The pause explained …

As most of us are aware the world has failed to warm significantly in the past 17 years, during which time there has arisen an ever increasing gap between the predicted and observed temperatures. Various causes have been proposed for the pause. The House of Lords may have stumbled upon the explanation quite serendipitously. From the BBC …

A hereditary peer has asked the government if it takes into account flatulence caused by baked beans in its climate-change calculations.

Labour peer Viscount Simon, 73, raised concerns about the “smelly emissions” resulting from the UK’s unusually high consumption of baked beans.

Lord Simon said: “In a programme some months ago on the BBC it was stated that this country has the largest production of baked beans and the largest consumption of baked beans in the world.”

“Could the noble baroness say whether this affects the calculation of global warming by the government as a result of the smelly emission resulting there from?”

The Baroness foreshadowed a new Department of Flatulence in her answer …

“The noble lord of course does actually raise a very important point, which is we do need to moderate our behaviour.”

The BBC goes on to add …

A study last December suggested the total value of baked beans sold in the 2012 had fallen by £20.8m to £339.3m in the UK.

Which must have occasioned a significant decline in the UK emissions of greenhouse gases. If this trend were to be confirmed on a world-wide scale it might be a complete explanation for the pause.

And they called it science …

Karl Popper is generally regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy summarises his view of science thus, Popper …

 … repudiates induction and rejects the view that it is the characteristic method of scientific investigation and inference, substituting falsifiability in its place. It is easy, he argues, to obtain evidence in favour of virtually any theory, and he consequently holds that such ‘corroboration’, as he terms it, should count scientifically only if it is the positive result of a genuinely ‘risky’ prediction, which might conceivably have been false. For Popper, a theory is scientific only if it is refutable by a conceivable event. Every genuine test of a scientific theory, then, is logically an attempt to refute or to falsify it, and one genuine counter-instance falsifies the whole theory. In a critical sense, Popper’s theory of demarcation is based upon his perception of the logical asymmetry which holds between verification and falsification: it is logically impossible to conclusively verify a universal proposition by reference to experience (as Hume saw clearly), but a single counter-instance conclusively falsifies the corresponding universal law. In a word, an exception, far from ‘proving’ a rule, conclusively refutes it.

From that viewpoint a theory that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide will produce global warming can be tested by comparing global temperature with CO
levels. If CO
goes up and temperature does not then the theory is refuted.

It is a useful theory because it is a falsifiable theory. If it doesn’t hold true you don’t necessarily have to toss it in the bin. You can take it back to the drawing board and tinker with it and see if there is a related theory that better explains the facts. To be useful the new theory must also be capable of disproof. A theory, for example, that predicts that increasing CO
will produce temperature rise, temperature decrease, increased rainfall and drought is a tough one to falsify.

The University of Michigan brings us news of a study that will soon be published in the journal Global Change Biology. Be afraid, be very afraid because it is clear from the study that “scientists may be underestimating the impacts of climate change on animals and plants because much of the harm is hidden from view.

I will quote selectively, you may feel obliged to see if I have distorted the tale by reading the whole saga <HERE>.

Between 1978 and 2009, Finnish scientists used light traps at night to catch 388,779 moths from 456 species. Eighty of the most abundant species were then analyzed.

Hunter used a statistical technique called time series analysis to examine how various ecological forces, including climate, affected per capita population growth.

The study analyzed populations of 80 moth species and found that 90 percent of them were either stable or increasing throughout the study period, from 1978 to 2009.

There is an obvious conclusion to be drawn here and the authors thought of it …

On one level, the results can be viewed as a good news climate story: In the face of a rapid environmental change, these moths appear to be thriving, suggesting that they are more resilient than scientists had expected, Hunter said.

… and rejected it. In favour of …

The findings have implications that reach beyond moths in Lapland.

If unknown ecological forces are helping to counteract the harmful effects of climate change on these moths, it’s conceivable that a similar masking of impacts is happening elsewhere. If that’s the case, then scientists are likely underestimating the harmful effects of climate change on animals and plants, Hunter said.

And they called it science …

Rationally speaking …

Matt Ridley, the Rational Optimist, on the IPCC’s latest report …

AR5-WGII, is less frightening than its predecessor seven years ago.

The 2007 report was riddled with errors about Himalayan glaciers, the Amazon rain forest, African agriculture, water shortages and other matters, all of which erred in the direction of alarm …

… It puts the overall cost at less than 2% of GDP for a 2.5 degrees Centigrade  temperature increase during this century. This is vastly less than the much heralded prediction of Lord Stern, who said climate change would cost 5%-20% of world GDP in his influential 2006 report for the British government …

… it appears that in our efforts to combat warming we may have been taking the economic equivalent of chemotherapy for a cold.

