Skeptical Thoughts on Energy, Science and Global Warming

Crank of the Week - June 1, 2009 - Lucy

Here is a sure fire, hit concept for a “news” show: life as we know it comes to an end, our civilization crumbles, leaving only ruins and the inane voice-over narration provided by some of the dimmest minds of our time. And to make it seem au courant, make up a main character—call her Lucy—to give voice to utterances even the most fanatical climate change alarmists would blanch at. To keep costs down, make her a waifish comic book cutout in a vaguely manga style. Lucy leads a charmed life, traveling back and forth across America, always arriving at a new destination just in time for the next horrific man-made ecological disaster.

Airborne Bacteria Discredit Climate Modeling Dogma

The formation of low-level clouds—clouds that have a cooling effect on Earth's climate—has vexed climate scientists for years. Current climate models treat cloud cover simplistically and make the assumption that cloud cover decreases as temperatures rise. New data from a cloud sampling experiment indicates that biological material—bacteria, spores and plant material—may account for 1/3 of the airborne material involved in cloud formation. Furthermore, biological material can form clouds at much warmer temperatures than mineral dust. These new discoveries indicate that modelers have the effects of temperature on low cloud cover backwards, placing all model predictions in doubt.

Crank of the Week - May 25, 2009 - Michael E. Mann

Michael E. “Hockey Stick” Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University and a co-founder of the climate change website RealClimate.org, was back in the news this week providing commentary for a Seed magazine on-line article, that asks the question “is there a better word for doom?” Mann defended the proper "framing" of environmental issues in order to convince the lay public about the importance of global warming.

Heat-resistant Corals Ignore Climate Change Threats

Among the many catastrophes that are to befall our world due to global warming, the imminent demise of coral reefs is one of the worst. According to climate change proponents, as waters warm the ocean's reefs will bleach out and die, leaving the seas aquatic deserts, devoid of life. Now comes news that scientists have discovered live, healthy corals on reefs already as hot as the oceans are supposed to get 100 years from now, according to IPCC predictions. Looks like the corals didn't read the IPCC reports.

Is The Obama Administration Trying To Kill Nuclear Energy?

Even though the new US President gives occasional lip service to nuclear energy, recent actions by his administration force us to ask, “is the Obama administration trying to kill nuclear energy?” The first indication that Obama's support for nuclear power was less than whole hearted came during the stimulus debate, when a push to include tens of billions of dollars in insurance for new nuclear reactors failed. Then, the Obama administration came out this month against storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

Conveyor Belt Model Broken

News has come that the famed ocean conveyor belt, subject of countless TV documentaries and science lessons, is not as simple as scientists believed. The 50 year old model of global ocean circulation that predicts a deep Atlantic counter current below the Gulf Stream has been called into question by an armada of drifting subsurface sensors. As shocking as this news is to oceanographers it is even worse for climate modelers—it means that all the current climate prediction models are significantly wrong.

Potential Sea-Level Rise Reevaluated

The collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) leading to world wide flooding from a huge rise in global sea-levels is one of the horror stories used by global warming activists to scare the public into action. Now it seems that the predictions were greatly exaggerated, both in terms of probability and effect.

African Dust Heats Up Atlantic Tropics

The evidence is in, observations and models show that northern tropical Atlantic surface temperatures are sensitive to dust blowing in from North Africa. Regional changes in stratospheric volcanic and tropospheric mineral aerosols (i.e. dust) are responsible for 69% of the upward trend in temperatures over the last 30 years. Once again a new factor has been discovered that is not accounted for in general circulation models (GCM) used to predict global warming—and once again the importance of CO2 is diminished.

Attempt To Discredit Cosmic Ray-Climate Link Using Computer Model

Two computer modelers from CMU have written a program to simulate the interaction of cosmic rays with Earth's atmosphere. Because the model failed to predict significant increases in cloud cover, global warming activists are claiming the theory linking cosmic rays to climate change has been discredited. Climate models have failed to accurately predict the current downward trend in temperatures and now we are asked to accept a model as proof of how the Universe works. In truth, the paper cited is nothing more than a study of a computer program, and has nothing to do with the physical reality of how Earth's climate functions.

Better To Burn Than To Brew Ethanol

Coming on the heals of the EPA and CARB decisions, to include all production emissions when evaluating biofuels, a new study from the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology says that it may be better to burn crops than turn them into biofuels. The UN has reported that world food prices are rising due to competition with government subsidized biofuel programs. Combined with new concerns over nitrous oxide production from agricultural crops, this may signal the death of America's foolish foray into crop based ethanol.

Crank of the Week - May 4, 2009 - Wesley Clark

After a brief, failed career as a politician, retired US General Wesley Clark has finally sunk to the lowest level of American political life: he has become a lobbyist for the ethanol business. He recently appeared on evening news programs decrying the change in public sentiment away from global warming and, in particular, ethanol biofuel. “Public consensus is wrong.” said Clark, blaming the shift in public opinion on propaganda from global warming deniers.

Russia To Ring Arctic With Floating Nuclear Plants

A Russian project currently underway aims at ringing the Arctic Circle with 70 MW floating nuclear power plants. In a report by Interfax, a Russian state controlled news agency, Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and the far northern Siberian Republic of Yakutiya signed an agreement last week for the construction of four floating nuclear power plants for use along the Republic’s coastal areas on the Arctic Ocean. This moves forward existing plans to construct scores of new power plants in the Arctic region.

New Study Adds To Glacial Ice Confusion

In a new report in Science, scientists present results matching neither the hypothesis of inter-hemispheric synchrony during the mid to late Holocene nor rhythmic asynchrony, downplaying the importance of global driving mechanisms. It seems that several glacier advances occurred in New Zealand during classic northern warm periods. Understanding the relationship between climate changes in the northern and southern hemispheres during the Holocene, along with their causes, remains a major problem of climate science.

Arctic Aerosols Indicate Melting Ice Not Caused By CO2

NASA researchers report that much of the atmospheric warming observed in the Arctic since 1976 may be due to changes in tiny airborne particles called aerosols. Though greenhouse gases are invariably blamed for global climate change, and the shrinking Arctic ice cover in particular, this new research indicates that as much as half the warming in the Arctic can be attributed to sort lived particulate pollution—basically soot. Unlike the dreaded gas, CO2, aerosols do not stay in the atmosphere very long, suggesting that the effects of any warming caused by aerosols would quickly be reversed if their emissions ceased.

Earth Institute Meeting Turns Into Complaint Session About “Deniers”

The Earth Institute at Columbia University held a panel discussion recently on the subject of climate change. The main themes of the evening were the complexity and fluidity of climate science, interweaving policy, politics and science, and evolving public attitudes. Not surprisingly, being held in an academic environment, the audience at Columbia was firmly in the camp of climate change believers and was preoccupied mainly with deflecting attacks by deniers. Why do anthropogenic global warming proponents seem so paranoid about opposing views?

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