Category Archives: Science & Nature

Discussions of global warming, water shortages, solar cycles, and other natural forces that shape our world.

A look at the future of global warming. Our political response depends on its trend.

Summary: The degree of global warming during the next few years might have large political effects, as the public policy debate appears to be at a critical point in its 29th year (from Hansen’s Senate testimony). Will the pause resume, or will we get rapid warming? Close examination of the monthly data will give us clues about this important question.

Global Warming

How can we see the short-term temperature trend?

There is no one true way to show trends in global temperature. Here are three different perspectives; all give roughly similar results. First, let’s look at a graph by NOAA of the global average surface temperature (their excellent interactive website shows data since the reliable instrument era began in 1880). The time period selected depends on what we are looking for. The following graph shows January’s. It minimizes the overall warming trend, which is concentrated in the months of May, June, & July. Click to enlarge.

The warming since 1950 — the period in which over half of the warming comes from anthropogenic causes — occurred almost entirely in two steps: 1981-83 (near the 1979-83 El Niño period) and 1998-99 (near the 1997-98 El Niño).  Since then climate scientists have shown that the two century-long temperature rise has “paused” (aka the “hiatus”). There are various theories about the cause. Then came the spike of the 2015-2016 El Niño. The peak to peak rise, 1998 to 2016, was only 0.4°F.

What happens next? The El Niño might have been just a spike, after which temperatures will fall back to the 1998-2014 average — and the “pause” continues.  If temperatures don’t fall back to their previous levels, then we begin a new watch. Will the 2015-16 El Niño start another stair step, with temperatures flat at a new high level? Or will temperatures begin a steady rise? The one month anomalies provide an easy if rough way to see which of these three scenarios unfolds, each having different political implications. Unfortunately, climate models cannot yet make reliable predictions for five to ten years horizons

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A climate scientist assesses the threat of climate change

Summary: Eminent climate scientist Judith Curry gives a brief assessment of the threat of climate change, starting from first principles — such as the definition of “risk”. It is a timely reminder, as the debate about the public policy response to climate change moves into hysteria.

“US politics could be focused on preventing climate change from destroying all life on Earth. Instead, it’s focused on Vlad Putin & Nordstrom.”

— David Sirota on Twitter (74 thousand followers). He is a radio host based in Denver, nationally syndicated columnist, and Democratic political spokesperson. He says this often, ignoring those pointing out that the IPCC’s Working Group I’s reports say nothing remotely like that. See his Wikipedia entry.

Global Warming

 

The ‘threat’ of climate change

By Judith Curry,
Posted at Climate Etc, 29 January 2017.

Posted under a Creative Commons License

 

A major disconnect in the discourse surrounding climate change is interpretation of the ‘threat’ of climate change.

Last week I attended the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Seattle.  It was a very good meeting …One of the best things about such conferences is the opportunity for extended face to face discussions with other scientists.  I had one such discussion that triggered the theme for this post.  This scientist (who will remain unnamed) does not disagree with me about climate change science in any significant way, although he has more confidence in climate models than I do.  In particular, he has publicly discussed the uncertainty issue.

He doesn’t take the ‘heat’ that I do largely because, in spite of these substantial uncertainties, he makes statements about the ‘serious threat’ of climate change, substantial risk of dangerous or even calamitous impacts,  reducing this risk requires a reduction of carbon emissions.

We both agree that there is the ‘possibility’ of extreme impacts if the warming is on the high end of the model projections.  We agree that we can’t quantify the probability of such impacts; it is best to regard them as ‘possibilities.’

So, what is the differences in reasoning that lead us to different conclusions regarding policy responses?

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California’s past megafloods – and the coming ARkStorm

Summary: To boost our fear, activists and journalists report the weather with amnesia about the past. Ten year records become astonishing events; weather catastrophes of 50 or 100 years ago are forgotten. It makes for good clickbait but cripples our ability to prepare for the inevitable. California’s history of floods and droughts gives a fine example — if we listen to the US Geological Survey’s reminder of past megafloods, and their warning of the coming ARkStorm.

” A 43-day storm that began in December 1861 put central and southern California underwater for up to six months, and it could happen again.”
— “California Megaflood: Lessons from a Forgotten Catastrophe” by B. Lynn Ingram (prof of Earth Science, Berkeley) in Scientific America, January 2013.

Inundation of Sacramento in 1862

Lithograph of K Street in Sacramento, CA during the 1862 flood. From Wikimedia commons.

One of the key events in California history has disappeared from our minds. For a reminder see this by the US Geological Survey.

