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.
To end the year 2015, climate change alarmists tried valiantly to drive home their message that the world was going into a global warming meltdown. Myopically focusing on the unseasonably warm temperatures in the eastern half of the United States was not enough, they decided to hype the occurrence of a fairly common winter weather event with the scary name “bomb cyclone.” The weather media–always up for a natural calamity–jumped on the bomb storm meme, billing the impending event as a “blowtorch” that would melt the North Pole. Such a meteorological feeding frenzy had not been seen for ages. Well the storm has come and gone and the Arctic is intact, catastrophe unrealized and the media weather ghouls moving on to the next faux disaster. But was the “bomb” real, and if so, what was it?
When most people think of climate change they are really thinking of weather. Specifically the weather where they live. Weather is caused by Earth's climate engine moving heat about, so the two are definitely linked, but is it possible to capture climate in a single number? For years, those alarmed by the prospect of climate change have bandied about a number for Earth's average global temperature, currently given as about 61 degrees F (16°C). But what does that mean? This is why climate alarmists like to talk about the change in global temperature above some past average, starting at some arbitrary time – the real meaning is, well, a bit vague. But if no one can interpret the meaning of Earth's average temperature, what are we to make of a change in that number? As it turns out, Earth's average temperature is a mostly meaningless number, often used to mislead people and susceptible to manipulation for nefarious purposes.
On October 14, 2015, Dr Patrick Moore delivered the Global Warming Policy Foundation annual lecture in London. An ecologist and environmentalist for more than 45 years, Moore was one of the founding members and a leader of Greenpeace. After 15 years he left the organization because he felt its mission and message had changed. “Over the years the 'peace' in Greenpeace was gradually lost and my organization, along with much of the environmental movement, drifted into a belief that humans are the enemies of the earth.” Since then, Dr. Moore has been a consistent voice for sanity in ecological matters. In his address he asserts that CO2 is not evil rather it is the currency of life and the most important building block for all life on Earth. Human emissions of carbon dioxide have helped save plant life on our planet. “We are not the enemy of nature but its salvation,” he proclaimed.
A number of media outlets picked up a story recently about increasing swarms of giant mosquitoes endangering caribou and blotting out the Arctic Sun. Evidently this all came from a research report that stated the obvious, a longer, warmer summer would lead to a longer mosquito season in the Arctic. Having lived in Alaska, I can verify that the mosquitoes there are huge and their swarms can almost blot out the Sun, or at least it seems that way if you are getting bit. The problem here is that there is no evidence that there are more or larger mosquitoes emerging from the tundra of the north lands. This is yet another case of airhead news writers misunderstanding the facts or twisting them to fit their desired narrative.
We have all heard about the Ice Age, if only in cartoon movies. A time when massive ice sheets covered the planet while mammoths and saber toothed cats roamed the frozen landscape. What is more, the cycle of interglacial-glacial-interglacial has happened over and over again during the past million or so years. During the last half a million years the cycle has repeated every 130,000 years, with the warm period we are now enjoying—the Holocene—just the latest interglacial respite from the icy conditions of the Pleistocene Ice Age. What most people don't know is that there were many areas on Earth that remained unchanged, even during the height of the last glacial period. The Sahara was hot and dry, and in the Amazon rainforests, though a bit smaller in area, looked much like they do today.
Finally giving a more or less straight answer to a question—perhaps a first for Ms. Clinton's presidential champagne—Hillary has come down in favor of the President's new “Clean Energy Plan.” According to a web posting, Hillary said “You don’t have to be a scientist to take on this urgent challenge that threatens us all. You just have to be willing to act.” In other words, don't bother to understand the science or the possible ramifications, just trust me! Interesting that during the same week she refused to answer a question about the Keystone Pipeline, saying she wouldn't comment while the Obama administration was still weighing its decision. What a cop out.
A lot has been written about melting ice caps and new mini-ice ages recently. Seems that science can't decide if we are going to drown in rising oceans or starve because summer will be a thing of the past. This leaves the layperson justifiably confused as to who to believe—the climate change alarmists who back rapid global warming or those who warn of a new glacial period. There is little certainty when it comes to science but one thing that can be counted on is our ignorance. Quite simply, scientists cannot predict with any certainty what Earth's climate will do next. If someone tries to tell you different they are lying.
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.
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.