Tag Archives: climate science

A Three Question Climate Change Knowledge Test

Climate change is a scientific discussion that has been hijacked by political considerations.  Many people have strong opinions about climate change and too many of those opinions are based on political rather than scientific reality.   Politics are here, there and everywhere.  And the UN, a strangely political place, is the recognized world expert.  Need I say more.

With that in mind I have developed a simple 3 question test.  If you already know all the answers, congratulations!

Question 1. —  What is Climate Sensitivity and how does it impact the global climate debate?

Most people have never heard of Climate Sensitivity.  Some will be well aware of the idea, but not know the name.  Others are simply unaware of the arguments.  A general knowledge of how climate sensitivity is used by the global warming doom crowd is important.

Carbon dioxide is a weak greenhouse gas.  Water vapor and methane are strong greenhouse gases.   As carbon dioxide changes in the atmosphere, it is predicted to make changes in other climate variables.   IF the model assumes a high climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide then small changes in carbon dioxide cause big changes in climate.  Low sensitivity produces much less change.   Many UN modelers assume a fairly high carbon dioxide sensitivity.  This high sensitivity leads to “tipping points” and gloom and doom.

Climate models are run by computers. These computers use carbon dioxide as a key input variable.  They then predict temperature years and centuries into the future.   UN approved climate models do not agree with each other.   Models can vary by as much as 5 degrees C by the year 2100.

As time goes by computers get faster, more information becomes available and the models are adjusted.  Predictions made just 10 years ago have proven to be wildly high.  Either the climate sensitivity was too high or … they have failed to properly consider natural climate variation.

Question 2. — What is natural climate variation?

If you don’t get this one right, you’re really not paying attention to the science.

We live in an ice age time.  We have been in an ice age for the last 2.5 million years.  For the last 11,000 years we have been in the Holocene, an oddly steady period of climate history.  Climate during the Holocene has been warm and stable.  Ice cores go back about 700,000 years.  The Holocene is the only climate period during that time that has stayed warm for 11,000 years.   The norm is colder.  Much colder.

Here is a copy of a Vostok Antarctic Ice Corps showing climate variations at the drill site.

This chart starts in the present time and then goes back 400,000 years.  Another widely used chart displays the last 50,000 years of the chart beginning at the oldest with the newest dates at the right:

It’s easy to see the Holocene.  20,000 years ago New York City was covered in ice…and 130,000 years the world was warmer than it is right now.   This wildly changing climate is called natural climate variation.

Now lets look at the last 10,000 years using a Greenland Ice Core:

This chart ends with year 2009.  Man has only been able to influence climate for perhaps 200 years.  Any variations seen before the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (the blue on the chart) must, by definition, be something that man did not cause.  Three times in the last 10,000 years it has been more than a degree warmer than it is right now.

What change is natural and what is man caused?  This is one very difficult science problem.

Question 3 — How is electricity stored?

This is a bit of a trick question.  Generally, electricity is not stored.   Power generation is an on demand business.  You turn on the light switch, the utility provides the electricity and the lights go on.  The utility grid has a bit of excess capacity running all the time so that it can maintain a stable grid.

A small amount of electricity is stored in batteries, but batteries are expensive and have manufacturing and disposal problems.  Batteries are not now a viable option.  People are working hard to solve this problem.   But in science, wishing doesn’t make it so.  When the solution is found…we can consider it, but for right now we have to look at what is available today, not what might be there in 10 or 20 years.

Electricity is not stored, any electricity provided must be immediately used by the grid.  Electrical demand varies throughout the day and the electric utility has to vary production to meet that demand.  Demand usually peaks just before sunrise and again in the early evening.  Wind and solar are only available when mother nature feels like it.  Germany, the largest solar power market in the world is so far North that solar provides almost no power in the winter.   Munich, which is in Southern Germany, has the same latitude as International Falls, Minnesota.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) releases statistics every month on power generation in the USA.  Here is the data for a 12 month rolling average including October 2015.

