`Stop Press' Stories

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For stories January to June 2003, click here

For stories January to April 2002, see below

March Cold (30 Mar 02)
Yet Another Dump on the `Hockey Stick' (6 Apr 2002)
IPCC Leadership (6 Apr 2002)
Tuvalu Stung (6 April 2002)
Data Quality (30 March 2002)
A Crack in the `Hockey Stick' (23 March 2002)
Ice Hysteria   (20 March 2002)
It's a Boy! (19 March 2002)
Money, Money, Money...   (13 March 2002)
The `Surface Record'  (9 March 2002)
The Perils of Model Forecasting (1 March 2002)
New Australia-U.S. Climate Alliance  (1 Mar 2002)
Malaria and  Climate Change   (24 Feb 2002)
Another Blow to IPCC's `Hockey Stick' (24 Feb 2002)
Canada's Kyoto Crisis  (24 Feb 2002)
Southern Ocean Slightly Warmer? (17 Feb 2002)
Siberian Tigers  (19 Feb 2002)
Beer Crisis?  (15 Feb 2002)
New U.S. Climate Policy (15 Feb 2002)
`Deep Convection' Vindicated (10 Feb 2002)
Too Hot for Penguins?  (4-Feb-2002)
Wind Power Winded (1 Feb 2002, with update 12 Feb 2002) 
Houghton on Sin (6 Feb 2002)
`Warnings from the Bush' (4 Feb 2002)
Siberia Comes to Italy (1 Feb 2002)
Life - An `Extreme' Ecological Response (25 Jan 2002)
ENRON  in Deep Green  (25 Jan 2002)
Cold Record in Italy  (24 Jan 2002)
Antarctic Ice Cap Growing (20 Jan 2002)
Antarctic Cooling in a `Warming' World   (15 Jan 2002)
El Nino is Coming Back ! (13 Jan 2002)
San Fernando de Apure, Venezuela
A `Trace' of Snow in Butte, Montana  (4 Jan 2002)  
Models Again  (9 Jan 2002)
2002 Starts as 2001 Ends (6 Jan 2002)
British Iced out of the Antarctic   (7 Jan 2001)
`Polar Bird' Trapped Again (24 Dec 2001 to 14 Jan 2002)
Japan Goes Cold on Kyoto (4 Jan 2002)
2001 in Australia  (3 Jan 2002)
Happy New Year for the Devil (3 Jan 2002)

Yet Another Dump on the `Hockey Stick' (6 Apr 2002)

The IPCC and their discredited `Hockey Stick' took another blow in Science this week. This time, lake bed evidence  not only detects the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age,  but does so from the remoteness of the Southern Hemisphere, in Malawi, Africa.  These two events were dismissed by the industry as purely European happenings, so local as to not even register on the Northern Hemisphere temperature, let alone south of the Equator.

Not so, according to Johnson et al, (Science, v.296, p.113, 5 Apr 02), who analysed `mass accumulation rates' (MAR) of biogenic silica from lake bed cores of Lake Malawi. They were able to reconstruct 25,000 years of climate there, observing that there was elevated MAR during the Little Ice Age, consistent with similar elevated levels during the last ice age, and reduced MAR 1,000 years ago, "the time of the Medieval Warm Period in the Northern Hemisphere."

This means that both the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age really did happen far away from Europe, and is yet another piece of observational evidence to further discredit the IPCC's treasured `Hockey Stick'. 

Data Quality (30 March 2002)

The U.S. Data Quality Act, 2000 was passed by the U.S. Congress in December 2000 and has suddenly emerged as a potential time bomb under all the suspect science which has so permeated public policy in recent times.

It charges the US government to create procedures "ensuring
and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility and integrity"
of scientific information and statistics disseminated by federal agencies.

The most obvious candidate for review under this new act is the National Assessment, a government publication which contained lashings of political hype and alarmism disguised as science.

Senator James Jeffords of Vermont who is also chairman of the Senate environment committee, said "Opponents of government action to protect the public's health and the environment have latched on to the Data Quality Act and are attempting to misuse it to prevent the public from getting valid information about threats to their well being and quality of life."

What he is saying is that it is OK for the public to be given sub-standard information as long as it is `for their own good'.

This from a senator who showed contempt for his own constituents by accepting their election of him as a Republican, but then crossing the floor of the Senate without doing the right thing and resigning, then offering himself for re-election in his new self-appointed status as guardian of the public's health.

New guidelines for the act say that the more influential the data are likely to be, the higher the quality standard they must meet.  In some cases even studies published in respected peer-reviewed journals will require further confirmation.

This is only common sense in a world where the boundaries between science and policy have become increasingly blurred.  It is unacceptable in a democratic society that anonymous `peer review' by a few in-house peers should impact directly on public policy.  Any scientific findings which have public policy implications should be open to public review and a much higher standard of rigour than currently exists in many sciences, including climate science.

IPCC Leadership (6 Apr 2002)

It looks as though the tenure of Robert Watson, co-chair of the IPCC is now in serious jeopardy.

An election for the post he now holds will  be held at a meeting of the IPCC in Geneva in two weeks - the first such contest since the body was formed in 1989.

The reason is that the US Government has withdrawn its support for Watson, whom it regards as having become too political for what is meant to be an impartial scientific advisory body.

Paul Brown, environment writer of the Guardian newspaper (5 Apr) claimed the Bush administration were "in effect attempting to remove a strong advocate of urgent action to save the planet."

But that's been the whole problem with Watson. A Clinton-Gore appointee - he is an `advocate' who want's to `save the planet'. This suggests a messianic mission inconsistent with his proper role as impartial scientific adviser.

The US state department now says it will support India's nominee for the post, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, director-general of
the Tata Energy Research Institute in New Delhi.

According to Watson, as quoted in the Guardian, "I have never been political; I have always been the advocate of good science," he said. "Whether governments have policies on global warming is up to them, our job is to point out the facts." 

His denial of being political is belied by his own words and actions of recent years. Let's try one such Watson `fact'. During the 2001 Shanghai IPCC conference, he announced to the world that the 1990s were the warmest decade in 1,000 years.

He stated it as an accomplished fact, with no qualifications or caveats.  Naturally, the claim was widely quoted.  But on what was this extraordinary claim based? - Tree rings, as represented by the `Hockey Stick'

The discredited `Hockey Stick' view of millennial climate was based on a limited number of tree ring sites, even though tree rings do not give annual temperature, but rather indicate favourable or unfavourable growing conditions during a particular year.  This includes rainfall as well as temperature. They don't tell us about the winters, or the nights, or about the temperatures over the oceans (a mere 70% of the planet), and not even about temperatures over all the land, since much of it is desert, savannahs, tundras, ice, mountains etc.

In other words, tree rings is an insufficiently robust base of evidence upon which to base such an extraordinary claim, let alone state it as a categorical unqualified fact.

As if that were not enough, there is a mountain of evidence, fully peer-reviewed, in the scientific literature to show that the medieval period at the early part of the millennium was much warmer than today. (See the latest such evidence below).

This means that for Watson to claim to the world's public, as a categorical fact, a claim which is both hotly disputed among scientists, and for which contrary evidence exists, shows the extent to which he had become an advocate, a `true believer' in the Green apocalyptic world view, thus devaluing his role as a scientific adviser. 

Tuvalu Stung (6 April 2002)

The bluff of the Tuvalu government has finally been called.  They were the government group who led the cry about small nations being swamped beneath the waves of rising seas.  Theirs were the coral atolls which the Greens cried crocodile tears over, mourning the `desperate plight' of the islanders.  Tuvalu even wanted international compensation, and for Australia and New Zealand to guarantee `residency' to their 12,000 islanders in the event of inundation.  

The scam was first exposed on this site, citing evidence from a tide gauge installed at Funafuti, the capital of Tuvalu. (See Tuvalu Cons the Kiwis (17 Oct 01) and Tuvalu Sting (20 Jul 2001)

Now the National Tidal Facility, based in Adelaide, Australia, has dismissed the Tuvalu claims as unfounded. They have maintained accurate monitoring of sea level at Tuvalu. According to their latest news release on the issue, `Sea Level in Tuvalu: It's Present State',  the NTF concludes "The historical record from 1978 through 1999 indicated a sea level rise of 0.07 mm per year."  This compares with the IPCC claim of 1 - 2.5 mm/yr for the world as a whole, indicating the IPCC claim is based on faulty modelling.  The IPCC also claims the rate of sea level rise will accelerate.  But the NTF put the damper on that too - "The historical record (from Tuvalu) shows no visual evidence of any acceleration in sea level trends."

