By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent, BBC News
Black carbon, or soot, is making a much larger contribution to global warming than previously recognised, according to research.
Scientists say that particles from diesel engines and wood burning could be having twice as much warming effect as assessed in past estimates.
They say it ranks second only to carbon dioxide as the most important climate-warming agent.
The research is in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres.
Black carbon aerosols have been known to warm the atmosphere for many years by absorbing sunlight. They also speed the melting of ice and snow.
This new study concludes the dark particles are having a warming effect approximately two thirds that of carbon dioxide, and greater than methane.
“The large conclusion is that forcing due to black carbon in the atmosphere is larger,” lead author Sarah Doherty told BBC News.
“The value the IPCC gave in their 4th assessment report in 2007 is half of what we are presenting in this report – it’s a little bit shocking,”
The researchers say black carbon emissions in Europe and North America have been declining due to restrictions on emissions from diesel engines. But they have been growing steadily in the developing world. However as these type of particles don’t last very long in the atmosphere, cutting their number would have an immediate impact on temperatures.
Interactive map shows extreme temperatures, rainfall, snowfall, floods, wildfires and droughts
News reports in the past two weeks have noted that 2012 was the warmest year ever recorded in the U.S. Today we learn that 3,527 monthly weather records were broken in 2012, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The tally exceeds the 3,251 records set in 2011, the previous high. NRDC has just released an interactive map equipped with a slider that can be moved from January to December to reveal where record temperatures, rainfall, snowfall, floods, droughts and wildfires were occurring on any given day.
Tables on the map’s Web site also list specific dates, locations and weather records. Kim Knowlton, senior scientist at NRDC, noted in a prepared statement that the rising incidence of extreme weather “has awoken communities across the country to the need for preparedness and protection.”
By the year 2050, expect parts of Seattle neighborhoods to be under water, said James Rufo Hill, a climatologist with Seattle Public Utilities.
Rufo Hill displayed a map of the city showing parts of West Seattle, Georgetown, South Park, Harbor Island, Interbay and Golden Gardens inundated by rising sea levels caused by climate change. (You can listen to his explanation of the map in one of the videos above.)
The map and a call for public input on a set of recommendations for a new Climate Action Plan for the city were unveiled at a City Council news conference at the north beach of Myrtle Edwards Park on Monday.
“2012 was the hottest year on record for our planet and one month ago, the highest tide ever recorded in the city of Seattle happened,” Councilman Mike O’Brien said. (You can see a video of the high tide above.)
“You can look over my shoulders and see the cranes that represent the economic activity of this maritime and industrial sector that create so many family wage jobs, when you look at the map and you see that most of Harbor Island can be under water in these events, it really causes us concern about future looks like and how we adapt to that.”
“By 2050 this king tide will not be out of the ordinary but will be the norm,” Councilwoman Jean Godden pitched in.
By Jonathan Pearlman in Sydney
9:45AM GMT 14 Jan 2013
The wall of fire is threatening a town in the state’s northwest as the heatwave continues in parts of the country.
Authorities said the fire which burned on Sunday through the Warrumbungle National Park was one of the most ferocious in the state’s history. It has razed about 40,000 hectares of bushland.
“To have fire fighters trying to battle that blaze would have literally been a suicide mission,” said Rob Rogers, from the New South Wales Rural Fire Service.
“The smoke plume of that fire extended some [8.7 miles] into the air and even prevented us from getting aircraft overhead because of just how dangerous and bumpy the conditions were. Embers were being blown ahead of the fire and starting a new fire some [3 miles] ahead and it became very apparent early in the piece that there was just absolutely no stopping that fire and it was simply too unsafe to leave people.”
The fire damaged the Siding Spring Observatory, the country’s largest optical astronomy research facility. Five buildings were destroyed but the observatory’s fifteen telescopes remained intact. The facility’s eighteen staff were evacuated.
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — As an unusual cold spell gripped parts of the West for a fifth day, some California citrus growers reported damage to crops and an agriculture official said national prices on lettuce have started to rise because of lost produce in Arizona.
The extreme chill in the West comes as the eastern U.S., from Atlanta to New York City, is seeing spring-like weather.
In California’s San Joaquin Valley, where farmers are fighting to protect about $1.5 billion worth of citrus fruit on their trees, Sunday temperatures dropped to 25 degrees in some areas and stayed low longer than previous nights.
Prolonged temperatures in the mid-20s or below cause damage to citrus crops.
“It was our coldest night to date,” said Paul Story of Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual, an association of the state’s 3,900 citrus growers. “I think mandarin growers are going to see a range of significant damage, enough that they will have to separate their crops.”
Mandarins are more susceptible to cold than other citrus and start to freeze at about 32 degrees, Story said. Because many mandarin trees were planted in recent years as the fruit’s popularity soared, they are grown in colder areas outside the traditional citrus belt.
Other citrus crops saw little or minimal damage, Story said. This year’s high sugar content in oranges helped protect them, he said, because sugar inhibits freezing.
Growers deployed wind machines to keep the warm air closer to the ground and irrigation to raise the temperature in the groves. Rows farthest away from the protection could be damaged, Story said. And farmers who do not have wind machines could lose crops.
Lindsey-based Robert LoBue — who grows 1,000 acres of citrus, including mandarins — said wind machines were critical in his groves, but saving the crop doesn’t come cheap. LoBue runs one wind machine for every 10 acres and has to employ a crew to operate them.
“We’re very diligent, we run the wind and water all night,” LoBue said, “but we’re spending thousands of dollars to protect these crops.”
And farmers are on the hook for a fifth cold night: a freeze warning remains in effect until 10 a.m. Tuesday for central California.
In Southern California, where strong winds helped keep some crops out of danger by keeping the cold from settling, farmers said any damage would negatively impact workers and consumers.
“We have between 170 to 200 employees and if we can’t pick we have to lay off our picking crews,” said John Gless, a third-generation Riverside-based grower. And if there’s less fruit to pick, he said prices will go up.
