Climate Heretic Dr. Judith Curry

Dr. Judith Curry is the latest scientist to be branded a heretic by the climate community.
(Image from Wikipedia)
Dr. Judith A. Curry is the chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology. She is a member of the National Research Council’s Climate Research Committee, and she currently has 144 refereed publications to her credit. An active climate researcher, Curry is considered an expert on hurricanes, atmospheric modeling, polar climates, and air-sea interactions. She is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and has won awards from both NASA and the American Meteorological Society for her excellent climate research. She has also been officially branded a heretic by Scientific American.. What horrible offense has caused her to be labeled this way? She actually started thinking for herself rather than blindly following the reports of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Curry’s story is a classic one and is very similar to my own in many ways. She says that when she reviewed the parts of the IPCC’s third report that were related to her expertise:

I told them that their perspective was far too simplistic and that they didn’t even mention the issue of aerosol impacts on the nucleation of ice clouds. So it’s not so much as finding things that were wrong, but rather ignorance that was unrecognized and confidence that was overstated.

In other words, she had doubts about the IPCC’s report when it came to the areas in which she had serious expertise. However, when push came to shove, she says:

I had decided that the responsible thing to do in making public statements on the subject of global warming was to adopt the position of the IPCC. My decision was based on two reasons: 1) the subject was very complex and I had personally investigated a relatively small subset of the topic; 2) I bought into the meme of “don’t trust what one scientists says, trust what thousands of IPCC scientists say.”

As time went on, however, she began to question her supposedly “responsible” position.

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Global Climate Models Fail AGAIN

Dry earth in Mexico (Click for credit)
Much of the hysteria related to global warming comes from the predictions of computer models. As I mentioned previously, even the father of global warming admits that the currently-available data are not sufficient evidence for the hysteria surrounding global warming, but if you look at the “physics” (i.e., the computer programs that attempt to model climate physics), you see that more carbon dioxide means rising global temperatures. Indeed, much of the famous IPCC report that concludes “it is extremely likely that human activities have exerted a substantial net warming influence on climate since 1750” is based on global climate models. That report further states:


Climate models are based on well-established physical principles and have been demonstrated to reproduce observed features of recent climate and past climate changes.

The problem is, when you test the models’ predictions, they generally fail. As I have already noted, model predictions regarding increasing global temperatures have failed spectacularly, and a lot of that has to do with how poorly those models take into account the negative feedback mechanisms that are a part of earth’s design.

Well, the global climate models have been tested again, and once again, they have failed miserably.

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Speculation Above Data – Standard Fare for “Global Warming”

Wallace Smith Broecker, known to friends and colleagues as “Wally Broecker,” has an earned PhD in geology from Columbia University. He is a professor in Columbia’s Earth and Environmental Sciences department and has published more than 450 journal articles in various earth science disciplines. He also has 10 books to his credit, including Fixing Climate: What Past Climate Changes Reveal About the Current Threat–and How to Counter It.

While Dr. Broecker’s list of academic accomplishments is very impressive, he is best known among earth and atmospheric scientists as the man who coined the phrase “Global Warming.” In 1975, he authored a paper entitled, “Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?” 1 In that paper, he predicted how temperatures would rise due to increased carbon dioxide emissions.

Interestingly enough, he doesn’t like being called the “father of global warming.” In a recent interview in the journal Science, he says he offered a $200 reward to anyone in his class who could find an earlier reference to “global warming” so that someone else can be given that title. Unfortunately for him, no one could find an earlier reference.2

What I found fascinating about the interview, however, was his admission that the data really don’t support the idea that “global warming” will be a catastrophe.

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Imagine That – The Sun Is Important!

The dark spots on the sun's disk are sunspots.
from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sun_projection_
with_spotting-scope.jpg

It seems simple enough. The sun warms our planet. Thus, if one is wondering what is happening to the temperature of our planet, one should look for changes that are occurring in the sun. Sure, there are a lot of other things one must investigate as well, but the sun should be a major priority, right?

Well, not according to the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC). In their 2007 report,1 which claims that “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal” and that there is a “very high confidence that the net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming,” they state:

Solar irradiance contributions to global average radiative forcing are considerably smaller than the contribution of increases in greenhouse gases over the industrial period.

So the IPCC says that the huge ball of thermonuclear reactions upon which the earth depends isn’t nearly as important when it comes to climate change as the relatively recent 35% increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Fortunately, not everyone thinks the IPCC is serious about science. As a result, some climate researchers are actually trying to figure out how important changes in the sun’s activity are when it comes to the overall temperature of the earth. Not surprisingly, current research is showing that the conclusions of the IPCC are wrong.

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Once again, Global Warming Alarmists Were Wrong

The golden toad, Bufo periglenes was a cute little animal:

An Extinct Toad
Image in the public domain.

Unfortunately, it is now extinct. Why is it extinct? Well, in 2006, the journal Nature published an article that claimed it was the result of global warming:

“Here we show that a recent mass extinction associated with pathogen outbreaks is tied to global warming. Seventeen years ago, in the mountains of Costa Rica, the Monteverde harlequin frog (Atelopus sp.) vanished along with the golden toad (Bufo periglenes)…Analysing the timing of losses in relation to changes in sea surface and air temperatures, we conclude with ‘very high confidence’ (> 99%, following the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC) that large-scale warming is a key factor in the disappearances…With climate change promoting infectious disease and eroding biodiversity, the urgency of reducing greenhouse-gas concentrations is now undeniable.1

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Going Green…And Causing Accidents

I ran across an old news story yesterday, and I decided I had to comment on it, because it is a great example of what happens when people rush to “go green” without thinking of the consequences.

