Return of `Zud' (16 Dec 2000)

Mongolia is a large, but little known country in central Asia, wedged between China and Russia. Last winter, the coldest there in 30 years, there were massive livestock losses due to the freezing cold. Mongolians call this climatic phenomenon a `Zud'.

This came on the heels of a summer drought which parched crops and pasture. This winter, snow has already blanketed more than 90% of the country, with many roads blocked by deep snow. Several areas have already run out of fuel while herder families have been forced to move with their livestock to less severely affected areas of the country.

Of Mongolia’s 2.4 million people, about one third are dependent economically on their livestock, making this second harsh winter in a row particularly disastrous. The International Red Cross reports that Mongolia is facing another winter disaster and will urgently require international aid.

What Happens When You Run Out of Emissions Credits? 
(16 Dec 2000)

The `Competitive Enterprise Institute' reports in their latest economic report that California electricity shortages became much worse this week. High demand and cold weather combined with supply problems to threaten the state's power grid with massive blackouts. For over a decade, environmentalists have persuaded regulators to prevent the construction of any large power plants. 

The problem has been made more severe by the fact that up to one third of the state's generating capacity has been shut down in recent days. Not all of these shutdowns are due to breakdowns or needed maintenance. Some plants were forced to shut down because they ran out of state `emissions credits'.

A December 9 article in the Washington Post noted that, "About 17 power generation plants - which together produce about 2,500 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 2.5 million homes - were idle because they had reached their pollution limits."

The Oakland Tribune (December 8, 2000), explained that, "The units not operating Thursday were under repair or had exhausted their annual allotment for emissions under air pollution standards, imposed on industries of all types by regional air quality management boards, according to government and industry officials." 

Once this news became public, regulators quickly declared an `emergency' and allowed the closed utilities to resume production. The next day the Tribune (December 9, 2000) reported, "More than half the electricity generation plants shut down because they reached annual air pollution limits were back in operation... easing the unexpected pre-winter supply crises."

As expected, environmental groups decried the hasty arrangements as a sacrifice of environmental protections. Companies still holding emissions credits may also complain that the value of those credits have been reduced by this action. 

If this is the result of imposing an emission credits regime in only one U.S. state, the problems which would arise from a similar regime operated internationally would be magnified a thousand-fold. The California experience will weigh heavily on the minds of Bush Administration negotiators when the next climate conference convenes, expected to be in Bonn, Germany during the middle of next year.

Cool November in the U.S. (12 Dec 2000)

November 2000 was the 2nd coldest November on record for the USA since 1895. Due to this, the year 2000 is no longer the USA's warmest year on record, but is now instead the 4th warmest. If December is colder than average (and it's off to a cold start), 2000 will be bumped even lower in the ranking.

This comes on top of the chilly US summer and autumn of this year which negated the effect of the earlier warm winter and spring.  Mt. Washington in New Hampshire set a record for 8th December of -21-deg F. New York city in November did not make the top 10 coldest, but was 2°F below normal. December has continued that trend. Most of the weather experts in the US claim it is a natural anomaly ( related to the record cold in the Western US jet stream patterns) and that further cold weather is forecast. The lesson here is that transient weather events should not be attributed to long-term climate variations.
(thanks to Aaron Coyan and Harry Mandel for the intel.)

BBC Sees the Sunlight (1 Dec 2000)

Since the collapse of the Hague conference, media organisations which were previously swept along by the warming hype have now begun to look more critically at the issue, including `Aunty' herself - the BBC.

The BBC has discovered the Sun, asking that maybe it has more to do with global warming than previously thought. See these stories -

"Sun's warming influence
'under-estimated' "

"Viewpoint: The Sun and climate change"

"Questioning global warming"

"Viewpoint: Get off the global warming

"Looking for the greenhouse signal"

The BBC is not the only one. Here is a similar report on sun and climate from Canada's CBC

"Global warming may be
influenced by sun"

Is the bubble bursting ?

Commissar Suzuki
(26 Nov 2000)

Thanks to Tom Harris from Canada who sent in this item from the `Ottawa Citizen'. The `lone skeptic' referred to by Laurie Lemoine, the letter's author, was Tom Harris himself.

See Tom Harris' web site here.

Lots of interesting material  on climate change and space exploration. Tom is based in Ottawa, Canada.

That Sinking Feeling ...
(25 Nov 2000)

The COP6 climate conference at The Hague in the Netherlands has highlighted a deep division between the various countries which the conference was unable to resolve - namely SINKS.