Temperatures in downtown Los Angeles fell to 34 degrees, breaking the previous record of 36 degrees set on Jan. 14, 2007.
In Angeles National Forest, where overnight temperatures have been dropping into the 20s, Arcadia hiker Danny Kim, 28, was found Sunday night after surviving 26 hours in the frigid West Fork wilderness. Kim was airlifted to a hospital for treatment of hypothermia.
In Beverly Hills, fans brought heavy coats and scarves as they waited along the red carpet hoping to catch glimpses of stars arriving for the Golden Globes ceremony Sunday evening. Some of the actors shivered but weren’t complaining.
“I’d rather be nippy than boiling hot,” said actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who arrived in a strapless dress. “No, I’m not wearing any leggings or long underwear.”
In San Diego, zookeepers offered extra heat and shelter for some animals.
To the east, the freezing temperatures already have done enough damage to southwestern Arizona lettuce crops that prices are increasing, said Kurt Nolte, a Yuma, Ariz.-based agricultural agent for the University of Arizona.
The area provides much of the nation’s leafy greens during the winter, and farmers are reporting damage to many romaine and iceberg lettuce crops. The cold is freezing the heads of the lettuce and affecting the quality and yield, Nolte said.
The price for a carton of lettuce in Yuma two weeks ago was $7 to $8. As of Monday, it cost around $20 per carton, he said.
“That’s a result of cold weather in the Yuma area for the last six weeks,” Nolte said.
Overnight temperatures this week have dipped into the 20s around Yuma, and Nolte said lettuce farmers can’t protect their crops.
“With lettuce, you don’t have the luxury of wind machines to stir up the atmosphere,” he noted. “You have to live with what Mother Nature brings. Very little can be done other than maybe running some water to protect what’s going to be harvested the next day.”
Nolte said Yuma farmers haven’t seen much damage so far with other crops such as spinach, cauliflower and broccoli.
Metropolitan Phoenix marked one of its coolest stretches since 1988 and Sunday morning’s low of 7 degrees in Douglas, Ariz., broke a record for January in the Mexican border town.
Farther north, a school district on the Navajo Nation cancelled all classes Tuesday because of freezing temperatures.
Temperatures in Window Rock, Ariz., were expected to be well below freezing Tuesday with a high of 21 degrees and a low of minus 5 degrees. The Window Rock School District posted the cancellation notice on its website Monday, saying heating the schools has been a problem.
In Nevada, the temperature in Ely plummeted to 24 below zero early Monday and wind chills were expected to drop to near 40 below into Tuesday.
And in northern New Mexico, parts of Interstate 25 and some other highways were snow packed and icy Monday, and officials warned travelers that additional light snow could lead to hazardous driving conditions when coupled with the freezing temperatures.
By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, January 13, 2013 13:33 EST
Tens of millions of people may be spared droughts and floods by 2050 if Earth-warming carbon emissions peak in 2016 rather than 2030, scientists said on Sunday.
Climate researchers in Britain and Germany said emission cuts now would delay some crippling impacts by decades and prevent some altogether.
By 2050, an Earth heading for warming of 2-2.5 degrees Celsius (3.6-4.5 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 could have two very different faces, depending on the route taken to get there, said their study published in the journal Nature Climate Change
Policies that cap Earth-warming carbon emissions in 2016 and then reduce them by five percent per year could see between 39 and 68 million people spared exposure to a higher risk of water shortages by 2050, Nigel Arnell of the University of Reading told AFP.
This is the best-case scenario, though.
In contrast, if emissions peak in 2030 and fall by five percent annually, the number who escape this risk drops to between 17 and 48 million.
Similarly, about 100-161 million people would avoid a higher risk of river flooding on the 2016-peak scenario.
This compares to 52-120 million people if emissions peak 14 years later, said Arnell, director of the university’s Walker Institute on climate change.
“Basically in 2050, the 2030-peaking policy has about half to two-thirds of the benefit than the best (2016) policy,” even though both lead to a similar temperature peak of about 2-2.5 deg C by 2100, he said.
“You may hit the same (temperature) point at the end of the century but… the mayhem that’s been caused on the way to that point is different under the different pathways.”
Under a scenario without any emissions curbs, temperatures could rise as much as 4-5.5 deg C, said the new paper which claimed to be the broadest assessment yet of the benefits of avoiding climate change impacts.
Global average warming of 4 deg C would see almost a billion people have less water in 2100 than they have now, and 330 million will be at greater risk of river flooding, Arnell told a pre-release press conference.
A peak in 2016 seems unlikely, with the world’s nations aiming to adopt a new global climate pact by 2015 for entry into force only five years later.
The latest round of UN climate talks that concluded in Doha, Qatar in December failed to set pre-2020 emissions cuts for countries that have not signed up to the Kyoto Protocol that seeks to curb warming, even as scientists warned the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere continues to rise.
Three of the world’s four biggest polluters — China, the United States and India — are among those with no binding emission limits, which cover countries responsible for only about 15 percent of the world’s carbon pollution.
Many scientists believe that Earth is set for warming that will be far above the United Nations’ 2 deg C target on pre-industrial levels.
“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions won’t avoid the impacts of climate change altogether of course, but our research shows it will buy time to make things like buildings, transport systems and agriculture more resilient to climate change,” said Arnell.
By Roger Harrabin Environment analyst
Politicians are doing more to combat climate change than they are given credit for, according to a report.
It says 32 out of 33 countries surveyed have introduced, or are producing, significant climate-related laws.
Out of these, 18 nations are making “significant” progress, with some emerging economies taking a lead.
The Globe group of parliamentarians, which published the report, admits that emissions are still growing at a dangerous level.
But Globe president John Gummer, the former Environment Secretary, says progress on a national level gives some cause for optimism.
“The tide is beginning to turn decisively on tackling climate change, the defining material challenge of this century,” he said.
“This is a game-changing development …taking place across each and every continent.”
