An article giving strong evidence of global warming

A fascinating article, which I recommend to anyone interested in our changing climate or modern geopolitics:

“The Present Climatic Fluctuation” by Hans W. Ahlmann (namesake of the Ahlmann Glacier), of the Swedish Geographical Institute, published in The Geographical Journal, Volume 112, No. 4/6, pages 165-193.

This powerfully reasoned and data-rich article makes a strong case for global warming.  Especially noteworthy are his conclusions about the significance of these trends for humanity (see below).


The present climatic fluctuation has been discussed since the 1920’s almost exclusively in scientific circles, although recently it has become a subject of more than academic interest.  The reason for this is the increasingly obvious consequences of this climatic phenomenon on both physical and biological conditions, in Europe and elsewhere. Ordinary people are beginning to realize that something has happened and is happening which is of great interest to themselves. The last dry summer, which transformed large parts of Western Europe into a virtual steppe, increased this interest and also caused anxiety, though this drought cannot be said with any certainty to belong to the present climatic fluctuation.

One generally differentiates between climatic variation and climatic fluctuation, meaning by the former a change of climate maintained over a long period of time, by the latter a change over a shorter period. Climatic variations of primary importance are exemplified by the Ice Age glaciations with inter-glacial epochs. Transitional between variations of primary importance and fluctuations we have the climatic changes which have taken place since the last pleistocene glaciation, in post-glacial and historical times.

Outline of the article

The author presents a wide range of evidence showing global warming.

  1. Climatological evidence
  2. Glaciological evidence
  3. Oceanographical evidence
  4. Biological evidence
  5. Eustatic evidence (concerning the variation of sea level)

Esp. interesting are the compelling photos of Abrekkeg glacier, showing recession since 1869.

The author’s conclusions (bold emphasis added)

Finally we must ask ourselves how we can best help to elucidate the whole problem of the present climatic fluctuation. The Antarctic occupies a key position. In addition to thorough investigations in the Antarctic, we must have systematic meteorological observations with radiosonde, if possible in sections right up into the stratosphere and extending from Pole to Pole; from the main Antarctic inland ice, over the permanent British stations in Graham Land and on through South and North America. Of no less importance would be a similar section through Africa via Kilimanjaro and on through Europe and Spitsbergen.

If we find in the Antarctic similar evidence of the present climatic fluctuation as has been found in other parts of the world, we shall be justified in concluding that the present fluctuation is a world-wide phenomenon and probably the result of variations in solar activity which, slow as they may be to take effect, are actually resulting in an improvement in the climate of our world.

The publication date is October – December of 1948.  And yes, he sees global warming as beneficial to humanity.  Why do we find this strange?  Throughout history cooling has been the malefactor, associated with crop failures and plagues.  Warming, while often disruptive (like any change), means better growing conditions for most areas.  People die from overheating in the summer, but far more die from freezing in winter.

My conclusions

The useful conclusions from this have nothing to do with the correctness of this paper’s data, reasoning, or conclusions.

(1)  Anthropological global warming (AGW, caused by us) is more difficult to prove than global warming

The data showed clear indications of global warming in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Hence the difficulty of demonstrating AGW as a substantial driver of current warming, since the natural warming trend was established before massive global industrialization.  Proving causation requires more than showing a trend, since the trend was already there.  This is a repeated fallacy of general media articles about global warming (but not, of course, of the climate science literature).

(2)  Keeping the public ignorant of normal climate cycles

The inconvenient truth about 19th and 20th century warming is omitted from many “educational” articles and movies, along with any mention of past climatic swings.  Doing so makes it easier to arouse fears about AGW by exploiting the public’s ignorance of history and logic.  AGW can be proven by appealing to post hoc ergo propter hoc — if industrialization preceded warming, then industrialization must have caused warming.  This is a wonderful use of propaganda:  false fact used to support false logic.

(3) Will warming on balance help or hurt humanity?

A thorough, balanced analysis might show that the global warming forecast will cause net harm to humanity.  Or perhaps not.  Has anyone done such an analysis?  Unfortunately today the path to fame and glory today comes from articles attributing only ill effects from global warming – no matter how outlandish.  One can read many, many articles before finding any hints that warming might have a few good effects.

This one-sided, often exaggerated, outlook is a primary indication of propaganda.  It need not be a centrally directed or even coordinated campaign to have great impact.

Update:  another look at the data

(hat tip to the Instapundit“Does a Spin-Orbit Coupling Between the Sun and the Jovian Planets Govern the Solar Cycle?”, I. R. G. Wilson A , C , B. D. Carter B and I. A. Waite B, Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia (26 June 2008) — Abstract:

We present evidence to show that changes in the Sun’s equatorial rotation rate are synchronized with changes in its orbital motion about the barycentre of the Solar System. We propose that this synchronization is indicative of a spin-orbit coupling mechanism operating between the Jovian planets and the Sun. … Based on our claim that changes in the Sun’s equatorial rotation rate are synchronized with changes in the Sun’s orbital motion about the barycentre, we propose that the mean period for the Sun’s meridional flow is set by a Synodic resonance between the flow period (~22.3 yr), the overall 178.7-yr repetition period for the solar orbital motion, and the 19.86-yr synodic period of Jupiter and Saturn.

What does this mean?  See “Cooling coming“, Andrew Bolt, of Australia (29 June 2008) — excerpt:

Or as one of the authors, Ian Wilson, kindly explained to me:  “It supports the contention that the level of activity on the Sun will significantly diminish sometime in the next decade and remain low for about 20 – 30 years. On each occasion that the Sun has done this in the past the World’s mean temperature has dropped by ~ 1 – 2 C. “


Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

For information about this site see the About page, at the top of the right-side menu bar.

