Who's Afraid of the Global Warming Monster?
What do the satellite data tell us?
The Global Warming scare is so 1990s! According to publicly available satellite data, there's been no measurable warming TREND since the big El Niño year of 1998, when global warming peaked and then croaked. Check out the first graph near the bottom of the hub. Since then, we've 'shivered' through some coolish years, and 'sweated' through some warmer-than-average years.
2010 was one of those warmer-than-average years. That news probably came as a surprise to Britons, who have stoically endured harsher-than-average Winters in recent years. Elevated sea surface temperatures accounted for the relative overall warmth of 2010. Land temperatures were a different story, but only 30% of Earth's surface is land, and the rest is water.
During the 1980s, and up through 1998, there was a warming trend. But there's been no global warming trend since then.
Instead we've had random fluctuations from year to year. In early 2013, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC, admitted that there's been no warming trend since the late 1990s.
Kevin Trenberth, a prominent Warmie 'researcher', also admitted as much in one of the leaked Climategate emails. (That Trenberth quote is in a later section of this hub.) There's been nothing to top the 1998 relative maximum in recent years.
Let me see if I've got this straight. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is supposed to be the control variable of Climate Change. CO2 concentrations have been increasing, but the global average temperature has plateaued. What's wrong with this picture?
The Warmist 'scientists', in their attempt to stir up panic and maintain their 'research' funding, also claim that the 'Naughties' -- the first decade of the current century -- was 'the warmest on record', and that this is evidence for ongoing Global Warming. This assertion is misleading. The "ing" in Warming implies a trend, and there's been no warming trend since 1998. But yes, the 'Naughties' were warmer on average than the 90s or the 80s. So what? Warm is NOT the same thing as warm-ing. Ditto for cool and cool-ing.
Example. Suppose that the average annual temperature of some valley in Antarctica is initially -40°. Further suppose that the average annual temperature there warms by 0.1° every year for 20 years. Of course, the new average temperature there is -38°. Despite the warming trend, that's still bloody cold!
Either the Warmies do not understand the concept of trend, or they're hoping that you do not. Global Warming is dead. Long live Global Warming!
The wild and woolly Medieval Warm Period
OK, I'm exaggerating slightly. But discussions about the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) can get wild and woolly.
Fact: 1998 was not 'unprecedented'. The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was toastier. However the most militant of the Warmies tend to be Climate History Revisionists. Some deny the MWP altogether, while others claim that it was restricted to Europe.
Ditto for the Little Ice Age, which ended around 1850. Why?
The extremist Warmies' rewriting of Climate History suits their political ideology and their pecuniary interests. According to the Warmist mythology, after the Younger Dryas cold snap, the Earth's climate was wonderful and essentially stable for thousands of years, until we evil humans embarked on the Industrial Revolution, with its attendant 'planet wrecking' carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Here's an example of Warmist agenda-driven pseudoscience. Michael Mann used some fabricated data, strategically mixed in with real data, in order to create his bogus Hockey Stick 'graph', which gave some initial respectability to the Warmies' little secular religion. Mann's fabrication was not obvious at the time of publication, because he was extremely reluctant to release his 'data'.
Before the fabrication came to light, Mann did allow access to his computer program, without revealing the source code. Real scientists had some 'WTF moments' when they took Mann's computer program out for a test drive. When the program was fed artificial temperature numbers, it always gave increasing global average temperatures for the later years covered in Mann's 'study'!
Now we know why. Since then, the Hockey Stick has come to be regarded as so dodgy that the IPCC folks (who are also Warmies) could not bring themselves to include it in their AR4 report.
Here's a striking contrast to Michael Mann's approach. Forest researcher Constance Millar did a tree-ring study on Whitewing Mountain, in the Sierra Nevada Range, in Southern California. In the year 1350, volcanic gases killed these trees. Interestingly, these species are only found at somewhat lower elevations these days. A reasonable conclusion: The local climate in the year 1350 was significantly balmier than anything we've experienced during all of the recent 'planet wrecking' years of Global Warming. Here's a link to Dr. Millar's study:
My informal investigation in the Carson Pass area of the California's Northern Sierra high country came to a similar conclusion. However I could not pin it down to the Medieval Warm Period, to the Roman Warm Period, or to the Minoan Warm Period. Using 'seat-of-the-pants dendroclimatology', I was only safe in saying that at some time in the last several thousand years, the local climate was significantly warmer than during the Nineties or 'Naughties'.