The study on climate legislation is the third from Globe International, a group concerned with environmental issues.
It says the document is the most comprehensive audit across major developed and emerging economies. It has been produced with the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics (LSE).
“When a critical mass of countries have moved sufficiently forward you will see the process take its next major step.”
Adam Matthews Globe secretary
Representatives of 33 countries will attend the launch at the first Globe Climate Legislation Summit, to be held in London on 14-15 January.
The report says approaches and priorities for climate-related legislation differ from country to country, adding that they are inspired by climate change, energy efficiency, energy security or competitiveness.
But the authors say legislative changes are producing similar results – improved energy security, greater resource efficiency and cleaner, lower-carbon economic growth.
It says these national law changes are creating the mechanisms to measure, report and verify emissions – a pre-requisite for a comprehensive global climate treaty that countries have agreed to settle in 2015.
And it says actions at a national level will offer world leaders the political space to go further and faster in the UN negotiations.
The report lists highlights in 2012 as including:
By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, January 13, 2013 9:30 EST
Australia’s top research observatory home to several telescopes used by scientists from around the world was under threat from wildfires on Sunday as hot weather and lightning storms stoked scores of new blazes.
The Rural Fire Service (RFS) of New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, issued an emergency warning for an out-of-control fire raging towards the Siding Spring Observatory, a remote global research facility.
“About a dozen isolated properties at Mt Woorut, including Siding Spring Observatory, may come under threat,” the RFS said.
“This is a large and dangerous bush fire… Police have evacuated the area around Siding Spring. Firefighters and waterbombing aircraft are on scene.”
Siding Spring, a mountain-top site in the Warrumbungle ranges about 500 kilometres (310 miles) north-west of Sydney, houses 10 operating telescopes run by Australian, Polish, British, Korean and American researchers.
Administered by the Australian National University’s research school of astronomy and astrophysics, Siding Spring is the nation’s major optical and infrared observatory and one of the top facilities of its kind in the world.
A university spokeswoman said all observatory personnel had been confirmed as “safely evacuated and accounted for”.
“The university is working closely with the NSW Rural Fire Service and monitoring the situation,” she told AFP.
Crews were battling difficult conditions, with temperatures in the area in excess of 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahreheit) and hot north-westerly gusts blowing at about 60 kilometres (37 miles) per hour.
The fire was burning across a four-kilometre front, with a strong southerly change later in the evening expected to complicate containment efforts.
A partner observatory at Canberra’s Mount Stromlo was destroyed by wildfires in January 2003 that killed four people and razed more than 500 homes.
Five telescopes, residences and more than a dozen buildings were ruined in the Mount Stromlo inferno, forcing the termination of a number of major projects including a digital survey of the southern hemisphere’s skies.
Large parts of Australia have sweltered under extreme heat in the past week, sparking hundreds of wildfires that have destroyed more than 100 homes.
Todd J. Gillman
January 11, 2013
With federal scientists reporting this week that 2012 was the hottest year on record for the contiguous United States, by far, climate scientists and environmentalists have been abuzz with talk of a need for action. House Republicans, in particular, have fiercely resisted many of the suggested prescriptions.
The Texan who just took over as chairman of the House Science Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, plans a fresh assessment, with a hearing in coming weeks on the current state of the environment, according to a committee aide.
“I believe climate change is due to a combination of factors, including natural cycles, sun spots, and human activity. But scientists still don’t know for certain how much each of these factors contributes to the overall climate change that the Earth is experiencing,” Smith said through an aide. “It is the role of the Science Committee to create a forum for discussion so Congress and the American people can hear from experts and draw reasoned conclusions. During this process, we should focus on the facts rather than on a partisan agenda.”
Photograph by Chris Hadfield, NASA via Reuters
Wildfires scorch Australia in this image taken from the International Space Station and released January 8. To make matters worse, on January 7, the country experienced their hottest day on record, with average temperatures hitting 104.59 degrees Fahrenheit (40.33 degrees Celsius).
Forecasts call for even higher temperatures next week—so high in fact that Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology had to add a new color to their temperature scale. (See more pictures of Australia’s wildfires.)
Suha Philip Ma’ayeh
The cold and wet weather hit Israel, where authorities were preparing for the possibility of snow in Jerusalem and, in Lebanon, where flood waters swept away a young boy.
Jordan, which is 92 per cent desert, is one of the driest countries in the world but authorities declared a state of emergency across the country in reponse to the rain.
Fhaid Tiameh, the assistant director at the centre for Jordan’s Department of Metreology, said the country had not experienced that much rain in two decades.
“The rainfall in the past few days was the best we had had since the winter of 1991-1992,” he said.
Rainfall in first forty days of winter, which starts on December 21, contributes to 30 per cent of the season.
“Already, the precipitation is more than 100 per cent and the season is not over yet.”
The main road between Amman and the northern city of Zarqa was closed as sections were swamped by up to a metre of water and, in the capital, flash floods overwhelmed a drainage system and most traffic underpasses and tunnels were closed. The city council and water utility traded blame for the resulting traffic gridlock, while the government came in for criticism from the media.
The weather forecast predicted snow in hilly areas above 800 metres with temperatures expected to drop below zero last night.
Authorities announced the closure of major tunnels due to the increase of water levels. The Civil Defence Department urged citizens to ensure that their houses are properly ventilated to avoid suffocation from kerosene and gas heaters.
But the recent price hikes in oil and gas coupled with an end to government subsidies has left many Jordanians in a dire situation this winter.
“I live on 80 dinars (Dh415) a month from the social development,” said Fadya Masarweh, a 54, Jordanian mother of four. “I have one kerosene heater but I don’t have kerosene to keep us warm. We hardly have any food. Only God knows how we survive,” she said.
The weather also affected about 50,000 Syrian refugees at the Zaatari refugee camp in northern Jordan.