“Beginning on Christmas Eve, 1861, and continuing into early 1862, an extreme series of storms lasting 45 days struck California. The storms caused severe flooding, turning the Sacramento Valley into an inland sea, forcing the State Capital to be moved from Sacramento to San Francisco for a time, and requiring Governor Leland Stanford to take a rowboat to his inauguration. William Brewer, author of Up and Down California in 1860-1864, wrote on January 19, 1862, ‘The great central valley of the state is under water — the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys — a region 250 to 300 miles long and an average of at least twenty miles wide, or probably three to three and a half millions of acres!’

‘In southern California lakes were formed in the Mojave Desert and the Los Angeles Basin. The Santa Ana River tripled its highest-ever estimated discharge, cutting arroyos into the southern California landscape and obliterating the ironically named Agua Mansa (Smooth Water), then the largest community between New Mexico and Los Angeles. The storms wiped out nearly a third of the taxable land in California, leaving the State bankrupt.

“The 1861-62 series of storms were probably the largest and longest California storms on record. However, geological evidence suggests that earlier, prehistoric floods were likely even bigger. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that such extreme storms could not happen again. However, despite the historical and prehistorical evidence for extreme winter storms on the West Coast, the potential for these extreme events has not attracted public concern, as have hurricanes. The storms of 1861-62 happened long before living memory, and the hazards associated with such extreme winter storms have not tested modern infrastructure nor the preparedness of the emergency management community.”

For an account of the flood from that time see this by J. M. Guinn; an excerpt from Exceptional Years: A History of California Floods and Drought (1890).

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Climate activists’ final act, as they move into the last stage of grief

Summary: Trump’s election, solidifying the Republican’s dominance at all levels of the US government, has disheartened climate activists. A new article in The Atlantic attempts to build support, but only shows the weakness of their beliefs. Perhaps the skeptics have won this round of the climate wars, but only the weather will determine which side is correct.

Climate nightmares

For 29 years advocates for public policy changes to fight climate change have struggled to convince the US public to support their agenda. They have failed. Polls show it ranks near the bottom of American’s policy priorities, and the increasingly dominant Republican Party has little interest in their recommendations.

It’s taken a while, but it looks like climate activists have worked through the process of accepting their failure. Paul Rosenberg’s January 2 article at Salon and now Meehan Crist’s article at The Atlantic suggest activists are moving into the fourth stage of the Kübler-Ross process, depression — and their leading edge is moving into the final stage of acceptance — and finding new crusades to wage.

Rosenberg’s article is discussed here. Crist’s article is less interesting, mostly just the usual throwing chaff into debate. But it is revealing in its own way. The opening is a classic tactic by climate activists.

“There has been a subtle shift recently in the rhetoric of many conservative pundits and politicians around climate change. For decades, the common refrain has been flat-out denial — either that climate change is not happening, or that any change is not caused by human activity. Which is why viewers might have been surprised to see Tucker Carlson of Fox News nodding along thoughtfully on January 6 as climate scientist Judith Curry, a controversial figure in climate science, explained, ‘Yes it’s warming and yes humans contribute to it. Everybody agrees with that, and I’m in the 98% [of scientists who agree]. It’s when you get down to the details that there’s genuine disagreement.'”

The first point is an outright lie, evident from her failure to cite any examples. Only a tiny fraction of skeptics believe that “climate change is not happening,.” The climate is always changing. As for the second, there is a fringe among climate skeptics who believe that “any change is not caused by human activity.” But the debate for the past 29 years, since James Hansen warned the Senate in 1988, is and has been about how much of the past warming is anthropogenic — and about forecasts of future temperatures.  That’s true not just of skeptics (both scientists and laypeople), but among mainstream climate scientists as well. Let’s review the evidence, starting with what she said to Tucker Carlson.

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Lessons learned from the end of California’s “permanent drought”

Summary: The “permanent drought” in California, like the now ended “permanent drought” in Texas, is ending. But like the panic about Texas, it is rich in lessons about our difficulty clearly seeing the world — and the futility of activists exaggerating and lying about the science. Of course, they should have learned this after 29 years of trying (starting from James Hansen’s 1988 Senate testimony).

California drought

Warnings of a permanent drought in California

Remember all those predictions of a “permanent drought” in California? Those were examples of why three decades of climate alarmism has not convinced the American people to take severe measures to fight anthropogenic climate change: alarmists exaggerate the science, and are proven wrong — repeatedly. When will the Left learn that doomster lies do not work?

Wired, May 2016: “Thanks El Niño, But California’s Drought Is Probably Forever“. “California is still in a state of drought. For now, maybe forever.” The article gives no support — none — for this clickbait claim. In January Wired attempted to weasel away from their claims by defining drought to mean needing more water than nature provides (“A Wet Year Won’t Beat California’s Never-Ending Drought“). Orwell nodded, unsurprised.

