Broad Oak: your emotional support animal

Monday, September 30, 2013

John Cook's Climate Change Mythbusters 13

This is part of a series reposting material from John Cook's Skeptical Science website. Although he is a physicist rather than a specialist in climate science, he is a convinced "global warmist" and tries to rebut frequently-raised objections to the theory. However, it is always possible to question the data (e.g. this valuable note about measuring temperature) and the line of argument. Please help advance the debate - with facts and logic.
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How sensitive is our climate?

What The Science Says:
Net positive feedback is confirmed by many different lines of evidence.
Climate Myth: Climate sensitivity is low
"His [Dr Spencer's] latest research demonstrates that – in the short term, at any rate – the temperature feedbacks that the IPCC imagines will greatly amplify any initial warming caused by CO2 are net-negative, attenuating the warming they are supposed to enhance. His best estimate is that the warming in response to a doubling of CO2 concentration, which may happen this century unless the usual suspects get away with shutting down the economies of the West, will be a harmless 1 Fahrenheit degree, not the 6 F predicted by the IPCC." (Christopher Monckton)
 Climate sensitivity is the estimate of how much the earth's climate will warm in response to the increased greenhouse effect if we double the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This includes feedbacks which can either amplify or dampen that warming. This is very important because if it is low, as some climate 'skeptics' argue, then the planet will warm slowly and we will have more time to react and adapt. If sensitivity is high, then we could be in for a very bad time indeed.

There are two ways of working out what climate sensitivity is. The first method is by modelling:

 
Climate models have predicted the least temperature rise would be on average 1.65°C (2.97°F) , but upper estimates vary a lot, averaging 5.2°C (9.36°F). Current best estimates are for a rise of around 3°C (5.4°F), with a likely maximum of 4.5°C (8.1°F).
 
The second method calculates climate sensitivity directly from physical evidence, by looking at climate changes in the distant past:
 
adapted fig 3a

Various paleoclimate-based equilibrium climate sensitivity estimates from a range of geologic eras. Adapted from PALEOSENS (2012) Figure 3a by John Cook.
 
These calculations use data from sources like ice cores to work out how much additional heat the doubling of greenhouse gases will produce. These estimates are very consistent, finding between 2 and 4.5°C global surface warming in response to doubled carbon dioxide.

It’s all a matter of degree

All the models and evidence confirm a minimum warming close to 2°C for a doubling of atmospheric CO2 with a most likely value of 3°C and the potential to warm 4.5°C or even more. Even such a small rise would signal many damaging and highly disruptive changes to the environment. In this light, the arguments against reducing greenhouse gas emissions because of climate sensitivity are a form of gambling. A minority claim the climate is less sensitive than we think, the implication being we don’t need to do anything much about it. Others suggest that because we can't tell for sure, we should wait and see.
 
In truth, nobody knows for sure quite how much the temperature will rise, but rise it will. Inaction or complacency heightens risk, gambling with the entire ecology of the planet, and the welfare of everyone on it.
 
Basic rebuttal written by GPWayne.

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

John Cook's Climate Change Mythbusters 12

This is part of a series reposting material from John Cook's Skeptical Science website. Although he is a physicist rather than a specialist in climate science, he is a convinced "global warmist" and tries to rebut frequently-raised objections to the theory. However, it is always possible to question the data (e.g. this valuable note about measuring temperature) and the line of argument. Please help advance the debate - with facts and logic.
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CO2 lags temperature - what does it mean?

What The Science Says:
CO2 didn't initiate warming from past ice ages but it did amplify the warming. In fact, about 90% of the global warming followed the CO2 increase.
Climate Myth: CO2 lags temperature
"An article in Science magazine illustrated that a rise in carbon dioxide did not precede a rise in temperatures, but actually lagged behind temperature rises by 200 to 1000 years. A rise in carbon dioxide levels could not have caused a rise in temperature if it followed the temperature." (Joe Barton)
Earth’s climate has varied widely over its history, from ice ages characterised by large ice sheets covering many land areas, to warm periods with no ice at the poles. Several factors have affected past climate change, including solar variability, volcanic activity and changes in the composition of the atmosphere. Data from Antarctic ice cores reveals an interesting story for the past 400,000 years. During this period, CO2 and temperatures are closely correlated, which means they rise and fall together. However, based on Antarctic ice core data, changes in CO2 follow changes in temperatures by about 600 to 1000 years, as illustrated in Figure 1 below. This has led some to conclude that CO2 simply cannot be responsible for current global warming.
 
 
Figure 1: Vostok ice core records for carbon dioxide concentration and temperature change.
 
This statement does not tell the whole story. The initial changes in temperature during this period are explained by changes in the Earth’s orbit around the sun, which affects the amount of seasonal sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface. In the case of warming, the lag between temperature and CO2 is explained as follows: as ocean temperatures rise, oceans release CO2 into the atmosphere. In turn, this release amplifies the warming trend, leading to yet more CO2 being released. In other words, increasing CO2 levels become both the cause and effect of further warming. This positive feedback is necessary to trigger the shifts between glacials and interglacials as the effect of orbital changes is too weak to cause such variation. Additional positive feedbacks which play an important role in this process include other greenhouse gases, and changes in ice sheet cover and vegetation patterns.
 
A 2012 study by Shakun et al. looked at temperature changes 20,000 years ago (the last glacial-interglacial transition) from around the world and added more detail to our understanding of the CO2-temperature change relationship. They found that:
  • The Earth's orbital cycles trigger the initial warming (starting approximately 19,000 years ago), which is first reflected in the the Arctic.
  • This Arctic warming caused large amounts of ice to melt, causing large amounts of fresh water to flood into the oceans.
  • This influx of fresh water then disrupted the Atlantic Ocean circulation, in turn causing a seesawing of heat between the hemispheres. The Southern Hemisphere and its oceans warmed first, starting about 18,000 years ago.
  • The warming Southern Ocean then released CO2 into the atmosphere starting around 17,500 years ago, which in turn caused the entire planet to warm via the increased greenhouse effect.
Overall, about 90% of the global warming occurred after the CO2 increase (Figure 2).
 
Shakun Fig 2a

Figure 2: Average global temperature (blue), Antarctic temperature (red), and atmospheric CO2 concentration (yellow dots). Source.

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Errors in the field

Some years ago I investigated errors generated by people collecting environmental data while out in the field. In those days we had computers and databases back at the lab, but field data was collected manually.

I’d written a range of error-trapping routines to pick up errors during data input at the lab so all I had to do was link errors to people. The survey included several hundred field workers and hundreds of thousands of items of data. These were not major errors by the way, but they had to be corrected.

