Monthly Archives: May 2008

A Telling Statement

From the Daily Mail via Tom Nelson.  Note particularly the part in bold. 

The blueprint for the CO2 ‘scrubber’ raises
the prospect of a generation of machines which would help reduce the
billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere
by the use of fossil fuels….
 

The prototype, being built at a laboratory in Tucson, Arizona, by a company called Global Research Technologies, will cost about £100,000 and take about two years to construct. 

The
devices – each nearly the size of a shipping container – would have to
be produced in their millions to soak up human carbon emissions.

The idea is bound to be controversial, with environmentalists seeing
so-called technological solutions to global warming as undermining
attempts to promote greener lifestyles and industries.

Don’t you understand!?  We don’t care about CO2.  It is just a convenient cover for the socialist wealth reduction policies we really want.  If we found a way to produce wealth and energy without CO2, then we would have to find a new Trojan Horse issue.  That is why we oppose nuclear power, and will find something wrong with solar and wind power when they become economic.

Die Rich People, Die

Cross-posted from Coyote Blog

The Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) web site has an absolutely horrible kid’s game called "Planet Slayer."  In this game, kids answer lifestyle questions and the program tells them when they should die because they have used up their "fair share" of the world’s resources.  The less politically correct kids are, or the wealthier they are, the sooner they are told they should die.  Accepting the default, average choices in the games tells kids they should die when they are 9 years old.

Yeah, I know you think I am exaggerating.  Because this is likely to get pulled down soon, I will show you a series of screenshots from it.  Whether it gets pulled down or not, a major media company (with all of its famed multiple levels of editorial control) thought this was a good game for kids.  I actually delayed publishing this, because I wanted to make sure this was not some kind of hack or joke site.  But you can get there right from the ABC home page by clicking "science" in the top menu and clicking on the planet slayer game icon at the bottom of the science page.  I still wonder whether it’s a put on – it’s that bad.

Here is the landing page (click on any page to increase the size):

One

Yep, that little sign does indeed say "find out when you should die."  Here the game is explained:

Two

Here is the first question:

Three

With each question, if you choose any answer that might not indicate that you are a subsistence farmer in Africa living on a $1 a day, your pig gets fatter.  I really encourage you to check out the whole thing.  It is one politically correct litmus test after another.  My pig got slightly fatter, until I got to this one:

Four

Answering that you spend any more than $10,000 AUS (about a 1:1 conversion with US dollars), your pig will get really fat.  The wealthier you are, the more evil you are in a direct relationship.  It is a point I have made for a while:  global warming alarmists consider their preferred solution to environmental issues to be universal poverty. 

Five

There is me, really evil, because I earn a good living.  And, as we can see with this question, since I spend my money on ordinary stuff that I actually want, rather than where the authors would like me to spend it, I really suck.  When you hit the final button, you pig is actually exploded in a bloody mess  (yes, the red is blood).  As it turns out, I should have been strangled at birth:

Six

Hat tip to Watts Up With That.  Really, in some ways this is an awesome game.   Never have I seen such a pure combination of Marxist-style zero-sum economics with science-challenged warming alarmism.

I don’t think I need to bother refuting any of this.  If you are new to the site, you can find a basic refutation of zero-sum economics here and a series of resources on global warming, from a book to free Youtube videos, here.

The Missing Storms

Increasing cyclonic storms is one of the bogeymen most cited by global warming alarmists as a negative impact of warming.  The problem is, despite a world that is several tenths of a degree warmer than it was 30-40 years ago, no one can find any increasing trend in such storms:

We have written so much about the link between climate change and hurricanes (a.k.a., tropical cyclones, TCs) that we sometimes wonder if there could be anything new to report. No sooner than we have such a thought, yet another article on the subject appears in some leading scientific journal. A sentence in the abstract from this new article really caught our eye as we read “For the 1981/82 to 2005/06 TC seasons, there are no apparent trends in the total numbers and cyclone days of TCs, nor in numbers and cyclone days of severe TCs with minimum central pressure of 970 hPa or lower.”

This latest research gem appears in a recent issue of Geophysical Research Letters, and the work was conducted by a team of climatologists employed in Melbourne at the National Climate Centre of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Kuleshov et al. note that “Concern about the enhanced greenhouse effect affecting TC frequency and intensity has grown over recent decades. Recently, trends in global TC activity for the period 1970 to 2004 have been examined by Webster et al. [2005]. They concluded that no global trend has yet emerged in the total number of tropical storms and hurricanes.”…

Had these scientists found an increase in the total number of tropical cyclones in the Southern Hemisphere, they would need to hire press agents to handle the global coverage. Their work would be front page news all over the world, Time and Newsweek would be all over the story, and thousands of web pages would trumpet the results. However, they found no trends, or even downward trends, in total tropical cyclone frequency over a huge area of the planet – coverage at World Climate Report is about all they can expect.

