Saturday, May 21, 2005

Finally Some Science

In May, a team of "adventurers" from Minnesota set off to "document climate change" at the North Pole. According to newspaper reports, they aim to "draw attention to the gradual warming of Earth's climate" and "hope to convince skeptics, especially in the Bush administration, that global warming is real...." (Jay Lehr, Chicago Sun Times)

This sort of global warming enthusiasm is all too common. Most often the main stream media (msm), politicians and activist groups promote the "findings" of such "scientific" endeavors as real and ominous.

But in the end, scientific truth will force it's way into the public consciousness.

Melting glaciers are a favorite of the global warming activists, and one of their most famous glaciers sits atop Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Satellites measuring temperatures near its summit for more than 25 years have found no warming at all. And a study in Nature (Nov. 2003) showed that deforestation of the mountain slopes -- not warming temperatures -- explains the melting. But the activists don't care why Kilimanjaro is melting, only that it is.

Lately attention has turned to Antarctica. The scaremongers point out that seven ice shelves have broken off the Antarctic continent over the last 50 years. They blame global warming, completely ignoring the fact that the continent is actually cooling by 0.7 degrees Celsius per decade.

Antarctica contains 90% of the world's ice so what is happening there is most important. Global warming enthusiasts have been pointing to West Antarctica which has been melting. But 85% of the ice is in the East and that has been increasing thickness by 1.8 cm/yr while the remaining 15% has been decreasing at 0.9cm/yr. Thus at least 76.5% of the world's ice has been increasing. (Mark Peplow, LA Times).

A paper by R.J. Braithwaite's in Progress in Physical Geography described measurements of 246 glaciers sampled all around the world between 1946 and 1995. He found that some glaciers were melting, a nearly equal number were growing and others remained stable. He concluded: "There is no obvious common or global trend of increasing glacier melt in recent years."

Long term we're heading back into the ice age as any honest climatologist knows.


The climate crazies are also focussing their wrath on carbon dioxide, a harmless gas that mammals exhale and plants require, since it is also a "greenhouse" gas.

Scientists calculate the likely rise of global average temperature delta-T for the purely theoretical situation where atmospheric carbon dioxide is doubled but nothing else about the atmosphere is allowed to change. The answer is about 1.2 degrees Celsius, and it would take a couple of hundred years to complete the change.

The problem is that, in the real world, all sorts of other atmospheric and oceanic processes that depend on surface temperature are happening. Many of them amplify or reduce the original change of 1.2 degrees caused directly by the CO2. They are feedback processes and their effects need to be added up to give an overall value for the total 'feedback factor' F in the bottom line of the equation shown here for delta-T.

delta-T = (1.2)/(1 - F) degrees

Thus the temperature change may be greater or less than 1.2 degrees depending on the value of F and on whether it is positive or negative. For example if F = +0.5 (positive feedback) then delta-T = 2.4 degrees while if F = -1.0 (negative feedback) then delta-T = 0.6 degrees. (Garth Paltridge, Tech Central Station)

The latest issue (5/6/05) of Science Magazine offers some perspective on the uncertainty. Robert Charlson et al ("In Search of Balance") notes that the Earth's temperature is determined by a balance (actually imbalance) between solar radiation absorbed and radiation emitted by the Earth. Moreover, "in view of the discrepancies in magnitude and even sign (of the feedback) ...care must be exercised in the use of potentially misleading terms like "global warming."

In another paper ("From Dimming to Brightening") in the same issue of Science, Martin Wild et al note that widespread brightening of the Earth surface has been underway since 1985 due to increasing atmospheric transparency (cleaner air). From 1992 - 2001 the radiation power aborbed by the Earth increased by 6 Watts per square meter. That's nearly a 2% increase in 10 years. Let's see, more solar radiation hitting the Earth,....could it be warmer?

I'm encouraged that a good number of scientists are finally publishing the truth about the "global warming" debate. Truth is a good thing.






6 Comments:

Blogger odograph said...

Your government, and your elected leaders, accept climate change, and actually only differ in their responses to it.

How can you undermine them like this ... where is your patriotism?

Shouldn't you wait for the next election, and vote a non-global-warming ticket, if that is what you really believe?

7:14 AM  
Blogger odograph said...

BTW, your President says on his web page:

"President Bush is addressing the complex and important issue of global climate change with an ambitious strategy: slow the rate of increase in greenhouse gas emissions, and then, as the science justifies, stop – and then reverse – the accumulation of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. In February 2002, the President affirmed his commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its central goal of stabilizing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would 'prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.'

The President’s strategy includes several bold initiatives that incorporate scientific research, technological innovation, and international cooperation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while strengthening the economy. Through public-private partnerships, the President is working with businesses to encourage voluntary, cost-effective greenhouse gas emission reductions. The President is also investing in carbon sequestration technologies and practices that can capture carbon dioxide from fossil energy systems or the atmosphere, and store those greenhouse gases in forests, plants, and soils, or in geologic reservoirs underground."

Gonna get behind that?

7:23 AM  
Blogger Bill Lama said...

Odograph,
We were talking about war. I support America's wars. That does not mean that I support each and every government policy. Where did you get such a silly idea?

In this particular (non-war) case I am glad that the US government under Clinton and now Bush have not supported the Kyoto protocol on global warming. It is economic nonsence based on flawed science and is bound to fail.

I do support the search for new energy technology and hope we develop the hydrogen car, not because of GW fears but because it would lessen our dependence on middle east oil. Nuclear power will be needed to make it all work.

BTW, do you have a name? I hate to keep calling you Odograph.
Are you in a foreign country? (reference your first line)

12:38 PM  
Blogger odograph said...

I think you've got it backwards, if you question the President on peacetime issues, and then give him a "free pass" whenever he takes us to war.

FWIW, I grew up during the Vietnam War. I watched the body counts every night on TV, as a kid. My friends' older brothers went, and I figured it would be my turn soon enough. That war ended just as I was graduating High School ... but it left me with a very tangible feeling that those who go to war are going in my place, even if I missed my turn.

I take the decision to send another generation to fight and die very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that I could never give any President a free pass. We owe it to this generation to continuously question, and to continuously consider new data, and make sure that we have the right decision.

Their lives, and the live of civilians in the conflict area, are too precious to treat any other way.

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