`Stop Press' Stories

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For the latest stories from January 2004, see below

Extraneous Signals (7 June 04)
Theodor Landscheidt (21 May 04)
Miscellaneous Notions, Comments, and Observations (17 May 04)
"Showing" what isn't so (7 May 04)
Nenana Ice Classic 2004 Results (26 Apr 04)
Large Negative Southern Oscillation Daily Values (4 Apr 04)
Reality Checks Bounce   (26 Mar 04)
Discordant Accord   (23 Mar 04)
CO2 Report Makes the Rounds   (21 Mar 04)
Too Wet?   (14 Mar 04)
Lomborg Announcement   (12 Mar 04)
Do you have the time?   (7 Mar 04)
Idso Announcement   (4 Mar 04)
Newer than New   (2 Mar 04)
"Secret Pentagon Report"   (24 Feb 04)
A Cold Greenhouse   (27 Jan 04)
Infrasound Delay   (27 Jan 04)
A Warmer Arctic?   (24 Jan 04)
A Winter's Tale from Al Gore   (17 Jan 04)
Species Extinction - One Million, or Just One?   (12 Jan 04)
No Sea Level Threat to Maldives   (11 Jan 04)
Weather Delay   (11 Jan 04)
A Return to Rationing in Britain?     (11 Jan 04)

Extraneous Signals
(7 June 04)

When a weather station temperature is affected by construction nearby of new buildings, roads, and so forth, the phrase "urban heat island", or perhaps "urban heat island effect", may be used to indicate that the subsequent temperature readings of such a weather station may be biased by local conditions (even if the location may not commonly be considered urban).

Reader David Holland recently mentioned one indicator of construction trends: cement production. From data at: http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/of01-006/cement.pdf or at: http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/of01-006/cement.xls he provided a graph of estimated global cement production, annually, and cumulatively, from about 1926 through about 2000.

It would seem that there is much construction occurring, somewhere. However, urban heat island effects are local phenomena, and it may be useful to have a way to estimate such effects in the vicinities of weather stations.

In a recently published paper, "A Test of Corrections for Extraneous Signals in Gridded Surface Temperature Data", described there, Ross McKitrick and Pat Michaels offer a method to estimate urban heat island effects more accurately than methods used by sources preferred by IPCC management.

Whether their method will fare well under critical analysis is one question. If it does, then there is the very different question of whether it will be welcomed by those who manage the IPCC.

Theodor Landscheidt
(21 May 04)

After a serious illness, Theodor Landscheidt passed away on Wednesday, May 19, 2004. Regular visitors here will know of him through several of his recent papers published here.

Some biographical information may be seen at Gary Sharp's website.

Miscellaneous Notions, Comments, and Observations
(17 May 04)

That does not read like a "Stop Press" headline because it is not, but the current format does not provide a suitable place for it. So, a place has been added for items that do not quite fit elsewhere in the current format.

The new place may be updated quite frequently, at least for a while, so it may get a different kind of entry in the "New Items" section.

It is somewhat of a place for items that do not seem to be "Stop Press" items, but which may seem to be of sufficient interest to some portion of our visitors, that at least some mention of them seems appropriate.

We shall see whether, or not, this works.

"Showing" what isn't so
(7 May 04)

A press release from the University of Washington asserts:

"New interpretation of satellite measurements confirms global warming

For years the debate about climate change has had a contentious sticking point -- satellite measurements of temperatures in the troposphere, the layer of atmosphere where most weather occurs, were inconsistent with fast-warming surface temperatures.

But a team led by a University of Washington atmospheric scientist has used satellite data in a new and more accurate way to show that, for more than two decades, the troposphere has actually been warming faster than the surface. The new approach relies on information that better separates readings of the troposphere from those of another atmospheric layer above, which have disguised the true troposphere temperature trend."

Except it seems that the "new approach" is not so new, and does not "show" what the press release, and the corresponding paper in the magazine "Nature", assert.

Roy Spencer, who has more than a little experience analyzing MSU satellite atmospheric temperature data, offered a different interpretation of the "new approach":

"The authors, noticing that channel 4 measures the extreme upper portion of the layer that channel 2 measures, decided to use the MSU channel 4 to remove the stratospheric influence on MSU channel 2. At first, this sounds like a reasonable approach. We also tried this thirteen years ago. But we quickly realized that in order for two channels to be combined in a physically meaningful way, they must have a large percentage of overlap. As can be seen in Fig. 1, there is very little overlap between these two channels. When a weighted difference is computed between the two channels in an attempt to measure just the tropospheric temperature, an unavoidable problem surfaces: a large amount of negative weight appears in the stratosphere. What this means physically is that any attempt to correct the tropospheric channel in this fashion leads to a misinterpretation of stratospheric cooling as tropospheric warming."

It's a "read the whole thing" article.

Nenana Ice Classic 2004 Results
(26 Apr 04)

The Tanana River officially went out on April 24th, 2004 at 2:16 p.m. Alaska Standard Time. There were 6 winning tickets. Each had the exact month, day, hour and minute.