A `sink' is a biological means, such as a forest, to soak up excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Large growing forests make excellent sinks, and some countries, notably the USA, Canada, Australia and Japan, are well endowed with real or potential sinks.

It is estimated that the entire CO2 emission from the USA is cancelled out by the effect of the sinks that exist within the borders of the U.S.

Thus although the U.S. is the world's largest emitter of CO2, it is not the biggest NET emitter. Rather, most of the excess CO2 entering the atmosphere comes from countries who do not have, or have not provided, the necessary sinks to soak up their own emissions.

In `net' terms, the Europeans, Chinese and Indians are the biggest net emitters of CO2. It is for this reason that the Europeans wanted the conference to address the issue of emissions only - and to discount sinks as much as possible. They even wanted the `Australia Clause' withdrawn.

Predictably, the Greens with their anti-industry agenda, wanted to keep the focus entirely on emissions , with sinks to be disregarded entirely. 

Neither the US, Australia or Canada were prepared to disallow sinks, and so the conference has failed to agree on this key issue, leaving the Kyoto Protocol dead in the water. 

The conference was intended to fill in the missing details of the Kyoto Protocol. Instead, the Protocol itself has been effectively `sunk'.

The Endless Waltz  (28 Nov 2000)

The collapse of The Hague climate conference has brought the inevitable recriminations.

The environmentalists are blaming the USA for being too rich (so what's new?)
The Australian Conservation Foundation holds Australia `directly responsible' for the collapse - because
        our chief delegate said nothing at all.
The portly British deputy prime minister and former ship's steward, blamed the French in a quite sexist
        attack on France's (rather attractive) female environment minister.
The Americans blamed all the Europeans (except France's rather attractive female environment minister)
The Europeans all blamed each other (and blamed the Americans too).
The Third World blamed the First World - still no cash coming their way.
Planting trees was a Green obsession. Now they don't want tree planting any more because they are sinks
The Greens then collapsed sobbing and wailing like spoiled brats.
The infant `Carbon Credits' industry got a shock, wondering if they had lost their forest investments.
The Press/TV had a field day listening to all the carping - but only after it was all over.
The Greenhouse scientists didn't even show up - they were too busy looking over the latest super-model.
One scientist did show up, a skeptic, and he was burned at the stake.
The Island nations went home wondering if they would ever pull off the
        `rising seas swamping our nations' sting. 
The conference internet bulletin board began as a Greenie love-in, and ended in uproar because of a few
        spoilsport skeptics. 
The conference president tried to broker a compromise and got abused by everyone in the hall.
The US chief delegate got a fruit pie in his face as a Thanksgiving present. Being polite and
        mild-mannered, he said `thank you' -  suggesting his colleague might like one too.
The sandbag dyke built by the Greens to `keep out the sea' had to be dismantled - and tossed into the sea.
Lots of ministers learned the latest scooter craze - a nice toy to carry around in the trunk of the limousine.

Beauty ... (La France) and the Beast ...(UK)

And they are going to do it all over again in 6 months time in Bonn.

[Thinks] - I could let a hundred ravenous Tasmanian Devils loose in the Bonn conference hall a
s a symbolic act to protest against species extinction . That way, 100 less Devils in Tasmania would not be able to kill other species here. Better the Devils bite a few surplus delegates than be a mischief here.

P.S. to `Bugs Bunny' fans. Tasmanian Devils are REAL! 

IPCC Ups the Ante (21 Nov 2000)

The latest draft report of the IPCC, to be published next year, was leaked just hours before Vice-President Gore was to make an election speech about global warming. This was another example of improper political manipulation  so characteristic of both the IPCC and the greenhouse industry generally. 

In their report, the IPCC have replaced the small number of global warming scenarios outlined in their previous reports in 1991 and 1995 and instead produced a plethora of scenarios, divided into `families'.  There are over 40 possible scenarios of future climate change in all.

The IPCC point out that no one future scenario is preferred over the others.  They range from the extreme - predicting a warming of +6°C by 2100, to the moderate - just +1°C over the same period. The other scenarios fall somewhere between these two.

But the IPCC knew full well, as does the industry, which scenario would be seized upon at the Hague, and by the media, the one that would become THE scenario for everyone to focus on.

You guessed it - the very political +6°C scenario.