Climate Change in the distant past
During the Ordovician-Silurian Ice Age, the atmospheric CO2 level was more than 10 times the present concentration. (Check out the graph at the very bottom of the hub.) If the Warmist mythology is correct, why didn't the elevated CO2 concentrations 'destroy the planet' at that time?
For most of the period covered by the graph, there was a complete decoupling of CO2 and temperature. It's only within the last few million years that there's been any correlation whatsoever. And in geologically 'recent' times, CO2 has been a lagging indicator of temperature. In other words, long-term global temperature changes come first, and the corresponding changes in CO2 concentrations follow centuries later.
It's difficult for me to refrain from sarcasm at this point. No discussion of Climate Change is complete without mentioning Gore's Law:
Increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations cause a retroactive increase in average global temperatures in an earlier century.
The obvious question: If the Greenhouse Effect is not the primary driver of climate change, then what is? The three biggies are astronomy, volcanism and slower geologic processes, like plate tectonics. Robert Kernodle has written an outstanding hub about the effects of astronomy on climate change in the past.
Almost everyone agrees that the particulates and sulfur dioxide emissions from the explosion of the Philippine volcano, Mt. Piñatubo in 1991, had a measurable cooling effect on the Earth's average temperatures, and that it temporarily interrupted the global warming trend of the Nineties. In the past, there have been volcanic explosions so big that they make Piñatuba look like a hiccup in comparison.
It is thought that the explosion of the Toba Supervolcano 70 thousand years ago triggered a volcanic Winter and a glacial advance on the major continents. People did not have enough time to adapt to the sudden change in climate. It's estimated that there was a 90% reduction in the Earth's human population, as a result of Toba.
Scientific ethics vs dirty politics
Returning to the short-term perspective, there's been no Global Warming trend since 1998, despite rising CO2 levels. This fact strongly suggests that Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is a fairy tale. In particular, CO2 and other Greenhouse Gases are not now, and never have been, the 800-pound gorilla of climate change.
Yes, Greenhouse Gases do exist. The "Greenhouse Effect" is the name for the infrared-absorbing properties of CO2, methane, and gas-phase H2O in the Earth's atmosphere. However ordinary glass-and-steel greenhouses retain heat by different mechanisms. They goof up convection cells, and keep out cold breezes.
The climatic 'signal' from Greenhouse Gases, although real, is completely swamped out by the noise of natural climatic variability. Here's a pertinent aphorism from evidence-based environmental policy advocate, Jennifer Marohasy:
"If you can't can't measure it, you can't manage it."
Notwithstanding the shrill emotional projection, there's no real evidence to support the claim that we should be concerned about the minuscule climatic effects of Greenhouse Gas emissions from human activities. Emperor Gore has no clothes.
Warmist claims, allegedly based upon data from land-based temperature stations are pure BS. Why? For openers, the only numbers that the taxpaying public gets from these are 'adjusted'. That fact is not in dispute. Moreover we are given only vague rationales for the adjustments. And the process of fudging the raw data is ongoing. The numbers that the government Warmies shovel out to the Great Unwashed (that's us) are almost always diddled in a way that's reminiscent of Enron accounting practices.
Here's an old saying from the late Carl Sagan:
"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
Warmies do make extraordinary claims for AGW. The same Warmies fight tooth and nail to fend off FOIA requests for RAW data from ALL of the individual temperature stations, and the corresponding computer codes, which have the potential to back up their extraordinary claims (but almost certainly do not). The Warmies are talking out of both sides of their mouths. Warmies have the same intolerant, truth-be-damned, ends-justify-the-means mindset that characterizes True Believers and Totalitarians of all stripes.