Findings
I suppose I was most surprised at how many errors were being made and how consistent each person’s error rates were.

Firstly, line managers working in the field to keep their hand in. They tended to generate more errors than anyone else. Many should have been locked in their offices and never allowed into the field under any circumstances.

Secondly, there were a few people who were extremely meticulous, making a very small number of errors day in day out, but there were not many like that – maybe five or six at most.

Thirdly, there were people at the other end of the spectrum who routinely made a large number of errors.

So – not particularly surprising really, but what did strike me was the difference between the best and the worst. The worst field workers regularly made at least twenty times as many errors as the best.

Yet that did not mean that the worst couldn’t care less about the work – far from it as far as I could see. People doing environmental field work tend to be interested and conscientious.

I don’t know what became of the survey in the longer term, because I moved on. My reports were greeted with surprise and not a great deal of enthusiasm, but I always remember just how consistent people are when it comes to making mistakes in largely routine work.

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Is democracy the answer to the EU?

Leaving the EU would not be the solution to our problems. It would expose the source of them, which is the news media and Parliament. If the former held up a reliable mirror to reality and the latter represented the views of the electorate, we would never have joined the Common Market in 1972.

As I said two years ago ("Voting reform: AV = First Past The Post", 11 April 2011), two-thirds of Members of Parliament got less than half the votes cast in their constituencies, in both the 2005 and 2010 General Elections. Once in Westminster, they have no binding obligation to represent our views and are subject to lobbying and appeals to personal ambition...

... and even less respectable forms of persuasion. For example, John Ward recently wrote how the Civil Service bends arms to serve The Machine:

The reason why there is no cross-Party consensus on the need to fire one bureaucrat in two remains as simple as ever. In the Tory Party, every Minister quickly realises that (often through mates in the security services) the Sir Humphrey with whom they’ve been blessed knows the location of every incriminating negative, and the nature of every peccadillo, related to that Minister of the Crown. When it comes to the Labour Party, Sir Humphrey’s underlings are all members of a trade union affiliated to the TUC. And in both Parties, senior civil servants know the Whips well enough to be able to gather further dirt on the Minister with whom they’ve been landed.

As to the media (who in the UK can be silenced by 'D' notices if they get too bothersome), Albert Burgess' essay on how we were persuaded to vote for entry into the Common Market shows who they work for:

But how to do it? First, organized breakfast meetings at the Connaught Hotel in London; these meetings were attended by Government Ministers, MPs, the British Council for the European Movement and top people from ITV, the BBC and the national newspapers. At these meetings the media people were persuaded to remove all their front line anti-EEC reporters and to replace them with pro-EEC reporters.
 
They set up a department in a back room of Chatham House where five people wrote thousands of letters all purporting to come from people like you and me, every letter saying what a great idea this EEC was; but the IRD did not have a facility to distribute them, so they were distributed to the central offices of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal parties and the British Council for the European Movement. They got them signed and sent to the letters pages of the news outlets. By this method they completely skewed the public’s perception of what was best for the Kingdom and themselves and their families.
 
The problem is not primarily the EU, and leaving it would only be the first of our challenges in setting up an open and wisely-run society.
 
Of these further challenges, one would be the people themselves, who under a democratic system are inclined to vote for more benefits than they have earned through work - or, in some cases, for more perceived good to others than can be realistically afforded. Harold Wilson saw Party advantage in youthful idealism and financial ignorance and reduced the voting age to 18; now, and for the same reasons, Ed Miliband proposes to lower it further, to 16.
 
I remember chairing a classroom debate on cruelty to animals. The 13-year-olds turned to the question of meat-eating, since it is not essential to human existence, and decided unanimously that it was wrong. When I asked how many of those present would now immediately cease to eat meat (even sausages, though whether they count is a moot question) the hands dropped.
 
And when the government is the demos, its undoing is the demagogue. The greatest orator of ancient times was Demosthenes, who swayed the voters of Athens to oppose Alexander, with bad results for many in the city and a completely disastrous one for its ally Thebes, which the conqueror razed to the ground. In our own time we've seen Britain make major mistakes thanks to the fey, guff-speaking fantasist Blair; mistakes that have killed hundreds of thousands of people in other countries.
 
Indeed, if we could correct these weaknesses in our politicians and our commentators and persuaders and in ourselves, we could probably remain in the EU without any problem.

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

The destitute professor: how America treats professionals in education

Buckle down, study hard, get qualifications, work hard and you'll get... nothing.


(CNN) -- "She was a professor?"

That's what an astonished caseworker at Adult Protective Services asked about Margaret Mary Vojtko when informed of the 83-year-old woman's destitute situation, according to an op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Vojtko died September 1 of a massive heart attack.

Yes, she was a professor. An adjunct professor of French at Duquesne University. Until she was not renewed this year, with neither due process nor severance pay.

She taught students for 25 years, with no health benefits, no retirement benefits, and low wages.
 
 

(htp: Paddington.)

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

John Cook's Climate Change Mythbusters 11

This is part of a series reposting material from John Cook's Skeptical Science website. Although he is a physicist rather than a specialist in climate science, he is a convinced "global warmist" and tries to rebut frequently-raised objections to the theory. However, it is always possible to question the data (e.g. this valuable note about measuring temperature) and the line of argument. Please help advance the debate - with facts and logic.
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What were climate scientists predicting in the 1970s?

What The Science Says:
The vast majority of climate papers in the 1970s predicted warming.
Climate Myth: Ice age predicted in the 70s
"[M]any publications now claiming the world is on the brink of a global warming disaster said the same about an impending ice age – just 30 years ago. Several major ones, including The New York Times, Time magazine and Newsweek, have reported on three or even four different climate shifts since 1895." (Fire and Ice)
In the thirty years leading up to the 1970s, available temperature recordings suggested that there was a cooling trend. As a result some scientists suggested that the current inter-glacial period could rapidly draw to a close, which might result in the Earth plunging into a new ice age over the next few centuries. This idea could have been reinforced by the knowledge that the smog that climatologists call ‘aerosols’ – emitted by human activities into the atmosphere – also caused cooling. In fact, as temperature recording has improved in coverage, it’s become apparent that the cooling trend was most pronounced in northern land areas and that global temperature trends were in fact relatively steady during the period prior to 1970.

At the same time as some scientists were suggesting we might be facing another ice age, a greater number published contradicting studies. Their papers showed that the growing amount of greenhouse gasses that humans were putting into the atmosphere would cause much greater warming – warming that would a much greater influence on global temperature than any possible natural or human-caused cooling effects.