Echoes from The Hague... (25 Nov 2000)

`Stop Climate Change !'  -  Greenpeace banner near the conference hall at The Hague

"I wouldn't say it's a failure:- it's a non-success."  -  Danish Environment Minister, Sven Auken

The Hague Conference  
(14 Nov 2000)

Another exotic city, another talkfest, the usual shrill cries that "it's much worse than we previously thought !". The Greenhouse hyperbole has gone into overdrive in the last 3 months with not a shred of new physical evidence to underpin any of it.

But will the Kyoto Protocol make any difference to climate if implemented in full? According to Greame Pearman, Australia's senior climate scientist and head of it's greenhouse research effort, not much. On ABC `7.30 Report' last night (13th) he concluded - 

Dr Graeme Pearman: "The reality of the protocol as it is at the moment, is even if all of the nations were able to achieve those targets, it would hardly make any difference."  

British Weather (5 Nov 2000)

 Just how unusual are the British floods and gales of recent days? According to history, not very.

1703 - (during the Little Ice Age) - `The Great Storm'. On record as the worst storm ever to hit Britain, with 123 people killed on land and 8,000 sailors killed at sea.

1865 - 22nd July, hottest temperature ever recorded in Britain (in Kent), a whopping 100.6°F or 38.1°C

1910 - Catastrophic floods all across Europe, including Britain, killing over 1,000.

1913 - 6 people killed in Glamorgan, Wales by the most deadly tornado ever to hit Britain.

1952 - 15th August, the disastrous Lynmouth flood, killing 34 people.

1953 - Savage storm gusting to 113 mph, killed 130 people as the `Princess Victoria' passenger ferry sunk in mountainous seas off Northern Ireland.

1968 - `Clyde Valley Storm' killed 9 people. Wind gusts in excess of 100 mph

1975-76 - The `Big Drought', hardly any rain and high temperatures for 3 seasons in a row left the soft green British countryside looking more like the Australian outback. The worst drought since 1749-50.

1976 - Heat Wave, the worst ever in Britain, before or since, where the temperatures throughout England were in excess of 32°C for weeks on end. It was the hottest summer in three centuries - during a cool period globally.

1979 - `The Fastnet Storm', killed 15 yachtsmen caught in a savage storm during the `Fastnet' yacht race

1981 - 105 tornadoes reported in Britain on 23 November.

1982 - 9-10th January, the coldest night ever in England, and the coldest in the whole of Britain for the 20th century.

1987 - `Storm of the Century', killed 17 people, with wind gusts up to 110 mph

1987 - Severe cold spell, with record low temperatures over much of England and Wales, the coldest such spell of weather since January 1740.

These extreme events occurred in years which were both warm globally, and cold globally. Most of them are etched in history because of the loss of life, but many more are in the records with less tragic results. In other words, global warming has nothing to do with British extreme weather events any more than global cooling does (such as the 1703 storm during the Little Ice Age).

As for 2000, the satellites show the free atmosphere to be about the same mean temperature as it was 21 years ago, so blaming `warming' on these recent storms is not supported by the data and is cited only for political expediency to justify the highest fuel prices in Europe.

Extreme weather events in Britain, over the last millennium, see this excellent chronology -
`Some Notable Weather Events' - It puts recent weather in some perspective.

The `Battle of Britain' (5 Nov 2000)

At the end of October, Britain was battered by high winds and rain, resulting in extensive flooding as river systems across Britain burst their banks. Snow fell in large areas across Scotland and northern England, October snow in England being almost unheard of. The rainfall figures were high but not unprecedented, suggesting that changes in river management and urbanisation in the catchments may have overloaded the river runoffs.

There is another parallel drama being played out in Britain - petrol prices. The price is now 85p per litre, about 62p of that comprising government taxes.

By contrast, motorists and businesses in Australia are paying the equivalent of 33p per litre - which includes government tax. 

The result in Britain has been a massive protest movement against the fuel taxes, particularly the way in which the rising world price of oil has led to even bigger rises in fuel tax due to the so-called `Fuel Price Escalator'. The protest threatens to paralyse British roads as trucks commence a go-slow procession to London next week to demand tax relief on fuel.

Prime Minister Tony Blair and his deputy, John Prescott, have seized on Global Warming as a catch-all excuse to justify the high fuel taxes, pointing to the floods of last week as `evidence' of changing climate caused by Man. In this way, the two issues have merged. The floods are `caused' by global warming. Ergo, to fight this `threat', Britain needs its high fuel taxes to force down consumption of fossil fuels.

