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.
One of the greatest failures of climate science has been the dismal performance of general circulation models (GCM) to accurately predict Earth's future climate. For more than three decades huge predictive models, run on the biggest supercomputers available, have labored mighty and turned out garbage. Their most obvious failure was missing the now almost eighteen year “hiatus,” the pause in temperature rise that has confounded climate alarmists and serious scientists alike. So poor has been the models' performance that some climate scientists are calling for them to be torn down and built anew, this time using different principles. They want to adopt stochastic methods—so called Monte Carlo simulations based on probabilities and randomness—in place of today’s physics based models.
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.
The science is settled, the President of the United States assures us. His pet scientists have produced yet another frightening climate report to prove it. Given this President's tenuous relationship with the truth on other matters, a citizen might pause to ask if the claim of settled science is, in fact, true. In the recent past scientific papers have discovered some “unexpected” phenomena that help to regulate climate. In fact, one of the climate change faithful proposed a mechanism affecting the jet stream that could be responsible for this winter's unexpected weather in the northern hemisphere. Only problem, a number of climate alarmist luminaries have dissented from her idea. Remember the consensus that was supposed to shut down all opposing opinions? Never mind. Another study shows statistically that there is no way to establish a human caused warming trend without another 100 years of observation. Of course, if you believe the climate catastrophists the world as we know it will have vanished by then. So is climate science really settled? Here are just some of the most recent indications that it is not.
The state of Arkansas, in the south central portion of the United States, was struck last night by a number of storms that spawned deadly and destructive tornadoes. One of these tornadoes was a half mile wide at its base and reportedly stayed on the ground for eighty miles. The towns of Mayflower and Vilonia were particularly hard hit and the death toll currently stands at 16. Emergency officials and rescue crews are still searching for survivors. In the face of such a natural calamity people ask questions such as “could we have been more prepared” and “how can we help the victims.” Equally predictable in these times, a number of green pinheads have implied that this natural disaster was caused by global warming, and that we only have ourselves to blame. This is simply not true.
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.
In a mad rush to prove who can put out the most inane press release, various warm-mongers, news hacks and climate alarmists have gone on a predictable spree, trying to blame Hurricane Sandy and the resulting disaster in the US Northeast on CO2 levels. Who are these clowns? Even the IPCC issued a statement saying that global warming was not to blame. Have none of these empty headed blatherskites noticed that it has been more than seven years since a major hurricane struck the US, the longest such period since the Civil War? Evidently not, since they continue to spew unscientific twaddle and the news media continues to lap it up like a dog eating its own vomit.
Recent days have seen a number of announcements about our changing climate. As it turns out Arctic ice is rebounding, sea levels are dropping and things just are not going according to the IPCC's plan for catastrophic global warming. Faced with reversal after reversal, it might seem logical for mainstream climate scientists to admit that they are wrong, that global warming is not taking place at a breakneck pace, but this has not happened. Instead, climate change apologists are weaving a tangled web of excuses—hot is cold, wet is dry, up is down. No matter what happens to the world we live in, the root cause according to the doomsayers is always the same: it's always global warming's fault.
For decades, climate change alarmists have generated a host of doomsday scenarios, all based on the theory of anthropogenic global warming: human CO2 emissions will force Earth's climate to warm uncontrollably causing all manner of unpleasantness. A new study, published by the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, addresses the major predicted effects of global warming head on. Making extensive use of peer reviewed research papers, the dire predictions of climate alarmists are demolished point by point. In fact, the authors conclude that rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations associated with the development of the Industrial Revolution have actually been good for the planet.
With massive floods in Australia and Brazil, and bitter winter weather across the Northern Hemisphere, climate change alarmists have been quick to blame the severe weather on global warming. The fact that such weather is well within normal variation has not stopped the catastrophists from claiming vindication. No matter that those who study the Pacific and Atlantic decadal scale oscillations predicted a cold and snowy winter for Europe and North America, the recent blizzards are being offered up as “proof” that Earth's climate is changing for the worse. And what of the reports of widespread natural disaster from Rio, Brisbane and elsewhere? Even more global warming, of course. When it comes to wicked weather, the climate change cabal's misinformation machine is running at full tilt.
An increase in tropical storm activity has long been predicted as a harmful side-effect of human induced global warming. Hurricanes are to become more frequent and more deadly. All of this is predicated on the notion that a hotter climate will result in more moisture in the atmosphere and more frequent tropical storms. As it turns out, this is only half true. There may be more precipitation in the temperate zone, but an increase in tropical storms is not predicted—even by the IPCC models.
Things have settled down a bit since the climate research scandals of early 2010, and some of the crew at the Met Office Hadley Centre have put forth a new paper. In it they claim the ability to “skillfully” predict hurricane activity for several years in advance. This seems a useful and more reasonable thing for this bunch to be doing, as opposed to scaremongering about anthropogenic global warming, but there is a catch. As it turns out, the whole exercise is aimed at blaming a purported increase in hurricane activity on global warming—the climate change scam lives on.
It is accepted that volcanic eruptions can have a major impact on short term climate. A new study in Nature Geoscience uses instrument records, proxy data and climate modeling to show that multidecadal variability is a dominant feature of North Atlantic sea-surface temperature (SST), which, in turn, impacts regional climate. It turns out that the timing of multidecadal SST fluctuations in the North Atlantic over the past 600 years has, to a large degree, been governed by changes in external solar and volcanic forcings. Solar influence is not surprising but the fact that volcanoes cause climate change lasting decades has some significant implications for those trying to model climate over the next century.
In an example of what Presidential Science Advisor John Holdren would label “global climate disruption,” a 2009 report claimed that warming surface water in the Pacific Ocean was having an impact on the frequency of tropical storms. Moreover, landfalls along the Gulf of Mexico coast and Central America were supposedly increased. Now a new study appearing in Geophysical Research Letters has found these claims to be untrue. It seems that there is little correlation between the Atlantic hurricane activity and Pacific Ocean warming. In fact, the increased tropical storm frequency in 1969 and 2004 can be readily explained by increased warmth in the Atlantic where the storms form. Once again, those looking for a smoking gun in the form of human caused climate change are forced to look elsewhere.