By 1980 the predictions about ice ages had ceased, due to the overwhelming evidence contained in an increasing number of reports that warned of global warming. Unfortunately, the small number of predictions of an ice age appeared to be much more interesting than those of global warming, so it was those sensational 'Ice Age' stories in the press that so many people tend to remember.



The fact is that around 1970 there were 6 times as many scientists predicting a warming rather than a cooling planet. Today, with 30+years more data to analyse, we've reached a clear scientific consensus: 97% of working climate scientists agree with the view that human beings are causing global warming.

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Friday, September 27, 2013

John Cook's Climate Change Mythbusters 10

This is part of a series reposting material from John Cook's Skeptical Science website. Although he is a physicist rather than a specialist in climate science, he is a convinced "global warmist" and tries to rebut frequently-raised objections to the theory. However, it is always possible to question the data (e.g. this valuable note about measuring temperature) and the line of argument. Please help advance the debate - with facts and logic.
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Is Antarctica losing or gaining ice?

What The Science Says:
Satellites measure Antarctica is gaining sea ice but losing land ice at an accelerating rate which has implications for sea level rise.
Climate Myth: Antarctica is gaining ice
"[Ice] is expanding in much of Antarctica, contrary to the widespread public belief that global warming is melting the continental ice cap." (Greg Roberts, The Australian)
Skeptic arguments that Antarctica is gaining ice frequently hinge on an error of omission, namely ignoring the difference between land ice and sea ice.

In glaciology and particularly with respect to Antarctic ice, not all things are created equal. Let us consider the following differences. Antarctic land ice is the ice which has accumulated over thousands of years on the Antarctica landmass itself through snowfall. This land ice therefore is actually stored ocean water that once fell as precipitation. Sea ice in Antarctica is quite different as it is ice which forms in salt water primarily during the winter months. When land ice melts and flows into the oceans global sea levels rise on average; when sea ice melts sea levels do not change measurably.

In Antarctica, sea ice grows quite extensively during winter but nearly completely melts away during the summer (Figure 1). That is where the important difference between Antarctic and Arctic sea ice exists as much of the Arctic's sea ice lasts all the year round. During the winter months it increases and before decreasing during the summer months, but an ice cover does in fact remain in the North which includes quite a bit of ice from previous years (Figure 1). Essentially Arctic sea ice is more important for the earth's energy balance because when it increasingly melts, more sunlight is absorbed by the oceans whereas Antarctic sea ice normally melts each summer leaving the earth's energy balance largely unchanged.



Figure 1: Coverage of sea ice in both the Arctic (Top) and Antarctica (Bottom) for both summer minimums and winter maximums. Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center

One must also be careful how you interpret trends in Antarctic sea ice. Currently this ice is increasing overall and has been for years but is this the smoking gun against climate change? Not quite. Antarctic sea ice is gaining because of many different reasons but the most accepted recent explanations are listed below:

i) Ozone levels over Antarctica have dropped causing stratospheric cooling and increasing winds which lead to more areas of open water that can be frozen (Gillet 2003, Thompson 2002, Turner 2009).

and

ii) The Southern Ocean is freshening because of increased rain and snowfall as well as an increase in meltwater coming from the edges of Antarctica's land ice (Zhang 2007, Bintanga et al. 2013). Together, these change the composition of the different layers in the ocean there causing less mixing between warm and cold layers and thus less melted sea and coastal land ice.

All the sea ice talk aside, it is quite clear that really when it comes to Antarctic ice and sea levels, sea ice is not the most important thing to measure. In Antarctica, the largest and most important ice mass is the land ice of the West Antarctic and East Antarctic ice sheets.

Therefore, how is Antarctic land ice doing?

Shepherd et al. 2012

Figure 2: Estimates of total Antarctic land ice changes and approximate sea level contributions using a combination of different measurement techniques (Shepherd, 2012). Shaded areas represent the estimate uncertainty (1-sigma).

Estimates of recent changes in Antarctic land ice (Figure 2, bottom panel) show an increasing contribution to sea level with time, although not as fast a rate or acceleration as Greenland. Between 1992 and 2011, the Antarctic Ice Sheets overall lost 1350 giga-tonnes (Gt) or 1,350,000,000,000 tonnes into the oceans, at an average rate of 70 Gt per year (Gt/yr). Because a reduction in mass of 360 Gt/year represents an annual global-average sea level rise of 1 mm, these estimates equate to an increase in global-average sea levels by 0.19 mm/yr.

There is variation between regions within Antarctica (Figure 2, top panel), with the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and the Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet losing ice mass, and with an increasing rate. The East Antarctic Ice Sheet is growing slightly over this period but not enough to offset the other losses. There are of course uncertainties in the estimation methods but independent data from multiple measurement techniques (explained here) all show the same thing, Antarctica is losing land ice as a whole, and these losses are accelerating quickly.

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fashion and shame in education

The problem with teachers is not that they are rebellious; on the contrary, they are conservative and conformist. As I said a few days ago ("Teacher is a fool", 22 September), the path to becoming a teacher selects for people who work for pats on the head.

This makes them perfect victims for lunatic dictators. When the National Socialists took over in Germany, all the teachers at my mother's school joined the Party (not to do so would screw your career) and obediently - for Germans are law-abiding to a fault, as Jerome K. Jerome noted in his pre-WWI book"Three Men on the Bummel" - they encouraged the children to do the same, and browbeat the reluctant. Grandfather, perhaps because he was a gentleman farmer, perhaps because he recognised the Nazis for the rabble they were - forbade Mother to join.

It only takes a small, active minority to promote each other into positions of authority, and they can make education the instrument of their revolution. It doesn't matter if it's book-burning Lefties (and we had some in the 70s), or business-serving privatisers, as now; the few will make their careers by change, and the many will sway in the breeze, first one way, then another.

For example, take something as simple (and, you would think, culturally unloaded) as learning your times tables.

When I was a child, we learned them by rote, chanting "four fours are six-teen, five fours are twen-ty" and so on. Silver star if you could recite your eleven times table, gold star for twelves.

Then, sometime later, rote learning was abolished. It was boring (I hadn't noticed). We should be learning by exploration. Anyhow, calculators could do all that stuff, couldn't they?

Turned out they couldn't. Because if you have no idea what the answer should look like even roughly, you don't notice when you've messed up on the calculator. And you're so easy to cheat in the shops when you buy three ice creams - I've seen that happen. And on a market stall. And in the duty-free shop of a cross-Channel ferry.

Well, they brought it back. But remember the Golden Rule of educational innovation: NEVER ADMIT YOU WERE WRONG. So when you restore something that should never have been thrown away, you have to do it differently - even if it's ten times worse.

