Skeptical Thoughts on Energy, Science and Global Warming

Crank of the Week - June 29, 2009 - The U.S. House of Representatives

The US House of Representatives has barely managed to pass a sweeping climate change bill that had the bill's supporters bringing at least one house member out of rehab to ensure passage. The 1,200 page bill—formally known as the “American Clean Energy and Security Act”—has been called “the worst piece of legislation in the history of the House.” The massive bill would affect all aspects of the U.S. economy: the way electricity is generated, how homes and offices are designed, how foreign trade is conducted and how much Americans pay to drive cars and to heat their homes.

Skeptical Inquirer Abandons Reason, Embraces Global Warming

For many years the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (formerly CSICOP) has published the Skeptical Inquirer, a magazine dedicated to rational thought and a scientific view of the world around us. Mostly concerned with debunking pseudoscience and mystical beliefs, its articles mostly concerned UFOs, bigfoot sightings, psychic spoon benders and spirit mediums. Now, unfortunately, it seems they have allied this previously skeptical magazine with one of the biggest scientific scams of our time, anthropogenic global warming.

Ice Ages & CO2, Part II – Rising Sea-levels in Tahiti

Having reported that scientists did not find CO2 responsible for a change in the duration of ice age glacial periods 700,00 years ago, another new report takes a look at the conditions around the last interglacial warm period and our own Holocene warming. Using corals from the south seas paradise of Tahiti to track sea-level changes, researchers probed the mechanisms driving Earth's climate between glacial and interglacial states. Almost as an after thought they added that there is no longer any doubt: changes in sea-level drive changes in CO2, not the other way around.

Change In Ice Ages Not Caused By CO2

Around 1.2 million years ago, a shift in global climate began that caused a change in the timing of the alternating warm and cold periods—called interglacials and glacials—that have persisted during the Pleistocene Ice Age. Prior to that time, ice age glacial periods lasted about 40,000 years but since ~700,000 years ago ice-age cycles have lasted for around 100,000 years. Orbital variations, called the Croll-Milankovitch cycles, do exert some forcing on the 100,000 year time scale, but it is relatively weak. Orbital cycles seem to many too feeble an explanation for the change in glacial-interglacial timing. Some scientists have attempted to attribute the timing shift to a drop in CO2 but a new study confirms that carbon dioxide levels were not the cause of the climate shift.

Seven Climate Models, Seven Different Answers

In a new report, scientists used seven different climate models to assess human induced land cover change (LCC) at regional and global scales. The first results from the LUCID (Land-Use and Climate, IDentification of robust impacts) intercomparison study by Pitman et al. show no agreement among the models. This study indicates that land cover change is “regionally significant, but it is not feasible to impose a common LCC across multiple models for the next IPCC assessment.” In other words, this important factor is missing from current models and scientists are at a loss as to how to add it.

Too Little CO2 To End Life On Earth

It is no surprise to anyone who has studied the history of our planet and the life it harbors that CO2 levels have been falling for billions of years. Despite all the hoopla over rising CO2 levels, eventually Earth will have lost so much carbon dioxide from its atmosphere that plants and trees will suffocate, signaling an end to life as we know it. Now, a team of scientists from the California Institute of Technology, led by physicist King-Fai Li, have proposed a way to avert disaster—get rid of much of the atmosphere.

Little Ice Age II, The Sequel?

The lingering cool temperatures being experience by much of North America has weather forecasters wondering if we are entering a new Little Ice Age—a reference to the prolonged period of cold weather that afflicted the world for centuries and didn't end until just prior to the American Civil War. From historical records, scientists have found a strong correlation between low sunspot activity and a cooling climate. At the end of May, an international panel of experts led by NOAA and sponsored by NASA released a new prediction for the next solar cycle: Solar Cycle 24 will be one of the weakest in recent memory. Are we about to start a new Little Ice Age?

Watering Down Biofuels

The ineffectiveness of biofuels—ethanol and biodiesil—has been much in the news lately, with reports from the EPA, California's CARB and the EU's joint Research Council claiming that biofuels pollute more than the fossil fuels they are supposed to replace. Still, this has not prevented the biofuels industry from receiving big government subsidies. Now a new report discloses another reason to shun biofuels, one that has nothing to do with CO2 and everything to do with H2O. When the water use of biofuel feedstock crops is analyzed, the water footprint (WF) ranges from 1,400 to an astounding 20,000 gallons of water for each gallon of biofuel produced.

New "Jelly Pump" Rewrites Carbon Cycle

One of the fundamental aspects of Earth's ecological and climate systems is the way carbon moves through the biosphere. From land to air to water, through living organisms and even the plant's crust, carbon—the stuff of life—is always on the move. Scientists thought they had a pretty good understanding of how the carbon cycle works, until now. Recent work with strange, jellyfish like creatures called thaliaceans is causing scientists to re-evaluate the workings of the carbon cycle.

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, 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.

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