`Stop Press' Stories

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For stories June to September 2002, see below

Munich Snow   (28 Sep 02)
Greening Desert    (20 Sep 02)
Give Up Your Car !  (18 Sept 02)
Witchcraft   (20 Sep 02)
In 1905 ... (11 Sept 02)
To Russia With Love     (14 Sept 02)
The Rule of Lawyers    (9 Sep 02)
Future Shock for Britain  (7 Sep 02)
BassLink (5 Sept 02)
Greens Sue U.S. Government (31 Aug 02)
Hot in Tokyo   (29 Aug 02)
A `Useful' Catastrophe  ... or Two    (29 Aug 02)
Greenpeace Caught Out   (21 Aug 02)
Meacher on `Spin'   (21 Aug 02)
Australia and Kyoto    (21 Aug 02)
Australian Economists Speaking Out Against the Kyoto Protocol  (19 Aug 02)
South Pacific Forum (16 Aug 02)
Johannesburg Earth Summit  (25 Aug 02)
Meacher on El Niño   (17 Aug 02)
Asian Haze    (16 Aug 02)
Floods    (16 Aug 02)
`An Opportunity Arose ...' (11 Aug 02)
NYT and Alaska   (5 Aug 02)
Giant Squid Taking Over the World   (3 Aug 02)
"World Heads for Warmest Year Yet" ?  (3 Aug 02)
Credit Where Credit is NOT Due (2 Aug 02)
ScramJet   (30 Jul 02)
Greens Rebound   (20 July 02)
NYT Retracts -  Sort of... (15 Jul 02)
CSIRO on Sea Levels   (15 July 02)
Caught Red-Handed !   (7 July 2002)
In Memoriam - Peter Toynbee, New Zealand (10 July 02)
Models Again Under a Cloud (29 June 02)
Flower Power   (29 June 02)
Having it Both Ways (24 June 02)
Latest CO2 (23 June 02)
NYT Foot in Mouth - Again ! (18 June 02)
Records Tumble  (18 June 02)
The Weather Channel   (18 June 02)
I'm Back!    (16 June 2002)

Munich Snow   (28 Sep 02)

On 24th September,  snow fell in the Munich area of Germany. According to the Times of London, this is the first time that snow has fallen there, in September, since 1442. (Story).

(However, one of my regular correspondents reports that the German weather service emailed him to say it also snowed briefly in Munich in 1931 and 1954.)

This is consistent with the recent flooding incidents where low pressure systems were tracking further south than normal, an indicator of cooling rather than warming.

Greening Desert    (20 Sep 02)

According to a new report in New Scientist, the mighty Sahara Desert is receding (also reported by the BBC).  This latest example of climate change, cutting a green swathe right across what was previously arid parts of Africa has been going on since the mid 1980s and reverses the desertification trend which was active during the 1960s and 1970s.  Yet only a few weeks ago, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the parent body of the IPCC, claimed at the Johannesburg summit that over 45% of Africa was currently in the grip of desertification, with the Sahel worst affected. Now we find that claim was manifestly false, since it is precisely the Sahel region which is benefiting most from the greening.

The Sahara previously expanded south during a cool period globally, and is now retreating  again during a warmer period, an object lesson in the perils of cooler climate. 

A paper in Nature (Petit et al., v.399, p.429, 3 June 1999) presented Antarctic ice core data covering the last four ice ages, and in each one there was a big increase in dust deposits in the ice during those ice ages, carried there from thousands of miles away.  This dust could only be evidence of extreme aridity elsewhere in the world during these cold periods.  Once each ice age ended, the dust content fell to extremely low levels, indicating that vegetation was being re-established in previously arid regions.  In other words, `warm' equates to greening, `cool' equates to aridity. 

This latest evidence of the greening desert is good news for the people of the region who have borne more than their fair share of bad luck when it comes to climate.

Strangely absent from this news is any attribution that the change in Saharan climate might be human-induced a la `global warming' or even CO2 fertilisation.  The reason for this is quite simple - all human-induced climate change must be bad by definition.  If anything good happens, such as this greening of the desert, then it must be due to some other cause.  We don't want to confuse the `policymakers' do we?

Give Up Your Car !  (18 Sept 02)

According to the BBC ("UK Faces 'Global Warming Disaster' - 15 Sept 02"), a new report by the British Energy Savings Trust, commissioned by the British government, warns of devastating floods as global warming takes hold. They also warn that 180,000 businesses, 1.8 million homes, and 61% of grade 1 land in England & Wales is at risk, at a total cost of £222 billion.  They estimate that London would be especially hard-hit due to sea incursions.

Quite how they could calculate such an exact number as £222 billion beggars belief, given the scale of the catastrophe they are imagining.  £200 billion sounds too much like a wild guess, so they must have made it  £222 billion in order for it to sound more credible, more calculated.  The wild guess would have been more believable as damage on that scale could only be valued in very round numbers anyway.

The Trust routinely blamed recent and future floods on global warming, even though the very high population density of Britain (60 million people in an area no bigger than a medium-sized US state) and the continued building of housing developments and motorways, must progressively increase water runoff during periods of heavy rain.  In other words, the less land there is for rainfall to be absorbed into the ground, the greater is the tendency for increased runoff to result in flooding.  This is particularly applicable to the huge built-up area of London.

If the British government wants to address flooding issues, river dynamics should be the first problem to be dealt with.  The Trust also blames rising sea levels for some of these problems, but no-one seems to have told the Trust that southern Britain is slowly sinking due to Post Glacial Rebound, something for which there is no solution other than Dutch ones of enhanced sea defences.  The Kyoto Protocol will not prevent incursion by the sea by even a single millimetre in southern Britain.  Only sea walls and dykes can do that.  In other words, civil engineering, not social engineering, is the best solution to flooding problems. 

But the most sweeping demand the Energy Savings Trust makes is to call for Britons to `abandon their cars'.  They want the government to `encourage' this outcome.  We all know by now what that means - crippling taxes against car ownership, and ballooning bureaucracy to administer the `encouragement' programme.  As always with such programmes, it is the lowest income groups who would suffer most as they would bear the brunt of such taxes.

This report is an object lesson for Canadians who are still deciding whether or not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.  It is but the thin end of the wedge toward depriving ordinary citizens of their hard-won mobility.  The future agenda beyond the immediate Kyoto period (which expires in 2012) is clearly laid out by this new proposal from Britain.

Witchcraft (20 Sep 02)

It's not often a historian gets involved in climate change issues, but an intriguing paper by Wolfgang Behringer of the University of York titled "Climatic Change and Witch-Hunting"  associates the persecution of witches in Europe during the Middle Ages with the deterioration in climate known as the `Little Ice Age'.

According to Behringer, - "The Age of Witch-Hunting thus seems pretty congruent with the era of the Little Ice Age. The peaks of the persecution coincide with the critical points of climatic deterioration."

As a historian, the reality of the Little Ice Age was not an issue for Behringer. Presumably he had never heard of the IPCC's denial of it, or the `Hockey Stick'.   
(Thanks to Timo Hämeranta for the intel.)