So chanting has come back, with a difference. Ask a child what seven fours are and instead of zapping straight to the answer from memory, he'll begin to clamber up a long, wobbly ladder: "Four, eight, twelve, sixteen..." while you watch paint dry with more interest. And at some point, more often than not, you'll see he's switched to adding four to the previous number, because at age ten he still doesn't know this painfully slow sequence by heart. Which also means that if he gets one rung wrong ("twelve... fifteen... nineteen... twenty-two, no, twenty-three...") it all goes horribly skewiff.

If (sadist!) you ask him seven nines he'll fall silent, after a brief struggle.

Now I try to put this right, but when someone has laid down a foundation of horse manure it's hard to build a stable platform on top. At nine or ten, a youngster who is playing Grand Theft Auto 5 till two in the morning is just too cool to do sing-song chants. This should have been done when he was four or five, for rhythm and a singing tone is the natural language of infancy, and they thrive on repetition (God knows how many times I had to watch "Ewoks 4" with my niece). Now, too late.

Yes, good try, Kyle.

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

John Cook's Climate Change Mythbusters 9

This is part of a series reposting material from John Cook's Skeptical Science website. Although he is a physicist rather than a specialist in climate science, he is a convinced "global warmist" and tries to rebut frequently-raised objections to the theory. However, it is always possible to question the data (e.g. this valuable note about measuring temperature) and the line of argument. Please help advance the debate - with facts and logic.
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What has global warming done since 1998?

What The Science Says:
For global records, 2010 is the hottest year on record, tied with 2005.
Climate Myth: It hasn't warmed since 1998
For the years 1998-2005, temperature did not increase. This period coincides with society's continued pumping of more CO2 into the atmosphere. (Bob Carter)
No, it hasn't been cooling since 1998. Even if we ignore long term trends and just look at the record-breakers, that wasn't the hottest year ever. Different reports show that, overall, 2005 was hotter than 1998. What's more, globally, the hottest 12-month period ever recorded was from June 2009 to May 2010.
 
Though humans love record-breakers, they don't, on their own, tell us a much about trends -- and it's trends that matter when monitoring Climate Change. Trends only appear by looking at all the data, globally, and taking into account other variables -- like the effects of the El Nino ocean current or sunspot activity -- not by cherry-picking single points.
 
There's also a tendency for some people just to concentrate on air temperatures when there are other, more useful, indicators that can perhaps give us a better idea how rapidly the world is warming. Oceans for instance -- due to their immense size and heat storing capability (called 'thermal mass') -- tend to give a much more 'steady' indication of the warming that is happening. Here records show that the Earth has been warming at a steady rate before and since 1998 and there's no signs of it slowing any time soon.
 
Fig 1

Land, atmosphere, and ice heating (red), 0-700 meter ocean heat content (OHC) increase (light blue), 700-2,000 meter OHC increase (dark blue). From Nuccitelli et al. (2012).

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

John Cook's Climate Change Mythbusters 8

This is part of a series reposting material from John Cook's Skeptical Science website. Although he is a physicist rather than a specialist in climate science, he is a convinced "global warmist" and tries to rebut frequently-raised objections to the theory. However, it is always possible to question the data (e.g. this valuable note about measuring temperature) and the line of argument. Please help advance the debate - with facts and logic.
_______________________________________________________

Can animals and plants adapt to global warming?

What The Science Says:
A large number of ancient mass extinction events have been strongly linked to global climate change. Because current climate change is so rapid, the way species typically adapt (eg - migration) is, in most cases, simply not be possible. Global change is simply too pervasive and occurring too rapidly.
Climate Myth: Animals and plants can adapt
[C]orals, trees, birds, mammals, and butterflies are adapting well to the routine reality of changing climate." (source: Hudson Institute)
Humans are transforming the global environment. Great swathes of temperate forest in Europe, Asia and North America have been cleared over the past few centuries for agriculture, timber and urban development. Tropical forests are now on the front line. Human-assisted species invasions of pests, competitors and predators are rising exponentially, and over-exploitation of fisheries, and forest animals for bush meat, to the point of collapse, continues to be the rule rather than the exception.

Driving this has been a six-fold expansion of the human population since 1800 and a 50-fold increase in the size of the global economy. The great modern human enterprise was built on exploitation of the natural environment. Today, up to 83% of the Earth’s land area is under direct human influence and we entirely dominate 36% of the bioproductive surface. Up to half the world’s freshwater runoff is now captured for human use. More nitrogen is now converted into reactive forms by industry than all by all the planet’s natural processes and our industrial and agricultural processes are causing a continual build-up of long-lived greenhouse gases to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years and possibly much longer.

Clearly, this planet-wide domination by human society will have implications for biological diversity. Indeed, a recent review on the topic, the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report (an environmental report of similar scale to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Reports), drew some bleak conclusions – 60% of the world’s ecosystems are now degraded and the extinction rate is now 100 to 1000 times higher than the “background” rate of long spans of geological time. For instance, a study I conducted in 2003 showed that up to 42% of species in the Southeast Asian region could be consigned to extinction by the year 2100 due to deforestation and habitat fragmentation alone.



Figure 1: Southeast Asian extinctions projected due to habitat loss (source: Sodhi, N. S., Koh, L. P., Brook, B. W. & Ng, P. K. L. 2004)

Given these existing pressures and upheavals, it is a reasonable question to ask whether global warming will make any further meaningful contribution to this mess. Some, such as the sceptics S. Fred Singer and Dennis Avery, see no danger at all, maintaining that a warmer planet will be beneficial for mankind and other species on the planet and that “corals, trees, birds, mammals, and butterflies are adapting well to the routine reality of changing climate”. Also, although climate change is a concern for conservation biologists, it is not the focus for most researchers (at present), largely I think because of the severity and immediacy of the damage caused by other threats.

Global warming to date has certainly affected species’ geographical distributional ranges and the timing of breeding, migration, flowering, and so on. But extrapolating these observed impacts to predictions of future extinction risk is challenging. The most well known study to date, by a team from the UK, estimated that 18 and 35% of plant and animal species will be committed to extinction by 2050 due to climate change. This study, which used a simple approach of estimating changes in species geographical ranges after fitting to current bioclimatic conditions, caused a flurry of debate. Some argued that it was overly optimistic or too uncertain because it left out most ecological detail, while others said it was possibly overly pessimistic, based on what we know from species responses and apparent resilience to previous climate change in the fossil record – see below.

A large number of ancient mass extinction events have indeed been strongly linked to global climate change, including the most sweeping die-off that ended the Palaeozoic Era, 250 million years ago and the somewhat less cataclysmic, but still damaging, Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum, 55 million years ago. Yet in the more recent past, during the Quaternary glacial cycles spanning the last million years, there were apparently few climate-related extinctions. This curious paradox of few ice age extinctions even has a name – it is called ‘the Quaternary Conundrum’.