The Tanana River in Alaska freezes over in winter, and local Alaskans at Nenana have been taking bets on the ice break-up dates and times since 1917.

For previous discussions see:
`Nenana Ice Classic' - Alaska's Coolest Lottery !
and: The Nenana Ice Classic: Betting on Warming

For a graphical views of break-up dates and times, Miceal O'Ronain has provided several perspectives.

And, for something to consider regarding recent Alaskan weather, a brief article by Sue Ann Bowling may be of interest, particularly the stunning shift of temperatures at about 1976, and the comment about upper level winds.

At the time she wrote that article in 1987, the "PDO" (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) had not yet been noticed, much less named.

Large Negative Southern Oscillation Daily Values
(4 Apr 04) updated (14 Apr 04)

First, the caveat:

** Daily values are not the SOI but contribute to the calculation of the monthly SOI (Southern Oscillation Index). Daily values are presented for research purposes only. 30 day (or larger) average SOI values are the key indices for forecast purposes.

Next, the numbers:

Apr 1 -61.94
Apr 2 -63.38
Apr 3 -51.92
Apr 4 -55.23

The daily values can be very volatile, and can swing from -26 to +50 in a few days. However, daily values that are more negative than -50 (in the "Long Paddock" scale) are not common. Since June of 1991, and prior to the first of this month, there were only eighteen of them listed here, seven in 1992, four in 1997, and seven in 1998. Those years may seem familiar to observers of ENSO activity. For a reminder, see a graph of inverted three month SOI averages that you may recall.

The daily values may bear watching for a while, so this item may be updated frequently.

Apr 5 -40.9
Apr 6 -31.7
Apr 7 -32.0
Apr 8 -30.7
Apr 9 -37.1
Apr 10 -40.0
Apr 11 -37.7
Apr 12 -25.2
Apr 13 -17.1
Apr 14 -21.3

It seems that barometric pressure at Darwin remains higher than usual, but at Tahiti has become nearer its usual for about three days. Perhaps this item has had enough daily updates.

Reality Checks Bounce    (26 Mar 04) updated (28 Mar 04)

According to the Evening Times of Glasgow, Scotland,
Thousands ignorant of global warming.

ONE in 10 Scots believes that climate change is not a reality, according to a new study.
Considering the way some people talk about "climate change", reality is not the first word that comes to mind.
And 66% of Scots do not think the effects of global warming will be seen for another 50 years or more according to research by the Energy Saving Trust.
Perhaps they are waiting to hear from the residents of Tiree, Scotland, that the annual average temperature there has caught up to its 1959 9.98 C.

The report also revealed that most people in Scotland do not understand that one of the main causes of climate change is domestic energy consumption.
See above comment about "the way some people talk".

Meanwhile, in Asheville, NC, USA, home of the US NOAA NCDC (National Climate Data Center), a Citizen-Times editorial anounces:
U.S., world can no longer afford to put off actions to reverse climate change.

Hmmm, "actions to reverse climate change". What was that about reality?
Federal scientists have found the "smoking gun" that proves human activity is having an effect on earth's climate. The only question is whether we will act before it is too late.
Well, no, that is not by any stretch the only question. For example, there are the questions of what magnitudes, and what kinds, of effects? For another, how does the alledged "smoking gun" "prove" any such effects? Not surprisingly, answers to those questions are not to be found in that editorial. Indeed, the editorial does not even explicitly identify the alledged "smoking gun"; it merely lets readers assume to what that phrase refers. Another obvious question would be "too late" for what? Too late for the next global cooling, perhaps?

When writing a few days ago about an AP CO2 "story", I was reminded of a common lament about inept news "reporters": don't those guys have editors? It would seem that regarding this Citizen-Times editorial, the editor needs an editor. Perhaps NCDC Director Thomas Karl could help the editor find a way through the smoke.
Climate change, usually termed global warming, is one of those subjects that is ripe for demagoguery.
the editorial says, and proceeds to walk the talk.
Further, as long ago as 1995, the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded tentatively that "The balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate."
Except it was not the IPCC which "concluded" that; it was Santer et al, see how. Santer also happened to be in a position to slip that bit into chapter eight of the IPCC SAR in what seems to have been an example of "climate change science" in action.
Most frightening is the possibility of a large-scale meltdown of the polar ice sheets, resulting in higher sea levels.
Talk about demagoguery. No evidence; simply a mention of "the possiblilty".
Paradoxically, increases in some pollutants could actually help cool the planet in the short run by blocking some of the sun's heat. This is believed to be the reason that the surge in fossil fuel use after World War II did not result in warming until the 1970s.
More demagoguery. Believed by whom? Again, no evidence; simply the assertion that something is believed by anonymous believers.

Perhaps someday the editor would care to elaborate on that "believed" "reason", possibly by referring readers to something such as a graph displaying the UK CRU's estimates of global, and hemispheric, temperature variances from a recent average. Perhaps there might be a suggestion that the relative changes between the northern, and the southern, hemispheres might support such a "believed" "reason" on the supposition that "increases in some pollutants" may have occurred mainly in the northern hemisphere, inasmuch as that was where most of the fighting occurred, and most of the "surge in fossil use" occurred, and there were smoking guns all over the place, and they were real.