Coal   Natural Gas    Nuclear    Hydro     Solar     Renewable (inc. wind)

35%         32%              19%           6%           0.6%                          7%

Natural gas burns much cleaner than coal but does create some carbon dioxide when burned.  Hydro and Nuclear are clean (from a carbon dioxide perspective)   All four are unpopular with environmentalists for various reasons and they represent about 92% of all power production.

Wind is the most difficult to predict alternative fuel, and it’s the least reliable.   Places with lots of wind relative to other sources of power have odd things happen from time to time.  When the wind really blows, Germany gets so much power from wind that they have to pay neighboring countries to take the energy.  A US utility made news a few months ago when it gave away electricity during peak wind production.  A  cheap reliable battery network would fix this problem.  Unfortunately none exists right now.

Whenever I encounter a global warming true believer I ask them the same simple question.   What is your opinion on Nuclear Power?  Coal represents 35% of total load now and most environmentalists want that at zero.   Where is that capacity going to come from?   There is only one currently available source that can bridge the gap to a better world with wind, solar and cheap batteries and that choice is Nuclear.

Which of course begs the question.   What do you fear more, Nuclear Power or global warming?  I myself am skeptical about the science that touts global disaster, but they could be right.  On the chance that they might be at least partly right…. I support more Nuclear Energy.  How about You?

 

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Beaufort Sea Polar Bears

Three days ago I read an article dramatizing the rapid reduction in Polar Bear populations in a sub-region of the Arctic.  The Beaufort Sea population had been reduced by 40% between 2004 and 2010.  I was a bit surprised by this statistic because I had seen many recent articles that had said Polar Bear populations had not been in recent decline.

I wondered if it was a regional issue or was it really the beginning of the end for the Polar Bear.  And then I read a bit more.   The 2010 Polar Bear population estimate was 900 bears down from 1250-2000 in 2004.  How can we have a precise number for 2010 and such a wide range only 6 years earlier?  Have we become expert Polar Bear counters in just 6 years?  Perhaps the 900 bears is a range value too.  If so what is the range?

The article used indirect counting methods so there must have been a range of values.  Bears were tagged and then survival rates of bears found years later were compared to past data.  Incomplete data in Canada in 2004 explained the range in the 2004 to 2006 data.   OK, but 900 sounds like an estimate to me.  The study might be an excellent proxy; it is beyond my expertise.  I still want more precise data.

And that is only the beginning of this data accumulation problem.  We really don’t have much data…and that is a big problem.

I wonder how many bears were wandering around in 1940 at the end of the last mini warming cycle?  Perhaps 2000 bears is too many for the local ecosystem?   How did Polar Bears fare some 130,000 years ago when sea level was 6 meters higher than it is today?  And how have the bears fared since 2010.  Why is there no recent update?

I don’t know the answer to any of those questions.   I’d go a step further and say that nobody really knows.  But too many of the scientists studying the recent decline KNOW the cause, reduced sea ice. And these same scientists seem to know why the sea ice has reduced, man caused climate change!

Maybe, maybe not.

Sea ice data is only 34 years old. And the best data is only 4 years old.  Just 4 years ago we began accumulating accurate data on sea ice thickness?  Anyone interested can visit the Snow and Ice Data Center website.

What has happened to Polar Bear populations since 2010? How have other regions in the Arctic fared?  What were the Polar Bear populations 40 years ago when hunting was allowed?  Or 400 years ago, during the little ice age?  Or 40,000 years ago when there was lots more ice, ice all the way down to NYC?

So many questions!  Oh yes, two more questions.  Did they need a global warming angle to get funding for their study?  And who paid for the study?

Don’t get me wrong.  I think man probably has caused some of the impacts being witnessed.  How much is an extraordinarily difficult science problem.  I wish society were be a bit more circumspect.  Sometimes problems are not that simple   All too often we humans looks for easy simple answers to difficult complicated questions.

 

 

 

 

New Climate Science Rule — No Anecdotal “Proof” allowed

Mr. Obama gave a speech at the UN yesterday.   I didn’t see the speech, but I did read the Washington Post article covering it.  We heard that climate was

  • changing faster than our ability to address it
  • The alarm bells are ringing, we cannot pretend we do not hear them
  • the once distant threat of climate change has now moved firmly into the present.