For more information about global climate change

(a)  Other posts on this site

  1. A look at the science and politics of global warming  (12 June 2008)
  2. Global warming means more earthquakes!  (19 June 2008)
  3. Worrying about the Sun and climate change – cycle 24 is late  (10 July 2008)
  4. Update: is Solar Cycle 24 late (a cooling cycle, with famines, etc)?  (15 July 2008)
  5. More forecasts of a global cooling cycle  (15 July 2008)

(b)  Information from other sources

  1. SURFACE TEMPERATURE RECONSTRUCTIONS FOR THE LAST 2,000 YEARS“, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES (2006) — aka The North Report.
  2. Report of the “Ad Hoc Committee on the Hockey Stick Global Climate Reconstruction”, commissioned by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce (July 2006) — aka The Wegman Report.  Also note this excerpt from the Q&A session of the Dr. Edward J. Wegman’s testimony.
  3. The role of statisticians in public policy debates over climate change“, Richard L. Smith, American Statistical Association – Section on Statistics & the Environment Newsletter (Spring 2007) — One of the too-few reports by statisticians on the climate change literature.
  4. A timeline of the science and politics of climate science.
  5. Bibliography by year of climate science research

51 thoughts on “An article giving strong evidence of global warming”

  1. This week James Hansen, the face of man made climate change hysteria in the US, was again testifying in front of the Senate. Alas, if only someone would bother to check this guy’s record for predicting climate catastrophy: “Hansen, 20 Years Later“, Dirk the Noorman (29 June 2008).

    Fabius Maximus replies: the blog post mentioned discusses Hansen’s presentation to Congress, 20 years ago. It links to the transcript, well-worth reading.

    As a note of historical trivia, I heard a presentation by Hansen almost 20 years ago (after his presentation to Congress). Even with my limited knowledge of statistics and modeling it struck me as an interesting basis for more research, but a very weak basis on which to draw conclusions.

    Twenty years later we know relatively little more. The models still have not be given 3rd party reviews. Much of the key supporting data still has not been replicated. The surface station network has been discredited as a source of the high-precision data needed. But the public policy bandwagon is in full over-drive.

    None of this means that AGW is false or even over-stated. Just that the basis in verified research is inadequate IMO for large-scale public policy initiatives. This is not an academic discussion about the age of a relic or classification of fish — but something on which we are asked to spending trillions of dollars.

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  3. We all know and accept that this century has seen unusually warm periods. What is annoying is the rush to action by the prophets of dire consequences… Nothing in nature is -all- bad nor -all- good. We humans adapt. That is our specialty. More than any animal we respond to changes in the environment We will adapt to the changes that arise. we do not need totalitarians predicting dire consequences and urging action -NOW!. When even they do not believe anything will happen for forty years or more… When we picked up trash and recycled it was with the believe that “It couldn’t hurt and might help”… The draconian and sudden impoverishment of Western Civilization to avert a disaster that has never happened in recorded or geologic time is simply a political movement.

    We do not worry or spent money on asteroids and yet they have wiped life from the planet several times. In Siberia, there as an impact within recorded history… yet we do nothing..

    we are not serious about things that ma actually happen. We only get silly about things that excite celebrities…

  4. In order to adopt the Warmers’ full program, you have to prove:

    1. That we can accurately measure whether the earth is getting warmer or not.
    2. That the proxy data (ice core samples, tree rings, etc.) is reliable enough to provide a good baseline for comparison.
    3. That the timeline of climate change is adequately large to be meaningful. (1,000 years versus 1 billion, for example).

    Now that you’ve proven all these things. You must prove:

    4. That we can accurately assess man’s contributions to the putative warming.
    5. That we can accurately model and predict how changes to man’s behavior will affect the putative warming trend.
    6. That we can meaningfully lower man’s impact on the climate through a coordinated global effort.
    7. That this effort at remediation can be shared equitably around the world.

    If you’ve gotten that far, then you must show:

    8. That the global efforts at combating the putative warming have a net quality of life and economic benefit around the globe. In other words, the costs of remediation are outweighed by the benefits.

    Finally, you need to disprove that:

    9. There is a higher net benefit to mankind by letting the earth warm, as the above post discusses.

    If you take any reasonable guess at odds for each of these and plug this percentage into a sequential probability formula, you can see how utterly ridiculous this whole warming religion is. You can never get even close to 50 percent. These idiots want to tax us all into oblivion for a longshot bet that none of them would make at a craps table.

    pAGWR = (p1 * p2 * p3 * p4 * p5 * p6 * p7 * p8) * (1 – p9)

    Linear thinking is indeed in short supply among these so-called climate scientists.
    Fabius Maximus replies: I believe the conclusion is too harsh. The people involved in this research have devoted their professional lives to this work. That inevitabily results in a loss of perspective. That’s why we have seperation of functions. Managers do not audit their own accounts, athletes do not keep score, and scientists’ work needs third party verification.

  5. Well, Hansen has called for “war crimes” trials for oil executives. A bit of harshness for such asshattery is in order, I would think. Maybe some of these guys have reached their beliefs honestly. But science does not operate by “consensus,” as they themselves know–it operates on constant hypothesis and testing. Many of the Warmers have adopted an omniscient pose. This is harmful. So too, though, is the near complete ability of MSM reporters to assess their claims critically.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Scientists are often fanatics. Their contribution to humanity is knowledge, not wisdom. Here are Hansen’s words. They are bizarre on several levels; most esp. since the most pervasive and effective agitprop has been by the “pro-AGW” folks:

    “Special interests have blocked transition to our renewable energy future. Instead of moving heavily into renewable energies, fossil companies choose to spread doubt about global warming, as tobacco companies discredited the smoking-cancer link. Methods are sophisticated, including funding to help shape school textbook discussions of global warming.

    “CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.”