Here's one small example. It's a quote from Phil Jones, a central figure in the Climategate scandal, in response to a request for additional information from Warwick Hughes.
"Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try to find something wrong with it?”
That's right, Phil. Data-sharing facilitates critiquing. Gasp! Unfortunately for the fragile egos of Warmist pseudoscientists, that's an essential part in the scientific process. I'll have more to say about that in the next section.
A second example. Again, it's not a conversation-stopper for all of Warmdom, but it illustrates the point. In November 2008, the Warmies claimed that the previous month was the warmest October on record, and that that was evidence for AGW.
Canadian statistician Steve McIntyre analyzed the available numbers. He found that someone had rolled the September temperatures over into October for a very large area that included most of Russia.
Here's a third example. Keith Briffa did a 'study' of tree rings in larch trees in Northern Russia. The tree rings were supposed to be temperature proxies. However there was one small problem: Taken as a whole, the tree rings did not support the official mythology. How did Briffa get around that?
Briffa cherry-picked trees that were consistent with the foregone conclusion. For the later years of the period under study, he whittled down the sample size to 12. One of them was an 'outlier'.
Briffa was caught, because he had a strong desire to publish his work in a certain prestigious journal, and he submitted his paper there. Unfortunately for him, that journal had high standards of transparency. And Briffa was forced to disgorge his data and methodology.
I'm tempted to say: And the rest is history. However the Briffa saga was not deemed to be particularly newsworthy by the mainstream media, in their infinite wisdom. And it was systematically under-reported there. Not so for the Blogosphere. Here's a link to an article in Jo Nova's blog.
I'm also tempted to say: So much for the theory of AGW. But wait, it gets better.
What is a scientific theory anyway?
In common parlance, a Theory can be a speculation, or a hypothesis, or a conjecture. In the physical sciences, Theory has a narrower meaning. The theoretical sciences seek a deeper understanding of how Nature works. And a theory is an insight that rests upon a foundation of hard work.
Typically, you notice something interesting in the natural world. Then you make an educated guess--or even a wild guess--about how it works. After due consideration, you cast the idea into a testable hypothesis. Then you roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and do an experiment that has the potential to falsify the hypothesis.
Of course, there are alternatives to laboratory experiments.
If you're a geologist, you can do a 'postdiction', also known as a 'hindcast'. If you drill here, you'll find oil.
If the experimental results and the predicted results differ by more than the estimated measurement uncertainty, you have two reasonable choices. You can chuck the original hypothesis. Or you can modify it, and run a new experiment.
Suppose that the experimental values are consistent with the numerical values predicted by the theory. Does this 'prove' the hypothesis? No, it does not. It's much easier to to disprove a hypothesis than to 'prove' it. Proofs are for mathematicians.
The next step in the process is for other scientists to poke holes in your logic--if they can. However this essential part of the scientific process is not possible if you refuse to share your raw data and computer code. Lack of glasnost is a big problem with Warmist 'science'.
Other scientists may wish to replicate your work. If the replication succeeds, then they will devise new experiments, with slightly different methodologies and slightly improved measurement techniques, to test your hypothesis again. If your idea successfully runs the gauntlet a number of times, it graduates from a mere hypothesis to legitimate theory. And even then, it's still tentative. In contrast, here's a famous Al Gore quote regarding Anthropogenic Global Warming:
"The science is settled."
His Goreness' ex cathedra pronouncement is an oxymoron. It clearly demonstrates that he doesn't know the first thing about real science.
The late Nobel Laureate, Richard Feynman went into considerable detail about the right and wrong ways to do scientific investigation. He calls the latter category Cargo Cult Science. This long article is well worth reading.
Here's a Feynman quote that refutes the Dada-knows-best approach taken by most Warmies:
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts."
Anthropogenic Global Warming is not about science. AGW does not even qualify as a scientific theory; it's a thoroughly falsified hypothesis. Despite the trappings of science, AGW is a belief system. If you present a Warmist True Believer with pesky facts that challenge his prefab worldview, he may genuflect and cross himself, but he will not reexamine the foundations of his little secular religion. The Gore-ist cult is too big a part of his identity.