The article went on to say that Mr Obama:

ticked of a list of recent U.S. weather disasters – from Hurricane Sandy to the drought in the West – as evidence that the once-distant threat of climate change has “now moved firmly into the present.”

I felt like I was in a 2006 time warp, watching An Inconvenient Truth, and listening to Al Gore talk.  The approach and the key talking points were virtually indistinguishable.   So many mistakes.  Mistakes Al Gore made in 2006, and Mr. Obama repeated some 8 years later.

  • The change in climate is not accelerating.   The opposite is happening.  The world warmed rapidly in the 1990’s and peaked in 1998.  Since then the world has had virtually no change in world temperatures.   Carbon levels are higher, but climate has not changed.  The 2014 UN Climate Assessment blames the dampening of the Ocean’s and insists that the warmth will come some day.   Right now the world is not warming.
  • Hurricane Sandy was a relatively routine storm as far as Hurricanes go.   Atlantic hurricanes have become less frequent in recent years.  Florida has not had a hurricane hit its shores in 9 years, a record.  2013 set records for low activity and 2014 has continued the trend.   This does not mean they won’t accelerate in the future, but it does mean that, so far at least, Atlantic hurricanes have not increased in intensity or frequency because of climate change.
  • Multiple recent studies show that the drought in the West is consistent with the historical weather pattern of the region.   Last month I visited Mesa Verde National Park.   The Indians that lived in Southwest Colorado for close to 1000 years, moved away some 800 years ago after 24 years of drought.

The world is a big place.  Anecdotal evidence can be found to support any climate argument you want to make.  Ice in the Arctic is melting more rapidly than in the recent past, but at the same time Antarctic Ice is growing at record rates.  Both are short term localized events that prove absolutely nothing.

Sure it’s warmer than it was and man is probably partially responsible.  But the climate changes wildly all by itself.   It’s really difficult to distinguish between natural climate variation and man caused events and so far at least, UN computer models have been inconsistent in their predictions.

1709 was a really cold year in Europe.  Really cold.  And the world was warmer than it is today some 10,000 years ago.  Both were part of the world climate changing without the assistance of man.   Anecdotal evidence doesn’t really prove anything.   Let’s stop pretending it does.

Yes carbon is accelerating and it would be better, probably, if it weren’t.  And we should try to do more to impact our planet less.  But are we really sure that Mr. Obama was correct when he said:

There’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other; and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.

Maybe, maybe not?   My favorites are destruction of the Oceans and over population.  If we could get  people in the poor countries of Asia and Africa to procreate less, I’d like our chances better.     Let’s meet in 86 years and see who’s right.

Climate — The Good, the Bad and the Stupid

Wow.  What a week.

On Saturday the Wall Street Journal published a feature article on the current state of climate science that was probably the best detailed article I have ever seen on global climate change. (the good).

On Sunday my local paper reprinted a New York Times article that featured a night photo of the UN building featuring the 2 degree C goal on the face of the building (the bad) and …

On Monday climate protestors amassed on Wall Street (the stupid).

The Good

If you haven’t read the Wall Street Journal article, Climate Science is Not Settled, read it now.  It is simply the best article on the subject I have seen.   The first paragraph is an excellent introduction:

The idea that “Climate science is settled” runs through today’s popular and policy discussions. Unfortunately, that claim is misguided. It has not only distorted our public and policy debates on issues related to energy, greenhouse-gas emissions and the environment. But it also has inhibited the scientific and policy discussions that we need to have about our climate future.

The article begins by acknowledging that the world is warmer and that man is probably responsible for some amount of warming.  It then details all the shortcomings in the science.   Discussions items include our limited understanding of the Oceans, the wild variability of computer models and the societal desire to have a precise answer when science cannot give us one.

Precise answers are beyond our abilities at this time and yet the UN has been providing precise answers since 1997.

A quotation courtesy of Mark Twain and/or Will Rogers:

It’s not what we don’t know that gets us into trouble, it’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.

