June 24, 2013


Oh the poor glaciers are melting... booo hooo!  Whatever will we do without the glaciers?  We will have to rename Glacier National Park and just call it National Park!
Unless you are so crazily arrogant that you believe we can dial in some optimal global temperate like setting the thermostat in our homes, we have two main choices when it comes to earths temperature:  Ice-Ages and interglacial periods.
The history of the planet is ice-ages, but between each one are nice warm interglacial periods.  We are currently enjoying one of those nice warm periods.  Go outside and look around.  Trees, flowers, grass, animals, cities, homes, lakes, etc.  But go back ~20,000 years (a mere eye blink in Earth time) and this is what your local northern skyline looked like:


I choose global warming.
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June 15, 2013


Usually, I skim through the NYT’s articles on global warming and move on. They are mostly the same: a sprinkling of real science, sometimes interesting data, but surrounded by the typical alarmism and pseudo-science and the never-ending call for government carbon taxes. But last week’s article was too much.
They finally got around to reporting that there has been no known increase in the earth’s temperature for over a decade. Below is the article and my response.
First some definitions:
Alarmist = Someone who thinks CO2 released from man’s burning of fossil fuels is the main driver of earth’s temperature. The rise in CO2 will cause a rise in temperature which will lead to mass droughts, floods, desertification, starvation, extreme weather, etc. We must limit our use of fossil fuels to keep these things from happening in the future.
Skeptic = Someone who thinks CO2 released from man’s burning of fossil fuels has some effect on earth’s temperature, but is much smaller than Alarmist think. Long term prediction of what weather changes will be in what area are impossible. The cures of forcing current renewable technologies or taxing carbon are more harmful and expensive than using that money to simply adapt to any future changes. We should be responsible with our energy use, but not because we are “killing” the planet.
Denier = Someone who doesn’t believe CO2 warms the planet, someone who doesn’t believe there can be ANY good things about global warming, someone who doesn’t believe the holocaust occurred, or generally about 5-10% of the population of any group who are near completely ignorant and near completely arrogant. This group accounts for 98% of comments on most websites.
And now for the article:

NYT June 10, 2013
What to Make of a Warming Plateau
As unlikely as this may sound, we have lucked out in recent years when it comes to global warming. The rise in the surface temperature of earth has been markedly slower over the last 15 years than in the 20 years before that. And that lull in warming has occurred even as greenhouse gases have accumulated in the atmosphere at a record pace.
This only sounds “unlikely” to the readers of the NYT. Readers of the NYT may be remembering when in April 1998 they said, “It is a well-established fact that human activities are heating up the planet and that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come.” Or maybe they are remembering March 2009 when the NYT said, “The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded with near certainty that most of the recent warming was a result of human influences”. When they are told that CO2 from human burning of fossil fuels is THE driving force for the temperature of the planet, and “the science is settled” and there is “97% consensus”, then I can see why the earth not warming lock-step with CO2 levels is surprising and one would get the feeling “we have lucked out”. But, if you read both sides of the issue, you would know that the more we learn about our climate the more we realize we don’t know. And, while CO2 is a greenhouse gas, we are FAR from understanding the earth’s temperature sensitivity to that one variable.

The slowdown is a bit of a mystery to climate scientists. True, the basic theory that predicts a warming of the planet in response to human emissions does not suggest that warming should be smooth and continuous. To the contrary, in a climate system still dominated by natural variability, there is every reason to think the warming will proceed in fits and starts. But given how much is riding on the scientific forecast, the practitioners of climate science would like to understand exactly what is going on. They admit that they do not, even though some potential mechanisms of the slowdown have been suggested. The situation highlights important gaps in our knowledge of the climate system, some of which cannot be closed until we get better measurements from high in space and from deep in the ocean.
If more paragraphs where as honest as this one, we would be in a much better and much less politicized position in the climate debate.

