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.
- Climatological evidence
- Glaciological evidence
- Oceanographical evidence
- Biological evidence
- 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.
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, News.com 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. “
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For more information about global climate change
(a) Other posts on this site
- A look at the science and politics of global warming (12 June 2008)
- Global warming means more earthquakes! (19 June 2008)
- Worrying about the Sun and climate change – cycle 24 is late (10 July 2008)
- Update: is Solar Cycle 24 late (a cooling cycle, with famines, etc)? (15 July 2008)
- More forecasts of a global cooling cycle (15 July 2008)
(b) Information from other sources
- “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.
- 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.
- “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.
- A timeline of the science and politics of climate science.
- A Bibliography by year of climate science research