Earth's climate history includes numerous incidents of rapid warming and cooling. While Pleistocene ice-age glacial terminations are arguably the most dramatic recent examples of sudden climate change, during the last glacial period the climate of the Northern Hemisphere experienced several other significant episodes when the climate rapidly warmed. Scientists call these episodes Dansgaard-Oeschger (DO) events after the Danish and Swiss researchers who documented them using ice-core studies. These rapid oscillations are marked by rapid warming, followed by slower cooling. The most prominent coolings are associated with massive iceberg discharge into the North Atlantic Ocean known as Heinrich events (HE). The melting icebergs add large volumes of cold fresh water to the ocean, disrupting circulation patterns and causing further climate changes. Scientists look to past events like these to help us understand how Earth's climate system functions—what causes our planet to cool or suddenly warm. Recently, new data on past climate changes have led one commentator to predict the end of winter skiing in the American Southwest.
Back in 1974, the late Richard Feynman wrote an essay based on the address he gave at Caltech's commencement that year. He titled the essay “Cargo Cult Science,” a reference to the practice of sympathetic magic by South Sea Islanders following World War II. The central point of his lecture was how science should and should not be practiced. His thoughts are well worth reviewing in light of the string of troubling revelations that have surfaced regarding climate science. In the face of what Gallup calls a sharp decline in the public's belief in global warming, it looks like many of the IPCC's scientists are practicing Cargo Cult Climate Science.
Whenever a skeptic points out a new paper or journal article refuting some claim made by the theory of anthropogenic global warming, climate change alarmists often shout “cherry picking!” Evidently, most climate change true believers do not understand how science works or how theories are tested. Scientific theories must make predictions by which they can be tested. Providing evidence that AGW has failed in its predictions is not cherry picking, it is refutation. Unfortunately, when confronted with failed predictions the standard alarmist answer is to disavow the predictions. They will say that those are not predictions at all, they are projections—and that means AGW is not a scientific theory at all.
According to the AP, top researchers now agree that the world is likely to get stronger but fewer hurricanes in the future because of global warming, seeming to settle a scientific debate on the subject. But they say there's not enough evidence yet to tell whether that effect has already begun. Despite warnings by scientists that identifying an actual trend in storm variability is impossible due to a lack of reliable historical data, a new report in Nature Geoscience is being cited as a solid prediction of future trends in tropical cyclone activity. The other thing not mentioned is that this research is based on models of questionable accuracy.
The debate over anthropogenic global warming—a theory propounded by the UN IPCC—is often portrayed as an argument between deniers and true believers. The deniers supposedly claim that there is no global warming, man made or otherwise, and that the whole theory is a plot by left-wing agitators and closet socialists bent on world domination. The true believers, conversely, accept every claim of pending future disaster uttered by scientists and activists alike. As with most controversies both extreme positions are wrong and the truth lies somewhere in-between. As a scientist, I have studied the evidence and find the case for imminent, dangerous, human caused global warming unconvincing—here is why I am an AGW skeptic.
One well accepted definition of the “Three Pillars of Science” lists the three as theory, experimentation and computation. For climate science this translates into climate theory, gathering climate data, and climate modeling. The three pillars are due an update in this post Copenhagen, post Climategate world. After reviewing the past year's crop of discoveries and disclosures, it seems that all three pillars are still wobbly at best—even without questionable conduct on the part of warm-mongering researchers.
In an essay adapted from his 2009 AAAS Annual Meeting keynote address, James J. McCarthy has produced a fairly concise statement of the anthropogenic global warming believer's world view. After a self-serving review of climate science history, McCarthy trots out the usual litany of climate change troubles: increased cyclones, rain and floods, rising sea levels and, of course, those pesky tipping points. The tone of the article is set early on, when research is cited stating that mankind's impact on Earth is “sufficiently profound to declare that we have transitioned from the Holocene era of Earth history to the Anthropocene.”
Once again the leaders in the fight against anthropogenic global warming have come together to hold an international fear fest, supposedly to save mankind from the ravages of climate change—or to save the planet from mankind, depending on who you talk to. The predictable result: more strident warnings of disaster, pledges of more far reaching actions from politicians, and no real change. After jetting into Denmark, expending the carbon equivalent of more than 200,000 trees, the carping climate crowd has jetted back home until the next act of this farce takes place in Mexico City in 2010.
While climate skeptics have gleefully pointed to the past decade's lack of temperature rise as proof that global warming is not happening as predicted, climate change activists have claimed that this is just “cherry picking” the data. They point to their complex and error prone general circulation models that, after significant re-factoring, are now predicting a stretch of stable temperatures followed by a resurgent global warming onslaught. In a recent paper, a new type of model, based on a test for structural breaks in surface temperature time series, is used to investigate two common claims about global warming. This statistical model predicts no temperature rise until 2050 but the more interesting prediction is what happens between 2050 and 2100.
By now, even the American mainstream media has picked up on the hacked/leaked emails from CRU that implicate many of the world's top climate change activists in a tawdry web of lies and deception. US President Obama has reversed his decision not to attend the Copenhagen climate conference in a vain attempt to buck-up his flagging green credentials. Some claim we are witnessing the collapse of the climate change scam that the perfidious UN IPCC has been running for the past two decades, but is this true? All the signs indicate that the anthropogenic global warming crowd is going to ignore Climategate and proceed with business as usual.
A new study in the journal Science has just shown that all of the climate modeling results of the past are erroneous. The IPCC's modeling cronies have just been told that the figures used for greenhouse gas forcings are incorrect, meaning none of the model results from prior IPCC reports can be considered valid. What has caused climate scientists' assumptions to go awry? Short lived aerosol particles in the atmosphere changing how greenhouse gases react in previously unsuspected ways. The result is another devastating blow to the climate catastrophists' computer generated apocalyptic fantasies.
One of the things that has been obscured by all the hand wringing and arm waiving about global warming is the existence of a threat to our planet that is very real and could arise suddenly. That threat is from non-planetary bodies within the solar system: asteroids, comets and other celestial wanderers. While the world's politicians and tree-hugging blowhards rail about the damage climate change might cause, a symposium was held in San Francisco to address a problem that actually could end life on Earth.
The supporters of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) claim that they have science on their side. Time and again we are told that the debate is over, the science is settled and consensus among the world's scientists reached. If that is true, why are so many scientists coming forward to oppose and denounce the climate alarmist's theory? To understand the true nature of the climate change debate it is necessary to understand what a scientific theory is and how to judge a theory's validity.
For many years the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (formerly CSICOP) has published the Skeptical Inquirer, a magazine dedicated to rational thought and a scientific view of the world around us. Mostly concerned with debunking pseudoscience and mystical beliefs, its articles mostly concerned UFOs, bigfoot sightings, psychic spoon benders and spirit mediums. Now, unfortunately, it seems they have allied this previously skeptical magazine with one of the biggest scientific scams of our time, anthropogenic global warming.
News has come that the famed ocean conveyor belt, subject of countless TV documentaries and science lessons, is not as simple as scientists believed. The 50 year old model of global ocean circulation that predicts a deep Atlantic counter current below the Gulf Stream has been called into question by an armada of drifting subsurface sensors. As shocking as this news is to oceanographers it is even worse for climate modelers—it means that all the current climate prediction models are significantly wrong.