In 1905 ... (11 Sept 02)

In 1905, a July heat wave in New York killed around 100 people.
In 1905, a yellow fever epidemic afflicted New Orleans, and reached as far north as Indiana. Yellow fever is a tropical disease.
In 1905, there were severe summer storms and flooding in Ireland.
In 1905, on 1st September, the town of Algonquin, Illinois, recorded its all time highest temperature either before or since, - 117°F.
In 1905, the Artic sea ice had receded so far that explorer Roald Amundsen was able to traverse the Northwest Passage in a ship in uncharted waters, the first person to do so.
In 1905, CO2 and other greenhouse gases were at or near their pre-industrial level.

1905 and 2002 do share one unique thing in common. Both are El Niño years, and both are solar maximum years. The conjunction of El Niño and Solar Maximum (both tending to warm the planet) is rare, and 1905 was the last such occasion until this year.

More 1905 weather events here

Just something to think about when reading the next weather headline.

To Russia With Love     (14 Sept 02)

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), is a key economic modelling organisation, the Australian government being its main client.  After the COP7 climate conference in Marrakech, ABARE undertook an analysis of the economic implications for Australia of the Kyoto Protocol, using three possible scenarios.

The first scenario modelled what would happen economically if Australia joined in the Kyoto process, but without  U.S. participation as per current US policy.  On page 9 of the report, it becomes quite clear why Russia was so quick to announce at Johannesburg that they would ratify the protocol.

According to the analysis, Russia stands to gain $8.1 billion in carbon quota purchases from the West by 2015.

And who would pay this undeserved largesse?

European Union
Nil  (they are not in the Protocol)
$4.06 billion
$2.05 billion
$1.05 billion
$0.53 billion

Had the USA remained part of the protocol, their contribution would be about $15 billion, based on a population comparison with Canada.  The other two scenarios assumed non-participation by Australia.

Even at $532 million, the Australian government thinks it's just not worth it and has decided to join the USA in not ratifying the protocol.  However, Canada is still in the process of deciding whether to ratify or not.  Based on ABARE's analysis for the Australian government, it is clear that the protocol would result in a massive wealth transfer from Canada to Russia - with nothing in return other than some worthless `carbon credits'.    

Perhaps the Russian politicians will be able to ride around in their imported Mercedes limousines with the following message emblazoned along the sides of the cars - `From Canada with Love'.

The Rule of Lawyers    (9 Sep 02)

One of the less publicised events at the recent Johannesburg `summit' was a signed declaration by 127 senior judges from over 60 countries, with the grandiose title `Johannesburg Principles on the Role of Law and Sustainable Development'.

The judges included Lord Woolfe, (Britain's Lord Chief Justice), and Chief Justice Clifford Wallace of the US Court of Appeals.  Woolfe is reportedly seeking to sign up all the chief justices of western Europe to the `principles'.

The declaration basically commits the judges to become shills for the environmental movement when it comes to making judicial decisions.

The US Constitution reserves the making of treaties to the President of the United States acting with the `advice and consent' of the Senate.  It does not permit the making of international agreements by its judicial officers outside the ambit of the President and Senate.

In this regard, Wallace has exceeded his authority and raises questions as to conflict of interest on his part in the event he has to hear appeals involving environmental issues.  The fact he has signed this compact  with foreign judges could provide sufficient grounds for his disqualification from such cases.

In all western democracies, it is the role of judges to act impartially and interpret the law as it exists.  They have no mandate to make their own policies, let alone enforce them, or make binding compacts with foreign judges outside the legal framework of their own jurisdictions.

To become so manifestly partisan as these `principles' imply, would result in public loss of confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary.

We do need the Rule of Law. We don't need the Rule of Lawyers.

Future Shock for Britain  (7 Sep 02)

A premonition of what the Kyoto Protocol will be like in the future for those developed countries foolish enough to ratify it, is now being played out in Britain.

Britain's biggest electricity generating company, British Energy,  is facing insolvency unless immediate financial help from the British government is forthcoming (see BBC story).  It made a loss of £518 million in its latest annual accounts and is reported to be heavily in debt.  What's worse is that British Energy runs eight nuclear power stations, the primary means by which the European Union expects to meet their greenhouse gas targets - by substituting nuclear power for fossil fuels.

Part of the problem for British Energy is that the electricity market in Britain has become more competitive, with the more expensive nuclear option at a cost disadvantage, while the British government's `Climate Levy' has proved to be an albatross around the neck of industry.  What is particularly galling for British Energy is that they too have to pay that levy even though they do not emit greenhouse gases.

The government is now considering exempting British Energy from the controversial `Climate Levy', a blanket tax designed to fund a futile fight against `climate change'.  If they do grant the exemption, it won't be long before other industries in trouble start calling round to No.10, demanding the same favoured treatment.  Once the Kyoto Protocol starts to take effect in Europe, we can expect many more such disruptions to normal economic activity, an object lesson for other developed countries like the USA, Canada, and Australia, to steer well clear of Kyoto.  It will do much harm to otherwise healthy economies, swell unemployment, and do absolutely nothing for the climate.

BassLink (5 Sept 02)

After all the self-righteous grandstanding by environmental groups and third world dictators in Johannesburg, the world should be aware of a gross example of Green hypocrisy here in Australia, one which beggars belief, given their trumpeted support for `renewable energy' and crocodile tears over `climate change'.

Here in Tasmania, 100% of our electric power comes from hydro, a unique system built up over many decades. `The Hydro' (as we call it) is now building wind farms in north-western Tasmania to supplement the hydro-based power, mainly because our island lies right in the path of the `Roaring Forties' with plenty of wind to power the turbines most of the time. With hydro and wind, Tasmania is unique in having a large surplus of renewable energy, both developed and potential.

All our power is renewable - but no thanks to the Greens. Historically, they fought tooth and nail over every hydro scheme that was built here. But now, in an era of alleged `climate change', the obvious step would be to share that renewable energy resource with our neighbour state across the sea - Victoria, which mostly uses coal for power. This means big boilers have to be kept fired up to full capacity there just to meet peak loads. How much more efficient and saving in greenhouse gas emissions if the Victorians could make do with a lower base-load level (therefore less CO2 emissions) and get their peak needs met by someone in Tasmania simply turning a water valve on and off. Meanwhile, how much more efficient it would be for Tasmania to conserve its hydro resource during the dry summer and simply share in some of the surplus base load power produced by the Victorians.

To achieve that, and save on lots of CO2 emissions, we need an undersea electricity cable across Bass Strait between Tasmania and Victoria -
`BassLink'.  And guess who is fighting tooth and nail to have BassLink stopped? You guessed it - the Greens. One spurious and discredited argument after another has been used, but they still keep stirring up opposition to it. When the cable goes ashore in Victoria, it will need overhead transmission lines for about 50 miles across country to link up to the main Victorian grid. That too is being bitterly opposed - because the transmission lines will be `unsightly'. To put them underground would involve unacceptable energy wastage due to the effect of `Ohm's Law'  (a basic law of physics that even the Greens cannot change). Yet apparently, hundreds of wind turbines on pristine coasts all over the world are enthusiastically supported by these supposed lovers of landscape, turbines which look much more unsightly to such coasts than some pylons running over fairly ordinary farming land.

