Mixed in with the swirling cloud of misinformation about global warming is also a bit of blather regarding the onset of a new Ice Age. What the promoters of a new big freeze are talking about is a glacial period, since technically we are still in the midst of an ice age—the Pleistocene. A number of scientists have warned that the planet might be headed for a new period of glacial growth based on Earth's recent history. Over the past half million or so years there has been a series of short (15-20k year) warm period sandwiched between longer (70-100k year) glacial episodes. Make no mistake, global cooling is much worse than global warming, so this really matters to our descendants and the whole human race. Now, a new study in Nature says that we maybe off the hook, glacial wise. Not only that, human activity might be the reason.
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 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.
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.
To honor the overly excitable greens and mental dullards participating in this weekend's People's Climate March, we are going to give away The Resilient Earth ebook for Kindle. That's right, instead of spending a lot of time and effort (not to mention emitting a lot of CO2) you can stay in the comfort of your own home and read about the real science behind climate change. You can purchase your own copy of this science classic for absolutely nothing between 9/20/2014 and 9/22/2014. This entertaining, easy to read book contains color illustrations and hundreds of references, all of which will give you the facts regarding climate science and the global warming scare.
Marine and terrestrial proxy records suggest that there was a peak in global warming between 10,000 and 6,000 years ago, following the end of the last glacial period. Since the Holocene Thermal Maximum, Earth has undergone global cooling. The physical mechanism responsible for this global cooling has remained unknown and doesn't fit in with the current CO2 based climate models. Those climate models generate a robust global annual mean warming throughout the Holocene, mainly in response to rising CO2 levels and albedo changes due to retreating of ice sheets. In other words, the models disagree with reality, and when models disagree with nature the models have a credibility gap. A new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) says this model-data inconsistency indicates a critical reexamination of both proxy data and models is called for.
Back at the beginning of Earth's existence there was a time known as the Hadean Eon—Hadean as in Hades, or hell. The history of the Hadean Earth (~4.0–4.5 billion years ago) is poorly understood because rocks from that time have not survived. The oldest known rocks are little older than ~3.8 billion years. A new paper in the journal Nature attempts to shed some new light on the least known part of Earth's distant past. Researchers have long speculated about the conditions on Earth in the first 500 million years after the planet's formation, some 4.5 billion years ago. The researchers report that, according to their model, the early Earth is likely to have been hit by up to four asteroids, each capable of snuffing out fledgling life and completely resurfacing the planet.
In 2013 a group of climate researchers published a study using statistics and the output of the latest crop of climate models. Their purpose was to show when surface temperatures could be expected to permanently depart from previous historical ranges. Such an event is called an expulsion. Camilo Mora et al. presented precise projections for when these unprecedented regional climates would emerge. Now a second group of researchers argue that their methodology produces artificially early dates at which specific regions will permanently experience unprecedented climates and artificially low uncertainty in those dates everywhere. This is an example of what happens when untrustworthy model outputs are combined with specious statistical methods. The resulting predictions are scary enough to be published in a major journal, but so false that even other climate scientists are moved to protest.
One of the scary scenarios frequently trotted out by climate change alarmists is the possible shutdown of the ocean currents in the Atlantic Ocean. This would disrupt northern hemisphere climate, particularly in Europe. Indeed, one Hollywood disaster movie had frozen military helicopters falling from the skies in the UK and Manhattan buried under a tsunami of ice. We are told this could happen at any time, if the world gets too hot from all that CO2 our species is churning out. Now a shocking new paper in the journal Science implies that the standard view of a relatively stable interglacial circulation may not hold for conditions warmer/fresher than at present. Why? Because it happened before, over 100,000 years ago, without the help of man made global warming. Another catastrophic climate threat is shown to be totally natural and to have happened before our species began burning coal and driving SUVs.