The Bad

The UN (when discussing global climate) has always been a political association trying to solve an extraordinarily difficult science problem.  Political solutions don’t work well in science.   The UN has been making specific predictions about future climate for some 20 years now.  Those predictions have been wrong because they have not been willing to admit to the scientific shortcomings listed in the WSJ article just referenced.

Natural climate variation and flawed computer modeling have made many predictions in the 2007 synopses report wrong.   The recently released 2014 Synopses Report modified those predictions to include climate variation.   Some changes in climate that were predicted for our immediate future now might not show up for centuries.  But the predictions persist.

The Wall Street Journal article referenced earlier had this to say about specific climatic predictions:

Even though human influences could have serious consequences for the climate, they are physically small in relation to the climate system as a whole. For example, human additions to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by the middle of the 21st century are expected to directly shift the atmosphere’s natural greenhouse effect by only 1% to 2%. Since the climate system is highly variable on its own, that smallness sets a very high bar for confidently projecting the consequences of human influences.

The UN needs  a specific identifiable goal to motivate people to act.  So they give them one.  The following photo accompanied an article about the New York warming protests in my local Sunday paper:

http://www.ctvnews.ca/polopoly_fs/1.2017169!/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_620/image.jpg

Keep global temperature increases to_less_than 2 degree C is plastered across the UN building encouraging protestors.  This goal was a part of the 2007 Synopses report.   The UN is supporting the notion that society can control temperature and can keep the change to less than a 2 degree C change since the beginning of the Industrial revolution.   The world has already changed more than a degree C since 1750 so the goal is to keep  temperature in a very tight range.

Natural climate variation makes the goal virtually impossible.

A few less sunspots, a volcanic eruption, a change in short term weather patterns.  A Little Ice Age here, the Medieval Warming Period there, or perhaps the next ice age cold cycle.

One volcanic eruption on the scale of the Mt. Tambora eruption of 1815 would change the world by more than 2 degrees C.  1815 was known around the world as the year without a summer.

Europe in 1709 was a very cold place.  It is guesstimated that Europe was a full 7 degrees C below the 20th century average  that year.  And the Romans built gold mines high in the Alps during a very warm period around 1800 years ago.

Mt. Pinatubo in 1992 changed the world by 1 degree C in only 2 years.  Any notion that man can control climate as specifically as the UN stated on their building last Sunday is poppycock and BAD science.

THE STUPID

Assume the UN is right and all the problems mentioned in the WSJ article are wrong (bad assumptions both).  Gloom and doom is close at hand and immediate action is necessary.  So activists protest on Wall Street? Why?

What would that accomplish?  What do they expect Wall Street to do?  What are their goals?

Carbon production worldwide is growing despite efforts to slow it.  Why?  Four words…China, India and Nuclear Power.  We must find a way to slow the population growth rate and we must construct clean energy plants all over the world.  Plants that will operate on cloudy windless days.  There is only one choice that will work right now (if you believe the UN math), and that choice is Nuclear Power.

Does the world fear Nuclear Power or global warming more?   Right now the answer is Nuclear Power.  Western countries are phasing out of Nuclear because of the Fukashima disaster.   California and Vermont are closing old Nuclear plants and no new ones are scheduled to be built.   That carbon free power is being replaced by power that produces carbon.

China produces more carbon dioxide than the USA and Europe combined.  And in the next 50 years India will become the world’s most populous place, adding half a billion people to its already burdensome population. Each additional Indian that makes it to the middle class wants to use energy to improve their quality of life.  Cheap power is a necessity.

China’s per capita production of carbon now exceeds the average for Europe.  That production is rising at about 8% per year with zero population growth.  India’s use is rising faster than it’s population growth.    The USA, the world’s second largest producer of carbon, has been reducing production, but it gets lost in the mix as China overwhelms everything else.    If India and China don’t change, then it doesn’t matter what the rest of us do.

These are worldwide political problems.   And they involve hard choices and tradeoffs.  Wall Street has very little to do with either.    So why protest there?