  6. So maybe Hansen’s Scenario C – the one that wasn’t going to be much trouble – is still in play, but even that is suspect.

    I don’t know what you guys do for a living, but I wouldn’t still have my job with predictions like that unless I found a way to bury them instead of highlighting them.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Just a reminder… This post is about the presentation of Climate Science to the general public — including efforts by some climate scientists, journalists, and policy “experts” to shape the discussion. We are not discussing the actual work of climate scientists in a professional context.

    Science advances on the basis of data collection and theory. Bold forecasts can advance the process, whether they provie right or wrong. They become problematic only when used prematurely for public policy. It is human nature for scientists to promote their work in the public sphere.

    Blaming Hansen et al is IMO shifting the responsibility. It is our collective error not to insist on verification by multi-disciplinary teams of experts, drawn from those less involved in the debate.

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  8. Twenty years ago, Dr. Hansen made the claims about AGW. Chief amongst them was the claim that sea levels would rise at an increasing rate. It has now been long enough to see such a rate increase, if he were correct. I have looked at the Mean Sea Level data from across the world, as available on the internet.
    No significant increase in the rate of sea level rising is evident. To be clear, there has been a sea level rising trend noted worldwide since the 19th century, presumably before any anthropogenic effects could cause the rise. What Hansen predicted was a rise in the rate of sea level increase.
    What do you call it when you make a theory, and use that theory to make a prediction, and that prediction fails to occur?

    An Analysis of the TOPEX Sea Level Record“, Climate Audit (13 October 2006)
    Fabius Maximus replies: Please, no more comments about the validity of global warming, anthropological global warming, or Hansen’s theories. This site is about geopolitics, not Climate Science.

    The campaign to convince people of the AGW threat is within the focus of this site. It’s validity, methods used, etc. As such Hansen’s statements are fair game.

    But not Hansen’s work as a climate scientist. I lack the expertise to evaluate that, as do I suspect most of the folks commenting on it.

  9. This is the best over-arching analysis of the lunacy that is global warming prediction I have seen.


    In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group One, a panel of experts established by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme, issued its Fourth Assessment Report. The Report included predictions of dramatic increases in average world temperatures over the next 92 years and serious harm resulting from the predicted temperature increases. Using forecasting principles as our guide we asked: Are these forecasts a good basis for developing public policy? Our answer is “no”.

    To provide forecasts of climate change that are useful for policy-making, one would need to forecast (1) global temperature, (2) the effects of any temperature changes, and (3) the effects of feasible alternative policies. Proper forecasts of all three are necessary for rational policy making.

    The IPCC WG1 Report was regarded as providing the most credible long-term forecasts of global average temperatures by 31 of the 51 scientists and others involved in forecasting climate change who responded to our survey. We found no references in the 1056-page Report to the primary sources of information on forecasting methods despite the fact these are conveniently available in books, articles, and websites. We audited the forecasting processes described in Chapter 8 of the IPCC’s WG1 Report to assess the extent to which they complied with forecasting principles. We found enough information to make judgments on 89 out of a total of 140 forecasting principles. The forecasting procedures that were described violated 72 principles. Many of the violations were, by themselves, critical.

    The forecasts in the Report were not the outcome of scientific procedures. In effect, they were the opinions of scientists transformed by mathematics and obscured by complex writing. Research on forecasting has shown that experts’ predictions are not useful in situations involving uncertainly and complexity. We have been unable to identify any scientific forecasts of global warming. Claims that the Earth will get warmer have no more credence than saying that it will get colder.
    Fabius Maximus replies: This is off-topic, as I noted in the previous comment. However, references to the professional literature are always welcomed here. Thank you for posting it.

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  12. Global Warming or Global Temperature Normalization?

    Considering that we had the Little Ice Age from ca.1300-1850. One could argue that we are seeing a normalization of the global temperature of our present time between Ice Ages.

    From a political view it’s easier to mobilize people against Warming (We must stop warming),
    where as to mobilize people against Normalization seems less attractive if not foolish (Stop normalization).

    But all the problems resulting from a normalization of global temperatures are still there and should be addressed.
    Fabius Maximus replies: The current view of “pro-AGW” climate scientists is that the Little Ice Age (LIA) was a purely northern hemisphere event. Re-characterizing it as such was perhaps their major success, done with remarkably little evidence — and by by ignoring the evidence showing it was a global event (not that there is much long-term s. hemispheric data).

  13. those who believe agw is in progress are no more justified in believing that than (what appears to be) the majority here are justified in believing agw is not in progress. to date the nature of the problem has prevented conclusive proof, either for or against, from being found.

    that human activity has altered the atmosphere, thus, to some extent, the oceans, is incontrovertible; whether or not that anthropomorphic altering has reached a significant threshold is unknown.

    what we do know is that today, species are going extinct at 100 to 1,000 times the normal rate: Destruction of natural habitats and the effects of climate change are causing species to die out at 100 to 1,000 times faster than the natural rate: “Earth facing ‘catastrophic’ loss of species“, Guardian (20 July 2006).

    inference suggests we do not wait for proof of agw before we do what we can in all areas where humans have an impact on the environment.
    Fabius Maximus replies: This article is a neat bit of work, conflating two seperate dyanmics: destruction of habitats and climate change. They are, however, seperate issues, and evidence of the first does not mean that we should take the second more seriously.

    Since destruction of habitats is obvious and the effects serious, why not focus on that why more research is done about the nature and causes of climate change?

  14. I still fail to see how we (humans) think we know what the world is suppose to be and what it is and isn’t suppose to be doing. Compaired to the age of earth and how long we have been here we are a new species on this planet and we think we know what “nature” is suppose to be doing. I think this Global warming this is crazy and the fact we think we are a threat at all to earth just proves our need for power. For all we know the changes in the earth are normal and thats what it should be doing. How do we know that the ice in the north poll isn’t going through a seasonable change just on a larger scale than we know about. Why do we think we know everything and how it should be. If there is global warming them why isn’t the ice in the south poll melting? For people to say we are killing the earth with our cars is just nonsense. Cows and cigarettes put of more carbon monoxide than most cars and no one is blaming them.

