Tag Archives: climate science

Ten years after Katrina: let’s learn from those predictions of more & bigger hurricanes

Summary — Most 10-year anniversary articles about Katrina omit one chapter of that sad story: its exploitation by climate activists. They predicted more and stronger hurricanes. Let’s grade them. Every time activists falsely cry “wolf” we become weaker, less able to prepare for real threats. Remembering is the first step to learning.

“Sooner or later, everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.”
— Attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson.

Eye of the hurricane

Contents

  1. Katrina and Wilma hit America.
  2. Alarmists exploit the disaster.
  3. Hurricanes go MIA.
  4. Forecasts of  hurricanes.
  5. Conclusions.
  6. For More Information.
  7. A book recommendation.

(1) Katrina and Wilma hit America

The 2005 hurricane season was the most active on record by many measures. Ten years ago today Hurricane Katrina almost destroyed New Orleans (details here). Hurricane Wilma hit in Florida on 24 October 2005 (among the most powerful ever recorded in the Atlantic basin).

(2)  Alarmists exploit the catastrophe

Climate alarmists exploited this disaster. For example see Al Gore’s speech at Sierra Club’s National Environmental Convention and Expo in San Francisco on 9 September 2005 — excerpt…

“Winston Churchill, when the storm was gathering on continental Europe, provided warnings of what was at stake. And he said this about the government then in power in England — which wasn’t sure that the threat was real — he said, “They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent.” He continued, “The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedience of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, the warnings about global warming have been extremely clear for a long time. We are facing a global climate crisis. It is deepening. We are entering a period of consequences.

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The easy solution to the looming monster methane apocalypse

Summary:  The looming disaster from the powerful greenhouse gas methane has become a standard part of alarmists’ shtick. It shows how they’ve abandoned the IPCC — the “gold standard” of climate science — and why we need the IPCC to help defend us against manipulation by the Left and Right.  The consensus of scientists is not always right; it’s just the best we have.

IPCC & the methane monster

By Sam Carana. At Arctic News, 6 October 2013.

 

Contents

  1. What alarmists say
  2. New research, good news
  3. What the IPCC says
  4. The Left-IPCC divorce
  5. Conclusions
  6. For More Information

(1)  What alarmists say

The Independent: “Exclusive: The methane time bomb“. Salon (2010): “Get ready for the methane apocalypse“. Mother Jones (2013): “What These Climate Scientists Said About Earth’s Future Will Terrify You” — with the URL “www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/12/climate-scientist-environment-apocalypse-human-extinction“. Alternet (2014): “The Giant Methane Monster That Can Wipe Out the Human Race“.

The IPCC’s conclusions about methane (see below) are widely derided, as in this at Arctic News: “Just do NOT tell them the monster exists” (see the comic above). Also by the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (one the increasing number of vaguely funded climate change groups): “we are drawing attention to the more unpleasant realities of rapid Arctic warming and climate change, which have been downplayed or ignored by IPCC…”

Turning to my favorite source of climate alarmism, Robert Marston Fanney (fantasy writer; bio here) at his blog RobertScribbler: “Ignoring the Arctic Methane Monster: Royal Society Goes Dark on Arctic Observational Science” and “Concern Over Catastrophic Methane Release“.

Update: The alarmism appears even in the major media, such as this in The Guardian by Nafeez Ahmed: “Seven facts you need to know about the Arctic methane timebomb” — “Dismissals of catastrophic methane danger ignore robust science in favour of outdated mythology of climate safety.”

The alarmism goes wild as we approach November’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. At the misnamed TruthOut, Dahr Jamail tells us “The Methane Monster Roars“. Real News Network includes methane in its compendium of misinformation, the video Climate Change: Have We Reached the Point of No Return?

“… we’ve triggered a bunch of self-reinforcing feedback loops, many of which are irreversible, including methane release from the arctic, for example, and also methane from the permafrost. As permafrost degrades it breaks down into methane.” … “we’re already seeing methane going exponential in the atmosphere, and methane is many, many times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, molecule for molecule”

Living in the Bay Area, I see the effects of this propaganda. People casually mention that we’re doomed, stated with the certainty of cultists. These shrill warnings induce a sense of passivity and apathy in Leftists. Our ruling elites probably see that as good news.

But — where are the climate scientists? Where are rebuttals at RealClimate? by the Climate Science Rapid Response Team? At the websites above that feature climate science?

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How we broke the climate change debates. Lessons learned for the future.