BassLink will happen, but let no-one delude themselves into thinking that Greens really care about `climate change', the environment, or for people. Real environmentalists would embrace BassLink with open arms, but not our Greens. Their goal appears to be impoverishment for millions of people, with posturings of environmental concern being merely the cynical means to achieve that darker goal.

That is why they support wind turbines on pristine coasts, but oppose transmission lines across fairly ordinary countryside. That's why they support `renewable energy' but oppose the means to produce or even deliver that energy. Such policy positions are so contradictory that one can only assume that the real policy is something very, very different and much more far-reaching - something they are not even prepared to admit to in public. They are purists and fundamentalists, similar in many ways to the Taliban. Like the Taliban, the real ambition of the Greens is to take us all back to the Middle Ages and beyond. Only that interpretation can explain their contradictory and duplicitous behaviour.

BassLink Update   (13 Sept 02)

Following on the recent BassLink story, the Victorian government today announced the approval of the Basslink electricity project.  This will now enable the mainland of Australia to benefit from the surplus of renewable energy from Tasmania.  It's a big win for the environment, but the environmentalists are predictably furious.

Greens Sue U.S. Government (31 Aug 02)

As of 26th August this year, 2002, two foreign aid agencies of the U.S. Government are being sued by a coalition of three plaintiffs - Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the City of Boulder, Colorado, all three plaintiffs alleging that they "suffer and will suffer the impacts of climate change."

Full details here         Also, see local comment on City of Boulder participation here

Hot in Tokyo   (29 Aug 02)

A BBC news report "Feeling the Heat in Tokyo", tells of rising temperatures in Tokyo, Japan, all caused by the urban heat island effect on a growing city.  It's got so bad there that summer temperatures have been regularly soaring into the high 30's celsius (around 100°F).

The cause is partly all the concrete attracting the sun's heat, the pumping of hot air into the city atmosphere by air conditioner units, and the millions of vehicles on the city roads.

Exotic solutions are suggested - gardens on tops of buildings, more green spaces, even cold pipes under the ground.

But the Tokyo crisis demonstrates that the urban heat island is a real distortion factor on surface temperature data, and is inadequately corrected for by climatic research institutions.

Most of what is claimed to be `global warming' is actually  localised urban warming having a bias effect on more neutral temperature trends from less urbanised weather stations.

A `Useful' Catastrophe  ... or Two    (29 Aug 02)

A recent editorial in Science titled `Communicating Climate Change' (v.297, p.737, 2 Aug 02), opened with the false claim that "the science itself is not in doubt". They know better than to make such an absurd and dishonest claim.

Instead they put down the resistance of the public to their impoverishing policies on climate to `problems of communication', the standard excuse of people who cannot bear to admit failure.

But the glee with which the greenhouse industry promotes each and every extreme weather event as portents to `global warming' is explainable by this chilling remark at the conclusion to the editorial -

"Communicating the fact of climate change is a complex process involving political leadership, science, public pressure, and even perhaps a useful catastrophe or two to illuminate the issues."

So the next killer flood or heat wave or tornado or killer hurricane is, according to Science, a `useful catastrophe' - to be perversely welcomed as a way to `illuminate the issues'.  There is something very sick about anyone who could regard a human catastrophe, or two of them, as `useful'.

Greenpeace Caught Out   (21 Aug 02)

A recent Greenpeace exposé on a glacier on the island of Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean, claiming it to have receded dramatically due to global warming, has proved to be a complete beat-up - as is usual for Greenpeace whose economy with the truth is legendary.

Scientists on Svalbard itself dismiss the entire story as false.  The glacier retreated alright - 80 years ago!

GreenPeace falsely represented this event as a recent occurrence.

Meacher on `Spin'   (21 Aug 02)

Michael Meacher, Britain's Minister for the Environment, talking to the Sunday Times in response to a question about his government's concentration on `spin' and `trivia' -

"As you well know we are not engaged in spin any more."

Which means of course, they were up to their armpits in it prior to the Sunday Times interview, timed to coincide with the Johannesburg Earth Summit.

This begs the question as to whether Meacher really means it this time or is still dishing out spin with his claim that he not engaged in spin anymore.

Etc. etc. etc.

Australia and Kyoto    (21 Aug 02)

Green organisations are by now hyperventilating over the Australian government's refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.  Greenpeace even did one of their usual publicity stunts to voice their disapproval.

GreenPeace melodramatics aside, there is a real debate going on within Australia about the Kyoto issue and `Online Opinion', a discussion based website is hosting 5 articles on the issue, followed by reader debate.

One of these articles is by yours truly -

 "Australia ratifies the Kyoto Protocol - and implements it how, exactly?" 

and I discuss several reasons why Kyoto would be highly damaging to Australia.

South Pacific Forum (16 Aug 02)

This week, Australia's Prime Minister, John Howard, attending the South Pacific Forum (an annual meeting of all South Pacific countries), was confronted by the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, making the usual false claim that his country was sinking under the waves due to `rising sea levels'. He held Australia somehow responsible, even though Australia only accounts for 1.5% of the world total emissions. Howard looked bemused, no doubt briefed by his own officials that sea level data collected by Australian tide gauges actually on Tuvalu show no sea level rise there. Indeed, this year the sea level will be falling due to the current El Niño (as the chart below shows, sea level always falls temporarily in the south-eastern Pacific during an El Niño). Tuvalu's problem with the sea is land misuse resulting in erosion. Greenhouse gases provides the Tuvalu government a convenient pretext to deflect responsibility for a mess entirely of their own making

Here's a sea level chart from the tide gauge at Funafuti Atoll, Tuvalu  As this and many other Pacific tide gauges show, the alarmist claims of recent sea level rise made by the IPCC are quite false.  This data could well be used as evidence in court should the Tuvalu government choose to sue the United States and Australia for causing a non-existent sea level rise.  There are numerous reports of Pacific island governments making unsubstantiated claims to the United Nations and World Bank about their sea levels as a lever to extract more aid money from western nations like the U.S. and Australia.

Postscript - 29 Aug 02

At the Johannesburg summit, Tuvalu has now threatened to undertake legal action against the United States and Australia (details here).  Australia's environment minister, David Kemp, scoffed at the threat stating there was no basis for the Tuvalu claim. The above graph shows why.  

Australian Economists Speaking Out
 Against the Kyoto Protocol
(19 Aug 02)

Dr Alex Robson
School of Economics
Faculty of Economics and Commerce
Australian National University
Canberra ACT 0200.
Ph +61-2-6125-4909

Dear Economist,

Clive Hamilton and the Australia Institute have produced a petition from over 250 economists calling for the Australian government to "ratify the Kyoto Protocol without delay".