The blaming of global warming for what is really vagaries of the weather (for which Britain is notorious) and to justify crippling taxes as being the pain Britons need to endure to counter global warming, is a highly opportunistic and desperate political ploy, particularly with an election due next year.

Led by Blair and Prescott, Britain may engage in collective self-flagellation over global warming, but will be quite alone in the world in doing so, with a population becoming increasingly agitated over the taxes. 

The British Greens are calling for fuel prices to soar even higher, a policy which could only result in a major constitutional crisis of the first magnitude.

Models not so Super (31 Oct 2000)

A new paper (GRL, v.27, no.21 p.3513, 1 Nov 2000) by Barry Saltzman of Yale, Haijun Hu of Harvard, and Robert Oglesby of Purdue Univ, Indiana, demonstrates the degree to which model predictions of global warming are highly sensitive to assumptions  about the behaviour of positive and negative`feedback effects'.

Positive feedbacks are knock-on effects which would magnify any initial warming. Negative feedbacks dampen any initial warming.

The biggest positive feedback assumed in the climate models is water vapour (H20). The reasoning goes - CO2 causes a small warming (less than a degree), but this triggers the release of more H2O from the oceans. H2O is a greenhouse gas, and so further warming takes place. This releases yet more H2O, more warming etc., until the final warming can be 5 to 10 times the initial warming caused by CO2.

In effect, the models build a greenhouse mountain upon a CO2 molehill.

This latest paper shows that previous calculations of H2O feedback have been overestimated. The authors compared the H2O response of the `CCM1' model at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, Colorado, with their more recent `CCM3' model. The comparison was quite staggering.

While the `CCM1' model predicts a warming of 3.5°C for a doubling of CO2 (130 years into the future), the `CCM3' predicts only
1.6°C. The reason for the difference is that the newer `CCM3' model predicts less than half the H2O increase that the `CCM1' does, thus reducing the predicted warming.

The lesson from this computer simulation exercise is clear. Since warming from CO2 itself is only in tenths of a degree, the assumptions about feedbacks are entirely theorised and dependent on assumptions incorporated in the models by the modelers themselves. The real world as demonstrated by satellites, polar and rural station data suggests that the climate system has net negative feedback, not positive as portrayed in the models. This means the final warming would be less than the initial CO2 warming, amounting to a few tenths of a degree Celsius over the next 125 years. 

Open Letter by Dr James Hansen (GISS)   (28 Oct 2000)

It may be recalled that Dr James Hansen of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), first made the Greenhouse Effect a public issue during US Congressional hearings in 1988.

With the Kyoto Protocol all but dead, he has now created a furore within climate circles and the media by suggesting that alternative scenarios for the future should be considered in addition to the `Business As Usual' scenario so favoured by the IPCC.

While the focus of the Kyoto Protocol and other policy prescriptions has been to attack CO2 emissions directly, this is increasingly seen as involving too much economic dislocation to be at all feasible.

Instead, Hansen suggests, other options should be explored, ones which would secure much wider public support, such as reducing smoke and black soot pollution, reducing methane leakage, reducing NOx emissions etc. 

Hansen's views received widespread criticism within the greenhouse industry, much of which was based on misunderstandings about what his paper was actually saying.

To respond to these critics, and to correct what he believes to be  misrepresentations of his views by publications such as `Nature', Dr Hansen has issued an `Open Letter'. The full unedited version of his letter is available in .pdf format on this website, with Dr Hansen's agreement.

Click here for the `Open Letter'

Iceland Glacier (22 Oct 2000)

The Observer newspaper in England has again demonstrated how little homework they do on their environmental stories. Robin McKie today ran a story called "Now Europe's biggest glacier falls to global warming". A glacier from the big Vatnajokull ice cap is claimed to be in imminent danger of breaking up and running into the sea.

The cause? Global warming says the Observer.

Or could it be that having a huge volcano blasting itself right through the centre of the ice cap two years ago might also have contributed to the problem? Station records from the area show no atmospheric warming at all.

Statistical Games with Himalayan Ice (22 Oct 2000)

A recent paper in Science (Thompson et al, v.289, p.1916, 15 Sept 2000) examined ice cores from the Dasuopu Glacier (28°23'N, 85°43'E, elev. 7,200m) in the Himalayas. They measured dust, chloride and oxygen18 isotopes. Most new ice is laid during the summer monsoon and increases in dust and chlorides were associated with human activity from India.  But their conclusions about the temperature grabbed immediate media attention. According to the ABC media story - 

"We think this is alarming,'' said Ellen Mosley-Thompson of Ohio State University, a member of a team, led by Lonnie Thompson, who said the study provided a unique insight into global temperatures over many centuries. "This is the highest climate record ever retrieved and it clearly shows a serious warming during the late 20th century, one that was caused, at least in part, by human activity. This is a very compelling story," he said."

