What Are We Afraid Of

 

 

 So who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? For about 40 years now, climate alarmists have been crying wolf from every rooftop. And what has happened so far? Practically nothing. The alarmist warnings are ringing more hollow with each passing year. Yet the doomsayers only scream louder. Wolf, wolf, beware the wolf. 

 

There is an unfounded assumption that appears to be prevalent in society today. The idea is espoused by scientists, politicians, and celebrities while being reinforced by the media. It is expressed in many ways but the message is this,

 

Climate change is bad, equilibrium is desirable. I am not sure where the idea originated. So far, practically all observed change has been beneficial and it really takes some digging to find evidence of harm. Moderate voices on this one are all but drowned out by the polarized factions. Both of which are absolutely convinced of the rightness of their convictions. I fear we are already seeing political climate change chaos. How do we know what the optimum mean temperature for the planet would be? It appears that it could be several degrees warmer than today. It is certain that even very little cooling would be detrimental.

 

Neither climate alarmists or skeptics of dangerous climate change take the position that change may be good. Alarmists scream catastrophe and skeptics say not likely, or not much, and we can’t afford to do anything about it anyway. Well, it appears that the alarmists have been consistently wrong so far and likely to continue to wildly overstate the dangers. The skeptic position that there are little consequences for anybody is an oversimplification. There are always some losers, but there is likely much we can do to eliminate or minimize the impact of any change, whatever that change might be.

 

The media seems to make the assumption (usually unsupported) that any climate change has a negative effect on native fauna and flora as well as on native human populations. Of course, the current villain of the piece is warming temperatures but there is little other than anecdotal evidence that there is any perceived harm.

 

Images of starving polar bears or frozen shark carcasses (even cold snaps get spun into being a result of global warming) have a great impact. Recently, however, there is some research showing positive benefits to native fauna. Most of us are aware that polar bear populations have been increasing substantially. This may not be a result of warming but it certainly indicates that warming is an insignificant factor at the least. Below is a recent study that implies warming as a benefit to caribou herds.

 

Climate influences body condition and synchrony of barren-ground caribou abundance in Northern Canada

“Our results suggest that during periods of positive AO intensity, warmer temperatures on the summer range result in improved growing conditions for vascular plants that benefits foraging caribou.”

 

And another detailing advantage for a species of zooplankton.

 

“Over the 35-year study period, the northern boundaries of modeled diapausing C. glacialis expanded poleward and the annual success rates of C. glacialis individuals attaining diapause in a circumpolar transition zone increased substantially. Those patterns could be explained by a lengthening growth season (during which time food is ample) and shortening critical development time”

 

I found the leads to the above studies at the very good blog site “NoTricksZone” published by Pierre Gosselin. 

 

Satellite imagery has graphically detailed a substantial global increase in plant growth in recent years that has been generally attributed to increased CO2 with probably some contribution from increased warmth. Certainly, there is no doubt that agricultural production has increased dramatically which is probably partly a result of longer and warmer growing seasons.

 

Warmer winters, which seem to be the primary result of global warming in the Arctic and Northern hemisphere would hardly be unwelcome to many.

 

Have there been any noticeable negative effect on yourself? The possible increase so far or the likely increase for the next century is not large enough to be noticeable by the average human. After all, daily changes are usually much more. How about extreme weather, you say. Well, there is virtually no evidence that warming leads to more or worse incidences of extreme weather. In fact, there is some evidence that it has a moderating effect. It could add to the cost of cooling for some but then it reduces the cost of heating for the rest. All in all, warming likely provides a net benefit. Read my primer on climate

 

“It's self-evident to every rationally thinking person familiar with the concept of one Celsius degree that this modest change doesn't justify any substantial investments or forced changes of our lifestyle, especially if it is virtually clear that a 1 °C would be a small change but a net benefit when it comes to the sign.” A quote from Lubos Motl 

 

And then there is the precautionary principle. This is based on the theory that CO2 is the cause of almost all warming. If it is possible that CO2 can cause catastrophic warming, then the idea is that we should do everything in our power to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere, and damn the consequences. The problem is there is very little solid evidence that CO2 can cause warming and even less that there is any possibility of catastrophic warming. There is no evidence that enough warming could be caused quickly enough that we could not adapt.

 

All the evidence of future significant warming and of dangerous consequences is based on mathematical models. Models that, so far, have been almost completely wrong and that seem to have little predictive value beyond a very short time period. Are you willing to bet trillions of dollars of public money and risk millions of lives from energy poverty on an unlikely scenario? Are you willing to reduce your standard of living to pre-industrial levels? Do you actually think it is possible to convince the entire world of the necessity?

 

There is, of course, some low hanging fruit such as increasing energy efficiency, reducing waste and strengthening infrastructure that can have significant other benefits. Some of these benefits would include a lessening of air and water and pollution, better resistance to traditional natural risks, and lower exposure to market risks. If we are to spend trillions, it would be better spent to reduce global poverty which would likely have the effect of slowing population growth.

 

Scientists Disagree

Cliff Mass is a professor of Atmospheric science and a meteorologist.

 

 

He publishes a popular and well-written blog that is wonderfully detailed. I place a high value on his opinions and on his competence, even if I do not always agree with his conclusions. A recent blog post offers his view of the evidence for global warming caused by human-produced Greenhouse gas. I think it is a must-read. 