The NYT did no better in “California Braces for Unending Drought“, May 2016. The closest the article comes to supporting their headline is an odd statement by Governor Brown:  “But now we know that drought is becoming a regular occurrence…”  Drought has always been a regular occurrence in California. The governor also said that “California droughts are expected to be more frequent and persistent, as warmer winter temperatures driven by climate change reduce water held in the Sierra Nevada snowpack and result in drier soil conditions.” That is probable. But it is quite mad for the NYT to call more frequent droughts “an unending drought.”

Status of the California drought

“During the past week, a series of storms bringing widespread rain and snow showers impacted the states along the Pacific Coast and northern Rockies. In California, the cumulative effect of several months of abundant precipitation has significantly improved drought conditions across the state.”
— US Drought monitor – California, February 9.

Precipitation over California in the water year so far (October 1 to January 31) is 178% of average for this date. The snowpack is 179% of average, as of Feb 8. Our reservoirs are at 125% of average capacity. See the bottom line summary as of February 7, from the US Drought monitor for California.

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A whistleblower challenges NOAA’s climate data

Summary: An insider at NOAA has blown the whistle on improper practices at NOAA. This might be the most serious challenge to practices at the major climate science institutions since release of the “Climategate” emails. This occurs when they are vulnerable to scrutiny and pressure from Team Trump. The broad significance of Bates’ claims remains unclear, as are their validity. Here is a summary. It’s a story worth following.

whistleblower

Lots of pearl-clutching over this — David Rose at the Daily Mail published “Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data.” The Mail is a British tabloid (i.e., big headlines for sensational stories, lots of graphics). Rose is an award-winning investigative journalist who has written for the BBC, Vanity Fair, London Observer, and The Guardian. See his bio and Wikipedia entry. We rely on journalists such as Rose to provide information and perspectives that contradict the institutional consensus.

For those that prefer hard news, we can skip the Daily Mail and go straight to the source: “Climate scientists versus climate data” by John Bates at Climate Etc. Bates is a distinguished principal scientist at NOAA, and has long been involved in both setting procedures for insuring data integrity and supervising its climate data products. See his bio at LinkedIn and the American Geophysical Association (elected to the Board in 2012). He is an insider to the workings of NOAA’s climate machinery. His report deserves close attention. The following quotes are from Bates’ article at Climate Etc.

Bates’ claims at Climate etc.

In the opening he gives an introduction of his case.

“The most serious example of a climate scientist not archiving or documenting a critical climate dataset was the study of Tom Karl et al. 2015 {aka K15), purporting to show no ‘hiatus’ in global warming in the 2000s {see NOAA’s press release}…. The study drew criticism from other climate scientists, who disagreed with K15’s conclusion about the ‘hiatus.’ (Nature: “Making sense of the early-2000s warming slowdown“). The paper also drew the attention of the Chairman of the House Science Committee, Representative Lamar Smith, who questioned the timing of the report, which was issued just prior to the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan submission to the Paris Climate Conference in 2015 {details here}.

“In the following sections, I provide the details of how Mr. Karl failed to disclose critical information to NOAA, Science Magazine, and Chairman Smith regarding the datasets used in K15. I have extensive documentation that provides independent verification of the story below. I also provide my suggestions for how we might keep such a flagrant manipulation of scientific integrity guidelines and scientific publication standards from happening in the future.”

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Before we panic about Trump, see the Left’s past warnings

Summary: The Republic stands on the verge of destruction, again, as a new age of Leftist doomsterism begins. Before again credulously believing and panicking, let’s look at the Left’s past warnings. That should guide our response.

Trump as Hitler

Photoshopped, but is it truthi?

 

The Left screams warnings, louder and shriller every day, about the dire fate awaiting us. Trump plans to overthrow the US government. He is an authoritarian, a fascist, a Nazi, another Hitler. Before we panic — mailing large checks to Leftist advocacy groups, joining street mobs, and looking for Nazis to punch — let’s look at the Left’s record of prognostication.

We have 5 decades of alarms, for most of which the due date has passed. How often have their warnings proven correct? Let’s not react like the people on South Park, with wild panic to every rumor of doom.

 

The Population Bomb.

The 1968 preface of Ehrlich’s book clearly summarizes his analysis (also see Wikipedia).

“The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.”

Never embarrassed by the failure of his predictions, in 2009 he wrote “The Population Bomb Revisited“. It said, quite delusionally, that “perhaps the most serious flaw in The Bomb was that it was much too optimistic about the future”. Even weirder, he took credit for the innovations of the green revolution: “it alerted people to the importance of environmental issues and brought human numbers into the debate on the human future.”