The above graph of maximum, mean, and minimum sea levels at Tuvalu was included in the report, the only significant feature of which are the periodic drops in sea level during El Niño events.  None of the above data was new, or even unobtainable (I got it last year), so the uncritical zeal with which the industry and the IPCC bought into the alarmist Tuvalu claims, indicates the degree to which they had lost touch with science and reality.  Little wonder the US government wants to be rid of the IPCC co-chair Robert Watson in favour of an Indian nominee.

March Cold (30 Mar 02)

Some reader comments on the weather this March from the western half of North America -

"I thought I'd update you on our winter weather here in the Seattle area. This year, we are definitely having a colder than normal winter, with above average snowpack in the Cascade Mountains. While much of the U.S. has been basking in record warmth this
winter, that is certainly not the case here. As for our past few summers, they also have been cool. On average, we have three days per year that reach 90°F in Seattle. We have not had ANY day reach 90°since 1998, so that at minimum, assuming we have a normal summer this year, we still have a four year streak of cooler than normal summers. As I prefer cooler weather, I hope that this is a trend of future things to come." 

`Coldest March on record' 
CALGARY - It may be the first day of spring, but it's the coldest one many can remember. Alberta is well on its way to setting a weather record.  The average temperature so far this month has been close to minus 16 degrees. 
"The month of March record is minus 13.0," says Brian Steffora,
meteorologist with Environment Canada.
"That record was set back in 1899, so its quite an old record, 103 years ago. And like I say, we're at minus 15.6; we're about two and a half degrees below that record yet." 

"I live and work in Calgary, Alberta and the month of March has been brutally cold."

"I wanted to let you know that the month of March 2002 has seen many record low temperatures set in the western provinces of British Columbia (BC), Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The cold has lasted longer and was deeper than I have seen in my 30 years in the central part of BC. Many temperatures were in the range of -15°C to -32°C in the interior (continental influence), and Vancouver (west coast) had snow and below freezing temperatures. Highly unusual! We normally refer to the month of March as "break-up", as this is the time of year that the warm weather returns, ice breaks up in the rivers and the ground starts to thaw. Until today, we have been in winter. Today we got to about +8C, which is about normal; spring might finally be close!"

A Crack in the `Hockey Stick' (23 March 2002)

A new paper by Esper et al. just published in Science (v.295, p.2250, 22 Mar 02) reports on a study of 14 tree ring sites in the extra-tropical regions of the northern hemisphere.

What has caused a stir is that this new study contradicts similar findings by Mann et al. (the infamous `Hockey Stick') which claimed that climate was stable and benign for 900 years - until the 20th century warming.

The IPCC adopted the `Hockey Stick', and promoted it heavily in its press statements and publications, while the National Assessment also used it to great effect.  The problem was that the `Hockey Stick' was bad climate science, and became a liability to the industry.  It was subject to widespread criticism, and well nigh impossible to defend scientifically.

The findings of this latest study are shown in the above chart.  The red line is the now largely discredited `Hockey Stick' version of climate history since 1,000 AD, while the blue line is the version of climate history now claimed by this new study.  The dotted lines are the error ranges.  According to the study, the climate of the last millennium was anything but stable and benign. The Little Ice Age during the middle part of the millennium has been restored to its full glory, fully 1°C cooler than today, while the Medieval Warm Period has been partially restored, peaking around 950 AD.

(A note about tree rings - they only measure summer conditions - not annual,
 only apply to forested land or about 10% of the planet surface,
 are affected by other variables besides temperature - such as precipitation,
 and only apply to daytime conditions, mostly in the northern hemisphere.
 Thus, they are of very limited value when used in isolation from other proxies).

Interestingly, the Mann `Hockey Stick' reconstruction of temperatures, also based on tree rings, began it's series neatly at the year 1,000 AD, some 50 years after the Medieval warm peak reported in this study.   The new study claims that the Medieval Warm Period shows up all across the extra-tropical northern hemisphere, not just in Europe, and that its warmth was comparable to that of recent years.  The big difference of course was that the Medieval warmth was done without the assistance of extra greenhouse gases, which means there is nothing unprecedented about today's temperatures.  The most likely cause of both the Medieval warmth, the Little Ice Age, and the modern warmth is the variability of the sun, which has seen enhanced activity during the later 20th century.

But is this new study now the correct version of millennial climate history?  Far from it.  While restoring the Little Ice Age to its rightful place (evidence for which abounds in glaciological studies from all over the world), it does not portray the fact that the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than today, much warmer.  Published and peer reviewed evidence from a variety of proxies from all over the world show conclusively that conditions were warmer early in the millennium than they are now (details of some of that evidence here).  Until that scientific wrong is righted, this study will only amount to a partial restoration of the historical reality, not a complete one.

Ice Hysteria   (20 March 2002)

Today the panic mongers were in full cry, from CNN to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC). An ice shelf, `Larsen B', on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula has broken up into a mosaic of smaller icebergs.

The ABC incorrectly claimed the Antarctic had warmed 2°C during the last century. Wrong!  Only the 2% of the Antarctic poking out into the Southern Ocean warmed (the part where this ice shelf is located). The other 98% has actually been cooling and accumulating ice. Then the ABC claimed that `scientists' blamed it all on `global warming' - and then gave a filmed comment by one just to prove their point - the British Environment Minister!  So environmental politicians are now regarded as `scientists'?

The West Australian newspaper 20th March (p.5) claimed - "The scientists were reported as being "astounded at the speed of the break up" . "It is hard to believe that 500 million billion tonnes of ice sheet has disintegrated in less than a month" the scientists are quoted as saying."

Which `scientists'?  As with the ABC, we don't know. But a floating ice shelf is like the crust of the earth floating on the earth's plastic mantle. Stresses build up, cracks open, and all of a sudden out of the blue - earthquake!  When the quake happens, it is sudden and catastrophic.  No `scientist' should find it `hard to believe' that an ice shelf would behave any differently given the similar dynamics involved.

The Larsen break-up has been coming for years, and its demise has long been expected.  An `ice shelf' is simply a glacier which reaches down all the way to the coast and then spills out over the sea, pushing it's way further and further from land, floating on the sea, until tidal forces, water erosion from beneath, and sunlight from above, finally weaken the floating mass and breaks it off.  It's dramatic, happens on a grand scale, but also very, very, natural.

It happens all the time.

This one is bigger than most, that's all.  But that does not stop the media circus from attaching this event to `global warming', even though the British Antarctic Survey says it is  premature to attribute warming in the Peninsula to an enhanced greenhouse effect.

According to this BBC report, "As far as global implications are concerned, there are few as far as the present event is concerned."  Which is about right, as there will be no sea level rise resulting from the break-up of this ice shelf because the ice was displacing its own weight anyway as it was floating on the sea. Since the warming of the Peninsula is a purely local anomaly, it too has no global significance beyond the immediate  effect this may have on the local environment.  Yahoo News in a story titled `Cool and Warm' also took a more balanced view of the event.

The Peninsula is only a tiny part of the whole Antarctic (part of it is not even within the Antarctic Circle), and recent studies show that the great mass of the Antarctic is both cooler and amassing, not losing, ice.  All ice shelves which project themselves out into open water must break up eventually, simply due to contact with the warmer water and the tidal stresses.  It's evolution.

Or perhaps the greenhouse industry has forgotten about evolution, not just of living things, but of the whole earth. Where did they get this idea that natural evolution events must now stop and all new events be blamed on mankind's activities?

It's a Boy! (19 March 2002)

Eastern & central Pacific 18th March 2002

There is now little doubt.  El Niño (`the boy') has returned.

The signs have been there for over a month, warming of the waters of the eastern Pacific, cooling of the waters north of Australia, and now the sudden and dramatic plunge in the Southern Oscillation Index as shown here.

The NOAA put their reputation on the line by predicting this two months ago based on data gathered from precursor indicators such as ocean buoys and satellite measurement of sea surface temperature.

Other institutions, including Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, were and still are more cautious, perhaps not wishing to incur legal liability for an incorrect prediction when there is so much at stake economically.  The sea surface temperature map for 18th March is displayed above and shows the whole eastern Pacific being swamped by warm waters, obliterating what was the `cold tongue' on the equator characteristic of La Niña and even neutral conditions.  Most tellingly, the hottest water has now reached Tahiti.  NOAA reports that even sub-surface waters are also warming up, again a signature of El Niño.

As to what this will mean for Australia, the first real effects will be noticed next summer when eastern Australia is likely to experience much drier and hotter weather than usual, with many areas becoming drought affected.  Rural communities and organisations are advised to consult their local Bureau of Meteorology for more region-by-region analyses of what may happen, or to check with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in Queensland and their highly informative `Long Paddock' website.