Politics of course.  And headlines!

I’d be willing to bet that most of the protestors are absolutely sure they are correct….and I’d also be willing to bet they think all the science issues are settled.   That is a sad reality that has become global warming politics.

 

Climate Change Studies?

Much money has been spent in recent years studying climate change.   We are oft bombarded with gloom and doom courtesy of these studies.   Most studies I’ve read blame rapidly changing temperatures  caused by man.  Carbon dioxide is responsible for whatever disaster they happen to be promoting.

Suppose, just suppose, that the climate hasn’t been changing as rapidly as advertised.

Let’s look at some temperature data.   I’d like to state up front that I think all land based temperature data is wild ass guess data.  The Earth’s temperature is simply too difficult to calculate.   Most thermometers are located in the developed world.  Much of Africa is sparsely covered and coverage in Antarctica is spectacularly sparse,  only a single location for then entire continent. World temperature wild ass guessing is a virtual certainty.   That said, lets begin with some NASA data that relies on weather stations and ocean buoys:

Fig C

Yep, this chart shows a shift in world temperatures in the 1990’s.  But if  the chart had been started a year later in 1997 instead of 1996, then there would be no real change.   Yep, no net change in climate since 1997.   The last 17 years have been surprisingly stable.   More stable than at any time in the last 170 years as this East Anglia University data shows:

Natural variation; here, there, everywhere.   I particularly like the changes in the 1870’s and 1880’s.   Ocean temperature data stunk back then (it’s not that great today) so we know the data used to prepare this graph is jam packed full of guesses.

Climate change before 1950 is presumed to be natural climate variation by the same experts that are trying to scare us now. My personal favorite,  the stretch from 1907 to 1943.  It seems eerily similar to the data from 1976 to 1998.

Don’t like the NASA or East Anglia Data?   Let’s look at some Satellite Data.  Here’s the University of Alabama at Hunstsville (UAH) Satellite global data for the lower atmosphere:

UAH_LT_1979_thru_April_2014_v5

Fairly stable weather until Mt. Pinatubo erupted, then rapid cooling followed by rapid warming.   And still no net change since the second half of1997.

One key premise of man caused global climate change states that the climate will change more at the poles than in the tropics.   It certainly has been true in the Arctic.   I’d argue that soot and pollution from Asia (mostly) are partly to blame.  Recent studies support this notion as does Satellite data from Antarctica.   If the Arctic is changing due to additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, then Antarctica should change too…. and in a similar way.

Take a look at the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) Satellite data for Antarcita.

https://i1.wp.com/data.remss.com/msu/graphics/TLT/plots/RSS_TS_channel_TLT_Southern%20Polar_Land_And_Sea_v03_3.png

Almost flat line.  Now look at the Arctic Data also courtesy of RSS.

https://i1.wp.com/data.remss.com/msu/graphics/TLT/plots/RSS_TS_channel_TLT_Northern%20Polar_Land_And_Sea_v03_3.png

No change in Antarctica, wild change in the Arctic.  Ice core data supports the notion that the Antarctic has not been warming for hundreds of years.   Hmmm.

Most studies I’ve seen, including most IPCC handiwork, start with observed changes in the world around them.  This change is then attributed to man produced greenhouse gases which is supported by computer models that assumed carbon was important.  Round and round we go.  Make an assumption and build a model based upon that assumption and then use that model as proof of the assumption….just a tad circular.

If carbon dioxide is the primary driver of climate change, the data at both poles should be similar.  The data has been diverging for the entire 36 year history of Satellite Data.

Maybe, just maybe, something else is going on.

 

 

 

Sea Level Questions Continue

Yesterday, I read a piece in our local newspaper discussing the problems rising sea level will cause.   Built into the article were two assumptions, both of which are probably  incorrect.

  • Assumption 1 – Sea level could rise by as much as a meter by the year 2100
  • Assumption 2 – Man can take actions to alter this in some significant way.

When I look at sea level data I see confusion.   Today was no exception.   My inquiry began with a look at Satellite data courtesy of  Colorado University.

