stadium Park in Honolulu, took part in the ‘Blue Line Project’ on Saturday. Its purpose is to indicate the risk of flooding if the sea level rises one meter. The project also tries to highlight Hawaii’s and other island nations’ vulnerability to climate change, while countries negotiate a new international agreement.”

Item: Aberdeen News columnist Alan Guebert, October 25, 2009 — “For its part, the Pentagon, in two reports (one issued in April, 2007, the other this past May), calls climate change ‘a threat multiplier for instability in some of the world’s most volatile regions, worsening terrorism and likely dragging the United States into conflicts over water and other critical resource shortages.’” Guebert continues, “‘Not only will global warming disrupt the environment,’ testified Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, USN (Ret.) to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee July 21, ‘but its effects will shift the world’s balance of power and money.’”

Item: The Canadian Press, October 25, 2009 — “Thousands of people in cities across Canada and around the world took part in a global day of action yesterday to encourage world leaders to help stop climate change.” The article continues, “The events are organized by 350.org, a group dedicated to reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in air to 350 parts per million. The events kicked off in Australia, where thousands of people formed a large ‘350’ number with their bodies in front of the famous Sydney opera house and displayed placards with the number on the hotspot Bondi Beach.”

Correction: Oh, Global Warming, the things that are done in thy name. Every actual or potential disaster, every drought, every hurricane, dead polar bear, discolored coral reef, or thirsty sequoia tree are all due to humans attempting to live comfortable and productive lives. Really?

But how about analyzing the global-warming situation from a fresh perspective? Specifically, how would one react if he had never even heard of global warming, let alone been subjected to many years of environmental alarmism? Recognizing the difficulty of finding such an untainted observer on our own planet Earth, imagine, if you will, a visiting spaceman from Alpha Centauri. So here we go:

Mr. Centauri, what would you like to know in order to help us analyze our situation here on Earth?

First, I need to know if the planet Earth is warming.

warming in canadaWell, sir, yes and no. It depends entirely on your frame of reference. We’ve warmed greatly since our last Ice Age, but that was 12,000 years ago. More recently — about 1,000 years ago — there was a period known as the Medieval Warm Period when wine grapes were commercially grown in Northern England and the island of Greenland was cultivated by Vikings. Unfortunately, this respite from generally colder weather ended about 500 years ago when the temperatures fell drastically. Instead of growing grapes, the English were having Ice Fairs on the Thames, and as late as 1814, there was ice some 11 inches thick supporting wagons, tents, and even an elephant. In Greenland, once-cultivated fields became bound by permafrost.

In America one could walk a frozen harbor from Manhattan to Staten Island. Even in the South as late as the Civil War, the Arkansas River at Little Rock would freeze over for weeks at a time allowing both foot and wagon traffic. No one alive today has seen this occur.

Since then we have observed the average global temperature rise about 1oC (1.8oF) during the 20th century, setting record-high temperatures. Most of this increase (0.6oC) occurred before 1940, with the decade of the 1930s being the hottest recorded in the United States. In 1940, a sharp decline occurred and scientists — including many of those now at the forefront of global-warming alarmism — were warning of a coming Ice Age. In the early ’80s, the temperature again warmed until 1998, when it peaked.

By the way, since 1979 temperatures have been available from satellite measurements with a great degree of accuracy (+/- 0.01oC). They cover the entire lower troposphere over both land and oceans. Temperature data from thermometers in populated areas have been found to suffer from the “urban heat island” effect. (We Earthlings know it is much hotter standing in a parking lot rather than a field, and cities are meteorologically just big parking lots.)

In summary, the Earth has been generally warming, with intermittent pauses and regressions, since the mid 1800s.

I see. And what evidence do the “alarmists,” as you call them, have to show that CO2 is causing the temperature increase?

The only evidence they have is a weak correlation (correlation strength = 0.43) between the increase in atmospheric CO2 and the rise in global temperatures. The rest of their “evidence” consists of 22 computer models. Most of the persuasion they wield rests on examples (many fictitious) of the catastrophic effects that result from global warming. For example, polar bears are portrayed as a starving, threatened species — usually pictured sitting in a forlorn-looking pose, floating on a chunk of ice — devastated from hunger brought about by limited hunting opportunities that are the result of thin and reduced Arctic ice, when in reality polar bear numbers are increasing, and may in fact be at record levels.

Are the alarmists’ computer models compelling?

Skeptics of human-caused warming would first point out that the rapid rise in CO2 didn’t occur until after 1940, after most of the increase in global temperature had occurred. Ironically, in that very year, the temperature began to decline rapidly.

Second, we note that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change uses 22 different computer models in what seems to be a way to always have one that is correct. (If the science is settled, shouldn’t there be only one computer model?) Out of the 22, none of these models predicted the decrease that has taken place over the last decade in the Earth’s temperature — which is now at the same level as when satellite measurements began in 1979. Now alarmists are having to come up with excuses as to why their data are off track. So far the best they can do is to blame their problem on “climate variability.” Gee, that’s what we skeptics have been saying all along.

One aspect of the computer models that is agreed upon by skeptics and alarmists alike is a method developed by the alarmist camp to verify whether increases in CO2 cause the Earth to warm, known as the “fingerprint method.” This method compares the pattern of warming that is observed to the pattern of warming that is calculated. Every computer model predicts an increase in the Earth’s warming trend that is maximized in the tropical zone between 30N and 30S at an altitude of about 10 kilometers (6 miles). Again, all 22 models used predict a hot spot. This is to be the fingerprint of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. No hot spot, no effect by greenhouse gases. Yet thousands of measurements, both satellite and radiosondes (balloons), have never found even a trace of such a hot spot anywhere in the troposphere.

But there is more evidence in a recently released report by MIT meteorologist Richard Lindzen based on a 20-year experiment in measuring the outgoing radiation from the Earth by a satellite specifically designed for that purpose. All computer models assume that as the Earth becomes hotter, owing to an increased concentration of CO2, more thermal energy that otherwise would escape into space would be blocked by the CO2, making the Earth hotter still — a condition known as positive feedback. But the satellite shows otherwise. The warmer the Earth, the more radiation escapes into space. Warming from greenhouse gases is not happening. No reason to throttle CO2, no increase in the rate of sea-level rise, no need to saddle the American economy with huge taxes and bureaucracies, no reason to send jobs overseas.

Do you mean that Earthlings are willing to give up their standard of living, pay more taxes, and have energy come under government control with no real evidence of a problem existing?

Yes sir, I’m afraid that’s the case.

Well, I think I’ll hang around for a while. You see, I have some great beachfront property on Neptune for sale.…