But there's more.  This El Niño was predicted over 3 years ago by Dr Theodor Landscheidt, using an analysis of solar eruptions and solar motions, his hypothesis being that solar events are what trigger the El Niño and La Niña events.  His paper describing the process in detail was published on this website in January 1999, and has been on this site ever since, with not a word of alteration.  (His original paper here).

Given that his prediction appears to be coming true, he has agreed to publish a follow-up article with less technical detail so that the basic idea behind the hypothesis can be more widely understood.

See -   El Niño Forecast Revisited  by  Dr Theodor Landscheidt

Money, Money, Money...   (13 March 2002)

The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) ran a TV `news' story on Monday 11th March about an international climate change meeting in Hobart, Tasmania.  As if we needed yet another science junket at taxpayer's expense. 
 (ABC story here)

" `Australian climate research falling behind' says scientist" said the ABC headline.

The scientist concerned was John Church of the CSIRO Marine Division in Hobart, and lead author of the IPCC sea level chapter in its latest report. He warned Australian research is `falling behind' the rest of the world in the area of climate change. "We are under a challenge in Australia at the moment, our research base has been falling behind" he said.  "We're struggling to keep up at the moment, we do need an injection to continue to keep up with progress around the world."  Bring out the violins...

Which only goes to prove a point frequently made by skeptics of the climate hysteria - that a key consideration  behind much of the research is public funding and bureaucratic growth.  `Climate change' in Australia already gets hundreds of millions of dollars a year and is the most bloated and unproductive scientific activity we have.  We have little to show for the millions spent so far, other than to spawn a whole industry of competing institutions who have made a zero contribution to our national economy.  This non-production lavishly spends the hard-earned tax dollars of ordinary Australians.   The notion that our `climate research' can `fall behind' is quite comical. After all this  `research', we still can't predict an El Niño, not even the one that now appears to be rushing up on us.

The `Surface Record'  (9 March 2002)

The Good....
(Mildura in southeast Australia)
The Bad....
(Toowoomba in Queensland, Australia)
And the Ugly....
(Melbourne, Australia)

The above are a selection of photos published at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website, designed to show the surroundings around the weather boxes in Australia (the louvred white boxes known as `Stevenson Screens' mounted a metre above ground on each photo)

The top photo (`the Good') from Mildura is an example of a well-placed box, well away from urbanisation, growing vegetation or structures, all of which would skew the record towards warming over a period of time.

The second photo (`the Bad') from Toowoomba looks idyllic, but  is seriously flawed as a serious location from which to detect climate change. It is sheltered from the cooling winds by the residential house and growing tall vegetation surrounding it - a nice little sun trap in fact - just what the people living there may want, but exactly what the box should not have if it is to accurately measure climate change.

The last photo (`the Ugly') from Melbourne is a complete abortion of a location, plain and simple, right at the intersection of two busy highways near the centre of the city (itself with a population of over 3 million).  It can only be useful for measuring current city weather, not regional or global climate.  The additional heat from increasingly busy traffic will warm that box artificially, giving a false impression of climatic warming.  The problem is so severe that neither CRU nor GISS could credibly correct for it. 

But when we hear about `global mean temperature' or that some new `record' has been broken, it is well to remember that it is from places such as these that the data comes from.

The alternative is to believe what the satellites tell us.  They cover the earth evenly, with no distortions from urbanisation and vegetation and give a result accurate to one hundredth of a degree.  But the IPCC prefers to believe the nonsense given them by the instruments at Melbourne and places like it.

The Perils of Model Forecasting (1 March 2002)

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has just released details of how the southern summer, which ended yesterday, unfolded throughout southeastern Australia.

Firstly, lets look at what they predicted on 14th November 2001 about what was in store for the coming summer. In a media release titled `Southeast Faces Warm Summer', they said in part, "the current climate patterns once again point to increased summer warmth in Victoria, Tasmania, southern South Australia, and the southern border regions of New South Wales."  They even provided a map to show the region (southern S.A. includes the city of Adelaide).

The final reality once summer was over was somewhat different.  Their latest three media releases tell the story - 

"Summer 2001-02 a Cool One in Tasmania"
"Cool Summer for Victoria"
"Adelaide's Mean Summer Maximum the Lowest on Record"

I can certainly vouch for the cool summer in Tasmania as I have lived here since 1980.  It was the coolest summer I have known here, with the temperature in Launceston never even reaching 30°C, which it usually does on several days every summer.  Our local press has been remarking on the cold summer constantly, including the cold snap around Christmas which I also featured on this site.

In Victoria, they shared the same cool summer, with the summer average minimum temperatures at five stations being the lowest on record.  Snow even fell on Mount Hotham.

Adelaide in South Australia usually swelters under the hot summer sun, with temperatures typically in the high 30's or even over 40°C.  But not this year.  Adelaide had the coolest mean summer maximum on record, a record which goes back all the way to 1857 (see Adelaide's temperature history here).  The previous coolest summer was back in 1948-49. At no time this summer did Adelaide reach that sweltering 40°C mark.

These 3-month forecasts are of course based on long-range modelling, and it is significant that the very region of Australia which back in November was predicted to be warmer than usual, ended up much cooler than normal, with several all-time cold records being broken.  The lesson here of course is that modelling of this kind has severe limitations, which is probably why most meteorologists are humble enough and realistic enough to refer to their forward estimates as `forecasts', in contrast with the arrogance of the IPCC and the greenhouse industry who make iron-clad `predictions' based on similar modelling techniques.

New Australia-U.S. Climate Alliance  (1 Mar 2002)

Here is an official Press Statement from Australia's Minister for the Environment, David Kemp, about a new US-Australia partnership agreement on climate change which has just been signed in Washington DC.

The agreement basically commits Australia and the U.S. to co-operate with each other on seeking ways to address the issue of climate change such as through joint monitoring efforts, co-operative involvement by business, and development of carbon-free technologies, but without the necessity for the legal and economic minefield represented by Kyoto.  Minister Kemp dismissed charges from environmentalists that this represented a backing away from climate change policy, rather that such policies could be achieved only with the participation of the United States.

Malaria and Climate Change   (24 Feb 2002)

A new paper by Hay et al. in Nature titled `Climate Change and the Resurgence of Malaria in the East African Highlands' (v.415, 21 Feb, p.905) might have at first appeared as yet another `here we go again...' catalogue of doom and gloom from the industry.

But not this time.

The authors, most of them closely connected with tropical medicine, investigated the possible link between climate change and recent resurgence of Malaria in the East African highlands.  They took four mostly rural weather stations in the region (Kericho in western Kenya, Kabale in southwest Uganda, Gikonko in southern Rwanda, and Muhanga in northern Burundi) and analysed their meteorological data (temperature, rainfall and vapour pressure) from 1911 to 1995.

Their verdict was both clear and blunt - "..temperature, rainfall, vapour pressure and the number of months suitable for P. falciparum (malaria) transmission have not changed significantly during the past century or during the period of reported malaria resurgence.  A high degree of temporal and spatial variation in the climate of East Africa suggests further that claimed associations between local malaria resurgences and regional changes in climate are overly simplistic."

Their paper was significant in that here we have scientists in mostly medical disciplines independently examining climatic data from weather stations - and finding little change over an 85-year time span in spite of all the spurious claims from CRU and the IPCC about how the world is supposed to have warmed, even to the extent of linking malaria and other tropical diseases to climate change.

But there is a further twist to this story.

Remember all the fuss about the `Snows of Kilimanjaro'? How the loss of glacier ice atop this volcanic mountain was blamed on human greenhouse emissions?  The weather stations used in this latest study into malaria happen to be in the same region of Africa as Kilimanjaro.  Since the weather stations in that region show no climate change, we can only conclude that the loss of glacier ice is not caused by atmospheric warming (there is none in that region), but by something else, possibly the sun or volcanic heat from the ground.

That's two scare balloons pricked in one very significant paper. 

Another Blow to IPCC's `Hockey Stick' (24 Feb 2002)

A new study published in Science (Hendy et al. v.295, 22 Feb 02, p.1511) reports on data from coral cores taken from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.  The purpose of the study was to report on changes in sea salinity over the last 420 years.

But in the opening paragraph the authors drop this bombshell on the IPCC's `Hockey Stick' (the IPCC's claim that the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age were local events in Europe and were not global events) -

"The Little Ice Age (LIA) appears in most Northern Hemisphere paleoclimate reconstructions as multiple, century-scale periods of anomalously cold, dry conditions between the 15th and late 19th centuries.  Glacial advances in both hemispheres and enhanced polar atmospheric circulation suggest that the LIA was a global-scale event."

The authors investigated isotope residues in Pacific coral, and found that the earlier part of the Little Ice Age (LIA) resulted in tropical sea surface temperatures 0.2 to 0.3°C cooler than the long-term average, later giving way to warmer SSTs during the 18th and 19th centuries as the LIA receded. 