Summary:  This, my 305th post about climate, explains what I’ve learned so far. Climate science as an institution has become dysfunctional; large elements of the public no longer trust it. The politics of climate change are polarized and gridlocked. The weather will determine the evolution of US public policy. All we can do is learn what went wrong so we can do better next time, and wait to see the price we pay for our folly.

“The time for debate has ended”
— Marcia McNutt (editor-in-Chief of Science, next President of the NAS) in “The beyond-two-degree inferno“, editorial in Science, 3 July 2015.

Scientists tell the UN about the coming disaster in “When Worlds Collide” (1951)

Presenting at the UN. From "When Worlds Collide" (1951).

Contents

  1. Why doesn’t America lead the fight against climate change?
  2. How do scientists alert the world to a catastrophic threat?
  3. Case study: the pause.
  4. The most incompetently conducted media campaign ever?
  5. My personal experience.
  6. The broken climate debates.
  7. For More Information.

(1)  Why doesn’t America lead the fight against climate change?

Why does climate change rank at the bottom of most surveys of what Americans’ see as our greatest challenges? (CEOs, too.) Since James Hansen brought global warming to the headlines in his 1989 Senate testimony, activists for action on this issue have had almost every advantage. They have PR agencies (e.g., Hansen’s new paper, the expensive propaganda video by 10:10. They have all the relevant institutions supporting them, including NASA, NOAA, the news media, academia, lavish funding from foundations and charities, even funding from the energy companies (also here), They have support from the majority of scientists.

The other side, “skeptics”, have some funding from energy companies and conservative groups, with the heavy lifting being done by volunteer amateurs, plus a few scientists and meteorologists.

What the Soviet military called the correlation of forces overwhelmingly favored those wanting action. Public policy in America should have gone green many years ago. Why didn’t it?

(2)  How do scientists alert the world to a catastrophic threat?

“Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.”
— Harsh but operationally accurate Roman proverb.

We have seen this played out many times in books and films since the publication of When Worlds Collide in 1932 — A group of scientists see a threat. They go to America’s (or the world’s) leaders and state their case, presenting the data for others to examine and answering questions. They never say things like this…

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The 97% consensus of climate scientists is only 47%

Summary: In February 2014 I examined surveys of climate scientists and found (as had others) that they showed broad agreement with the IPCC’s headline statement about warming since 1950. However time brings new research, such as a major survey that digs deeper and finds that only a minority of climate scientists agree with the full keynote statement of AR5 — the most recent IPCC report. That’s important news.

In March – April 2012 the PBL Netherlands Climate Assessment Agency, with several other scientists, conducted a survey of approximately 6,550 scientists studying climate change. It was published as “Scientists’ Views about Attribution of Global Warming” by Bart Verheggen et al in the 19 Aug 2014 issue of Environmental Science and Technology (peer-reviewed). In April 2015 they published a more detailed report (used in this post).

This survey covered many of the frontiers of climate science. This post examines one the questions about the keynote statement of the IPCC’s most recent work — Assessment Report 5 (AR5)…

“It is extremely likely {95%+ certainty} that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. ”

— From the Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC’s AR5 Working Group I.

The PBL survey is the first I’ve seen to test agreement with both facets of that statement. First, how much of the global surface warming is caused by anthropogenic (human-caused) emissions of greenhouse gases? (Note AR5 referred to all factors; see “Details” below). Only 1,222 of 1,868 (64% of respondents) agreed with AR5 that the answer was over 50%. If we exclude the 164 (8.8%) “I don’t know” respondents, 72% agree with the IPCC. So far, so good.

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Testing Skeptical Science: is Roger Pielke Sr. a climate misinformer?

Summary: A post last week examined a darling of the Right, Zero Hedge. This post takes an equally harsh look at a darling of the Left, Skeptical Science. Both show how our stronger loyalty to tribe than truth encourages our information providers to feed us a mix of fact and politically appealing misinformation, shaping our beliefs and maintaining internal cohesion of the tribe (and our distrust of the “others”). We’ll remain gullible and easily led until we learn skepticism and demand more accuracy from those we trust.  {1st of 2 posts today.}

“Truth is strong enough to overcome all human sophistries.”
Timarchum by Aeschines (389–314 BC).

The Truth is Out There

Smearing scientists is a staple on both sides of the climate wars — the debate about the public policy implications of climate change. Such smears not only overflow the comment sections of popular websites, they’re often seen in the writings of major players on the public stage.

For example, see the 40 “climate misinformers” listed on John Cook’s Skeptical Science. It’s one of the climate-focused websites most widely cited on the Left, known for its flamboyant claims.  This post examines the first of 4 SkS page about eminent climate scientist Roger Pielke Sr.