 

Although his arguments are compelling, I do not think that he has incontrovertibly shown cause and effect.

 

 

Since I am not a scientist, I will not attempt a point by point critique but will leave that to another scientist.  

 

This is a link to his remarks in the comment section of the blog.   

 

If you are truly interested, then this response and several other counter responses following it should be studied.

About the 4th U.S Climate Science Special Report

Well, here it is, already past the middle of November. For this area, November has been unrelenting cold up to today the 18/11/2017. A nearby weather station recorded an average temperature of just over minus 10.6 C from Nov. 1 to 17. For my American friends, that is 12.92 in Fahrenheit. The average high was minus 6.3 C and the average low was minus 14.8 C. Only the first reached a temperature barely above freezing at .2 degrees Celsius. Halloween was most definitely the start of winter for us. I am not sure how that relates to long-term averages for that period but I am going to try and find the data.

 

With most of my time spent indoors, I have been doing a lot of study and research. As promised in my last post, I have spent some time on the 4th U.S Climate Science Special Report that has recently been released.

 

 

So far, I have only managed the executive summary which in itself is a rather long read. My perception was that it was extremely alarmist, focused on convincing readers that catastrophic climate change was nearly inevitable and that our only hope was to reduce the atmospheric levels of CO2 with a total retreat from the burning of fossil fuel. Only research that supports their viewpoint seems to have been considered, even though there is a tremendous amount of research that runs counter to their viewpoint. If you want to sleep at night after reading this summary, you should follow it up on this site. 

 

There is no chapter listed in this report that deals with growing seasons. Probably because it does not support the contention that climate change, as it relates, to global warming, is all bad. There seems to be no mention at all of any possible benefits from a warmer planet or a higher level of atmospheric CO2.

 

The incidence of large forest fires in the western United States and Alaska has increased since the early 1980s (high confidence)” We seem to be expected to accept this statement without verification, but it is likely true. What is not mentioned is that the area burned by wildfires decreased dramatically from about 1930 to 1960 and has since been increasing at a rather insignificant rate. Of course, it is best to start from a low point if your goal is to show an increase. There could be many reasons for this increase, but the most likely is an increase in available fuel as a result of aggressive firefighting from an earlier period. A warmer climate would not likely have a significant effect since it should also increase rainfall.

 

 

 

Global average sea levels are expected to continue to rise—by at least several inches in the next 15 years and by 1–4 feet by 2100. A rise of as much as 8 feet by 2100 cannot be ruled out.” This borders on the ridiculous. I cannot rule out an alien invasion before 2100, but the odds are probably about the same. Sea level rise is still very controversial with many studies showing little or no acceleration in sea level rise and others throwing doubt on the existence of any unusual sea level rise at all

 

Here is a quote from science News approximately 200 million people worldwide living along coastlines within five meters of sea level” That is 2.85% of current world population. They further state “By the end of the century, as sea levels reach inland and coastal communities grow, the population at risk of rising waters may balloon to as high as 500 million.” I guess they are assuming that people are stupid enough to build and live where they will be soon inundated by seawater.

 

Let us consider this a little further. Should I put my efforts into preventing sea level rise while ignoring the more than 1 billion people who live on less than 1.25 dollars per day or the over 25 million children that die yearly from malnutrition? The effects of poverty are real, deadly and immediate, while we could just slowly amble away from a rising sea level. The following graphics are also from Science News

 

Their worst case scenario is 2 meters (about 6.5 feet) by 2100, which is highly unlikely. That is still less than ½ of the 15 feet quoted above. There are about 75 years to move to higher ground.

 

 

chronic, long-duration hydrological drought is increasingly possible before the end of this centuryand a little further on, this statement Little evidence is found for a human influence on observed precipitation deficits In the same paragraphmuch evidence is found for a human influence on surface soil moisture deficits due to increased evapotranspiration caused by higher temperatures There is no mention of transpiration reductions (less stomatal development on foliage) due to increased CO2, that has been shown by numerous studies.

 

Regarding human-caused warming For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.” Meaning, the reason for blaming human produced CO2 is because they cannot think of any other single reason, or refuse to look for any. Actually, there are any number of alternate possibilities and if one is not sufficient then a combination should be considered

 

In addition to warming, many other aspects of global climate are changing, primarily in response to human activities.” No-one that I know of has ever denied that the climate has changed, is changing and will continue to change. It is the degree of attribution to human activity and to CO2 that is in question as well as what type of change can be expected in the future. Every prediction made by climate alarmists to date have failed to materialize.

 

Ocean acidification has been a scare phrase for some time. The fact is, the oceans are quite alkaline (or basic) and burning all the fossil fuel in the world could not make them acidic. At the most, they could become a little less alkaline. It is claimed that the ph of the oceans is getting lower. I am not sure that there is any way to actually measure this accurately, given the variations that occur throughout the ocean and even throughout short time periods in shallower waters. There is even further controversy about the effects of changes in ocean ph. What is ph?

 

Recent data add to the weight of evidence for rapid global-scale warming, the following is a graphic of recent temperature data. Does it frighten you? The data is from USCRN (US Climate Reference Network.) The data is from surface stations but seems to correlate fairly well with satellite data. The measurements are expressed as an anomaly or the difference from an average over a fixed period of time represented by the horizontal zero line. I am not sure what the reference period is in this case, but it is likely different from the satellite record which uses a 30-year average from 1980 to 2010. The satellite data is available from Dr. Roy Spencers website.

