Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Global Warming Bandwagon is leaving soon. Climb aboard!

A recent article Scientists Warn Doing Nothing Will Likely Lock in Worst Consequences of Climate Change published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, quotes three scientists and an economist saying that we'd better do something quickly about Global Warming or… well, the article never says, but you know it must be something pretty scary!

The three scientists:

Richard Somerville, a Coordinating Lead Author in Working Group I for the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Peter Frumhoff, UCS's director of science and policy and a lead author of the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC.

Robert Corell, a scientist with the Arctic Governance Project and the Global Environment and Technology Foundation (GETF). ["GETF is making a difference by promoting the development and use of innovative technology to achieve sustainable development. For over twenty years, GETF has brought industry, government, and communities together to address environmental challenges with innovative solutions"]

All three scientists decry climate "naysayers," (aka, scientists who don't agree with them) and call for politicians to pay attention to what they have to say about global warming.

Rachel Cleetus, an economist at UCN, worked as a consultant for the World Wildlife Fund before joining the Union of Concerned Scientists, the very same WWF that, in close harness with Allianz, an international investment and insurance corporation, wrote the infamous "glaciers will melt by 2035" report, picked up and repeated uncritically by the IPCC.

"A [carbon] cap would not interfere with economic growth," says Cleetus, laying to rest the fear that humans might have to rein in their profligate ways (in rich countries that can afford profligacy). She added that this would "ensure that U.S. companies capture a share of the growing global market in clean technologies. Green is the new red, white and blue."

So there you have it, the Union of Concerned Scientists (with interesting links to nuclear power and weaponry on its Board of Directors) trotting out it's favorite economist and scientists to tell us all to pay no attention to those "denialists" behind the curtain, get on the Global Warming Bandwagon, so the good old US of A can cash in on the global clean technologies market.

Gotta climb aboard fast before the citizens of said US of A catch on to the scam and decide to make up their own minds about the future.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Warning, this is not a Climate Denialist site!

I preface this post with the above warning, as there is much emotional back and forth about climate denialists and climate alarmists. This false dichotomy unnecessarily confuses the science of climate variability and the manipulation of the science by political and economic players at the national and international levels.

Joseph D'Aleo & Anthony Watts have put together a thoroughly documented paper titled Surface Temperature Records: Policy Driven Deception, consisting of materials Anthony has made available on his blog "Watts Up With That."

The authors propose that what is perceived and promoted as recent "global warming" is an artifact of the manipulation of data from North American surface temperature instrumentation. They argue that the 1990 reduction in surface temperature recording sites is biased toward urban and low latitude sites, thus giving the surface temperature data set a climate warming bias.

The argument is compelling to me. I have read other sources that claim that the temperature data set is biased toward global cooling, without the extensive documentation that D'Aleo and Watts provide.

My question, that I ask quietly to myself in moments of contemplation, is, if this is true, what is the motivation for NASA and NOAA to cook the data in such a way as to create the impression of "global warming?" I suspect it has something to do with the political/economic climate of the time.

1990 happens to be the year when George H.W. Bush came to office as President of the United States, following Ronald Reagan, with Dick Cheney as his Secretary of Defense. I'm still researching who all was in power at that time. Key officials in NASA and NOAA would be an interesting area of research.

"Follow the money." Who would gain from a widespread belief that human industrial activity is threatening to send the world spiraling into irreversible global warming?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Global Warming Wrestling Match

While the Global Warming Propaganda Wrestling Match continues apace, pitting, in this corner, Climate Denier, against, in the far corner, Climate Alarmist, others have been calmly looking at the data and saying, "Excuse me, did you notice...?"

In USHCN vs USHCN Version 2 – more induced warmth, E.M. Smith points out that NASA has modified its US Historic Climate Network data set, again. After having previously deleted 75% of the temperature reporting sites, retaining urban sites with their Urban Heat Island effects intact, now we learn that NASA is putting many of those sites back in the mix, "adjusting" the data as they do so.