However, if one compares those relative hemispheric changes, one notices that, according to the CRU's estimates, the southern hemisphere got relatively cooler than the northern hemisphere during the decade starting in 1946:

So, it just may be that the only "smoking gun" that might be related to that editorial, was the one pointing at the editor's foot.

As an exercise for our visitors, I will let you discover what the editorial has to say about the Kyoto Protocol. Hint: the editor seems not to have read Fred Singer's excellent recent article.

Discordant Accord    (23 Mar 04)

The Kyoto Protocol: A Post-Mortem

A recent article by S. Fred Singer concisely summarizes some of the history, and some of the bizarre aspects, of the Kyoto Protocol.

Here are just a couple of samples:

"But the facts have always made it clear that Kyoto would be outrageously costly and completely ineffective-as designed, it would not even noticeably influence the climate. And more importantly, in light of recent developments, the treaty is essentially defunct. Now may be the ideal moment to reexamine the origins and shortcomings of the Kyoto Protocol, and to learn its lessons before future global warming treaties repeat its mistakes."

"The Kyoto Protocol, therefore, would have practically no impact on global temperatures. Even if punctiliously adhered to, it would reduce the calculated temperature rise by 0.05 degrees Celsius at most-an amount so insignificant it can hardly be measured. When confronted with that little-publicized fact, supporters of the Protocol admit that Kyoto is intended only as a first step, and that greenhouse gases will someday have to be further reduced by between 60 and 80 percent of 1990 emission levels. This fact, too, has not been much publicized by Kyoto's supporters, and with good reason: such drastic reductions would cripple the global economy."

You may prefer to read the whole thing.

CO2 Report Makes the Rounds    (21 Mar 04) updated (23 Mar 04)

Carbon Dioxide Reported at Record Levels

That link appears to have expired, but here are other links to the report.
Carbon dioxide hits record-high levels
Carbon dioxide hits record levels
Carbon Dioxide Levels Sky High

Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have been measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory, and monthly, and annual, averages have been posted in ppmv at a CDIAC website for several years. Here are graphic summaries of annual averages, and annual increases, since 1960.

The monthly averages vary seasonally, and the May average is commonly, but not always, the highest monthly average of each year. In 2002, the most recent year for which that CDIAC file has been posted as of the time of this writing, the May average was 375.55, and the annual (fit) average was 373.07.

On Saturday, March 20, an AP (Associated Press) story began making the rounds, and by Sunday, it was posted on several dozens of "news" websites hither and yon, and perhaps beyond yon.

How much of the story might be credible is anyone's guess. Aside from the generic CO2 phobia displayed, there are statements that are particularly pertinent to the "story" of the story, but are either false, or too vague to tell the "story".

For example: "Average readings at the 11,141-foot Mauna Loa Observatory, where carbon dioxide density peaks each northern winter, hovered around 379 parts per million on Friday, compared with about 376 a year ago."

The part about "where carbon dioxide density peaks each northern winter" is, shall I say, not supported by the evidence at the above referenced CDIAC link, unless the month of May got moved to the winter, and someone forgot to tell us.

The "hovered around 379 parts per million on Friday, compared with about 376 a year ago" part is too vague, and possibly false. It's so vague that one cannot be sure that the author has a grasp of his subject. It does not specify the period for which the average of 379 ppm was calculated. Was it one day? If so, it is not comparable to the monthly averages available at CDIAC. Was it for one month? If so, which month? Was it for one year? If so, someone must have a time machine at their disposal in order to be able to compare last year's annual average with this year's annual average, since this year is not yet quite complete.

So, it seems that we must wait a while to find out the real "story" of the story.

Some additional comments on the "story" may be found under the appropriate title:
Global Warming: Why Can't the Mainstream Press Get Even Basic Facts Right?

Miceal O'Ronain has provided, in both tabular , and graphical , forms, nice compilations of year to year differences of monthly averages of Mauna Loa CO2 measurements. Among them are several in excess of 3 ppm.

Too Wet?    (17 Mar 04)
updated    (21 Mar 04)

Satellite finds warming "relative" to humidity

"A NASA-funded study found some climate models might be overestimating the amount of water vapor entering the atmosphere as the Earth warms. Since water vapor is the most important heat-trapping greenhouse gas in our atmosphere, some climate forecasts may be overestimating future temperature increases."

It is nice to see comparisons of "climate model" calculated results with empirical observations. Whether the observations support all of the inferences that the authors suggest is another question, but making the observations, noticing that they contradict the "climate models", and saying so in public, is useful information.

In addition to the useful information the press release includes assorted silly statements. For example: "In response to human emissions of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, the Earth warms, ...", as if the Sun had nothing to do with it, and as if "greenhouse gases" other than those emtitted by humans, had nothing to do with it.

As for the inference that the feedback loop can be quantified by comparing humidity measurements in the tropical upper troposphere with tropical sea surface temperatures, such an inference may be viewed as requiring more studies, and more funding.

