Monthly Archives: April 2012

Climate Politics aids Boeing, hurts EADS

Climate politics in the EU has always been a bit odd.  Now it is costing European jobs as a never ending debt crisis sucks Europe into recession.  EADS, the company that makes Airbus aircraft is required by the EU to charge a carbon tax attached to the sale of their planes.

The BBC reported in a March 8th article that

More than two dozen countries, including China, Russia and the US, have opposed the EU move, saying it violates international law.

The tax affects deliveries beginning in 2013 and went into effect on January 1st.

The Chinese government may refuse to let Chinese airlines purchase Airbus planes.  It has had a chilling effect on business at Airbus.  On March 8th, EADS complained to the authorities, saying they were going to lose orders to Boeing.  On March 20th, they asked the EU to delay new rules for 2 years.  In April, Boeing secured a new airplane order from a Chinese airline.

We in the US are benefiting from EU largesse.  Boeing is the largest exporter in the US and now  they have a competitive advantage…..thanks to the misguided application of climate politics.  Unilateral regional actions in an interconnected world don’t work.  China does not like being required to pay for European political decisions.  As long as they have a choice, they will simply take their business elsewhere.

I wonder how long this will last.  China is projected to be the largest market for commercial Aircraft in the world for the foreseeable future.  I’ll predict right now, that no matter who is elected president in 2012, a carbon tax on aircraft is going nowhere in the US.  Europe will have to decide whether jobs or carbon emissions are more important…stay tuned it should get interesting.

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Global Temperature Data Varies Wildly — We need lots of Data

Who’d have thought something as simple sounding as temperature could become controversial.  Measuring the Earth temperature is actually a fairly difficult task.  The Earth is a big place, with a limited number of measuring points, particularly in the oceans.  Any answer has more than a little SWAG.

I’ve got to say, I like Satellite data better than land based global temperature data.  It covers the whole world and is less likely to be manipulated by adjusting for local conditions.  But what I really like is lots of data.

I am constantly amazed by the amount of variation within data sets.  It is not unusual for data to vary by .2 or .3 degree C in a given month and changes of .4 degree C in a single year is fairly common.  Natural background noise can be a degree or two C per century.  That’s a lot of variation.  Here is the current UAH Satellite chart:

Lots of month to month and year to year changes.  Now lets take a peek at a Land Ocean Index Chart (although Ocean data before 1995 is pretty spotty).  Here the current NASA chart going back to 1880 that I pulled off the NASA website:

NASA data used to go back to 1866, and the period between 1866 and 1880 had two very warm years, 1877 and 1878 and rapid annual cooling (.43 degree C)  between 1878 and 1879.  Imagine  1877 and 1878 being about the same as 1973 on this chart.  And 1964 and 1976 were almost as low as 1890 back then too.  The whole chart looked a bit flatter, particularly before 1980, and a lot less ominous.   The trend was still up, it does make you wonder….what new information about the 19th century emerged since 2009 when I downloaded the old data?

Now lets look at a chart that compares satellite and a group of land based data.

The data matches pretty well.  UAH and RSS are the two principal US sites that  do Satellite data. They compensate for Satellite errors in different ways.  RSS is regularly a bit higher than UAH, but they match well.  I am not sure which direct measurements were used in this comparison I pulled off Wikipedia.  Probably the East Anglia, UK data or perhaps NOAA, or perhaps an average of many sites.  It’s not NASA.  NASA insists 2005 was warmer than 1998.

Land based data is subject to wild manipulation…and stories of NASA manipulation seem to be everywhere. My favorite NASA manipulation story – NASA changed the way they calculate temperature in 2005, and some people think their approach might be less than rigorous. Here is a link to the story:

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=300o

I found the site while reading articles about how 2011 was either the 9th warmest in history, the 3 coldest in the 21st century or just a bit above the average of the last 34 years, depending on the article, or the data source and how the data is presented.

I am reconciled to the notion that I will likely die without knowing whether anthropogenic global warming is a serious problem or a political construct.  That is because the data sets vary wildly and the background has the potential to vary wildly too.   We either need to come up with a much more effective way to measure and understand the past, or we need lots more data.

The data is so scattered,  patterns are not going to be immediately identifiable.  Lots of data will be required for confirmation.  Someone looking at Satellite data in  1998 could easily draw a draconian conclusion (sound familiar), but the next 14 years worth of data failed to show continued warming.  March of 2012 in the Eastern USA  was very warm, but it got colder in April,  And so it goes.

Polar Bears might be OK — Time will Tell

Last week Forbes, Fox News and the Globe and Mail  (a Toronto based Canadian publication) all reported on a survey conducted  of Polar Bears in the Hudson Bay area of Canada.  I discussed the article in my most recent post.