The authors concluded - "Our results imply that the tropical oceans may have played an important role in driving the LIA glacial expansion during the repeated advances between 1600 and 1860."

In other words, the Little Ice Age impacted the tropical Pacific, half a world away from the North Atlantic focus of the event, contradicting the IPCC `Hockey Stick' theory. 

It is well to review at this stage just why the `Hockey Stick' is so vital to the IPCC position on climate change.

A mountain of published evidence shows there were two major climatic events during the last 1,000 years - the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) early in the millenium, and the Little Ice Age (LIA) between the 15th and 19th century, the deepest part of which occurred in the late 17th century.  Both events had but one cause - variability of the sun, the most dramatic example of which was the Maunder Minimum of the late 17th century when the 11-year solar cycle simply stopped and became an extended 50-year solar minimum until the cycle resumed again in the 18th century.

So what?  What does it matter if the sun modulates our climate? It matters a lot!  The 20th century has been characterised by the biggest surge in solar activity since solar cycle  records began in 1600 AD, a surge which would be sufficient explanation in itself for any warming of the climate which can be demonstrated, particularly the warming of the early 20th century. Many solar scientists maintain that our current climate is a product of this surge, and not the result of greenhouse gases.

But that does not fit the IPCC agenda of blaming everything on man and greenhouse gases.  As a result, they seized on a limited study of northern hemisphere tree rings by Michael Mann who told them exactly what they wanted to hear - that the MWP and the LIA never happened, at least not on a global scale. The Mann study (now nicknamed the `Hockey Stick' after the shape of the graph which the theory produced) flew in the face of a mountain of published evidence from all over the world that these events really did take place on a global scale.  But the IPCC and the National Assessment went with the Hockey Stick, globalising what was meant to be a northern hemisphere study, turning a blind eye to the large error ranges involved, and are now in a state of denial about the sun's role in climate change.

Ironically, Michael Mann himself was the co-author of a recent paper (Shindell et al., `Solar Forcing of Regional Climate Change During the Maunder Minimum', Science v.294, 8 Dec 01, p.2149) which actually reaffirmed  solar variability as a forcing upon global climate, particularly evident at the regional level such as the Little Ice Age in Europe. 

The latest Hendy et al. study demonstrates that the Little Ice Age was evident even in Australia and reaffirms yet again that it really did happen - and on a global scale.

Canada's Kyoto Crisis  (24 Feb 2002)

Canada¹s support for the Kyoto Protocol has erupted in controversy, with several Canadian provinces challenging the federal government¹s plan to ratify the protocol. Canadian Environment Minister David Anderson wants his government to ratify the Kyoto Protocol by June 1, just before Canada hosts the G8 meeting in Alberta.

The Kyoto treaty calls for Canada to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases by 6 % below its 1990 levels by 2008-2012. But the Canadian "Action Plan," which is still under
development, contains measures that fall short of achieving the Kyoto goal. Canada currently emits about 700 million tonnes of GHGs per year, while in 1990 it emitted some 600 million tonnes.

The Australian government has said all along that it is folly to commit to a treaty when the means to achieve its terms are unknown.

(Intel From Electricity Daily)

Southern Ocean Slightly Warmer? (17 Feb 2002)

A paper by Sarah T. Gille in Science (vol.295, p.1275, 15 Feb 2002) reports temperature results from drifting floats deployed during the 1990s, circling the Southern Ocean at depths of 700 to 1,100 metres.

The results were compared with soundings made during the 1950s (with 1950s technology), and is shown on their map left.  As the map shows, the Southern Ocean was not warmer everywhere, but concentrated mainly below latitude 40°S, particularly in the South Atlantic portion of the ocean between South Africa and South America. Above 40°S the ocean was actually cooler. (The scale bar appears to be in error though).

The comparison with the 1950s data showed the Southern Ocean at that 700-1100 metre depth warmed +0.17°C ± 0.06°C, giving an uncertainty range of 0.11° to 0.23°C. 

The author claims the ocean temperature increase is "comparable to Southern Ocean atmospheric temperature increases".  The problem with that claim is that there are very few weather stations down there, even fewer with data back to the 1950s.  But there is one, Gough Island, deep in the South Atlantic, about 1,600 miles W-SW of Capetown, South Africa, and its record is shown left. A crude linear trend indicates a warming there of +0.2°C., but it is also clear from the graph that this warming was concentrated in the pre-1980 part of the record and little change since. If the Southern Ocean warming was induced by the atmosphere, the results in this latest study are consistent with a slight pre-1980 warming, and not indicative of any warming in recent decades.
(See full record from Gough Island here)

Siberian Tigers  (19 Feb 2002)

A new report from the BBC says that endangered Siberian Tigers and Siberian Leopards are being hit by `freak weather conditions threatening them with starvation. 

Heavy snowfalls in the Russian Far East could all but wipe out the deer and boar which the tigers and leopards feed on. 

Snow in the region is reported to be up to 1.5 metres deep, making it difficult for the grazing animals to find food in the forest . 

In a break from their usual tree-worship, environmentalists have cleared 150 kilometres of road to bring food into the region and have been cutting tree branches to provide grazing.

It makes a change from the usual `global warming killing wildlife' hype from environmental groups.

Beer Crisis?  (15 Feb 2002)

Beer sales are down 10% this summer in Tasmania, thanks to the unusually cool summer we have just had.  Other parts of  Australia have also had a much cooler summer than normal.

New U.S. Climate Policy (15 Feb 2002)

President George W. Bush has made an irrevocable decision to discard the Kyoto Protocol as far as US participation is concerned by announcing a separate policy on climate.   [ His full speech here ].  He has set two priorities for the US - to clean the air, and to address the issue of global climate change in the context of  scientific uncertainties. 

He has flagged new `Clean Skies' laws designed to dramatically reduce the three most significant forms of pollution from power plants, namely sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury.  According to Bush, "We will cut sulfur dioxide emissions by 73 percent from current levels.  We will cut nitrogen oxide emissions by 67 percent.  And, for the first time ever, we will cap emissions of mercury, cutting them by 69 percent.  These cuts will be completed over two measured phases, with one set of emission limits for 2010 and for the other for 2018." 

His approach aims to `protect the environment', `prolong the lives of thousands of Americans with asthma and other respiratory illnesses, as well as with those with heart disease', and to `reduce the risk to children exposed to mercury during a mother's pregnancy'.  The new laws will operate via a market-based cap-and-trade system for which he expects to have broad support in Congress.

But on climate, he was more circumspect - "Now, global climate change presents a different set of challenges and requires a different strategy.  The science is more complex, the answers are less certain, and the technology is less developed.  So we need a flexible approach that can adjust to new information and new technology." 

He stated goal is to reduce America's greenhouse gas emissions "relative to the size of the US economy", by cutting  greenhouse gas intensity (or how much is emitted per unit of economic activity) by 18 percent over the next 10 years. This latter approach is somewhat vague in comparison with his Clean Skies proposal.

But then Bush states his bottom line.  "Our nation must have economic growth -- growth to create opportunity; growth to create a higher quality of life for our citizens.  Growth is also what pays for investments in clean technologies, increased conservation, and energy efficiency."  This is in direct contrast to the Kyoto approach which was manifestly anti-growth.  "We will promote renewable energy production and clean coal technology, as well as nuclear power, which produces no greenhouse gas emissions.  And we will work to safely improve fuel economy for our cars and our trucks."   In effect, he is demanding that any climate policy must work within normal economic activity, not cripple it as the Europeans would do with the Kyoto Protocol.  Looking to the future, he added - "If, however, by 2012, our progress is not sufficient and sound science justifies further action, the United States will respond with additional measures that may include broad-based market programs as well as additional incentives and voluntary measures designed to accelerate technology development and deployment."  Note his caution about `sound science', implying that a lot of the `science' around today is anything but sound, a caution this website fully endorses.  

As for the Kyoto Protocol, Bush was scathing and uncompromising - "My approach recognizes that economic growth is the solution, not the problem.  Because a nation that grows its economy is a nation that can afford investments and new technologies.  The approach taken under the Kyoto Protocol would have required the United States to make deep and immediate cuts in our economy to meet an arbitrary target.  It would have cost our economy up to $400 billion and we would have lost 4.9 million jobs.  As President of the United States, charged with safeguarding the welfare of the American people and American workers, I will not commit our nation to an unsound international treaty that will throw millions of our citizens out of work." 

However, Bush also promised that the United States would "not interfere with the plans of any nation that chooses to ratify the Kyoto protocol",  a clear reference to the European Union which will now have to fund, on their own, all the grandiose wealth transfers and economic growth cuts which the Protocol envisioned.

