Monthly Archives: September 2013

AR5 is a year away — Gloom and Doom arrived early

The onslaught has begun.   The Fifth Assessment of Climate (AR5) prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  is about one year from publication.  The press is circling like sharks in a feeding frenzy.  Yesterday, my local paper, The Anchorage Daily News, featured leaked details of the draft report’s contents in a front page story.

Who knows what the final report will actually say…but the spin has begun.   We surely will be bombarded with many more of these features as the fall 2014 release date approaches.  AR4 (the forth assessment) was released a full 6 years ago, so this document will be a milestone event in climate politics.

Right now is the perfect time to provide a skeptics guide to IPCC spin.  Here we go.

  • Scientists and politicians write the reports.   The report is both scientific and political at the same time and it is prepared under the authority of the UN, the most political place on earth.
  • All information in the report is between 2 and 3 years old when the report is finally issued.
  • Scientists are being paid to find problems, if they fail to find problems, they will become unemployment statistics.  The process encourages exaggeration.
  • Most journalists simply rehash whatever they have been told.  Most lack the knowledge and skill to fully understand the issue or to ask specific questions.
  • Newspapers are in the business of selling papers….good news rarely improves circulation.

Now for some specifics. Most stories written today have language similar to yesterdays local report.

“Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time,” said Thomas F. Stocker, co-chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Maybe, maybe not.  In my view the statement is most probably false.  I can think of at least one issue that is more important and more immediate….population control.   And a related secondary issue, air pollution is, in my view, more important too.   Each person on the planet uses energy and energy use is key to global warming arguments.  I believe the IPCC has the issues out of order.  If we deal with population issues first, most other global issues, including climate management are easier problems to resolve.

IPCC officials are conflicted.   They need the issue to be front and center.   Agreements signed in the 1990’s have expired.   They need gloom and doom.  The recent worldwide recession has knocked them off the front pages of newspapers.  They need a sense of urgency.  No gloom and doom….no paycheck.

AR4 made many predictions that have not been accurate.  Past posts have detailed their errors.   The IPCC process began using 1990 data, and every report has made specific temperature predictions that have been wrong.  They have regularly and routinely guessed high.  Way high.  The lone exception was  1998, a strong El Nino year.  It was warmer than the IPCC predicted.   Every other year has been cooler than predicted.  EVERY OTHER YEAR!

Climate has been cooler than predicted and carbon dioxide production has been higher than predicted.  Clearly IPCC models were wrong in 2005.

Most recent articles about our changing climate include language similar to this one from yesterdays paper:

No more than 1 trillion metric tons of carbon could be burned and the resulting gases released into the atmosphere, if planetary warming is to be kept below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above the level of preindustrial times.  That temperature is an internationally agreed target, above which scientists believe the most dangerous effects of climate change would begin to occur.

There is no such thing as an internationally agreed target,  and if there was one, I doubt it would be something so specific.   The science is not precise enough to make such predictions.   IPCC computer models used to generate climate predictions vary by between 3 and 5 degrees C depending on which climate Scenario picked.  The IPCC does provide a best guess number in between the extremes, but the IPCC does not quantify best value.  We don’t have any idea what best value means.

A 1 degree C prediction, a century or more into the future, is  too difficult a task for the models.  They are not precise enough.  It is not unusual for individual models to disagree with each other by as much as 3 degrees C.   And they don’t know which model is better.  And in some cases there are dozens of models. Which model do we believe, the high one or the low one or somewhere in between?   The IPCC has a history of guessing high and guessing wrong.

Why is the Industrial Revolution used as a starting point?  Most scientists would call that time The Little Ice Age.   Why start at one of the coldest times in recent history.  It sounds like cherry picking of data to me.  You make the call:

I would argue that using the term Industrial Revolution was done to create an impression, a false impression, that man was responsible for globaal warming going back hundreds of years.  The IPCC scientific community assumes most warming before 1950 was natural.  I fear the politicians at the IPCC are running the show

Whenever I see IPCC officials acting like politicians….I get skeptical.