As a budding graduate student learning the ins and outs of academe, I remember my astonishment in discovering the power of statistical manipulation of raw data. I was working with tree-rings, both as chronological markers for archaeology sites and as proxy climate data for reconstructing climate factors in Inupiat migrations in northwest Alaska. I learned that through the application of principle component analysis and other powerful tools, one could reduce highly complex raw data into virtually meaningless graphs that could be interpreted to support whatever preconceived hypothesis was put forward.

This didn't sit too well with my ideological underpinnings. I opted for simpler smoothing and growth based regressions, leaving the heavier data manipulation to those with climate axes to grind. They promptly left me behind, as well, not to mention out of the grant and publication loop.

So I understand how data manipulation takes a strong upper hand, even if there is no nefarious agenda being served by the manipulators.

While I see how climate data is easily shaped to support either the Climate Denier or Climate Alarmist agendae, I don't see quite so clearly the motivations of their proponents. Hansen, of course, is on the world stage and has staked out a circle for himself that he must defend at all costs, else he, and NASA, come out with egg on their scientific faces. Pachauri has his reputation sunk in the IPCC, and his fingers in many carbon trading and alternative energy technology pockets, not to mention his own liberal "think tank" in India. Many of the global warming skeptics express their distrust of climate change conclusions in terms of detriment to world economics, that is, capitalism and the universal mythology of perpetual economic growth.

What gets lost in all this burning rhetoric is growing global imperialism and militarism, air, water and land pollution, topsoil loss, fresh water depletion, critical habitat loss, human population increase with concomitant consumption and, most of all, increasing frustration and feelings of disenfranchisement in the process of government.

Climate change is real. The extent of human influence on global climate has yet to be objectively established. Until then, we have other wrestlers in the ring threatening to pin us to the mat before they tag their Global Warming partners.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Oopsy! Another IPCC error?

From the "For What It's Worth Department:"

Earth may be less sensitive to greenhouse gases than thought

IPCC reports have long held that the earth's atmosphere is more sensitive to anthropogenic CO2 than would appear from the chemical action of CO2 alone. Now it appears that assumption, built into all global climate models, may be ... well, wrong.

You'd think the earth's atmosphere was far too complex for mathematical models, based on a limited understanding of initial conditions, to predict the outcome of chaotic climate systems.

You would if you were a skeptical scientist, skepticism being the core of the scientific process.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Biblical Sight-ations

This just in: Defense contractor to remove Bible verses

"A Michigan company that manufactures combat rifle sights for the U.S. military that carry Bible verse citations said Thursday it would send kits to remove the inscriptions, NBC reported."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Denier, No. Skeptic, yes.

In a comment to an earlier post, Pangolin states: "Climate change, like gravity, is an observed phenomena."

While it is true that climate change, or more accurately climate variability, is an observed phenomenon (unlike gravity, which is an inherent property of matter), the more pertinent questions are: 1) Does anthropogenic greenhouse gas production influence climate change beyond natural climate forces? 2) Will reduction of anthropogenic greenhouse gas production influence the observed on-going climate change, and, 3) Will any resulting change be in a positive direction?

While Pangolin dismisses my questions as those of a Denier, and advises that I should "STFU," (Geek Speak for plugging the ears and singing loudly), Careful Readers will note that I have not denied climate variability, nor human effects on long term climate change. I merely question the received wisdom that anthropogenic CO2 is solely responsible for the observed increase in global average surface temperature since the Pleistocene. I also question the assumption that reduction of anthropogenic CO2 will reduce the rate of future global average surface temperature rise.

Rather than Denier, I proudly wear the mantle of Questioner and Skeptic.

And in the words of Ed Abbey that Pangolin considers irretrievably besmirched:

"Fantastic doctrines (like Christianity or Islam or Marxism) require unanimity of belief. One dissenter casts doubt on the creed of millions. Thus the fear and the hate; thus the torture chamber, the iron stake, the gallows, the labor camp, the psychiatric ward."

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Spill of Lies Continues

Persistence of Exxon Valdez oil may be explained by study

"Scientists who have studied spills for years know that after crude oil spills you can and will find buried oil many years later, but that it does no harm and does not need to be (removed)," said Boehm, a chemist and vice president for Exponent, an international consulting firm that works for Exxon on spill-related issues.