At the link you can find a brief article which seems to accept that inference.

A very different kind of study of atmospheric water vapor may be of interest to some.

A summary graph based on that study, but including data from 1988 through 1999, seems to indicate that global average atmospheric water vapor content can vary disproportionately to global average sea surface temperatures. In viewing that graph, it is useful to keep in mind that the recently reported study concentrated on tropical phenomena, not global, and that tropical seas, particularly in the "warm pool" vicinity, emit much more water vapor per square kilometer than cooler seas. (Hmmm, to reduce "greenhouse gas" emissions, should someone put a very, very, very large diaper on the "warm pool"?) Also, the temporal extents of the data are considerably different.

As has been mentioned from time to time, some things, including atmospheric phenomena, may not be as simple as they may sometimes appear, regardless of what this, or that, computer model may suggest.

Lomborg Announcement    (12 Mar 04)

Scientific Dishonesty Committee Withdraws Lomborg Case

The Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD) today announced it would not reopen the case concerning Bjørn Lomborg's book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist".

In December 2003 The Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation completely rejected the DCSD finding that "The Skeptical Environmentalist" was "objectively dishonest" or "clearly contrary to the standards of good scientific practice".

The Ministry, which is responsible for the DCSD, found that the committee's judgment was not backed up by documentation and was "completely void of argumentation" for the claims of dishonesty and lack of good scientific practice.

The Ministry invalidated the original finding and sent the case back to DCSD, where it was up to the committee to decide whether to reopen the case for a new trial.

"The committee decision is as one would expect," Environmental Assessment Institute director Bjørn Lomborg said today. "More than two years have passed since the case against my book was started. In that time every possible stone has been turned over, yet DCSD has been unable to find a single point of criticism that withstands further investigation."

"DCSD have reached the only logical conclusion. The committee has acknowledged that the former verdict of my book was invalid. I am happy that this will spell an end to what has been a very distasteful course of events," Bjørn Lomborg said.

The DCSD translated their first judgment into English. Today's announcement is only available in Danish.

Some background information is available at his site.

Do you have the time?    (7 Mar 04)

A note received today recalled reports of a "study" published in February of 2002:

AGU: Global Warming Lengthens the Day
WASHINGTON - Global warming caused by increasing manmade carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will lengthen the day, according to a study to be published this month by the journal, Geophysical Research Letters.
"Space.com": Earth's Days Get Longer, Humans Responsible
Humans have been accused of polluting the ground, the water, the air, and even the airwaves, according to some. Now, it seems, we're messing around with time.
BBC: Warming world 'means longer days'
Belgian scientists have identified a hitherto unsuspected benefit of global warming - more time for all of us. They say increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere will slow the Earth's rotation.
CNN: Global warming could slow Earth spin, lengthen days
By steadily releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, humans could inadvertently slow down the rotation of the Earth, according to a new scientific report.
"Astronomy.com": Longer, Warmer Days Ahead?
With global warming on the rise, new research indicates that Earth's rotation is slowing.

Nothing scary, just a very slightly longer day, longer by microseconds per day, attributed to "global warming", according to computer model projections. Parts of the reports mention that other factors affect the length of day (LOD), and that the "global warming" factor may be difficult to distinguish from natural variations. (Hint: that is an understatement.)

But the best parts of the overall story are the parts that are not mentioned in any of the above referenced reports.

Even by 2002 we had been told repeatedly that the warmest years on record have been since 1990. If "global warming" would cause an increase of the LOD, where are the reports on how much the LOD has increased since 1990?

Among other places, one can find some of the data at a page on an IERS website: Excess of the duration of the day to 86400 seconds ...

The second column is the mean annual number of milliseconds per day in excess of 24 hours; the third column is the difference from that of the previous year.

1990 1.94
1991 2.04 +0.1
1992 2.22 +0.18
1993 2.37 +0.15
1994 2.17 -0.2
1995 2.31 +0.14
1996 1.83 -0.48
1997 1.84 +0.01
1998 1.37 -0.47

So, the LOD was longer during 1991 through 1995 than it was in 1990, but it dropped to being shorter in 1996, and has remained so since. One might wonder why that was not mentioned in any of the above referenced reports. Perhaps the reporters have difficulty reading tabular data. Perhaps they need pictures. Well, there's a nice picture, (Excess) Length of Day to 24 hours since 1973, at a US Naval Observatory website, a picture which makes it rather clear that the LOD has been decreasing more than increasing since 1973.

Perhaps those other factors, those natural variations, are causing the LOD to decrease recently. That is a safe bet. But if those natural variations were causing continual increases in the LOD, it would also seem to be a safe bet that that would be presented as more "evidence" of "global warming".

(Update 9 Mar) Some additional LOD data for folks who can't get enough numbers, may be found at lods1974

Idso Announcement    (4 Mar 04)

In the 3 March 2004 edition of their CO2 Science Magazine, Sherwood, Keith, and Craig Idso welcome a new Scientific and Policy Advisor to their Center:

"We are both proud and humbled to announce that in a letter dated 23 December 2003, Prof. Dr. Kirill Ya. Kondratyev of the Russian Academy of Sciences accepted our invitation to become a Scientific and Policy Advisor to the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change."

