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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Climate Science Is Not “Settled”

Posted by jlwile on October 3, 2014

Neither how the globe is warming nor how much humans are responsible for it is understood.  (click for credit)

Neither how the globe is warming nor how much humans are responsible for it is understood.
(click for credit)

Unfortunately, because of the college class I am teaching, a looming publishing deadline, and an upcoming speaking engagement in South Africa, I don’t have time to write a full blog article. However, a man I respect and admire sent me a link to a Wall Street Journal article about climate change. The Author is Dr. Steven E. Koonin, a theoretical physicist and member of the National Academy of Sciences. The article is an excellent example of how to approach the issue of climate change from a truly scientific perspective. Unfortunately, you rarely find such an approach in most discussions of the subject. In my opinion, here is the best point he makes:

Policy makers and the public may wish for the comfort of certainty in their climate science. But I fear that rigidly promulgating the idea that climate science is “settled” (or is a “hoax”) demeans and chills the scientific enterprise, retarding its progress in these important matters. Uncertainty is a prime mover and motivator of science and must be faced head-on. It should not be confined to hushed sidebar conversations at academic conferences.

I couldn’t agree more!

Gore Was Spectacularly Wrong About Arctic Ice

Posted by jlwile on September 9, 2014

This was the extent of Arctic sea ice as seen by NASA's Aqua satellite September 3, 2010.

This was the extent of Arctic sea ice as seen by NASA’s Aqua satellite September 3, 2010.

In 2008, former Vice President Al Gore was speaking to a German audience and stated:

The entire north polar ice cap may well be completely melted off in five years.

In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, which he gave on December 10, 2007, he stated:

Last September 21, as the Northern Hemisphere tilted away from the sun, scientists reported with unprecedented distress that the North Polar ice cap is “falling off a cliff.” One study estimated that it could be completely gone during summer in less than 22 years. Another new study, to be presented by U.S. Navy researchers later this week, warns it could happen in as little as 7 years.

Seven years from now.

Of course, he thinks human-made global warming is to blame.

So depending on which prediction you believe, Al Gore thought there would be no more ice at the North Pole by 2013 (five years after his speech in Germany), 2014 (seven years after his Nobel Prize acceptance speech) or 2029 (22 years after his Nobel Prize acceptance speech). It’s obvious which one Gore favored. He mentioned it twice in the quote above: 2014.

Let’s look at the latest measurements of Arctic sea ice to check the former vice president’s prediction.

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When it Comes to Temperature, You Might Not Be Able to Trust the Data!

Posted by jlwile on July 8, 2014

Temperatures for the state of Maine from 1901 to a few years before the present, according to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).  The two graphs were downloaded at different times and indicate completely different results.

Temperatures for the state of Maine from 1901 to a few years before the present, according to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). The two graphs were downloaded at different times and indicate completely different results.

In 2013, certified consultant meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo was putting together a talk and wanted to show a graph that illustrated how the average temperature of the state of Maine had changed over time. He went to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and downloaded the data. As shown in the top graph, the average temperature showed no trend (warming or cooling) for more than 100 years. This year, he was preparing a talk and wanted to update the graph. He went back to NOAA’s NCDC and downloaded the exact same temperature record, including more recent years.

The change was dramatic, as shown in the bottom graph. The data showed a clear warming trend. Was this dramatic changed caused by more recent years added to the new graph? No. It was caused by the old data! Between the times D’Aleo had downloaded the data, the temperatures for some of the previous years had been lowered, and the temperature for some of them had been raised. However, it seems that more of the earlier years were lowered and more of the later years were raised (or lowered less). As a result, the message of the graph had changed remarkably. Where just one year previously, the data showed no warming over the past century, that same data now show a significant warming trend over the exact same time period! As he states:

Does anybody know what the REAL temperature of Maine is/was/is supposed to be? I sure as [**BLEEP**] don’t. I don’t think NCDC really does either.

What caused Mr. D’Aleo to share this experience? It was a revelation that started with Steven Goddard (aka Tony Heller).

