The Week That Was: September 18, 2017 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org
By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project
Quote of the Week. “It is very obvious that we are not influenced by ‘facts’ but by our interpretation of the facts.”— Alfred Adler, Austrian medical doctor, psychotherapist, and founder of the school of individual psychology. [H/t William Readdy]
Preparing for the Next One – Resilience: During this active hurricane season, we are witnessing the importance of resilience – the ability to be flexible in adapting to natural disasters. SEPP Chairman S. Fred Singer has an article emphasizing the importance of preparing for the next Ice Age and suggests approaches.
Humanity evolved in the tropics during an era of intense climate change; when long, ice ages gripped much of the, now, temperate regions of the earth. Civilization came forth after the last major ice age, which ended about 12,000 years ago, the Pleistocene Epoch. Singer argues for experiments to develop techniques to moderate the next ice age, be it a major or a minor.
Singer argues for two classes of cooling periods: 1) major ones which are driven by orbital mechanics, the Milankovitch cycles; and 2) minor ones which are far shorter and driven by solar cycles, changing activity of the sun. Numerous minor cooling periods occurred during the current warm period, the Holocene. As seen during the Little Ice Age, with famine, disease, and death, even minor cooling periods can be disastrous for humanity and civilization. Some astrophysicists assert we are entering a period of a quiet sun, indicating a cooling period, akin to the Little Ice Age.
Singer’s analysis is based on his assertion that ability of carbon dioxide (CO2) to absorb infrared radiation from the earth is reaching saturation. Adding more CO2 to the atmosphere will do little to protect the earth from cooling. Earlier laboratory experiments by the US National Bureau of Standards, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and many other groups bears this out. The absorption features of CO2, and other greenhouse gases, are highly logarithmic, diminishing rapidly with additional units.
Subsequently, the 1979 Charney Report published by the National Academy of Sciences claimed that the minor influence of CO2 in the atmosphere may be amplified by increased water, resulting in an increase in atmospheric temperatures through the release of latent heat by the condensation of water vapor. The Charney Report contained no data, laboratory or observational, supporting this assertion. As discussed below, subsequent data advanced by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its followers may have significant issues, including the emphasis on surface data that is influenced by many human activities, unrelated to CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions.
To counter minor cooling periods, Singer suggests experimenting with releasing water vapor in the tropopause, the boundary between the troposphere and stratosphere, at an altitude of about 12 kilometers (40,000 feet). To counter major cooling periods, Singer suggests that once advancing ice is confirmed, releasing black soot onto polar summer ice may help prevent wide-spread glaciation.
No doubt, Singer’s proposals will be highly controversial, and many individuals will express outrage. However, that is the cost of expressing imaginative ideas in a highly politicized world. See Article # 1 and links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.
Adjusting Temperatures — Lower Troposphere Satellite Temperatures: In his three-part series addressing the question of whether reported temperatures have been adjusted to match models, geologist and statistician Roger Andrews analyzes the publicly available data, not claims in the scientific literature. Similar to Steve McIntyre, who, with Ross McKitrick, exposed the fallacious “hockey-stick” by Mr. Mann, Andrews painstakingly analyzes the data and draws his conclusions based on that analysis.
In Part 1 of this series he covered the surface-air temperature data and concluded:
“… that the good match between surface air temperatures and model simulations (in the Northern Hemisphere but less so in the Southern) were a result of homogeneity adjustments that added non-existent warming to the raw records. Whether these adjustments were applied in a deliberate attempt to match observations to AGW theory is, however, questionable. They are more likely a result of the initial and never-questioned assumption that the raw records were cooling-biased by such things as station moves from downtown to airport locations, time-of-observation changes etc. and that they therefore required warming adjustments to make them “correct” (the USHCN adjustments to the US raw records are good example). But there is no doubt in my mind that the existing published surface air temperature series, such as CRUTEM3, GISS, NOAA/NCDC and BEST overstate long term global surface air warming by several tenths of a degree C.” [Boldface added]
In Part 2 Andrews covered sea surface temperatures and concluded:
“…that the 0.4C “World War II cooling adjustment” applied to the raw ICOADs [International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set] sea surface temperature records and the insulated/uninsulated bucket bias corrections that preceded it were invalid, and that as a result the published SST series (HadSST3, ERSST etc.) are not meaningful before about 1950. In this case it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that these adjustments were applied in a deliberate attempt to match the measurements to the models. But if so the attempt was not blessed with success. The match between the published series and model simulations is still poor.” [Boldface added]
Most of the warming shown in sea surface temperature data occurred before 1950.
