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One of my many jobs as a newspaper journalist included interviewing smart, interesting people about specialized, controversial subjects like climate change.

In 2007 I interviewed Timothy Ball, a Canadian climatologist who has been fighting the good fight against global warming insanity for years. He is a climate skeptic with a Ph.D. in climatology from the University of London who taught at the University of Winnipeg for 28 years.

It’s easy to see why Ball has made no friends among global warming alarmists. He says that the widely propagated “fact” that humans are contributing to global warming is the “greatest deception in the history of science.”

Like most sensible scientists, he says there’s global warming but it’s caused by the sun, not mankind, and that its effects will be good for us earthlings, not catastrophic.

When I spoke to Ball in 2007, the good-humored Canadian pointed out that his home island, Victoria, in British Columbia, was connected to the mainland 8,000 years ago when the sea level was 500 feet lower.

He and I talked about global warming, ice ages and sea levels. Here are highlights:


Q: What is your strongest or best argument that global warming  is not “very likely” to be caused by SUVs and Al Gore’s private planes?

A: I guess the best argument is that global warming has occurred, but it began in 1680, if you want to take the latest long-term warming, and the climate changes all the time. It began in 1680, in the middle of what’s called “The Little Ice Age” when there was three feet of ice on the Thames River in London. And the demand for furs of course drove the fur trade. The world has warmed up until recently, and that warming trend doesn’t fit with the CO2 record at all; it fits with the sun-spot data. Of course they are ignoring the sun because they want to focus on CO2.

The other thing that you are seeing going on is that they have switched from talking about global warming to talking about climate change. The reason for that is since 1998 the global temperature has gone down — only marginally, but it has gone down. In the meantime, of course, CO2 has increased in the atmosphere and human production has increased. So you’ve got what Huxley called the great bane of science — “a lovely hypothesis destroyed by an ugly fact.” So by switching to climate change, it allows them to point at any weather event — whether it’s warming, cooling, hotter, dryer, wetter, windier, whatever — and say it is due to humans. Of course, it’s absolutely rubbish.

Q: What is the most exaggerated and unnecessary worry about global warming or climate change?

A: I think the fact that it is presented as all negative. Of course, it’s the one thing they focus on because the public, with the huge well of common sense that is out there, would sort of say, “Well, I don’t understand the science, but, gee, I wouldn’t mind a warmer world, especially if I was living in Canada or Russia.” They have to touch something in the warming that becomes a very big negative for the people, and so they focus on, “Oh, the glaciers are going to melt and the sea levels are going to rise.” In fact, there are an awful lot of positive things. For example, longer frost-free seasons across many of the northern countries, less energy used because you don’t need to keep your houses warm in the winter.

Q: Is the globe warming and what is the cause?

A: Yeah, the world has been warming since 1680 and the cause is changes in the sun. But in their computer models they hardly talk about the sun at all and in the IPCC summary for policy-makers they don’t talk about the sun at all. And of course, if they put the sun into their formula in their computer models, it swamps out the human portion of CO2, so they can’t possibly do that.

Q: Is the rising CO2 level the cause of global warming or the result of it?

A: That’s a very good question because in the theory the claim is that if CO2 goes up, temperature will go up. The ice core record of the last 420,000 years shows exactly the opposite. It shows that the temperature changes before the CO2. So the fundamental assumption of the theory is wrong. That means the theory is wrong. … But the theory that human CO2 would lead to runaway global warming became a fact right away, and scientists like myself who dared to question it were immediately accused of being paid by the oil companies or didn’t care about the children or the future or anything else.

Q: Have you ever accepted money from an oil company?

A: No. No. I wish I did get some. I wouldn’t have to drive a ’92 car and live in a leaky apartment bloc.

Q: Why are sea levels rising and should we worry?

A: Sea levels have been rising for the last 10,000 years. In fact, 8,000 years ago, sea level was almost 500 feet lower than it is today. It’s been rising gradually over that time. It’s risen very slightly in the modern record, but it has risen no more rapidly than it has in the last 8,000 years. One of the factors that people forget is that most of the ice is already in the ocean, and so if you understand Archimedes’ Principle, when that ice melts it simply replaces the space that the ice occupied — even if the ice caps melt completely. What they do is they say if we estimate the volume of water in Antarctica and Greenland, then we add that to the existing ocean level. But that’s not the way it works at all. But it does work for panic and for sea-level rises of 20 feet, like Gore claims.

Q: Why are the sea levels rising, just because we are in a warming period?

A: Yes. We are in an inter-glacial. Just 22,000 years ago, which is what some people can get their minds around, Canada and parts of the northern U.S. were covered with an ice sheet larger than the current Antarctic ice sheet. That ice sheet was over a mile thick in central Canada. All of that ice melted in 5,000 years. There was another ice sheet over Europe and a couple more in Asia. As that ice has melted, it’s run back into the oceans and of course that’s what’s filled up the oceans. But if you drilled down in Antarctica, you go down almost 8,000 feet below sea level. That ice below sea level, if it melts, is not going to raise sea level.