Summarising what could become the `Bush Doctrine' on climate, he said - "To clean the air, and to address climate change, we need to recognize that economic growth and environmental protection go hand in hand. Affluent societies are the ones that demand, and can therefore afford, the most environmental protection.  Prosperity is what allows us to commit more and more resources to environmental protection.  And in the coming decades, the world needs to develop and deploy billions of dollars of technologies that generate energy in cleaner ways.  And we need strong economic growth to make that possible." 

Soon after Bush's speech, Australia's Prime Minister, John Howard, made a public statement that Australia would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol without US and developing country's participation.  Since President Bush has read the final funeral oration on the protocol as far as the US is concerned, it is now a dead letter here in Australia too.

`Deep Convection' Vindicated (10 Feb 2002)

Two new papers in the February 1st edition of Science (Wielicki et al. p.841,  and Chen et al., p.838) report that tropical cloudiness decreased during the 1990s, and the NASA authors are at a loss to know why. [This NASA media release gives a summary]

Orthodox greenhouse industry theory says - CO
2 warms the oceans, which causes more evaporation, which puts more water vapour (the dominant greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere , and more clouds. The extra vapour warms the ocean further, causing even more warming, more evaporation, more clouds, and so on until the final warming becomes up to 6 times larger than the initial CO2 warming which triggered it. A neat and simple formula for Armageddon, based on an unproved `positive feedback' from CO2. In that way, the models can make a hot greenhouse mountain out of what is really just a lukewarm CO2 molehill.

But nature has thrown all that in the air. Tropical cloudiness has been decreasing as measured by infra-red detectors mounted on satellites. Since the outgoing radiation from the earth must equal what comes in from the sun (Thermal Equilibrium), any increase in outgoing infra-red radiation must come at the expense of decreased visible light radiation, namely the reflected light from cloud tops. In other words, there are less cirrus clouds especially, and by inference less water vapour in the tropical atmosphere.

Hugh W. Ellsaesser, an atmospheric scientist with a distinguished career (and now a global warming skeptic), predicted this very outcome in 1984 (
Atmos. Env. 18, 431-434, 1984) by pointing out that CO2 warming would intensify `deep tropical convection', the huge thunderheads that so characterise the tropics. The result would be that while the small updraft zone would increase its moisture, the increased convective activity would dry out the air in the much larger subsidence zone, making for less cloudiness, and - wait for it - less water vapour in the subsidence zone. This drastically weakens the greenhouse effect there.  Ellsaesser saw this process as effectively cancelling out the slight warming effect of CO2. He based his claim, not on theory or modelling, but on the measured effect of the big 1982-83 El Niño which intensified deep tropical convection and made the subsidence zones drier.

Ironically, soon after Ellsaesser's paper was published, one of these latest paper's co-authors, Anthony Del Genio, claimed Ellsaesser was wrong [
Nature, 351, 382-385, 1991]. Del Genio arrived at this conclusion by running Ellsaesser's scenario on a climate model, finding that the model could not reproduce the `deep convection' drying effect reported by Ellsaesser. In keeping with the `models are reality' mindset, Del Genio promptly dismissed Ellsaesser's claims.

Now, Del Genio has co-authored a study which completely vindicates Ellsaesser. Even the title of this latest study, "Evidence for Strengthening of the Tropical General Circulation in the 1990s", accurately describes the very process which Ellsaesser first outlined. According to Del Genio in the paper "Equatorial convective regions have intensified in upward motion and moistened, while both the equatorial and subtropical subsidence regions have become drier and less cloudy."  - exactly as stated by Ellsaesser back in 1984.  It prompted the co-author of the companion paper, Bruce Wielicki, to comment - "Since clouds were thought to be the weakest link in predicting future climate change from greenhouse gases, these new results are unsettling. It suggests that current climate models may, in fact, be more uncertain than we had thought."

I hate to say we told you so, but we told you so. The `Deep Convection' mechanism was perfectly sound at the time Ellsaesser described them. It's taken all that time to vindicate them, and by the very scientist who led the original scientific attack on Ellsaesser. These latest findings also vindicate Richard Lindzen's `Iris Effect' which postulates a similar mechanism involving cirrus cloud formation.

Too Hot for Penguins?  (4-Feb-2002)

We have already had recent reports that the extended sea ice around Antarctica this southern summer caught many penguins colonies by surprise, forcing them to make longer marches to the open water. 

But, the industry has found a little corner of Antarctica where it was warmer than usual. According to Independent News, "the numbers of adelie penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula - the most northerly part of the frozen continent - are falling as global warming takes hold."

Hold it right there - as global warming takes hold?  We already have scientific papers to show that the Antarctic continent has been cooling over recent decades, with the West Antarctic sheet growing, not shrinking as previously believed (see story this page).

The reality - as distinct from the ideological hype - is that the Antarctic Peninsula, a mere 2% of the Antarctic continent has indeed been warming, by about 2 degrees, a warming not shared by the rest of the continent or the globe as a whole.  In other words, it is a local warming, not a global one. 

Local warmings happen all the time, have always happened, and always will happen.  

Or take this gem - "Global warming also threatens the food supplies of emperor penguins.  When there is less ice in the sea, populations of krill - a staple in their diet - fall."

Reality - Antarctic sea ice has been increasing slightly in the last 25 years - the writer was just guessing, making a wholly unsubstantiated assumption.

Wind Power Winded (1 Feb 2002)

News from Denmark , the world's largest producer of wind turbines, says that the government there is withdrawing the subsidies it had previously given to wind power. The new Danish government are in favour of cancelling 3 planned sea-based wind farms at a total value of 5 billion Danish Kroner. The wind farms were intended to be built outside Gedser rev, Omø stålgrunde and the island of Læsø.

Cancelling the sea-based wind farms, will save the Danish taxpayers 900 million Dkr per year. The numerous wind turbines in Denmark have distorted the market for electricity and raised Danish electricity prices to one of the highest in the world.  The minister of Business and industry, Bent Bendsen, is concerned about the social and industrial consequences if Denmark keeps building wind turbines as they have far exceeded the safety margin for such unsteady energy supplies. (This was brought home to Californians last year when their wind power investment proved insufficient to protect them from extensive power cuts).

The Danish producers of wind turbines are complaining it will seriously damage their exports due to the loss of economies of scale.  Since the sea based wind farms will not receive subsidies, no more will be built.  There are unconfirmed rumours that planned and existing land based mills will also lose their subsidies within the year.  Without those subsidies many mill owners could end up in financial difficulty.  All these facts and rumours are having an adverse effect on the market for wind turbines. The shares for Vestas, the world's biggest manufacturer of wind turbines have been falling since last year.  The latest Vestas share prince is Kr.184.50 compared with a previous high of Kr.512

The basic problem with the wind turbine industry is that it is dependent on taxpayer subsidies, in other words - politics. Without political patronage, wind power could not justify itself in strictly economic terms.  The industry has ridden the wave of that patronage for several years, the Danish company Vestas being the biggest beneficiary, but now reality is finally setting in - wind power is unreliable, very expensive, badly scars the landscape, and is only useful as a small supplementary source of power, nothing more.  Vestas has sold turbines into Australia, but the sales were only made possible by the political actions of governments to appease the environmental lobby, not by natural market forces.  (Investment analysis here)

Judging by the slide in share prices, investors seem to have woken up from the Green daydream and taken a more realistic assessment of the potential - or lack of - of wind power. It may be a repeat of the dot.com phenomenon, share prices driven to unrealistic levels by political hype - only to fall sharply once investors took a reality check.

(Intel. - J. van Tiggelen and Jyllandsposten, Denmark's biggest newspaper)

  12 Feb 2002 - It's Official - Reuters, 11 Feb 2002 - `Denmark to scrap subsidies for wind power by 2004'

COPENHAGEN - Denmark's new centre-right government will concentrate on competitiveness, instead of a green image and not subsidise installation of new wind turbines from 2004, Economy Minister Bendt Bendtsen said last week. 
Installation of wind turbines has depended heavily on subsidies, not only in Denmark, but all over the world.  "I'm of the opinion that Denmark shouldn't continue to subsidise installation of new wind turbines after 2003," Bendtsen said in an interview. He said electricity from wind turbines was too expensive, denting Danish firms' competitiveness.