In part 3 Andrews covers atmospheric data from satellites. In the introduction Andrews states:
Except for small gaps over the poles the satellite temperature series are the only truly global temperature series we have; their defect is that they do not begin until 1979. Published series are constructed using raw records from different satellites that require large adjustments to bring them into line, but the good comparison between the most widely-referenced series – the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) lower troposphere (TLT) series – and radiosonde series suggests that these adjustments are valid. The other widely-referenced series – the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) TLT series was adjusted in 2015 to show over 0.2C more warming since 1979 than UAH. Data reviews do not tell us which series is the more correct, but the circumstances surrounding the RSS adjustments are suspicious. In any event, both series show significantly less warming in the lower troposphere than predicted by climate model simulations – yet another instance of the measurements not matching the models.
Further, Andrews concludes
“… that with one exception the raw satellite data are correctly adjusted and that the published TLT series are reliable. The exception is of course the RSS v 4.0 series, which adds over 0.2C of warming to preceding RSS series. There is no proof that this added warming was a result of a deliberate attempt to match the measurements to the models (and if it was it also didn’t succeed – see Figure 7). The timing of the adjustments is nevertheless suspicious, and it’s worth noting that Ben Santer, a champion of the AGW cause, was involved in the adjustment process. But if the attempt was indeed deliberate it wouldn’t have been the first. In April 2006, the U.S. Climate Change Science Program published a study that led off with the following statement:
“’Previously reported discrepancies between the amount of warming near the surface and higher in the atmosphere have been used to challenge the reliability of climate models and the reality of human-induced global warming. Specifically, surface data showed substantial global-average warming, while early versions of satellite and radiosonde data showed little or no warming above the surface. This significant discrepancy no longer exists because errors in the satellite and radiosonde data have been identified and corrected. New data sets have also been developed that do not show such discrepancies.’”
“I have no data on what the corrections were, but there can be no doubt that they wouldn’t have been applied if the satellite data hadn’t “challenge(d) the reliability of climate models and the reality of human-induced global warming”.
“The bottom lines that emerge from all this are:
“1. The only published temperature time series that are not distorted by adjustments and which can therefore be considered reasonably reliable are the UAH TLT series and the SST series after about 1950. (The various radiosonde series, which go back to 1958, also appear to be generally reliable, and more use could be made of them.)
“2. Climate models show too much air temperature warming at the surface and in the troposphere. They show probably about the right amount of sea surface warming after 1950 but probably too little before. Overall the models show that greenhouse gases have had considerably less impact on temperatures than AGW theory says they should have had.” [Boldface added.]
The findings of Andrews correspond with the views expressed in TWTW: 1) UAH atmospheric data are the only reliable true global data; 2) there are questionable adjustments to the surface data; and, 3) current RSS adjustments to atmospheric data are highly questionable. For these reasons, when discussing global measurements of temperature, TWTW relies only on UAH TLT data. As described in the Charney Report, it is in the atmosphere, the lower troposphere, that the greenhouse effect of CO2 occurs and any amplification thereof.
Let us hope that unlike the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia (CRU), NASA-GISS and NOAA-NCDC, now called National Centers for Environmental Information (NOAA-NCEI) preserved the unadjusted surface data. If not, they have failed the American public in preserving important history. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.
More Ocean Oscillations? As stated in last week’s TWTW, the El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a poor term because there is no oscillation in the sense of a rhythmic movement back and forth. The El Niño component warms, and La Niña component cools. But they are not predictable. This week, the Global Warming Policy Foundation published a study by atmospheric physicist Anastasios Tsonis examined ENSO and other complicated changes in the oceans such as the North Atlantic Oscillation [the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO)] and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). These may not be true oscillations, but seem to occur fairly regularly. In the past, Joe D’Aleo of WeatherBELL Analytics has described to these changes.