As with most of these `science by media release' stories, their statement to the media did not tally with what was in the original Science paper. Here is their comparison of  oxygen18 isotope content (a direct proxy for temperature) in the ice, with the northern hemisphere surface temperature record. The colour has been added for purposes of clarity only.

Their caption to this graph reads - "Five-year running means of delta 18O from Dasuopu are significantly correlated with NH temperature anomalies since 1860". This statement demonstrates how the sloppy use of statistical averages can result in conclusions which are statistically true, but also misleading. A linear average since 1860 does indeed show a warming in both graphs. But a more careful examination of the trends actually shows three distinct phases. 

The first phase from 1860 to around 1920 shows only natural variability on both graphs. 
From 1920 we have a clear warming in both graphs until around 1945. 
From 1945 to the present, the surface trend warms about +0.3°C, but the 18O actually shows a slight cooling!   Ironically, their 18O correlates much better with the satellite temperature record.

This data is yet further evidence that the surface temperature record is quite wrong about recent warming. All the warming at the glacier was pre-war, a warming now widely acknowledged to have been caused by the sun. To describe the two graphs as `significantly correlated' is misleading as this conclusion is only possible if one pretends the existence of a linear trend since 1860 and ignores the reality of three distinct  phases in the record. The `significant correlation' falls apart after 1945. For Mosley-Thompson to claim "We think this is alarming" only underlines how alarming the degradation in greenhouse science has become.

`The Greening of the American West' (22 Oct 2000)

This study by the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change uses 49 pairs of photographs from South Dakota, Colorado, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico to graphically demonstrate how grasses now are growing in desert areas, shrubs are replacing what once were grasslands, how trees are supplanting shrubs, and the West's forests are becoming more dense and are increasing in species diversity.

According to the report's authors Craig and Keith Idso, "In terms of attribution, only the concomitant rise in the atmosphere's CO
2 concentration is capable of providing the worldwide impetus for this expansion of forests and shrub lands."

The full report is now available online

Due to copyright restrictions on the photographs, the Idso photographic set cannot be shown online, but printed copies can be obtained from the Greening Earth Society by using an email link provided at the bottom of the report. 

Some examples of `Repeat Photography', as it is called, are available on the internet.  The Utah State Office of the Bureau of Land Management have a particularly good collection. To see the beneficial effect atmospheric CO2 has had on vegetation growth, click the following `before and after' photos from Utah - 

Escalante River in summer 1949          The same river in August 1992

Virgin River in 1906                              The same river in 1993

Other similar pairs are available from the Utah site.

Scientific Method  (31 Oct 2000)

The Hamilton Spectator (14 Oct) reported IPCC chairman, Sir John Houghton (a climate scientist) thus -

"Houghton calls global warming a "moral issue". Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will, he says, "contribute powerfully to the material salvation of the planet from mankind's greed and indifference." "

Who says science and religion don't mix?

A Cold Front  (15 Oct 2000)

Last winter in the U.S., the greenhouse industry capitalised on the mild winter as a sign of a rampant global warming to come. They made a big, big, beat-up about the warmer temperatures, but their silence at the latest cold turn of events is quite deafening. Perhaps they are too busy praying for another El Niño.  

Climate scientists of the old school always cautioned against getting too worked up about transient events or short-run trends. Mild winters happen. Hot summers happen. But in the fullness of time, so do cold winters and cool summers. This is why the traditional rule of climatology - that 30 years is needed before a climatic trend is established - was such a good one. Short-run events like a heat wave here, a blizzard there, a drought or flood somewhere else, could be put in context; that such events have nothing to do with long-term climate, but are simply the fickle fortunes of `weather'.

If last winter and spring was a harbinger of global warming, then what do we make of the record cold temperatures being reported all across the eastern USA during the last four to five months? The summer has been much cooler than usual all across the eastern USA, a cool trend which has extended well into the autumn (`fall' to our American friends). Is this a prelude to an ice age? If we used the same standard of reasoning as the global warming promoters,  this would be a justifiable conclusion.  However, this is not the beginning of an ice age or a major cooling, but just the natural ebb and flow of climate.