Q: Is there any aspect of global warming alarmism that you are worried about?

A: There are a couple of very minor things. I’m interested in and need more research done on commercial jet aircraft flying in the stratosphere. The research that’s been done so far says no, it’s not an issue, but I think the jury is out on that still.The other concern I have is that we’re totally preparing for warming. The whole world is preparing for warming, but I mentioned that we have been cooling since 1998 and the climate scientists that I respected — particularly the Russians and Chinese — are predicting that we’re going to be much, much cooler by 2030. So we’ve got completely the wrong adaptive strategy.

Q: Is it not inevitable that we will have another ice age?

A: Yes, I think there is another ice age coming, because the major causes of the ice ages are changes in the orbit of the Earth around the sun and changes in the tilt of the Earth. Those are things we’ve known about for 150 years.

Q: If someone asked you where he should go to get a good antidote on the mainstream media’s spin on global warming, where should he go?

A: There are three Web sites I have some respect for. One is the one I helped set up by a group of very frustrated professional scientists who are retired. That’s called Friendsofscience.org. It has deliberately tried to focus on the science only. The second site that I think provides the science side of it very, very well is CO2Science.org, and that’s run by Sherwood Idso, who is the world expert on the relationship between plant growth and CO2. The third, which is a little more irreverent and maybe still slightly on the technical side for the general public, is JunkScience.com.

Q: If you had to calm the fears of a small grandchild or a student about the threat of global warming, what would you tell him?

A: First of all, I probably wouldn’t tell him anything. As I tell audiences, the minute somebody starts saying “Oh, the children are going to die and the grandchildren are going to have no future,” they have now played the emotional and fear card. Just like in the U.S., it’s almost like the race card. It’s not to say that it isn’t valid in some cases. But the minute you play that card, you are now taking the issues and the debates out of the rational and logical and reasonable and sensible and calm into the emotional and hysterical.

To give you an example, I was talking to a group in Saskatoon and a woman came up after and she said, “I agree with you totally. We were having a party for my 7-year-old. I went into the kitchen and there was a bang in the living room. I went back and a balloon had exploded. The kids were crying and I said, ‘Why are you crying?’ And they said, ‘There’s going to be another hole in the ozone.’”

It’s completely false. There never were holes in the ozone, by the way. But when we start laying those kinds of problems onto shoulders that are very narrow, that is criminal. My comment to her was, I said, “Look, let the kids get on with the party. Give them another beer. Let ’em enjoy themselves.”

So I wouldn’t raise these kinds of fear with the children. What I would do with my children and grandchildren is what I’m trying to do with the public and say, “Look, here’s the other side of the story. Make sure you get all of the information before you start running off and screaming ‘wolf, wolf, wolf.’”

Over at The Daily Caller, Michael Bastasch reports that the liars & hoaxers at NOAA have been caught fudging — and then fixing — their “official”  temperature records by Anthony Watts, the super-blogging meteorologist at WattsUpWithThat.com —  NOAA Reinstates July 1936 As The Hottest Month On Record

If any weatherman deserved a Pulitzer, it’s Watts. His science-heavy site, when you can understand it, is the premier clubhouse of the anti-global warming forces.

Here’s a 2009 Q&A that I, Libertarian Elder Bill Steigerwald, did with Watts, who has done more to fact-check, challenge and debunk the myths and BS of global warming than any one carbon-spewing human could ever do.

 

Anthony Watts, man of science

Anyone who regularly tunes into WattsUpWithThat.com, the popular climate-science blog operated by Anthony Watts, will never make fun of TV weathermen again. Watts ­ who was a TV meteorologist for 25 years ­ provides a steady diet of smart, always interesting and sometimes deeply complex scientific information and opinion about global climate change. Watts is also the founder of surfacestations.org, a project that for nearly two years has been quality-checking each of the 1,200-plus weather stations of the U. S. Historical Climate Network (USHCN) to see if they are set up and maintained properly. So far, Watts and his volunteers have checked about 820 of the weather stations, which have been in place for about 100 years and are the source for the country’s official average annual temperature. Watts has found that temperature data from nearly 70 percent of the stations is of questionable accuracy because the stations do not adhere to the USHCN’s own quality-control guidelines. I talked to Watts April 16 by phone from his office in Chico, Calif.

 

Q: Why do you do your blog WattsUpWithThat?

A: Well, it’s just an extension of what my life has been up until the last few years. I was a broadcaster on television ­ a meteorologist ­ for 25 years. I look at the blog as really no different. I did a daily broadcast each day in television. A blog is really just a daily broadcast in a different form.

Q: Who is your target audience?

