Sunday, November 20th 2011, 7:07 AM EST
My response to today's Washington Post editorial follows below. It's also on their website, but they have a character limitation which required me to break it up into 3 pieces There is no chance that it would have been accepted as a "letter to the editor"..
Regarding the Post editorial “More warnings on warming”:
The “BEST” project, the basis for the Post editorial “More warnings on warming”, has been publicly debunked by, among others, the project’s “second author”, Dr. Judith Curry. Dr. Curry walked away from Muller (project manager) claims and is the only climatologist involved in this study. Also, if the Post had bothered to check, it would have quickly discovered that, while Muller was skeptical about some of the more ridiculous claims by alarmists, he was never a “skeptic”. Muller himself has publicly confirmed this.
With regard to the BEST study, it has not yet been peer-reviewed. Of course, in the case of “climate science” the SOP for peer-review has generally been to have it done by the guy at the next desk. Muller, after being pressed, admitted that his own data (the most recent years conveniently ignored within the studies but evidently available at his website) shows that for the past thirteen years (from 1998) there has been no warming. (While he freely admits this he also continues to insist that warming has been ongoing ! If this doesn’t ring any bells, I’d like to sell you a bridge I own.)
The start date in Muller’s study was 1950, which happens to reside in a cooling period (1940s to 1970s). Even assuming that his calculations are correct, and that the surface temperature readings were reliable, (and these are both very generous assumptions) it should not be surprising to find that the temperature trend has been up, when measuring from a starting point during a cooling period to a warmer period ending in 1998 (or 2000 for that matter). If you have any doubts about the existence of this cooling period, or the duration, try - for starters - googling “Holdren during the 70s”. Obama’s science adviser was, back then, an avid alarmist about the coming ice age.
Finally, no credible skeptic would deny that there was a warming, beginning in the late 1600s, at the bottom of the Little Ice Age. Of course, just prior to the LIA, there was a also a warming event, the MWP (Medieval Warming Period). There are some 900+ separate peer-reviewed studies from 40+ different countries and involving a variety of techniques, which show that the MWP was as warm, likely warmer, for as long a duration, and was a global (not regional) phenomenon. (Links to ANY of these studies can be found via www.co2science.org) . The MWP was almost 1000 years before our industrial activity began (mid 1800s) at which time the CO2 level began to increase. The MWP must therefore have been due to natural climate variation. Those studies would appear to most rational folks to clearly be a “consensus” of scientific opinion; however, most of the proponents of man-made warming (aka “warmists” or “alarmists” ) deny it.
So, what’s different this time? Why is the current warming spell (which, unfortunately for alarmists, appears to have ended in 1998) not just plain old climate variation? Most of us understand that man has some impact on at least the local temperature because there is the well known “Urban Heat Island” (UHI) effect. But, it turns out that UHI is a local phenomenon. There is apparently no impact in even the surrounding rural areas. Also, urban areas make up a very small portion of the planet’s surface, what with 71% of the planet being water, and then there are the basically uninhabited deserts, the two poles, jungles, mountaineous areas, etc.
Increasing CO2 is apparently the only new variable which man’s activities are adding to the mix. We know from controlled experiments that when additional CO2 is added the temperature increases somewhat. But, we also know that , in the open atmosphere, there are some likely feedbacks. A “feedback” can either enhance or offset the impact on temperature increase caused by CO2. Water vapor is also a “greenhouse gas”, and is 50 times more prevalent than CO2. While we evidently haven’t yet pinned down the net effect of feedback, apparently the various computer models have assumed that the net result is positive (further increases the warming) and is twice as effective in that regard as is CO2. But there is no evidence that the feedback is even positive, let alone that it has twice the impact on temperature as CO2. In fact, the low cloud cover impact may well be negative (offsets, at least partially, perhaps completely, the temperature increase caused by increasing CO2) . There is also a related issue – that, at 20ppmv CO2 has already absorbed 50+% of the energy available to it, so at the current level its capacity to absorb has long since been extinguished.
The computer models are not evidence of anything other than the modelers’ understanding and assumptions. So far the computer models have all grossly over-estimated the actual temperature increase. Perhaps the cloud feedback is negative rather than positive? Even the proponents of warming admit that their computer results are “projections” rather than “predictions”. Predictions are assumed to be more reliable and generally include error bands around the estimates. Projections offer no guarantees at all. While satellite data is still limited it appears to now show that, during warmer periods, there is more heat escaping to space. This feedback has also apparently not been taken into account by the computer models . In fact, most satellite data (along with the data from the 3000 new Argo buoys) seems to have been ignored by the UN and its acolytes . (Could it possibly be that, in the case of climate science, the group viewing itself as the “consensus” are the actual luddites ? )
What about carbon dioxide? How long can we ignore what we are contributing to the atmosphere? The current level of CO2 is about 400 ppmv (parts-per-million-by volume). That’s .04%. On a 100 yard football field, it represents a little more than one inch. CO2 is called a trace gas for good reason. The rate of increase in CO2 is averaging about 2 ppmv per YEAR. At this rate, the planet’s CO2 level would increase to about 600 ppmv by 2099. To gain some perspective, a crowded gymnasium might easily reach 1000ppmv. Submarine crews live in an environment of 3000 to 5000 ppmv. In the distant past lifeforms not unlike our own have lived in even higher levels of CO2. In fact CO2 has apparently been higher during at least two ice ages, and going into one ice age. Plants thrive on the additional CO2, and their growth rate is directly related to the CO2 level. Higher CO2 levels also result in the plants needing less water.
It seems clear that the CO2 level will not be a problem for some time. There is no immediate crisis, and certainly nothing we can do that would have any effect in the short term because China is already contributing more CO2 to the atmosphere than both the U.S. and Canada. India is also cranking up. Russia has no intention of cutting back unless every country agrees to follow suit. These less industrialized countries will not be denied the advantages which come from energy, and most of that in the short term will be from fossil fuels.
We fortunately have time to get the technology (if it indeed exists) in place. Permitting the politicians to impose their agenda-driven constraints on our economy would be disastrous. These folks were the authors of, among other things, our recent housing crisis and its subsequent effect on our economy . In Australia, the politicians have succeeded in imposing a carbon tax and evidently gone so far as to impose large fines on any business which claims that its higher costs are due in part to the carbon tax !
Denis Ables ("GoFigure")