 

 

It is difficult to see how they tease out data to support the contention of an ever-warming climate.

 

I have spent enough time on this section of the report. My conclusion can only be that it is not very factual and can only be meant to frighten schoolchildren or to influence politicians with little time to study it critically. The motives are unclear.

 

Most of the arguments and predictions are qualified as to likelihood or as to their confidence in the data or outcomes. This, of course, means that there is no proof (experimentally or by observation) and that their conclusions and forecasts are based only on evidence of their choosing. I believe this builds only a very circumstantial case. I find this report to be so one-sided and politically biased as to be practically worthless.

 

There are no links, in this portion of the report, to supporting studies, experiments or observations. It appears that I am expected to take their word as gospel. Difficult to do, since I noticed several doubtful statements presented as fact.

 

Since they are expressing an only unproven opinion, I may as well add my own.

 

 

When I started my study of climate change and global warming (at least 10 years ago), I was reasonably convinced that global warming has happened, is happening and would continue to happen. I was quite certain this would lead to changes in our environment and that there would be consequences for mankind. I was quite skeptical, however, that all the consequences would be detrimental or catastrophic or that it could result in existential threats. As for climate sensitivity to CO2, I found it hard to believe that such a minor atmospheric constituent could be that much of a factor. That human beings were having an impact, I had no doubt at all.

 

Has my opinion changed? Well, somewhat.

 

I am now confident that we have seen a rather insignificant rise in global temperatures over the 20th century. I am less than confident that it is currently warming, and not at all convinced that it will continue to warm. The only evidence for continued warming comes from climate models. They have been notoriously poor at prediction to date, and I have seen nothing to inspire my confidence in them. There are far too many possibilities of unforeseen events in the future that make the possibility of cooling as likely as warming. I am convinced that there is no possibility of a stable and unchanging climate. I am also convinced that mankind can have no substantial impact in attempts to stabilize the global climate.

 

I do not think there is any convincing evidence that we have seen significant consequences from a warmer climate. Even the most likely (sea level rise) remains controversial.

 

I think that CO2 is not a significant driver of climate. It seems more likely that ocean and atmospheric temperatures drive CO2 levels. There is no doubt that CO2 can retain heat. Nor any doubt that levels have risen considerably, at least partly as a result of the use of fossil fuel. There are, however, many poorly understood factors in the atmosphere that can (and probably do) override any effect of CO2.

 

I still have no doubt that mankind has an effect on climate, in myriad ways. Is the impact significant? Well, it is probably measurable, (certainly locally). Can we mitigate our influence? Probably only a tiny amount, and likely only by imposing tremendous hardship on the vulnerable people of the world.

 

Can we adapt to a changing climate? Almost certainly. Man as a species evolved through at least one ice age and thrived during the warmer periods. Today we have much more wealth and technology to help us. Despite this, another ice age could make it impossible to feed the projected future populations

 

Frost Free Periods

  This will be my first post in some time as I have been rather busy harvesting my garden and preparing for winter. Our fall, in this area, has been fairly mild, if a little wet and with one premature blizzard. Our frost free period was quite long this year, but winter arrived right on schedule on Halloween. This is the date for the onset of winter conditions that has been common for as long as I can remember. Since I am 75 years old, that is a rather long period.

 

Yesterday (Nov. 3, 2017) a new National Climate Assessment was released in the U.S. I have not had time to study it but here is one critique of it. 

 

For today, I will focus on an older report (2014). I chose a specific section to discuss (frost free periods) because the observations made basically agree with my own. Although their observations apply to the U.S., I think they apply to North America, or at least Canada, as well.

 

Their criteria for a frost-free period seems to be the time between instances of 32 or lower degrees of Fahrenheit. Their data is from extensive analysis of daily minimum temperature observations from the U.S. Cooperative Observer Network

 

This is a system of volunteer observation, of recording devices, which has implications for consistency and accuracy. A bit of this is admitted by the authors. “A key issue (uncertainty) is the potential effect on observed trends of climate monitoring station inhomogeneities (differences), particularly those arising from instrumentation changes.” and “ Local temperature biases in climate models contribute to the uncertainty in projections.” They omit the possibility of observer bias or error. They also do not specify if all the data is used or if it has been adjusted in any way.

 

My criteria is the period between killing frosts and is simply a general observation. It relies on my memory and is dependent on what garden or agricultural crops can reach maturity, and on whether early sown crops can escape being killed or damaged by late spring frosts. It seems that we are recently having fewer instances of replanting because of late spring frosts, and more instances of increased yield due to delayed fall frost. It is difficult to determine if this is a trend or to determine if it is likely to continue.

 

The report authors are highly confident that the frost free period has lengthened and that it will continue to lengthen. They also infer that this is entirely due to a warming climate which in turn is due to atmospheric CO2 increases. Their conclusion that it will continue to lengthen seems to be entirely based on the output of models.

 

This is where I differ. A longer growing season does not depend on a warming climate but only needs a lessening of variability or in other words higher minimum temperatures and lower maximums. Of course, this is a probable effect of a warmer climate. I am also skeptical of a model's ability to predict accurately beyond a very short time frame.