“The rainfall soaked the belongings of some of the refugees and we had to relocate around 60 families to the prefabs,” said Ali Bibi, liaison officer from the United Nations.
“We need the international donor community to take the humanitarian responsibility to support and assist the refugees.”
Riots had broken out at the camp yesterday when several refugees attacked aid workers with sticks and stones to protest against their living conditions made worse by the harsh weather.
Flooding also hit Israel yesterday, forcing the closure of the main motorway to Tel Aviv while weather experts warned of the possibility of a snowstorm in Jerusalem.
The numbers are in: 2012, the year of a surreal March heat wave, a severe drought in the Corn Belt and a huge storm that caused broad devastation in the Middle Atlantic States, turns out to have been the hottest year ever recorded in the contiguous United States.
How hot was it? The temperature differences between years are usually measured in fractions of a degree, but last year’s 55.3 degree average demolished the previous record, set in 1998, by a full degree Fahrenheit.
If that does not sound sufficiently impressive, consider that 34,008 daily high records were set at weather stations across the country, compared with only 6,664 record lows, according to a count maintained by the Weather Channel meteorologist Guy Walton, using federal temperature records.
That ratio, which was roughly in balance as recently as the 1970s, has been out of whack for decades as the country has warmed, but never by as much as it was last year.
“The heat was remarkable,” said Jake Crouch, a scientist with the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., which released the official climate compilation on Tuesday. “It was prolonged. That we beat the record by one degree is quite a big deal.”
Scientists said that natural variability almost certainly played a role in last year’s extreme heat and drought. But many of them expressed doubt that such a striking new record would have been set without the backdrop of global warming caused by the human release of greenhouse gases. And they warned that 2012 was probably a foretaste of things to come, as continuing warming makes heat extremes more likely.
Even so, the last year’s record for the United States is not expected to translate into a global temperature record when figures are released in the coming weeks. The year featured a La Niña weather pattern, which tends to cool the global climate over all, and scientists expect it to be the world’s eighth- or ninth-warmest year on record.
Assuming that prediction holds up, it will mean that the 10 warmest years on record all fell within the past 15 years, a measure of how much the planet has warmed. Nobody who is under 28 has lived through a month of global temperatures that fell below the 20th-century average, because the last such month was February 1985.
Last year’s weather in the United States began with an unusually warm winter, with relatively little snow across much of the country, followed by a March that was so hot that trees burst into bloom and swimming pools opened early. The soil dried out in the March heat, helping to set the stage for a drought that peaked during the warmest July on record.
The drought engulfed 61 percent of the nation, killed corn and soybean crops and sent prices spiraling. It was comparable to a severe drought in the 1950s, Mr. Crouch said, but not quite as severe as the legendary Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s, which was exacerbated by poor farming practices that allowed topsoil to blow away.
Extensive records covering the lower 48 states go back to 1895; Alaska and Hawaii have shorter records and are generally not included in long-term climate comparisons for that reason.
The attendees at the recent global “climate” conference in Doha, Qatar, most of them highly influential and powerful in their home countries, were treated to a special address recently.
“There has been no global warming for 16 years (actually 18 or 19 years, on closer examination),” the speaker said. “Even if warming were to occur at the predicted rate this century, it would be many times cheaper to adapt … than to attempt, futilely, to mitigate it today. An independent scientific enquiry would be a good idea, to make sure that the conferences on the climate were still heading in the right direction.”
Those words are what Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, described as the high priest of climate skepticism and a regular columnist for WND, recalls telling the stunned crowd of affluent attendees.
He addressed the conference, which had just finished hours of consultation and discussion of how to prepare for the catastrophe long predicted by Al Gore, that of global warming.
“My intervention in Doha was on the spur of the moment, right at the end of the final plenary session when no one else wanted to speak,” he told WND. “The intervention gained very substantial international publicity, and I had not expected this. As a result, it is now widely known that there has been no global warming at all for more than a decade and a half.
“The fact had been concealed from the world by the news media, now largely controlled (in the West, at any rate) by the hard left,” he said. “Now the media are looking silly, the politicians are beginning to wake up, and perhaps – just perhaps – a little common sense will now creep into the climate debate.
“But it would be wise not to hold one’s breath,” he said.
He agreed recently to an interview with WND on topics including the ice cap, sea levels, warming vs. cooling trends, carbon emissions, greenhouse effect, data padding and others details.
The Question-and-Answer exchange follows:
Question: Alarmist models and charts abound, showing a dramatic increase in temperature at the end of the 20th century, the foremost being the famous “hockey stick” graph – the primary basis for global warming scenarios. Yet NASA records a significant drop in temperature over the same period. Defenders of global warming justify this large discrepancy by differentiating between “tropospheric” and “stratospheric” temperatures for the period in question. What are your thoughts about this conundrum? Why is there such a large difference between these two indices of temperature? Which analysis of the data is correct?
Answer: From 1980-2000, the stratosphere – the climatically inactive upper region of the atmosphere – had been cooling, while during the same two decades there had been surface warming at a rate equivalent to 0.17 Cº/decade. Climate extremists had tried to suggest that the stratospheric cooling was occurring because greenhouse gases in the troposphere (the climatically-active lower region of the atmosphere) were inhibiting the return of long-wave radiation to space. Their argument was that if the sun had been the cause of the warming the stratosphere as well as the troposphere would have warmed. However, around 2000 the stratospheric cooling and global warming ceased. The extremists now seldom mention stratospheric cooling as a hallmark of manmade global warming, not least because they have finally been compelled to admit that the debate is not about whether CO2 and other greenhouse gases can cause some warming (they can) but about how much warming they will cause.
Q: Studies done by Harvard meteorologists have been unable to replicate the extreme scenarios and findings of the IPCC without “data padding.” Has “data padding” obstructed public knowledge of actual temperature trends? Can you explain data padding and other statistical anomalies in global warming discussions to readers? Did the IPCC, in your view, falsify data?
