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.
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.
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.
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?
A new analysis answers the question “should other nations follow Germany's lead on promoting solar Power?” That question was asked on Quora and answered by Ryan Carlyle, BSChE, and a Subsea Hydraulics Engineer. His detailed and well reasoned answer is the most forceful possible NO. According to Carlyle Germany's program has the “absurd distinction” of hitting the trifecta of bad energy policy: bad for consumers, bad for industry, and bad for the environment. So while misguided greens point to Germany as a solar success, a rising tide of opposition and resentment is growing among the German public.