 

The authors admit to some of the benefits but are quick to qualify them with perceived disadvantages.These observed climate changes have been mirrored by changes in the biosphere, including increases in forest productivity, and satellite-derived estimates of the length of the growing season. A longer growing season provides a longer period for plant growth and productivity and can slow the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations through increased CO2 uptake by living things and their environment. The longer growing season can increase the growth of beneficial plants (such as crops and forests) as well as undesirable ones (such as ragweed). In some cases where moisture is limited, the greater evaporation and loss of moisture through plant transpiration (release of water from plant leaves) associated with a longer growing season can mean less productivity because of increased drying and earlier and longer fire seasons.”

 

Thee attribute increases in forest productivity to the longer growing season, but neglect to mention that much, if not most, of it can be because of the contribution of increased CO2. There is no mention of human control of undesirable plants. They do not point out that the increased uptake of CO2 is actually a negative feedback contributing to climate change. If drying is a factor they do not mention how this increases the ease of harvesting and decreases harvest losses due to weather. There is no mention of research that suggests that plants lose less water to transpiration when exposed to higher levels of CO2. 

 

It bothers me that many of their sources and support papers are actually authored by some of the authors of this report, and are often from associated agencies. Although their conclusions are drawn from consensus, there are no dissenting opinions considered. There is no consideration given to possible causes of an increased frost-free period other than global warming and by extension, elevated CO2 levels. Their findings may be exaggerated from bias.

 

It appears, even from this report, that a longer frost-free period is almost totally beneficial. It seems as if this section is included solely as further evidence of global warming. It may very well be, but it certainly does not support either a catastrophic scenario or the need for CO2 mitigation.

 

From my own perspective, extended growing seasons, and probably increased CO2, has led to a tremendous boon in the production of garden vegetables and fruit in recent years. I live north of the 51st in Alberta.

 

I am going to start studying the newest report today and will comment on it in the near future.

 

Paradise Has Its Costs

I am going to start this post with a couple of quotes that I think are particularly appropriate to our subject. They are both comments to a post in Anthony Watts blog, links to which are provided. 

 

“In the Caribbean and the gulf, and the southeastern Atlantic coast, we know we have to dance with the devil every August and September.” “ and we endure, because the blessings are well worth the price.” From a comment by Glenndc in a WUWT post. 

 

“Enjoy the warmth, camp on the beach, and live inland. These warm periods have been and will continue to be the best environment for a productive planet. The cold periods are the ones we will struggle to survive, no matter where we live.” from a comment by Pamela Gray. 

 

As far as I know, these are just the philosophies of ordinary folk, who are not climate scientists, celebrities or politicians. They do seem to be the most logical personal approaches to climate dangers, if perhaps a bit fatalistic.

 

From my own point of view, and based on the last few years of study, I have nearly totally rejected the idea that global warming could be a catastrophic or an existential threat. I am not so confident about the consequences of global cooling, which seems to be inevitable, but probably not imminent. I have very high confidence that the next several generations will be relatively safe from catastrophic changes in our climate.

 

That is not to say that we should be personally blasé about the risk in our environment. We should not assume an immunity from the very real threat of dangerous weather that our climate is capable of generating without the benefit of climate change.

 

It is possible to build habitats and infrastructure to be nearly immune to nearly all extreme weather events. The problems are to balance the cost against the risk and the lack of sufficient wealth in some vulnerable areas.

 

The risk of injury or loss of life is the most critical. Luckily advances in forecasting, civil engineering, communications, and transportation has greatly reduced the loss of life from extreme weather events and even from some much less predictable natural events. When viewing the following graph you should keep in mind the huge increase in human populations in that time period. It is also likely that records from the earliest periods are quite incomplete.

 

 

 

Please refer to the source of this graphic for more detailed information. 

 

Not so true in relation to the loss of property. Increasing populations and large increases in (sometimes poorly controlled) development has led to larger and larger property losses.Building codes and land use bylaws are slowly dealing with this but poor enforcement, cost factors, and acceptable risk calculations interfere with the process. The following is a graphic from the IPCC but I sourced it from "The Nature of Cities

 

Again you should keep in mind the increases in global development.

 

 

 

Losses from Disasters (1980-2010). Overall losses and insured losses from weather- and climate-related disasters worldwide (in 2010 US$) (IPCC 2012).

 

Personally, I live in an area far from the threat of storm surges and hurricanes. Where tornadoes are rare, and where earthquake and volcanic threats are rarer. I am not on a floodplain. High wind events do occur. Hailstorms can damage property, crops and cause personal injury, but are usually localized. Heat waves are not often more than just a little uncomfortable and high rainfall events usually cause only minimum damage outside of floodplains.

 

Our major risk is from extremely low temperatures and blizzards, together or singularly. Death will occur rapidly if you are caught unprotected in either one. Road accidents are common, caused by icy roads, poor visibility, and high winds. Blizzards can cause all travel to be impossible, or extremely risky, posing threats from poor access to health care. Livestock losses have, at times, been horrendous. Electrical service may be interrupted and make it very difficult to heat modern houses unless alternate means are available. For several months of every year, environmental conditions in this area are extreme enough to kill you very quickly if you are unlucky or unprotected. These conditions, if not as spectacular, are far more common than disasters such as hurricanes. As such, most people and local governments are well prepared for their eventuality.