A: Arbitrary interpolation, sometimes called “padding the data,” is a procedure by which climatologists [for] regions of the Earth such as the Antarctic, where temperature stations are few, fill in guesstimates of what the data would have been in various places that have no thermometer measurements. This technique was used three years ago in a now-notorious paper by various authors including Michael Mann of Penn State University, in which it was pretended that Antarctica had been warming over the past 30 years when in fact it had been cooling. It was subsequently shown that one of the main reasons for this bizarre result was improper interpolation.
Climate-extremist scientists have often tampered with the data.
Data truncation: A scientific paper, published in the peer-reviewed literature in 2006, displayed the following graph and drew from it the conclusion that the frequency of severe (category 3-5) Atlantic hurricanes has been increasing, and that we are to blame.
Data fabrication: The publicity poster for Al Gore’s climate movie, a still from the film, showed an apparently precipitate increase in temperature in recent times. However, the graph could not have been drawn by any scientist.
Unjustifiable dramatization: The professor of “climate change impacts” at University College, London, largely paid by British taxpayers, produced the following propaganda poster in 2010 showing what the Houses of Parliament would look like if sea level were to rise by 20 feet, as Gore predicted in his movie.
However, Mr. Justice Burton, in the UK High Court, in a very rare instance of a climate-related case that was not a sweetheart action between two publicly subsidized entities each of which held global warming to be a global crisis – found that, particularly with reference to sea level, Gore had been exaggerating.
In his judgment, he bluntly said: “The Armageddon scenario that [Gore] depicts is not based on any scientific view.”
Graphical realignment: Officially, sea level is rising not at 20 ft imminently but at 1 ft/century. The IPCC’s 2007 report only predicts a maximum of less than 2 ft/century to 2100, down from more than 3 ft/century predicted in its 2001 report. However, at a conference organized by the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow in 2004 a member of the University of Colorado’s satellite-altimetry team told Professor Niklas Mörner that the satellite data were not in fact showing any sea-level rise, even after correction for tectonic subduction, isostatic recovery, variations in length of day, etc. Professor Mörner was told that the entire graph of satellite-altimetry-derived sea-level rise since 1993 had been arbitrarily tilted upward to show the sea-level rise that is now used as the basis for numerous papers saying it indicates a sharp and inferentially anthropogenic increase in ocean heat content. In a 2011 paper for the Centre for Democracy and Independence in the UK, he wrote:
“The fact of this ‘reinterpretation,’ which turned a near-zero trend in sea-level rise to a trend of 2.3 mm/year (later 3.2), was orally confirmed by a member of the satellite altimetry team in 2005 when I attended a meeting on global warming held by the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. Exactly what was done remains unclear, as the satellite altimetry groups do not specify the ‘corrections’ they carry out. …
“The concept of the global isostatic adjustment is a model supported by some data (see e.g. Peltier, 1998) but contradicted by other data (e.g. Mörner, 2005). Global isostatic adjustment corrections have been applied to tide gauges, to sea level records, to satellite altimetry data, and now to ocean mass changes. It appears that without these corrections there is little or no room for any global sea level rise. Correcting tide gauges for global isostatic adjustment or regional crustal movement is not the correct way of treating records of this type. Instead, each site must be evaluated individually with respect to stability, wind, waves, sedimentation, compaction, loading, and tectonics. A blind global isostatic adjustment model correction may provide quite wrong results; it is a dangerous shortcut applied by scientists who are not sea-level specialists by training and hence lack the skill to undertake careful site-specific stability analyses themselves. Fig. A shows the satellite altimetry records as presented by NOAA (2008), which suggest a sea-level rise of 3.2 (±0.4) mm/year:
Figure A. Satellite altimetry as given by NOAA. The TOPEX-JASON satellite data provide a record suggesting a mean sea-level rise of 3.2 mm/year over the period 1993-2007. The (GRACE) GIA-corrected trend for 2003-2007 (arrowed line) agrees with the JASON data. This suggests that the satellite record is strongly affected by “corrections.” Consequently, this satellite altimetry graph has a long-term trend which is significantly greater than that which actual instrumental measurements provide: it is created by inferred “corrections.”
“In Fig. B [below], the TOPEX/POSEIDON satellite altimetry record of Fig. A is back-tilted to fit the original trendfor 1992-2000 and the raw data from the GRACE satellites … for 2003-2007.
“This gives an un’corrected’ satellite altimetry graph, from two independent sources of actual, unaltered data, showing no signs of any sea-level rise. The original record for 1992-2000 is restored … and the GRACE raw data fit the record perfectly well:
“Figure B. The ‘calibrated’ satellite altimetry record tilted back to match the original, un’corrected’ data. The original TOPEX/POSEIDON raw data for 1992-2000 showed variability around a stable horizontal zero line. … The GRACE raw data … show a gently falling trend for 2002-2007. Together, these two untampered datasets indicate that global mean sea level trend has remained stable over the entire period 1992-2007, altogether eliminating the apparent 3.2 mm/year rate of sea-level rise arising from the “adjusted” data (Fig. A). This implies that the Fig. A satellite altimetry record is significantly altered by non-technical ‘corrections’ (whatever they may be). The ‘corrections’ applied are not specified by the responsible groups at NOAA and the Centre National des Etudes Spatiales, France’s space agency. Various types of corrections may be applied, provide that they are clearly declared and described. This is not the case with the presently-circulated trends in sea-level rise from satellite altimetry (see e.g. Aviso, 2003; NOAA, 2008).
“If the ‘corrections’ applied are not clearly specified (and discussed and argued for), then the resulting corrected data cannot be objectively evaluated. It may be mere disinformation, perhaps disseminated with the intention of supporting the IPCC’s wild claims about sea-level rise.” (Mörner, 2011).
During a climate conference at Downing College, Cambridge, in May 2011, Professor Mörner presented results of detailed surveys by him in all parts of the world, confirming his conclusion that there has been little or no statistically-significant sea-level rise since the satellites began monitoring it in 1993. The moderator of the session at which he spoke was visibly displeased, but was not able to refute any of Professor Mörner’s detailed evidence.
