Weekend reading recommenations about climate change

As usual, lots of good material in the climate sciences — both in the science debate and the war to mold public opinion.

  1. 2008 will be coolest year of the decade“, The Guardian, 5 December 2008 —  According to the media, warm years prove global warming — cold years are immaterial.
  2.  “Dishonest debate“, editorial in the Union-Tribune, 8 December 2008, — “Credible climate policy skeptics are ignored”
  3. Holland Inundated? No Way!“, Hendrik Tennekes, posted at Climate Science, 12 December 2008 — Slowly scientists review wild claims of destruction from climate change.

Three additional links, no excerpts given:

(a)  “History of Cycle 24 Predictions“, posted at Anthropogenic Solar Chaos, 8 November 2008 — When reading the often-confident forecasts of scientists, we can easily forget that many fields of science are immature,and their forecasts little more than unreliable guesses.  This is a valuable reminder!  Excerpt:

It is interesting to look back at the solar model predictions for cycle 24 sunspots and the rewriting of history at each new update. The experts seem to be very quiet at this time? I especially like NASA expert Hathaway’s predictions.

(b)  Our weekly look at the US surface temperature collection system:  “How not to measure temperature, part 79 – could you, would you, with a boat?“, Anthony Watts, Watts up with that?, 9 December 2008 — Santa Rosa, CA, a two-fer featuring not only a grossly non-compliant station but also more mysterious data adjustments by NASA-GISS.

(c)  “Solar Activity during the onlset of Solar Cycle 24”, a Conference sponsored by several prominent scientific organizations (NASA, etc), 8 – 12 December 2008.  Home page; copies of the presentations.


1.  2008 will be coolest year of the decade“, The Guardian, 5 December 2008 — “Global average for 2008 should come in close to 14.3C, but cooler temperature is not evidence that global warming is slowing, say climate scientists.”  Excerpt:

This year is set to be the coolest since 2000, according to a preliminary estimate of global average temperature that is due to be released next week by the Met Office. The global average for 2008 should come in close to 14.3C, which is 0.14C below the average temperature for 2001-07.

The relatively chilly temperatures compared with recent years are not evidence that global warming is slowing however, say climate scientists at the Met Office. “Absolutely not,” said Dr Peter Stott, the manager of understanding and attributing climate change at the Met Office’s Hadley Centre. “If we are going to understand climate change we need to look at long-term trends.”

Prof Myles Allen at Oxford University who runs the climateprediction.net website, said he feared climate sceptics would overinterpret the figure. “You can bet your life there will be a lot of fuss about what a cold year it is. Actually no, its not been that cold a year, but the human memory is not very long, we are used to warm years,” he said, “Even in the 80s [this year] would have felt like a warm year.”

And 2008 would have been a scorcher in Charles Dickens’s time – without human-induced warming there would have been a one in a hundred chance of getting a year this hot. “For Dickens this would have been an extremely warm year,” he said. On the flip side, in the current climate there is a roughly one in 10chance of having a year this cool.

This is such fine propaganda.  I love the reference to Dickens (1812-1870), when as the world (or northeren hemisphere) came out of the little ice age — which is of course not mentioned (natural climate cycles are un-news, down the memory hole).  

For a more detailed analysis of this report see “Comments On UK Met Office Press Releases On Climate“, Roger Pielke Sr. (Climatologist, Wikipedia bio), 11 December 2008.

2.  Dishonest debate“, editorial in the Union-Tribune, 8 December 2008, — “Credible climate policy skeptics are ignored” Excerpt:

On Friday, the California Air Resources Board will decide whether to adopt its “scoping plan” for the implementation of AB 32, the 2006 anti-global warming law. It requires state energy suppliers to use far more power from cleaner but more costly sources.

Given that this would impose unique burdens on California businesses, many observers (including this editorial page) have been skeptical and said a national or international approach to global warming makes more sense. The response from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been that the opposite is true: Far from burdening the economy, the forced transition to new sources of power would touch off a statewide boom as California companies become world leaders in alternate energy and as businesses benefit from efficient new technologies.

The ARB’s scoping plan confirms this rosy view. Now, however, several highly credible authorities have emerged to shred these claims.

First, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office – the most respected voice in Sacramento – issued a Nov. 17 analysis that said the ARB’s methodology was deeply flawed and often ignored evidence that would counter the economic-boom thesis. Its most startling finding was that the ARB arbitrarily defined any reduction in greenhouse gas emission as being cost-effective. If, say, energy costs double for a small business because of AB 32, how is that possibly cost-effective?

Then came the release of a scathing “peer review” of the scoping plan.