A: I never really thought about a target audience. I took the same philosophy from broadcasting. I made it to reach as broad an audience as possible and the demographics that I get from it tell me I am doing that job successfully. I’ve got everything from people with high school educations to people that are Ph.Ds who are reading and commentating and sometimes even submitting articles.

Q: Sometimes it gets pretty deep ­ lots of scientific charts and data.

A: It does. But that is to be expected because of the broad audience we have. My job is to try to make everything understandable, even for people who are not in tune with some of the more technical details of climate.

Q: Have you become more politicized since you began blogging? Or are you primarily still a man of science?

A: Well, my main interest always has been the science. I am still of the belief that you should let the data tell you what the real story is. As far as the blog goes, the only thing I can say that I’ve become a little more critical of in terms of politics is that we have some people now who should be sticking to science, such as Jim Hansen (head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, going out and advocating things such as civil disobedience (at coal-fired power plants). That concerns me.

Q: What is your basic position on the question of global warming? Are you a believer? A skeptic? Somewhere in between?

A: I would call myself what some people describe as a “lukewarmer” in that the CO2 effect that people have done thousands of studies on is in fact real. However, it is not a crisis. The reason it is not a crisis is because most people do not understand the logarithmic nature of the CO2 response in our atmosphere.

Q: And that means?

A: It’s like salting soup. If you have a bowl of soup in front of you and you put a little salt in it to salt it to taste, you say, “Well, maybe it needs just a tad more.” So you add some more salt and you think, “Maybe not quite enough.” Then you add some more, and all the sudden it’s too salty. Now if you were to add additional salt to the soup, you could not determine that it was any more salty than it already was. And if you continue to add salt, you can’t tell the difference.

CO2 is much like that in the way that our atmosphere responds to long-wave outgoing radiation, or trapping of heat. At some point when you get to a certain level, like a doubling of CO2, and then you add a second doubling of CO2, the response halves. It’s logarithmic. Then it halves again and then halves again after that. So much of the effect that we would expect to see from CO2 — because of this logarithmic response — has already happened. In essence, our soup is already fairly well salted and additional salting is not to make a whole lot of difference.

Q: What is the most harmful “fact” ­ quote unquote ­ about global warming that everyone believes but which is probably not true or at least uncertain?

A: There is a belief out there that we will get into a runaway condition where at some point a tipping point would occur and that at that point there is no turning back and then the world would destroy itself. That is being pushed in the media a lot and it is flat wrong.

As we go back into history, into past millennia, we can see that our atmosphere has in fact had much more CO2 ­ up to 6,000 parts per million, compared to the 380 parts per million that we have now ­ and it has responded and it has settled. Earth didn’t destroy itself. It didn’t burn up and boil off the oceans. So the comparison that we see with runaway global warming and the turning of Earth into Venus, things of that nature, are probably the most dangerous and wrong ideas that are being pushed.

Q: Are your troubled or annoyed by the way global warming is being discussed or covered by the mainstream media?

A: I am. And mainly because it’s getting a free pass for almost every problem that’s brought up. There’s a Web site in the UK called Number Watch (numberwatch.com) that maintains a list of literally thousands of things in the media that are blamed on global warming. It’s almost like “The Devil made me do it.” The idea here is that, yeah, we have an issue and the issue is that there is some warming of the atmosphere. That warming however is not catastrophic. It has occurred in the past and the Earth has survived. So the blaming of global warming as a catchall for every problem that we see in our environment is a disservice to science and to the people.

Q: My grandchildren ask me if the polar ice in the Northern Hemisphere is going to disappear?

A: I would say that the polar ice has disappeared in the past. Certainly there seems to be evidence of past climate situations where we may have had virtually no or none during the summertime. In the immediate future, however, I don’t think we are going to see that. In fact, we’re going through a rebound right now. If you look at the current Arctic ice extent from the Japanese agency which tracks the Arctic ice, you’ll find that it is very near normal at this point and it is rebounding well from the last couple years. Antarctic ice is above normal. And the global total amount of sea ice is above normal. So it’s not disappearing any time soon.

Q: What’s the story with the Sun? It’s been described as being asleep or in a state of “slumber” because it has had virtually no sun spots for a long time. What’s going on?

A: Well, the Sun is driven by dynamic magnetic cycles. There are 11-year and 22-year cycles that have been identified and there are longer cycles that have been theorized. In every kind of a cycling endeavor there are always lulls and there are giant peaks. We’ve seen both in the past. We’ve seen lulls in the Maunder Minimum (1645 to 1715) and the Dalton Minimum (1790 to 1830), when virtually no sun spots appeared. Coincidentally, during those periods the weather and climate on Earth got colder.

The period that we are currently in now is what appears to be the beginning of an extended solar cycle that may now be as long as 12 1/2 years, compared to the normal 11. The current state of the Sun appears to be a similar kind of situation being set up to what it was right before the Dalton Minimum. So the possibility exists that we may find ourselves in a period of cooler weather in the next 20 to 30 years.