To better understand these changes, many taking decades, would be a great benefit in understanding our changing weather and climate. The new study can be a complement to the prior statistical work by Wallace, D’Aleo, and Christy. Unfortunately, much needed work into understanding the natural causes of climate change has been side-tracked into blaming CO2. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and Defending the Orthodoxy.
What Happened to Irma? Hurricane Irma was a serious threat to Florida, and, initially, forecast to travel up the east coast of the state. Later, it crossed the Florida Keys as a category 4 hurricane and was forecast to go up the west coast of the state as a major hurricane (category 3 or above). The winds dissipated, but the storm caused major damage from heavy rain and wind less that category 3. For example, the damage to orange groves may drive up the prices of fruits for months ahead.
Although the after-action reports are not complete, apparently the strength of the eye of the storm dissipated due to wind shear – an occurrence where the direction or intensity of the winds vary with altitude at or near the eye.
According to reports, with a few exceptions, government officials and the public responded well to the danger. The electric auto maker Tesla released an electronic upgrade to owners, without cost, which would allow owners to drive farther before charging. This prompted some criticisms, but charging for upgrades at little cost to the manufacturer has been a long tradition in the electronics industry.
False alarms can fool people into thinking there is little danger when hurricane alarms are given in the future. After Katrina, past false alarms were an excuse given for the Mayor not ordering evacuation of New Orleans. We need a better severe storm forecasting ability. Unfortunately, diverting billions of dollars for forecasting multiple future climates are of little practical value.
Hurricane Jose has been circulating in the Atlantic Ocean for over a week, with little interest. Now, it appears that Jose may threaten the northeast by late this week. If it happens, we can expect the climate chorus to go into full throat. Of course, they will be unable to explain what drove the 1938 Long Island Express Hurricane, which took a theater out to sea, with patrons; or the 1635 Great Colonial Hurricane that hit the Massachusetts Bay Colony. See links under Seeking a Common Ground, Changing Weather, and Changing Weather — Forecasts
Energy Follies: Denmark’s DONG Energy won an auction for needing the lowest subsidies from the UK government for providing electricity from wind from a project off the coast of Yorkshire. DONG agreed to provide electricity at a government guaranteed price, below those of competitors. Headlines immediately seized on the low guaranteed price, below that of the guaranteed price for the Hinkley nuclear power plant, which may have been a very bad deal for the UK consumers. None of the reviewed reports covers how electricity will be provided when wind power fails, which it will. Such inconveniences are not covered, although civilization fails to operate with electric power fails.
Writing in The Australian, economist Judith Sloan questions the huge increases in electricity prices in Australia as government shifted to green energy, despite an abundance of fossil fuels.
“The most pressing need of the government is to secure the future of dispatchable electricity generation and to do so at reasonable prices. Everything else is a side-show.”
See links under Communicating Better to the Public – Make things up and Questioning Green Elsewhere.
Number of the Week:??? One wonders how much rain has fallen on the Atlantic from Hurricane Jose as compared to how much rain fell on Houston from Harvey. Forecasting such storms is necessary to be able to forecast intensity of hurricanes that make landfall, but there seems to be little interest. [H/t Joe Bastardi]
1. Preventing the other climate catastrophe
Periodic global cooling might be thwarted by geoengineering
By S. Fred Singer, Washington Times, Sep 12, 2017
SUMMARY: The Chairman of SEPP writes:
“Climate cooling, as opposed to warming, presents serious problems for humanity. As cooling causes agriculture to fail, most of the world’s population will starve and we will be reduced from its present level to about a million, hunting animals and collecting nuts and seeds for sustenance. This has happened before during the ice ages, when nomadic bands of prehistoric humans had to shelter in caves for protection from the cold, and had to rely on uncertain supplies of food.
“Geoengineering to combat global warming is controversial. It is expensive and presents risks to the environment. However, when geoengineering is applied against climate cooling, both expense and risk become minor items.”
