Doug L. Hoffman's blog
The term “settled science” gets tossed around in the media a lot these days. Mostly by non-scientists, who know no better, and by some errant scientists, who should. In 2002, the U.S. National Research Council Committee on Abrupt Climate Change published its findings in a book entitled Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises. A new report in Science recaps the surprising discoveries made since then, and they are big. So big that ocean circulation models, integral parts of all climate models, do not accurately predict reality. The observed change in AMOC strength was found to lie well outside the range of interannual variability predicted by coupled atmosphere-ocean climate models. Sounds like circulation in the Atlantic Ocean is not so settled.
The Triassic–Jurassic boundary 200 million years ago marked the beginning of the dinosaurs’ dominance of the entire planet. Following the worst ever extinction event at the end of the Permian, 252 mya, dinosaurs started showing up in the fossil record around 245 mya but did not spread to all areas of the globe until the end of the Triassic. A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) posits one possible explanation for why the spread of dinosaurs was stymied. Sadly, this interesting but not conclusive report was immediately seized upon by climate alarmists as a cautionary tale about atmospheric CO2 levels. A news item in Science online labels modern levels “alarming” and implies that a fiery fate, like the one that held the dinosaurs at bay for so long ago, awaits us all.
Climate alarmists are all atwitter over a new paper from researchers at NOAA/NCDC. In that paper the claim is made that the 18+ year pause in global warming is not real and that temperatures have been going up as expected. After more than a decade agonizing over the cause for the pause, desperately searching for the “missing” heat, dogmatic climate scientists have given up and simply declared the whole “hiatus” an accounting error. The temperature record in question is a kludged up global yearly average based on a hodgepodge of reporting stations, some on land and others at sea. In performing a “reanalysis” of the temperature record it was “discovered” that changes in the way temperatures were measured, particularly at sea, were systematically wrong, and “correcting” these readings causes the whole pesky pause thing to go away. What isn't mentioned are the other datasets that clearly show the pause is real, including two different satellite records. Has the climate catastrophe cabal given up all pretense of doing real science and decided to manipulate the data to give the answer they want? Many think so.
Climate scientists have constructed models to predict what Earth's climate will look like decades, even hundreds of years in the future. Unfortunately, many major components of Earth's climate system have not been accurately monitored for very long. This makes such predictions suspect if not laughable. A case in point are variations in ocean circulation and temperature. In the Atlantic there is a cycle for sea surface temperatures variation called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). The AMO is linked with decadal scale climate fluctuations like European summer precipitation, rainfall in Europe and India, Atlantic hurricanes and variations in global temperatures. A new study in the journal Nature reports that the AMO is again transitioning to a negative phase, meaning the vaunted “pause” in global warming may be with us for decades. In fact, scientists at the University of Southampton predict that cooling in the Atlantic Ocean could cool global temperatures a half a degree Celsius.
Germany is the economic powerhouse of the EU, with a far larger and more industrialized economy than other European nations—the fourth largest in the world. Given such a large industrial base it is unsurprising that Germany needs reliable power, which makes its headlong rush into renewable energy, called Energiewende (“energy transition”), even more mystifying than similar attempts by smaller EU states. Now come reports that the country’s rapid expansion into solar, wind, and other renewables has not been entirely smooth. Subsidies and regulations are promoting ill considered wind and solar installations while driving up costs. Slipped in among the solar panels and wind turbines are "biomass" generators—in other words, things that burn wood and agricultural waste—and the green party's anti-nuclear pogrom has led to an upsurge in coal usage. This hardly sounds like progress. Meanwhile, a new article makes bold claims for three of the smaller EU markets. Denmark, Portugal, and Spain have all made rapid transitions away from fossil fuels for electricity, but each in a different way. Are they truly examples for the world to follow?
Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a known greenhouse gas (GHG) that is more potent than CO2 and is a contributing factor in ozone layer depletion, yet little has been published on natural sources of this compound. Despite the importance of fungi in several soil functions, the production of N2O by fungi has only been studied in a limited number of strains. A new report in the journal Nature has revealed that may types of fungi naturally produce N2O. Obviously this is more of that “settled science” the climate alarmists forgot to mention.
