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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Arrrrggggg…Argo Shows Global Cooling

Argo is the name given to an array of over 3,000 buoys that have been installed throughout the word’s oceans. It is a tribute to how countries can work together toward a common goal, as it is the result of a collaboration among more than 50 scientific institutions in 26 different countries. Of course, as is typical, while the United States is only one of those 26 countries, it contributes over half of the money necessary to fund this ambitious project. As you can see from the image below, the buoys do a good job of covering the majority of earth’s oceans 1:

Argo Buoy System
Argo Buoy System

What do these buoys do? Well, periodically, they dive 3,000 feet into the ocean and, as they rise back up, they measure things about the ocean water, like salt content, pressure, and…oh yeah…temperature. They’ve been measuring these things since 2003, and the scientific community really wanted to start seeing how these measured quantities have changed over the years. Now that they have seen the results, many scientists are shutting their eyes, covering their ears, and yelling as loudly as they can, because the data go squarely against the concept of “Global Warming.”

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Sea Level and Global Warming

According to alarmists like Al Gore, one of the biggest threats of “global warming” is the rise it will cause in sea level. After all, they say, as the earth gets warmer, more of its ice will melt, and the seas will rise. If this happens to any great extent, sea levels could rise several feet. In fact, NASA’s chief Chicken Little, James Hansen, has claimed that “global warming” could cause the sea levels to rise as much as 20 feet!.1 As “proof” that “global warming” is already causing sea level rises, these alarmists note that sea levels have risen by about 20 centimeters in the past 100 years. 2

Now of course 20 centimeters (about eight inches) is a FAR CRY from 20 feet, but global warming alarmists assure us that the rise we have seen so far is definitely the result of global warming, and as global warming accelerates, sea level rise will accelerate as well. Of course, as is usually the case with global warming alarmists, what they say is squarely contradicted by the data.

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Dr. Joanne Simpson

A good friend of mine who I respect a great deal gave me an article that discussed the growing number of scientists who reject the global warming hysteria that is sweeping the globe. It included a statement about the first woman to get a Ph.D. in meteorology. Her name is Dr. Joanne Simpson, and she is truly remarkable. Her 54-year career was capped off with a 24-year stint at NASA, where she was a team leader for the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission. At the occasion of her retirement, NASA couldn’t say enough good things about her:

In addition to being the first female meteorologist with a Ph.D., she’s been granted membership to the National Academy of Engineering, awarded the Carl-Gustaf Rossby Award (the highest honor bestowed by the American Meteorological Society), presented with a Guggenheim Fellowship, and served as President of the American Meteorological Society. Although Simpson’s praises have been sung publicly as an example of a woman who has defied the odds and the male chauvinism of her profession, surprisingly few people outside of meteorology know precisely what she did for the science. Simpson’s scientific endeavors, aside from being exciting, have had a tremendous impact on meteorology over the years… With both her mind and her desire to work as sharp as ever, Simpson will undoubtedly continue to make important contributions to the study of the atmosphere. 1

So now that she’s retired from NASA, what does she have to say? Well…something I am sure NASA is not too happy about:

Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receive any funding, I can speak quite frankly. For more than a decade now “global warming” and its impacts has become the primary interface between our science and society. A large group of earth scientists, voiced in an IPCC statement, have reached what they claim is a consensus of nearly all atmospheric scientists that man-released greenhouse gases are causing increasing harm to our planet…However, the main basis of the claim…is based almost entirely upon climate models. We all know the frailty of models concerning the air-surface system…The term “global warming” itself is very vague. Where and what scales of response are measurable?… as a scientist I remain skeptical. 2

So now that Dr. Simpson has left NASA she can speak “frankly.” You see, if you don’t “toe the party line” at NASA, you get in big trouble. Dr. Roy Spencer used to work for NASA, but he was essentially forced to resign because he was a global warming skeptic, and NASA does not allow such things. In fact, he used to post the NASA satellite data on global temperature on one of NASA’s websites. However, it was taken down because the satellite data do not support the idea of global warming. You now have to go to junkscience.com to get that same data.

Now that Dr. Simpson is speaking “frankly,” she is not advocating that we ignore rising greenhouse gases. She calls the information that we have now “incomplete” and thinks we must act on the information we currently have. Thus, she says we should try to reduce carbon dioxide emissions because if the models are right, bad things will happen. However, at the same time, she is advocating what should be common in science: rigorous debate based on the data. It is unfortunate that Dr. Simpson had to leave NASA before she could become an advocate for good science!

REFERENCES

1. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Simpson/simpson.php
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2. Climate Science
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