The missing link, however, between solar activity and Earth’s climate is “What is the amplification factor?” The total solar irradiance, or TSI, has shown to be very small and when you look at the amount of watts per meter that is delivered to the Earth’s surface, the amount of change in total solar irradiance doesn’t appear to be enough to cause such differences in the climate of the Earth.

However, what people are looking for now is an amplification factor ­ sort of a climatic transistor, if you will. A transistor takes very small signals and amplifies them so they are audible ­ which is why radios work. The theory has been bandied about that the same kind of process occurs in Earth’s climate. A very small change in signal related to solar activity ­ and we don’t know which signal yet; it could be total solar irradiance, it could be ultraviolent; it could be magnetic; it could be cosmic rays; there are number of things that are being looked at — gets amplified in Earth’s natural processes and changes. That’s what needs to be identified before a complete causal relationship is established between changes on the Sun’s solar cycle and changes in Earth’s climate.

Q: When we know the immense size of the Sun and power of the Sun and relative tininess of Earth, doesn’t the Sun just scream out as being the chief culprit of climate change on Earth?

A: On the surface — on a simple analysis — one would think that. But again, the missing link is, what is the true causal relationship between changes in the Sun’s solar cycle and Earth climate. Where’s the amplification factor? Because just the change in the amount of sunlight that occurs doesn’t appear to be enough to account for the observed changes in the past. So we are looking for that link.

However, I would say that the Sun really is the Big Kahuna of all the climate on earth. We would not have any climate. We would not have any weather. We would not have any ocean currents. We would not have life. We would have nothing if it were not for the Sun. So the Sun is this central point from which everything on Earth springs. We should not ignore that fact.

Q: Is a period of global cooling coming? And if so, what would you point to as evidence of that?

A: Well, there is a post on my blog today (April 16) about the computer models (of future global average temperatures) starting to diverge from the climate reality. This is something that is really kind of unexpected. The models continue to go up in (global temperature) but the climate reality and the current (global temperature) measurement starts to go down. They are diverging and have been diverging since 2006. There are a number of things that have aligned that make me think that perhaps we are in for a cooling period. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation, for example, has shifted from its warm regime to its cold regime last year. NASA JPL certified this. The last time it switched — in 1978 — it switched from a cool regime to a warm regime. We’ve been riding that warm period all the way since then.

Q: Is there a quick way to explain what the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is?

A: It has a larger influence than either La Nina or El Nino. It is a broad swath of water that extends from the Equator up into Alaska that changes the character of the surface temperatures of the Pacific over that broad swath of water. It was discovered by looking into changes in fishery stock by the University of Washington. The fishing stocks were changing and they had no explanation for it. They starting looking for it and they discovered it was linked to the food supply. And the food supply ­ krill and phytoplankton and all that sort of stuff ­ was linked to the changes in the temperature of the water. So they discovered this pattern. So it’s a broad, wholesale change in the structure of the surface temperature of the Pacific.

Q: That has obvious influences over the whole climate for years afterwards.

A: Particularly the United States, because the weather flows from west to east. And particularly California. California had a fairly cool climate prior to 1978. And during the warmer period from 1978 to last year, agriculture boomed in California. Grapes began to be grown in places they haven’t been grown before. The wine industry expanded. Agricultural expanded. And it expanded under a warmer climatic regime. Now that warmer climatic regime is in danger of shrinking again. So we may find growing seasons and growing places reduced back to areas that they were historically at in 1978.

Q: What is the most important, irrefutable truth about the climate of Earth that you wish every schoolchild and every elected official in Washington understood?

A: That the climate has always changed. It has never been static. In the past it has seen extremes hotter and colder than what we experience today. So change is normal.

Q: Since you are a meteorologist, I’ll put you on the spot. Ten years from now what will we be talking about, global warming or global cooling?

A: I believe it will be global cooling, based on the fact that there are several things aligning ­ like the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the solar patterns and so forth — to make it appear that we might be in for a period of global cooling. However, I am also prepared to say that I may be completely wrong.

Elizabeth-KolbertElizabeth’s Kolbert’s latest epistle in the April 14 New Yorker is a textbook example of climate change BS posing as journalism.

Her sermon won’t influence anyone, because the only people who will actually read it have already been converted to the AGW faith.

The scary thing is, the typical New Yorker reader — not to mention most journalists — won’t see a thing wrong with Kolbert’s warning that we all have to act fast because the “looming crisis that is global warming”  is no longer looming but is already here.

Kolbert, in case you haven’t heard, is the official High Priest of Climatology at The New Yorker.

Her latest “Talk of the Town”  item, “Rough Forecasts,” is essentially another of her riffs on behalf of maintaining tax subsidies for renewable energy, ending current fossil fuel subsidies, taxing carbon, toughening up building codes, praying for the recovery of coral reefs and heeding the latest divine revelations, recommendations and warnings of the IPCC.

