Despite record high summer temperatures in several northern hemisphere countries, and the hottest September for over 70 years in some, political and mainstream media defenders of the one and only correct theory - Global Warming - have been slow off the mark. As yet, the "Told you so" reports and statements are low on the ground. Is Global Warming going down the tube, where it belongs ?
The theory's scientific credentials have taken repeated hits, most recently the resignations from the American Physical Society of professor Harold Lewis and Nobel physics prizewinner Ivar Giaever, because they consider the APS is as climate correct, and scientifically incorrect as NASA or the Max Planck Institute, stoically claiming that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions almost certainly have caused global average temperatures to rise and this is dangerous, without adding we first need to know how the global average temperature was calculated (not measured), and what we mean by "average". Other heavyweight science associations are less strident on the subject these days, and now adopt a carefully low profile, for example the German Gesellschaft Deutscher Naturforscher und Ärzte and its UK equivalent the British Science Association which, if you try all BSA sites and type "Global Warming" in the search box you get: "No results found. Please try again" !
Trying again is very important to GW boomers. Witness the more and more bombastic and petulant utterances of Al Gore on the subject - probably because he has had to cut the fees he can get for a GW Crisis talkshow from above $100 000 a hit, to not much more than a half of that - times are tough. Lower down the pecking order things are similar. In a recent leading article in his own journal, the editor in chief of the International Journal of Global Warming, Dr. Ibrahim Dincer of the Ontario Institute of Technology held fast to politically correct. With the title "Is it Global Warming or Global Warning?" Dincer continues to claim, with Al Gore and everybody else who still rides the GW gravy train, despite its loss of steam heat, that beating the menace mainly consists of very urgently developing Low Carbon renewable energy sources and systems. This energy supply side answer, to most politically correct GW boomers is better than "alien and other worldly" action for moving the economy and society to lower energy, less energy waste, more efficient economic activity and higher social equality - which will trim the forced pursuit of economic growth and consumption - and cut the forced need to always consume more energy.
KEEPING THE MYSTERY QUOTIENT HIGH
Dincer started with this claim: "Global warming is an average increase in the earth’s temperature due to the greenhouse effect as a result of both natural cycles and human activities". He quickly went on to tell us all about the greenhouse gases and how they act, but throughout his article stayed away from the subject anybody ought to focus first: What is an average increase ? He could or may or might have meant "an increase in average temperature", but he didnt write that.
To have an average increase (or decrease) of anything we need a series of variable entities with comparable, standardised and identifiable maxima and minima for some specific parameter or parameters through a certain period of time. We could for example be looking at temperatures over time and across selected regions of the world. If we believed there had been an "average increase", we have to find out if it was over all time, for a part of time, or just concerned one period. But first of all, we still have not answered the question: What does "average increase" mean ?
This is in no way a play on words. GW boomers, even if they are doctors and not plain Mister Al Gore, need to say what basis they used to detect an "average increase" of global temperatures - because before they can talk about an "average increase" they first needed the world's average temperatures, in the plural, through the longest possible periods of time, and we want to know how they got those numbers.
As the Nobel physicist Ivar Giaever said when quitting the APS on October 13, there is no such thing as the world's single one-figure precise and indisputable average temperature, the "global average temperature". There are average temperatures, for sure, in specific regions and over certain time periods, but trying to pretend there is an ultra precise and exact "global average temperature", from which "average increases" (or decreases) can happen is scientific-seeming charlatanism. Snakeoil selling - like turning food vegetable oils into biodiesel fuel and claiming this Saves The Planet, instead of only driving up food prices and making a fat buck for those who made a bet on the gimmick - at the right time which was a long time back, now.
We can calculate an average increase or decrease, if the parameter that interests us in Global Warming - temperature - really did vary in the upward sense. The period we chose is important and ideally, the series of observations should be closed. Previous or future series could be different and, in particular, how are we going to know if parameters behave differently in a different time series ? As Ivar Giaever said, if we take the last 150 years during which we have relatively precise data, not absolutely precise data, the approximate long-period "average temperature" of the planet Earth was about +288 degrees Kelvin (zero Kelvin is absolute zero, about -273 degrees Centigrade). And current or recent analysis for the period since about 1980 shows it is now probably about +288.8 degrees Kelvin. To him, that shows amazing stability given the huge land use changes, and all other anthropogenic, volcanic, tectonic, geomorpholgical and other temperature-affecting changes that happened since 1860.
