The Week that Was, March 27, 2012
By Ken Haapala, Executive Vice President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)
Climate Catastrophe: We are witnessing a number of trends as the globe refuses to obey global warming models. One, since there is no global warming trend, the term trend has been dropped in favor of the term level.
The level of warming over the past decade has been greater than it has been since the start of the industrial revolution (about 1850) – essentially meaningless because the earth has been recovering of the Little Ice Age. Since carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) continue to increase, critical reading of this statement calls into question the accuracy of the claims that humans are causing unprecedented and dangerous global warming.
Another definite trend in the general literature is broadening the terminology to make it more alarming. Global warming has morphed into climate change, which is not scientifically significant because climate change is normal and natural. Now, it has morphed again into climate catastrophe or catastrophic climate change. With the use of this scientifically unsupported dire claim, comes an intensification of the political solution.
First, the political solution was voluntary cap-and-trade by Western nations. When this did not work, the political solution was cap-and-trade and taxes on carbon dioxide emissions by some nations, including those in the European Union and Australia. But that is not working. Now the solution is becoming compulsory, authoritarian, international governance, no doubt, envisioned to be run by philosopher-kings in the Plato tradition. Unfortunately, history demonstrates such philosopher kings tend to become tyrants. The thinking can be summarized as: “If tyranny is necessary to save humanity, so be it – as long as I am one of the philosopher-kings or at least be a member of the court.”
Not to be outdone by the article for global governance by 32 social scientists in Science magazine referenced in last week’s TWTW, Scientific American issued a similar article this week. One is forced to wonder if those who are issuing demands for global governance recognize that in the US, at least, the power of the central government is limited by the Constitution and the individual rights and liberties it protects, outlined, in part, by the Bill of Rights. Please see articles under “Expanding the Orthodoxy.”
Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age:
One of the claims of the Fourth Assessment Report (AR-4) of the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is that the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and (LIA) were regional events confined largely to Western Europe. The first two reports contained these events. The third report dropped these events in favor of Mr. Mann’s discredited “hockey-stick.” Without explanation, AR-4 dropped the hockey-stick in favor of the above claims.
A new study shows that both the MWP and the LIA appeared in the Antarctic Peninsula. It is important to note that the study applies to the Peninsula alone, which is subject to changes in ocean currents. The study does not apply to the continent. The current study adds to a large body of work showing that the MWP and the LIA were global, not local, natural phenomena. Of course, this work undermines the claim by the IPCC that carbon dioxide is the principal driver of climate change. Please the reports of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC)
and the links under “Changing Climate.”
In the early days of the US independence from Great Britain, US manufacturers argued that since they were small, they needed tariffs on goods from foreign countries to protect them from the efficient, large manufacturers in Great Britain and elsewhere. Essentially, the claim is that small, immature industries, infant industries, need special nurturing from government. It is been used world-wide for centuries and often results in inefficiency in the protected industries with higher consumer prices to the general public.
The infant industry argument is being used to justify subsidies for solar and wind, as well as other forms of alternative energy production. The argument is that since solar or wind is a new industry, it needs special nurturing from government. Electrical generation from wind has existed since the 1880s and at one time was popular in isolated farms and ranches in the west until the farmers and ranchers received reliable power from the grid, thanks to rural electrification programs. In a two part series, Robert Bradley, Jr. discusses the history of solar energy with quotations of solar energy dating back to the 1700s and photovoltaic back to the 1950s. Please see links under “Subsidies and Mandates Forever.”
The temperature record of the Hadley Center – Climatic Research Unit (Had-CRUT) is undergoing changes. For the land surface temperatures, it appears that the historic temperatures are being adjusted downward, reflecting a cooler history than the contemporary evidence shows. Also there will be greater coverage of the Arctic regions at the expense of the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The change creates higher temperatures for 2010, making it the “hottest year on record.”
Given that satellite measurements show that most of the warming since 1979 has occurred in the northern part of the Northern Hemisphere, those skeptical about bureaucracies and the science they produce may find these changes typically bureaucratic, rather than scientific.
But these changes may produce a backlash. If the new studies from Norway and Russia reported in last week’s TWTW, are correct; than a large part of the 20th century Arctic warming was created by an active sun. If the sun continues to be dormant, then the recorded Arctic warming will become an Arctic cooling. The result will be a pronounced cooling in the revised, new global temperature measurements, giving the producers of Had-CRUT difficulty in future explanations. Please see links under “Measurement Issues.”
WMO Annual Report
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is one of the two parent organizations of the IPCC. The other is the United Nation’s Environmental Programe (UNEP). On Friday, WMO released its annual report on the state of the climate. It speaks of levels of surface temperature since 1850, rather than the 21st century trend. Of course, global coverage in 1850 was far from adequate. In spite of recent manipulations of the data record, there has been no temperature trend in over a decade. The report speaks of declining sea ice in the Arctic, but failed to mention the decline reached a low point in 2007, and since then sea ice has been increasing.
The report contains a litany of weather events such as floods in parts of the world and droughts in other parts, as if climate is uniform for every region through time. It also contains errors on tropical cyclones (hurricanes) claiming that the decade had the highest level of tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic Basin, which is not supported by research by William Grey and others. The report emphasizes Katrina, the most costly to hit the US, claiming it was a category 5, which it was when it was in the Gulf of Mexico. When it made land fall it was a category 3 storm.
Most noticeably, the report emphasized measurements of sea ice by satellites, but failed to discuss measurements of temperatures by satellites. These are the most comprehensive, rigorous measurements ever taken, are independently verified by balloon data, and are independently compiled by two groups, one of which publishes its data monthly. It appears that for some reports, the WMO is stuck in the technology of the 1850s.
Amplification: Science of Personal Destruction:
One of the disturbing trends in scientific discussions and literature in recent years is the willingness by some to resort to arguments of personal destruction (ad hominem) to refute the logical, scientific arguments questioning the premise of the writer. An example is calling a skeptic is a “shill” for industry. A retort would be calling an alarmist a “shill” for global governance – authoritarianism. Unless the claim can be substantiated it does not belong in scientific discourse.
The two principal founders of SEPP, Fred Singer and Fredrick Seitz, have been the subject of a particularly effective ad hominem attack in Merchants of Doubt by Oreskes and Conway. The evidence to substantiate outrageous claims made in the book does not exist in the text but is implied to exist in the extensive footnotes, yet it does not.
In preparing TWTW, articles containing significant, unsubstantiated personal attacks are avoided. However, occasionally, TWTW may reference articles that contain distasteful adjectives of a personal nature. These articles may be included for their general interest, not for their personal commentary. Please do not assume that TWTW embraces the comments of the author of an article referenced in TWTW.
Number of the Week: 23 Agencies, 130 sub-agencies, nearly 700 programs.
According to a February 2012 report to Congress by the General Accountably Office, that is the number of government organizations involved in renewable energy initiatives in Fiscal Year 2010. Yet, the 23 Agencies, 130 sub-agencies, and 700 programs have failed to produce as significant an impact on US energy as the private efforts of combining deep underground hydraulic fracturing of dense shale with directional, horizontal drilling to extract oil and natural gas.
Do doubt, the leaders of the 23 agencies, 130 sub-agencies, and 700 programs will continue to defend these programs even when faced with the hard data that their programs are economic failures. Please see link under “Subsidies and Mandates Forever.”
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SOURCE: SEPP, a great resource on climate change and legislation