The Polar bear population in the critical Western Hudson Bay area is probably near twice the number predicted by the experts.   This area supposedly has been impacted by human activity and global warming.  Scientists were wrong.  What happened?

Experts (you know the definition of an expert — someone more than 50 miles from home) were convinced the area population was in decline.  Global warming was taking its toll as the world has warmed faster than it has in the past according to these same experts, and the UN’s own Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the source of this knowledge.

Warming faster today than in the past?   Come on guys.  It is predicted that it could warm faster….but it hasn’t happened yet.

The IPCC admitted in their  1990 Climate Assessment that sudden changes of up to 2 degree C in a relatively short period of time (less than a century) could be normal climate variation because there is evidence that a 2 degree C change happens with some regularity throughout  ice age cycles.  So far we have changed a bit more than 1 degree C in about 150 years.  Not exactly extraordinary.

Warming seen since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution has not yet been unusual Ice Age warming.  It warmed very rapidly for a few years in the late 1990’s but there was also a significant volcanic eruption (Mt. Pinatubo in June of 1991) that might have impacted that warming.  Warming peaked in 1998 and any change since then has been at a much slower rate.  It appears the experts might have been relying on an IPCC prediction rather than empirical data.  Maybe…maybe not.

The IPCC offers a cornucopia of predictions for the year 21oo in their 2007 Synopses report (the current report). The IPCC does this by providing carbon dioxide scenarios predicting the future, and then they run lots of computer models.   Output of the models predict a wide array of results that vary from mild warming to severe warming.  The IPCC  summary reports offer multiple scenarios, and each scenario has within it a wide range of possible results.

There is no predicted result, just a range of options and the IPCC does not quantify the options in any significant way.  We are left to guess…to pick the one we like.

The most extreme scenario (the press and environmental groups like to use this one), the A1F1 predicts the climate will increase by at least 2.4 degrees C and it could increase by as much as 6.4 degrees C by the year 2100.  That’s quite a wide range only 88 years into the future.  The IPCC does provide a best estimate value of about 4.0 degree C, but they don’t ever define best estimate statistically.

This scenario requires man produced carbon dioxide to almost triple from 2000 levels by 2050.  That is not going to happen.  Right now we are about 25% higher than we were in 2000, we are going to have to accelerate our human output of carbon dioxide rapidly to get to the A1F1 scenario.  All other scenarios offer less warming…but similar variability in the results.

The IPCC states in their Synopses that no attempt as been made to attach probabilities to any of the scenarios.  Widely varying results, no probability analysis, science the IPCC way!

If Polar bears lived through the frequent warming and cooling  of the Pleistocene Era (the great ice age), and a recent study suggests the species has survived several complete ice age cycles, then they probably experienced greater temperature changes than we are seeing today.  Perhaps scientists are underestimating their ability to adapt.

Perhaps they are also overestimating the effects of climate change…pick your scenario….and pick your favored output….. pick a SWAG, I’ll pick mine and we’ll meet in a few hundred years and see who was the better guesser.

Polar Bear is 600,000 — Go Bears

I love it when the conventional wisdom of the day is successfully challenged.

Witness what is happening right now with Polar bears.  The conventional wisdom of last week was that Polar bears had evolved from Brown bears about 150,000 years ago and that their species is declining.  Both assumptions appear to be wrong.

Two recent articles about Polar bears are forcing changes in peoples attitudes.  As this new information filters around the scientific community, lots of entrenched positions will require alteration.  It will be entertaining to watch.

The first article appeared in the New York Times on April 19th.  The article was reprinted on page one of our local paper a day later.   Polar bears not descended from Brown bears.  Scientists have used a new way of testing the DNA of Polar bears and Brown bears. They now believe that Polar bears have always been a distinct and different species from Brown bears and this species has been around for 600,000 years.  Wow.  Here is a link to the article:

http://www.adn.com/2012/04/19/2431687/polar-bears-not-descended-from.html#storylink=misearc

A second article, published on April 22nd by Forbes discusses a count of Polar bears in a critical Canadian habitat.   Local residents performed the count because they were convinced that they knew their own neighborhood better than the visiting scientists. That article titled Biodiversity Bombshell: Polar Bears And Penguins Prospering, But Pity Those Paramecium! is available at the following link:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrybell/2012/04/22/biodiversity-bombshell-polar-bears-and-penguins-prospering-but-pity-those-paramecium/

Wow what a good week for Polar bear news.