Sourcing atmospheric CO2

I'm searching for responses to this question:

If global atmospheric CO2 rise is a result of anthropogenic CO2 production, why does the CO2 record exhibit a steady rise to present levels. Why don't atmospheric CO2 levels reflect changing economic climate?

In other words, if CO2 production looks like this:

why does atmospheric CO2 levels look like this:

There are obviously many interactions among CO2 sources and CO2 sinks in the atmosphere, the ocean and the earth. Some of these sinks may "smooth out" the curve of atmospheric CO2.

But doesn't that mean that the effects of "smoothing out" processes are stronger than the effects of anthropogenic CO2?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Global Warming, unMelting Glaciers and Greed

From the "Is This Really News?" Department:

Himalayan global warming claim 'based on dated, obscure source' in the New Zealand Herald, reveals that reports of the demise of Himalayan glaciers were premature. This rumor, as it turns out, was one of the core positions of the IPCC, buttressing their claim that the Earth is spinning into catastrophic global warming, predicting all manner of dire effects from loss of water sources to the spread of malaria.

Furthermore, governments have used these rumors to spread fear among the populace, claiming that the only answer to global warming is to deal in carbon trading schemes.

"Almost all governments accept the findings of a UN report," the article states, "which concluded in 2007 that warming of the climate was 'unequivocal' and it was more than 90 per cent likely it was being caused by human actions."

Of course, it's not governments that profit from carbon trading schemes, is it? It's those same corporations that are producing the CO2, and a raft of other real pollutants fouling our air, water and land.

Odd it is that the chief proponent of global warming and its prime economic response, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, has used his platform as chair of the IPCC to advocate for economic and technolocratic climate policy.

In an article in today's Telegraph, Christopher Booker and Richard North write: "The head of the UN's climate change panel - Dr Rajendra Pachauri - is accused of making a fortune from his links with 'carbon trading' companies."

According to the authors, "Dr Pachauri has established an astonishing worldwide portfolio of business interests with bodies which have been investing billions of dollars in organisations dependent on the IPCC’s policy recommendations."

The question is: Does this normal turn of capitalist events discount the science of climate variability and does it mean we can all relax and go blithely about our polluting, consumerist ways?

The answer, of course, is no. With a world population of 6 billion humans and counting, we have clearly exceeded the carrying capacity of the Earth for profligate human societies bent on consuming every last ounce of raw materials on the Earth and shitting it out in every conceivable corner of the planet.

The prevailing economic attitude of unlimited human growth is, quite literally, insane. No one who has ever raised pet mice would doubt the Malthusian concept of limits to human growth and consumption. It's common sense. In a closed system, there is only so much room, so many resources and only so much time until mouths overcome plates and the whole thing collapses into chaos.

Two things must be changed very soon:

1) Our cultural unwillingness to consider controlling our own population, and,

2) our economic and political inability to forget the whole idea of continuous growth as a bad idea that will never get any better.

Of course, population and growth control mean we also have to get over the idea of capitalism as the only possible economy. Capitalism requires continuous economic and population growth to provide new consumers and new products to consume. It's a treadmill to extinction. The sooner we cast the whole sorry scene onto the dustbin of history, the sooner we'll be able to get on with the job of building real, sustainable economies.

And, as it turns out, we'll lower CO2 production as an accessory detail, so we really won't have to worry about it any longer!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Climate Change, Propaganda and Energy Security

Two papers have popped up recently, which may or may not be related:

Conspiracy Theories, by Cass R. Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule, both of Harvard University - Harvard Law School, January 15, 2008

Global Warming: The Social Construction of a Quasi-Reality?
by Dennis Ambler, Energy & Environment, Volume 18 No. 6 2007

The Conspiracy Theories paper asks the question, If "conspiracy theories" create a threat to the efficient and orderly conduct of government, should the government use "cognitive infiltration" to defuse and discredit them and those who spread such theories?

The Global Warming article suggests that indeed this is what is happening with regard to climate change and "global warming."