Climate alarmists are constantly warning that Earth is going to warm up, driven they say by the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. To bolster their claims they point to the Pliocene, a time 4-5 million years ago, when the planet was 4-8°C hotter and CO2 levels were 400ppm or higher. This is the climate we are heading for, the global warming supporters say—but it that really true? Superficially it seems a plausible assertion, but as it turns out there is much more here than CO2 and temperature. It is not just the average temperature but the distribution of temperature at different latitudes, both over land and sea, that controls the climate. It is the temperature gradient that drives storms and affects weather patterns and it was much different during the Pliocene. Moreover, climate models do not generate a Pliocene like climate when run with higher CO2 levels, which means climate scientists are missing something important about the way Earth's climate system works.
Scientists have long suspected that the orbital cycles of our planet are responsible for the periodic climate variation that causes alternating glacial and interglacial periods. Milankovitch's theory of orbital cycles suggests that summer insolation at high northern latitudes drives the glacial cycles. Moreover, statistical analyses have demonstrated that the glacial cycles are indeed linked to eccentricity, obliquity and precession. Now, researchers have confirmed that a combination of two of the Milankovitch cycles conspire to start and stop ice ages. The 100,000-year eccentricity cycle amplifies the influence of the 23,000-year wobble of Earth's spin axis called precession. The new modeling also suggests that the great accumulation of mass by the North American ice sheet causes the abrupt end of glacial periods. CO2 is involved, but is not determinative, in the evolution of the 100,000-year glacial cycles say the scientists.
The number of earthquakes in the U.S. has risen dramatically since the advent of widespread hydraulic fracturing for the recovery of oil and natural gas. In both North America and Europe, concern that such activity could cause damaging earthquakes is rising and the debate shows signs of becoming another unscientific brouhaha fueled by ignorance and fear. It has been known for many years that fracking can cause seismic activity, as can damming rivers, mining minerals and pumping oil from underground. Is fracking being subjected to unfair criticism? Several new reports and a multi-national study, just published in the journal Science, attempt to take an objective, scientific view of the problem.
Everyone has heard the pitch for solar energy, install solar cells on your roof and get free electricity from the Sun. Sure they cost a lot up front, but they will last 25-30 years—which just happens to be about the payback time given current electricity rates from coal, nuclear and natural gas. So when solar panels start failing in two or three years the economics of solar power collapses like a house of cards. That is exactly what is happening around the world. Cheap Chinese solar panels have flooded the market and are now starting to fail at an alarming rate. Solar panels covering a warehouse roof in Los Angeles were only two years into their expected 25-year life span when they began to fail. Worldwide, solar power adopters are reporting similar problems and say the $77 billion solar industry is facing a quality crisis. Bright sunlight is illuminating the scam that is solar power just as industry boosters claim solar is on the verge of widespread adoption.
Scientists who study climate will tell you that today's warm temperatures and mild conditions are not normal for Earth during the past several million years. Our planet has been in a general cooling trend for 35 million years and in the grip of an Ice Age for the last 1.6 million years. What's more, this Ice Age, known as the Pleistocene, consists of relatively short periods of warmth, called interglacials, separated by much longer periods of bitter cold, referred to as glacials. The recorded history of humankind covers only the later half of the most recent interglacial warming, though our ancient ancestors did leave messages in the form of cave art that date back to much colder times, times when the Ice Age held the world fast in its frozen embrace. Predicting the timing and duration of these periods remains a problem for scientists. Why the glacial periods should last around 100,000 years, as they have for the last million years or so, is called the 100-kyr problem. Now, a group of researchers claim they know the answer.
Gas prices, oil sands, fracking and the Canadian pipeline have all thrust energy back into the headlines. Politicians posture, eco-alarmists protest and those global warming fanatics continue to predict the end of the world as we know it. If you are tired of the hype and disinformation, if you really want to understand energy—where it comes from, how it works and how much of it the world has—then you need a copy of The Energy Gap. In this follow-on to The Resilient Earth, Hoffman and Simmons address the world's energy questions with the same wit and erudition displayed in their previous work. Even better, in honor of April 15th, tax day in the US, you can now download a copy of The Energy Gap for free from Amazon.