Tag Archives: climate change

Climate denial by Left & Right dominates the public debate.

Summary: One of the oddities in American politics is how Left and Right clearly see each others’ faults, but remain blind to their own similar faults. The mainstream media reports the follies of the Right, but less often those of the Left — which are highlighted by their increasing abandonment of science in their quest to alarm the public about climate change. For example, their long effort to hide climate scientists’ work about the pause in warming of their atmosphere since roughly 2000. It’s a kind of denial, much as we see on the Right.

“… first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” — Matthew 7:5.

Global Temperature

Observed (black) and predicted (blue) global average annual surface temperature difference relative to 1981-2010. Previous predictions starting from November 1960 are in red, and 22 model simulations from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) are in green. Shading represents the probable range, such that the observations are expected to lie within the shading 90% of the time. The forecast (blue) starts from November 2014. All data are rolling 12-month mean values. The black line is from Hadley Centre, GISS and NCDC data. {Caption slightly edited}

Left and Right work to mislead us

During the past few years scores of polls attempted to find the source of the public’s polarized views about climate change. Perhaps there’s a simpler answer. One group knows about the pause, and so has skepticism (for some grossly exaggerated) about the certainty of catastrophic future warming. The other group reads only activists and so remains ignorant of scientists’ research about the pause. For example, Joe Romm at ThinkProgress and Phil Phait in November 2013 and  February 2014 (he’s slacked off lately).

Climate scientists speak, even if we don’t listen

Meanwhile climate scientists continue their work, while Left and Right distort their findings to manipulate public opinion. As we see in the new “Decadal Forecast” of the UK Met Office. From the summary:

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Was 2014 the warmest year? NOAA says that was “more unlikely than likely”.

Summary: To learn if 2014 was the warmest year let’s read the annual reports of NOAA and NASA. They give clear answers (different from the headlines). It might have been the warmest, but if so, only by a insignificant amount. The hysteria of activists about this is absurd. The data shows that the pause continues.

  1. Last year was 0.04°C (0.07°F) warmer than 2005 according to NOAA’s surface temperature data (0.02°C per NASA). NOAA gives it a 48% probability of being the warmest of the past 135 years (a 38% probability per NASA ). NOAA describes this as meaning “more unlikely than likely”.
  2. Berkeley Earth’s data shows it as tied with 2005 and 2010 (within the margin of error).
  3. Neither of NASA’s two satellite datasets of lower troposphere temperature show it as close to a record (data back to 1979).

Before we jump into the details, here’s a cautionary note from Colin Morice (climate monitoring scientist at the UK Met Office):

Record or near-record years are interesting, but the ranking of individual years should be treated with some caution because the uncertainties in the data are larger than the differences between the top ranked years. We can say this year will add to the set of near-record temperatures we have seen over the last decade.

Earth Burning

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Contents (1st of 2 posts today)

  1. How warm was 2014?
  2. How certain is the result?
  3. The Berkeley Group looks at 2014.
  4. Update: the UK Met Office
  5. The satellites disagree with the “hottest year” story.
  6. Conclusions
  7. Other articles about the warmest year
  8. For More Information

(1)  How warm was 2014?

The Most Dishonest Year on Record“, Robert Tracinski, The Federalist, 19 January 2015 — Excerpt:

If 2014 is supposed to be “hotter” than previous years, it’s important to ask: by how much? You can spend a long time searching through press reports to get an actual number on this — which is a scandal unto itself. Just saying one year was “hotter” or “the hottest” is a vague qualitative description. It isn’t science. Science runs on numbers. You haven’t said anything that is scientifically meaningful until you state how much warmer this year was compared to previous years — and until you give the margin of error of that measurement.

The original NASA press release did not give those figures — and most press reports just ran with it anyway. This in itself says a lot. When it comes to global warming, “journalism” has come to mean: “copying press releases from government agencies.”

That’s our journalists! But annual reports by NASA (who runs the GISS dataset) and NOAA (runs the NCDC dataset) provide the answers for journalists interested in news rather than the pack’s narrative. For answers let’s first turn to NOAA’s 2015 “State of the Climate” report. From the Global Analysis section:

The year 2014 was the warmest year across global land and ocean surfaces since records began in 1880. The annually-averaged temperature was 0.69°C (1.24°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F), easily breaking the previous records of 2005 and 2010 by 0.04°C (0.07°F).

So the fireworks are about a temperature increase of 0.04°C (0.07°F) over 7 years?

(2)  How certain is the result?

How certain is NOAA of this conclusion? We turn to the section Calculating the Probability of Rankings for 2014:

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Scientists speak to us about the warming pause, while activists deny their work.

Summary: I feel sad watching the Left liquidate its credibility by denying climate scientists’ work on the pause in warming of the atmosphere since roughly 2000. Although their voices dominate the news media, we must not rely on activists to tell us about the world. We can see the cutting edge of science for ourselves. Seeing the world clearly is a requirement for our success in the 21st century.

