2014 - Annus Horribilus For Climate Alarmists
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 now famous “pause” in global warming continues, now well into its 18th year. With the lack of warming climate alarmists have had to retrench, changing their brand from global warming to climate change and finally to climate disruption. Now, in a desperate attempt to pull their failed theory from the ash heap of science, the usual suspects—NOAA, NASA, the Met Office Hadley Centre, and the UN's WMO—have teamed up to promote the fantasy that 2014 has been THE HOTTEST YEAR EVER!! This bit of pseudo science slight of hand has been accomplished by carefully choosing a few dubious datasets that supposedly document surface temperatures around the world and munging them into a single global temperature for the entire planet for the entire year.
“Fourteen of the 15 warmest years on record have all occurred in the 21st century,” said the WMO’s secretary-general Michel Jarraud in an article in the Guardian. “What we saw in 2014 is consistent with what we expect from a changing climate.”
“Record-breaking heat combined with torrential rainfall and floods destroyed livelihoods and ruined lives. What is particularly unusual and alarming this year are the high temperatures of vast areas of the ocean surface, including in the northern hemisphere,” he said.
These proclamations make it sound like there was a sudden, sizable jump in temperatures worldwide, but that just doesn't square with reality. In truth, there has been no increase in rainfall and floods, or record breaking heat for that matter. The datasets used by the climate alarmists are all based on surface temperatures, relying on station readings from around the world. Unfortunately, the distribution of temperature taking stations is far from uniform, large areas of the world's oceans and polar regions have scant coverage. In some cases single readings have been applied to large regions of ocean, biasing the average figure.
Reliability of the readings themselves is questionable as urban development has changed the setting for some stations, effectively changing rural settings to suburban or urban ones with accompanying heat island increases. A more accurate approach is to used satellite data that measures temperatures in the troposphere, the lowest layer of Earth's atmosphere. Two major IR satellite datasets exist, offering reliable global coverage for more than three decades.
Surface datasets, such as HADCRUT and GISS, only measure the temperature at the bottom of the atmosphere. Satellite datasets from UAH and RSS measure temperature through the whole of the lower troposphere, and therefore are regarded as much more comprehensive. The satellite data tell the story of 2014 differently. Using the satellite temperature data from the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH), 2014 was colder than both 1998 and 2010. UAH have now released their global temperature data for December and, as with RSS, they confirm that 2014 was a long way from being the “hottest ever year.”
In addition, 2014 was only warmer than many other years in the last three and a half decades by such a tiny margin as to be statistically insignificant. According to Dr. Roy Spencer, who served as senior scientist for climate studies at NASA before becoming principal research scientist at UAH, 2014 was the third warmest year since 1979, “but just barely.”
According to Dr. John Christy, Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), last year was the third warmest in 36 years according to the satellite measurements, “but by such a small margin (0.01 C) as to be statistically similar to other recent years.”
“While it may have been warm, it was not special,” he added. “The 0.01 C difference between 2014 and 2005, or the 0.02 difference with 2013 are not statistically different from zero,” Christy continued. “That might not be a very satisfying conclusion, but it is at least accurate.”
Remember that the statistic being held up as proof of global warming is an average, for the entire planet, for the entire year. If global warming had come roaring back in 2014 one would expect a respectable rise in temperature, perhaps a degree or two. Yet, despite selective data editing and correction, the best the alarmists can do is a supposed new historical high by only one hundredth of a degree. This is weak stuff to say the least.
The independent Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) satellite data suggests 2014 was even colder than indicated by the UAH satellite data. RSS ranked last year between the sixth and seventh warmest years in the almost four decade satellite record. According to the RSS-AMSU data set, 1998, 2010, 2005, 2003, and 2002 were all definitely warmer. Physicist Lubos Motl, citing the RSS data, even urged people to “please laugh out loud” whenever someone ludicrously claims that 2014 “was the warmest year.” He also noted that, on average, the most recent nine-year period was actually colder than the previous one—if anything we are experiencing global cooling.