Singer asserts there are two types of global cooling events: 1) orbital; and 2) solar. The orbital cooling is described by Milankovitch, and is responsible for the ice ages over the past 2 to 3 million years. These events may last 100,000 years and cause severe hardship on humanity. Dumping black soot onto polar summer ice may help prevent, or at least lessen such wide-spread glaciation.
The solar cooling is caused by changes in the activity of the sun, is far shorter, and less severe; yet, is dangerous to civilization. The Little Ice Age is an example. Releasing additional CO2 will not prevent it, because the heat absorption ability of atmospheric CO2 is virtually saturated and additional amounts will not have much an impact. Releasing water vapor in the tropopause, the boundary between the troposphere and stratosphere, at an altitude of about 12 kilometers may do the trick.
“While there is much current discussion about geoengineering, the expense and the risk have been forbidding. I strongly believe that the time is right for conducting experiments to test the concepts described above to offset a sure-to-occur catastrophic climate cooling.
“In a nutshell, as opposed to global warming, global cooling is a very real problem for a number of reasons. Based on the historic past, we can be sure that cooling will occur again, and maybe very soon. When it does occur, it will have serious effects on agriculture and lead to mass starvation. Unlike for warming, geoengineering against cooling seems physically possible, relatively inexpensive and environmentally benign.”
2. The Climate-Change Distraction
It’s confusing, causally incorrect and diverts resources from real solutions to real problems.
By Bjorn Lomborg, WSJ, Sep 7, 2017
SUMMARY: Arguing that climate change is a problem, author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist” writes:
“Climate change has been blamed for a dizzying array of absurd woes, from the dwindling number of customers at Bulgarian brothels to the death of the Loch Ness monster. Most of us can see through these silly headlines, but it’s far harder to parse the more serious claims when they’re repeated in good faith by well-meaning campaigners.
“Consider the recent assertion by Unicef’s Bangladesh head of mission that climate change leads to an increase in child marriages. Between 2011 and 2020 globally, more than 140 million girls under the age of 18 will become brides, leading to curtailed education and reduced lifetime earnings, more domestic violence, more deaths from complications due to pregnancy and increased mortality for the young brides’ children. By all accounts, child marriage must be taken seriously.
“In Bangladesh, nearly 75% of women between the ages of 20 and 49 reported that they were married before they turned 18, giving the country the second-highest rate of child marriage in the world. As the Unicef head tells it, climate change has been a major cause, as warmer weather has worsened the flooding, pushing people to the cities, leading to more child marriages.
“This entire string of logic is wrong. The frequency of extreme floods in Bangladesh has increased, it’s true, but studies show their magnitude and duration have in fact decreased. And Bangladesh is far better at adapting today than it was a generation ago. In 1974, a flood killed 29,000 people and cost 7.5% of the country’s gross domestic product. A slightly larger flood in 2004 killed 761 people and cost 3.3% of GDP.
“Nor is Unicef right to claim a connection between flooding and urbanization. A study published in the Journal of Biosocial Science found that living in cities doesn’t increase the likelihood of child marriages in Bangladesh. Rather, it was “significantly higher among rural women.” According to another study, published in the Chinese Journal of Population Resources and Environment, the average age of marriage in cities is 16.15 years, compared to 15.08 years in rural areas.
“This isn’t surprising. Across the world, there’s a convergence between low urbanization rates and higher child-marriage rates. In Africa, the three worst countries for child marriage—Chad, Mali and Niger—also have the lowest levels of urbanization.
“Given the weak links between warming, flooding, urbanization and the contrary link between urbanization and child marriage, climate policies would be the least effective in addressing the problem. Copenhagen Consensus research shows that we need to focus instead on nutrition and education, political opportunities for girls and women, and improving women’s rights to inherit and start a business.”
Lomborg gives an example of a successful program in Bangladesh, then discusses malaria which he states is a consequence of poverty. If fully enacted, the Kyoto Protocol would have done little to relieve suffering from malaria. He concludes by stating:
“None of this means that we should ignore climate change. But to respond properly we need to stick to the facts and maintain a sense of perspective, avoiding tenuous connections and ineffective solutions that ultimately divert resources away from fixing the real problems.”