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”

— From “Cool Hand Luke” (1967), said first by a prison warden and later by the prisoner Luke (Paul Newman).

World in eye

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Activists have published scores of articles denying the existence of the “pause” (or “hiatus”). That’s politically convenient — the pause contradicts their narrative of imminent catastrophic warming and arouses doubt about the computer models that create the forecasts. But it displays an astonishing disregard for the work of climate scientists, and science — just like those on the Right they mock.

Here we again we see the similar behavior of Americans on both ends of the political spectrum, obvious to all who look — except the participants themselves. It’s one of the things that gives our politics that Oz-like air of absurdity.

While activists earnestly deny the pause, scores of peer-reviewed papers discuss the pause, analyze its causes and forecast its duration. We see the cutting edge of this work at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society, in their two sessions about the “Global Warming Hiatus”: Part I and Part II.

Global average temperature has increased by 0.80°C over the 20th century but this warming trend has slowed or even stalled for the past 15 years. This warming hiatus has caused much confusion and debate but at the same time offers a scientific opportunity to study climate change dynamics in action. Mechanisms proposed include a slowdown in net radiative forcing, and interference by natural variability.

This session showcases rapidly advancing research on the physical mechanisms and various impacts of this hiatus event. Topics of particular interest include interdecadal variability and the interaction with forced climate change, radiative forcing and related processes, and ocean heat storage as pertinent to the hiatus.

Especially note this one, an A-team climate scientist revising the consensus: Projections of a rebound in warming out of the current hiatus, Matthew H. England, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Abstract, red emphasis added:

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The record closes on 2014. Was it the warmest year on record?

Summary: Alarmists trumpeted that 2014 was the warmest on record, seldom mentioning how long the record, or how much warmer, or if all the datasets agree. It’s innumeracy, an ignorance (sometimes feigned) of mathematics and the scientific method. It’s sad, since they’re repeating long-failed attempts to arouse public fear of climate change by statements beyond those of the climate science consensus — and often contradictory to it. (2nd of 2 posts today)

“It is extremely likely (95 – 100% certain) that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in global mean surface temperature from 1951 to 2010.”
— conclusion of the IPCC’s AR5 Working Group I

Earth Burning

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Contents

  1. Appeals to fear. Will they work?
  2. What do satellites tell us about global warming?
  3. What’s the trend?
  4. Who produces this satellite data & analysis?
  5. For More Information

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(1) Appeals to fear. Will they work?

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Joe Romm at ThinkProgress is a poster child for the Left’s failure to build public support through propaganda. For an example see “2014 Was The Hottest Year On Record Globally By Far” — “The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has announced that 2014 was the hottest year in more than 120 years of record-keeping — by far.”  Quite a bold statement, but not what JMA said.

The annual anomaly of the global average surface temperature in 2014 (i.e. the average of the near-surface air temperature over land and the SST) was +0.27°C above the 1981-2010 average (+0.63°C above the 20th century average), and was the warmest since 1891. On a longer time scale, global average surface temperatures have risen at a rate of about 0.70°C per century.

Five Warmest Years (Anomalies): 1st. 2014 (+0.27°C), 2nd. 1998 (+0.22°C), 3rd. 2013, {4th.} 2010 (+0.20°C), 5th. 2005 (+0.17°C).

No mention by JMA of “warmest by far”, since it was the warmest by only +0.05°C — far smaller than the accuracy of the hodge-podge global surface temperature network (run by individual national weather services, with widely varying funding and effort).

The world has warmed for 2 centuries, since WWII largely due to our emissions (natural cycles caused the warming from the early 19thC). Activists like Romm seldom mentioned how much it has warmed, which allows alarmists to more easily arouse fear. For the answer we turn to the NASA-funded global temperature data from satellites.  This post shows the numbers: the warming since 1979 is small (so far; the future might be quite different). The truth is out there for people willing to see it. Only with it can we prepare for our future.

Before we dive into the numbers, read this cautionary note from Colin Morice (climate monitoring scientist at the UK Met Office):

Record or near-record years are interesting, but the ranking of individual years should be treated with some caution because the uncertainties in the data are larger than the differences between the top ranked years. We can say this year will add to the set of near-record temperatures we have seen over the last decade.

(2)  What do satellites tell us about global warming?

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Satellites provide the most comprehensive and reliable record of the atmosphere’s warming since 1979, measuring lower troposphere temperatures.

The 2014 Global Temperature Report
by the Earth System Science Center of the University of Alabama in Huntsville
(Blue is cold; red warm}. Click to enlarge.

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UAH satellite 2014 temperature data

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Do scientists play dumb on climate change?

Summary: Both Right and Left in America show a FAILure to learn from experience. Has it become part of our national character, perhaps our greatest weakness? Today we look an example of the Left’s attempts to mobilize us to fight climate change. So far failing to gain substantial public support, frustrated by failure of their amateur predictions of extreme climate, they double down. Perhaps they believe the Green Lantern Theory works in political activism — sufficient willpower can overcome any obstacle.

This follows up on my post predicting (guessing) that in 2015 the now-deadlocked climate wars will tilt decisively to one side. Either dramatic weather will spark a change in public opinion (albeit not necessarily changing the opinion of climate scientists) or the public will tire of the alarmists’ confident predictions of future doom which doesn’t happen. Either way the tide will turn on climate change: the political debate.

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Do scientists play dumb on climate change?

I recommend reading “Playing Dumb on Climate Change“, an op-ed by Naomi Oreskes (Prof history of science at Harvard, co-author of The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View From the Future), New York Times, 3 January 2015.  It’s standard alarmist fare, of the sort fed to us during the past 25 years. The characteristics of this rhetoric reveal much about public policy debate in our 21st century New America, and points to a likely near-term future of the public policy debate about climate change (Earth’s climate will write the ending).

Excerpt, from the opening and closing:

Scientists have often been accused of exaggerating the threat of climate change, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that they ought to be more emphatic about the risk. The year just concluded is about to be declared the hottest one on record, and across the globe climate change is happening faster than scientists predicted.

… Years ago, climate scientists offered an increase of 2°Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) as the “safe” limit or ceiling for the long-term warming of the planet. We are now seeing dangerous effects worldwide, even as we approach a rise of only 1°Celsius. The evidence is mounting that scientists have underpredicted the threat.

She doesn’t list the kinds of climate change “happening faster than scientists predicted”.  A wise decision, since most of the predicted forms of client change are not happening (such claims have less force when made only as forecasts). See the details here; also see this by Prof Botkin (Prof Ecology, UC Santa Barbara) and this recent book. The “hottest year on record” label is exciting, but less so with the vital details (lay climate alarmists tend to avoid numbers) — with the atmosphere only a few hundredths of a degree above the previous high, and only in some datasets (not the 2 more accurate satellite datasets).

Are scientists incompetent or irresponsible?

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2015 might bring an end to the great age of experts’ experiments on us

Summary: Beam us down to Earth on 31 December 2015. What will we find? My guess is that the massive experiments now underway by experts will have borne fruit, and we’ll know if they were sweet or poisoned. Interesting times lie ahead, and none can say how they will end.

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Crystal Ball

Contents

  1. The age of experts’ experiments on us
  2. Warnings of Climate Change
  3. Economics: monetary and fiscal magic
  4. For More Information

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Photo from the Star Trek episode “Miri” – The landing party arrives in response to a distress call. Experts on the planet have run a massive experiment to produce a better world. Looks like it didn’t end well.

TOS: "Miri" - Landing Party

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(1)  The age of experts’ experiments on us
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The 21st century has seen some of the largest experiments ever by experts, different from the often-mad amateur experiments that shaped so much of human history (e.g., the French and Russian revolutions, the Fascist social “engineers” in the 1930s, the 1970s Khmer Rouge in Cambodia). Some have run to completion, such as the US military’s expeditions to Iraq and Afghanistan — using the techniques of COIN to defeat local insurgents and build new western-style nations (quite mad given the history of almost total failure since WWII by foreign armies fighting insurgents). Other and larger experiments continue running. Let’s look at two of the biggest.

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Will a return of rising temperatures validate the IPCC’s climate models?

Summary: The pause in temperatures since roughly 2000 has become the hot topic in both climate science and climate politics. While scientists study its causes and estimate its duration, activists on both sides use it to work their tribes. On the Left they deny its existence, ignoring or misrepresenting the many papers about it. On the Right they use the pause to discredit climate models and even climate science. In this long and somewhat technical post an eminent climate scientist walks us though the debate.  (1st of 2 posts today.)

Will a return of rising temperatures validate the climate models?

Donald C. Morton, posted at Climate Etc, 15 December 2014

Reposted under their Creative Commons License

World of Equations

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Time Scales
  3. Natural Versus Anthropogenic Contributions
  4. Parameterization in Place of Physics
  5. Uncertainty in the Climate Sensitivity
  6. Applying Statistics to Biased Samples
  7. Nonlinearity and Chaos in Climate
  8. The Validation of Climate Models
  9. What Should We Do Now?
  10. About the Author
  11. For More Information

(1)  Introduction

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The coincidence of the current plateau in global surface temperatures with the continuing rise in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has raised many questions about the climate models and their forecasts of serious anthropogenic global warming.

This article presents multiple reasons why any future increase in temperature should not be regarded as a vindication of the current models and their predictions. Indefinite time scales, natural contributions, many adjustable parameters, uncertain response to CO2, averaging of model outputs, non linearity, chaos and the absence of successful predictions are all reasons to continue to challenge the present models. This essay concludes with some suggestions for useful immediate actions during this time of uncertainty.

What if the global climate began to warm again? Would all the criticisms of the climate models be nullified and the dire predictions based on them be confirmed? No one knows when the present plateau in the mean surface air temperature will end nor whether the change will be warmer or cooler. This essay will argue that the climate models and their predictions should not be trusted regardless of the direction of future temperatures.

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