What's more, making a big deal out of average surface temps is misleading in the extreme. It is the formation of ice on the Norther Hemisphere land masses that leads to a glaciation, not transient temperatures on the surface of oceans. The average temperature could increase but still see an increase in conditions that promote glaciation—cooler summers and warmer winters. This is because a northern winter that increases from -20° to -10° is significantly warmer, but still more than sufficiently cold for frozen precipitation. When the world reenters the ongoing Ice Age can we all sue these anti-carbon idiots for helping start the next glacial period? That seems only fair.
The simple truth is global warming has stopped. It stopped more than 18 years ago and remains on holiday. Nature is not following the script, causing panic in climate science circles. The hottest year ever claim is simple desperation on the part of the warmists. Expect climate alarmists to continue overlooking data—the UAH and RSS data sets in particular—that disprove their failed climate models and their CO2 driven climate change theory. Unlike some of the warmist data, the UAH satellite temperature data is available freely online for public download.
It's not just temperatures that the warm-mongers are wrong about. Alarmists see CO2 as evil and all bad, but real scientists say otherwise. Plants, and through them all life on Earth, requires CO2 and thrives as atmospheric levels rise. NASA is now reporting the truth of this. It has long been know that boreal forests have been sucking up CO2 at record rates, now tropical forest have joined in.
“This is good news, because uptake in boreal forests is already slowing, while tropical forests may continue to take up carbon for many years,” said David Schimel of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. Schimel is lead author of a paper on the new research, appearing in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Schimel noted that their paper reconciles results at every scale from the pores of a single leaf, where photosynthesis takes place, to the whole Earth, as air moves carbon dioxide around the globe. “What we've had up till this paper was a theory of carbon dioxide fertilization based on phenomena at the microscopic scale and observations at the global scale that appeared to contradict those phenomena. Here, at least, is a hypothesis that provides a consistent explanation that includes both how we know photosynthesis works and what's happening at the planetary scale.”
Not only have climate alarmists unfairly demonized CO2, a substance necessary to life on Earth, they also don't understand where it comes from. The stock answer from the warmist crowd is that evil CO2 comes from human emissions, with the US being the primary culprit, closely followed by all other developed nations. But that is not what a new NASA study has found.
Given the normal anti-industrial bias of greens and treehuggers, one would expect the map to show billowing clouds of CO2 coming from the US and Europe. Looking at the map reveals a big surprise—the highest concentrations of carbon dioxide are from South America, Africa, and parts of Asia. Why? According to NASA: “Preliminary analysis of the African data shows the high levels there are largely driven by the burning of savannas and forests. Elevated carbon dioxide can also be seen above industrialized Northern Hemisphere regions in China, Europe and North America.” Were they looking at the same map they published?
“The agreement between OCO-2 and models based on existing carbon dioxide data is remarkably good, but there are some interesting differences,” said Christopher O'Dell, an assistant professor at CSU and member of OCO-2's science team. “Some of the differences may be due to systematic errors in our measurements, and we are currently in the process of nailing these down. But some of the differences are likely due to gaps in our current knowledge of carbon sources in certain regions – gaps that OCO-2 will help fill in.”
They are right about China, but not about the US, Europe, and Australia being the main sources. Their own map shows that the developing world generates more CO2 than the industrialized nations. This is why efforts to bring affordable energy to developing nations makes much more sense than trying to force the worlds poor to use windmills and solar cells. Indeed, a recent statement in the journal Nature says Canada, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the US cannot burn much of the coal, oil and gas located within their national territories if the world wants to restrain global warming.
“If we want to reach the two-degree limit in the most cost-effective manner, more than 80% of current coal, half of gas and one third of oil need to be classified as unburnable,” said Christophe McGlade, a research associate at University College London's Institute for Sustainable Resources (ISR) and lead author of the report published on January 8. So to meet the arbitrary 2°C limit the world's industry must shut down. Anybody in the northern hemisphere want to turn off your heating right now? That would be insanity and it shows how out of touch with reality the climate alarmist clique really is.
2014 was a horrible year for climate alarmists—the world didn't warm, natural disasters didn't become more frequent, and climate change became even less important to people around the world. The planet is greening, forest love the elevated CO2 levels, and the closer they look, the less scientists seem to know about where it comes from. So Happy New Year, everyone. Let's hope 2015 is just as horrible for the climate alarmists.
Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical.