Monthly Archives: April 2012

Anchorage sets record snowfall total

Anchorage set a new seasonal snowfall record this past weekend.  The winter of 2011-2 is now the snowiest in history with 134.5 inches.  The Anchorage Daily News went nuts with lots of photos and a front page story.

We are in the middle of breakup….that time of year when the snow that has been hanging around since November starts melting.  Usually by the end of the month it’s all gone.  I for one am ready for Spring.  Now that we have the record, it can all melt…as soon as possible.  It is an attitude many Anchorage residents share.  We really wanted the record, but enough is enough. But this is Alaska; we’ll probably get one or two more snowy days before we officially quit counting.

We live in a wonderful world full of exaggeration.  Yes, we set a record, an all time record. It really is only a 97 year record, because we didn’t start counting until 1915.   It was most likely quite a bit colder during the Revolutionary War than it is today.  There was just nobody around to take measurements.

This preoccupation with records that don’t mean much is ever present in the Arctic.  Whenever I see or hear anyone talk about record melting in the Arctic, I remind myself that the records are only about 33 years old.    Give me a break.

Climate has so much variation from time to time and place to place.   I live the part of the world that is supposed to be the most changed by global warming, and it was until about 2005.  Small data sets, wild predictions,  records everywhere.

Welcome to the world of Climate SWAG.

Carbon Dioxide and Pollution – A Political Construct?

Whenever I think of carbon dioxide as a pollutant I become puzzled.  Carbon dioxide is a building block of life.   No carbon dioxide means no plants which means no oxygen which means no humans.  I am used to thinking of pollutants as poisons and carbon dioxide doesn’t fit.

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas…but greenhouse gases are good.  Without greenhouse gases we’d have a climate more like the moon.  Not exactly a friendly place for humans.  The global warming doomsayers argue that it is possible to have too much carbon dioxide….but how much is too much?

Pollution is defined as a discharge of a harmful substance.  And too much carbon dioxide can make the planet warmer than it would otherwise be…but is that necessarily harmful?  At least so far, global warming has been, on balance, beneficial.

Too much of just about anything is bad.   It is possible to drink so much water that you kill yourself….but that doesn’t make water a poison.

So, how much is too much? I don’t know, but I’ll go a step further –  anybody that thinks they know is guessing.  Climate science is extraordinarily complex. Climate models don’t predict the recent past (say the last 1000 years) very well.  They have problems with the medieval warming period and the little ice age.   C’mon guys…at least admit to a bit of SWAG here.

We live on a planet that has a climate that warms and cools in a cycle that lasts about 100,000 years.  Most of the time it is cooler than today.  The Earth’s climate changes all by itself and we do not understand that process well enough to model it accurately.  And since we can’t model it we don’t know whether the warming we have been seeing in recent centuries is normal or man-made or both.  We are guessing.

The UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted .2 degree C warming in the first 10 years of the new century and they predicted another .2 degree C by the end of 2019, in less than 7 years.   And that prediction was based on carbon dioxide levels lower than we have right now.  So far, there has been no net warming in the 21st century.

It is possible the IPCC  have got the man-made global warming science exactly right…and they have the background noise that is natural climate variation completely wrong.   Hmmmm.  I’d be surprised, but it is a possibility (but don’t bet on it).  If that were the case, carbon dioxide would be saving us from a colder world.

You make your guess, I’ll make mine…and we’ll meet in 10,000 years and see who’s right!

April 1998 — Warmest month in history?

A few years ago I did a bunch of research on global temperatures.  I have this vague memory that April 6th 1998 was the warmest day in the UAH (University of Alabama Huntsville) satellite troposphere data base.  I was going to use that day as the basis of a post on climate data.

Well I couldn’t find the data I was looking for, but I did find multiple discussion items written in  February of 2010 using the UAH website data to tout January of 2010 as the warmest month ever and proof that global warming theory was correct.  People talked about all sorts of things, but the UAH January 2010 data was the source of celebration.

When I first started looking at global temperature data I was surprised by the nature of the data.  Each month can vary quite a bit from the month before.  Annual changes can be very large too.   NASA has global surface temperature records that go back to 1866.  In 1879, the temperature dropped .43 degree C in a single year.

UAH data shows a slower rate of warming than the other three websites that measure world temperatures via satellite.  The difference is small but there is a difference..and the scientists at UAH have been among the more skeptical of scientists that work in the field.  So if they show warming ……

Here is the UAH data that was being used, updated to include February 2012 data.

C’mon guys….a single data point doesn’t prove anything one way or the other….and it looks to me like April of 1998 was warmer than January of 2010 anyway.  But there it was, one opinion piece after another, trying to use a single data point to prove a position.

Climate data has wild fluctuations and the data sets are small.  Too many people are trying to use individual data points in wildly fluctuating small data sets to prove whatever point they want to make.  Always a bad idea.  And just about everybody talking global warming science does it all the time.   Al Gore loves to do it, so does Bill Mahr and Sean Hannity …and they all are making the same mistakes.

Satellite data is only 33 years old, the Ice Age we currently live in is 2.5 million years old.   20,000 years ago it was much colder than it is today (probably 10 degrees C colder) and 130,000 years ago it was much warmer (probably 6 degree C warmer).  And sudden rapid warming and cooling is present all throughout the cycle.

The IPCC (the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) loves to use short term data to predict climate years into the future.   In their 2007 Climate Synopses Report, the IPCC states that the warming of the late 20th century gave them greater confidence that global warming theory was correct.  Do they have less confidence now…just 5 years later…when their short term predictions for 2010 turned out to be wrong.

Canada dumps the penny, go Canada

I was looking for an excuse to write about my second favorite subject in the world, government waste…when the calendar cooperated.  April Fools Day.  Perfect.

I’ll warn you ahead of time, I’m a bit nuts on this subject.

Canada has just announced that they will no longer make the penny.  It costs the government 1.6 cents to make a penny and Canada is losing 11 million dollars a year manufacturing the item.  In 2011 the US Mint manufactured 4.9 billion pennies and lost a cool $50 million dollars in the process….and we loose money on the nickel too.

The penny has been the lowest denomination coin available since 1858 when the Philadelphia mint quit manufacturing the half penny.   Inflation has worked its magic over time and the lowly penny of 1858 would  have the equivalent buying power of  $2.80 today.

As I think back to 1858, eliminating the half penny was the modern day equivalent or rounding to the nearest $1.40…and cash was the only way to pay.

We haven’t changed the shape or value of coins in over 100 years.  Sure we keep trying to get Americans to use a dollar coin…but we do it so stupidly.   Message to Uncle Sam…the dollar coin needs to replace the dollar bill not supplement it.  People are creatures of habit and we are going to keep using paper dollars as long as they are available.

But no…we make both ….and then run commercials trying to get people to switch….and then when they don’t….we store the coins in vaults…because we don’t have the wherewithal to get rid of the paper dollar.   Lucky thing we live in a credit card world.   We really don’t need coins…or currency for that matter.  Just charge it!

We really need to start over when it comes to coins….and currency too.  A good place to start would be to dump the penny and nickel and stop manufacturing the paper dollar.   I’d add a $5 coin too if I were king.   And a $500 bill.  Inflation exists and will continue.  If we assume 3% inflation, then the currency loses 50% of its value every 26 years….we might as well get started, it’s only going to get worse.

I’d be the first to admit that in a world of trillion dollar budget deficits, a billion here and a billion there doesn’t add up to much….but little every bit helps.