Sea level, according to CU, is rising at a rate of about 3.2 millimeters a year (plus or minus 12.5%).  That’s about an 1/8 of an inch per year or about a foot per century.  Plus or minus an inch or two.  Not exactly a meter, but coastal regions will have difficulties.  Sea level has been rising since the Little Ice Age ended some 250 years ago.   If I had land in Key West, I’d be worried.

But sea level in Key West isn’t rising at 3.2mm/yr, it’s rising at 2.24 mm/yr.  And the trend has been steady for the 100 years of the data.

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 8724580 - Key West, Florida

Key West may be under water at some date in the future, but the rate of change appears to be much less than predicted by IPCC scientists.  I suppose Key West could be an oddity, but it’s unlikely.   I visited the NOAA web site and checked many places I thought might be interesting.   Places like Bermuda, Honolulu, San Francisco, Venice.   Yep, Venice, well Trieste, it’s just across the bay.

http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/trends/270-061.png

Trieste’s rate is less than 40% of the Satellite predicted rate.

1.24/3.4 = .397 or 39.7%

The margin for error is half the satellite data rate (.2 mm vs .4mm)

Every place I checked  had a trend rate that was less than the satellite data.   In most cases the predicted margin for error was less than the satellite data too.    A few select data points have a longer history too. I tabulated the results

City                                            rate of change       data history

San Francisco                             2.01 mm/yr       160 years                                              Honolulu                                       1.50 mm/yr       110 years                                                     New York                                     2.77 mm/yr       120 years                                                 Bermuda                                       2.04 mm/yr         70 years                                          Narvik, Norway                       -2.06 mm/yr          60 years                                          Cochin, India                              1.71 mm/yr          70 years                                                Hong Kong                                  2.92 mm/yr          60 years                                        Nagasaki, Japan                        2.20 mm/yr         45 years                                          Sydney, Australia                     0.65 mm/yr         130 years                                     Auckland, New Zealand         1.29 mm/yr         120 years

This data doesn’t tell the full story of the confusion.  Individual sites provide lots of conflicting data.   Honolulu has been trending down since about 2002:

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 1612340 - Honolulu, Hawaii

The NOAA presentation of the Bermuda data a bit odd:

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 2695540 - Bermuda,

Most of the increase shown in Bermuda happened before 1960.  Had the data set begun in 1955 instead of 1934 the trend line would have shown nearly no net change.  Sea level rose fairly rapidly from 193o until 1955 and has been relatively stable since then.  Go figure.

Virtually every city I checked showed a less ominous looking trend line than the satellite data.  This land based data has it’s limitations.   Many international cities have tiny data sets, particularly in South America and Africa.   Only one data point exists for all of Antarctica

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 999-003 - Argentine Islands, Antarctica

I would argue that the Antarctica data doesn’t really suggest a trend but NOAA calculates the trend at  1.43mm/yr.  When I look at the data I see no net changes since 1960.  Sounds kind of like Bermuda’s data to me?

Something is wrong.   Every land site I checked showed less overall change than the satellite data.   How can that be?   The satellite data is an average for the whole world.   Some specific locations should be higher and some places should be lower.

Northern locations like Alaska and Norway are showing reduced sea level due to reduced gravitational pull from the Arctic Ice Sheet (presumably).  Where are the equatorial places that are compensating for that reduction?   I can’t make sense of the data.   Satellite data and measurements at land interfaces don’t tell the same story.

Sea level is extraordinarily difficult to calculate.   Sea level changes in one part of the world can take years and years  to impact the ecosystem.  I understand that storms and changing ice sheets impact the data.  Change that can take decades to correct.

WHY is the satellite data very nearly ALWAYS significantly higher than the land data?

The Satellite data has been higher every year since the data began in 1993.   Every year! Most places I have checked disagree by about 1 mm per year.  After 20 years of data the sources disagree with each other by about 20 mm.  or about .78 inches.  The longer this condition exists, the less I trust the data sets.