 

 

I guess the point is, if disasters are inevitable, it would be wise to prepare for them no matter how rare they may be. The biggest problem would be the limited resources of poorer nations and populations. Another problem is that the relative rarity, in any given area, of events such as hurricanes, tends to downplay the urgency of preparedness. Maintenance of coastal defenses may also suffer when decades may pass without urgent need.

 

Green P and Hurricanes

I haven’t posted for a few weeks now. Had other summer priorities such as lazing around in the shade. 

 

We had some unusually warm weather throughout July and August as well as a late summer dry period. Climate change? Well maybe, but more likely just a warm spell. For the most part, quite welcome. I did install an air conditioner this year and I believe it cost me about 50 dollars worth of electricity over the three months when it was in use. A pretty trivial cost for the comfort, but of course it probably contributed to an increase in my CO2 emissions.

 

There have been some newsworthy events this summer and I am going to discuss some of them, but first, a couple headlines that I stumbled across.

 

Rates may go up by 25 to 50 cents per half-hour at dozens of Green P lots

 

I wonder if I could pee green and collect some of those increased rates? Maybe if I drank enough grasshoppers or green beer. Do I have to wait for St. Patricks? Where do I send my resume? I have a lot of experience in the beer drinking field.

 

For second straight week, inmate dies at prison in Tucson 

 

This has to be the unluckiest convict I have ever heard of. It is not clear if he died hourly, daily or otherwise.

 

Hurricane Harvey was a memorable enough event that the media actually left President Trump alone for a few days. Many actually jumped at the opportunity to blame the hurricane strength and flooding on climate change. Funny how nobody seemed to blame climate change for the previous 12 years when there was not a major hurricane making landfall in the U.S.

 

This study from NOAA explores the relationship between AGW and Hurricane strength and frequency.

 

I have nothing but sympathy for the citizens of Houston who suffered injury and loss as a result of this storm, but surely the severe flooding was as much a result of the city’s location on a floodplain as much as it was a result of an unusually severe storm. Although unusual, the flooding was likely not even unprecedented in recorded history. No doubt the damage was unprecedented, but then, would that not be the result of much-increased development in the region. As far as finding a signature of AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) on this storm, I can only say, show me the evidence. Of course, Mike Mann and a few others will tell you that AGW must be the cause since they cannot think of any other causes. If ten men are suspected of a murder, then should we hang the ones who cannot be eliminated from suspicion, no matter that the true culprit may not even be among the ten.

 

“The actual damage from the flooding in Houston is more about flood insurance, mortgage regulations, and bank bailouts than it is about engineering or planning. Failure to grasp that only ensures that future disasters will be greater than those in the past.”  from Strong Towns.

 

The above quote is from  Charles Marohn, a Professional Engineer (PE) licensed in the State of Minnesota.

 

What he is suggesting is that we are encouraging risky behaviour through unrealistic bailouts for individuals, developers, municipalities and banks. Why not build on a floodplain where severe flooding is likely within 100 to 500 years, if you can expect the taxpayer will bail you out when it happens next year. To allow rebuilding to the same standards, in the same areas impacted by these natural disasters, is criminal.

 

What is amazing about these powerful storms has been the very low death toll, compared to past storms. "The death rate from droughts, floods and storms globally is about 98 per cent lower than it was a century ago" is quoted from Matt Ridley

 

This next is from Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington and weekly guest on KUOW, is the pre-eminent authority on Northwest weather. He has published dozens of articles on Northwest weather and leads the regional development of advanced weather prediction tools.

 

"This blog will provide a careful analysis of the possible impacts of global warming on Hurricane Harvey.  And the results are clear:  human-induced global warming played an inconsequential role in this disaster."

 

A second hurricane close on the heels of Harvey, Irma, severely impacted Caribbean islands, Cuba and Florida. This was an unusually large and powerful storm, but unusual and powerful storms do happen and the severity of their impact depends on where they travel. In this case, some Caribbean island and parts of Cuba were severely impacted while Florida was affected over almost its entire area. An unusual storm, yes, but attempts to place blame on AGW fails to explain all the unusual storms that occurred before industrialization was a factor.

 

Some would blame warmer Atlantic waters resulting from AGW for imparting more energy into Aatlantic hurricanes. Irma, however, traveled over waters that were nearly 2 degrees cooler than is usual for major hurricanes to evolve. Apparantly it was a weak wind shear which allowed this one to spin up to such size and strength. Pinning that directly on AGW is going to take some innovative reasoning.

 

 

I am not certain who posted this tweet, but since none of the disasters mentioned can be attributed directly to climate change, it must be a major idiot. We have just discussed the attribution of hurricanes to AGW. Earthquakes as a result of Climate Change? That stinker must be the result of a major brain fart. As for wildfires, here is the finding direct from NASA --“Globally, the total acreage burned by fires each year declined by 24 percent between 1998 and 2015, according to a new paper in Science that analyzes NASA’s satellite data.”  

 

Now, for myself, or for anybody I know. I do not now, nor ever have, denied climate change. I simply do not blindly follow a religious belief that future climate change will be catastrophic, at least until the next glaciation. I am even somewhat doubtful that it will continue to warm for very long. A cooling trend is certainly possible, even if not evident, from evidence currently available. I certainly hope a new glaciation is not imminent. That would have a far more damaging effect on civilization and society than a few degrees of warming.