A few economists, not representing any organisation, have started a counter-petition, calling on the government to delay ratification of the Kyoto Protocol until there is stronger evidence that it would create net benefits for Australia.

If you are an economist and agree with the statement, please e-mail Dr Alex Robson of the Australian National University (alex.robson@anu.edu.au ) without delay to have your name added to the petition.

Please forward this e-mail on to all economists that would be interested.  We look forward to receiving your e-mails.

Alex Robson
August, 2002.

A Statement by Professional Economists Against Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol

Australia's choices in dealing with global warming are important. Because the Kyoto Protocol is based on uncertain science and does not constitute conclusive scientific evidence regarding the effect of human activity on global warming, it is very difficult for economists to perform complete cost-benefit analyses of the economic, social and environmental consequences of the policy. Even if adverse consequences of global warming could be identified and measured with complete certainty (and they cannot), these consequences must be valued at the time they occur, and some allowance must be made for the fact that the value today of costs and benefits in the future - particularly in the distant future - is not the same as their value when they actually occur.  Ill-conceived, poorly chosen policy responses might marginally reduce potential global warming costs, but they could cost every ordinary Australian more than their share of potential global warming costs.

The Kyoto Protocol is a good example of such a flawed policy response. It involves measures that would have large negative social and economic impacts on all Australians and citizens in other countries. The OECD estimates that
by 2050 the actual economic cost of Kyoto for member countries could be at least US$900 billion annually. Yet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concedes that full Kyoto compliance is likely to reduce predicted
warming to the year 2050 by only a fraction of one degree.

Thus, even if we accept the dire predictions regarding the economic, social, and environmental consequences of climate change, under the policies advocated by the Australia Institute and the signatories to its petition, ordinary Australians could end up paying twice for any climate change: living standards will be permanently cut for every year that the policies are in place, and then when 2100 arrives they could pay again because of higher temperatures, which are virtually unaffected by the Kyoto Protocol.

More importantly, it is simply not true - as the Australia Institute claims - that serious alternatives to the Kyoto Protocol have not been put forward. Many sensible alternatives to the Kyoto Protocol have been suggested by economists in Australia, the United States, and Europe.  For all of these reasons, we, as professional economists, believe that it is
erroneous to conclude that it is in Australia's economic, social or environmental interests to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Johannesburg Earth Summit  (25 Aug 02)

Beginning Monday 26th August, the Johannesburg Earth Summit will provide a re-run of the Rio summit of 1992. That was a circus, and this event is on track to do the same, with an estimated 100,000 people expected to attend in one capacity or another - officials, politicians, NGOs, activists, demonstrators, and media.  The wastage of public resources for such an extravagant event is quite staggering.

While listening to the usual hand-wringing and righteous indignation of `leaders' railing against Western democracies, the 100,000 people there could do well to note the climate record from the very airport most of them arrived in - Johannesburg International Airport (Jan Smuts), located 10 miles northeast of the city.

Two plots of temperature at the airport are shown.  The red plot (using the red temperature scale at the left) is the unadjusted record from GISS.  The blue plot (using the blue temperature scale at the right) is the same record adjusted by GISS for `inhomogeneities'.  (It was necessary to split the vertical axes in this way because the records are identical from 1988 to 2001 and would overlap and obscure each other).

Both versions of the record show an overall cooling, the adjusted version showing even more cooling than the raw version.  The warmest year in both versions is 1983 (at the height of the 1982-83 El Niño), while the coldest year in both versions was only recently - 2000.

So where is global warming?  It will be ironic that the 100,000 delegates and hangers on will be denouncing the US and Australia over `global warming' policy when the very city they are meeting in shows a historic cooling.

Meacher on El Niño   (17 Aug 02)

Britain will be represented by Environment Minister Michael Meacher at the upcoming Johannesburg Earth Summit.  His job will be to negotiate through the complexity of climate and other issues.  Here is a short  extract from an interview transcript he gave on 9th August to the Sunday Times.

Meacher:  I mean floods in Britain is one we are having to explain, rising sea levels, but in America quite serious things are happening, certainly stronger hurricanes on the east coast which are to do with, what is the name of that hurricane that comes every 2 - 3 years?
Interviewer: They call them different names.
Meacher: No, no, there is a name which is the Spanish word for a young child, what is it called?
Interviewer: El Niño.
Meacher: The El Niño is becoming more frequent and more violent, ...

Meacher thinks El Niño is a hurricane, (which it patently is not), thinks it is becoming more frequent (which it is not, as there has been 5 years between the start of the last one in 1997 and the start of this one in 2002, exactly the average time interval for El Niño events), thinks it is becoming more violent (which this latest one is not), and cannot even remember the name of the phenomenon considering its importance to global climate.

His assertion that America is having more violent hurricanes is also not supported by the facts.

But cheer up Britain.  Mr Meacher will do a fine job for you at Johannesburg and will doubtless sign on the dotted line, in complete ignorance of what he is actually signing.

           The BBC's take on his interview.

Asian Haze    (16 Aug 02)

In east Asia, the summers have seen a toxic brown haze spread all over the region, from China to India to southeast Asia and Indonesia. It has been caused by a combination of forest burnings, kitchen fires, dirty combustion of fossil fuels, choking traffic in major cities, and poor environmental standards for heavy industries. Although the haze obscures the sun, suggesting cooling, the reality is that the haze particles get directly heated by sunlight and thus heats the atmosphere. This must increase temperatures throughout the region, an increase unrelated to greenhouse gases directly.

James Hansen's proposal that climate policy should first be directed at tackling this haze problem
(which also exists outside Asia but less severely), seems a sound one in that the health of whole populations and the environment would undoubtedly improve.

This also reinforces the insistence by the US and Australia that a climate treaty which leaves these countries outside the regulatory system is simply unworkable and climatically irrelevant. What's worse, clean industries in Kyoto-regulated western countries would migrate to countries which were not part of the Kyoto scheme, thus reducing their costs and increasing emissions even further. A thoroughly self-defeating scheme if ever there was one.

But give it a few weeks. By the time the Johannesburg Earth Summit convenes, someone will find a way to blame even the Asian brown haze on Western countries, accompanied by strident calls for `aid' and `compensation'.

Floods    (16 Aug 02)

This week, floods have ravaged parts of central and eastern Europe, Prague being particularly hard hit. 

While the media knee-jerk reaction has been to blame it on global warming, the British climate establishment has been more circumspect and instead blamed it on storms tracking further south than is usual in summer.

That was never in the global warming script. Under global warming, the heating of the atmosphere would push storm systems further north in the northern hemisphere and further south in the southern. Instead, they have moved south, dumping rain on areas normally drier.  Indeed, storm system tracks moving south would be more indicative of global cooling, not warming.

The last great flood in Prague on this scale occurred precisely during a known cool period globally - 1897.