  • Harvard’s Robert Stavins wrote that the ARB’s “economic analysis is terribly deficient in critical ways” and could not be relied on.
  • Janet Peace and Liwayway Adkins of the Pew Center for Global Climate Change wrote that the analysis “gives the appearance of justifying the chosen package of regulatory measures rather than evaluating it.”
  • Wesleyan University’s Gary Yohe wrote it was “almost beyond belief” that the agency could claim vast economic gains and decried the “spurious precision” of its forecasts.
  • UCLA’s Matthew Kahn noted the considerable evidence contradicting the ARB’s claims that manufacturers, who employ 1.5 million Californians, would not be hurt by higher energy costs.
  • Dallas Burtraw of the Resources for the Future group said the models used by the ARB underestimate costs, wrongly anticipate a “frictionless,” easy transition to new energy sources and are in troubling “harmony” about the economic upside of the scoping plan.

These analyses make it obvious that there must be a do-over on the ARB plan – one that takes an honest look at the effects of AB 32. Instead, both the governor and the ARB are essentially dismissing the LAO and peer-review reports – and as of Friday, the Union-Tribune was the only newspaper in the state to have even mentioned either.

How is this possible? How does this make any sense? How can all the elephants in the room be ignored? Californians deserve infinitely better from Arnold Schwarzenegger – and from the media.

3.  Holland Inundated? No Way!“, Hendrik Tennekes, posted at Climate Science, 12 December 2008 — Now retired, he was the director of research at the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute (Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorologisch Instituut, or KNMI).  See his Wikipedia bio.  Slowly scientists review wild claims of destruction from climate change.  Reprinted in full, in the public interest:

My weblogs of 28 October and 7 November, and a incisive two-page centerfold article by Karel Knip in the November 8 issue of NRC/ Handelsblad, Rotterdam’s counterpart to the New York Times, finally received a clear response from KNMI, the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute.

In a November 10 message to the director-in-chief of KNMI, I suggested that the Institute should contemplate issuing a low-end estimate for sea-level rise, in order to balance the alarmist furor sweeping the country. This is exactly what KNMI decided to do. In an op-ed piece in the December 11 issue of NRC/Handelsblad, Wilco Hazeleger, a senior scientist in the global climate research group at KNMI, writes:

“In the past century the sea level has risen twenty centimeters. There is no evidence for accelerated sea-level rise. It is my opinion that there is no need for drastic measures. It is wise to adopt a flexible, step-by-step adaptation strategy. By all means, let us not respond precipitously.”

This opinion, of course, chimes with the statement by Professor Marcel Stive that I quoted earlier:

“Fortunately, the time rate of climate change is slow compared to the life span of the defense structures along our coast. There is enough time for adaptation. We should monitor the situation carefully, but up to now climate change does not cause severe problems for our coastal defense system. IPCC has given lower estimates for the expected sea level rise in four successive reports.”

As far as I am concerned, this settles the matter. KNMI has spoken. It has spoken clearly. There is no imminent danger of accelerated sea-level rise.


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4 thoughts on “Weekend reading recommenations about climate change”

  1. Don’t miss Senator Albert Gore Jr., caught on German telly. The 5 Year Death Watch on the North Pole is set!
    Fabius Maximus replies: Perhaps. Of course there has been little metling of global sea ice during the past 3 decades, as gains in the Antarctic larely offset Arctic (here, one of many such reports). But tomorrow is another day, esp since this year say a substantial rebound in Arctic ice cover (numbers still tentative, as shown here).

    Also note the results from the Polar Defense Project‘s attempt…

    I’m going to try and get all the way to the North Pole to show the world what is happening,” the 38-year-old said after launching his Polar Defense Project expedition on the River Thames in London.

    (Link to story is still available in the India Times)

    They did not make it as far as Native American’s are recorded as doing in 1922.

  2. Dr. Peter Stott is correct:

    “If we are going to understand climate change we need to look at long-term trends.”

    Although of course we are such a long way from understanding them that evaluating whether or not such a thing as ‘climate change’ exists (in the long term context) remains iffy at best, let alone if such ‘climate change’ is induced anthropogenically and therefore – perhaps – anthropogenically curable and then, even if so, how!

  3. Update to my reply to comment #1

    Jeff Id’s analysis of sea ice data showed no increase of ice coverage during the past 30 years. This provoked considerable discussion on the Internet, culminating in a series of corrections by the National Snow Ice Data Center (NSIDC) — to both their documentation and data.

    This is significant on several levels. Most importantly, this shows how science should work. The NSIDC rapidly responded to Id’s question. They did not question his credentials, attack him personally, hide their data, restrict access to it, or attempt other defensive measures. They acknowledged the error and have initiated efforts to correct it.

    For more information see:

    NSIDC issues documentation corrections – WUWT guest post a catalyst“, Jeff Id, posted at Watts Up with That, 24 December 2008.

    * Total Ice-covered Area and Extent, NSIDC

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