The DC Mindset — A License Plate Story

I recently visited Washington D.C.  I rode the Metro, visited several Smithsonian Museums, walked along the Mall and checked out several monuments. I particularly like the WWII Monument and the Jefferson.  A great trip.  I will return.

This trip to DC had a bit of odd thrown in too.  The license plate slogan is a perfect example of DC’s odd mindset.

Most states brag about themselves in their license plates, not DC.  Ohio and North Carolina both claim the Wright Brothers.  Ohio’s plate  – Birthplace of Aviation, North Carolina’s – First in Flight. Idaho has Famous Potatoes, West Virginia is Wild and Wonderful and you can Live Free or Die in New Hampshire.  Minnesota has 10,000 Lakes and Alaska is the Frontier State.  Several states throw in tourism web addresses.

What does DC say on their plate?   Taxation without representation. Yep, the folks in DC are whining because the founding fathers stiffed them when they wrote the US Constitution.  What was James Madison thinking?  And Thomas Jefferson too?  But is DC really getting stiffed?  It is true that only states are allowed to have congressional delegations and DC is not a state.

Should it be a state?

It’s pretty small.

Washington, DC

That’s right, just 68.3 square miles.  And most of the people that live in the Washington DC area don’t live in the Federal Capitol.  The Washington DC metro area has a population of about 5 million but only about 600,000 actually live in DC.

The 23rd Amendment to the Constitution gave DC residents the right to vote for President (DC gets 3 electoral votes).  It fares better than American Territories (American Samoa, The US Virgin Islands) and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.  They don’t get to vote for President.

Maybe the founding fathers did it on purpose.   DC gets lots of really great stuff because it is the seat of government.   All the museums are free as is the National Zoo.  And it has a great Metro, paid for with Federal Tax dollars.  One could argue that DC already has 100 senators and 435 congressmen living there.  And since they live there, they care about it.

DC is a City with a special status.  And it is getting it’s fare share of the federal pie which would indicate that it is getting represented.

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DC gets 28% of it’s budget in federal grants.  That’s over 2 billion dollars a year in federal money.  Special grants paid for much of the Metro.  DC has the best subway in the US….and we all helped pay for it.  Imagine how much more they could grab with 2 senators and a congressman.

DC’s political status is not going to change.   DC’s demographics virtually assure that it will be a Democrat stronghold politically.   2 more Democrat senators will change the political landscape in ways that Republicans will not like.   Any  change in DC’s political makeup requires a change in the US Constitution.   That’s not going to happen (it was tried in the 1970’s and went nowhere)

What are the powers that be trying to accomplish with their license plate slogan?  You got me.  I have no idea.  It does say something about the Washington DC mindset.  They would rather complain than focus on the positive.

What’s a Humberto

Humberto is the first hurricane of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.  It formed off the coast of Africa yesterday.  CNN filed a report.  If Humberto had formed a few hours later it would have set a record as the latest first hurricane in Atlantic Hurricane reported history, whatever that means. After all a mere 100 years ago we didn’t even name storms.

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The Atlantic season runs from June through November each year and peaks on September 10th.  In a normal year we would have had 3 named hurricanes by now.  Humberto formed off the coast of Africa.  Had it formed 50 years ago we might have missed it.  It is a relatively small storm that will likely not last very long and will probably never threaten land.   It might not have been counted at all just 50 years ago.

2005 was a really bad year for hurricanes, particularly if you lived in Florida or in New Orleans and points East when Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast.   Al Gore used the Katrina event as proof of global warming gloom and doom in his 2006 film, An Inconvenient Truth.  He went on and on and on.   Every year since Al published his docudrama, hurricanes have been less severe than 2005.   We have now had seven and one half years of relatively mild hurricanes since the record setting season of 2005.

Why is it that bad hurricane years are equated to proof that global warming is serious and imminent while mild seasons prove nothing?     Hmmm.  One bad season, seven going on eight good ones. Maybe Mr. Gore was wrong?   Time will tell.