One further aggravating factor in these floods is the deforestation over decades in the mountain catchments, especially the Jizera Mountains, caused by acid rain and extensive logging. That increases the rate of water runoff and adds further to the intensity of flooding.

`An Opportunity Arose ...' (11 Aug 02)

The `opportunity' in question was the grounding of all civil aircraft for 3 days in the United States following the September 11 terrorist attack which killed nearly 3,000 people and left whole families devastated.

The grounding meant of course that aircraft `contrails' (those wispy streaks left behind by high flying aircraft) were absent over the skies of the United States for three whole days, an opportunity for three climate scientists to find out what the regional temperature effect would be in the absence of all those contrails.

Their findings were that `diurnal temperature range', the difference between daytime maximum and night-time minimum, increased by 1.1°C during the grounding period. In other words, days were slightly warmer, nights were slightly cooler, a predictable unsurprising result.

As if anyone even cared about these insignificant results.

The researchers were David J. Travis and Ryan G. Lauritsen, both of the Dept. of Geography and Geology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and Andrew M. Carleton of the Dept. of Geography at Pennsylvania State University. Their paper was published in Nature (v.418, p.601, 8 Aug 02).

During the 2nd World War, Nazi scientists experimented on concentration camp prisoners, freezing them to near death, then trying out various techniques to revive them. Most victims died during these experiments, the survivors being killed later. The data was meticulously collated and later captured by the Allies. Post-war scientists agonised over whether it was ethical to use data gathered in such an inhuman and criminal way. Balanced against that, the data was there to help later victims of hypothermia, however abhorrent the data source data was.

The `opportunity' provided by September 11 is a similar circumstance in that it was a tainted `opportunity', made possible only by a terrorist atrocity. While the saving of lives from hypothermia provided some mitigation for postwar scientists to use the Nazi data, all we have got from the 3-day grounding is the knowledge that `diurnal temperature range' increased 1.1°C., an appalling insult when we consider the cost paid in lives to make this research possible. It won't save a single life, but enabled a few climate scientists to get an extra citation in a prestigious journal. Neither the authors, nor the Nature editors, offered any word of respect or condolence to the dead of September 11 other than to describe it in the very first paragraph as `an opportunity'.  The paper was callous in its scientific casualness.

There is an increasing public perception that modern science is amoral and this latest paper on contrails can only reinforce that perception.  In Law, we have the concept of `inadmissible evidence', namely that evidence gathered in an illegal or criminal manner cannot be regarded as legitimate evidence in a court of law. Incredible as it may seem, lawyers seem to have better ethical standards than modern climate scientists.

The authors of this paper, and Nature who published it, should feel thoroughly ashamed at exploiting such a tragic event for such an insignificant purpose.

NYT and Alaska   (5 Aug 02)

There has already been two brief stories recently exposing the use of incorrect temperature trends for Alaska by the New York Times.  They did it not once, but twice when their `correction' to the first story proved to be just as false as the original story.

The press are the guardians of the public interest against abuse by government and government officials.  But to whom is the press accountable when they publish stories which are false, and demonstrated to be so by the very institutions they are quoting?

Miceal O'Ronain has researched the origins of the NYT errors, and reveals the full comedy - or tragedy - of errors in the Guest Papers section here -

See - Alaska at the Limits

Giant Squid Taking Over the World   (3 Aug 02)

It's about time the scientific community, especially the environmental branch, took a long deep breath and a cold shower.

Each week, they are falling over themselves to outdo each other in warning of yet more catastrophes just around the corner due to `global warming', and always with that worn out cliché - "much worse than previously thought...". Yet nothing ever seems to happen, always tomorrow - mañana.

The latest piece of nonsense is  
Giant Squid!

A story in Australasian Science was repeated on Australia's ABC ("Giant squid on the rise" - 1st Aug) and News.com, ("Giant squid 'taking over world' " - 31 July) and reports on a new theory that giant squid are taking over the world's oceans, and now have a total biomass greater than that of humanity.

This sounds like a re-run of the 50s SF movie The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, but this time with the blessing of `scientists'. It all started at Roswell - (ooops) - Hobart,  Tasmania, where the remains of a giant squid was washed ashore recently on a beach near the city. Scientists from the nearby Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies raced to study the find.

They theorise that squid are increasing in number due to `chronic over-fishing' of fish that predate on the squid, and on global warming (they just couldn't resist the temptation to blame global warming, when over-fishing was a perfectly sufficient explanation).  Even the British Antarctic Survey joined the bandwagon.

Well, are the oceans warming? Yes, according to Levitus et al (Science v287, p.2225, 2000) who found a warming in the upper 1,000 metres of ocean of - wait for it, 
+0.1°C between 1955 and 1995. One tenth of a degree! - between a known cold period in the 20th century and the 1990s. That's enough to make any squid bursting with new growth energy and rampant hormones.

But what of GIANT squid. These are abyssal (very, very deep) creatures, and rarely found due to the enormous depths they inhabit. The average temperature down there (below 2,500 metres) is a chilly 1.36°C with little or no change evident (Orsi et al, GRL v.28, no.15, p.2923, Aug 2001). Consequently, giant squid are not experiencing increased temperatures in their usual habitat. Whenever they are found on beaches or caught up in deep water fishing nets, they are usually not complete - tentacles or other bits, but rarely the whole animal.

But that was not the point of this latest example of science dabbling in politics. The opening sentence of the ABC take on the Australasian Science story said it in a nutshell - "Australian scientists are today offering proof that global warming needs to be taken much more seriously by the Howard
(Australian) government and its friends in Washington."

A silly story about squid is hardly likely to do that.   Pass the calamari. 

"World Heads for Warmest Year Yet" ?  (3 Aug 02)

This was the dramatic headline from Reuters quoting British `weather experts'.  They declared "The first six months of the year have been the second-warmest ever and average global temperatures in 2002 could be the highest ever recorded, British weather experts said."  This claim is of course based on surface thermometers in cities, and in third world jurisdictions where meteorological exactness is not exactly high on their agendas.

So, it's cold shower time again.

Here is global mean temperature as measured by the only accurate way - from US satellites, giving the world an even spread without errors from heat islands and sub-standard records from non-OECD countries.

It shows the temperature of the lower atmosphere for the first 6 months of each year since satellite measurement began in 1979.  As is clear from the graph, 1998 stands out loud and clear as the warmest, caused by the big El Niño of that year.  2002 is way, way behind 1998 and is similar to 1991.

There would have to be a humungous global heatwave to overtake 1998 at this late stage in the year and the chances of that happening are almost zero.  So the `British experts' are really just making a wild leap of wishful thinking.

And has 2002 been as warm as they claim?  We have more sea ice than ever around the Antarctic, trapping several ships at times, and one of them now stuck for months.  The Northwest Passage has not so far opened this year.  Record-breaking low temperatures hit the US mid-west and eastern states in May this year, while south-eastern Australia had the coolest summer in decades.  They even had snow in South Africa recently. Peru was hit by severe cold.  Even Britain, where these self-styled `experts' reside, is having a rotten cold, wet summer this year.  Some places were admittedly warmer than usual, such as the US southwest, but all that evens out on a global basis.