Over that time, the globally averaged temperature difference between the depth of an ice age and a warm interglacial period was 4 to 6°C – comparable to that predicted for the coming century due to anthropogenic global warming under the fossil-fuel-intensive, business-as-usual scenario. Most species appear to have persisted across these multiple glacial–interglacial cycles. This can be inferred from the fossil record, and from genetic evidence in modern species. In Europe and North America, populations shifted ranges southwards as the great northern hemisphere ice sheets advanced, and reinvaded northern realms when the glaciers retreated. Some species may have also persisted in locally favourable regions that were otherwise isolated within the tundra and ice-strewn landscapes. In Australia, a recently discovered cave site has shown that large-bodied mammals (‘megafauna’) were able to persist even in the arid landscape of the Nullarbor in conditions similar to now.

However, although the geological record is essential for understanding how species respond to natural climate change, there are a number of reasons why future impacts on biodiversity will be particularly severe:

A) Human-induced warming is already rapid and is expected to further accelerate. The IPCC storyline scenarios such as A1FI and A2 imply a rate of warming of 0.2 to 0.6°C per decade. By comparison, the average change from 15 to 7 thousand years ago was ~0.005°C per decade, although this was occasionally punctuated by short-lived (and possibly regional-scale) abrupt climatic jolts, such as the Younger Dryas, Dansgaard-Oeschger and Heinrich events.

B) A low-range optimistic estimate of 2°C of 21st century warming will shift the Earth’s global mean surface temperature into conditions which have not existed since the middle Pliocene, 3 million years ago. More than 4°C of atmospheric heating will take the planet’s climate back, within a century, to the largely ice-free world that existed prior to about 35 million years ago. The average ‘species’ lifetime’ is only 1 to 3 million years. So it is quite possible that in the comparative geological instant of a century, planetary conditions will be transformed to a state unlike anything that most of the world’s modern species have encountered.

C) As noted above, it is critical to understand that ecosystems in the 21st century start from an already massively ‘shifted baseline’ and so have lost resilience. Most habitats are already degraded and their populations depleted, to a lesser or greater extent, by past human activities. For millennia our impacts have been localised although often severe, but during the last few centuries we have unleashed physical and biological transformations on a global scale. In this context, synergies (positive or self-reinforcing feedbacks) from global warming, ocean acidification, habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, invasive species, chemical pollution (Figure 2) are likely lead to cascading extinctions. For instance, over-harvest, habitat loss and changed fire regimes will likely enhance the direct impacts of climate change and make it difficult for species to move to undamaged areas or to maintain a ‘buffer’ population size. One threat reinforces the other, or multiple impacts play off on each other, which makes the overall impact far greater than if each individual threats occurred in isolation (Brook et al 2008).



Figure 2: Figure from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

D) Past adaptation to climate change by species was mainly through shifting their geographic range to higher or lower latitudes (depending on whether the climate was warming or cooling), or up and down mountain slopes. There were also evolutionary responses – individuals that were most tolerant to new conditions survived and so made future generations more intrinsically resilient. Now, because of points A to C described above, this type of adaptation will, in most cases, simply not be possible or will be inadequate to cope. Global change is simply too pervasive and occurring too rapidly. Time’s up and there is nowhere for species to run or hide.

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Loyalty vs. Treason 3

Albert Burgess argues that ceding sovereignty to the EU (or any foreign power) is ultra vires - beyond the legal capacity of the Monarch or her ministers - without the agreement of the "estates of England" as a whole. I'd welcome legal comment, for I can't see how his reasoning is faulty.
________________________________
 
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” said George Santayana, and he was right.

Queen Elizabeth II as Queen of England is first and foremost Queen of England. All her other titles, prerogatives, superiorities and supremacies stem from this one fact. Yet of all her titles only that of Queen of Scots is by dint of arms and only then because the Scots had a habit of raiding over the border into England. That was until King Edward III captured the Scots King David and released him to rule Scotland as a vassal King to Edward; he allowed David to keep Scots law but imposed the 1351 Treason Act on Scotland. Every other title Queen Elizabeth holds was obtained by trade.

It is with Queen Elizabeth II as Queen of England that we are dealing with the Treason at Maastricht.

The Act of Supremacy 1559 put on a formal basis the one true and certain fact that the Kings of England are the supreme governors of England, and a King of England takes second place to no other crowned head on the planet. Not even the Pope, God’s representative on earth is over the King of England. English Kings rule England as God’s Lieutenant and according to God’s laws, and answer directly to God and the people of England.

Each and every English man woman and child has a duty of loyalty to the King of England; every person who comes to England as an immigrant, to trade or simply on holiday comes under the protection of the Queen’s Law. So a Frenchman who comes here to sell wine has a duty of loyalty to the Queen, whereas a Frenchman who comes here as a belligerent soldier does not.  In return the Queen, who is the fount of all law, gives the people the protection of her law.  

The Treaty of Maastricht purports to make not only England's Queen but each and every one of us citizens of a foreign power! This is a constitutional impossibility.

We were not asked if we wanted to surrender our Queen or ourselves to the dominion of a foreign power, and had we been asked the answer would have been a resounding “OVER MY DEAD BODY!” - as so many of our forefathers have proved with their dead bodies lying on many a stricken field.

So who gave John Major the prime minister the authority to give Douglas Hurd and Francis Maude the authority to sell us all into slavery to the European Union? The answer is no one. The rule is simple: no authority to govern this Kingdom can be disposed of unless we have been defeated in war, and the first, last and only war we have lost was in 1066 when King Harold died at the Battle of Hastings.

I look on Parliament as the housewife of the nation: I go to work and every week I hand my pay packet over to my wife, who pays all the bills, buys food and clothes and puts a bit away to cover emergencies. But she sure as hell does not have the right to give the house away whilst I am at work. Parliament takes a part of our wages in tax to pay for the day to day running of the Kingdom, to see we have a transport system that works, an efficient NHS and a well-equipped and -trained armed forces so they can defend the Kingdom against all comers.  But they sure as hell do not have our permission to give us away and that is exactly what the Maastricht Treaty does.