 

 

A sobering thought, there is no evidence of runaway greenhouse conditions in the past, but there is plenty of evidence of several major glaciations.

 

Is Global Warming Real

After several years of researching the subject of global warming or climate change, it is time that I organized my thoughts and formulated an opinion for my readers. In spite of what alarmists like to call a consensus, there is very little agreement on the subject, whether between scientists, bloggers and journalists, or the people on the street. There are extreme opinions ranging from imminent catastrophic climate change, as a result of anthropogenic influence, to a total denial of significant change or of a human factor in climate variability. Sorting it out is difficult and time consuming and the attempt would not have been possible if it was not a retirement project.

 

I have no profit motive to influence me in any way. There is no advertising on this site and I have nothing to sell. I believe I can be as objective as is possible. I do not believe in the infallibility of science or scientists and I do not believe that any supreme beings will save us from our own actions. I do not have much faith in governments or politicians actually perceiving real problems or implementing the right actions. Nor do I think that they really put the fate of mankind above their need for votes, popularity or power.

 

I have used three processes in formulating an opinion.

 

The first is is research of relevant scientific publications and the reading of the opinions of learned scientists, bloggers and journalists, and following public debate. Most of this research is via the internet and there is considerable difficulty in sorting the “wheat from the chaff”. There is a lot of unsupported conjecture and outright falsehood presented as fact. The profit motive and bias, for any reason, is rampant.

 

The second is to use current observations (or data), by scientists and others, of changes in the natural world that might support either argument.

 

The third is personal experience. I have been aware of my environment for at least 65 years and I have an excellent memory. I think my own observations should have some value.

 

In this post I am going to deal specifically with the reality (or not) of global warming since there can really not be any reasonable argument about the reality of climate change.

 

I am going to start with the last. Since we are concerned with climate change and in particular global warming, I have thought carefully of the changes I have noticed in the last 60 plus years. Some of these changes may not be directly related to climate, but are, nevertheless, significant.

 

Has our climate warmed? My experience would suggest it has. In my area the frost free growing period seems to have lengthened a bit and we seem to have fewer extremely cold days in winter. I have not noticed an increase in hot days during summer and the opposite might be true. It is still difficult to accumulate enough heat units to mature corn in my garden, in spite if the longer growing season. My conclusion would be that our local seasonal temperature variations have moderated. From my perspective, our local climate has improved.

 

What about the frequency and intensity of damaging storms? No change seems to be obvious. The amount of damage from extreme weather has certainly increased, but that is probably due to a much increased population density and widespread development.

 

If I were to make a judgment based on personal local observation, I would say that our climate has changed very little, with only an insignificant warming. What have you seen?

 

To broaden the outlook a bit I have to rely on news reports, scientific assessments and internet sources to put some global perspective on climate change, as indicated by my first method. To identify temperature trends we have access to ground-based instrumental records, satellite measurements and observations of phenomenon such as sea level rise, glacial retreat and sea ice coverage. For longer periods into the past, we have proxy evidence which include tree ring records, ice sheet cores, lake and ocean bottom sediment cores and other fossil evidence.

 

Ground-based instrumental measurements have been recorded for about a century and a half. This is a pitiably short period in geologic time, but is relative to the time period in which humanity could have had a significant effect on global climate. These instrumental records suffer from multiple sources of error and require picking of the best data and adjustments (perhaps not not always appropriate). In spite of these short-comings most researchers seem to agree that we have seen a warming trend of the near surface atmosphere, amounting to about 0.85 degrees C from 1880 to 2000. It is somewhat controversial if this is a significant or consequential amount of warming.

 

Since about 1979, we have also had satellite measurements of atmospheric temperatures. They provide a much broader coverage which includes an equal sampling of much of the earth's surface, including sea surface area. This would appear to provide much more accurate and valuable datum, usually expressed as an anomaly from the 1980 to 2010 averages. Their data also show a warming trend, although somewhat less than that inferred from the ground-based instrumental record.

 

Much has been made of the apparent hiatus of significant warming in the period between 1998 and 2015. I don't believe it means much, but it does emphasize the spiked nature of any warming trend that may exist. One problem with starting from 1880 is that this was apparently a somewhat cooler period (a downward spike.) Perhaps the warming is a little less significant. Another problem is that our current warming is not unusual when compared to other inter glacial periods in the planets past.

 

A little further back in geologic time is the Eocene epoch, a period in prehistory beginning about 56 million years ago and ending about 34 mya. In the early Eocene the Earths average temperature is estimated to have been about 8 degrees C warmer than the present, although I have seen studies that theorize spikes as much as 17 degrees over current values. The end of the Eocene is also when our current cycle of ice ages seems to have begun.

 

Life at the time (early ancestors of much of today's existing life) seems to have flourished. At least until the glaciations began. It was a period long before any semblance of human life appeared.

 

The Eocene, and previous inter glacial periods, illustrates that current warming is not unique or unprecedented, and to apply these terms to it one must impose arbitrarily short time periods. Of course, the argument is put forward that the rapidity of change is unprecedented. I haven't seen any convincing evidence to support this.

 

The Eocene does provide evidence that the earth can become much warmer without dire consequences to life on the planet. It also indicates that cooling can be initiated naturally and result in glaciations.

 

In our second method of reasoning we look at the natural occurrences in nature that may provide evidence of warming or not.