Before examining the details of SkS’s content, note the vast amount of work that went into creating it. The 4 pages about Pielke Sr. are one of 40 about “climate misinformers” — which is one of 10 “resources”, which are just one part of the SkS website (which has aps for iPhone, Android, and Nokia). This shows a major difference between the websites of climate “warriors” and “skeptics”. Despite claims that the skeptics have vast funds from evil oil, their websites are a ramshackle pile of contributions from volunteers (however skilled). Several the climate warriors have professional-quality websites.

About a misinformer

What was are the myths of Roger Pielke Sr.? How do SkS’ claims look today? The SkS page (it’s undated) gives ten quotes which they call “myths”. Not one of their rebuttals looks correct. A lot of the SkS content is like that, which is why people so often report their critical comments get deleted (no Smackdowns page there). I’ve slightly expanded some of Pielke’s quotes, and made small edits for clarity (e.g., numbering the myths).

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Is our certain fate a coal-burning climate apocalypse? No!

As we approach November’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris climate activists will warn of dismal futures, while others assure us that we need take no action. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report 5 (AR5) provides a context for evaluation of these claims, from the horrific to the panglossian. This looks at the dark side of the range, scenarios possible but perhaps unlikely. {Revised July 20.}

World burning

In AR5 four Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) describe scenarios for future emissions, concentrations, and land-use, ending with radiative forcing levels of 2.6, 4.5, 6.0, and 8.5 W/m2 by 2100. Strong mitigation policies result in a low forcing level (RCP2.6). Two medium stabilization scenarios lead to intermediate outcomes: (RCP4.5, RCP6.0).

IPCC's AR5: 4 RCPs

RCP8.5 gets the most attention. It assumes the most population growth (a doubling of Earth’s population to 12 billion), the lowest rate of technology development, slow GDP growth, a massive increase in world poverty, plus high energy use and emissions. (For more about these RCPs see van Vuuren, Detlef P. et al 2011. “The representative concentration pathways: an overview”, Climatic Change 109: 1-2, pp 5-31. Source of these 2 graphics.)

People — from scientists to journalists — often describe RCP8.5 as the baseline scenario (“business as usual”, see below), a future without policy action, resulting in severe climate impacts amidst a nightmarish world — but that’s an inaccurate description. Including such a scenario in AR5 would have been useful.

RCP8.5 shows the result of some extreme trends with little or no mitigation efforts. While conservative planning requires considering such extreme outcomes, journalists seldom discuss its assumptions or likelihood.

RP8.5 assumes population growth at the high end of the current UN probabilistic forecasts: 80% odds of between 9.6 and 12.3 billion people by 2100 (Gerland, P. et al, Science 10 Oct 2014). Most of this growth occurs in Africa, which in turn assumes that Africa can support that many people.

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A leading scientist warns about the climate: “The time for debate has ended. Action is urgently needed.”

Summary: The science establishment is betting its credibility, going all in on extreme climate in preparation for November’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.  The pretense of professional objectivity has been abandoned. The role of science in our society and the political Left — allies in this project — might depend on the weather of the next few years. Have they weighed the stakes vs. the risks?  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

A Burning World

Today’s astounding example of science at work is this editorial by Marcia McNutt — editor-in-Chief of Science and next President of the National Academy of Sciences — in the July 3 issue of Science: “The beyond-two-degree inferno“. Please read it in full, for you’ll see many more such statements this year. I’ll cite a few of its strange elements.

The coming inferno

“Let’s act now, to save the next generations from the consequences of the beyond-two-degree inferno.”

The title is shocking. Describing the effects of rising CO2 as apocalyptic is a defining trait of climate alarmists, outside the climate science mainstream since there is little support in the IPCC’s Working Group I reports for such dire forecasts.

There is little basis for describing a rise of 2 degrees above temperatures at the preindustrial moment (temperatures fluctuated before industrialization). For details see Samuel Randalls (University College) “History of the 2°C climate target” (WIRES Climate Change, July/Aug 2010). It might not inspire your confidence in the utility of 2°C as a red line.

Large increases in surface temperatures are possible if climate sensitivity is at the high end of current estimates and we burn off almost all the world’s fossil fuel deposits (especially coal) in the 21st century. However, the high end to estimates of the climate’s sensitivity to CO2 has been falling. The latter assumption seems even weaker. It’s only 2015 and the developed nations are already moving away from coal (North American coal consumption peaked in 2005, dropped 21% by 2012 — and continues to fall). Even China, the big coal growth story, intends large-scale replacement of coal-burning plants (forced by their horrific air pollution).

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