Scientists and natives have been arguing about the health of the Polar bear population for years.  This year, the Government of Nunavat conducted an aerial count of the Western Hudson Bay Polar Bear area.  Scientists had predicted that this group had already been decimated by global warming and that the population was down to 610 individual bears.

The government counted more than a thousand, which of course means the numbers are at least 66% higher than the experts said.  The numbers are almost surely higher, but how much higher.  It is possible the scientists were off  by more than 100%.   An area where Polar bears are supposed to be in decline might be doing the opposite.  The population might be increasing.  The Polar bears appear to be surviving much better than scientists predicted.

The article went on to say the Penguin population in Antarctica is healthier than expected too.  It’s beginning to look like there’s a bit of wild ass guessing going on in the Arctic, and Antarctic too.

Polar bears are listed as threatened species.  But not because their numbers are dwindling although some scientists claimed they were until April 22nd.  They are threatened by predicted environmental change that might occur if and when the Arctic warms.

What happens if that predicted change is not as threatening as earlier thought?  Suppose that 1) the climate change is less likely to be severe or 2) the Polar bear is more adaptable than is widely believed.

If either is true, then the Polar bear does not belong on the threatened list.  The Polar bear not threatened….that could be a public relations and fund raising problem for environmental groups that have spent years lobbying to get it included over objections form locals in Alaska and Canada.

Stay tuned …this could get interesting.

Sloppy Science has a long history at the IPCC

The UN has been in charge of climate research since 1988 when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed.   The UN has been in charge of negotiating treaties on climate too.  When one agency has that much control over the process, the opportunities for mischief are almost endless.

The notion that the UN is the worldwide expert on anything scientific seems odd to me.  The UN is not where I normally go when  seeking scientific enlightenment.  But I suppose if one wants to mix science and politics together into some form of sciopolitical stew, it’s the perfect place to go.

There have been too many big  mistakes at the IPCC.  Last week I discussed the 2007 Himalaya Glacier debacle. It was a horrible mistake on a grand scale .  In December of 2009 it was Climategate.  The IPCC has been sloppy for a long time.  My favorite is the 2001, Hockey Stick Graph event, sloppy science in the extreme.

Chapter 7 of the 1990 IPCC Climate Assessment is titled Observed Climate Variation and Change.  Back then the IPCC described in detail weather going back 600,000 years.  A discussion of the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age was a part of their evaluation.  Multiple graphs were included, with one covering the last 1000 years.  Here is that graph from page 202 of the report:

This graph and others like it were causing problems for the IPCC. If it was warmer 1000 years ago (and 6000 years ago too on a different graph), how could the IPCC be sure the warming we were seeing today was man caused?

In 1998 a small miracle appeared.

Michael Mann and others published a new study in Nature that showed rapid 20th century warming.  The study included a 600 year long temperature reconstruction. Another 400 years was added in a second graph in 1999.  That 1000 year long graph became known as the Mann Hockey Stick Graph.  Ta Da, the graph:

The same 1000 years, two very different graphs.  The Mann graph was magical.  In one single piece of research….Poof… the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age were gone. How convenient for the IPCC.

In 2001, the IPCC released its 3rd Climate Change Synthesis Report..  It featured the Mann Graph and the graph became the rage of the climate science community. Pro global warming scientists from all over the world adopted the graph.

Other studies that contradicted the Mann report were mysteriously missing form the IPCC Synopses.  The IPCC had just rewritten climate history based upon a single unsubstantiated piece of data that was brand new.  One sloppy WAG, and wrong too.

The Mann study turned out to be flawed.  It has been challenged both mathematically and scientifically.  But even if it had been accurate it was arrogantly sloppy science.  The study was too new and too untested to be adopted so quickly. Pro global warming advocates all over the world liked the results…it was the proof they needed …so they ran with it.

Look at the data.  There is very little fluctuation in data until 1900 (which  contradicted earlier studies) and then it went nuts.  Mann would later claim (in a March 2005 Scientific American article) that the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age were regional events. But he was graphing the northern hemisphere, the very region in question.

Earlier studies predicted single century changes of as much as 2 degree C., but not the Mann study.  The data never varied by more than .3 degree C in the first 900 years of the study. The data changed shape at the boundary layer between the  two main data sets (blue and red data sets), always a red flag.  A sudden change in shape that coincides with new data being used is an indication that the data sets might not be properly calibrated.   The IPCC featured the graph and then insisted they were right.  Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.

In the 1992 Synopses Report, the IPCC predicted a .3 degree C increase in temperatures per decade  (using 1990 as a baseline) with a 1 degree C increase by 2025.  In the 2007, the Synopses Report  predicted a .2 degree C increase from 2000 levels by the end of the decade with another .2 degree C increase by 2020.  They had in effect cut their predicted temperature rise by a third after an additional 15 years of study.   Obviously the first estimate must have been a wild ass guess.  And the second guess has been too high to….at least so far….sloppy science, the IPCC way.