 

One of the most used arguments for global warming (we will put aside the anthropogenic factor for now) is the retreat of glaciers and the reduction in sea ice area. There is no doubt that most alpine glaciers have been retreating and little doubt that some grounded ice sheets are losing mass.

 

Is this evidence of a warming climate? Perhaps, perhaps not. It is possible that the climate has been warm enough that ice would continue to melt back without an increase in temperature. Many other factors influence the growth or retreat of glaciers, the most significant of which is winter precipitation. A warmer climate may actually encourage the growth of glaciers by increasing precipitation. It seems that glaciers advance and retreat unpredictably over longer periods although the more general glaciations have followed a perceptible pattern.

 

Grounded ice sheets present another enigma. While ice sheets in the Northern hemisphere seem to be losing mass the opposite may be true for the massive ice sheets of Antarctica.

 

The reduction of sea ice area is most evident in the arctic ocean. Although presented by many as being significant and the imminent disappearance has been predicted, by some for decades, not a lot seems to have happened. Modern satellite measurements have only been available for a few decades The reduction may not even be unprecedented. There is some evidence that coverage may have been even less as recently as 1940. Of course, the presence of fossils on arctic islands indicate that the Arctic has been much warmer in prehistory. Again, there are other possible factors, such as warmer ocean currents. Then there are the albedo changes which poses the question of cause and effect. Is there less ice because of a warmer climate or a warmer climate because of less ice?

 

Many have postulated that the loss of arctic ice would impact polar bears and reduce populations. Recent research has indicated that most populations have not been negatively impacted and numbers have actually increased. This does not mean that reduced ice area is an advantage for them as other factors such as reduced hunting may be at play. It does suggest that the impact of global warming may not be that significant.

 

Sea level rise is also presented as evidence of warming. It is attributed to the melting of land fast ice sheets and glaciers, and to thermal expansion of the waters.

 

It is evident that sea levels are rising. We seem to have had a rise of about 7 inches in the past century. This is about par with the rise we have seen in the last several centuries as we gradually continue to emerge from the last glaciation. There is an argument that sea levels are recently rising at a faster pace but I have not seen much valid support for this. There is no real reason for levels to rise at a steady rate and it seems likely that it will proceed in spurts, similarly to global warming.

 

Our concern would be the loss of land near sea level due to rising waters. There is considerable development in coastal areas, but it seems that most of it would be obsolete before sea levels that threaten it becomes uncontrollable. Some people are at risk of eventually losing their land and homes to the sea, but there are also many people at risk from volcanoes, earthquakes and other extreme events which are infinitely less predictable, and with more dangerous and immediate consequences. There is a lot of time to plan for avoiding most of the negative consequences of sea level rise.

 

A recent study that came to my attention has shown, that in recent history, we have gained more coastal land from the sea than has been lost to sea level rise.

 

The impact of sea level rise is felt differently in different areas. It is only important in relation to the adjacent coastal communities. Some cities have been subsiding due to the drawing of groundwater or oil and gas. Some have already sunk below sea level. Other Northern areas are actually rising as the earth rebounds from the weight of the last glaciation.

 

Another quoted indicator of a warming climate has been the northward (or southward in the southern hemisphere) migration of warm weather plants and animal life. This could be a fact, but there is another possible reason for at least part of the phenomenon. Increased CO2 seems to increase cold and heat tolerance in plants and this could account for them increasing their range. Animals and insects, of course, follow their food sources.

 

Although this discourse may seem long it is actually only a very brief examination of the evidence for or against a warming global climate. Other aspects of climate change and the human factor have been mostly ignored, so far. It has been an attempt to condense the most relative evidence of a warming climate (or not) and to reach a reasonable conclusion based on that evidence. The question we are considering is simply, is our climate warming in a significant way.

 

Has our climate warmed in the last 150 years? My answer would have to be, yes it has, but the degree of warming that has occurred is not that significant or consequential, up to now.

 

Has our climate warmed from 16000 years ago? Again the answer is a definite yes, and the warming, in this case, has been significant and consequential. As in any comparison, the starting point is important

 

Is our climate warmer than during the Eocene or during more recent inter-glacial periods? I think the answer would be no, and the indication is that current warmth is not unprecedented.

 

There are, of course, many more questions about climate change that need to be considered. A couple of the more important would be whether the planet will continue to warm and what the contribution of human activity is. I will attempt to deal with these in my next post.

 

Some 2016 garden results


Should I Worry

Just finished reading an article in Technica that seems to take for granted that there will be significant global climatic changes in the next few decades, and that purports that many changes can be felt now.

 

It is true that many effects of a changing climate can be documented. That they actually cause consequences, that can be noticeable to the average person, is much more arguable. I doubt that anyone would notice an increase of a couple degrees in average daily temperatures. An inch or two of extra precipitation over the course of a year would probably just be attributed to normal variation. It is only in extreme weather events that people are impacted enough that notice is taken. The problem here is that the attribution of weather events to a warming climate is extremely tentative. Of course, that doesn't stop the media from placing blame.

 

To believe that there will be consequential changes in climate over the next few decades requires a belief in the predictive accuracy of modelers. Their record has been very poor to date with almost all models greatly overestimating warming trends. I do not believe the author of the article in Technica is likely to be any more accurate as a climate medium.

One way to face global warming

Personal Observations, Impacts and Perceived Risks from Climate Change.