Despite what gets reported in the news media, there are good climate scientists out there, quietly laboring away at that “settled science.” They are actually trying to understand climate instead of making unsubstantiated, bombastic predictions about future global warming. As a result, several recent papers have cast additional doubt on the validity of climate models as they now stand. In one, wide variation in solar radiation at the top of the atmosphere adds to the major errors in basic physics inherent in the so-called “state of the art” climate models. Another paper, on aerosol radiative forcing, casts doubt on the fundamental assertion of climate alarmists regarding the warming power of CO2. Adding to the stink over the settled science claim, the journal Nature carried a news article that says such assertions are “absolutely not true” and pleads for a new crop of physicists to help unravel the persistent ongoing climate mysteries. The outlook for climate science is cloudy indeed.
Recently, a PR offensive has been mounted by the minions of climate alarmism, attempting to rehabilitate the soiled reputation of climate models. Most everyone by now has heard of the 18+ year pause in global temperature increase, dubbed the “pause” by climate change advocates. This hiatus in global temperature increase, happening in the face of ever rising atmospheric CO2 levels, has caused even the most die hard climate alarmists to doubt the veracity of climate science's digital oracles. The latest phrase being test marketed in the green stooge press is the claim that climate models are just “Basic Physics”, implying that they are in some way scientifically accurate. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
As you may know, the current head of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Rajenda K. Pachauri has been forced to resign over sexual harassment allegations by women on his staff. Out on bail, Pachauri’s downward spiral continues: On March 1, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepted Pachauri’s resignation from the Prime Minister’s climate change council. Given this opening at the top of the world's premier climate change organization we think it time a real climate scientist heads the agency. Help us by signing the petition to President Obama today.
Proving the old adage, if your first lie isn't believed lie again and make it a whopper, NASA GISS announced another study proclaiming imminent climate catastrophe. This time it's the US Southwest and the scourge is not just drought, it's Megadrought! The report predicts that decades-long droughts are likely to ravage the US Southwest and Great Plains within the next century. “This drying could be worse than any other in the past 1,000 years, including a 'megadrought' seven centuries ago that helped drive an ancient civilization to collapse,” wails Nature online. But just how did the researchers come to this conclusion and what evidence do they base their predictions on? As it turns out the whole thing is a house of cards.
In his recent State of the Union (SOTU) address, US President Barack Obama claimed that “America is number one in wind power.” This will come as a shock to China and several other countries that have led the way in green energy like wind and solar. That aside, expanding wind energy may not be the blessing its boosters tout. In Europe, many of the newly installed wind turbines are replacing existing older models, and in China as much as 15% of the installed turbines are not connected to the power grid. And with fierce winter storms in the news on both sides of the Atlantic, news comes from the UK of an epic fail for wind power. Are the fortunes of windpower shifting?
As the new year begins the forces of climate alarmism find themselves in disarray. The world refuses to warm, despite contorted data manipulation aimed at squeezing out a claimed “hottest year ever” record by NOAA. One hundredth of a degree does not a warming trend create. Northern hemisphere temperatures are depressed for the second year in a row—also not a climate trend in itself but a psychological blow to the warmists trying to sell the idea that temperatures are at a record high. Moreover, there are indications that the climatologists' bane, CO2, is not ravaging tropical forests and is not being produced where the “blame the developed world first” crowd expected. In all, a good start to the new year because it is a bad start for the alarmists.
Despite efforts to correct and educate many ersatz climate experts, many persist in using consensus as an argument in favor of the failed theory of global warming caused by human CO2 emissions. From froth at the mouth fanboys on Twitter to empty headed politicians on network television, the cry comes: “what about the 97% consensus among scientists?” On occasion old, and evidently lazy, scientists revert to using “consensus” as an argument. Once again I will try to set the record straight when it comes to polls among scientists and scientific proof.
The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters & Climate Change is the latest book by Roger Pielke, Jr., noted political scientist and professor in the Environmental Studies Program and a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). In it he addresses the controversial subject of whether natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more fearsome due to manmade climate change. This short volume is an excellent summary of his work in this area and a reference that anyone serious about climate change should have on their shelf. After receiving an advance copy of the work, here is my review.
Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, famous for creating, among other things, the U-2 & SR-71 spy planes and the F-117 stealth fighter, shocked the world of physics research by announcing that they are going to build a compact fusion reactor. The proposed compact fusion reactor (CFR) is conceptually safer, cleaner and more powerful than much larger, current nuclear systems that rely on fission. Governments and industry have poured billions of dollars into fusion research for half a century with little success. Can Lockheed's vaunted engineers succeed where armies of PhDs have failed? If so, the arguments over energy, the environment and de-industrialization are over—or are they?