Unlike the greenhouse industry which exploits each and every warm event to promote the idea of a warming apocalypse, cold episodes like the present one make us all pause for a reality check.  In fact, while the USA was enjoying its mild winter earlier this year, nearly everywhere else in the world was experiencing colder than usual conditions, so the mild US winter was not only transient, but also highly localised.

A resident of Binghamton NY, Kimberley Nicosia, says this summer in her home town has been the second coldest on record. It had the earliest first inch of snow on record on 9th October, beating the previous record by 10 days, which was on 19th October 1972. Five out of the last six months have been below normal. Similar reports have come in from all across the eastern United States.

The weather's timing could not be worse for Al Gore's aspirations to become President of the United States as he not only favours ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, but was actually its prime architect. It was his last-minute intervention at the stalled Kyoto talks which saved the Kyoto Protocol. Gore's presidential rival, Governor George Bush has stated he opposes the Protocol due to the economic damage it would cause to the US economy and the inadequacies of the science underpinning it.

The weather gods, it seems, are smiling on Governor Bush.

Postscript (31 Oct 2000). My spies tell me that New York got its first October snow in 21 years. Nice.

Tenerife Standoff   (10 Oct 2000)

As expected, the meeting in Tenerife between the solar and greenhouse sciences resulted in no resolution of their differences.

According to the Washington Post (9 Oct 2000), "a small but persistent group of scientists has revived an unsettling thought:

What if much, or even most, of the warming seen so far-- about 1.2°F since the late 19th century -- was not the result of civilization's cumulative spew of "greenhouse gases"?

What if, instead, it was caused by electromagnetic changes in the sun, a thermonuclear behemoth 93 million miles beyond human control?

When that idea was proposed in the late 1990s, it was generally dismissed by leading experts. But many researchers have become even more convinced
"that the sun may be a much more important contributor to global climate change than previously assumed," according to Paal Brekke of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt."

At the conference, the solar group demonstrated that solar science has come a long way since the days of sunspot counting and have now found a clear link between changes on the sun and climate change on earth. 

The Post article continued - "when the sun's magnetic field is stronger -- as it is, for example, during high sunspot activity -- it deflects more cosmic rays, preventing them from hitting air molecules. Fewer cosmic rays mean fewer clouds, which means more warming.

Svensmark and colleagues reported their latest results at a conference two weeks ago in Spain on
"The Solar Cycle and Terrestrial Climate." Using data
from the International Satellite Cloud Climate Project, they found that the amount of cloud cover at elevations of two miles or lower is directly related to
cosmic ray levels -- at least over the period for which satellite data are available.

But Earth has been warming for more than a century. Has the sun's field been strengthening that long? Yes, according to Michael Lockwood and colleagues at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in England, who published exactly that result in the journal Nature last year. Analyzing instrument measurements taken since 1868, they conclude that the sun's exterior magnetic field has increased by 230 percent since 1901 and by 40 percent since 1964."

So there we have it. Forget the greenhouse gases. If there was warming in the 20th century, it is more likely to have been caused by an observed change in the sun than by any theorised change in radiative forcing from a few trace gases.

`Hockey Stick' in More Trouble (9 Oct 2000)

The infamous `Hockey Stick' is the latest piece of historical revisionism coming out of the IPCC and from the discredited US `National Assessment'. It  is a graph of global temperature over the last 1,000 years, largely flat for 900 years with a sharp upturn at the end (thus the `Hockey Stick' tag). It denies long-established knowledge about the climate of the last 1,000 years, particularly the `Medieval Warm Period' (MWP) around 1100 AD, and the `Little Ice Age' (LIA) around the late 1600's. 

As recently as 1995, the IPCC accepted the existence of both events, but have now done a complete U-turn in only 18 months with hardly a whisper of protest from within the industry. The `Hockey Stick' now tells them exactly what they want to hear.

The `Hockey Stick' is complete fiction based on badly interpreted and flimsy evidence, mostly from a small number of tree ring sites (tree rings only recording the climate of the growing season anyway, not the whole year).

But the MWP and LIA are both alive and well in proxy records like lake beds, sea bed cores, lake levels, corals, and tree rings from all over the world. Europe, Greenland, The Sasgasso Sea, West Africa, East Africa, Taiwan, Japan, Peru, Tasmania, South Africa - all show clear and unmistakeable evidence of the reality and existence of the MWP and LIA, not as local events as the IPCC now asserts, but as truly global events.