 

I think it is important that everyone take a step back and take a close look at what climate change means to themselves and to their families. Universal impacts and risks are hard to quantify and probably, in most cases, have little relevance to your life. They also require a belief in published stories and the opinion of writers or broadcasters, that likely have prejudices and motives, unknown to you.

 

I will begin with my own observations gathered over my lifetime, which consists of about 70 years during which I was at least partly conscious of my surroundings. I have lived within 200 miles of my birthplace for my entire life, always in the same general climate zone. Location changes should have little effect on my observations or be easily adjusted for.

 

I believe that we are experiencing fewer extreme cold spells during our rather severe winters. If that is a result of global warming it is a very welcome one. At the same time, the frequency of hot weather during the summer may have decreased but average temperatures have not had a detectable change. If there has been a change, it is that the range of temperatures may have decreased. It must be remembered that this is an area with normally large seasonal (or even daily) variations in temperatures.

 

For the last few years, we have been in a period of increased precipitation. This is closer to the precipitation I remember experiencing as a youth. In between, there were many years of dryer weather with only intermittent wet periods. I really cannot identify or perceive any trend.

 

Storms and weather-related events do not seem to have increased nor decreased to any measurable degree. Damage from such events has increased substantially, but in the last 70 years, the population of this province (Alberta) has gone from about a half million people to nearly four and a half million. Along with greatly increased wealth and infrastructure, this makes larger financial losses from severe storms, wildfires, and floods inevitable. Have there been any unusual changes in storm patterns or the results of weather extremes? I really do not see any convincing evidence either way.

 

If I am forced to make a conclusion I would say that we may be warming slightly and growing seasons may occasionally be a bit longer and more advantageous. As a gardener, I have had many of my best yield results in recent years. Of course, that could be a result of experience. In other words, if I am feeling the effects of climate change the net result is beneficial. Of course, I am not including the political effects.

 

What are the future risks? I am not sure there are any substantial ones. It is hard to pin down what changes are likely. The climate appears to be currently warming and that trend may continue but to what degree and how rapidly is largely guesswork. The predictions made by most climate models are for fairly rapid warming. If you are making a prediction based on chance alone and there are only two possible outcomes, the chance that you will be right is at best 50%. Of course, with the climate future, there is an almost infinite number of possible outcomes. Your odds of being right increase if you have access to accurate data relating to the problem. In the case of climate models, they do have access to some accurate data. Most models suggest warming, but then, if I were to make a guess, I would guess warming as well.

 

I think, perhaps, the best way to assess risk is to start with a worst-case scenario. I will pretend that myself and my children will still be around by 2100. Let's try a 7-degree rise in average global temperatures by the year 2100. What does that mean? Does that mean the daily temperatures are all going to be 7 degrees warmer than they are now? That would make my winters a lot more comfortable and heating my home a whole lot less expensive. For the summer I may have to invest in air conditioning for my house and car. Something I do not feel the need for now. I would need to do some adapting to my gardening hobby. Cool weather plants would have to be sown and harvested earlier but many more crops would become more viable. Where I now use transplants, I would be able to seed directly. Some crops that are now marginal in this climate would become more certain of reaching maturity. Almost certainly we would see different plant and animal pests become important. That, however, is something we naturally have to deal with anyway. The same is true for diseases. New ones are constantly evolving and appearing and we are forced to deal with them in any case. Extreme and dangerous weather-related events? I am not sure this really follows from a warming climate. In any case, we already live in an extreme climate and dangerous weather events are moderately common. Building stronger infrastructure and homes and taking steps to protect ourselves is a good idea even without a changing climate.

 

Indications are that a homogenous temperature increase is unlikely. Most of the warming will likely be evident in winter and in nighttime temperatures. That would make the effects even less onerous in my part of the world. Of course, I am near the northern limits of the temperate zone. It is thought that more warming will occur toward the poles than at the equator, which makes the more extreme scenario more likely at this location. We are far above sea level so can suffer no direct effects from sea level rise.

 

That brings up the question of indirect effects. We are likely to suffer financially from higher taxes imposed for fighting climate change whether it is inevitable or not. They may increase the costs of heating or cooling our homes.

 

Consumer goods may become more expensive as manufacturing and transportation costs increase for the same reason. If agriculture is impacted negatively (arguably) then food costs could increase. Costs to protect the most vulnerable, from both climate change and government policy, could increase and will be passed on to the rest of us.

 

I have noticed that some alarmists make the unsupported claim that a temperature increase of 7 degrees would be unsurvivable for mankind. Certainly, it would require some adaptation. Of course, there would be winners and losers. But unsurvivable, hardly. Life thrived at high temperatures after the K-T extinction and during the Eocene. Mankind has been around only about 2.5 million years but they survived the large changes throughout and after an ice age. We have especially thrived during the warm periods such as now. Right now we do well with seasonal changes, and even daily changes, far in excess of 7 degrees.

 

From a personal perspective, I find it difficult to be alarmed about global warming, even if it could proceed fast enough to have a significant effect on me or my children.

 

Remember that we are considering a change of 7 degrees by 2100. a far more likely scenario is a 1 to 3 degree rise by then. That is if warming actually continues for that long.

 

Everyone has a different situation and I would encourage everyone to make a similar analysis to this one. It may impact your long-term plans.