    Excerpt from “The Planet Is Fine” by George Carlin:

    “The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through all kinds of things worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles…hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worlwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages…And we think some plastic bags, and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference?”
    Fabius Maximus replies: I think this view is a bit extreme. We have the power to alter the ecosphere in ways harmful to us and our fellow passengers. That power gives us responsibility to use it wisely. That the Earth has seen changes far greater than we are likely to cause is true, but not relevant.

  15. The underlying geopolitics of the Warmers is: Control. Centralized Control by those wonderfully elitist boobs who generally have no scientific education or have such a narrow focus as to stop outside scientists from auditing/critiquing their work. Unfortunately, the portion of the human race that somehow has the arrogant belief that they need to control the rest of us poor, stupid masses is now hard at work using the AGW arguments (however poorly constructed or analysed) to help to run our collective lives.

    On the critique side: take a look at that little (55 million year) period of time known as the “Carboniferous Period”. During that entire time frame – and it was well long enough to constitute geologic time – the median temps were lower than today. Today, CO2 is .000382 (382 parts per million – ppm) vs 140,000 ppm (14% of the total atmosphere) during the Carboniferous Period! From where I sit, there is a pretty clear disconnect between the CO2 “Crisis” and proveable, historical analysis of an extended time period and the CO2 content/temperature relationships. We all need to have the data & methodologies properly studied & and third party reviewed to stop the nonesense side of this issue to hopefully get to a proper and useful consensus as to what actions are truly needed, if any.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Please, no more comments about the validity of global warming, anthropological global warming, or Hansen’s theories. This site is about geopolitics, not Climate Science. I lack the expertise to evaluate climate science wrok, as do I suspect most of the folks commenting on it.

    The campaign to convince people of the AGW threat is within the focus of this site. It’s validity, methods used, etc. As such Hansen’s statements are fair game.

    If you are a scientist working on these things, please identify yourself — any contribution you make to the discussion will be appreciated!

    I agree that climate science has been used for a political purpose, to increase government control over the economy. That is not to say that this is the motivation of most in the debate, however.

  16. This is an article I wrote a while back. Got some decent links on it if you want to use any of the information.

    Beware of Entangling Alliances“, Free Market Progressive (14 December 2007) — Opening:

    “The global push to enforce carbon emissions regulations concerns me. I believe we have an obligation to protect the planet from man-made pollution and emissions, but the debate is all wrong. George Washington wisely stated “beware of entangling alliances.” As a proponent of global cooperation, I think there is some merit to the discussions, but the solutions are not good for the world economy.
    This story from the government EPW committee really focuses on what is going on:”

  17. Please recall the central theme of Crichton’s “State of Fear,” i.e., AGW as a public relations offensive. Fabius Maximus is correct to call for 3rd party reviews of long term climate modeling software “predictions.” With weather station anomalies now well documented, these models are the sole remaining basis of the IPCC’s conclusions.

    1) By definition, they are unverifiable, as these models “predict” events decades hence. Any predictive model MUST be validated by experimental data.

    2) In order to produce a result, these models require significant “user defined inputs” (variables provided by the human operator that range from known constants to best guess estimates) before the simulation can begin. It’s extremely easy for these user defined inputs to guide a model toward a predetermined conclusion, i.e., the “scientific consensus” trumpeted by AGW proponents.

    3) Case in point: Model predictions of climate in the 1998-2008 period have demonstrated statistically significant variance compared to actual temperatures. This variance indicts the long term validity of these models.
    Fabius Maximus replies: The effort to validate the US surface temperature measurement effort was purely an amateur effort, which has paid off in powerful insights about its low utility as a source of precise long-term records. See for more about this.

  18. I think recent global changes ties back to our successes in fighting pollution.

    Even the North and South pole data correlate to increases and decreases in particulate/aerosol pollution with the North getting warmer and the South getting colder. The China Paradox, the weekend effect… am I the only one who sees a correlation between removing real pollution from the air and it getting warmer? “Does Particulate Reduction Help Explain Progressive Global Warming Trends?“, Jimmy Hogan, The Rational Enviromentalist (5 February 2007).

    Interestingly the cure is the cause. I guess it’s Nixon’s fault (again) for forming the EPA.
    Since we are already as a point of diminishing returns on pollution control it makes sense that this trend will level out rather than continue the trajectory of all of the Malthusian model trendlines. No worries mate.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Please — no more comments about the validity of global warming or anthropological global warming. This site is about geopolitics, not Climate Science. I lack the expertise to evaluate the professional climate science literature, as do I suspect most of the folks commenting on it.

    I hate to censor comments, but many of these are beyond the focus of this site. Worse, beyond the expertise of most of the audience here (including myself), and probably of those posting such comments.

    The topic here is the *campaign* to convince people of the AGW threat — it’s validity (in terms of the climate science literature), methods used, etc.

  19. I am curently writing a (short) book on the psychological processes at work on how individual axioms (by definition PARTIAL truths) expand into conventional wisdom (same except for the affect on much larger groups). It is actually a business theory book but the principles can have universal application.

    Such is the case in the rush to believe in AGW. I could go on and on about how secular types are trying to fill a spiritual void in their lives through a belief in something as universal as catastrophic changes in the earth’s environment. But to me that is akin to how many angels on the head of a pin discussion. What’s important is how the dynamic works in mass psychology. And of course this is a classic case.