So it's stretching credulity to claim that 2002 has been especially warm so far, certainly nothing on the scale of 1998.

But then, all this is not about science - it's about politics and the Green offensive against governments still wavering over ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.  The European Union has done so already - turkeys voting for an early Christmas.

Postscript (10th Aug 02) - It seems these news reports globalised what was actually meant for the Northern Hemisphere only.  I am informed by a Dutch correspondent that the Dutch Royal Meteorological Service (KNMI) quotes the UK Met-office which has put forward the message that - derived from preliminary data from surface stations found in the Northern Hemisphere, temperature has been +0.73°C above normal, which is more than the last record of +0.66°C set in 1998.

That of course is from surface stations, which as is now well known, are fraught with measurement errors from urbanisation and lack of quality control.  Here is the satellite record for just the Northern Hemisphere, for the first 6 months of each year from 1979 to 2002.  From this we can see that 2002 is only the third warmest half-year since 1979, behind 1998 and 1991. The 2002 anomaly figure is only one third of that claimed by the UK Met Office/KNMI. It is disturbing to find weather bureaus playing politics like this.  What is so significant about 6-month bites anyway?

Credit Where Credit is NOT Due (2 Aug 02)

A new article in Science titled `Signs of Success in Forecasting El Niño' (v.297, p.497, 26 Jul 02) boasts how the US Climate Prediction Center (CPS) correctly forecast the El Niño which is now active in the Pacific Ocean. All done with models of course.  Science called it a `good call'.

Here is the sea surface temperature chart they published to prove their point.  As the chart shows, the prediction was made in January this year after the sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific had already turned sharply upward. The resulting presence of El Niño was declared in July.

It has been the view of this website that predicting an El Niño or La Niña on the basis of observed precursors (such as rising sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific), is not really prediction, but merely announcing something that has already started but has not yet fully developed.

No-one has yet predicted an El Niño before the precursors are evident. No-one, that is, except Dr Theodor Landscheidt in a landmark paper published on this website on 11th January 1999 where he predicted 3 years ahead that an El Niño would 

start in 2002 and peak late in the year, plus or minus a few months. His paper has been on this website all that time, and has been reviewed by numerous scientists.

To claim credit for a mere 6-month prediction when the precursors were already in place for an El Niño is no accomplishment at all. Six months is not enough time to make much difference to farmers or other producers whose livelihoods can be seriously disrupted by El Niño and for whom advance notice of at least a year is needed. Dr Landscheidt gave them three years, not 6 months, and many farmers in Australia must now be thankful for that advance notice to enable them to drought-proof their farms before the onset of this year's drought which is already seriously affecting inland Queensland and New South Wales.

There should be much more appreciation of this truly creative leap in the science of El Niño prediction and less undeserved self-gratulation by bureaucratic climate organisations whose model-based `predictions' were too little and too late.

For Dr Landscheidt's complete paper, click here.    For an abridged version, click here.    For the Review, click here

ScramJet   (30 Jul 02)

Amid all the alarmist talk about what CO2 levels will reach in 100 years time, it is often conveniently forgotten that 2100 is 100 years away, and technology is likely to advance by leaps and bounds in that time.

100 years ago, Marconi had just invented radio. 100 years ago, the internal combustion engine was in its infancy. 100 years ago, there were no airplanes, no electronics, no computers, no satellites - and no mobile phones ....

So for the next 100 years, if environmentalists were serious about CO
2, they would campaign for research funds to be spent on de-carbonisation technology, not endless and fruitless research with money-hungry climate models.

On that note, University of Queensland researchers have just announced the world's first launch of a Scramjet rocket at the Woomera rocket range in South Australia. It happened at 11.37am (CST) Today.

And what is a scramjet? It's a new type of engine which uses the rapid flow of air through the engine casing, mixing with hydrogen, to combust spontaneously and drive the vehicle forward at 8 times the speed of sound. This would cut the travelling time from Sydney to London from 20+ hours to merely 2 hours. As for the by-product - no CO
2, just water - what you get when hydrogen and oxygen combust.

Go forward in time 20, 30, 40 years perhaps and we could all be flying on scramjet driven aircraft 8 times faster than we do now, with no CO
2 emissions. Not because of Kyoto, not environmental romanticism, not  climate models, but merely the inexorable march of technology into newer and better things.

For those who, in spite of the information on this site, are still worried about CO
2, then drink a toast to today's Woomera test. That's where the future lies, not in a luddite retreat back into a bleak medieval past.

Greens Rebound   (20 July 02)

Today was election day in Tasmania, our new state Parliament and government being elected by the people.

The result was a massive landslide for the incumbent Labor Party (ALP), gaining 53% of the poll and giving them majority government in their own right with 14 seats in the 25-seat Tasmanian state Parliament.

The Liberal opposition crashed out, gaining only 7 seats compared with 10 in the last Parliament.

The big shift in the political landscape was the vote for the Greens which doubled from their performance at the last election, now gaining 18% of the total vote and 4 seats in the new Parliament, compared with only 1 seat in the last one. 

NYT Retracts - Sort of... (15 Jul 02)

The New York Times was caught out recently with a story on Alaskan temperatures, dated 24th June 2002, claiming a warming there of 5 to 10°F. However, the Alaska Climate Research Center denounced the NYT story and pointed out that the warming at the selected locations  was only one third of that claimed by NYT. (See original `stop press' story here) 

The NYT then `corrected' the story on 11th July, but instead of coming completely clean with the public, they essentially `split the difference' by now claiming a  warming of 5.4°F instead.

This has resulted in an update to the original rebuttal by the people who should know - the Alaska Climate Center, who point out that the NYT's `corrected' figure is still double the proper figure. 

CSIRO on Sea Levels    (15 July 02)

In a brochure titled `The Facts: Global Sea Level Rise',  Australia's CSIRO Marine Research Division presented `facts' about Australia's sea level history in such a way as to prop up IPCC claims about global sea levels having already risen 10-20 cm during the last 100 years. 

The CSIRO said in part, "In Australia the rise of sea-level relative to the land (June, 2001) at Fremantle is 1.38 mm/year with more than 90 years of data, and at Sydney 0.86 mm/year from 82 years of data. (Corrected for land motion, the rate of sea level rise at these two locations is estimated to be about 1.6 and 1.2 mm/yr respectively.)"

To use only two stations like this is grossly misleading and scientifically untenable, because there are actually 23 long-term tide gauges around Australia, not two, the data for which is summarised in a report by the National Tidal Facility (NTF) in Adelaide. The NTF concludes there has been a long-term sea level rise rate of only
+0.3 mm/year (or +3 cm if stretched over a century). NTF also points out that two of those gauges, both at Adelaide, are anomalous due to local land subsidence from ground water withdrawal, so excluding these two gauges leaves an average of merely +0.16 mm/year, or +1.6 cm for a full century. That's fully one tenth of the IPCC estimate.