It really is difficult to make accurate predictions about sea level if you don’t have the ability to accurately graph the underlying trend line.  Sea level, almost certainly,  has been rising since the end of the Little Ice Age some 250 years ago.  But by how much?   Almost no statistical data exists before the Civil War. I suspect SWAG.

Sea level has been steadily rising for probably 250 years.   How much has been man’s impact? I don’t know and I’ll go a step further…nobody knows!

I am not convinced that we have the tools necessary to accurately predict the future course of events as it relates to sea level.    Sea level appears to be an indicator that follows rather than leads climate change.   How much of today’s changes in sea level were impacted by global temperatures of 20 or 50 or 100 years ago?  I don’t know.  I see guessing here, there and everywhere.

IPCC scientists might have the trends right….but even that is…I fear …. a guess.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Hansen’s Dream World – Part 3

This post is the third of 3 dealing with an article published on December 3rd by Dr. Hansen and 17 other scientists.  The article’s basic argument is that carbon dioxide is creating an energy imbalance.   They attempt to measure the energy imbalance, and make predictions about the future.

The article is refreshing in that it finally addresses many of my objections about the IPCC.  It actually discusses other possible drivers for climate change and tries to provide a compelling argument for why these other drivers of climate are not important.   I am less confident than I was before reading the article, but I still have doubts, many doubts.

Dr. Hansen made up his mind about the importance of carbon dioxide before most of the research used was performed.   He has been an advocate for a really long time.   And many of his arguments use data with very short histories.   The data displayed about the sun only goes back 40 years.

https://i1.wp.com/www.plosone.org/article/fetchObject.action

I want to see what happened during the last cooling cycle from 1940 to 1976.   Information that went back to the beginning of the Little Ice Age would be even better.

The Energy Imbalance discussion uses data from buoys.  The changing amount of energy stored by the oceans is used as an indicator that the world is accumulating energy.  That it is out of balance.  Virtually all of the data used in the calculation is less than 10 years old.   It is more a snapshot in time rather than a trend established over a long period of time.

And I worry about the data set.   There are about 4,000 buoys spread out around the globe.  They drift with the currents and too many are near land.  Many of the buoys have only been available since 2005.   The data is so new and so important to his conclusions that I suspect lots of wild guessing.

The article also dismisses all the short term temperature predictions in past IPCC reports.  It uses the oceans and the large ice masses near the poles as reasons why the horrible changes predicted have been late.   This effectively eliminates one of my main complaints about the IPCC….stupid short term predictions.

And they bravely encourage widespread use of Nuclear Power.   I think Nuclear power is a necessary part of any green answer.  Unfortunately with the exception of China, the world is walking away from nukes.

The article paints a bleak picture of the world unless we make the following changes to the way we generate energy.

  1. The article advocated carbon trading on a worldwide scale.
  2. They advocated widespread use of wind and solar.
  3. They advocated widespread use of Nuclear to replace both coal and natural gas generation.

Carbon trading requires all the countries of the world to agree.   That is unlikely to happen.  Without a worldwide agreement, carbon trading only works for the countries that don’t join.   Today, China and the USA have a huge trading advantage when trading with the EU because they don’t have to worry about carbon taxes.

Wind and solar will continue to be developed, but they have limitations due to Mother Nature.  If and when a better battery is developed,  their use can expand.  Until then, their use will be limited.

Germany has so much solar that their power grid is developing reliability issues when solar is not available.    Germany’s ability to manufacture goods may be impacted.   Germany’s 21st century solution, a brand new coal fired power plant!

The world has changed a lot since 2006 when Al Gore won a Nobel Prize for his political commercial masquerading as a documentary film.   Dr. Hansen and his cohorts barely got any press for their latest bit of gloom and doom.  The world has passed them by.  Why?

They have been gloomy for a long time. Doom failed to arrive on schedule.   Throw in climate-gate and the Mann Hockey Stick debate; the group has lost some credibility.  How did they get into this position?