They mention in part:

With respect to the Conference and its conclusions, Prof. Kondratyev writes that "climate was changing always since the Earth was formed, is changing now, and will be changing in the future.  The alternating warm and cold climatic cycles extend from tens, to many thousands, and even millions of years, and depend on variations in radiative and magnetic activity of the Sun, on the position of Earth in its orbit, and on the migration of the solar system across the arms of our galaxy.  Since the formation of the oxygen atmosphere hundreds of millions of years ago, changes in its chemical composition have had rather minor influence on climate, with water being a dominant component of the atmosphere, responsible for about 98% of the 'greenhouse effect.'  There were periods in the past when concentrations of carbon dioxide, a trace 'greenhouse gas' (which is not a pollutant, but a gas of life, building all living organisms) were about 10 to 20 times higher than now, and no catastrophic 'runaway' greenhouse effect occurred on the Earth, and glaciers were covering parts of continents and islands.

You might, as they say, read the whole thing.

Newer than New    (2 Mar 04)

In his "The Australian" article, No future in Kyoto Protocol, Alan Wood reminds us that the IPCC dabbles not merely in 100 year climate prophecy, but also in 100 year economic prophecy.

His article discusses some criticisms of the latter, particularly by Ian Castles and David Henderson, which seem to have caught the attentions of people not likely to browse publications such as the IPCC TAR report "The Scientific Basis". A collection of some of their criticism is available in PDF form, and also in HTML form.

Castles' and Henderson's criticism was discussed in an Economist article in February 2003, which mentioned, for example:

"The unreality of the (IPCC) assumptions about economic growth in developing countries is highlighted by disaggregated projections which were recently released on the SRES website. These projections imply that, even for the lowest emission scenarios, the average income of South Africans will have overtaken that of Americans by a very wide margin by the end of the century. In fact America's per capita income will then have been surpassed not only by South Africa's, but also by that of other emerging economic powerhouses, including Algeria, Argentina, Libya, Turkey and North Korea."

One may wonder about the "expertise" of those who would dabble in such prophecies, and then characterize criticisms as disinformation.

Author Michael Crichton had some fun discussing another 100 year prophecy scenario, that of people of 1900 pondering the fates of people of 100 years later. After disposing of the possibly anticipated catastrophic horse manure crisis, he presented a list of aspects of life in the year 2000 which may not have been in the forecasts of people of the year 1900.

"They also didn't know what a radio was, or an airport, or a movie, or a television, or a computer, or a cell phone, or a jet, an antibiotic, a rocket, a satellite, an MRI, ICU, IUD, IBM, IRA, ERA, EEG, EPA, IRS, DOD, PCP, HTML, internet. interferon, instant replay, remote sensing, remote control, speed dialing, gene therapy, gene splicing, genes, spot welding, heat-seeking, bipolar, prozac, leotards, lap dancing, email, tape recorder, CDs, airbags, plastic explosive, plastic, robots, cars, liposuction, transduction, superconduction, dish antennas, step aerobics, smoothies, twelve-step, ultrasound, nylon, rayon, teflon, fiber optics, carpal tunnel, laser surgery, laparoscopy, corneal transplant, kidney transplant, AIDS . . . None of this would have meant anything to a person in the year 1900. They wouldn't know what you are talking about."

Perhaps something for IPCC "experts" to consider.

"Secret Pentagon Report"    (24 Feb 04)

The London UK Observer story gasps:

Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us

Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..

A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.

'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.'

Well now, you can read the rest there, if you enjoy such stuff, but in any case, you might enjoy reading the inimitable Tim Blair's corrections to the story at his blog. Tim does not specialize in climate related articles, but he does seem to enjoy deflating hot air. For openers:

"The report isn't secret, it wasn't suppressed, the Observer isn't the first to 'obtain' it, and it was prepared for, rather than by, the Pentagon. Fortune magazine had the whole story last month"

A Cold Greenhouse    (27 Jan 04)

It began as an obscure theory from the fringes of scientific thinking on climate, the idea that `global warming' could conspire to plunge Europe and the northeast of North America into a new ice age - and do so within our lifetimes.

The theory basically says that an increasing influx of fresh water into the North Atlantic `could' disrupt the natural sinking of salt water in the Arctic seas off Norway which draws warmer water from the south - the Gulf Stream which warms Europe.  With no Gulf Stream, Europe `could' plunge into similar climatic conditions as those of Labrador, Canada, which is on similar latitudes.  In other words, global warming could trigger a new ice age in Europe.

And the precedent for this outlandish scenario?  10,700 years ago, such an event did occur - the `Younger Dryas', where humungous floods of fresh water running off the melting ice caps over North America and Europe did freshen the North Atlantic sufficiently to shut down the Gulf Stream for about 300 years.  Once these ice caps had melted away, the North Atlantic became sufficiently salty again to allow the Gulf Stream to re-establish itself.