Houghton on Sin (6 Feb 2002)

Sir John Houghton from Britain, is the co-chairman of the IPCC (Scientific Group 1, which assesses the science of climate change), and the lead author of the IPCC reports to governments on global warming. In this document, "The Christian Challenge of Caring for the Earth", Houghton equates environmental neglect (as he interprets it) to `sin'. He says -

"When thinking of the sin and evil which results from a broken relationship with God, Christians generally think of sin against people not against the environment. But if we take seriously the clear responsibility of care for the Earth given to humans by God, we are bound also to recognise that to fail in that task is not only a sin against nature but a sin against God. It has been suggested that this new category of sin should include activities that lead to 'species extinction, reduction in genetic diversity, pollution of the water, land and air, habitat destruction and disruption of sustainable life styles'. This new sense of sin could also include the sin of too much talk and too little action!"

So we get the picture. Those of us who live ordinary lives, drive a car to work, use a computer, watch TV, heat our homes, etc. are all `sinners' in the true religous sense. Even to debate such issues is a sin - only action (his action), is acceptable to his version of God.

Houghton goes on - "An important, in fact essential, religious message is that we do not have to carry the responsibility of looking after the Earth on our own. Our partner is no other than God Himself. The Genesis stories of the garden contain a beautiful description of this partnership when they speak of God 'walking in the garden in the cool of the day' (Genesis 3.8). We may wonder what God and Adam and Eve talked about on those evening walks."

From these remarks, it is reasonable to conclude that Houghton regards the Book of Genesis in literal fundamentalist terms. Does he also believe in a 6,000 year-old earth? If so, what of the ice ages and the dinosaurs? When and where exactly does he think God and Adam had `those evening walks'? How does he think humans multiplied from only two individuals - incest? It is problems like these which have persuaded most Christians that the Book of Genesis should be interpreted metaphorically, not literally.

The entire global warming scare has been built to a large degree on the views of this one man, wielding enormous influence over climate science, the IPCC, the media, academic journals, and world governments (particularly the British government). In exercising that power has he been motivated all along by something other than science or even environmentalism?

It is especially galling that climate skeptics have been pilloried and abused for years by environmentalists and IPCC scientists comparing them to `Creationists'. Yet it now appears from Houghton's article that the top man in the Global Warming industry may himself be a leading Creationist.

`Warnings from the Bush' (4 Feb 2002)

This is the title of a new `peer reviewed' report prepared by `Climate Action Network', an Australian environmentalist organisation. It was expensive, colourful, glossy, and the two `peers' who reviewed the report were both from biological, not climatic, sciences.  (The media called them `scientists' to hide the fact they were out of their field). The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) did their usual sycophantic coverage of the report (as they always do for environmentalist stories) on their TV news.

The claims of `peer review' were largely to present a scientific facade to what was essentially a hodgepodge of unsubstantiated claims. For example, "Mount Kosciuszko, Australia's highest mountain, will lose its alpine environment". That's it, stated as a categorical fact in an isolated paragraph in the summary. Only this weekend, I went bushwalking up to Tasmania's second highest mountain, Ben Lomond, and the alpine environment is very much alive and well with no discernible change to the tree line. Alpine shrubs were growing in abundance.

Or try this paragraph - "The damage caused by climate change will have a negative economic impact on the tourism, fishing, forestry and agricultural industries in regional Australia."   Will? No doubts, reservations, caveats? Such strident predictions allowing of no uncertainty is the stuff of blind ideology, not science.

Take the claim of negative economic impact - a graph by the Bureau of Meteorology and reprinted in the report showed Australia to be experiencing increased rainfall overall, particularly in the western half of the continent - in the world's driest inhabited continent. That's hardly consistent with `negative economic impact'.  We need more rain.

A negative impact on agriculture? A paper in Nature (v.387, p.484) by Neville Nichols of the Bureau of Meteorology showed that warmer temperatures in Australia during the 20th century resulted in increased wheat yields. In addition, biological evidence from all over the world shows all plant life responding positively to CO2 enrichment. So that's a `negative impact'?

Most of the claims throughout the lengthy document were of a similar type - sweeping claims undiluted by any expression of scientific uncertainty, citing references from mostly environmentalist literature.

One section was on `Solutions to Climate Change', the phrase itself breathlessly Canute-like. It is here that the lack of basic understanding of energy engineering shows up most clearly. Vague references are made to setting up `sustainable energy' in de-centralised installations under `community control', but it quickly becomes clear that the authors are thinking windmills - unreliable, highly expensive, and totally dependent on political patronage and subsidies. While denouncing existing power stations and their transmission lines as being `inefficient', they then proceed to gloss over the gross inefficiencies of these `renewables'. They claim transmission lines lose 20% of their energy due to line losses, but demonstrate little understanding of the much larger losses with the windmill schemes, which generate only low voltages and which result in much greater line losses metre for metre (The authors and their `peer reviewers' should read up on Ohm's Law and basic electrical theory to see the reason).

The final section was `Recommendations', in which they said - "Undertake major reform of the electricity industry to encourage greater uptake of renewable energy and a decline in the share of power provided by coal."   Again, the renewables are not exactly specified, just left hanging in the air as simplistic clichés avoiding the engineering realities.  But since Australian public and government opinion is firmly against Australia going nuclear, and since we have only limited hydro resources (climate change might improve that situation), and limited wind resources, the call for `renewable energy' is just empty rhetoric.

But it was all `peer reviewed', if indeed environmental biologists are even competent to peer review climate issues. 

Siberia Comes to Italy (1 Feb 2002)

These pictures were taken on the morning of 19th January 2002 at a place in the large plain of northern Italy about 40 km north-west of Bologna (30 metres above sea level).  Some snow fell there on 15th January. Three days with fog and below freezing temperatures (down to -11.2°C.) followed, so that fog could condense on trees and other objects.
(Thanks to Paolo Mezzasalma for the intel.)

Postscript - 2 Feb 2002 - Part of Venice Lagoon also froze over in early January with temperatures in the region going as low as -19°C. This is all the more remarkable given that the lagoon is sea water, meaning it can only freeze at -2°C, not the 0°C for fresh water. Source here (Thanks to Miceal O'Ronain for the intel.)

ENRON in Deep Green  (25 Jan 2002)

A feature article in today's Australian newspaper by Ray Evans, who has extensive experience in the resources industry, reveals the extent to which ENRON's commitment to the Kyoto Protocol had nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with company survival.

According to Evans, "Lay (Enron's CEO) saw Enron as not only making billions from sales of the natural gas, which was to displace coal as the preferred fuel under the Kyoto commitments. He also realised that, as a trader in carbon credits, Enron could realise hitherto unimagined wealth. Such credits, of course, would only become bankable pieces of paper if governments, particularly the US Government, established and policed a global policy of decarbonisation under which a global tax on carbon was to be enforced.

So, as the movement to establish the Kyoto protocol developed momentum, Lay built up alliances with the Greens. On December 12, 1997, just a day or so after the Kyoto meeting had concluded, an internal Enron memo asserted that the Kyoto protocol
"will do more to promote Enron's business than almost any other regulatory initiative outside of restructuring the energy and natural gas industries in Europe and the US". It described the protocol's endorsement of international trade in carbon credits as "another victory for us", adding "this agreement will be good for Enron stock". The memo claimed that Enron had "excellent credentials with many green interests" including Greenpeace. These groups, in turn, were described as referring to Enron "in glowing terms".".

The full article here

Life - An `Extreme' Ecological Response (25 Jan 2002)

A new study published in Science (Quayle et al., vol.295, 25 Jan 2002, p.645), using obsolete data, raises the spectre of global warming in the Antarctic. Actually, not exactly the Antarctic but a small group of islands northeast of the Antarctic Peninsula. The authors bemoaned the loss of ice cover over small fresh-water lakes resulting in "extreme ecological change" - i.e. less ice meant more life bursting out all over.  Shock, horror.

More interesting was their use of obsolete data when more recent data was readily available.  

Here is their presentation of summer temperatures (5-year means) as recorded at Signy (British) on the South Orkney Islands, with a map (below) of the area. Notice that the data ends in 1991.  A check of my usual source for station records indicates that Signy temperature data does indeed end in 1991.

But, there is an Argentinian scientific base (Orcadas) close by on the same island.  It too broke off temperature recording in 1991 - but resumed it again in 1996, giving an added 6-year picture all the way to 2001.

And what a different tale it tells!  The warming up to 1991, recorded at both stations, appears to have gone into reverse with a cooling in the last 6 years.

The authors and their peer reviewers could easily have checked Orcadas for those later years, but failed to do so.  Some science.  Some Science.

Cold Record in Italy  (24 Jan 2002)

A run of record cold weather in Italy  ended today.

In Bologna, Italy, minimum temperatures below 0°C have been recorded for 48 days in a row, an all-time record.  The previous record was set in 1963 with a mere 30 days. (Italian Weather Service)

Antarctic Ice Cap Growing (20 Jan 2002)

A new paper published in Science (Joughin & Tulaczyk, vol.295, p.476, 18 Jan 2002) reports that radar studies show the West Antarctic Sheet to be growing, not shrinking as previously believed. They measured a net growth of +26.8 gigatons of ice per year instead of the -20 gigatons shrinkage estimated from older studies.