What about the computer models?
Climate Change 'researchers' use more than 20 different computer models. These are also known as GCMs (as in Global Climate Models). All of these models predict more Global Warming, which we haven't seen since 1998. Since then, coin tossing would have been every bit as accurate--and considerably cheaper--than the GCMs for predicting increases or decreases in average global temperature from one year to the next!
The GCMs also predict a mid-tropospheric 'hot spot' in the tropics, which can't be found either. To use a computer programmers' expression, the GCMs are GIGO:
Garbage in, garbage out.
Instead of being intellectually honest, Climate Change 'researchers' conveniently ignore the failed predictions and failed 'hindcasts', or they make lame excuses. In one of the leaked Climategate emails, Kevin Trenberth stated,
“The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”
(Kevin Trenberth, Head of the Climate Analysis Section, National Center for Atmospheric Research, from email October 2009) Since getting caught with his pants down, Trenberth has attempted some fancy footwork.
In a similar vein, here's another immortal quote from Phil Jones. It's Email 4195, from the second batch of Climategate emails.
"Tim, Chris, I hope you’re not right about the lack of warming lasting till about 2020."
Jones has one-upped Trenberth. A fundamental tenet of the Warmist religion is that Anthropogenic Global Warming will cause The End Of The World As We Know It, unless we 'do something', and pronto! Phil Jones knows that he's on the wrong side of history. A part of him is hoping that the bogus climate models are correct, and that the Flying CO2 Monster is every bit as dangerous as he and his fellow Warmies are claiming (on the basis of zero evidence). Then if we do enter into a Venusian death spiral, a smirking Phil Jones could say: See, I told ya so. You're a real Humanitarian, Phil.
In terms of scientific ethics--or the lack thereof--Trenberth and Jones are fairly representative of the folks who work in the Climate Change field. They regard truthfulness as the last refuge of the uncool.
However biologists (and agronomists) who pursue Global Warming what-if scenarios are exceptions to this generalization. For these scientists, the IPCC warming projections are usually a starting point, rather than an end point. Their studies--if they survive that long--may prove to be useful in the next Interglacial 100 thousand years from now.
Here's an old quote attributed to Baseball's very own Yogi Berra:
"It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future."
Despite the inherent difficulty, prediction is the coin of the realm in the theoretical sciences. From this perspective, the computer models are all garbage, and are classic examples of Cargo Cult Science. Nevertheless Warmies can get some traction from them, by dint of the Jeanne Dixon Effect.
'Successful' celebrity psychics make lots of predictions. By the luck of the draw, some of them actually pan out. Then the 'psychics' and Climate Change 'scientists' trumpet these, and conveniently forget the inaccurate predictions. And whenever something bad, or anything unusual happens--like an unusually cold Winter in Britain--it's because of Global Warming! Anthony Watts describes the Warmist approach to weather events in the news as follows:
"Weather is not climate unless we say it is."
There's an interesting parallel between Organized Crime and the Warmist academic mafia: Drug cartels launder money, and Warmist computer jockeys launder bankrupt ideas. If one frames a baseless hypothesis as an algorithm, and runs it through a 'sausage machine'--aka a large computer--to produce a result that conflicts with measurements in the real world, this somehow 'legitimizes' the falsified hypothesis. Many non-scientists regard the Global Climate Models themselves as evidence for AGW. However the same logic could apply to computerized astrology programs, utilizing 'state of the art' insights from the leading 'experts' in the field of astrology.
Speaking of astrology... As of 2009, a majority of the board members of the Japan Society of Energy and Resources were openly skeptical of AGW. One of them even used the expression, "ancient astrology" as a metaphor to describe our silly Western superstition about CO2.
If you'd enjoy a pithy quote from me, here it is:
Global Climate Models are incontrovertible proof of the existence of computer programmers!
Help! We're all gonna drown!
Allegedly rising sea levels are fairly representative of the hobgoblins trotted out in the Anthropogenic Global Warming scare campaign.