What of Fremantle, the longest record in the set, and the one which CSIRO highlighted? Their claim of a sea level rise there of +1.3 mm/year over 90 years (1.6 mm/yr - when `corrected' for land motion) puts the sea level rise there squarely in the middle of the IPCC estimates, exactly the point and purpose of the brochure.

But their claim about land motion is quite wrong. Geodetic data at Perth (only 20 miles away), on 5 different measurement procedures, shows it to be subsiding by an average of -2.08 mm/year since 1996. In other words, if that rate of land subsidence has been going on over an extended period of time, then the measured sea level `rise' at Fremantle of +1.38 mm/yr is occurring against a backdrop of land sinkage of -2.08 mm/yr, suggesting a real sea level FALL of -0.7 mm/yr.

Supporting this conclusion, two long-term tide gauges either side of Fremantle, Bunbury to the south and Geraldton to the north, show a sea level change of +0.04 mm/yr and -0.95 mm/yr respectively, consistent with a falling or stable sea level at Fremantle itself, not the rise claimed by the CSIRO.

The CSIRO are well aware of the 23 long-term tide gauges, and of the geodetic trends recorded at Perth, yet presented data to the public and policymakers in a highly selective way such as to prop up the IPCC line on global sea levels. Coincidentally, the lead author of the latest IPCC report on sea levels, Dr John Church, is also a leading scientist with the same CSIRO Marine Research Division. 

To compound the spin even further, the CSIRO also gave brief mention to the Isle of the Dead 1841 sea level benchmark on the Isle of the Dead in Tasmania (which shows absolutely no sea level rise in the last 120 years) claiming a sea level rise there of 0.9 mm/yr based on unpublished and unreviewed information, flawed statistics, and selective evidence.  There is no evidence whatsoever of a sea level rise at the Isle of the Dead during the 20th century.

In recent years, the CSIRO has spent much of its time bleating in public about lack of funding from government. Maybe they should take a hard look at themselves and their own deficiencies before they demand more public  money. The taxpayer (who funds the CSIRO) deserves better treatment than the kind of amateurish spin served up this brochure.

Caught Red-Handed !   (7 July 2002)

The discredited `National Assessment', and the USCGRP which produced it, have been caught red-handed, not just metaphorically speaking but also literally, splashing red and orange all over their maps and charts to convey a false impression of warming in regions where the models cited showed little or none.  

This practice was first revealed  in a story run on Tech Central Station but further investigation by Miceal O'Ronain has shown that the use of tint and colour has become a much more sophisticated form of deception involving drastic changes in colour coding of maps and charts from their original colours calculated to convey a `hot' perception of future climate.

The colour red is the most favourite colour used by these scientific artists, where even the `no change' parts of the maps are coloured in a warm orange. 

A further technique is to use blended colour tones to mask significant differences between models.  To allow the public to see the real differences between them would result in loss of public confidence in climate models generally, thus the not-so-subtle misuse of colour to mask those differences as far as possible.

This scandalous manipulation of scientific information directed to the general public has been unearthed by Miceal O'Ronain who writes a full report in the Guest Papers section.

See his report here.


In Memoriam - Peter Toynbee, New Zealand (10 July 02)

It is with deep regret that I have to announce the death of Peter Toynbee, a prominent climate scientist from New Zealand.   He was 79.  His close colleagues and compatriots, Dr Vincent Gray and Chris de Freitas, informs us - 

"...In the last few years he has been fighting a courageous battle against asthma, which he has ultimately lost. 

He was a Chemical Engineer who pioneered research in fuel technology with the former Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, and as Director of the New Zealand Coal Research Association.

Since his retirement in 1988 he campaigned tirelessly for truth in climate science with newspaper articles and letters, and a number of books, mostly published by himself.  He was the local distributor for Art Robinson's Access to Energy and for other magazines and books on climate science, including the rather equivocal 21st Century.

Peter put much of his energy and time into the climate change debate. Is fair to say that Peter initiated the popular struggle by scientists in New Zealand to bring balance to the global warming question. He felt strongly that the public and politicians should be aware that good science is science that freely exposes itself to criticism and does not hide under a veil of consensus claims. Peter’s death is a great loss to us here New Zealand." 

 Sympathy messages should go to c/- PO Box 8424 Havelock North, New Zealand.


Latest CO2 (23 June 02)

CO2 increased by 1.54 ppm during 2001, representing a 0.4% increase on the previous year [data source].

This contrasts with the 1% annual increase assumed by the IPCC to underpin their model predictions. CO2 has never reached that 1% level as shown left.

Models Again Under a Cloud (29 June 02)

Here is the abstract to a new paper which finds that global climate models fail to reproduce real climate when they are tested against observed conditions.  Climate models still fail to match the real world.

Global Climate Models Violate Scaling of the Observed Atmospheric Variability

R. B. Govindan,1,2 Dmitry Vyushin,1,2 Armin Bunde,2 Stephen Brenner,3 Shlomo Havlin,1 and Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber4

1Minerva Center and Department of Physics, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan 52900, Israel
2Institut für Theoretische Physik III, Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, Heinrich-Buff-Ring 16, 35392 Giessen, Germany
3Department of Geography, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan 52900, Israel
4Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, D-14412 Potsdam, Germany

(Received 1 November 2001; revised 22 April 2002; published 21 June 2002)

We test the scaling performance of seven leading global climate models by using detrended fluctuation analysis. We analyze temperature records of six representative sites around the globe simulated by the models, for two different scenarios: (i) with greenhouse gas forcing only and (ii) with greenhouse gas plus aerosol forcing. We find that the simulated records for both scenarios fail to reproduce the universal scaling behavior of the observed records and display wide performance differences. The deviations from the scaling behavior are more pronounced in the first scenario, where also the trends are clearly overestimated. ©2002 The American Physical Society

Flower Power   (29 June 02)

In central England, the alarm bells are ringing - 385 plant species are flowering about 4½ days earlier in the year than they did back in 1950s. That's what a new paper in Science (Fitter & Fitter., `Rapid Changes in Flowering Time in British Plants', v.296, p.1689, 31 May 02) says. They attribute the flowering changes, predictably, to `climatic warming'

The authors mainly relied on data from a single observer in a single location in central England which they claim is `rural' - the village of Chinnor in Oxfordshire (51°42'N 0°42'W). They further claimed Chinnor "has not experienced substantial land-use change in recent years".

According to the Chinnor website - "The population of Chinnor grew from 800 in 1801 to 1,300 in 1941, continuing to increase to 1,950 in 1961 and 4,417 in 1971. The population today is approaching 7,000. Chinnor is now one of the largest villages in Oxfordshire."

In other words, we have a classic emerging heat island there contrary to the bland claim by the authors.  In addition, the very busy M40 motorway (a massive heat corridor) passes only 3 miles away (it did not exist in the 1950s), while there are a ring of large cities less than 15 miles away in different directions. London itself (8 million people) is only 30 miles away. This hardly fits the profile of an unchanged greenfield site suggested by the authors.