I think it starts with their mind set.  Dr. James Hansen and his comrades live in a political dream world.  Why do I say they live in a dream world?  Let me count the ways:

  1. They think the science is so compelling that there is no other plausible view.  When Dr. Hansen and 17 other scientists wrote the article I am critiquing, they declared there were no competing interests.  The world does not have unlimited funds.  Every dollar spent on global warming is not spent on something else.  Things like world overpopulation, starvation in Africa,  AIDS, Cancer, over fishing the oceans, and safe drinking water all have the potential to be competing interests.
  2. This group lives on government funds.  Every other need of the government is a competing interest.
  3. Competing interests go beyond government money.  Jobs are at stake in the coal industry.   Wind turbines kill birds, including some endangered species.  People dislike the appearance of wind mills in pristine areas.   Solar panels take up lots of space and must be imported, impacting trade.   Nuclear, well it’s Nuclear, need we say more.
  4. The carbon dioxide is evil climate group has made many mistakes.  These mistakes have given the skeptical community reason to doubt their results.  They have been caught cooking data (Climate-gate), adopting questionable scientific theories (The Mann Hockey Stick Graph) and their short term predictions have been wrong.  Horribly wrong.
  5. They have been too secretive and too vague.  They have argued against sharing data with skeptics.  If the data is good, they should be doing exactly the opposite.  In 2005, the Scientific American  wrote an article defending this use of secrecy shortly after the Mann Hockey Stick data began to be attacked by skeptics.   The Scientific American defended Dr. Mann aggressively.  Interestingly, Dr. Hansen in his new article, appears to argue that the specific temperature conclusions in the Mann Hockey Stick Graph were wrong.
  6. The politics has turned against them.  A worldwide recession, cheaper and more plentiful fossil fuels, and the Fukashima Nuclear Disaster have changed the political landscape.   Global warming advocates are failing because people fear Nuclear Power.  Germany and Japan are abandoning their Nukes, only China seems willing to build new Nuclear plants.
  7. Long ago they made one very large mistake, they let a politician become point man for the cause, Al Gore.   Mr. Gore is driven by political realities.  He will never advocate Nuclear Power.   Green energy without Nuclear energy does not work.  It will not work until a cheap way to store electrical energy is developed.    The green community has been advocating a solution that does not work.  This is now becoming obvious.
  8. They expect the United Nations to be an effective force.   This expectation never made sense.   Much is made of the original Kyoto Treaty.   A treaty that did not work.  Carbon emissions soared during it’s implementation period. Kyoto created too many winners and losers.   Russia got special treatment.  India and China got a free ride.   It was politically unacceptable in the USA.
  9. China has become significant politically.   Any solution must involve China.  In a few years  China will produce a third of the world’s anthropogenic carbon dioxide. The 2009 Copenhagen attempt at a new treaty failed in large part because there was no way for the world community to get China to do what they felt needed to be done.  Absent political concessions in China, the USA will never come on board.   The two largest economies in the world must be a part of any real agreement.
  10. Stop living in the past.   Dr. Hansen has been an advocate of counting all the pollution a country has produced since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution when dictating what each country is obligated to do to stop warming.   I personally don’t buy the argument scientifically, but that’s beside the point.  This approach has effectively given China a pass.  It provides them with an excuse not to cooperate.
  11. Global warming hawks need to learn how to compromise.   Natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel than coal.  While it is not as good as Nuclear as a base load fuel, from a carbon dioxide perspective, it is much better than coal.   No new plants are currently under construction.   Decades will pas before any new Nuclear plants come on line in the USA. And old plants are being retired as we speak. Dr. Hansen and his cohorts should be adopting natural gas as a lesser of two evils while they wait for technology to provide a better choice in the short run.

I would be more convinced by the arguments in Dr. Hansen’s article if Dr. Hansen hadn’t made his mind up about global climate change in the 1980’s.   15 years ago doom was coming and coming soon.   His article still says it’s coming, but it could be delayed by centuries.   It is a better argument than the immediate gloom arguments of 15 years ago. Unfortunately for him, politicians usually don’t respond to problems in the indefinite future.

And still  I wonder.   Is Dr. Hansen right now….or is he just selectively looking at data to defend a position he has held for 30 years?   Only time will tell….lots of time.