Alteration of scientific conclusions: The final scientific draft of the IPCC’s 1995 Third Assessment Report, submitted by hundreds of participating scientists, had concluded five times that no manmade warming influence is yet discernible:
“None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed changes to the specific cause of increases in greenhouse gases.”
“No study to date has positively attributed all or part [of observed climate change] to anthropogenic causes.”
“While none of these studies has specifically considered the attribution issue, they often draw some attribution conclusions for which there is little justification.”
“Any claims of positive detection of significant climate change are likely to remain controversial until uncertainties in the total natural variability of the climate system are reduced.”
“When will an anthropogenic effect on climate change be identified? It is not surprising that the best answer to this question is, ‘We do not know.’”
The IPCC did not want any of these things said. It asked a single scientist, Dr. Ben Santer of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, to rewrite the already-concluded final draft to remove all five of the statements shown above, and to replace them with:
“The body of evidence now points to a discernible human influence on global climate.”
The “body of evidence” in the temperature record showed no such thing.
Wilful data manipulation: The IPCC decided in its 2001 report to depart from its 1990 First Assessment Report, which had shown a schematic indicating that the mediaeval warm period had been appreciably warmer than the present.
However, 11 years later, in the 2001 Third Assessment Report, the mediaeval warm period had been made to disappear.
In 1995, Dr. David Deming had written a paper in Science on the reconstruction of pre-instrumental surface temperatures by borehole measurements. As a result, he was congratulated by several scientists. In 2005 he wrote:
“A major person working in the area of climate change and global warming sent me an astonishing email that said, ‘We have to get rid of the Mediaeval Warm Period.’”
Not “We have to verify the extent and duration of the Mediaeval Warm Period” – that would have been a scientific statement. Instead, “We have to get rid of the Mediaeval Warm Period” – a political statement. And that is exactly what was done.
The IPCC’s 2001 Fourth Assessment Report reproduced six times, in full colour, a graph that relied upon a number of unorthodox statistical practices. The paper, (Mann et al., 1998-1999), drew heavily upon bristlecone-pine proxies for pre-instrumental temperature change, even though a previous IPCC report had recommended against the use of such proxies on the ground that the width of the tree-rings is influenced not only by temperature change but also by changes in precipitation, and most notably by changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration.
Recent attempts by Mann and others to revive the unsound graph suffer from some of the same defects as the original: removing the bristlecone proxies and a further defective outlier (the Tiljander proxy) from among the proxy datasets clearly shows that the medieval warm period was real, was global, and was appreciably warmer than the present.
Dr. Craig Idso has collected papers by almost 1,000 scientists worldwide, nearly all of which demonstrate the influence of the Mediaeval Warm Period and show that it was at least as warm as, and in most instances warmer than, the present. If the IPCC were to do science by consensus, it would probably not give credence to model-derived results contradicting the consensus.
The statistical methods in Mann et al. were examined by McIntyre & McKitrick (2003, 2005). In all material respects, the two researchers’ findings were powerfully endorsed by a detailed investigative study by three statisticians at the instigation of the House (Wegman, 2005). Among other conclusions, the Wegman report found that a sudden and suspicious spate of papers published after the exposure of the defects in the paper that purported to abolish the Mediaeval Warm Period, all of which used similar methods and came to similar results, had been published by authors associated with the lead author of the original paper via previous joint publication.
The content of the Climategate emails, when they emerged in 2009, was sufficiently disturbing to prompt the Attorney General of the State of Virginia to initiate an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the compilation and publication of what was to become known as the “hockey-stick” graph (with a straight shank showing no Medieval Warm Period and a long blade suggesting a rate of increase in global temperature, and an absolute global temperature, that are unprecedented in the past millennium. It was the hockey-stick graph that wrongly wiped out the Mediaeval Warm Period.
The legislative basis for the Attorney General’s investigation is the Fraud against Taxpayers Act. The question he is asking is this: Did those who compiled the hockey-stick graph knowingly fabricate data or falsify results in a manner calculated to defraud taxpayers by attracting research grants?
It is not for me to say whether any of those responsible for the hockey stick had committed criminal offences. However, it is worth examining some of the scientific criticisms of the graph that have emerged. These criticisms reveal multiple techniques that appear to have been calculated artificially to deliver the result desired by the climate extremists.
Reweighting of selected data: First, the compilers of the hockey-stick graph are said to have given 390 times as much weight to tree-ring data sources that produced a hockey-stick shape, showing apparently exceptional 20th-century global warming, than they did to other sources that showed no such thing.:
Overriding the data by programming: The Mann-Bradley-Hughes algorithm always produced hockey-stick-shaped graphs showing exaggerated and exceptional 20th-century warming, even if proper temperature proxy data (from tree-rings, stalagmites, lake sediments, etc.), were replaced with red noise, a type of entirely random input data. The computer program had been tuned so that it very nearly always produced graphs of the shape the authors produced:
Suppression of inconvenient data: The authors of the graph had suppressed the temperature proxy data for the Mediaeval warm period itself, while saying in the paper that they had relied upon it, and had instead replaced the real data with estimates of their own, without having said that that was what they had done. When the true data were restored, even with the tuned algorithm used by the authors of the “hockey-stick” graph, McIntyre and McKitrick showed that the Mediaeval Warm Period duly reappeared.
Nature, which had originally published the hockey-stick graph, had refused to accept any corrective material from the two Canadian researchers, but eventually published a corrigendum written by the paper’s original authors. Nevertheless, the IPCC continues to rely on the hockey stick to this day, though it no longer uses it as its logo, as it did from 2001-2005.
Refusal to share data: The Climategate emails, released from a server at the University of East Anglia in Britain by a whistleblower in November 2009, showed how the authors of the hockey stick and a surprisingly small coterie of other scientists had engaged in practices inconsistent with the scientific method. Not the least of these was refusal to share data with others who wished to verify the results claimed.