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“Global Warming” Has Not Increased Droughts

Posted by jlwile on June 4, 2014

The dry portion of a riverbed in California (public domain image)

The dry portion of a riverbed in California (public domain image)

One of the common predictions made by people who believe in catastrophic global warming (aka “climate change”) is that as the globe’s temperature rises, there will be more and more droughts. As one book on global warming puts it:1

Extreme drought is one of the expected consequences of increased global warming, especially in the American Southwest, where it has already been projected to be severe by several models.

I have already written about the fact that actual observations show the precise opposite for the American Southwest. But what about the globe as a whole? Perhaps the American Southwest is not behaving as global warming enthusiasts predicted, but that doesn’t mean droughts aren’t increasing in other parts of the world. Surely the global warming that has already happened has produced drier conditions on the earth as a whole, right? After all, that’s what the climate modelers have predicted.

For example, the British government funded a study on global warming and drought by climatologists at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research. The study, which was published in 2006, made the following prediction:2

This graph represents one climate model's predictions of the percentage of land around the world that will experience drought.  The dotted lines are for moderate drought, the dark, solid lines are for severe drought, and the light, solid lines are for extreme drought.  There are three lines for each level of drought because the model was run using three different sets of assumptions. (image from reference 2)

This graph represents one climate model’s predictions of the percentage of land around the world that will experience drought. The dotted lines are for moderate drought, the dark, solid lines are for severe drought, and the light, solid lines are for extreme drought. There are three lines for each level of drought because the model was run using three different sets of assumptions.
(image from reference 2)

Notice that the amount of land around the globe which experiences moderate to extreme drought was projected to increase in a shaky but consistent fashion throughout the 21st century. Is that what’s actually happening?

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The Inquisition Strikes Again

Posted by jlwile on May 19, 2014

This painting, by French artist Edouard Moyse, is entitled "Inquisition."

This painting, by French artist Edouard Moyse, is entitled “Inquisition.” (public domain image)

Dr. Lennart Bengtsson is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Reading’s Environmental Systems Science Centre. When it comes to climate scientists, there are few more distinguished. He has been awarded the Descartes Research Prize (for outstanding scientific and technological achievements resulting from European collaborative research), the International Meteorological Organization Prize (for outstanding contributions to meteorology, climatology, hydrology, and related sciences), and the Rossby Prize (the highest award for atmospheric science given by the American Meteorological Society). He currently has 238 papers published in the nationally-recognized, peer-reviewed scientific literature, focused mostly on climate science. Obviously, his credentials speak for themselves.

About a month ago, he accepted an invitation to join The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a think tank devoted to climate science and its effects on public policy. They say they are focused on “Restoring balance and trust to the climate debate,” and their members have a wide range of views on the science behind global warming. Some agree with the opinions of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which says that human beings are causing the planet to warm and the results are potentially catastrophic. Others do not think the scientific evidence is strong enough to make such a statement, while others think the scientific evidence indicates that the climate changes we are seeing now are mostly the result of natural cycles which have been going on for a long, long time. In short, their membership represents the same variety of opinions that is found in the climate science community.

Unfortunately for Dr. Bengtsson (and science as a whole), this is considered unacceptable by the Inquisition, which seeks to enforce orthodoxy among scientists. According to the Inquisition, the science is settled. Despite the fact that the data are far from conclusive, the Inquisition has decided that to even suggest there might be something wrong with the “scientific consensus” on global warming is downright heresy. As a result, Dr. Bengtsson was bullied into resigning from his position at the GWPF. In his own words:

I have been put under such an enormous group pressure in recent days from all over the world that has become virtually unbearable to me. If this is going to continue I will be unable to conduct my normal work and will even start to worry about my health and safety…I had not expecting such an enormous world-wide pressure put at me from a community that I have been close to all my active life. Colleagues are withdrawing their support, other colleagues are withdrawing from joint authorship etc. I see no limit and end to what will happen. It is a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy. I would never have expecting anything similar in such an original peaceful community as meteorology. Apparently it has been transformed in recent years. [Please note that English is not Dr. Bengtsson's mother tongue.]