The latest nail in the `Hockey Stick' bandwagon is a new research paper in Geophysical Research Letters (v.27, 20, p.3365, Oct 15 2000) by Winter et al. 

In this paper, the authors measured oxygen isotopes in Caribbean coral, and find that during the LIA, sea surface temperature in the Caribbean was 2 - 3°C cooler than it is today, a truly massive reduction in temperature which could by no stretch of the imagination be local. We know a weaker sun (the `Maunder Minimum') caused the LIA, and now we know just how profound an effect the sun can have. This is  why the `Hockey Stick' was so uncritically embraced to begin with, namely to deny the significance of the stronger sun in 20th century climate. 

La Niña is Back (30 Sept 2000)

Regular watchers of the El Niño/La Niña graphs published on this website could not have failed to notice that La Niña has returned, having now averaged a Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) figure of +10 over the last month.

On 14th June this year, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology in their `Seasonal Climate Outlook Summary ' stated "Computer models indicate neutral conditions in the Pacific Ocean for the next 6 months - i.e. no El Niño or La Niña." 

Models. Don't we all love 'em.

It is also interesting to note that Kevin Trenberth of NCAR, Boulder, Colorado claimed that Global Warming would be characterised by a shift toward more El Niño years and less La Niña years. He made this prediction in the wake of the big El Niño of 1998, perhaps getting carried away by the drama of the moment.

Since making that claim, Mother Nature has opted to do quite the opposite and has given us mostly La Niña conditions.

Court Action over the `National Assessment'    (7 Oct 2000)

The U.S. National Assessment has been the subject of much criticism for its political bias and lack of science. 

Now some U.S. congressmen and other interested groups have jointly sued President Clinton over his handling of the whole National Assessment process.

Under the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) Act of 1990, the US Congress requires the National Science and Technology Council to prepare national assessments on climate change, including the uncertainties. The reports were to be completed at least once every 4 years, but the Clinton administration has yet to complete even one.

In particular, The plaintiffs allege that there has been no public consultation over the report as required by the enabling Act. The plaintiffs also allege the White House is rushing to release the report to give Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore a political boost before the November presidential election.

Indeed, the timing of the intended release of the first report, just weeks out from the presidential election suggests a political motive behind releasing the report now. The report itself has been condemned even by many pro-warming scientists as being excessively alarmist and obsessively pessimistic. 

The lawsuit, which seeks a summary judgement declaring the report unlawfully produced, accuses Clinton and Neal Lane, director of the White House Office and Science and Technology Policy, of: 

1) repeatedly violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act by holding meetings behind closed doors that should have been open to the public, and holding other meetings in the absence of a required designated federal officer;

2) violating the USGCRP Act by issuing a wrongful directive to the team working on it, expanding its work beyond its statutory authority, and asking it to "delve into non-scientific, political areas"; and

3) violating an FY '00 appropriations rider prohibiting the administration from spending money to publish the report before "completing the underlying science," and making the findings
available to the public and subject to peer review.

The report's panel of authors, co-chaired by Jerry Melillo, of the Marine Biological Laboratory Ecosystems Center, Anthony Janetos, of the World Resources Institute, and Thomas R. Karl, of the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center, have said the report is not a scientific forecast, but rather an attempt to say what could happen if no action is taken to halt or reverse global warming.

At least here we have an admission, by the authors themselves, that the `National Assessment' is not science and that it is merely a set of `what if' scenarios, exactly the criticisms which have been directed at it from so many quarters.

We could then ask why high-profile scientists should make themselves party to to a report which they acknowledge is not a scientific evaluation.

Warning on Carbon Taxes  (18 Sept 2000)

Britain, France and other European countries last week were almost at a standstill in mass public protests at high fuel prices, resulting in blockades of fuel outlets and jammed highways and ports. The rising prices were of course triggered by the increase in the world price of crude oil.

What makes the European situation different to the rest of the world is the cripplingly high level of fuel taxes levied, making a litre of petrol in Britain $2.05 (Australian $ equivalent), compared with $1.02 in Australia, and about half as much again in the USA. With such high taxes, these governments have been reluctant to relieve the rising price of crude oil through tax cuts to consumers.

There are consumer grumblings in the USA, consumer outcry in Australia, but only in Europe has the price exceeded the pain threshold point at which outcry turns to public disorder and economic disruption. The European fuel rebellion is `fuelled' by the knowledge that the high price they now pay for petrol and diesel is predominantly a product of government taxation, not world oil prices.