So when did this refusal to accept foreign interference start? It began with Alfred King of the English, when he inherited the Crown and was elected King in 877. Alfred had a man he wanted to appoint as Archbishop; the Pope thought otherwise, and sent his own man. Alfred sent him back saying he had his own man; the Pope sent his man back to tell Alfred that he, the Pope, appointed every King in the world, and if Alfred did not accept his man he would appoint a new King to Alfred's Kingdom. Alfred returned the Pope’s man saying, he was elected King by the English and would only ever do what was in their best interests, he had appointed the best man for the job and that is how it would stay. Several of our Kings up until King John also told the Pope to get lost. In 1213 King John, a bad King, in an effort to save his life surrendered England to Pope Innocent III and agreed to rent it back for 1000 Marks a year (700 for England, 300 for Ireland). In 1215 John was forced to sign Magna Carta which was a simple restatement of the laws of Alfred; after his death in 1216, his son Henry III wrote and told the Pope he, Henry, was answerable directly to God and not the Pope.

In 1366 the then Pope Urban V wrote to King Edward III to demand payment of the 1000 Marks a year for every year since Henry III had refused to pay it. Edward knew nothing about this so he sought advice from the Bishops and Barons; they discussed the matter with the Commons, and the following day first the Bishops then the Barons and finally the Commons told King Edward England did not belong to King John: it was not his to give away, John only held England in trust for those who followed on. John had broken the law and his action did not count, Edward was not a vassal King to the Pope, and the monies were not to be paid. The Bishops, Barons and Commons meeting without the King constitute the estates of England, the highest law-giving body in the land, even above the King in Parliament. This major constitutional ruling only confirmed the position taken by King Alfred. The last time the Estates met was at Runnymede when John was forced by the estates to reissue English law.

Henry VIII we know finally split with Rome completely. Queen Elizabeth I took on and beat the most powerful Catholic country in the world when her navy defeated the Spanish Armada, which sailed with the Pope’s blessing to defeat this “heretic” Queen - a heretic because she would not do the Pope’s bidding.

So when John Major sent Douglas Hurd and Francis Maude to negotiate making Her Majesty and us citizens of Europe he was going directly against the ruling given by the estates of England from 1366, and previously in 1215 at Runnymede. Ah, you may say, that's a very old law which does not apply in this modern age. But - and it’s a very big but - two things make that opinion just plain wrong.

The first is the 1366 ruling: it was not a law, it was and is a constitutional statement made by the most powerful body in England, of the most profound kind which lies at the very heart of what it is to be English; this is doubly important because King Edward III was the first of our Norman French Kings to think of himself as purely English.

The second point is that there is no principle of obsolescence of English law. If the law does not work it is formally repealed; as long as it works, it remains the law of England. So John Major was going against everything which being English means, but he did more than that: he made Her Majesty give the assent to what was and is a treasonable document, a document English constitutional law refuses her permission to sign. A document which every honest English man, woman and child will die before accepting.

Why would Her Majesty agree to such an infamous document? It is my belief, backed up by considerable research, that Her Majesty has been convinced by government that she has no authority, which instead lies entirely with government ministers, and that she must obey her Ministers. It is to deal with these evil and wicked councillors that we need to use the good English Law.  

Help me to help you to fight back: go to www.acasefortreason.org.uk and www.englishconstitutiongroup.org or email me at albertburgess@hotmail.com.

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Metrication, the EU and treason

Jack Lewis, of the anti-rule-by-EU "We Want Our Country Back" group, argues that the UK's switch to metric measurements was unconstitutional and therefore another example of sedition by British politicians. He also argues that the Imperial system has certain technical advantages over decimal measures:

The enforced, as opposed to voluntary acceptance of the metrification of Britain by the EEC (EU) was an illegal and treasonable act committed by the Government. This was because allowing a foreign power to interfere in our affairs was contrary to English Common Law. The British people were never consulted on this issue. Surveys repeatedly showed that 90% of British people refused to adopt the metric system. 

Metrification, in itself, had already been allowed by an Act passed in 1897. This gave the people the choice of using it. However the British people chose not to accept it and continued with the Imperial System until the advent of the EEC. The law, as it has stood since 1897 allows the free use of either of the Imperial or Metric systems. The Government’s inspired mantra, “The UK took the decision to adopt the metric system in 1965” is a deliberate lie and is known as the “Myth of 1965”. 

The Imperial Weights and Measures System was a world leading system and even the ‘mile’ was used to name the nautical system for measuring distance at sea, hence ‘nautical mile’. The Imperial system units for measuring length could easily be divided by two. The 12 inch (in) ‘Foot’ could be sub-divided easily into 1/2 = 6ins, 1/4 = 3ins, 1/8 = 1 ½ ins all of which were convenient sub-units. When the inch is divided progressively by 2 into smaller divisions the sub-units become known as nominal units 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32 and 1/64. These sub-divisions commonly appear on virtually all rules especially engineer’s rules. The reason why dividing by 2 is so useful is when measuring something, in many cases, the midpoint is often required e.g. determining the radius of a circle from measuring its diameter or centralising something. It also meant that a draughtsman could draw to 1/2 or 1/4 or even 1/8 scale using an ordinary 12 inch rule although special scale rules are made for convenience. However this kind of scale drawing is not possible using an ordinary metric rule. Only special scale rules make it possible. For more accurate measuring in the Imperial System these nominal sizes are converted to decimals. Engineering apprentices soon learned these conversions without having to refer to charts. Misplaced decimal points are a frequent curse that could have dangerous and disastrous consequences. The metric system is not as user–friendly as the Imperial System.
 
Teaching children the Imperial System of Weights and Measures had a bonus in that it taught them how to mentally calculate using different numerical bases, e.g. when adding columns of money in the old ‘£, s d’ system. Children soon learnt that two halfpennies made a penny, 12 pennies made a shilling and 20 shillings made a £. The divisibility of the old shilling and pound were an advantage when people were paid in pence per day - only the high inflation of the 20th century has rendered this fairly irrelevant. It was even more interesting using Imperial Weights! 16 ounces (oz) make a pound (lb), 14lbs made a stone (st), 2 st (28lb) made a quarter (qtr), 4 qtrs (112lbs) made a hundredweight (cwt) and 20cwt (2240lbs) made a ton (t). Similarly this applied to the 2 pints (pts) = 1 quart (qrt), 4 qrts = 1 gallon (gal). Primary children brought up using the Imperial System could probably out-calculate any modern-day child or student. There were no electronic calculators in those days and calculations had to be done mentally or on paper!

The Imperial System has been used successfully for centuries – if something is not broken then there’s no need to fix it!  By comparison, the metric system is workable only in multiples of 10. Prior to electronic calculators, it would have been very difficult to do metric calculations. Dividing a metre by anything other than 2 (50cm) and 4 (25cm) created decimal points. The Imperial System can be used without the need for a calculator.