Professor Phil Jones, the scientist chiefly responsible for the Climate Research Unit’s surface-temperature dataset, at first answered all queries about his computer codes and data by saying that he refused to release any information because those requesting it were only asking for it so that they could verify whether it was correct. Yet such verification is precisely how the scientific method works. Professor Jones’ refusal to make all of his data and codes immediately available when other scientists requested it had long raised concerns, particularly because his results had a direct bearing on the question of how fast the world is warming.
Concealment of freedom-of-information legislation: When the Freedom of Information Act came into force in the UK, Professor Jones and other scientists began writing emails to each other to discuss how they could prevent their codes and data from being made available. Professor Jones’ first advice to fellow-Climategate emailers was that they should not let anyone know that there was a Freedom of Information Act in the UK.
Destruction of data: Professor Jones subsequently wrote to fellow-emailers that he would destroy data rather than provide it to researchers who requested it under the Freedom of Information Act.
Conspiracy to destroy data: In another email, Professor Jones indicates that the University of East Anglia was prepared to connive in the destruction of emails while pretending to preserve them: he discloses how a Freedom of Information officer at the University of East Anglia had told him that he must not destroy any emails, except for the purpose of keeping email traffic manageable. Yet the capacity of the University’s servers is likely to be enough to permit all of the Team’s emails to be permanently stored, tracked, and made available on request. Inferentially, the Freedom of Information officer was giving a large hint to Professor Jones and his colleagues that if they destroyed emails he would look the other way.
Circumvention of freedom-of-information legislation: Professor Jones and others then discussed several reasons for not disclosing data and computer programs to anyone who might request them under the Freedom of Information Act:
Avoidance of data archiving: Professor Jones, in an exchange of emails, discusses the fact – which the emails deplore – that some scientific journals not only have a policy of requiring all computer codes and data to be archived with the journal at the same time as a learned paper is submitted, but also actually go to the trouble of enforcing the policy. The implication was that submitting papers to such journals was best avoided, because it might lead to publication of the information the Climategate emailers were, for some reason, anxious to withhold.
Discrimination against skeptical scientists in data sharing: Professor Jones then worked with Freedom of Information Officers at the University of East Anglia to minimize the scope, categories, and quantity of information to be disclosed to those requesting it. An email to colleagues describes how Professor Jones had shown the University’s Freedom of Information Officers details of the website of one of those requesting information about how he had compiled his global-temperature dataset, and had persuaded them to agree that the person requesting the data ought not to be given anything if possible. Yet there is no provision in the Freedom of Information Act in the UK that allows any such discrimination.
Refusal to share program code: Numerous emails establish that the scientists who sent them were particularly anxious to conceal from other researchers the computer code they were using to create their global-temperature record. The reason for this refusal is readily discernible from one of the document files also released by the whistleblower, a series of notes by a exasperated programmers trying to make sense of the numerous segments of apparently erroneous computer code in the scientists’ programs, and of many data files that were missing, incomplete, unlabeled, duplicated or based on incompatible units of measurement.
Conspiracy to destroy data: Finally, in 2008 Professor Jones wrote to several scientists inviting them to delete all emails relating to their participation in the preparation of the previous year’s Fourth Assessment Report of the UN’s climate panel. He wrote this email some three weeks after the University of East Anglia had received a request under the Freedom of Information Act for precisely the information that he was recommending his colleagues to emulate him in destroying. Yet not one of the numerous “inquiries” into the Climategate emails ever asked Professor Jones or any of the other emailers whether they had ever destroyed any of the data that Professor Jones had said he would himself destroy and had advised them to destroy. The question was simply not raised.
Q: By many accounts, Antarctic sea ice has set record highs, and total surface area has expanded, which seems to run counter to the “rising sea levels” narrative currently popular in the scientific community. CNN bombards its viewing audience with polar bears “drowning” in melting ice, despite these figures, publicly available to anyone who cares to look. How do you explain this apparent contradiction? Cannot polar bears swim?
A: Sea ice in the Arctic has declined appreciably since the satellites were first able to give reasonably reliable estimates of total sea-ice cover in 1979. However, there is some evidence to suggest that there was considerably less sea ice in the Arctic in 1922 and again in the early 1930s than there is today, and that Arctic sea ice had reached a peak in 1979 from which one would have expected it to decline somewhat in any event. Throughout the 33-year period of satellite observations, sea ice in the Antarctic has been increasing, and its extent makes up about half the loss of sea ice in the Arctic. Polar bears are not found in the Antarctic, but only in the Arctic, where their population has increased approximately fivefold since the 1940s. They are warm-blooded animals, so the chief threat to them is not from warmer weather, which they would prefer, but from hunting, which is now somewhat better controlled than it used to be. Polar bears can indeed swim hundreds of miles if they wish, as recent papers have established.
Q:The response to the collapse in so-called consensus was to re-brand “global warming” as “climate change”. How do you respond?
A: There has been no global warming for 18 years according to the latest version of the Hadley Centre/CRU dataset that is favored by the IPCC. By coincidence, the annual U.N. Conferences on the climate under the Framework Convention on Climate Change have been running for 18 years. There has been no global warming at all throughout the period. None of the computer models predicted this. Indeed, in 2008 the world’s leading modelers wrote a paper for the NOAA’s annual State of the Climate report (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 2008, p. 523), in which they said that their simulations ruled out, to 95% confidence, zero trends over intervals of 15 years or more, suggesting that a period at least this long would be needed to create a discrepancy between the models’ predictions and real-world observations. Therefore, by the modelers’ own criterion, their predictions have failed. The models are wrong. Yet there are now so many people making money out of the climate scare that it cannot stop straight away. So “global warming” was rebranded first as “climate change”, then as “climate disruption”, then as “energy security”, to keep the cash flowing.