    What you have in AGW is “something for (almost) everyone”. The doomsday crowd, the enviros, corporation hating liberals, but most dangerous of all,the political class. So you have a series of special interests converging to create an environment where the politicians have full “moral high ground” cover for increased taxes and its inevitable result, increased consolidation of centralized power.

    I would like to add that your site was sent to me by my stepson and it seems a very erudite forum.
    Keep up the good work Fabius!
    Fabius Maximus replies: Please check back when you publish, giving us the title and publication date!

  20. What it all points to is that we really don’t know whats going on in the environment. I do not prescribe the manmade version of warming, but science is supposed to find out all the facts and then describe a theory not the reverse.

    If we need to spend money to find out what is going on then so be it, but policy
    should not be decided till the facts are in. Here is another report on solar based warming and cooling and goes into the benefits of increased carbon dioxide.

    The Past and Future of Climate“, David Archibald, A presentation to The Lavoisier Group’s 2007 Workshop ‘Rehabilitating Carbon Dioxide’ held in Melbourne on 29-30 June 2007 — 24 page PDF.
    Fabius Maximus replies: In this respect climate science is like research about Peak Oil. Much enthusiasm for theory and models, less for data collection and analysis, much much less for sharing and verification of data. As a result the process of science moves forward more slowly than necessary, or appropriate given the seriousness of the subject.

  21. Intuitively, it “feels” right to me that a warmer climate is, for the most part, a better climate. After all, most of us are dreaming of a tropical island, not a frozen wasteland for our next vacation. We are attracted to warm weather, not cold. Longer growing seasons, warmer winters and not much hotter summers(*), etc. seem like enormous benefits for most people. I have always been suspicious of the people who seem determined to ignore any positive impacts from global warming, while exaggerating the negatives (20 foot seas, etc).

    When a document about global warming mentions that cooling bills will skyrocket without noting heating bills will plumment, you know you’re reading propaganda.

    My personal position is that I would love a much warmer climate. I live in the Northeast, and, well, every degree helps.

    It does seem interesting that those who would have to make huge sacrifices to prevent global warming (people living in Northern latitudes) would gain substantially from it in the shape of a far nicer climate, while those who will lose (Bangladesh, etc) are those who are unwilling to make the sacrifices. If Bangladesh wants to prevent global warming, perhaps requiring pollution controls on its huge numbers of two stroke engines would be a nice start. I think it takes something like 100 SUVs to push out as much pollution as one of those things.

    (*) In his new book “Cool it – The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide To Global Warming” Bjorn Lomborg notes that for reasons not discussed, global warming means warmer nights and winters and only somewhat hotter summers.

  22. An important factor to discuss when talking about the risks of climate change is the discount rate of the costs in the future.

    In short, spending 1 billion today to prevent 1 billion in damages 100 years from now is a very silly thing to do. The net present value of damage in 100 years is a tiny fraction of that cost.

    The IPCC has said that warming values below 2.5 degrees C will probably have a net beneficial effect on the planet, coming in the form of longer growing seasons in the most fertile regions of the planet, lower heating bills in the most populous areas, etc. There will be a net cost to the equatorial regions, but this could be offset with wealth transfers of part of the warming benefit in the north. In other words, we could simply take a little of the money we gain from warming in the cold countries, and use it to offset the damage from warming in the warm countries, and the earth’s economy as a whole would be better off.

    I believe 2.5 degrees C is about the median estimate for warming in the next century. But let’s say it goes higher – to 4 degrees. In that case, there would be a net cost to the planet. But it’s not that simple, because on the way to the destructure temperatures we will pass through a long period where the warming is actually beneficial. Since the benefits come earlier and the costs come later, the net present value of the benefits is higher than the cost (i.e. you could invest the money you earn from the benefits, and by the time the costs arrive, you’d have a lot more money to deal with them.)

    The Stern Report, which is often cited by AGW alarmists, used an artificially low discount rate to make its conclusions look worse. If you adjust the discount rate to a more reasonable figure, the Stern Report’s conclusion don’t hold.

    Anyway, as a policy matter, it’s important to educate the population on the implications of a discount rate and the subsequent devaluing of damages a long time in the future.

    Of course, this only matters if the argument is economic. I’m afraid most AGW supporters who use economic arguments only do so because they are the ones that tend to resonate with people. If they would still support strong reductions in CO2 even if it could be shown that no economic harm would come from them, then they won’t be receptive to counter-arguments from an economic standpoint, even if they’re willing to use them when it’s to their benefit.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Thanks for this valuable comment!

  23. It appears that the climate is a far more complex system than Dr. Hansen understood. It may be too complex to model. But it’s perfect for fundraising by green groups.

    How very political! How very unscientific!

  24. I thought it had been a given for generations that “cold and dry” and “wet and warm” were perfectly logical climatological phrases. It’s odd to me that today’s “Global Warmongers” predict unusually severe droughts as a result of warming. Granted, it can get “wet and cold” as it did in 14th century Europe, but in the larger sweep of time, an ice age causes desertification, and warming due to a greenhouse effect leads to more lushness. Come to think of it, isn’t that why greenhouses were invented?

    Also, the predictions of increased hurricane activity: Aren’t severe storms more a matter of temperature variance then simply grreater warming? Doesn’t warming cause climate to be milder, and therefore somewhat less susceptible to temperature extremes that partly affect air circulation?

  25. Global warming is good!We can have a longer growing season for corn to make more ethonol!Snowbirds can stop traveling to Florida in the winter saving all that fuel.Imagine liberals swimming in the great lakes in Febuary!Im so happy for yall!

  26. Fabius Maximus replies:

    This article is a neat bit of work, conflating two seperate dyanmics: destruction of habitats and climate change. They are, however, seperate issues, and evidence of the first does not mean that we should take the second more seriously. Since destruction of habitats is obvious and the effects serious, why not focus on that why more research is done about the nature and causes of climate change?

