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.
It is no secret that there is much misinformation bandied about regarding climate change and the related subject of green energy. Half-truths and lies are spread by advocates on both sides of the debate, most often via the Internet. Recently, climate alarmists trumpeted a report claiming that 23% of the world's energy was now being supplied by renewable sources, clearly an attempt to bolster the claims of the wind and solar industry. At the same time, a report appeared that powering a car via electricity is 10 times less efficient than via fossil fuel. These are only two of the bogus, misleading reports to surface recently, promoted by both warmists and skeptics. Sadly, the public is caught in the middle without the scientific or technical background to judge the truth of such pronouncements.
One of the sad side effects of the global warming climate scam is the way otherwise fairly intelligent people have been snookered into believing the dumbest things. An example in point: in a world where millions die each year due to malnutrition, US Secretary John Kerry lectured African leaders attending a summit in Washington that creating more farms in Africa causes too much carbon pollution. Can you imagine the response of any national leader, being told he must let his people starve because a bunch of rich nation, ivory tower science boffins have this unproven, wild idea that CO2 might cause the world to warm by a degree or two a hundred years from now? This is the type of imbecility that comes from following a pernicious untruth down a rabbit hole of false assumptions. Yet around the globe people seem defenseless against the infectious ignorance that is climate alarmism.
Hoards of non-scientists have been making a career out of pushing “settled science,” particularly when it come to climate change, the eco-socialists' favorite excuse for dismantling the world's existing economic and industrial base. Unlike the notoriously squishy science of climate change, physics is viewed as being mature and on a more solid foundation, at least by those who are physicists. Given the recent furor caused by the IPCC and NCA reports, plus the US EPA's ham handed attempt to institute CO2 Cap & Trade without the agreement of Congress, it is instructional for scientific outsiders to review recent events in both fields. Read on, believers in the myth of settled science and those who think scientific questions are resolved by consensus.
Over 4,000 years ago, the Harappan Civilization of the Indus Valley faded and disappeared. Never heard of the Harappans? Theirs was a Bronze-Age civilization located where Pakistan and northwest India are today. With large, well-planned cities, municipal sewage systems and writing that has never been deciphered, they had a civilization equal to Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Greece. But the Harappans fell victim to what most view as a modern horror—climate change. Sometime around 2,100 BC the monsoon cycle, vital to all of South Asia, faltered. The reliable rains stopped, and man's earliest civilizations fell. Now we are told that California—that progressive paradise on the Pacific—is poised on the brink of its own drought spawned disaster. So desperate have things become that one restaurant chain has threatened to stop serving guacamole and vintners are turning to witchcraft. Can the total collapse of Californian civilization be far behind?
California, the state that raises 30% of US fresh produce, is in the grip of a severe drought. Billed as the driest period in the state's recorded rainfall history, climate change alarmists have hastened to blame the parched conditions on anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Paleoclimate history tells a different story, however, and highlights the amazingly short attention span of AGW advocates. Going beyond the 163-year historical period, science shows that there have been other, longer lasting and more severe droughts than the current dry spell. Today's drought is minor when compared with ancient Megadroughts, which occurred between 850 to 1090 and 1140 to 1320. In fact, the worst droughts suffered by the American Southwest all happened so long ago that human memory fails us.
You may have notice that the news media talking heads and TV weather presenters have discovered a new term recently—the Arctic Vortex. In a splendid demonstration of how the weak minded are quickly consumed by group think, and ill understood terms get repeated ad nauseum, the Arctic Vortex has dominated the news during the past week in the US. In truth, the phenomenon is not new. What is new is that its current foray south is being loudly attributed to global warming. For years the effects of a warming Arctic have been the subject of scientific speculation. Dubbed Arctic amplification, some claim it will enhanced extreme weather in the middle latitudes. The fact that such linkage is tenuous at best has not stopped ignorant politicians like the UK's David Cameron and the US's Barack Obama from blaming recent nasty weather on that old nugget, anthropogenic global warming. There is, however, some evidence to the contrary from one scientist who studies atmospheric dynamics and variability under different climates.
All of us here at The Resilient Earth wish our readers the happiest of New Years. As you all probably know, 2013 was not the best of years for the global warming backers of the world. In the US, we have experienced the lowest number of tropical storms, tornadoes and wild fires in decades. The year past saw more record lows set than record highs and drought conditions eased in many places. While this does not disprove the global warming hypotheses, all those factors were cited by AGW proponents as outcomes of rising global temperatures. The fact that the opposite of the warmists' predictions have taken place weakens the theory and casts doubt on the whole climate change scam. Given that both North America and Europe are in the grip of frigid winter temperatures it is an AGW true believer indeed who continues to insist the world is getting hotter.