Kolbert recites the usual silly truths about AGW  that New Yorker editors and readers swallow as a matter of faith — because of humans and their fetish for fossil fuels the reefs are dying, the Arctic ice is disappearing, famines and droughts are coming and Gaia has already gone into her death spiral.

She also points out, with displeasure, that the U.S. government underwrites the use of fossil fuels to the tune of $4 billion a year.

As a libertarian, I’m against all kinds of corporate welfare. I agree with Kolbert that the fossil fuel subsidies should be repealed — along with all those renewable energy subsidies.

But that $4 billion number is either wrong or insignificant. Kolbert’s soul mates at PriceofOil.org put the subsidy number between $14 to $52 billion per year, depending on how it’s figured.

What Ms. Kolbert is referring to, I think, are the $4 billion in fossil fuel subsidies President Obama has proposed cutting from his budget every year he’s been in office  but has never done.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter. A lousy $4 billion is chump change in a trillion-dollar U.S. energy sector where hundreds of big and small public and private companies no one has ever heard of pulled in at least $271 billion in profits in 2012.

For a science wiz who yearns to be officially crowned the Rachel Carson of climate change, Kolbert has a history of trouble with hard numbers, big and small.

In 2005 I caught her and her fact-checkers telling her gullible New Yorker readers than one of Greenland’s mightiest glaciers was moving at several miles per hour, not several miles per year.

Her glacial speed trap, as I happily pointed out in a column, was off by a factor of 8,760.  The magazine was forced into running a rare correction confessing its error (arguably my greatest feat in 35 years of newspaper journalism).

Kolbert also goofed up some numbers in 2007 in her profile of Amory Lovins, the famous environmental genius and “natural capitalist” who, unlike Kolbert, prefers practical, pragmatic, market-driven solutions to energy conservation instead of government micro-fiat.

Here’s what I wrote in my Pittsburgh Tribune-Review column:

“After confusingly toting up how many hundreds of billions Americans spend on gas, oil and energy each year, she concluded that ‘In 2007, total energy expenditures in the U.S. will come to more than a quadrillion dollars, or roughly a tenth of the country’s gross domestic product.’

“Quadrillion — Kolbert actually meant ‘a trillion dollars.’ And the annual U.S. GDP is about $13 trillion, not $10 quadrillion, as she implied. This time Kolbert was wrong by only a factor of 1,000.”

Kolbert’s chronic numbers problem isn’t the point. It’s not even really her fault. Copy editors are supposed to save her by catching such embarrassments as speeding ice sheets before they appear in print.

You can’t really blame Kolbert for her apocalyptic climatology or her god-awful politics, both of which make her New Yorker-safe. She is what she is — an G-W alarmist Bible thumper on a mission to save the world.

The people who deserve the blame for Kolbert are the people who run The New Yorker. They’re the ones who feature her relentless proselytizing and moralizing and pass it off as the thoughts of a reasonable journalist.

The Meme: The Scientific Debate On Global Warming In One Chart

The Claim: This chart settles the debate on whether scientists accept or reject global warming by showing that a clear plurality of peer reviewed studies accept that global warming is caused by humans.

The Verdict: False. This pie chart proves that two articles reject human- caused global warming. AND NOTHING ELSE. There is no given evidence about the number of articles that blame humans for global warming. The number could be between 0 and 10,883, but no evidence is provided by the study.

This chart is misleading. Don't be a sucker. If you’ve seen this chart floating around the Internet, be warned — you’re about to get a healthy load of BS along with it.

It’s not that this chart isn’t technically correct. It’s just that the information it construes is fundamentally flawed. However, that won’t stop members of the media and people who like sharing things on social media because it reinforces their previous held beliefs. The crux of the problem is that the original study is, at best, misleading and author James Powell’s methodology is too simplistic.

The study is centered around a single question, do you reject anthropogenic global warming? To find the answer to his question, Powell searched through Web of Science peer-reviewed articles about global warming and then examined whether or not the authors explicitly rejected any kind of relationship between human activity and global warming.

This is where the issue lies. By placing the burden on authors to explicitly reject human contribution to climate change, he loads the question and completely loses any modicum of neutrality.