The established non-use of the Metric System in the UK (legalised in 1897) remained until we were illegally taken into the EEC when metrication was imposed on the people by the Government. However the EU have since back-tracked and said that we could still use the Imperial System. Unfortunately Public Authorities still retain the power to prosecute anyone using the Imperial System e.g. selling bananas by the lb and not by the kilo. This is a paradox that must be dealt with as Public Authorities are not a power unto themselves or above the law.

ADDENDUM (6 October 2013):

Jack's fellow campaigner "Rex" comments:

If I could add one other thing that I meant to mention earlier, you’ll know that except for Russia (odd one out), it is the world wide convention to use imperial measurements in all air and sea matters. Except for in Russia, distances are universally given in nautical miles, yards, feet or inches and depths in feet, yards or fathoms. Weights are given in pounds (for example, aviation fuel content or aircraft weight) or tons and quantities are in gallons though perhaps generally, US gallons are used. Here, the difference between English and US gallons is slight so using “gallons” in speech conveys a generally understood universal volume.
Just as an aside, another thing that has occurred to me is the insidious manner in which we are coerced to use metric units. People use millimetres unthinkingly because the subtle presentation on measuring tapes and rulers is so often the first side to be read. The metric compulsion then continues as these “fine” graduations are incompatible with imperial units thus obliging all-metric measurement. While society strives for accuracy, only the millimetre is offered for use; we are not permitted the more comprehensive range of imperial fine graduation. Many people still do not realise that metrication insidiously brings not just outlawing of our traditional measures, but criminalisation, imprisonment and a denial of our right to use parts of our own language.

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

John Cook's Climate Change Mythbusters 7

This is part of a series reposting material from John Cook's Skeptical Science website. Although he is a physicist rather than a specialist in climate science, he is a convinced "global warmist" and tries to rebut frequently-raised objections to the theory. However, it is always possible to question the data (e.g. this valuable note about measuring temperature) and the line of argument. Please help advance the debate - with facts and logic.
_______________________________________________________

Are surface temperature records reliable?

What The Science Says:
The warming trend is the same in rural and urban areas, measured by thermometers and satellites, and by natural thermometers.
Climate Myth: Temp record is unreliable
"We found [U.S. weather] stations located next to the exhaust fans of air conditioning units, surrounded by asphalt parking lots and roads, on blistering-hot rooftops, and near sidewalks and buildings that absorb and radiate heat. We found 68 stations located at wastewater treatment plants, where the process of waste digestion causes temperatures to be higher than in surrounding areas.
In fact, we found that 89 percent of the stations – nearly 9 of every 10 – fail to meet the National Weather Service’s own siting requirements that stations must be 30 meters (about 100 feet) or more away from an artificial heating or radiating/reflecting heat source." (Watts 2009)
Surveys of weather stations in the USA have indicated that some of them are not sited as well as they could be. This calls into question the quality of their readings.
 
However, when processing their data, the organisations which collect the readings take into account any local heating or cooling effects, such as might be caused by a weather station being located near buildings or large areas of tarmac. This is done, for instance, by weighting (adjusting) readings after comparing them against those from more rural weather stations nearby.
 
More importantly, for the purpose of establishing a temperature trend, the relative level of single readings is less important than whether the pattern of all readings from all stations taken together is increasing, decreasing or staying the same from year to year. Furthermore, since this question was first raised, research has established that any error that can be attributed to poor siting of weather stations is not enough to produce a significant variation in the overall warming trend being observed.
It's also vital to realise that warnings of a warming trend -- and hence Climate Change -- are not based simply on ground level temperature records. Other completely independent temperature data compiled from weather balloons, satellite measurements, and from sea and ocean temperature records, also tell a remarkably similar warming story.
 
For example, a study by Anderson et al. (2012) created a new global surface temperature record reconstruction using 173 records with some type of physical or biological link to global surface temperatures (corals, ice cores, speleothems, lake and ocean sediments, and historical documents). The study compared their reconstruction to the instrumental temperature record and found a strong correlation between the two:
 
Fig 1
 
Temperature reconstruction based on natural physical and biological measurements (Paleo, solid) and the instrumental temperature record (MLOST, dashed) relative to 1901-2000. The range of the paleo trends index values is coincidentally nearly the same as the GST although the quantities are different (index values versus temperature anomalies °C).
 


Confidence in climate science depends on the correlation of many sets of these data from many different sources in order to produce conclusive evidence of a global trend.

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

John Cook's Climate Change Mythbusters 6

This is part of a series reposting material from John Cook's Skeptical Science website. Although he is a physicist rather than a specialist in climate science, he is a convinced "global warmist" and tries to rebut frequently-raised objections to the theory. However, it is always possible to question the data (e.g. this valuable note about measuring temperature) and the line of argument. Please help advance the debate - with facts and logic.
_______________________________________________________

How reliable are climate models?

What The Science Says:
Models successfully reproduce temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean.
Climate Myth: Models are unreliable
"[Models] are full of fudge factors that are fitted to the existing climate, so the models more or less agree with the observed data. But there is no reason to believe that the same fudge factors would give the right behaviour in a world with different chemistry, for example in a world with increased CO2 in the atmosphere." (Freeman Dyson)
Climate models are mathematical representations of the interactions between the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, ice – and the sun. This is clearly a very complex task, so models are built to estimate trends rather than events. For example, a climate model can tell you it will be cold in winter, but it can’t tell you what the temperature will be on a specific day – that’s weather forecasting. Climate trends are weather, averaged out over time - usually 30 years. Trends are important because they eliminate - or "smooth out" - single events that may be extreme, but quite rare.

Climate models have to be tested to find out if they work. We can’t wait for 30 years to see if a model is any good or not; models are tested against the past, against what we know happened. If a model can correctly predict trends from a starting point somewhere in the past, we could expect it to predict with reasonable certainty what might happen in the future.

So all models are first tested in a process called Hindcasting. The models used to predict future global warming can accurately map past climate changes. If they get the past right, there is no reason to think their predictions would be wrong. Testing models against the existing instrumental record suggested CO2 must cause global warming, because the models could not simulate what had already happened unless the extra CO2 was added to the model. All other known forcings are adequate in explaining temperature variations prior to the rise in temperature over the last thirty years, while none of them are capable of explaining the rise in the past thirty years. CO2 does explain that rise, and explains it completely without any need for additional, as yet unknown forcings.

Where models have been running for sufficient time, they have also been proved to make accurate predictions. For example, the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo allowed modellers to test the accuracy of models by feeding in the data about the eruption. The models successfully predicted the climatic response after the eruption. Models also correctly predicted other effects subsequently confirmed by observation, including greater warming in the Arctic and over land, greater warming at night, and stratospheric cooling.

