The Week That Was:February 14, 2015 Brought to You by SEPP (www.SEPP.org) The Science and Environmental Policy Project
THIS WEEK: By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)
US National Security – Threat of Climate Change: The Obama Administration continues to insist that global warming/climate change is a threat to US National Security. Such a claim can be used to expand the powers of the presidency. The President has already ordered that government agencies consider what the government states are the impacts of climate change in funding major government-funded improvements, particularly rising sea levels, into account on federally funded projects, such as military installations, roads, hospitals, etc. The underlining assumption in all this is that human-caused carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are the principal cause of global warming, also called climate change, climate disruption, climate chaos, or whatever is fashionable at the moment. In a television broadcast, Susan Rice, the US National Security Advisor, declared climate change is an existential threat. Perhaps, she assumed it was human caused. But, those who re-call existential literature may remember it to be vague and confused.
It is worthwhile to consider the development of official climate science, as proclaimed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to realize that this existential threat has a questionable basis in physical science. The Summary for Policymakers reports on the Physical Science is particularly useful, because it claims to summarize the knowledge in the physical science. Following the publication of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR-5) in 2013, Fred Singer presented a thumbnail sketch of IPCC science as an empirical science.
Singer’s sketch of the Assessment Reports discusses the following:
1. 1990 – AR1 assumed the 1910 to 1940 warming was caused by humanity, prior to significant human emissions of carbon dioxide. The assumption cannot be substantiated.
2. 1996 – AR 2 The hotspot. A warming trend on the surface, whatever the cause, should produce a strong warming trend (not greater temperatures) in the atmosphere above the tropics centered at 10 kilometers. No one can find it. Santer produced it by selecting only a subset of the available data – in the middle. This is a classic case of cherry-picking.
3. 2001 – AR 3 Mr. Mann’s “hockey-stick.” The statistical techniques used produce the distinct “hockey-stick” from random noise. The hockey-stick has not been mentioned in subsequent reports by the IPCC.
4. 2007 – AR 4. Circular argument – lack of agreement on cause of no warming
This lack of agreement is due to the fact that their models ignore major forcings — both from variations of solar activity and from changes in ocean circulation.
They then use the following trick. They re-plot their model graph, but without an increase in greenhouse gases; this absence of forcing now generates a gap between this unforced model and the reported warming. Then they turn around and argue that this gap must be due to an increase in greenhouse gases. It appears to me that this ‘proof’ may be circular. Even if the reported late-20th-century surface warming really exists (it is absent from the satellite and radiosonde records), the IPCC argument is not convincing.
5. 2013 – AR5 Same as AR 4.
The circular argument can be explained a bit further. If A + B = 10. 10 is assumed to be correct. However, we cannot solve for the value of A without establishing the value of B. At least one of the values needs to be established. The procedures used by the IPCC fail to empirically establish either the values of human influence on climate or the values of natural influence on climate. As the Apollo veterans who formed The Right Climate Stuff research team observed, we cannot successfully model the human influence on climate without successfully modeling the natural influences on climate.
The Administration is declaring climate change, which has been occurring for hundreds of millions of years, long before humanity, a threat to national security based on a discipline that uses unsubstantiated assumptions, physical evidence that no one can find, an invalid statistical technique producing biased results, and circular arguments. No wonder the US National Security Advisor calls the threat existential. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and http://www.therightclimatestuff.com/SummaryPrelimReport.html
Quote of the Week: “…and so much has been said about climate warming that there will be an awkward situation if the warming doesn’t happen or not to the extent predicted.” From Hubert Lamb, 1994 [H/t Bernie Lewin]
Number of the Week: 14.8%
Turning Useful Science Into Politics. A skilled writer and an accomplished historian, Bernie Lewin traces his view on how a small group inside the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia turned the CRU from a significant scientific undertaking into a political instrument, which subordinated empirical science to ideology. As explained by Lewin, Hubert Lamb, the founder of the CRU, objected to the concept that human emissions of CO2 (a Greenhouse Gas) was the dominant cause of global warming, since called climate change.