The entire article can be found <HERE> and is well worth reading.

The Salamander effect …

Widespread rapid reductions in body size of adult salamanders in response to climate change.

Nicholas M. Caruso, Michael W. Sears, Dean C. Adams and Karen R. Lips.

From the abstract …

We compared historic and contemporary size measurements in 15 Plethodon species from 102 populations (9450 individuals) and found that six species exhibited significant reductions in body size over 55 years. Biophysical models, accounting for actual changes in moisture and air temperature over that period, showed a 7.1–7.9% increase in metabolic expenditure at three latitudes but showed no change in annual duration of activity. Reduced size was greatest at southern latitudes in regions experiencing the greatest drying and warming.

The biophysical model was a computer model of course which can be summarised thus …

To estimate activity, humid operative temperatures (Teh) were calculated for each minute of the day as:

display math              (1)
display math                                                  (2)

… otherwise known as the salamander equation ! Global warming = smaller salamanders.

The literature is far from unanimous on the effect of warming and drying on salamanders. If you would prefer them to get bigger try this paper instead …

Bruzgul J. E., Long W. & Hadly E. A. BMC Ecol., 5. 7 (2005).  Reported in Nature …

Fossil hunters in Yellowstone National Park have discovered an unusual way to record the effects of climate change. Specimens from the past 3,000 years suggest that salamanders have grown bigger as the climate has warmed, and may continue to change as temperatures rise and lakes dry up.

During development, tiger salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum) can metamorphose and head for land rather than staying in the water. And warmer climes have made salamanders on land outgrow their water-based relatives, says Elizabeth Hadly of Stanford University in California. Hadley and her colleagues examined almost 3,000 salamander vertebrae from the park’s Lamar Cave in Wyoming.

The difference is particularly pronounced in the warmest period of Yellowstone’s history, between 1,150 and 650 years ago, the researchers add. Hotter conditions allow for more abundant food and faster growth rates, they suspect, and such effects are expected to be less marked in the water, where temperature changes are smaller.

Global warming = bigger salamanders.

Let’s just say climate change = altered salamanders.

Physics and the art of global warming …

In 2007 the American Physical Society leant its august weight to the consensus thus …

The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring.

If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.

Some of its members were less than impressed. 160 members of the APS protested. Some prominent scientists like Nobel Prize winning Ivar Gievar (“Incontrovertible is not a scientific word. Nothing is incontrovertible in science“) and long-standing Professor Hal Lewis (” the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist)  resigned.

Under the APS rules such policy statements must be reviewed each half-decade. The review is underway. Perhaps with one eye on its membership and the other on the lookout for more climategates or Himalayan glaciers melting at impossible rates, the committee that it has set up is remarkably balanced, three climate modellers and three skeptical scientists. The proceedings are fairly transparent for instance the Workshop Framing Document can be read <HERE>.

It raises some excellent questions. For a moderately lengthy discussion read Tony Thomas.

A sample …

While the Global Mean Surface Temperature (GMST) rose strongly from 1980-98, it has shown no significant rise for the past 15 years…[The APS notes that neither the 4th nor 5th IPCC report modeling suggested any stasis would occur, and then asks] …

To what would you attribute the stasis?

If non-anthropogenic influences are strong enough to counteract the expected effects of increased CO2, why wouldn’t they be strong enough to sometimes enhance warming trends, and in so doing lead to an over-estimate of CO2 influence?

What are the implications of this stasis for confidence in the models and their projections?

What do you see as the likelihood of solar influences beyond TSI (total solar irradiance)? Is it coincidence that the stasis has occurred during the weakest solar cycle (ie sunspot activity) in about a century?

Some have suggested that the ‘missing heat’ is going into the deep ocean…

Are deep ocean observations sufficient in coverage and precision to bear on this hypothesis quantitatively?

Why would the heat sequestration have ‘turned on’ at the turn of this century?

What could make it ‘turn off’ and when might that occur?

Is there any mechanism that would allow the added heat in the deep ocean to reappear in the atmosphere?

IPCC suggests that the stasis can be attributed in part to ‘internal variability’. Yet climate models imply that a 15-year stasis is very rare and models cannot reproduce the observed Global Mean Surface Temperature even with the observed radiative forcing.