Some Himalayas Glaciers are not melting — an IPCC oops.

April 15, 2012 (BBC) Some Asian  glaciers putting on mass.  Some glaciers near the Himalayas are putting on mass and scientists don’t know why.   The full article is available at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17701677

Climate politics (and science too unfortunately)  is all about creating an urgent need.  If there is no urgent need, there is no funding….and if there is no funding, there is no employment.  Governments have trouble focusing if the need is not urgent.

Virtually all funding in climate science is government funding.  Climate scientists are usually consultants, working for governments or universities on a government grant.   And we all know what a consultants first job is…..maintaining employment.

A consultant that does not find a problem, does not maintain employment.  This set of circumstances can cause extraordinarily odd events as scientists search for ways to stay employed.

Enter the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Synopses Report on global climate.   The IPCC has been producing climate reports since 1992, the 2007 version is their fourth iteration of the process.

When it was released in September of 2007, it predicted the glaciers in the Himalayas would be gone by 2035.   Gone completely in only 28 years.   What to do next…..hire lots of consultants of course.

In December of 2009, J. Graham Cogley, a professor at Ontario Trent University, stated (according to another BBC article) that the IPCC was off by more than 300 years.

In January of 2010, the IPCC admitted they made a mistake.    The IPCC is quoted as the authority all over the world….the Himalaya Glacier prediction was a really big deal…and their 28 year prediction was off by more than 300 years.  Wow.  Can you say wild ass guess.

Let’s return to the BBC article dated April 15, 2012.  A group of French scientists used satellite data to demonstrate that the Karakoram range (a range next to the Himalayas which includes K-2 the second highest mountain in the world) has been putting on mass.   We learn that the region is very remote and very difficult to study.  It is clear from the article that there is still much to learn about the dynamics of ice and the Himalayas.

All this begs the question….How and why did the IPCC come up with their prediction?   I don’t know, but I suspect future employment opportunities might have been a factor.

Arctic Sea Ice Grew in March

The Arctic ice cap has stopped growing and started melting.

March was a good month for ice in the Arctic.  Arctic sea ice peaked on March 18 and March added a total of 54,000 square miles during the month.  2012 had the 9th lowest March in the 34 year record.  February of 2012 was the 5th lowest  February in the record…so March really did well ….if you like Arctic Ice.  Interestingly, March is normally (if anything can be called normal with only a 34 year history) a melting month.

The following graph was prepared by the National Snow and Ice Data Center, which can be accessed through the following link

http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

Conventional wisdom of 1975 stated that the Arctic Ice Sheet was growing rapidly.  Data that begins in 1979 does not show 30 years of ice growth from the 1940’s to the 1970’s and that must be taken into consideration when evaluating this rather small data set.

The Arctic was cold in March this year, and the Eastern USA wasn’t.   Interesting, but not surprising….we all must resist the temptation to draw worldwide conclusions from regional data.

Yes there is more ice, but the ice is thinner than in past years and much of it is first year ice…so we could see it all melt rather quickly.

Fresh water freezes before salt water.   As sea ice freezes, the initial ice has less salt than the ocean.  A salt rich liquid is formed in lenses throughout the ice.  As the ice continues to freeze, the liquid remaining becomes saltier and saltier.    When Spring comes, the salty lenses are released into the ocean and replaced with the much less salty sea water.  If the remaining ice lasts through the summer it becomes second year sea ice. Second year ice has less salt content, is stronger and it melts more slowly.

When the Arctic has a very warm summer as it did in 2007, it takes at least 2 cold years to recover that ice because of the way sea ice is created.

World climate is very complicated, and just about everybody simplifies it too much.  I don’t know what will happen next…but as a person that lives in a northern climate…I really don’t want the ice cap to get bigger.  So a rapidly expanding ice cap isn’t necessarily a source for celebration for me.

World leaders met in Copenhagen in December of 2009.  The UN wanted  to extend the Kyoto treaty that is set to expire at the end of 2012.  When those meetings failed to produce an agreement, Al Gore predicted the Arctic Ice Cap would be gone in the summer in 5 years and global carbon dioxide levels would accelerate.   So far at least, he has been wrong.

I like seeing Al Gore proven wrong…but I don’t really want a colder world…so I am of two minds.   I am confident Al Gore is a big time wild ass guesser, and I would like the world to stay nice and toasty…as long as it doesn’t warm too much.

A growing ice cap may be good for polar bears, or maybe not…but I know it’s not good for me.