The climate models, far from being melodramatic, may be conservative in the predictions they produce. For example, here’s a graph of sea level rise:



Sea level change. Tide gauge data are indicated in red and satellite data in blue. The grey band shows the projections of the IPCC Third Assessment report (Copenhagen Diagnosis 2009).

Here, the models have understated the problem. In reality the events are all within the upper range of the model’s predictions. There are other examples of models being too conservative, rather than alarmist as some portray them. All models have limits - uncertainties - for they are modelling chaotic systems. However, all models improve over time, and with increasing sources of real-world information such as satellites, the output of climate models can be constantly refined to increase their power and usefulness.

Climate models have already predicted many of the phenomena for which we now have empirical evidence. Climate models form a reliable guide to potential climate change.

Basic rebuttal written by GPWayne

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

A letter to Swampy

... only he's not called that any more...


Saturday, 14 September 2013

Dear Mr Hooper

I was very interested to read today’s Daily Mail article about you ... and also I admire the fact that you have stuck to your principles. I wonder if you would consider writing something for Broad Oak Magazine? It’s a non-commercial internet site but although I’m not all that well-breeched I’d be willing to pay something for your time if you were willing to take part.

I started BOM in 2007 under the title “Bearwatch” because I was trying to warn about the crash that came a year later, and carried on afterwards because I thought we might be able to do something about the banks. Sadly it’s clear that that’s not going to happen and those who have the power are in league with moneyed interests. Now I’ve widened the coverage to include matters of general interest and longer-term relevance – energy, climate, agriculture, environment etc – you’ll see if you log on. But unlike the mainstream media I’d far prefer people to speak with their own voices and it’d be great to hear from someone who is aligning his daily life with his ideals.

I do hope you’ll at least think about it, and I give below various ways you can get in touch. In case you’re “deep green”, I include paper and SAE if you’ll be kind enough to reply. If you are online and know something about blogging I could send you a Blogger invitation so that you can post directly to the site and edit to your satisfaction.

Anyhow, very best wishes –
 
... I hope he replies.

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

John Cook's Climate Change Mythbusters 5

This is part of a series reposting material from John Cook's Skeptical Science website. Although he is a physicist rather than a specialist in climate science, he is a convinced "global warmist" and tries to rebut frequently-raised objections to the theory. However, it is always possible to question the data (e.g. this valuable note about measuring temperature) and the line of argument. Please help advance the debate - with facts and logic.
_______________________________________________________

Global cooling - Is global warming still happening?

What The Science Says:
All the indicators show that global warming is still happening.
Climate Myth: It's cooling
"In fact global warming has stopped and a cooling is beginning. No climate model has predicted a cooling of the Earth – quite the contrary. And this means that the projections of future climate are unreliable." (source: Henrik Svensmark)
When looking for evidence of global warming, there are many different indicators that we should look for. Whilst it's natural to start with air temperatures, a more thorough examination should be as inclusive as possible; snow cover, ice melt, air temperatures over land and sea, even the sea temperatures themselves. A 2010 study included 10 key indicators, and as shown below, every one of them is moving in the direction expected of a warming globe.



 The question of global warming stopping is often raised in the light of a recent weather event - a big snowfall or drought breaking rain. Global warming is entirely compatible with these events; after all they are just weather. For climate change, it is the long term trends that are important; measured over decades or more, and those long term trends show that the globe is still, unfortunately, warming.

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Monday, September 23, 2013

John Cook's Climate Change Mythbusters 4

This is part of a series reposting material from John Cook's Skeptical Science website. Although he is a physicist rather than a specialist in climate science, he is a convinced "global warmist" and tries to rebut frequently-raised objections to the theory. However, it is always possible to question the data (e.g. this valuable note about measuring temperature) and the line of argument. Please help advance the debate - with facts and logic.
_______________________________________________________

Is there a scientific consensus on global warming?

What The Science Says:
97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming.
Climate Myth: There is no consensus
The Petition Project features over 31,000 scientists signing the petition stating "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide will, in the forseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere ...". (Petition Project)
Science achieves a consensus when scientists stop arguing. When a question is first asked – like ‘what would happen if we put a load more CO2 in the atmosphere?’ – there may be many hypotheses about cause and effect. Over a period of time, each idea is tested and retested – the processes of the scientific method – because all scientists know that reputation and kudos go to those who find the right answer (and everyone else becomes an irrelevant footnote in the history of science). Nearly all hypotheses will fall by the wayside during this testing period, because only one is going to answer the question properly, without leaving all kinds of odd dangling bits that don’t quite add up. Bad theories are usually rather untidy.
 
But the testing period must come to an end. Gradually, the focus of investigation narrows down to those avenues that continue to make sense, that still add up, and quite often a good theory will reveal additional answers, or make powerful predictions, that add substance to the theory.
 
So a consensus in science is different from a political one. There is no vote. Scientists just give up arguing because the sheer weight of consistent evidence is too compelling, the tide too strong to swim against any longer. Scientists change their minds on the basis of the evidence, and a consensus emerges over time. Not only do scientists stop arguing, they also start relying on each other's work. All science depends on that which precedes it, and when one scientist builds on the work of another, he acknowledges the work of others through citations. The work that forms the foundation of climate change science is cited with great frequency by many other scientists, demonstrating that the theory is widely accepted - and relied upon.
 
In the scientific field of climate studies – which is informed by many different disciplines – the consensus is demonstrated by the number of scientists who have stopped arguing about what is causing climate change – and that’s nearly all of them. A survey of 928 peer-reviewed abstracts on the subject 'global climate change' published between 1993 and 2003 shows that not a single paper rejected the consensus position that global warming is man caused (Oreskes 2004).
 
A follow-up study by the Skeptical Science team of over 12,000 peer-reviewed abstracts on the subjects of 'global warming' and 'global climate change' published between 1991 and 2011 found that of the papers taking a position on the cause of global warming, over 97% agreed that humans are causing it (Cook 2013). The scientific authors of the papers were also contacted and asked to rate their own papers, and again over 97% whose papers took a position on the cause said humans are causing global warming.
 
consensus pie chart
 
Lead author John Cook created a short video abstract summarizing the study:



Several studies have confirmed that “...the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes”. (Doran 2009). In other words, more than 97% of scientists working in the disciplines contributing to studies of our climate, accept that climate change is almost certainly being caused by human activities.
 
We should also consider official scientific bodies and what they think about climate change. There are no national or major scientific institutions anywhere in the world that dispute the theory of anthropogenic climate change. Not one.
 
In the field of climate science, the consensus is unequivocal: human activities are causing climate change.
Basic rebuttal written by GPWayne

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