Ehrlich is considered an authority by the Left, despite his long series of failures. He gave one of his trademark doomster predictions in when speaking in London at the Institute of Biology in Autumn 1969. It is quite unlike the serious analysis in Limits to Growth. The New Scientist of 16 September 1971 quotes Ehrlich.

“If current trends continue by the year 2000 the United Kingdom will simply be a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people, of little or no concern to the other 5-7 billion inhabitants of a sick world. … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

Bernard Dixon’s “In Praise of Prophets” says Ehrlich also predicted worldwide plague, thermonuclear war, death of all sea-food, “rocketing” death rates, and ecological catastrophe. “The audience loved it and gasped for more”.

Famine 1975!

Bruce Trumbo’s review, “A Matter of Fertility“, summaries its terrifying forecast. It was a best-seller in 1967. See Wikipedia for details.

“The underdeveloped nations have exploding populations and static agricultures. The ‘Time of Famines’ will be seriously in evidence by 1975, when food crises will have been reached in several of these nations. The ‘stricken peoples will not be able to pay for all their needed food imports. Therefore the hunger in these regions can be alleviated only through the charity of other nations.’

“The only important food in famine relief will be wheat, and only the US, Canada, Australia, and Argentina grow significant amounts of wheat. The United States, the only one of these four countries that has historically given wheat to hungry nations, is the ‘sole hope of the hungry nations’ in the future. ‘Yet the US, even if it fully cultivates all its land, even if it opens every spigot of charity, will not have enough wheat and other foodstuffs to keep alive all the starving. Therefore, the US must decide to which countries it will send food, to which countries it will not.'”

Los Angeles, A.D. 2017.

Hollywood, whose leaders’ lean to the Left, produces a steady stream of disaster films portraying the approved disaster of the moment, such as “L.A. 2017”. Directed by the 24-year old Steven Spielberg (his third pro job), it aired on 15 January 1971 as an episode of The Name of the Game. The audience saw the horrific world of 2017 (46 years in the future), after pollution had destroyed the Earth’s ecology and forced the remnants of humanity to live underground. Los Angeles has one cow; its milk is a delicacy for the rich. For more about the plot see this, or the Wikipedia entry.

It was written by Philip Wylie, a science fiction writer with a successful specialty in leftist doomster tracts about nuclear war and ecological doom. He novelized it as Los Angeles: A.D. 2017. See a review here.

Global Warming

Five decades of warnings.

The Left bombarded us with countless more warnings of doom during the next five decades. With an impressive record of total failure. My favorite was the years of warnings that peak oil was upon us, with causing the end of civilization. More entertaining were the lurid (but largely bogus) reports of the imminent bee-pocalypse.

Since James Hansen’s 1988 testimony to the US Senate about global warming, the Left has focused on announcements of the imminent climate catastrophe (going beyond anything in the IPCC’s reports): the end of snow, the parade of superstorms predicted to following Katrina, and other grim tidings that have not arrived. It’s an almost endless list of failed predictions.

Plus we have saturation bombing by their predictions of future doom, climate nightmares often based on misrepresentations of the IPCC’s RCP8.5 scenario. But after 30 years with only tiny changes in US public policy about climate, the Left has changed their tune. Now Trump has become the great danger. Dictator Trump. Fascist Trump. Nazi Trump. Hitler Trump.

Perhaps this time their warnings will prove to be prophetic. But, as with their previous warnings, the analytical basis for their forecasts about Trump are weak — often delusional. He is a clownish conservative, with a cabinet of bog standard far right Republicans. There is near-zero evidence that he, his officials, or senior elements of the US military and law enforcement agencies, want to or can overthrow the government.

No Fear

Conclusions

Since WWII both Left and Right have relied on fear to influence Americans. Generations have passed since FDR said “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Perhaps we have grown up, matured beyond the ability of nightmares influence us. The next few years will reveal much about Trump, the Left, and America.

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See more information about doomsters, about information and misinformation, about Donald Trump, and especially these posts…

  1. Journalists suffer from the crisis crisis, warping America’s vision.
  2. Requiem for fear. Let’s learn from failed predictions to have confidence in ourselves & our future.
  3. Threats come & go, leaving us in perpetual fear & forgetful of the past.
  4. Good news about the fear epidemic: we’re learning!
  5. Today’s conservative doomster warning (ludicrous but fun) — Paul Craig Roberts sees the End, published in the Leftist “Counterpunch”.
  6. Dreams of apocalypses show the brotherhood of America’s Left & Right.

Two books about the United States of Fear