The authors also found that the retreat of ice following the end of the last ice age has now all but ceased and that the current positive mass balance of this ice sheet (i.e. a sheet which is accumulating ice faster in its accumulation zone than it is losing it at its melt zone near the coast) may indeed represent a reversal of the ice retreat which has been going on for thousands of years since the end of the last ice age.  With accumulating ice in spite of `global warming' predictions, there is now little chance of the West Antarctic ice sheet collapsing, contrary to some of the scare stories being peddled by environmentalists.  BBC story here.

This new finding comes on the heels of another Antarctic study published a week ago in Nature to show that the Antarctic continent has been cooling in recent decades instead of warming as predicted by the climate models and basic greenhouse theory.   Taken together, these two studies show there is something seriously wrong with current theory and the models which embody that theory.

Antarctic Cooling in a `Warming' World   (15 Jan 2002)

A new paper in Nature by no less than 13 authors has been reported widely in the world's media. It begins - " Climate models generally predict amplified warming in polar regions".  This is the one consistent feature of all the climate models and of the basic theory about greenhouse warming itself - the polar regions take the brunt of the warming.  However, on the ground, that has not been happening.  Instead of warming, the Antarctic continent has been cooling over the last 35 years in complete defiance of what the theory says should happen.   The authors continue - " our spatial analysis of Antarctic meteorological data demonstrates a net cooling on the Antarctic continent between 1966 and 2000, particularly during summer and autumn The McMurdo Dry Valleys have cooled by 0.7 °C per decade between 1986 and 2000, with similar pronounced seasonal trends." 

None of this is news to the climatological community as the weather station records from the Antarctic continent have been readily available to anyone.  (This website has temperature graphs from many such stations in the `What the Stations Say' page).  What is new is that it is only now that the general public are being informed via the journals and the media. The IPCC and the environmentalists have for years kept the public focus only on a tiny area of the Antarctic, the Antarctic Peninsula, a mere 2% of the total area of the continent.  That little area has been warming, mainly due to its interaction with the Southern Ocean, but the other massive 98% of the continent has been cooling, something the  greenhouse industry has carefully ignored.  Now it has been finally made public via Nature and the media outlets which quickly picked up the story.

One consequence of this cooling has been loss of biological productivity, with soil invertebrates declining by 10% annually. The authors of the paper then laid down a challenge to the climate models which predict polar warming, not the cooling we have actually had -  " Continental Antarctic cooling, especially the seasonality of cooling, poses challenges to models of climate and ecosystem change."

The greenhouse modellers have a lot of explaining to do before they can expect whole societies to undergo an economically impoverishing  culture shift in deference to a theory which is so patently wrong on one of its key pillars.

El Nino is Coming Back ! (13 Jan 2002)

That's what the NOAA is now saying in a press release dated 10th January. They predict that early Spring should see the start of El Niño, based on already-observed warming of the waters of the Central Pacific, a precursor to the onset of a full El Niño.  NOAA are not prepared to predict the intensity of the event at this time, but they have beaten all the other weather bureaus to be the first to call the next El Niño.

Well, Not exactly the first.  This website published a ground-breaking paper by Dr Theodor Landscheidt back in 1998 in which he predicted back then that the next El Niño would peak in late 2002, give or take a few months. His prediction was based on correlating solar motion cycles with the onset of El Niño and La Niña events.  His first prediction, that the 1999 La Niña would last longer than predicted by NOAA proved spot-on, but it was his second prediction about the next El Niño which was the most anticipated outcome.

He predicted this El Niño 4 years ahead of time.

If as we expected all along, and now expected by NOAA, Dr Landscheidts prediction comes good, the climatological community will be obliged to acknowledge the profound impact the sun has on global climate, and to acknowledge the very first model which has the capacity to predict ENSO events, not months ahead of time, but YEARS ahead. This will have profound implications for agriculture and the insurance industry.

San Fernando de Apure, Venezuela

San Fernando de Apure is a small town in the Orinoco River Basin of central Venezuela, about 200 miles south of the capital, Caracas.  It is typical of many of the rural and semi-rural weather stations which make up the dataset for the global surface record, the accuracy of which is so disputed.

From the graph, we can see why.  It is badly fractured.  The annual average since 1950 has three breaks in it, all of them since 1980.  The record suggests a warming of about half a degree, but is that reliable? Or even true?

Here we see the post-1980 monthly data from San Fernando de Apure from which the annual average is calculated by GISS.  

From it, we can see that the fracturing of data is much worse than the annual graph would suggest.  Of the 22 years of record, 5 are missing completely due to absence of adequate monthly data. But of the remaining 17, no less than 9 years are shown with an annual average based on incomplete monthly data, typically with 3 months missing.  

The worst years were 1989 and 1994 where 5 months are missing, and yet GISS calculated an annual average anyway, an average which duly passed its way into the big statistical mix we call `global mean temperature'.

Of the 22-year record, only 8 years have averages based on a full set of 12 months data.  In short, this is an abysmal kind of record upon which to claim anything about climate trends, yet this is typical of developing country data, not the exception.  The fact that 9 of the 17 years reported are each calculated with several months missing must surely invalidate the annual averages of those 9 years. 

Apart from the serious fracturing of the above data, the question must also be asked as to what use is the monthly data which does get recorded.  The station is clearly not being managed or resourced properly while the large data gap in the early 1990s may indicate site moves or instrument problems or personnel problems.  In other words, the mere existence of such serious fracturing of data over 22 years suggests that the station itself is worthless as far as climate change study is concerned.  If so, most other `third world' weather stations would be equally worthless.

But the IPCC prefers this kind of station data to the satellite temperature record which is both accurate, consistent and continuous.  Is that preference due to the stronger `warming' provided by the San Fernando de Apure's of this world compared with the lack of warming measured by the satellites?

Update 21 Jan 2002

Bob Watson of the IPCC, speaking before an Australian parliamentary committee had this to say about station records

"the scientists who analyse these records look very carefully to try to make sure that not only are the individual sites well calibrated but also that they can subtract out the so-called urban heat island effect. What gives one some confidence that they have done fairly well is that the trends they are seeing in those thermometers in cities, once they have subtracted the urban heat island effect, are the same as those that we are now seeing in the larger scene outside of the cities."

Was this a serious statement of fact or just reassuring spin?  In the case of San Fernando de Apure, this is more than a merely academic point as it is typical of the semi-rural stations used to calibrate the trends measured at the larger cities where urbanisation is likely to skew the record more severely.

GISS shows San Fernando de Apure to have a population of 39,000 - large enough to have a heat island effect, but not excessively so.  But that population figure was based on 1971 figures.  Today, the population is listed by Web Gazeteer as 111,600 or nearly three times larger than 1971. That explosive urban growth will of course impact significantly on its post-1971 temperature record.

Would it be too much to ask `the scientists who analyse these records very carefully' to get their population figures up to date before they start to apply adjustments for urbanisation?  The latest data on population is readily available on the net and there is no excuse for GISS or other greenhouse institutions to be using outdated population figures when assessing urbanisation effects.  This problem does not just affect the individual stations themselves, but can also affect neighbouring urban stations.  This can happen if the urban data is adjusted according to trends at a `rural neighbour' which is itself concealing an urban warming due to the failure of GISS to update the population figures properly.

For that adjustment technique to be valid, the `rural neighbour' must itself be genuinely rural, or at least its population history known.  To be using 30-year-old population figures when updated figures are readily available is plain sloppy and does not justify Watson's `confidence that they have done fairly well'.  They haven't done well at all - in fact they have done very badly and have done a disservice to the public in so doing.

(Thanks to Simon Scott for the intel.)

A `Trace' of Snow in Butte, Montana  (4 Jan 2002)

When does a dump of snow become merely a `trace' of snow?  As this article by Tony Bergantino of the Office of the Wyoming State Climatologist shows, the `surface record' of anything is not always what it seems.  The linked article is both self-explanatory and highly disturbing for the credibility of the Historical Climate Network.

The Climate Record:    What Does it Mean?

Models Again  (9 Jan 2002)

A new paper in Science (Forest et al. Science v.295, 4 Jan 2002, p.113) adopts an interesting approach toward climate models by taking observed historical data and then tweaking climate model parameters until they get a model output which resembles the observed record.