    A.Walkjer replys: Climate change alone is expected to force a further 15%- 37% of species to the brink of extinction ithin the next 50 years. (per “Earth facing ‘catastrophic’ loss of species“, Guardian, 20 July 2006).
    Fabius Maximus replies: As I said above, the damage from climate change is a speculation about future damage based on climate forecasts — which have a poor track record, and have been highly politicized (as described in my post). Habitat destruction is a pressing, certain, and immediate problem. Hence I suggest far more deserving of action as well as research.

  27. (1) Lets stop buying goods from poor countries like Africa,Mexico and Vietnam this will save lots of energy because we can produce it here.Then after all those people starve to death there will be less global warming!

    (2) Because alot of money is given to liberal colleges for research. Liberal scientist have not been able to invent or produce there magic alternitive fuel to replace fossil fuel.They are ones that combine the two issues.

    (3) Libeals are ones that combine the two issues.

    (4) There excuse for not drilling is that it causes global warming. I know this is false because we drill and refine oil here in Louisiana and we dont have any warming. Maybe it drifted to the artic region!

  28. This is total BS! Even if you believe global warming is real, why is it that Mars, Neptune, and Pluto are heating up? Magic cow farts? Did you know that there are volcanic eruptions under the arctic ice? Yet the “scientists” say there see no links between the boiling water and melting ice. I have thoroughly debunked this lie in an article I wrote. Read it here:

    They Blinded us with Pseudoscience – The Global Warming Con“, Stefen Forbes, at A War of Illusions (18 April 2008).

    Volcanoes Erupt Beneath Arctic Ice“, Livescience (27 June 2008)
    Fabius Maximus replies: I am not a climate scientist, and probably neither are you. They will fight it out in due time, in their journals and conferences. This is the not the place to discuss the climate science issues.

  29. Pingback: Facts of Global Warming « Excerpt of Free Notions

  30. Global warming = way for elite to control man by making him the enemy, wake up, you can still care about our planet and not destroy mankind.

  31. Interesting article… From the research done on this end, global warming is due in part to the Sun getting hotter. Granted, we may not be helping the cause but either way it’s not just us consuming.

  32. Pingback: Top Posts «

  33. As I understand it, the hypothesis of the Danish National Space Center goes as follows:

    ‘Active’ sun → enhanced magnetic and thermal flux = solar wind → geomagnetic shield response → less low-level clouds → less albedo (less heat reflected) → warmer climate

    Less active sun → reduced magnetic and thermal flux = reduced solar wind → geomagnetic shield drops → galactic cosmic ray flux → more low-level clouds and more snow → more albedo effect (more heat reflected) → colder climate

    That is how the bulk of climate change might work, coupled with (modulated by) sunspot peak frequency there are cycles of global warming and cooling like waves in the ocean. When the waves are closely spaced, the planets warm; when the waves are spaced farther apart, the planets cool.

    The politicians treat voters like children on the issue of AGW offering only two simple options: Cap and Trade or Carbon Tax. What about the third way – listen to the science? It is the sun. There is no experimental evidence to support CO2 and AGW, or we would have seen it. This house of cards was built decades ago and the entire derivative ‘research’ since then has no scientific foundation. Time is running out because there has been no net warming for ten years. Is that why James Hansen wants to put ‘deniers’ in prison (reminiscent of Zimbabwe)? Hansen wants to silence the opposition and to preside over the demise of capitalism before the long glacial freeze sets in.

  34. zap Louisiana

    algore is my hero!He set the bar on how much c02 i can produce.The only problem i dont have a jet,limos or mansion.Well i guess i will never need to conserve!

    Carbon tax?Lets tax computer use it will save more energy than curly light bulbs.This will stop GW!

    People live in the dessert!So get use to it or buy an air conditioner.

  35. Whether we are in the midst of global warming, or global cooling, distracts from the real key issues: reducing pollution and reducing energy dependence. France took a look at both issues, and decided to do something about them – in 1973! France is now the world’s largest exporter of electricity, and has the lowest pollution in all of Europe. France’s answer: nuclear power. Why cannot we focus on the real issues, and real solutions, including one that is proven to work (nuclear) over here?

  36. Hello all:

    Let me add a comment or two regarding the climate change versus habitat destruction debate, per previous comments. As Lomborg and others have noted, isn’t it money better-spent to invest in habitat preservation and redevelopment rather than fight global warming, whose existence and scope are still being debated within the scientific community? Further, habitat preservation and restoration have the effect of promoting moderation in the climate. Deforestation in places like the Amazon is changing local weather patterns, including rainfall distribution and quantity. Repeated on a wide scale, this affects larger climatological patterns regionally and ultimately globally.

    Ecologists have long known that vegetation of all kinds, especially mature forests, moderates temperature changes and serves to smooth out cycling of water resources via precipitation. Wetlands and riverine estuaries serve to filter and cleanse water as it moves downriver toward the sea. Finally, unspoiled and/or restored habitats assist in the control of erosion, thereby preserving topsoils and enhancing our ability to use and maintain arable cropland. Stable agricultural output begets stable prices and plentiful food, in turn helping stablize whatever the region in question.

    Habitat preservation and environmental stewardship is consistent with economic growth, if done sensibly and responsibly. The more farsighted nations of Africa, Asia and S. America have leveraged their natural wonders into tourist dollars, euros, yen, etc. Viewed from a 4GW perspective, game preserves on the central African plains enhance stability, however modestly, while poachers decrease it.

    For those interested, political scientist Michael Klare did a book some years ago, called “Resource Wars,” the thesis of which is that nations more often than realized, fight over access to and control of resources and commodities, oil, water, arable land, timber, percious metals, diamonds and so on. Viewed in this manner, habitat preservation and use (or misuse) patterns become more clearly of geopolitical importance.