Powell’s study includes all papers, even ones that don’t explicitly endorse anthropogenic climate change, in the yes column. Taking a sample of his cited works from the 2012-2013 study we find that he has included:

Effect of Climate-Related Change in Vegetation on Leaf Litter Consumption and Energy Storage by Gammarus pulex from Continental or Mediterranean Populations
Effect of delayed sowing on yield and proline content of different wheat cultivars
Effect of Different Light Emitting Diode (LED) Lights on the Growth Characteristics and the Phytochemical Production of Strawberry Fruits during Cultivation
Effect of different tillage and seeding methods on energy use efficiency and productivity of wheat in the Indo-Gangetic Plains
Effect of elevated CO2 on degradation of azoxystrobin and soil microbial activity in rice soil
Effect of fish species on methane and nitrous oxide emission in relation to soil C, N pools and enzymatic activities in minted shallow lowland rice-fish farming system
Effect of Global Warming on Intensity and Frequency Curves of Precipitation, Case Study of Northwestern Iran
Effect of High Reactivity Coke for Mixed Charge in Ore Layer on Reaction Behavior of Each Particle in Blast Furnace
Effect of long-term application of organic amendment on C storage in relation to global warming potential and biological activities in tropical flooded soil planted to rice
Effect of long-term operation on the performance of polypropylene and polyvinylidene fluoride membrane contactors for CO2 absorption
Effect of maize intercropped with alfalfa and sweet clover on soil carbon dioxide emissions during the growing season in North China Plain
Effect of morpho-physiological traits on grain yield of sorghum grown under stress at different growth stages, and stability analysis
Effect of near-future seawater temperature rises on sea urchin sperm longevity
Effect of nodule formation in roots of hairy vetch (Vicia villosa) on methane and nitrous oxide emissions during succeeding rice cultivation
Effect of origin and composition of diet on ecological impact of the organic egg production chain
Effect of permafrost on the formation of soil organic carbon pools and their physical-chemical properties in the Eastern Swiss Alps
Effect of predicted sea level rise on tourism facilities along Ghana’s Accra coast
Effect of rainfall exclusion on ant assemblages in montane rainforests of Ecuador

All as positive matches proving anthropogenic climate change because they don’t explicitly reject global warming. Even if only one percent of the papers in the Powell study actually endorse the idea of global warming, they are still included in the total. Based on Powell’s own data and chart, the only thing he proves is that two papers meet the standard set in his methodology, which is whether or not “a paper rejects human-caused global warming or professes to have a better explanation of observations.”

Therefore, because Powell never actually examines the data other than to validate his original question. The number of articles that accept humans are a factor in global warming could be between 0-10,883. It’s not 10,883 studies confirming global warming. It’s two that are rejecting it. This sneaky and dishonest methodology only provides fodder to climate change deniers by overselling the problem and not providing an honest look at the actual numbers.

Furthermore, Powell’s study makes no distinction between future estimates of the effect of global warming. No matter how small or insignificant the warming may be it is counted in the “yes, humans cause climate change” number. If the papers found human activity resulted in a 6.0 Fahrenheit increase in temperature, it’s treated the same as a paper that finds humans have only caused 0.1 Fahrenheit of warming.

In other words, from this study there’s no way to tell who thinks climate change is a serious problem, could be a problem, or won’t be a problem. And that really is a problem.

While the study itself has issues, an equal concern is the misinformation that gets attached to the preceding pie chart by members of the media.

Salon’s Lindsay Abrams is already touting the chart with the headline “10,853 out of 10,855 scientists agree: Global warming is happening, and humans are to blame.” Well first off Lindsay, neither the article or the original study ever mentions the number of scientists. It’s 10,855 studies, and whether or not they were done by 10,855 different scientists is pure speculation. It’s possible that 1,000, 20,000, or 150,000 different scientists were cited in the study.

[UPDATE] Salon finally got the memo and they changed the headline to “10,883 out of 10,885 scientific articles agree: Global warming is happening, and humans are to blame.” However, you can still see the original title in the URL slug. Maybe next time you'll actually read the study before you post about it?

Lindsay also posts:

UPDATE 3/26/2014 9:27 PM: The headline of this post has been corrected to reflect the correct number of articles referenced by Dr. Powell’s research. Powell also clarifies that many of those studies were authored by multiple scientists, so the complete number is actually higher. The headlines has been updated to reflect this as well.

On his methodology, Powell notes, he only verified that two out of the 10,885 articles he found concluded that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is wrong: “It is a safe assumption that virtually all the other 10883 do not reject–that is, they accept–AGW but I can’t say for sure that each one of them does.”

It’s nice of Powell to admit he didn’t actually read each article, and also make the assumption that if you do not reject global warming that that means you automatically endorse the idea. No room for “we don’t know” in the world of climate science.

Business Insider trumpets “The Scientific Debate in One Chart” and basically declares all scientific inquiry into global warming to be over, all the while ignoring the obvious discrepancies and dubious methodology of the study.

Weather.com, goes even further:

“[B]y reject, I mean they either flatly said global warming was wrong – which people say all the time in the press and in front of Congress – or they said there’s some other process that better explains the information,” Powell said in an interview with weather.com.

Single data points that disputed man-made climate change within a paper on another topic didn’t meet his test, he added. If a paper proposed an alternate theory for global warming, it had to have the goods.

[…]

He emphasizes that he was looking for the number of scientists who reject anthropogenic global warming – not how many accept it.