Another important point is that no predictive value is in any way sure or certain. We are in fact and reality looking at closed series of observations of average temperatures in certain areas, cities, regions, seas and parts of oceans, certain heights of the atmosphere in certain places - and so on - and then comparing these figures with an arbitrary or hypothetical "global longterm average" temperature: we have no right to imagine we can predict forward - witness the "Hockey Stick" scandal. Basically we have relatively reliable temperature averages for certain regions, countries, or oceans, deserts, mountains etc, through the period of about 1850-2010 to play with. We cannot compare this special series with any other series, but GW business comes to the rescue with ice core samples, tree ring temperature interpretation, and so on - with typical variations of at least 1 degree and often plenty more, to each side of any hypothetical "average temperature".
If we tried the question: What were average temperatures in Europe, Africa, America or Asia through the period of for example 1450-1550 ?, we can and do have theories on that subject, for example using tree ring, ice carrot, glacier advance and retreat and crop data - but no scientifically rigorous and precise answer would be possible. So, not knowing what is the "global background average" for 1450-1550, how do we compare this imaginary value with our "scientific series" of 1850-2010 ? The honest answer is we cant do that.
Before about 1830, no scientific rigour and reliability is possible, even for temperatures in a specific small locality over any number of years, even two or three years. And beyond today, 2011, obviously, we can only make "range forecasts" based on theory - we cannot make predictions.
For climate and climate change there are obligatorily a large number of variables in play. We may have been sidetracked by CO2. We could say: why pick on CO2 ? We can note that CH4, SOx, NOx (meaning various sulphur and nitrogen oxides) and the fluorinated hydrocarbons, and other gases, and mechanical particles like dust or soot, salt and sand can or should also be added, and are sometimes added, but absolutely none of this answers the question: What is an average increase ?
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE OF PLANETS: INCLUDING THE EARTH
As we noted above with the Giaevar resignation from the APS, he cited what we know about Earth temperatures. The "global average" has changed from ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years. So the "average temperature" would be about +15 degrees Centrigrade, but even that subject is contentious, with plenty of calculation methods suggesting the "average" is about 14 - 15 degC. The question is: Can we measure the "average temperature of the Earth" ?
Wikipedia and Wikianswers and other sites will tell you this planet Earth has recorded temperatures of more than +70 degC and less than -89 degC (in Iran and Antarctica). If you take those two extremes and divide by two, you do not get +15 degC.
Exactly the same way, we have what seem like comfortingly exact and precise numbers for the so-called average temperatures of planets, outside the Earth. These, with no surprise tend to get hotter nearer the Sun, and cooler in the other direction. But Venus is the hottest planet, not Mercury, with so-called average temperatures of more than +400°C while Uranus and Neptune (and Pluto-Charon if it is considered a "twin planetoid") are the coldest planets, with temperatures often well below -225°C.
If we said that Mercury's "average temperature" was about +175 degC, which is an answer you will find on the Web, this hides a very complicated reality of a planet that takes nearly 60 Earth days to make 1 rotation, meaning its face exposed to the sun for the equivalent of 2 Earth months attains temperatures similar to Venus, but the dark side's temperature is close to absolute zero or -273 degC. Having almost no atmosphere, but so-called "solar tidal effects" the transfer of heat to the cold side is very complex and still disputed by astronomers: saying Mercury has an "average temperature" of +175 degC is therefore basically meaningless. Why should things be different on Earth ?
The term "average temperature" for these other planets hides what are huge variations (often more than 450 degC). These only concern planet atmosphere edge temperatures, and rare surface probe results where landings have been achieved, which are then compared with Earth-based analysis, notably interferometer observations of gas behaviour in the atmosphere of each planet. Gases emit different colored light depending on their temperature: their so-called Frauenhofer lines correlate with temperature (and gas composition), but this is almost nothing at all to do with a "planetary average temperature".
Firstly pretending there is a global average temperature, and from that basis pretending there are average increases, or decreases, is very bad science but as Al Gore and other GW boomers like James "Gaia" Lovelock or James Hansen will tell you - it was very nice business, for them, for a few years.
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