Once again climate scientists have put forth a scary prediction about melting ice caps and once again they are portraying output from computer models as a reliable prediction of things to come. The normally staid and reliable journal Nature emblazoned its cover with “Rising tide” in large black print, with the subtext “A 500-year model of Antarctica's contribution to future sea-level rise” in smaller print below. When a closer look is taken at this new model it turns out to be a house of cards, incomplete and built on top of other climate change models that are known to be faulty. As the old saying goes: garbage in, garbage out. Yet a major science journal chose this piece of computerized legerdemain as its lead article. No wonder that climate alarmists, and climate science in general, have fallen into such ill repute.
In the year 536 AD the sun dimmed, and the gloom lasted for more than an entire year. There were frosts and snows in the middle of summer and observers reported that winter never really ended. The sudden shift in climate lead to famine, plague and the fall of empires. What was worse, that year was only the beginning of a shift in climate that brought misery to the entire Northern Hemisphere for more than a century. Yet this well documented period of global cooling was smoothed away by climate change alarmists in works of fabricated data like the infamous “hockey stick” tree ring history. A new analysis has rediscovered this dark period in recent human history, fittingly made possible by new tree-ring measurements from the Altai mountains in Russia. The results help complete a climatological history stretching back 2,500 years. Climate history is a pesky thing, it just won't go away and can't be changed to fit some scientists pet theories.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
News media around the world have been all abuzz, with headlines declaring “Irreversible collapse of Antarctic glaciers has begun” and “West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse is under way.” The “rapid” collapse threatens to cause sea level change of 4 to 13 feet. Calamity will surely follow. “Collapse will change the coastline of the whole world” shrieked the UK's Guardian, always a good source for mindless rumor mongering. What they are referring to are a pair of new reports that say the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) has pushed its way over a submerged ridge that had been impeding its forward progress, causing the ice sheet to become unstuck from the sea floor. The WAIS is now flowing more freely, and hence more rapidly, into the sea. What the alarmist headlines don't say is that any impacts from this change are centuries to millennia in the future.
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.
Forty million years ago, Earth began slipping from a “hothouse” climate to an “icehouse” climate. Currently the planet is in a brief warm interlude know as an interglacial—a period of retreating ice sheets and shrinking glaciers. As the word interglacial suggests, our current comfortable climate is not permanent, but merely a pause between frigid ice age conditions. Though climate alarmists and media talking heads continue to natter on about uncontrollable rising temperatures a more devastating climate change would be a descent into an ice age so cold and so deep that the entire globe freezes over—it has happened before. A new scientific paper reveals what researchers say is a feedback mechanism that acts as a natural thermostat and keeps Earth from cooling to the point of uninhabitability.
While the debate rages regarding global warming and mankind's role in climate change there is one area that is not in dispute: the steady rise in atmospheric CO2 over the last century. Indeed, climate change alarmists celebrated CO2 readings passing 400ppm at Mauna Loa with news releases and renewed predictions of the coming Apocalypse. But carbon dioxide has other impacts, one of which has recently been documented by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia's national science agency. According to CSIRO, increased levels of CO2 have helped boost green foliage across the world’s arid regions over the past 30 years. This is because of a process called CO2 fertilization, which unequivocally shows that carbon dioxide is plant food.
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?