“You don’t have to poll scientists or talk to people. All you have to do is read the papers and see what evidence is there,” he said. “I think … people’s opinion is less important than the scientific evidence that backs up opinion.”

Never one to not have a stupid opinion about something he doesn’t understand, BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczyinski gets into the act by declaring “Nearly Every Scientist Says Global Warming is Caused by Humans.”

Dynamite job on not reading the study Andrew, but shouldn’t you have responded in the form of a listicle?

If the mainstream media buzz is any indication, you’re likely to see this chart bouncing around Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ in the next few weeks (well not Google+, because who actually uses that?). But when you do, instead of blindly accepting this misleading information, take a second to actually think about it. You don’t even have to take my word for it, get in there and read the original study. Read the wildly exaggerated claims that will be made by the media. Does the information really match up?

No.

It merely states that out of 10,885 peer reviewed articles that included the words global warming and climate change, two explicitly rejected anthropogenic global warming.

It’s a bad chart that is meant to mislead and squash actual debate.

And that’s why I had to MEMEBUST IT.

James Powell, you just got MEMEBUSTED. YAAAAAAHHH.

 

snowproblemIn case you didn’t get the memo, today is International Polar Bear Day. It’s a day filled with poorly-researched articles where “science” writers bemoan how evil humans will wipe out polar bears, and cry over spilt carbon.

Yahoo is running a “5 Weird Facts About Polar Bears” on its front page. A dubious list of four “weird” facts with a fifth that trumpets “Two-thirds of polar bears could disappear by 2050.

Polar bears rely on sea ice to hunt, and studies predict that global warming could melt enough sea ice to lead to the disappearance of two-thirds of polar bears by 2050. The decline in sea ice has forced the bears to swim longer distances, consuming energy they cannot afford to use.

The United States listed polar bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in May 2008, and Canada and Russia have listed them as a species of special concern. Unless climate change slows, eventually there may not be any bears around to celebrate Polar Bear Day.

It’s an especially poor attempt by author Tanya Lewis at making a valid point about polar bears. She doesn’t even link to an article that supports her theory of polar bear disappearance other than they have to swim longer distances. The least she could do is try to make an effort — if she’s so concerned about the polar bears — to write a compelling article based on facts. The whole thing is just a way to drum up uninformed outrage.

Not that Tanya should be singled out.

Time has its own hysteria inducing “Save the Polar Bear, Especially Today.” Basically a rehashed, non-listacle version of the Yahoo article, (now with more hysteria!)

Many scientists and conservationists fear that there may be far fewer polar bears in even that single-decade time frame, thanks chiefly to the effects of climate change. Polar bears use sea ice as a platform to reach their prey, chiefly seals, and summer sea ice is melting fast. Despite a rebound from a record low in 2012, the extent of Arctic sea ice is generally trending downwards, often dramatically. As the ice vanishes, polar bears are forced to swim longer and longer distances to reach those hunting platforms, which is taking a toll on the species.

Once again, there’s no link, no data to back up his claim that swimming long distances is killing the species. It’s the standard global warming doomsdayers trope. The Time article also goes on to make various other wildly unsubstantiated claims like:

Still, most experts agree that there are about 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears alive, scattered around the Arctic—a perilously small number though some subpopulations have rebounded, in part because of restrictions on hunting.

So perilously small that some populations may have reached their carrying capacity.

In fact, research shows that polar bear populations have been increasing, to between 20,000-25,000 bears. Far more than the 12,000 estimated in the late ’60s before an international ban on hunting in the 1970s. What’s more, scientists still don’t even have sufficient data about eight of the 19 known polar bear habitats. But of course the lack of data won’t prevent a lot of people from spouting off about the imminent destruction of the polar bear.Polar Bear Map

(And don’t let the facts dissuade you from using these “sexy” beasts as the mascots for your climate change hysteria.)

Fortunately the truth is out there. Zach Unger, who originally set off to write “an elegy” for the certain destruction of the species, ended up writing “Never Look A Polar Bear in the Eye,” a chronicle of the massive success and rebirth polar bears have enjoyed in the past decades.

And then there’s this article about polar bears from Canadian Geographic that highlights two experts who view predictions of extinction as “joke”:

Consider Mitch Taylor’s story. He spent more than two decades as a polar bear researcher and manager for the Nunavut government and has published around 50 peer-reviewed papers. That should garner widespread respect. But Taylor has been highly vocal about his belief that polar bears are mostly doing fine, that cub mortality varies from year to year and that the much ballyhooed predictions of extinction by 2050 are “a joke.” He also alleges that a lot of the “exaggerated decline” is just a way to keep certain scientists well funded and to transfer control of the polar bear issue from territorial to federal hands.

[…]

Yet by 1990, Ian Stirling — at the time, the senior research scientist for the Canadian Wildlife Service and a professor of zoology at the University of Alberta; basically, one of the most respected polar bear scientists on the planet — felt comfortable answering the question as to whether polar bears are an endangered species by stating flatly: “They are not.” He went on to say that “the world population of polar bears is certainly greater than 20,000 and could be as high as 40,000 … I am inclined toward the upper end of that range.”