Unless you have been living in one of the few truly remote areas of the planet, you have been exposed to them. Climate change memes that pass from person to person and are repeated without thought or critical examination. They range from the subtle—bad weather is being increased by global warming—to the banal—over 97% of scientists agree about climate change. We are bombarded with these unsubstantiated ideas over and over again, from talking heads on TV, newspaper headlines, our friends and even the president of the United States. They are blatant untruths that have become legitimized by repetition, until school children and adults alike patriot them to each other. The recent tropical cyclone, Haiyan, has triggered another round of meme infection: it was the worst storm in history, tropical storms are getting bigger every year, there are more storms every year, and, of course, they are all caused by global warming. Trouble is, these “facts” are all false.
The long awaited full text report is finally available. The Final Draft Report, dated 7 June 2013, of the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis was accepted but not approved in detail by the Twelfth Session of Working Group I and the Thirty-Sixth Session of the IPCC on 26 September 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden. This report consists of the full scientific and technical assessment undertaken by Working Group I. While the final draft of the underlying Working Group I report is still subject to copy-editing and corrections in proof as normally applied to scientific reports the fundamental tone and content of the report has been set. No screaming warnings; no predictions of impending doom. The most shocking thing is that our knowledge of climate change has not advanced in almost a decade. Simply put, climate scientists are puzzled by the way nature is acting.
Much has been done to vilify carbon dioxide in the media. Listening to the talking heads and on-air “experts” could lead one to believe that CO2 is an evil scourge that the world would be better off without. Nothing could be further than the truth. CO2 is necessary for life on Earth, forests in particular. It is not just plant food, the maligned gas also plays a role in regulating water use by the world's forests. New research has uncovered an unexpectedly strong decrease in H2O uptake caused by increasing CO2. Along with global increases in photosynthesis, forest growth rates, and carbon uptake, higher CO2 levels contribute to enhanced timber yields and improved water availability. Who says higher CO2 levels are a bad thing?
The threat of widespread and persistent drought, ruining crops and threatening water supplies, is constantly cited as an outcome of global warming. Media talking heads, climate scientists (who should know better) and even the American President have all made this assertion—and there is nothing to back up the claim. Results presented recently at the annual assembly of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna show that forecasting drought is still beyond the reach of current climate models. Models run against historical data have either predicted periods of drought at the wrong times or missed them all together. Yet climate alarmists continue to spread this pernicious lie, preaching damnation with the certitude of an Old Testament prophet.
Since it was recently Earth Day, a yearly day of celebration and protest by conservationists and assorted greens, it is instructive to take a look at a number of recent studies taken from the scientific literature. The dire predictions made by climate change alarmists are many, far to numerous to all be addressed here, so this article will examine three areas of concern: increased drought, destruction of the world's rainforests, and the die-off of ocean coral reefs. Each of these reported calamities has been linked to increasing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and that supposed bane of nature, anthropogenic global warming (AGW). These threats have been repeated ad nauseum by talking heads and climate change activists, but the truth is that these predicted outcomes are not as threatening as they would have you believe.
It's everywhere on Earth, on the other planets and moons of the solar system, and even in comets from deep space. It is the frozen form of water, commonly called ice. Something so ubiquitous and familiar, one would think that science knows a lot about ice. It turns out science knows less than we might suppose. In a commentary in the journal Nature, an ice scientist raises ten open questions about ice. For example, the article states: “We cannot predict with certainty when and where ice clouds will form in the atmosphere; areas of the sky remain humid when we would expect them to freeze.” Ice is a fundamental part of Earth's climate, yet these questions and others remain unanswered. How can climate science claim to predict the fate of the polar ice sheets or mountain glaciers when we do not really understand the substance that they are made of?
A newly released study from the Research Council of Norway has climate change alarmists abuzz. One of the things the alarmists have been pushing for is to halt warming at a 2°C increase at any cost (and they mean that literally). In the Norwegian study, much to the alarmists' dismay, researchers have arrived at an estimate of 1.9°C as the most likely level of future warming. The report also recognizes that temperatures have stabilized at 2000 levels for the past decade even though CO2 levels have continued to rise. Meanwhile, a reconstruction of the Eemian interglacial from the new NEEM ice core, published in the journal Nature, shows that in spite of a climate 8°C warmer than that of the past millennium, the ice in Northern Greenland was only a few hundred meters lower than its present level. This finding casts doubt on the projected melting of ice sheets and resulting sea-level rise.