    None of this is anything like cutting edge news, but it bears repeating since these simple relationships are so often overlooked in the cost-benefit analysis about global warming. We are better off spending our limited time and capital on problems known to be threatening – i.e. habitat destruction and misuse, diseases like malaria, and malnutrition – rather than superficially scary but ill-defined phenomena such as global climate change.

    One last comment: As a young and more naive person, I was among those hoodwinked into believing that global famine was imminent – thanks to being forced to read “Limits to Growth” by the Club of Rome of the UN. Those doomsday scenarios proved false, by a considerable margin – which should prove a cautionary tale to climate change alarmists out there, just as it was to yours truly. We simply do not understand these complex systems as well as Al Gore would have you think we do, not then and not now. We have enough trouble predicting with certainty next week’s weather, let alone that of the coming decades.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Thank you for your many thoughtful comments.

  37. Fascinating debate.

    A few points. There is a paper in the other weeks Nature magazine (one of the premier scientific publications) showing conclusively that sea water rises are happening **faster** than predicted (I actually met one of the authors a couple of weeks ago).

    Paeleoclimiatology (the study of past climate) shows conclusively that CO2 (and the other GGs such as methane) is correlated with all the rises and falls in past global temperatures and sea rises and falls. In the past the GG rise was an affect started by other factors (e.g. wobbles in the Earth’s orbit and prosession) then positive feedback mechanisims take over and the GG affect dominated. Yes there are local and short/medium term (sometimes extreme) variations caused by other factors. An example is the cooling of parts of Northern America and Europe caused by the stopping of the Gulf Stream. However at those times the rest of the Earth warmed. Eventually, after the impact of ice melting ended then these areas also warmed.

    Then there is the issue of *very* basic physics. The first warming theories came about on the 1800’s, once we understood absorbtion/reflection of different materials. The simplest GW model is such basic physics a 16 year can do it, interestingly, on a gobal scale it is quite accurate. Simply put, solar radiation in the visible and infra red spectrum (some UV as well) hits the earth. Some of it is refected straight back out into space. Some is absorbed, moves molecules around thus heating them and then is radiated out again. But it has changed frequency. Some of it is now in the frequency range that GGs absorb. Eventually they will radiate it out again from the ground but only some will go into space, the rest goes back to lower atmosphere and the ground .. and so on.

    Anologous to a blanket over you on a cold night. More GG then more energy (=heat) gets trapped on the Earth’s surface and near surface.

    Take a car, put it in the sun. Outside the temperature is (say) 30C. Inside it gets hotter and hotter, 40C, 50C or more as heat (=energy) gets trapped inside the car and can’t escape. Every year babies, children and pets die in Australia due to people leaving them in parked cars in the sun.

    We’re the babies in the car, in the sun, right now and the windows are tightly closed.

    Now this is fixable, or at least managable. And by doing this we reduce our dependency on imported fossil fuels (for most of us). Win-win in many cases. Energy efficiency, alternative electricity generation (e.g nuclear, solar, geothermal, wind, etc, later fusion, depending on the local resources). Fast trains (400kph+) instead of planes. Recycling of materials (particularly carbon based ones like plastic). More local and intermediate public transport. More efficient (60mpg+) personal transport .. and so on, as FM and others have documented extensively. Not a worse life by any means, just different, could even be better in many ways.

    But it requires extracting our digits right now.
    Fabius Maximus replies: You are missing the point, conflating global warming with human-caused warming. The first is generally agreed-upon, but far beyond our control. The latter is possible, but difficult to distinguish from the former.

    Your analogy with a car tells us little, as the Earth is not like a car. The Earth has a wide range of other factors at work, such as feedback loops (more heat > more evaporation > clouds blocking sunlight) and particulate pollution blocking sunlight (a driver of global cooling fears in the 1970’s).

    You jump to the possible but still speculative assumption “that this is fixable.” Evem if the AGW theory is correct, it is not clear that these things will make a sufficiently large effect on CO2 emmisssion over the next generation or so in which they ocurr.

  38. “Fabius Maximus: As I said above, the damage from climate change is a speculation about future damage based on climate forecasts which have a poor track record, and have been highly politicized..”

    relevant to the point, this is what you said: “Fabius Maximus: This article is a neat bit of work, conflating two seperate dyanmics: destruction of habitats and climate change. They are, however, seperate issues, and evidence of the first does not mean that we should take the second more seriously. ”

    errors of common usage aside, climate forecasts do not have a poor record, they have no record at all.

    climate models are in development. climate modeling systems in development do not produce forecasts, they produce test results. secondly, forecasting states of linked but inertially different chaotic systems that are global in scale involves a time scale on the order of climate change itself, which, while not geologic, is longer than a human life-span; we (probably) didn’t have computers when you were born.

    none of that is relevant however to the accelerating damage the bio-sphere is sustaining that is known to be caused by ongoing climate change.

    while not always detectable (but necessarily occuring) climate change is effecting essential chemical balances, algae and plankton, and top predators; the global warming signal is there and (while spotty) it is observable through the louder (though less fundamental) signals of damage to the bio-sphere known to be caused by human activity.

    It is now widely accepted that global warming is occurring, yet its effects on the world’s largest ecosystem, the marine pelagic realm, are largely unknown. We show that sea surface warming in the Northeast Atlantic is accompanied by increasing phytoplankton abundance in cooler regions and decreasing phytoplankton abundance in warmer regions. This impact propagates up the food web (bottom-up control) through copepod herbivores to zooplankton carnivores because of tight trophic coupling. Future warming is therefore likely to alter the spatial distribution of primary and secondary pelagic production, affecting ecosystem services and placing additional stress on already-depleted fish and mammal populations.