But where will these enormous quantities of fresh water come from today?  The industry says, coyly, `more rainfall' - from global warming.  This is an absurd proposition because no amount of rain could rival the massive melt-water runoff that occurred during the Younger Dryas.  If the Gulf Stream were weakening, there would be an expansion of Arctic sea ice into the high North Atlantic where the Gulf Stream finally sinks to the ocean depths, returning via the ocean floor.  But no such ice expansion is taking place.  Indeed, some scientists claim that sea ice is shrinking, not expanding, which suggests the Gulf Stream is as strong, or stronger, than ever.

That was the theory, a parasitic adjunct to the broader global warming theory, supported as usual by `models'.  Then `Auntie' herself, the BBC, started the process  of softening up the public for this new apocalyptic vision with this TV documentary titled `The Big Chill' late last year on how it might all start and unfold.  It was scary stuff, especially as the British public are apt to believe the BBC over and above all other media.

The latest contribution now comes from The Independent (UK) with this scare story by their environment editor, Geoffrey Lean.  He opens with this dramatic headline - "Global Warming Will Plunge Britain Into New Ice Age 'Within Decades' ", followed by this opening statement: "Britain is likely to be plunged into an ice age within our lifetime by global warming, new research suggests."   (Notice how `will' became `is likely to' in succeeding sentences).  Yes, it's always some dramatic `new research', from an industry that has only ever prospered  from creating public alarm.  The usual "much worse than previously thought" is a standard cliché for such stories.

In May this year, new fuel will be added to the fire with the release of the Hollywood blockbuster `The Day After Tomorrow', starring Dennis Quaid as a `climatologist'.  Quaid was excellent as the ever-grinning father of girl twins in `The Parent Trap', but his latest movie will see him cast as an environmentalist hero in this latest of a long line of Hollywood disaster movies.

The movie will probably be well worth seeing, for the special effects if nothing else, but it is just a movie for entertainment, not be taken seriously.

Now that the scare is on for real, the whole industry is joining the bandwagon like a downhill avalanche, gathering more momentum the longer it lasts.  It is a case study, not of climate science, but of a hysterical mass psychology in action among society's more gullible intellectuals and climate scientists who should know better.

It was a fundamental scientific error for the industry to identify individual weather events like heat waves and droughts as being indicators of global warming.  Events as diverse as floods in Britain, Australian bush fires, the European heat wave of 2003, Atlantic hurricanes, tornado events, and droughts in Australia and the US have been variously blamed by top industry scientists on `global warming'.  They even claim that the climate models predict such events, even though climate models are by definition climate models, not weather models.  In other words, they are not even designed to predict weather events, let alone link such events to `global warming'.  Example here.

The logical trap in linking weather events to global warming is that cold events (such as the recent Arctic cold wave which swept North America and recently south-eastern Europe and Turkey) which run completely counter to the global warming theory, must also be explained in terms of that theory.  That is where this new `ice age' scare is so useful for an industry which spends its whole time (and taxpayers money) dreaming up one global catastrophe scenario after another.  By invoking the possibility of `global warming causing an ice age', the industry are now in the position of being able to point to each and every weather event, whether hot or cold, as being evidence of global warming.  Heads we win, tails you lose.  It has become a closed logical system where the theory is now impervious to any external evidence which may contradict it.  And this is an intellectual black hole which climate scientists themselves were not pushed into, but enthusiastically jumped into with scant regard for basic principles of science.

So, don't blame the media - climate science is itself to blame for this absurd situation where an entire science is now impervious to any internal or external evidence which might question the quasi-religion they have embraced.  Demonstrated expertise in any complex discipline commands some authority among the non-expert public.  But the many errors of this particular science are so gross that they have squandered whatever little authority they did have.

Infrasound  (27 Jan 04)

Headaches, migraines, nausea, dizziness, palpitations, tinnitus, sleep disturbance, stress, anxiety and depression. These symptoms are all identified by new medical research in Britain as reported recently in The Telegraph (UK)

And the cause?  Proximity to low frequency noise, known as `infrasound', emitted by the thrashing blades from wind farms.  One victim described the noise "as if someone was mixing cement in the sky."  The danger of infrasound is that it is not merely audible like ordinary sound, but also resonates with the very structure of the human body, causing unpleasant vibrations that can be felt in the chest, head, legs etc. 

Wind farms are not only useless energy devices, but are now also a health hazard.

A Warmer Arctic?  (24 Jan 04)

The four headlines shown below were typical of media reports on the severe Arctic chill which descended on the northeast of the USA last week.

In these headlines, the word `Arctic' was used six times to describe the conditions faced.  The fact this event occurred at all suggests `global warming' is either non-existent or much too feeble an effect to be concerned about on a global level.  It is a non-problem.

On this performance, there will be no 5.8°C warming as claimed by the IPCC in one of their dozens of fantasy `storylines'.  Even with CO2 doubling 100-150 years from now, the global temperature increase is unlikely to exceed even one degree, let alone six.

But these headlines tell us something else too -

How many times have we heard that the Arctic itself is warming? A combination of selective evidence and wishful thinking has resulted in some scientists and environmentalists talking themselves into believing that the Arctic really was warming. 