The story reports on several communities that have changed the incandescent light bulbs in their traffic lights to LED lights. The LED lights produce a lot of light without producing much heat. Thus, for the same light output, they don’t use nearly as much energy. As a result, they cost less to run, and they are promoted as a green alternative to the old-style incandescent traffic lights.

Of course…there is only one problem. In snowy conditions, these LED traffic lights are responsible for causing traffic accidents and, according to the news story, at least one death. Why? Specifically because they don’t produce much heat. When it snows, the snow can cover up the lights on a traffic light. However, since the old-style incandescent lights produce a lot of heat, they melt the snow. That way, the snow doesn’t cover up the traffic lights. The LED lights don’t produce much heat, so the snow doesn’t melt. Instead, it covers up the light, making it impossible to see whether the traffic light is telling you to stop or go.

What’s to be done about this? According to Lt. Jim Runge of the Green Bay, Wisconsin police:

as far as I’m aware, all that can be done is to have crews clean off the snow by hand…It’s a bit labor-intensive.

Now the article says that Wisconsin saves a LOT of money by putting in the LED lights, and even though they have to hire crews to clean them off during snowstorms, there is still a net savings. That might be true, but I would have to see the actual numbers to be certain. Also, if you add in all the carbon dioxide emissions required to take crews from traffic light to traffic light in order to clean them all, it is not clear that this is reducing Wisconsin’s “carbon footprint.”

Of course, even if there is a net savings in both cost and emissions for Wisconsin, it is done at the expense of people’s safety. I expect some “environmentalists” have no problem with that. However, this environmentalist thinks that people are a part of the environment, and they should be protected as well.

A More Fruitful Way to Deal with Carbon Dioxide

I am now in Thailand. The conference has moved to a new hotel, and it is gorgeous. I hope to post some pictures at some point. Right now, however, I want to write about another article that caught my eye while I was catching up on my reading during my 23 hours in the air.

This article was in Science1 The authors report on a new technique they have developed for carbon sequestration. Now anyone who reads this blog knows that I don’t buy into the global warming hysteria. Instead, I am guided by the data, and the data do not indicate that anything unusual is happening in terms of global climate.

Nevertheless, the amount of carbon dioxide in the air is rising, and it is most certainly our fault. If human emissions of carbon dioxide (not from breathing – from everything else) were one-third of their present value, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would actually start decreasing. Thus, there is no question that we are causing the buildup.

While the data indicate that so far, this buildup of carbon dioxide is not significantly affecting global climate, it possibly could at some point in the future. In addition, rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can make the ocean more acidic, since carbon dioxide reacts with water to produce carbonic acid (the same acid found in soda pop). So far, the increased ocean acidity due to increased carbon dioxide is rather insignificant, but once again, the effect could grow in the future. In addition, who knows what other things might be affected by carbon dioxide levels?

So while I don’t think that the rising carbon dioxide levels we are seeing now are any reason to take draconian steps to mitigate the issue, it is always worthwhile to find reasonable ways to lessen humanity’s impact on the planet. That’s why this article is so intriguing.

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One MORE Reason to Be Skeptical of Global Climate Models

Global climate models (GCMs) are one of the driving forces behind the idea that global warming is real and is the result of human activity. These models attempt to simulate global climate as a result of various input parameters, one of which is the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. These global climate models generally agree that the earth should be warming due to the increased levels of carbon dioxide found in the atmosphere. For example, here are the projections made by several different GCMs back in 2000:

Projections of global temperatures given by several GCMs in 2000.  Published under the GNU Free Documentation License, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Text_of_the_GNU_Free_Documentation_License.
Projections of global temperatures given by several GCMs in 2000. Published under the GNU Free Documentation License, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Text_of_the_GNU_Free_Documentation_License.

Note that global temperatures were predicted to rise throughout the decade of 2000-2010. Instead, global temperatures have remained remarkably steady over that same time period:

Measured global temperatures as given by the University of Alabama’s Global Hydrology and Climate Center. (http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/t2lt/tltglhmam_5.2)
Measured global temperatures as given by the University of Alabama’s Global Hydrology and Climate Center. (http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/t2lt/tltglhmam_5.2)

So why have the computer model projections fared so poorly when compared to what has actually happened so far? Well, it seems that one of the real luminaries of climate science, Richard Lindzen, has found at least part of the answer to that question1.

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Embarassing E-MAILs

If you have been paying attention to the news this week (and quite frankly, I’ve been having too much fun to be paying much attention), you probably know that an unknown hacker broke into the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) and released hundreds of confidential E-MAILs. 1 In fact, this has been such a big story that it already has its own Wikipedia entry.

What do the E-MAILs revealed by the hacker tell us? Partly, that depends on who you read. Some say they could be the “final nail in the coffin of Anthropogenic Global Warming.” 2 Others say they simply show “Scientists expressing frustration at the misrepresentation of their work in politicized arenas and complaining when media reports get it wrong; Scientists resenting the time they have to take out of their research to deal with over-hyped nonsense. None of this should be shocking.” 3

What do I think about these hacked E-MAILs? You can find out below the fold.

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You Probably Won’t Hear This on the News…

Al Gore told a German audience in December of 2008 that the polar ice cap will disappear in FIVE YEARS.1 A Washington Post story from April of this year says

The data on this winter’s ice buildup came on the day that international ministers gathered in Washington to address issues facing Earth’s polar regions, which have been disproportionately affected by global warming. 2

It goes on to quote Norway’s foreign minister that “The ice is melting…We should all be worried.”

Well, Al Gore, the Washington Post, and Norway’s foreign minister should all be breathing a sigh of relief. As all climatologists agree, the poles should be most affected by global warming, and guess what’s happening at the South Pole? The ice just keeps growing!

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