In theory, the idea sounds a good one - anchoring the models to known observations so that their future projections at least have some grasp on reality. Forest et al. use the surface temperature record from CRU and the ocean temperatures reported by Levitus et al. (Science v.287, 24 March 2000, p.2225) as their observational baseline. Their results broadly supported the claims of the IPCC, although they suggest that the IPCC has overstated the cooling effect of aerosols on historical climate, aerosol cooling being a common excuse to explain away the lack of warming which models say should have happened.

But just how reliable are those observations? This is the paper's prime weakness, as any trend errors in the observations invalidate the whole exercise. In the case of the CRU temperature record, this is proven to be flawed as it fails to track the satellite-measured trend of lower troposphere temperature. CRU shows a strong warming in the last 23 years, but the satellites show only a very slight one. Failure to correct urbanisation errors properly  along with questionable data from non-OECD countries are the probable reasons for the flaws in the CRU record.

As to the Levitus et al. report on ocean temperatures, this is strongly subject to `end date distortion' as the starting year for that record was 1948, the early part of a particularly cold period which ended around 1976. The recovery in temperatures after 1976 may have merely restored the oceans to their pre-1940 levels. Levitus et al. clearly said in their own paper - "We cannot partition the observed warming to an anthropogenic component or a component associated with natural variability." But small print caveats like that tend to get ignored in follow-up studies.

Finally, Forest et al. further compromised their results by deliberately excluding 1962, 1963 and 1992 from their comparisons because of the volcanoes of those years cooling the climate. In other words, they statistically `warmed' the observed record by excluding three known cool years.

Excluding volcanoes in this way has become a popular exercise to `prove' global warming, but it is plain bad science to do so. This is because our climate is a product of many natural forcings - including volcanoes, which occur about once per decade. This makes them an integral part of the climatic background, especially when looking for statistical trends. Banish volcanoes and the climate will statistically warm in the absence of any other forcings, but it is a phony warming created out of the volcano-purged statistical averages, not a real warming over the long term.

In summary, Forest et al. had an interesting idea, but executed it badly. At the very least they could have done the same exercise using the 23-year satellite temperature record and compare it with the results from the other datasets.

2002 Starts as 2001 Ends (6 Jan 2002)

The news of blizzards, cold records being broken, freeze-ups, and cold snaps in what should be warmer locales has become so overwhelming, it is impossible to report them all.  So help yourself to these media reports -

"Southern U.S. Chill Extends as Far South as Miami" from Yahoo Daily News
"Freak Winter Storm Blankets Athens, Central Greece" from Yahoo Daily News
"Storm Brings Rare Snow to Balkans" from Yahoo Daily News
Report of Severe Weather in Turkey from Yahoo Daily News
"Carolinas regaining power after storm" from CNN
"Ten Freeze to Death in Russia, Cold Grips C.Europe" from Yahoo Daily News
"Heavy Snow Blankets Central Japan" from Yahoo Daily News
"Blizzard disrupts traffic across central Japan" from the Japan Times
"Heavy snow hinders travel" from Asahi Shimbun (Japan)
"Winter Storm That Killed Ten in the Southern U.S. Begins to Taper" from Yahoo Daily News
"Southern Snow, Ice Creates Havoc" from Yahoo Daily News
"Rare Winter Storm Leaving South" from Yahoo Daily News
"Winter storm blows up East Coast" from CNN
"Polish Army Tapped to Clear Snow" from Yahoo Daily News, also this.
"Ice turns back Shackleton ship" from the BBC
"Sun fails to Burn off a Cool Record" from the Melbourne Age

Global warming theory promised us all that winters would be milder and summers warmer.  So much for theories.
(Thanks to Miceal O'Ronain for much of the intel.)

British Iced out of the Antarctic   (7 Jan 2001)

According to the BBC, it is not only the Australian Antarctic supply vessels which are having a drama with sea ice, but the British too are being disrupted by sea ice on the other side of the Antarctic continent.

In other words, the sea ice problem this year is not specific to one location, but affects most of the seas surrounding the Antarctic.

The British Antarctic Survey ship, the Ernest Shackleton, has been forced to turn back from Antarctica after being blocked by ice for two weeks. It was on route to the British base at Halley Bay, but was forced to turn back when it was still 200 nautical miles from Halley.

The British Government is perhaps the most strident promoter of the Kyoto Protocol and the global warming theory which underpins it.

`Polar Bird' Trapped Again (24 Dec 2001)

A year ago, the Australian Antarctic supply vessel Polar Bird got trapped twice for days on end in tight pack ice. Now it's happened again this year,  the "second warmest year on record" (sic). The ship was on route from Davis to Mawson and has been trapped for about a week in Sandefjord Bay near Davis (map) in `10/10ths close and rafted pack ice'. A day ago, "blizzard conditions overnight led to the main engine being restarted to relieve pressure on the hull." This incident suggests sea ice is even more persistent than last year. Polar Bird may have to be released by the larger Aurora Australis, currently located further east at Casey Station.

Update 14th Jan - After nearly a month trapped in Antarctic sea ice, Polar Bird is finally free and sailing in open water, bound for Hobart, Tasmania.  She came clear of the ice at 0300 local time today.

The incident raises two issues.  The first is that there appears to be no diminution of sea ice around the Antarctic in spite of what the modellers say about `global warming', particularly as this is the second year in a row that Polar Bird has got into this predicament.  New scientific evidence just published in Nature now confirms there has been a long-term net cooling of the Antarctic continent since the middle of the 20th century, contrary to model predictions.   The second is that Polar Bird is proving to be an expensive white elephant to the Australian taxpayer as this is now the third such incident, there being two previous trappings like this last summer.  To keep a ship idle for a whole month with large numbers of people on board is costly in terms of salaries, materials, and the cost of the ship itself.

Previous Updates here

Japan Goes Cold on Kyoto (4 Jan 2002)

The latest reports out of Japan suggests the government there has abandoned the Kyoto Protocol, in spite of its emotional attachment to it (having been instrumental in brokering the original protocol in their ancient capital). This has been prompted largely by the decade-long stagnation in the Japanese economy, resulting in growing unemployment and lack of economic growth.  According to the reports, Japanese CO2 emissions are already 17% over their 1990 level, with a protocol commitment for a 6% cut on that 1990 level.  To enforce such a cut now would be to effectively put the entire Japanese economy into crash reverse - and during a recession. (See also BBC report here)

An Australian government study a few years ago clearly demonstrated that the Japanese economy would be a big loser under the Kyoto Protocol, but political uncertainty and instability in Japan has delayed recognition of the obvious - that Japan simply cannot afford Kyoto.  This is especially so given the protocol's 1990 reference year - a key  demand by the European Union to suit their economic interests, but one which disadvantages everyone else.  It was the one  demand that the E.U. would not compromise over, and it now seems it will cost them the protocol itself.

With the USA, Australia, and now Japan, having woken up from the Alice in Wonderland world of Kyoto economics, this leaves only the E.U. as a last-ditch promoter of the Kyoto Protocol.  How enthusiastic will they be if they are now forced to abandon 1990 as the emissions reference year?  That's the minimum price it will cost to exhume the protocol.

Without the US, Australia and Japan, there can be no protocol as there would be insufficient support to bring it into legal existence. The champagne-popping at Kyoto talkfests in Bonn and Marrakech was clearly premature.

2001 in Australia  (3 Jan 2002)

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has just released its climate summary for 2001 - the world's "2nd warmest year on record".  However, it was not 2nd warmest in Australia.

The average temperature over Australia during 2001 was 0.09°C below the 1961-90 average.

Most of eastern Australia was about average, the main cooling being in the centre and west of the continent. Far from being the "2nd warmest" as claimed for the globe by CRU et al., 2001 in Australia only ranks about 35th since 1910.  And Australia is a very big country, as big as the continental USA, so it's climate trends are not insignificant in the global context (unlike most European countries like Britain which are only minnows, climatically speaking, due to their small area).

Rainfall has continued its upward trend. Preliminary data indicates that the total rainfall for 2001, averaged across Australia was 553mm. This  compared with the long-term average of 457mm. This continues to contradict claims by many climate modellers that Australia would dry out under global warming.

Happy New Year for the Devil (3 Jan 2002)

The proposal to conduct dissection experiments on wild Tasmanian Devils by the University of Melbourne (as reported here) has today been rejected by the Tasmanian Government. The proposal called for the killing of up to 30 devils and their foetuses to study their reproductive systems.  As a result of adverse public reaction, both from within Tasmania and from the mainland and overseas, the Government has decided that the research proposal merely amounted to "research for research's sake" and was therefore unacceptable in respect of a unique animal species which enjoys full protection status within this island state. Tasmanian Devils may be piranhas on four legs, but we love them anyway.

Thanks to all those visitors who emailed the Tasmanian Government in response to the story published here, as it was both the number and origins of the public responses which influenced the decision to reject the proposal.


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