Well, it was the `warmer' Arctic air which hit back last week, so `warm' that cold records were tumbling all across the northeast.

A Winter's Tale from Al Gore   (17 Jan 04)

While President George Bush may be eager to get off the planet with his `men to Mars' announcement, his 2000 (and possibly 2004) presidential rival, Al Gore, appears to be already off it.

He chose this of all weeks to repeat his clarion call for America to stop `global warming'.  While Gore was making his global warming speech on Thursday 15th January, the US media was swept up in other, more urgent, headlines.

CNN (USA)  -  "Freeze Strains Northeast Power Grid"  -  16 Jan 04
USA Today 
"Frigid Weather, Icy Winds Strain Northeast's Power Grid, Shut Schools"
- 16 Jan 04
USA Today -
"Freeze Shocks Cities Into Stillness"
 -  15 Jan 04
Newsday.com (USA)  -  "New Hampshire is Too Cold Even for Ice"  -  14 Jan 04

According to Gore, "I don’t think there is any longer a credible basis for doubting that the earth’s atmosphere is heating up because of global warming...  Global Warming is real. It is happening already and the anticipated consequences are unacceptable."  Tell that to the thousands shivering in the coldest US winter for many decades.

While this winter's freeze in North America is close to being a record-breaker, the fact it has happened at all is a sure sign that `global warming', if it exists at all, is much more feeble than the greenhouse scientists dare to admit.  And why would they admit it?  To do so would put an abrupt end their $4 billion-a-year party funded by the taxpayers.  Every time Nature dumps a massive cold snap somewhere, that alone provides a credible basis for doubting the IPCC's hysterical predictions of rampant warming.  It isn't enough to merely say the atmosphere is warming.  How much it may be warming is the critical issue.  A feeble warming over many decades will make scarcely any difference to global climate and that's all that can be claimed for the last 25 years - a feeble warming, most of it caused by slightly increased radiation from the sun.

Gore also slurs the so-called `climate skeptics' (such as this website).  He said "Yet in spite of the clear evidence available all around us, there are many who still do not believe that Global Warming is a problem at all.   And it’s no wonder: because they are the targets of a massive and well-organized campaign of disinformation lavishly funded by polluters who are determined to prevent any action to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, out of a fear that their profits might be affected if they had to stop dumping so much pollution into the atmosphere."

Lavishly funded by polluters?  `Still Waiting for Greenhouse' is one of the few websites openly skeptical of the IPCC's scenarios of gloom and doom, and a primary source of what Gore regards as `disinformation'.   His `lavish funding' accusation is not just disinformation by him, but also an outright lie.   In the last 12 months, this website has received funding of - wait for it - $50.  That `lavish funding' took the form of a single donation cheque to this website.   A powerful motive indeed to spread disinformation.  My information from other skeptic sources suggests equally small  amounts being donated.  We do what we do because we believe strongly in the truth of our case regardless of the level of, or lack of, funding.   The fact that a $4-billion-a-year industry feels threatened by skeptics working on a financial shoestring speaks volumes about the bankruptcy of the industry's message and their resort to character slurs.

If the `polluters' have really been dumping `lavish funding' on the skeptics, the cheques must still be in the mail.

Species Extinction - One Million, or Just One?  (12 Jan 04)

A new modelling study published in Nature, [Thomas et al, v.427 p.145, 8 Jan 04] and publicised widely in the media (e.g. here and here), has led to claims that a million of the world's species `could' become extinct by 2050 as a direct result of `climate change'.  The study focuses on several regions of the world including Australia, Brazil, Europe, Mexico, South Africa, and Costa Rica.

In one example, the BBC report on the study claims that nearly half of all protea flowering plants in South Africa `could' become extinct due to climate change.  The habitat range of these plants is shown on the left (the area shaded in brown), and the temperature record from Capetown, in the centre of that range, is shown on the right.  As is clearly evident, the warmest period of the last 150 years was the 1930s, not the present.   Clearly if the plants survived that period, they cannot be regarded as being vulnerable to `climate change'.  The claims are therefore entirely speculative and without scientific foundation.

In another example, this time a bird species, the BBC report on the study cited the Scottish crossbill as a candidate for extinction due to `climate change'.  They suggested it might even have to emigrate to Iceland - if it could survive the journey...

As with South Africa, simple reference to meteorological records affords the means to determine the credibility of the claim.  Tiree is located on Scotland's Inner Hebrides Islands, just off the west coast of Scotland.  The record shows the warmest years were 1949 and 1959.

Again we find no justification in the climate record to support the warnings made about the Scottish crossbill.  It may be in danger from other causes, but climate is not one of them.

The study itself was not based on real field studies, but used climate models matched against known habitat regions for various species and the projected changes to those habitats anticipated by the climate models.  It was a speculative statistical exercise, nothing more.

The media reports of  `one million' species to become extinct is a nice round, scary, number.  With such a loose number, we could ask - what species have already become extinct in the wild as a direct result of climate change?