Lamb devoted his career to using data to develop understanding how climate changes over periods of decades and centuries. He recognized that before the human influence on global climate can be determined, the historic changes must be understood. As described by Richard Lindzen in the introduction, this descriptive approach was opposed by those who embraced the fashionable quantitative approaches of computer modeling.
As described by Lewin, Hubert Lamb could be classified as a skeptic. He recognized that greenhouse gases have an effect, but natural influences must be understood. His successors changed the overall attitude of the CRU to receive massive amounts of funding, from the US as well as the British government, by frightening people on the possibility of drastic effects of human activities.
“…and so much has been said about climate warming that there will be an awkward situation if the warming doesn’t happen or not to the extent predicted.” (1994) (p 36)
See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.
Going Personal? Writing in the UK Telegraph, Christopher Booker made certain comments to which some members of the climate community took exception. One remark concerned the remarkable elimination of polar ice in a press release by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA-GISS). The other remark concerned the adjustments to the surface data, as published by NOAA, NASA, and the Berkeley Earth unit (BEST).
When compared to the unsubstantiated allegations by Oreskes and Conway in The Merchants of Doubt, which is widely embraced by the Climate Establishment, Booker’s comments did not appear to be too outrageous or too personal. However, to their credit, global warming/climate change skeptics defended adjustments to the temperature record. Judith Curry posted comments by members of the BEST team justifying their adjustments. Luboš Motl and Patrick Michaels defended adjustments. Michaels asserts that, globally, the adjustments do not have much of an impact. However, Michaels does not mention that, based on previous presentations by Anthony Watts, and Joseph D’Aleo, adjustments to the US records may have significant impact, namely in cooling the hot decade of the 1930s. None of this explains why the raw records disappear after, largely unexplained, government adjustments are made.
The disappearance of the Arctic sea ice is another matter. “Even though Antarctic sea ice reached a new record maximum this past September, global sea ice is still decreasing,” said Claire Parkinson, author of the study and climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “That’s because the decreases in Arctic sea ice far exceed the increases in Antarctic sea ice.”
“This doesn’t mean the sea ice loss will continue to accelerate,” Parkinson said. “After all, there are limits. For instance, once all the Arctic ice is gone in the summer, the Arctic summertime ice loss can’t accelerate any further.”
These are misleading statements, giving the false impression of continues sea ice decline. Over the 35 year period from 1979 to 2013, total sea ice has declined. As Michaels points out, the decline in Arctic sea ice stopped about eight years ago. Total sea ice has been increasing for 9 years. This is similar to saying: “We had a great mission, too bad the lander crashed.” See links under Measurement Issues and Changing Cryosphere – Land / Sea Ice.
Why Surface? The Booker flap brings up the question why do government entities continue to use surface temperature data when we have over 30 years of far more comprehensive atmospheric data that is independent verified by data from weather balloons? (BEST is independently funded.)
Poor Historic Record: One TWTW reader wrote he is reading The Third Horseman by William Rosen, who states there is little or no physical evidence of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) in the Southern Hemisphere.
The NIPCC reports contain such studies. In addition, the stock answer is: There is little physical evidence of the MWP in the Southern Hemisphere because what little land there is in the Southern Hemisphere is largely in the Tropics. Compareing Hemisphere land masses north and south of 40º is revealing. The latitude is arbitrary, but illustrative.
Including Alaska, about 50% of the US and all of Canada is beyond 40º N. Except for Greece and 2/3rds of Portugal, and 50% of Spain, virtually all of Europe is beyond of 40º N. So is Russia, and much of central Asia. In the Southern Hemisphere, only New Zealand has more than 50% of its land mass beyond 40º S. About one-third of Chile and Argentina and nothing in Africa is beyond 40º S. If the MWP and Little Ice Age (LIA) were caused by changes in intensity of the sun’s rays hitting the earth, either by changes in the earth’s orbit or changes in cloud cover, we would expect that the changes would be most