*sarcasm on* The 'catastrophic' sea level rise shown in next two photos is 'living proof' that AGW will cause The End Of To World As We Know It, unless we 'do something' about it. *sarcasm off*
Hat-tip to Steven Goddard.
Summary and Conclusion
For many scientific controversies, reasonable people can disagree, because the evidence is often equivocal, and the truth can be somewhere between the two extreme positions. Not so for Anthropogenic Global Warming. What's the midpoint between the truth and a bald-faced lie? AGW is the worst case of lobotomized 'Establishment' science since Lysenkoism, in the old Soviet Union.
Here's an old quote from the late Warmist 'scientist', Stephen Schneider (Discover magazine, pp. 45-48, Oct. 1989).
"On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but - which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we'd like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public's imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This 'double ethical bind' we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both."
Cutting through the veneer of plausible deniability, Schneider thought that it was acceptable to lie when one is wearing one's scientist's hat, if that lie promoted one's ideology. This is the exact opposite of real science. Predictably, some of Schneider's apologists play the out-of-context card. However when you call their bluff, they quickly change the subject.
Schneider was a major political figure in the Climate Change field. He and NASA's James Hansen set the moral tone, or lack thereof, in the AGW movement.
AGW is a secular religion. And it's Big Business. Wind turbines are not lovingly hand-crafted by granola-munching eco-hippy volunteers in their garages. We should never lose sight of the fact that AGW is a Big Lie.
With respect to this last point, the main thing to remember is the ho-hum satellite data after 1998. And then there's the extreme reluctance of publicly-funded Warmies to share ALL of their RAW surface station data, temperature proxy data--like tree rings--and computer code. We're not talking A-bomb secrets or Coca-Cola secret recipe here. Unlike Briffa, Jones, and Mann, REAL scientists share their data. Would you trust any of the leading data-hiding, data-fudging, and data destroying Warmies to manage your 401(k)? "Just the facts," a commentator at wattsupwiththat.com, asks an excellent question:
"Why all the cloak and dagger stuff if this is all settled science…?"
These days, the Warmies are losing ground. They desperately want to keep the AGW gravy train rolling, in order to maintain their 'research' funding. If their work was on the up-and-up, they'd release the RAW data. With a few keystrokes, the Warmies could do the honorable thing, and assuage their consciences. Why do they persist in playing Tarzan of the Temperatures? Perhaps they're concerned about going to jail for defrauding their governments?
Moving on. It's not difficult to find examples of real environmental problems. For example, municipalities and agricultural users are pumping water from the Ogallala Aquifer in the Western USA faster than the rate of replenishment. I'm not advocating that we should we should be up in arms about that. Just sayin'. Unfortunately, the Global Warming fraud has eclipsed most real environmental problems, including water issues.
If you're really serious about stewardship for our fair planet, you should first become scientifically literate, cultivate critical thinking skills, do your homework, and take the ravings of the Al Gores of this world with a big chunk of salt. Whatever else you do, don't drink the Kool-Aid!
As we've just seen, popular environmental movements are a mixed bag, in terms of their very legitimacy. Moreover it would require an astronomical amount of resources to make our fair planet environmentally 'perfect'. As a matter of public policy, it's necessary to sidestep the bogus environmental issues--like AGW--and to prioritize the legitimate ones.
If you want to pursue a truly noble and sucker-proof cause in your very limited free time, I recommend Human Rights activism. Check out Amnesty International and other worthwhile Human Rights organizations.
Copyright 2011 and 2015 by Larry Fields
Satellite temperature data 1979 to 2011
The big picture
Do you feel that it's acceptable for 'scientists' to lie through their teeth in order to advance their political agendas?See results without voting
More by this Author
Why does the resin of California's Jeffrey Pine tree smell like butterscotch?
In the 19th Century, many scientists viewed the Universe as being predictable in principle, like the inner workings of a clock. We've come a long way since then.
This article reviews the top two common-sense safety measures. It also describes some lesser-known safety precautions for people hiking in mountain lion country.