As you might imagine, those dismissive of climate-change concerns have made much of this warming plateau. They typically argue that “global warming stopped 15 years ago” or some similar statement, and then assert that this disproves the whole notion that greenhouse gases are causing warming.
Yes, I assume those “dismissive of climate-change concerns” will make much of the lack of warming. I guess similar to how those pushing climate-change concerns have made much of the warming in the 1990’s. Also, please provide a source backing up your claim that skeptics are using the lack of recent warming to “assert that this disproves the whole notion that greenhouse gases are causing warming”. What a ridiculous statement. Greenhouse gases, by definition, are causing warming. Without them the world would be an ice-ball right now. I know what Mr Gillis is trying to say, but setting up this silly straw-man is dishonest. This is what seems to be irresistible to those on the alarmist side in this debate. They seem to be incapable of an honest acknowledgement of the opposing side. Instead, they invent strange caricatures to argue against. Skeptics, for the most part, claim that the sensitivity of the global temperature to CO2 concentration is less then alarmist predict and the cure (carbon taxes/trading, current renewable energy options) will not work or be too expensive. This is much different than saying greenhouse gasses don’t cause warming.

Rarely do they mention that most of the warmest years in the historical record have occurred recently. Moreover, their claim depends on careful selection of the starting and ending points. The starting point is almost always 1998, a particularly warm year because of a strong El NiƱo weather pattern. Somebody who wanted to sell you gold coins as an investment could make the same kind of argument about the futility of putting your retirement funds into the stock market. If he picked the start date and the end date carefully enough, the gold salesman could make it look like the stock market did not go up for a decade or longer. But that does not really tell you what your retirement money is going to do in the market over 30 or 40 years. It does not even tell you how you would have done over the cherry-picked decade, which would have depended on exactly when you got in and out of the market. Scientists and statisticians reject this sort of selective use of numbers, and when they calculate the long-term temperature trends for the earth, they conclude that it continues to warm through time. Despite the recent lull, it is an open question whether the pace of that warming has undergone any lasting shift.
My goodness! How obtuse and hypocritical can one person be? He must live in a small bubble indeed if he thinks that only the skeptics use selective data! The whole global warming movement has been using selective data and distorted charts and out of perspective information to scare the public into thinking we have a crisis. Virtually every global warming chart I have ever seen starts in the Mid 1800’s. They claim it is because this is when people began pumping CO2 into the atmosphere. But really it is because this was the end of the “Little Ice Age”, one of the coldest times in our planet in thousands of years. Alarmists cherry picking data is rampant. Here is a recent example that I wrote about: http://davesuncommonsense.blogspot.com/2013/04/why-all-weather-is-now-extreme.html
So, Mr Gillis, spare me the lecture on data manipulation. That is what we skeptics have been complaining about for years. The data is (currently) not supporting your theory; you don’t get to ignore it.

What to make of it all? We certainly cannot conclude, as some people want to, that carbon dioxide is not actually a greenhouse gas.
There is that straw-man argument again. Who is claiming carbon dioxide is not actually a greenhouse gas? NOT ONE PERSON. That is a lie. I would understand if this was some blog on the internet. But the New York Times?! They must all have such similar thinking and bias that no one is capable of seeing a sentence like this and realizing how distorted and bogus it is. And it is not as if this is an opinion article. This is supposed to be a science article; it is in the Environment section of the paper.

More than a century of research thoroughly disproves that claim. In fact, scientists can calculate how much extra heat should be accumulating from the human-caused increases in greenhouse gases, and the energies involved are staggering. By a conservative estimate, current concentrations are trapping an extra amount of energy equivalent to 400,000 Hiroshima bombs exploding across the face of the earth every day.
Here, Mr Gillis uses the very same techniques he was so critical of just a couple of paragraphs back: using selective and out-of-perspective data. 400,000 Hiroshima bombs? Oh wow, sounds scary! But how about explaining how much heat that actually is compared to the total heat input on the planet? It is a technique used often by the alarmists, I wrote about one example here: http://davesuncommonsense.blogspot.com/2013/02/how-to-make-scary-news.html
Using explosives to compare the energy of the earth is silly. The natural energy of our earth’s systems is so staggeringly large that we can hardly comprehend it. The Myth Busters did a great episode where they tried to make a wave they could surf using 200 lbs of TNT. http://youtu.be/_ds0XV3ORmI
It only made a couple of inches of “waves”. So think how much energy is in the ocean waves hitting our beaches every day! If I wanted to scare people, I could say, “The ocean waves are predicted to hit Hilton Head Island with the energy equivalent of 400,000 Hiroshima bombs today”.