What is the definition of ‘internal variability’? Is it poorly defined initial conditions in the models or an intrinsically chaotic nature of the climate system? If the latter, what features of the climate system ARE predictable?

How would the models underestimate of internal variability impact detection and attribution?

How long must the stasis persist before there would be a firm declaration of a problem with the models? If that occurs, would the fix entail: A retuning of model parameters? A modification of ocean conditions? A re-examination of fundamental assumptions?

Searching questions are also posed regarding climate sensitivity, climate modelling, the unexpected increase in Antarctic sea ice and the scale of anthropogenic forcing.

The questions are excellent but it’s how they are answered that matters. If the APS finds that the science is not settled, that observations do not match the model projections, that the evidence is not incontrovertible then their support for the AGW hypothesis must be withdrawn. In that case they will be the first significant scientific body to step back onto the path of science.

It will then be safe for the flat earthers, headless chickens and climate deniers to come out of hiding without fear of being tried for criminal negligence.

The dope on climate change …

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 1.09.04 pm

  • 80 percent of all marijuana grown in the USA comes from California.
  • In 2013, California authorities seized 329 outdoor pot grow sites with: 1.2 million plants, 119,000lbs of trash, 17,000lbs of fertilizer, 40gal. of pesticides, 244 propane tanks, 61 car batteries, 89 illegal dams, and 81 miles of irrigation pipe.
  • During California’s growing season, outdoor grows consumed roughly 60 million gallons of water a day – 50% more than is used by all residents of San Francisco.
  • In California, indoor pot growing accounts for about 9% of household electricity use.
  • For every pound of pot grown indoors, 4600lbs of carbon dioxide goes into the atmosphere. California’s production equates to emissions of 3 million cars.
  • The energy needed to produce a single joint is enough to produce 18 pints of beer, and creates emissions comparable to burning a 100 watt light bulb for 25 hours.

Source – “Mother Jones” magazine.

Facts are not enough …

I cannot believe these people, are they intent on scuttling their own case?

In yet another own goal, and once again at the Conversation, which our taxes are paying for …

A colleague of mine recently received an invitation to a Climate Council event. The invitation featured this Tim Flannery quote: “An opinion is useless, what we need are more facts.”

My first thought was that my colleague was taking the piss. Tim Flannery is an experienced science communicator, but that phrase made my jaw drop. It was apparently meant in earnest, but it’s wildly off the mark.

The quote is ludicrously, appallingly, almost dangerously naïve. It epitomises the reasons we are still “debating” climate science and being overwhelmed by climate skeptics/deniers/contrarians in the public space.    Rod Lamberts, Deputy Director, Australian National Centre for Public Awareness of Science at Australian National University.

One of the traps folk are prone to fall into is to think of those that do not share our opinions as a homogenous other, and since they don’t share our opinions a stupid homogenous other.

What on earth is a climate denier? The climate is a fact of life … no one denies it. Climate change is quite another thing … and again climate change is a fact of life, no one with any brain denies that, the geologic record is rich in evidence that climate changes. Anthropogenic global warming? OK, now we have a debate.

A recent study of the skeptics in that debate finds them to be well educated, engaged and well informed, most have tertiary qualifications. They are well aware that an there is an inconvenient difference between the warmist predictions and the measured temperature. Aware too that the earth has been warming since the little ice age and aware that along the way there have been several periods where the rate of warming matched that of the late 20th century …


Also aware that there has now been no significant warming in 17 years despite an increase in atmospheric CO2. There is, in fact, no convincing evidence that the climate is doing anything different from its previous behaviour at all, temperature may continue to trend up or even down. There is a considerable amount of evidence that up will provide a net benefit to human productivity and it is abundantly clear that previous down turns in temperature have been rather bad for civilisation. Nonetheless the Deputy Director argues …

The fact is that the time for fact-based arguments is over.

We all know what the overwhelmingly vast majority of climate science is telling us. I’m not going to regurgitate the details here, in part because the facts are available everywhere, but more importantly, because this tactic is a core reason why climate messages often don’t resonate or penetrate.

and a little bit of circular reasoning …

How much more evidence do you need than the singular failure of scientific facts to convince deniers that humans are buggering up the climate?

… leads inexorably to the Orwellian conclusion …

What we need now is to become comfortable with the idea that the ends will justify the means. We actually need more opinions, appearing more often and expressed more noisily than ever before.

No, Rodney, the debate is going against you because the opinions you express are derived from computer models that are delivering predictions that simply do not match the facts. Shouting at me will not re-educate me.