"Climate skeptics," or "deniers" as they are called by global warming proponents, are seen as improperly questioning the "consensus opinion" of "mainstream" science, an opinion that is backed by the full force of the United States government, the United Nations, and, not coincidentally, a large portion of the world's economic elite.

What if the Shadow Government, that corporate oligarchy that controls the flow of capital throughout the halls of governments around the world, realized some years ago that Peak Oil is real, that the Global Economy is doomed as world energy resources diminish below the point of supporting the world's burgeoning human population, and that the War on Terror is rapidly losing its effect in keeping the world's people in a compliant state of fear, especially those dark-skinned people living above the few remaining pools of oil.

What to do, what to do?

Capital, the constant shape-shifter, the economic chameleon that oozes into any unoccupied pocket of human culture, sees an opportunity and slithers forward.

"Global warming," it whispers. "Anthropogenic CO2," it repeats, over and over. "Irreversible Climate Change," it shouts from TeeVee screens. "TIPPING POINTS" in big headlines with lots of white space.

What a great campaign, if that's what it is.



New technologies.

Carbon trading.

Civil unrest.

Demands for government intervention.

Demands for security.

Problems for every solution.

Something for everyone.

Too bad it's only a conspiracy theory.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Predicting and capitalizing on earthquakes

According to this article: Purdue researchers studied Haitian fault; warned of potential for a large earthquake the fault that resulted in the Haiti earthquake was a known concern among earthquake scientists.

Those in the know were especially concerned due to Haiti's extreme poverty, leading to buildings not built to modern earthquake standards, plus tens of thousands living in slums on the outskirts of the city. This level of poverty didn't happen by itself. Haiti has been exploited by colonial imperialism since 1804, chiefly by the United States that has used Haiti as an unfettered source for cheap labor and raw materials.

As if that wasn't enough, now the Heritage Foundation releases this bit of screaming "Shock Doctrine," saying now is the time for the United States to take over militarily and reshape the devastated government and people in our (read, their) image.

Not only will we kick them while they're down, we'll take away their culture and government, to boot.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Save Arana Gulch, don't pave it!

It is beyond ironic that in the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity, the City of Santa Cruz persists in a project that will decrease critical habitat for the endangered Santa Cruz tarplant in Arana Gulch.

Arana Gulch is a tiny remnant of a Coastal Prairie ecosystem that once stretched for hundreds of miles along the Central Coast, supporting an incredible profusion of life that occupied this region for thousands of years before humans destroyed it with pavement and buildings. The proposed paving project on Arana Gulch will forever carve up what little remains, strangling the Arana Gulch Greenbelt with a Black Belt.

Let's celebrate this Year of Biodiversity by thinking beyond ourselves for a change and preserving and restoring this fragile piece of critical habitat for the few remaining species that have survived our intense domination of the natural world.

Save Arana Gulch. Don't pave it.

Go to: Friends of Arana Gulch to find out what you can do to help SAVE ARANA GULCH!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

"Global Warming," El Niño or Over-Fishing?

The headline says: "Coral reefs can recover from devastating effects of global warming"

But the text says "...reducing levels of fishing is a viable way of protecting the world's most delicate aquatic ecosystems."

"Increases in ocean surface water temperatures subject coral reefs to stresses that lead quickly to mass bleaching. ... The problem is intensified by ocean acidification, which is also caused by increased carbon dioxide (CO2)."

But did "global warming" really cause the coral bleaching? Apparently not. Doug L. Hoffman reports in The Resilient Earth that coral bleaching is largely a result of the 1997-98 El Niño event that raised surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean causing the coral bleaching observed.

And ocean acidification, predicted by global climate models, has never been documented other than locally. (See A New Propaganda Film By The NRDC Fails The Acid Test of Real World Data/)

Does this means that climate change is all a scam and global average surface temperature is not increasing? No, of course not. At least until 1998, global average surface temperature has been increasing slowly and steadily, with periodic up and down swings, since the close of the Pleistocene, 12,000 years ago.

And, it also does not mean that human produced CO2 is sending the atmosphere into an "irreversable" global warming spiral that will destroy the planet.