So the real question is where all that heat is going, if not to warm the surface. And a prime suspect is the deep ocean. Our measurements there are not good enough to confirm it absolutely, but a growing body of research suggests this may be an important part of the answer. Exactly why the ocean would have started to draw down extra heat in recent years is a mystery, and one we badly need to understand. But the main ideas have to do with possible shifts in winds and currents that are causing surface heat to be pulled down faster than before. The deep-ocean theory is one of a half-dozen explanations that have been proffered for the warming plateau. Perhaps the answer will turn out to be some mix of all of them. And in any event, computer forecasts of climate change suggest that pauses in warming lasting a couple of decades should not surprise us.
Exactly. There is a great deal we don’t know and need to understand. However, claiming the computer models suggest that there will be pauses in warming lasting more than a couple of decades is false. Two years ago the climate scientist Benjamin Santer released a paper saying it would take 17 years of a trend (or no trend) to separate the noise from the trend. https://www.llnl.gov/news/newsreleases/2011/Nov/NR-11-11-03.html
We are currently right at that 17 year mark with no statistically significant warming. Below is a chart that shows all the major computer models of climate compared to the CO2 level and the measured temperature. It doesn’t take a special climate scientist to realize there is more driving the planets temperature than the parts-per-million of carbon dioxide.

The black line is the average of what all the computer models predict based on the CO2 concentration. The red line is the measured CO2 concentration. The dark blue circles are global average temperature as measured by balloon, the light blue squares is global average temperature as measured by satellite. Of the 75 plus computer models, NONE predicted global temperatures this cool at 400 ppm CO2. So obviously, the sensitivity to CO2 is too great in the computer models, or there is other phenomenon we don’t yet understand.

Now, here is a crucial piece of background: It turns out we had an earlier plateau in global warming, from roughly the 1950s to the 1970s, and scientists do not fully understand that one either. A lot of evidence suggests that sunlight-blocking pollution from dirty factories may have played a role, as did natural variability in ocean circulation. The pollution was ultimately reduced by stronger clean-air laws in the West. Today, factory pollution from China and other developing countries could be playing a similar role in blocking some sunlight. We will not know for sure until we send up satellites that can make better measurements of particles in the air.
Um, so we can cure global warming by building more “dirty factories”?

What happened when the mid-20th-century lull came to an end? You guessed it: an extremely rapid warming of the planet. So, if past is prologue, this current plateau will end at some point, too, and a new era of rapid global warming will begin. That will put extra energy and moisture into the atmosphere that can fuel weather extremes, like heat waves and torrential rains. We might one day find ourselves looking back on the crazy weather of the 2010s with a deep yearning for those halcyon days.
Mr. Gillis finally lets loose his inner alarmist. It is as if he is hoping for rapid global warming just so he can be right. And we are warned of “weather extremes” like heat waves and torrential rains! I think the human race has been dealing with heat waves and torrential rains the entire time we have been on the planet. Anyway, it is certainly interesting that the planet has not warmed (that we have measured) in 15+ years. CO2 levels have steadily climbed but not the temperatures. This goes against all of the computer models. So the computer models are wrong. Period. They are not evil or need to be thrown out or ignored, but they are wrong. We don’t have the right formulas in them. So we cannot use them to predict the future. Perhaps with more study and more data we can learn more. But until then I think the following quote applies, “Under highly controlled conditions, children, wild animals, and the weather will do as they damn well please.” __________________________________________________
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