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

The President of the Flat Earth Society Is An Evolutionist Who Also Believes in Global Warming

Posted by jlwile on April 21, 2014

This is one conception of a flat earth.  The white around the edges is an ice wall that prevents people from falling off.  (click for credit)

This is one conception of a flat earth. The white around the edges
is an ice wall that prevents people from falling off. (click for credit)

When someone wants to really insult you in a scientific discussion, he or she often compares you to someone who believes that the earth is flat. Not long ago, for example, President Obama wanted to level an insult at those who question the idea that human activities are warming the earth. In a speech at Georgetown University, he said that he has no patience for people who deny that human-produced global warming is real. He added:

We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat-Earth society…Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.

Of course, creationists are often given the same label. Wray Herbert, for example, is a journalist who focuses on human behavior and health. For a while, he was the psychology editor at Science News, an indispensable resources for keeping up with the most recent scientific discoveries. He wrote:

The last Flat Earther supposedly was spotted in California, near Los Angeles, some years ago. But the term endures in our cultural idiom, where it has come to mean any dogmatic, rigidly anti-scientific thinker: Creationists, holocaust-deniers, indeed anyone who insists on an irrational belief, all meaningful evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

Wray is wrong about a couple of things in those two sentences, including the fact that the last Flat Earther was spotted in LA some years ago. In fact, belief in a flat earth is alive and well today, and one of its major spokesmen has a rather interesting mix of views.

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This Climate Study Claims to Have the “Right Stuff”

Posted by jlwile on March 10, 2014

This graph shows the predictions of the most popular global climate models (lines with no squares or circles) compared to global temperature measurements made by weather balloons (circles) and satellites (squares).  [The graph is from the report being discussed.]

This graph shows the predictions of various IPCC global climate models (lines with no squares or circles) compared to global temperature measurements made by weather balloons (circles) and satellites (squares). [The graph is Figure 1.1 from the report being discussed.]

It is well known in the scientific literature that the computer models being used by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have done a miserable job in predicting the change that has occurred in global temperature over the past two decades. You can see that for yourself by looking at the graph shown above. The various lines that have no circles or squares on them are the results of the climate models used by the IPCC. Notice that no model comes close to lining up with the actual data (the squares and circles). Indeed, the later the date, the worse the models become when compared to the data.

A group of retired NASA scientists and engineers led by Dr. Harold H. Doiron, a mechanical engineer who is best known for his work on eliminating unstable vibrations in liquid propellant rockets, has decided that these models simply can’t be used to make rational decisions about earth’s future climate. As this group says:

We have concluded that the IPCC climate models are seriously flawed because they don’t agree very closely with measured empirical data. After a 35 year simulation the models over-predicted actual measured temperatures by factors of 200% to 750%. One could hardly expect them to predict with better accuracy 300 years into the future required for use in regulatory decisions.

So what are we to do? If we can’t properly model how the earth will respond to increased carbon dioxide concentrations, how can we estimate what the consequences will be if we do nothing to curb the activities that are filling earth’s atmosphere with excess carbon dioxide?

In this research team’s mind, the answer is to look at the actual data and develop an empirical estimate. After all, we have about 100 years of measured data when it comes to global temperature, and we have a few thousand years of data that can help us estimate how the earth’s temperature has changed over that timeframe. In addition, we have measurements and estimates for how the amount of carbon dioxide in earth’s atmosphere has changed over time. If we look at past correlations between carbon dioxide and temperature, perhaps they can tell us what future correlations will be.

I have to admit that I am surprised no one has used this approach before. Sure, climate scientists have studied the correlations between past global temperatures and past atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, but this is the first time of which I am aware that scientists (and engineers) have tried to use those correlations to make definitive predictions about the future.

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Ken Ham and Bill Nye the Anti-Science Guy

Posted by jlwile on January 6, 2014

On February 4th at the Creation Museum in Kentucky, Ken Ham and Bill Nye will debate the question, Is creation a viable model of origins?

On February 4th at the Creation Museum in Kentucky, Ken Ham and Bill Nye will debate the question, Is creation a viable model of origins?

More than a year ago, Bill Nye was in an anti-science video that tried to convince people the creationist view should be censored. As I pointed out then, this is an incredibly anti-science notion. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only example of Mr. Nye’s anti-science behavior.

Nevertheless, I now have to give Mr. Nye some credit for doing something very pro-science: He is going to debate Ken Ham on the question, “Is creation a viable model of origins?” The debate will take place on February 4th at the Creation Museum in Kentucky. It is good to see that Nye is stepping away from his promotion of censorship and is interested in actually engaging the creationist view. I tried to order tickets online as soon as they were available, but the event seems to already be sold out!