Also ignored by the authors was the developing Fertiliser Effect of enhanced atmospheric CO
2 which has particular impact on woody plants, the very plant types which flowered earliest.

A third flaw in their reasoning was the effect of their choice of start and end dates, namely comparing the 1950s with the 1990s. The 1950s were part of the post-war cooling, and therefore earlier flowering now would be both natural and predictable based on simple climatic recovery from that cold period.

By ignoring these external variables, fashionably focusing only on `climate change', the authors failed a basic test of science.

Having it Both Ways (24 June 02)

A recent paper in Science titled "Global Cooling After the Eruption of Mount Pinatubo: A Test of Climate Feedback by Water Vapor" (Soden et al. v.296, p.727, 26 Apr 02) set out to prove the `mountain out of a molehill' approach to global warming adopted by the IPCC (where an initial CO2 warming of less than 1°C blows out to nearly 6°C when `feedbacks' are applied, especially feedbacks from water vapour, a greenhouse gas).

The reasoning was that since the Pinatubo eruption of June 1991 caused reduced energy to the lower atmosphere, thus cooling it, then the magnitude of that cooling could be used to test the degree to which water vapour magnified that cooling. If it did, then we could also expect it to magnify warming from CO2 over and above the basic ~1°C warming from CO2 doubling.

We already know what the reduction in received energy was after the Pinatubo eruption - 2.7 watts per sq. mtr. (wm-2)
(Minnis et al. Science v.259, p.14, 5 March 1993). Using the Stefan-Boltzmann equation, that translates to a temperature reduction of -0.5°C without feedbacks. In other words, if water vapour was to have the feedback effect claimed for it by the models, the peak Pinatubo cooling would have to exceed -0.5°C.

The world did cool, briefly, by -0.7°C., according to the satellite record, seemingly supporting the `water vapour did it' hypothesis promoted by Soden et al.

But there was just one little catch - the surface record, favoured by the IPCC, showed a cooling slightly less than the required 0.5°C not more. In other words, if the surface record were to be believed, water vapour feedback had absolutely no effect at all. In that situation, the models really were making a mountain out of a molehill with no physical evidence to support their alarmist global warming claims.

So the authors  resorted to using the satellite record instead of the surface record. It showed a larger cooling of 0.7°C, the additional increment of 0.2°C being promptly blamed on water vapour feedback, thus barely supporting their water vapour feedback hypothesis.

Even using the satellites, the water vapour feedback only added an extra 40% to the cooling, not the 500% which the IPCC says might happen with a basic CO2 warming of around 1°C. But the use of the satellites in this way opens a new can of worms. 

If the surface record shows no evidence of feedback and resort to the satellites is made to demonstrate even a small feedback, then how does the IPCC explain the overall 23-year satellite record, which suggests an eventual warming of only a few tenths of a degree?

NYT Foot in Mouth - Again ! (18 June 02)

The New York Times have repeated the debacle they suffered two years ago with their discredited `water at the North Pole' story, this time with a new story on alleged soaring Alaska temperatures.

In an artilcle by Timothy Egan, titled `Alaska, No Longer So Frigid, Starts to Crack, Burn and Sag', he claims - 

"In Alaska, rising temperatures, whether caused by greenhouse gas emissions or nature in a prolonged mood swing, are not a topic of debate or an abstraction. Mean temperatures have risen by 5 degrees in summer and 10 degrees in winter since the 1970's, federal officials say."

`Federal officials' can mean anything he wants it to mean and hardly amounts to an authoritative source. He includes lots of hearsay quotes about changes in the physical environment of Alaska, most of them clearly originating from Green sources.  A survey of Alaska weather stations on this site shows nothing like the warming claimed above. 

Some of the claims look so far fetched that they appear to be based on modelled future predictions of climate rather than of present climatic conditions.

The EPA, not known for its caution when it comes to climate matters, said in this report - "warming in interior Alaska was as much as 1.6ºC (about 3ºF)". That claim covers the last 100 years. That's a lot different to the NYT's `think of a number and treble it' approach with their 5-10°F claim, spanning only the last 30 years.

A value of 3ºF claimed by the EPA is also consistent with the 2.6°F reported by Dr. Sue Ann Bowling  which occured in 1976-77, mainly due to a shift in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) at that time.

But the real nail in the NYT story comes from Prof Gerd Wendler of the Alaska Clilmate Research Center which presents this rebuttal to NYT. The center finds that warming in four dispersed Alaska weather stations shows a warming since 1971 of an average of just over 2.5°F., not the 5-10° claimed by NYT.

Since this is the second time NYT have shot from the hip - and missed, we can clearly dismiss them as a reliable source of climate change information.

(thanks to Miceal O'Ronain for the intel.)

Records Tumble  (18 June 02)

My storm-chasing activities in the U.S. were almost ruined by unprecedented weather across much of the eastern U.S.A. during May.

100-200 year old records were tumbling all across the mid west and the east, snuffing out potential thunderstorms.

But it was not warm weather which was the culprit, but COLD weather lasting about ten days, so cold that some 300-odd `cold' records were broken in many locations.

This was hardly evidence of global warming. Just when I needed global warming the most, nature dished up a record cold snap instead.

However, the cold weather eventually gave way to warmer weather, enabling me to catch a few storms before my trip was done.  In fact, soon after all the cold records had tumbled, several warm records were broken, mainly in the southwest where a drought was in progress.

Which just shows that broken records in themselves are meaningless.  They are merely weather events, not indicators of climate change.

The Weather Channel   (18 June 02)

Cable TV in the U.S. is mainly an exercise in watching endless TV commercials, occasionally interrupted by brief periods of programming.

But the `Weather Channel' is an outstanding exception and stands apart from the rest.  Although based solely on the weather, and running 24 hours a day, it is an excellent source of weather information across the country.

It also provides educational material on the background causes of weather and climate without being pompous, boring, or verbose.

I found it an invaluable resource during my U.S. trip and commend the producers for their work who managed to impart a lot of information without patronising or `talking down' to their viewers and listeners.

Contrast that with that other channel with a 24-hour devotion to one subject, namely CNN and its 24-hour news. CNN could hardly tell the difference between news and entertainment, it's `Crossfire' and other segments being merely sensationalism for its own sake, not serious debate. Watching CNN, one would end up two months completely ignorant of what was going on in the rest of the world.

Thankfully, the `Weather Channel' did not go down the road of trivialising their subject as done by CNN, and deserve great credit for  educating and informing the public about weather and climate.

I'm Back! (16 June 2002)

I have now just returned from my recent trip to the U.S.A. which included several talks to community and academic gatherings, and a few weeks storm chasing in Oklahoma and Texas.   Normal updates will follow to this site in a few days as soon as I catch up with mail and other climate information.

Many thanks to those who wished me well on my trip, and a special thanks to Jerry Brennan for his invaluable help and practical assistance with my demanding schedule.


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