Currently viewing the tag: "Climate Change"

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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.’”

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.

 

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

An El Niño is one of Mother Nature’s ways of reminding us who’s in charge.

The complexities of just this gigantic process alone — which basically drives the planet’s climate — is proof of the idiocy and willful ignorance of those who think man’s puny effluents has anything serious to do with global warming/climate change.

It takes some reading, but this is clear and enlightening stuff from WattsUpWithThat.com, where GW BS gets debunked.

7-enso-neutral-a