So next time you see a picture of some poor polar bear “trapped on an ice floe” or Leonardo DiCaprio Photoshopped into the arctic, ask yourself this: “Who benefits from all the polar bear hysteria?”

(It’s not the polar bears.)Vanity Fair and Knut

This chart represents bad news for American’s who are worried about global warming:

That blue line with its scary upward rise represents China, the earth’s leading producer of CO2 emissions, and it’s projected to keep on growing. The bad news is if carbon emissions  are solely responsible for anthropogenic global warming, then there’s nothing you the American consumer can do about it. The good news is you can buy that super low gas mileage muscle car you’ve always wanted, because guess what — your efforts to reduce your carbon footprint are wholly and completely irrelevant. Now just because China and India will continue to make all of America and the EU’s carbon reduction irrelevant doesn’t mean you should stop recycling, or not cranking up the AC in the summer, or riding your bike to work. Pollution is still a real problem in some parts of the United States. Just remember, when you’re out there biking in 3 degree weather to save a few emissions, feeling good about yourself and your carbon reducing ways, you’re literally doing nothing to reduce global warming. As John Stossel so succinctly puts it:

What we do now is pointless. I feel righteous riding my bike to work. That’s just shallow. Even if all Americans replaced cars with bicycles, switched to fluorescent light bulbs, got solar water heaters, etc., it would have no discernible effect on the climate. China builds a new coal-fueled power plant almost every week; each one obliterates any carbon reduction from all our windmills and solar panels.

I know what you’re thinking, “a full blown invasion of China is the only way to stop catastrophic global warming.” But I’m going to have to stop you right there. That strain of thinking can only lead to the most famous of all classic blunders: Never get involved in a land war in Asia. To say nothing of the horrific death toll and the moral and philosophical problems. The developing world, especially China and India, is going to produce a lot of emissions as they grow into a fully developed and modern economic country. The good news is that once they reach that point, carbon emissions will likely flatten out. Much like what has happened with OECD countries like the United States and the members of the European Union.

Contrary to the mass hysterics of the Al Gores and Barbara Boxers of the world, who can’t wait to blame every deadly storm on global warming, there’s plenty of new evidence that shows that warm temperatures result in fewer severe weather events. (Read the abstract here.) And of course there’s Al Gore’s “scientific” “predictions” in his magnum opus Inconvenient Truth, that have been spectacularly wrong so far. Let’s take a deep breath and remember that mass predictions of Armageddon don’t usually come true; human ingenuity is rarely factored into doomsday scenarios.

Even though 97 percent of climate scientists believe that global warming is anthropogenic, not all scientists subscribe to that theory. Fortunately, even if global warming is caused by humans, there are still scientists that believe that the whole thing is overblown and that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Cchange is a joke. Then there’s the 15 year pause in global warming that no one can figure out. The problem is, If global warming is as catastrophic as the doomsdayers want to believe, then we’re all screwed anyway. Worldwide emissions have already blown past the 350 parts per million threshold, IPCC head James Hansen’s so-called tipping point. The developing world isn’t going to shut down their economies just because we ask. And any self-imposed pollution limits from the US or the EU will have little to no effect on worldwide emissions.

So what do we Americans do? First off ignore people like Eugene Robinson, who right after admitting that China and India aren’t going to actively reduce their carbon emissions in a way that hurts their economies, stumps for the “United States, Europe and Japan [to] do what they can, at the margins, without surrendering the comforts that industrialization provides.” Then purge from your mind United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres, who thinks that communism is our only hope (which sort of ignores the whole China is a communist country yet the largest producer of CO2). Instead, maybe take a page from John Stossel and not worry about things completely beyond our control:

Someday, we’ll probably invent technology that could reduce man’s greenhouse gas creation, but we’re nowhere close to it now. Rather than punish poor people with higher taxes on carbon and award ludicrous subsidies to Al Gore’s “green” investments, we should wait for the science to advance. If serious warming happens, we can adjust, as we’ve adjusted to big changes throughout history. It will be easier to adjust if America is not broke after wasting our resources on trendy gimmicks like windmills. […] So let’s chill out about global warming. We don’t need more micromanagement from government. We need less. Then free people — and rapidly increasing prosperity — will create a better world.

In other words, You just gotta keep livin’ man, L-I-V-I-N. If this message of doom upsets you, please share it and instruct your friends to direct all angry comments to Joe Steigerwald. You can find him on Twitter @steigerwaldino or on Facebook at the Stag Blog. However, if you’re one of those “global warming deniers,” please use it to troll your friends and relatives by posting it on their Facebook walls.

Vizzini Says: Don't Commit the Classic Blunder: No Land Wars in Asia