A useful website for such a question is http://www.birdlife.org.uk/datazone/search/species_search.html which has a large database of all the world's bird species, making it possible to see which are endangered, threatened, or actually extinct.  Of course, terms like `endangered' and `threatened' are highly subjective and value-laden depending on the prejudices of the environmental researchers themselves. 

But `extinct' is quite precise and easily defined scientifically.  Take Britain for example.  According to the database, only one bird species is confirmed as `extinct' in Britain - the Great Auk.  It fell victim to hunting, not climate change.  In Australia, only a handful of bird species are listed as extinct, all of them sub-species on remote islands, the victims of introduced pests like rats.  `Climate change' is not implicated in any of them.

A similar lack of identified extinct bird species is evident in the rest of the world, the small number cited being attributed to non-climate factors like hunting, land clearing, pests, pollution etc.

Thomas et al say "Climate change over the past ~30 years has produced numerous shifts in the distributions and abundances of species and has been implicated in one species-level extinction."  So that's the best they have to offer - just one extinct species (the golden toad of Costa Rica) where they say climate change may be `implicated'.  So after several decades of `climate change' already, where are the extinctions?  On their reasoning, there should be hundreds, thousands of them by now, not merely the lone problematic toad species they cite.

Thomas et al also contradict themselves.  In p.147 of their paper, they say "Many unknowns remain in projecting extinctions, and the values provided here should not be taken as precise predictions."  That was for the scientific readership.  But in their abstract (the only part read by the media), they say "Exploring three approaches in which the estimated probability of extinctions shows a power-law relationship with geographical range size, we predict, (my emphasis) on the basis of mid range climate warming scenarios for 2050, that 15-37% of species in our sample of regions and taxa will be `committed to extinction'."  So is this a firm prediction or just a loose speculation?

Many if not most of the extinctions they `predict' are admitted by them to be a result of non-climate factors like land clearing, pest invasions and habitat loss.  Yet the media reports attribute all the extinctions to climate alone

Thomas et al further muddy their `predictions' or `projections' (whatever they are), with this piece of confusing hair-splitting - "We estimate proportions of species committed to future extinction as a consequence of climate change over the next 50 years, not the number of species that will become extinct during this period."   So are we to take this to mean that the `million' might not really be a million after all?  A thousand perhaps?  A hundred?  A dozen?

That such speculative nonsense could be published in a major scientific journal is simply further evidence that the greenhouse sciences are collectively incompetent and deserve to be disregarded by the wider public.

No Sea Level Threat to Maldives
(11 Jan 04)

In a recent paper, Nils-Axel Mörner et al report on a new study of sea levels in the Maldives, a coral atoll group in the centre of the Indian Ocean and inhabited for the last 1,500 years.

They found that sea levels over the last few thousand years has at times been higher than those of today with no recent tendency toward sea level rise.  See past sea level history:

Weather Delay  (11 Jan 04)

Postponement of events due to inclement weather are very commonplace.

However, the postponement of an event scheduled for 9th January by the Oregon Environmental Council was particularly ironic as the event in question was a talk and discussion by Dr Jonathan Patz - on global warming.

And the reason for the postponement?  -  Snow, ice and freezing rain (sic.)

"Due to inclement weather and massive amounts of ice everywhere, tonight's healthy Environment Forum on Global Warming with Dr. Patz has been postponed", wrote Sarah Doll of the Oregon Environmental Council in an email sent to the press,  "Sorry for any inconvenience and hope you are staying warm."

There's no beating that punch line.

A Return to Rationing in Britain?    (11 Jan 04)

According to a BBC report, British Greenhouse scientists from the Tyndall Centre in Cambridge have devised a new and sinister snake-oil cure for Britain's carbon emissions - rationing.

Britain has a lot of experience historically with rationing, having imposed it on a broad range of goods during and after the Second World War, plus some months of petrol rationing during the Suez Crisis of 1956.

The new proposal is actually a rehash of the old rationing system drawn straight from British experience of those dismal times - assign a fixed ration to every adult (in this case a ration of carbon emitting products) and allow people to buy and sell any unused credits.  The rationale is of course for Britain to single-handedly `cure' global warming.

There is one fundamental difference however - those earlier times were associated with war and national crisis and clearly understood at the time to be purely temporary.  This proposal seeks to entrench petrol, oil and gas rationing in perpetuity, without the benefit of a national crisis to galvanise public support.  In a small over-crowded country of nearly 60 million, a permanent system of rationing for energy would impose enormous social stresses of a kind scarcely seen before.  One result would certainly be an increase in emigration by Britain's most productive workers and professionals rather than tolerate the grey dismal life which would follow in the train of rationing such a fundamental product of living.

To implement such a system would result in the creation of an `informer' state as the bureaucracy needed to enforce such a system would be enormous (itself a big waste of carbon emissions).  All such rationing schemes in the past in any country in which it has been implemented has resulted in flourishing black markets, profiteering, and involvement by organised crime.  Britain could scarcely expect anything different.

In a nutshell, Britain would become a thoroughly miserable place in which to live and it is puzzling that the British government should describe this proposal as a `welcome contribution to the climate change debate'.

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