Let European and other governments take timely warning before committing themselves to even more draconian taxes at the next climate conference at The Hague. There is now a proven price threshold at which open consumer rebellion will result, endangering governments both at the polls, and on the streets as happened last week. Any policies which say that governments can somehow tax their way, via `carbon taxes', to the Green utopia of near-zero CO2 emissions, must now be seen for what it is - pure delusion fed by well-funded Green propaganda.

London `Financial Times' comment on the British tax revolt here

High on Ice   (17 Sept 2000)

Now that a new round of climate conferences is underway, we are getting a weekly dose of junk science stories about the earth heating up. This week it is mountain glaciers in the Himalayas, claimed to be melting due to human activity.

The usual by-now familiar cliches - "much worse than previously thought ...", "alarming...", etc. - just like the nonsense at the North Pole, a story the New York Times had to retract since it was based on ignorance about polar pack ice.

Here's part of the ABC media report -

"We think this is alarming,''(that's just to grab our attention) says Ellen Mosley-Thompson of Ohio State University, a member of a team, led by Lonnie Thompson, that has analyzed ice cores from remote mountains galciers. The new cores, came from a glacier more than 20,000 feet (or 6 km) high in the Himalayas.(At that altitude, the temperature is well below zero, so the ice cannot actually melt).

Lonnie Thompson said the study provided a unique insight into global temperatures over many centuries.

"This is the highest climate record ever retrieved and it clearly shows a serious warming during the late 20th century, one that was caused, at least in part, by human activity. This is a very compelling story," he said.

So where's this `late 20th century' warming he refers to? Here is the raw (not corrected for urbanisation) temperature record from Srinagar, Indian Kashmir, the closest long-term record to K2, the mountain featured in the lead to the ABC media report. Srinagar is a high altitude city of 600,000 people, so it will have a local heat island to inflate its temperature.

The record shows the solar-induced warming of the early 20th century, but no warming in the late 20th century in spite of the heat island. In addition, the satellite temperatures show very little warming since 1979 in the northern hemisphere, even though the satellites take their data from the same heights of the atmosphere where these glaciers are located.

But be assured, there will be another similar "alarming" story next week, and of course it "will be worse than previously thought". It always is.

The Northwest Passage   (9 Sept 00)

A few weeks ago during the height of the Arctic summer, when the sun shines 24 hours a day, a Canadian police vessel navigated the fabled `Northwest Passage'. The media greeted this news as if it were somehow unique (global warming etc.).

However, the Northwest Passage has a long history and these are but a few of the passages made during the 20th century. (Information obtained from here) -

1903-06 - Roald Amundsen, in the Gjoa, makes the first full transit of the Northwest Passage from east to west.

1944 - The St. Roch, an RCMP schooner, makes the first west-to-east passage. It returns west and becomes the first to make the return journey in one season .

1969 - The Manhattan, the largest ship to navigate the Northwest Passage, leads a special experiment to see if the transport of bulk oil from Alaska would be feasible through the Passage.

1975 - R. Dickinson and K. Maro, in the Pandora II and the Theta, make a west-to-east transit.

1976-78 - R. Bouvier, in the J. E. Bernier II, a ketch, makes an east-to-west transit.

1977 - W. De Roos, in the Williwaw, a Dutch 42-foot (13-m) ketch, makes the first single handed passage from east to west.

1980 - Pandora II, a hydrographic research vessel, makes a transit from west to east.

1981-83 - Japanese sloop Mermaid, makes an east-to-west transit.

1983-88 - French vessel, The Vagabond II, makes a west-to-east transit.

U.S. motor yacht Belvedere, makes a west-to-east transit.

1984 - Lindblad Explorer, the first commercial passenger vessel to make a transit from east-to-west.

1985 - Commercial passenger ship `World Discoverer', makes a west-to-east transit.

1988 - MV Society Explorer, a Bahamas-registered passenger ship, makes a west-to-east transit.

These are but a few of the vessels to make a successful transit of the NorthWest Passage. There were many more.

What makes transits of the NorthWest Passage infrequent is not the lack of open water to actually do it, but the unreliability of being able to navigate the same channels from year to year.

Vessels today have satellite navigation, satellite images of the ice and ready communication in case of trouble. Navigating the passage today can no longer be considered a `feat' as it was in 1903.

Educational Child Abuse (6 Jul 2000)

Spinning the Twisters (10 May 2000)