Now even though this is a positive step towards a more pro-science attitude for Bill Nye, many evolutionists are trying to convince him to be more anti-science. As one Christian-turned-secular-humanist put it:

Will the Bill Nye-Ken Ham Debate Advance the Secular Cause? Of course not. Debates are all about the faithful on each side saying their side wiped the floor with the other side. I am not sure why Bill Nye decided to debate Ken Ham. Nothing good can come of it.

I obviously disagree. I think debate is usually a good thing, because it allows us to hear another point of view from someone who actually believes in that view. For the creationists who attend the debate (and I suspect they will be the large majority), they will hear from an evolutionist who actually believes in evolution. This will be good, because most likely, much of what they hear about evolution comes from creationists. For the evolutionists in attendance, they will hear about the creationist point of view from a creationist. This is also good, since most of them have probably never bothered to get the creationist view from someone who actually believes it.

In an effort to help Mr. Nye with his budding pro-science attitude, I will give him a piece of advice: Be Prepared!

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Is it “hilarious” or “an exclamation mark” on an “already-clear conclusion”?

Posted by jlwile on October 7, 2013

Dr. Richard Lindzen (left) and Dr. Michael Mann (right) have radically different views of the latest IPCC report. (Click for credit.)

The 2013 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been partially released. The final version of the Summary for Policymakers is out, and the unedited complete report is also available. This report is supposed to help us understand what the scientific community says about climate change and whether or not people are responsible for all or part of it. The report says that warming of the climate system is “unequivocal” and that “Human influence on the climate system is clear.” Unfortunately, the scientific community seems rather split on whether or not the IPCC report is reasonable.

Dr. Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT, had this to say about the report:

I think that the latest IPCC report has truly sunk to level of hilarious incoherence. They are proclaiming increased confidence in their models as the discrepancies between their models and observations increase…in attributing warming to man, they fail to point out that the warming has been small, and totally consistent with there being nothing to be alarmed about. It is quite amazing to see the contortions the IPCC has to go through in order to keep the international climate agenda going.

On the other hand, Dr. Michael E. Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, wrote:

Climate change is real and caused by humans, and it continues unabated. We will see far more dangerous and potentially irreversible impacts in the decades ahead if we do not choose to reduce global carbon emissions. There has never been a greater urgency to act than there is now. The latest IPCC report is simply an exclamation mark on that already-clear conclusion.

Both Lindzen and Mann are recognized experts in climate science, they both have a long list of impressive contributions to the field, and they have radically different opinions when it comes to the IPCC report. Which one of them is closest to being correct?

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Yet Another Global Warming Prediction Falsified

Posted by jlwile on September 23, 2013

The extent of sea ice in the Arctic. (Click for credit and larger image)

Those who believe that global warming is happening and is caused by people are constantly making predictions about what will happen in the future. Those predictions, however, generally turn out to be incorrect. Not long ago, for example, I showed how miserably the predictions of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change compare to the data, even those that are most friendly to the global warming hypothesis. Well, now that the September equinox has passed, the Northern Hemisphere has officially moved out of summer and is experiencing Autumn. As a result, we can confidently declare that yet another prediction made by global warming advocates has failed.

I doubt that you’ll see this reported in many news outlets, but way back in 2007, Dr. Wieslaw Maslowski, a research professor in the Department of Oceanography at the Naval Postgraduate School, stated that based on his research, the Arctic would be ice-free by the summer of 2013. His prediction was based on a “high-resolution regional model for the Arctic Ocean and sea ice forced with realistic atmospheric data,” and he thought it might be a bit conservative. In fact, he said:

Our projection of 2013 for the removal of ice in summer is not accounting for the last two minima, in 2005 and 2007…So given that fact, you can argue that maybe our projection of 2013 is already too conservative.

Well, as you can see from the graph above, Dr. Maslowski’s “too conservative” prediction has failed miserably. Not only is there ice in the Arctic, there is significantly more ice than there was in 2012. Now, of course, the amount of ice is still way below the average, but it is also way above zero, the prediction that Dr. Maslowski thought might be “already too conservative.”

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