    Anthony J. Richardson1 and David S. Schoeman, Climate Impact on Plankton Ecosystems in the Northeast Atlantic, Science, 10 September 2004: Vol. 305. no. 5690, pp. 1609 – 1612
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1100958

    “We’re already in a position where the zooplankton are 20 to 30 percent of what they were in the 1950s,” said Michael Mullin, UC-San Diego professor and director of the marine life research group at Scripps.

    These plankton – some fish larvae, some shrimp-like creatures, some tiny plants – are the foundation of the food chain, feeding everything from the smallest fishes and sea birds up to seals and giant baleen whales.

    Two decades of monitoring of the marine ecosystems west of the Antarctic Peninsula have revealed trends in all trophic levels, driven by reduced sea-ice duration and distribution. Although in some cases, changes in primary production may also have been affected by changes in the supply of glacial melt [Smith, et al., 2003]. Similarly, it is likely that altered sea ice cover was the cause of the dramatic change in the balance between krill and salps, the main grazers of phytoplankton [Atkinson, et al., 2004]. This loss of krill, will likely have impacts on higher predators [albatrosses, seals, whales and penguins: populations of the latter are already changing, Smith, et al., 2003],

    According to Dr. Stoddart, a significant consequence in the Antarctic Peninsula of rising temperatures is the slow decrease of sea ice and of the planktonic algae that grows underneath. These algae feeds krill, small shrimp-like creatures, and therefore represents the bottom rung on a marine food chain that eventually sustains the iconic large Antarctic species: penguins, whales and seals.

    “Initially our research was based on the premise that the krill population was regulated by predator consumption so we looked for ways to control the krill fishery to minimize the impact on their natural predators. We soon realized that the krill population is sustained by occasional strong year classes and that this has more to do with environmental conditions, namely extensive sea ice development in the winter months and absence of salp population blooms in the spring and summer months,” said Hewitt

    “We’re already in a position where the zooplankton are 20 to 30 percent of what they were in the 1950s,” said Michael Mullin, UC-San Diego professor and director of the marine life research group at Scripps. These plankton – some fish larvae, some shrimp-like creatures, some tiny plants – are the foundation of the food chain, feeding everything from the smallest fishes and sea birds up to seals and giant baleen whales.

    Barnacles are consumers of phytoplankton and zooplankton both, but an adequate supply of zooplankton is undoubtedly important in maintaining adequately nourished barnacles. Direct measurements of the true abundance (or productivity) of organisms as transient and patchy in their distribution as phytoplankton, appears to be impossible with the data that is available on this topic today. But it is certain that the zooplankton are becoming increasingly diluted in oceanic seawater today. Zooplankton abundance on the Scotian Shelf (and elsewhere in the world ocean) has been undergoing a decline in recent decades (DFO Science SSR G3-02 (2000), IGBP, 1997). If the food available in seawater were a constant, the change expected in the barnacle belt would have been the opposite: an upward shift would have been seen to match the rise in sea level. The contrasting appearance of the two pictures most likely indicates the results of plankton dilution that has occurred during the 53 years between observations.

    Coral reefs in the Caribbean experienced more heat stress in 2005 than the past 20 years combined, said Eakin, who coordinates NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch satellite monitoring program. Jeff Miller, a National Park Service fisheries biologist based at Virgin Islands National Park in St. John, says the bleaching episode is the most extensive he’s seen in 21 years of marine studies. In Panama 70 percent of the corals at monitoring sites showed signs of bleaching, according to NOAA. In Mexico 40 percent showed bleaching, while in Texas coral bleaching at sample sites ranged from 35 t o 100 percent.

    The collapse of the Seychelles reefs removed food and shelter from predators for a large number of diverse marine species. In their 2005 survey, the scientists found the average coral cover in the area to be just 7.5 percent. The survey showed that four fish species are possibly already locally extinct – a type of butterfly fish, two types of wrasses and a type of damsel fish. Six species are at critically low levels, the scientists found – a type of file fish, three types of butterfly fish and two damsel fish. Their decline probably started to happen soon after 1998, they said. The survey also revealed that species diversity of the fish community had decreased by 50 percent in the heavily impacted sites. “Reduced biodiversity results in a more fragile and less stable ecosystem,” the scientists wrote.

    A mountain pine beetle infestation that has already killed off billions of trees in British Columbia is threatening to take over Alberta’s jack pine, marking the start of a deadly cross-country trek.

    Every large, mature lodgepole pine forest in Colorado and southern Wyoming will be dead within three to five years, killed in a mountain pine beetle infestation unprecedented in the state. In 2007 alone, the infestation once centered on the Western Slope tore through another 500,000 high-elevation acres and embedded itself along the Front Range, exploding in Boulder and Larimer counties where affected acres grew by 1,500 percent. State and federal foresters, calling the numbers “catastrophic,” said recent aerial surveys reveal the dead and dying lodgepole acreage now has grown to 1.5 million since the first signs of outbreak in 1996.

    we know our practices are injurous and wasteful; questioning whether or not damage to the bio-sphere can be reduced by changing those practices is akin to questioning whether or not one should stop eating a new food because it isn’t known if its the reason one is newly sick.
    Fabius Maximus replies: this misses the major point of my post. You are conflating global warming with human-caused warming. The first is generally agreed-upon, but far beyond our control. The latter is possible, but difficult to distinguish from the former.

    You show evidence of damage from global warming. If this is a natural climate cycle, like the countless ones throughout Earth’s history, these is little we can do about it.

  39. Fabius says – “Please — no more comments about the validity of global warming or anthropological global warming. This site is about geopolitics, not Climate Science. I lack the expertise to evaluate the professional climate science literature, as do I suspect most of the folks commenting on it.”

    Dude, when anyone evokes Malthus and Nixon in a comment about global warming it IS about politics.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Agreed!

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