As usual in complicated natural systems, the science lies somewhere in between the extremes, in the complex interplay of climatological cycles that produce a dynamic climatic equilibrium across the globe. Ever changing, slowly accommodating environmental changes from the cosmic to the microscopic, the Earth abides.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Inventing a controversy: enviros vs enviros

In A clash of environmental ideals in the Mojave Desert, the LA Times carries on the grand tradition of defusing opposition to industrial development by ignoring the facts and inventing fanciful stories about inter-environmental squabbles.

Whether it's a private for-profit solar energy project proposed for public lands home to an endangered tortoise, or a paved bicycle road proposed to be built by a city government on a greenbelt home to an endangered and threatened plant species, newspaper and magazine writers and their editors take great delight in framing the story, in suitably lurid headlines, as "Environmentalists against Environmentalists."

The LA Times story is about a private corporation seeking to build a mega solar project on BLM land (of course) and whining about requirements from the federal agency to ensure the survival of the desert tortoise. The corporation is depicted as the offended party kept from pursuing this worthwhile environmental project by an overzealous government bureaucracy.

In Santa Cruz, California, the Santa Cruz City government seeks to build a paved bike road across a public greenbelt, the home of the endangered Santa Cruz tarplant, at the behest of bicyclists seeking a short cut across town, claiming that the 1/4 mile of segregated trail will "get motorists out of their cars and onto bicycles."

Development is development, regardless of the environmental merit of the project. Endangered species have no appreciation of the "environmentally friendly" project that drives them extinct.

If developers, and the newspapers who support them and benefit from them, want to build environmental projects, let them buy private land harboring no sensitive species and build their projects there. If it can't be done profitably, perhaps it's not such a worthwhile project after all.

There's more to life than piling up money.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Climate is not data…

…climate is process.

Media focus on "Global Warming" and climate change centers on two measures of climate: global average temperature and global average atmospheric CO2 concentration. The basic assumption underlying the headlines is that human produced CO2 above an undefined "pre-industrial" level is causing the global average temperature to rise, thus creating "global warming."

This focus on contemporary patterns of data variation masks the underlying reality of climate change, viewed through the long lens of geologic time.

In short, climate is not data, climate is process.

The simplistic assumption that CO2 rise equals warmer temperatures ignores the complex interplay of meteorological and geophysical factors that combined together through time result in a variable global climate. Sea floor spreading, plate tectonics, aridity, humidity, ocean currents, atmospheric aerosols, relative cloud cover, variations in solar irradiation, dust, CO2, ozone fluctuations, all combine in a chaotic dance to produce what we perceive of as climate.

Despite the overwhelming presence of climate in the long view, humans respond most immediately to weather. As we continue to consider the long-term implications of climate change, our headlines are dominated by cold temperature records and blizzards blanketing the countryside, saying, "What's up with this, then?" Once again, weather clouds our understanding of climate.

Rather than human produced CO2 causing global warming, what is actually happening is that our planet is engaged in a long term dance of climate variation. For the past 500,000 years the earth has been in a climate cycle characterized by periodic glacial advances and retreats in approximately 100,000 year cycles. Interglacial periods have been from 10,000 to 12,000 years in duration, during which glacial ice retreated and climate conditions stabilized at temperatures about 2 C lower than today.

Our most recent interglacial has been in effect for 10,000 to 12,000 years. We are now climbing up the steep slope to higher temperatures, increased CO2 concentration that marks the end of interglacial and the beginning of the next ice advance. Over the next 1,000 to 2,000 years, we will see temperature and CO2 concentration begin to decline, glacier melt declining and glaciers advancing throughout the world.

This is all a natural process of such magnitude and universality that it completely overwhelms any human contributions by way of atmospheric CO2 production. Consequently, there is nothing that human society can do about it, other than accommodate to the changing climate. Reducing anthropogenic CO2 will not change the outcome. The cycle will continue as it has for the past 500,000 years, until plate tectonics changes ocean current circulation sufficiently to bring about another global climate cycle.

Don't toss out your long johns and snow shovels just yet, the Ice Age is returning!