Q: In the seventies, the greenhouse theory was used to project a coming ice age. The threat then was not warming but cooling. Is this an indication that the greenhouse theory lacks scientific validity? Is greenhouse theory merely a political device? If so, what could be the possible motive behind its deployment across decades?
A: John Tyndale, at the Royal Institution in London, conducted experiments in 1859 that established by measurement that the greenhouse effect exists. However, from 1940-1976 there was a period of global cooling, even though CO2 concentration was increasing rapidly. By the mid-1970s, scientists had sensed they could scare governments into believing that global cooling was a problem, and a series of lurid articles began to appear in the news media. Then, in 1976, coinciding abruptly with the cooling-to-warming phase transition in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, an influential weather pattern, warming began. By the late 1980s, global warming was the new scare. However, the direct warming from a doubling of CO2 concentration (which may happen by about 2150) is little more than 1 Cº. So the modelers use various imagined (and largely imaginary) “temperature feedbacks” that allow them to multiply this small warming threefold. However, since none of these feedbacks can be measured, or distinguished empirically from one another or from the forcings that triggered them, or determined theoretically by any method, they are simply guesswork. They are not Popper-falsifiable and, therefore, neither they nor the large warming predicted by the models in response to a doubling of CO2 concentration are science at all. Yet it is on the basis of these imagined feedbacks that the IPCC tells us we must spend trillions shutting down the economies of the West. The reason for this continuing nonsense, of course, is money.
Q: Many international environmental agreements include references to Western greed and unfairness, and usually contain mechanisms for large wealth transfers from rich to poor countries to rectify claimed injustices. In the Copenhagen agreement, the term “climate reparations” was used widely. Even Obama’s advisers suggested using climate change agreements to effect “distributive justice.” Some said that Kyoto would have rebalanced global power, and virtually mandated the de-industrialization of the West, as well as capped military consumption of fossil fuels, which might have reduced American influence overseas. Is this “watermelon Marxism”? Is there another agenda behind calls for environmental protection? President Obama once told reporters his policies would bankrupt the coal sector, which provides 50 percent of U.S. energy. What is going on?
A: The reason why the political left in the West (though not elsewhere) has adopted the climate scare with such unbecoming and avaricious enthusiasm is that some of the largest funders of their political opponents on the center-right are coal and oil corporations. Since oil is necessary for automobile gasoline, the oil corporations have largely escaped the wrath of the left, but the coal corporations are now under sustained assault and are already being compelled greatly to reduce their financial contributions to the left’s opponents.
Though there is much pietistic waffle at various U.N. climate conferences about the West’s supposed “climate debt” to third-world countries, it is gradually becoming apparent to all but the dimmest of center-right parties that the left had fooled them and is now busily cutting off some of their largest sources of funding, using the climate as a handy pretext. Therefore, just about the only regions committed to the second “commitment period” of the Kyoto Protocol that was agreed in principle in Durban in 2011 and repeated rather pointlessly in Doha in 2012 is the EU, run by what is effectively an unelected Politburo, and Australia, now suffering under its most extreme-left government ever.
The visibility of the distinction between hard-left regimes in the West such as the EU and Australia, on the one hand, and everyone else, on the other, is now useful. More and more nations are doing what Canada is doing: disengaging from the entire climate process and getting on with facing the world’s real environmental problems: deforestation on land, overfishing at sea, pollution in the air.
Q: The Convention on Biological Diversity, and the “Global Biodiversity Assessment” that it commissioned, made bold calls for the redistribution of private property and locking up over half the U.S. landmass for purposes of “re-wilding.” The U.S. Man and Biosphere program is connected to this agreement, even though it was never ratified. Is there any link between international agreements dealing with property and those addressing “climate change”? In your view, what is the ultimate goal?
A: The late Eric Ellington, one of the original founders of Greenpeace, was a friend of mine. He once told me that he and many other founders of Greenpeace had left the organization within a year or two because it had been taken over by Marxists. Because Eric and his fellow founders of Greenpeace were non-political, they did not have the skill to prevent the Marxists from infiltrating and rapidly capturing and stealing their organization, retasking it to destroy the West while using the environment merely as cover.
Greenpeace and other Marxist front organizations have now realized that the “global warming” storyline is collapsing far more quickly than they had hoped. They are, therefore, putting their exit strategy into place. Expect to hear a great deal more in the coming years about ocean “acidification” (which any geologist will tell you is impossible, because the oceans are pronouncedly alkaline and must remain so because they are strongly buffered by the rocks that contain them). When that backup scare fails, as it must, the next scare will be the “biodiversity” scare. However, this scare will in fact be far more damaging to third-world countries than to Western countries, which are largely in the Northern Hemisphere, where species diversity is not great. And, since we cannot even know to within two or three orders of magnitude how many species there are on Earth, finding a performance indicator for “biodiversity” is going to prove difficult. Frankly, when the leftists are compelled to fall back upon biodiversity, they will have lost the environmental argument for good.
Q: Many municipalities in the States have signed on to ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives), which draws its authority from Agenda 21, also not ratified by the U.S. What, if any, legal problems exist in municipal participation in this organization? What, if any, dangers might there be to such participation?
A: The U.N.’s Agenda 21 program is another attempt to destroy the West from within, this time via local authorities, who have been easily flattered by the attention (and, where they might otherwise have proven reluctant, the money) from the U.N. However, Agenda 21, ambitious though it is, is doomed to fail because it is seen as closely allied to the global warming movement, now in a state of rapid collapse. Municipalities often have substantial freedom to set their own environmental policies and hence to allow the U.N. to set them for them, but in many parts of the world they have very limited freedom, and if they abuse that freedom it is possible for citizens to challenge the lawfulness of their participation in Agenda 21 by way of judicial review. In the end, economic considerations are going to persuade most Western nations, and a growing proportion of the electorate, that absurdities such as Agenda 21, which – if they had any legitimate purpose – would be much more urgently needed in heavily-polluting third-world countries than in comparatively well-regulated Western nations, can no longer be afforded.
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