There is one problem with this in my mind that makes the findings less powerful.  The problem is that the southern hemisphere really has not experienced much warming in the last 30 years, and the tropics have experienced no warming.  So perhaps this study does not say much for the link between warming and cyclonic activity.  But of course, if there has been no warming, who cares?

The Missing Heat

From Josh Willis, of the JPL, at Roger Pielke’s Blog:

we assume that all of the radiative imbalance at the top of the atmosphere goes toward warming the ocean (this is not exactly true of course, but we think it is correct to first order at these time scales).

This is a follow-up to Pielke’s discussion of ocean heat content as a better way to test for greenhouse warming, where he posited:

Heat, unlike temperature at a single level as used to construct a global average surface temperature trend, is a variable in physics that can be assessed at any time period (i.e. a snapshot) to diagnose the climate system heat content. Temperature  not only has a time lag, but a single level represents an insignificant amount of mass within the climate system.

It is greenhouse gas effects that might create a radiative imbalance at the top of the atmosphere.  Anyway, here is Willis’s results for ocean heat content.

Fig11  click to enlarge

Where’s the warming? 

More Carbon Trading Double Counting

From the Guardian:

Leading academics and watchdog groups allege that the UN’s main offset fund is being routinely abused by chemical, wind, gas and hydro companies who are claiming emission reduction credits for projects that should not qualify. The result is that no genuine pollution cuts are being made, undermining assurances by the UK government and others that carbon markets are dramatically reducing greenhouse gases, the researchers say.

The criticism centres on the UN’s clean development mechanism (CDM), an international system established by the Kyoto process that allows rich countries to meet emissions targets by funding clean energy projects in developing nations. Credits from the project are being bought by European companies and governments who are unable to meet their carbon reduction targets.

A working paper from two senior Stanford University academics examined more than 3,000 projects applying for or already granted up to $10bn of credits from the UN’s CDM funds over the next four years, and concluded that the majority should not be considered for assistance. "They would be built anyway," says David Victor, law professor at the Californian university. "It looks like between one and two thirds of all the total CDM offsets do not represent actual emission cuts." . . .

The Stanford paper, by Victor and his colleague Michael Wara, found that nearly every new hydro, wind and natural gas-fired plant expected to be built in China in the next four years is applying for CDM credits, even though it is Chinese policy to encourage these industries.

"Traders are finding ways of gaining credits that they would never have had before. You will never know accurately, but rich countries are clearly overpaying by a massive amount," said Victor.

A separate study published this week by US watchdog group International Rivers argues that nearly three quarters of all registered CDM projects were complete at the time of approval, suggesting that CDM money was not needed to finance them.

"It would seem clear that a project that is already built cannot need extra income in order to be built," said Patrick McCully, director of the thinktank in California. "Judging additionality has turned out to be unknowable and unworkable. It can never be proved definitively that if a developer or factory owner did not get offset income they would not build their project."

It’s not like this was not predictable or anything.

What Really Drives Weather Deaths?

While this may seem an odd statement, the main driver behind weather deaths is probably not weather:

For tornadoes, since peaking in the early decades of the 20th century, deaths declined by over 80% while death rates declined by 92% (based on 10-year moving averages for 1916-2006) . [See Figures 6 and 7.]

For other extreme events — lightning, floods and hurricanes – US deaths and death rates are also below their peak levels of a few decades ago. Their declines in annual mortality range from 62 to 80%, while mortality rates declined 75 to 95%.

Globally, mortality and mortality rates have declined by 95% or more since the 1920s. The largest improvements came from declines in mortality due to droughts and floods, which apparently were responsible for 93% of all deaths caused by extreme events during the 20th Century. For windstorms, which, at 6%, contributed most of the remaining fatalities, mortality rates are also lower today but there are no clear trends for mortality.

Deaths1

Imagine three regressions, each between the declining deaths above and some variable.  The first is against CO2 and/or temperature.  Many global warming alarmists argue that increasing temperatures leads to more severe weather and weather deaths, but clearly this is not even the right sign. 

The second variable is total severe weather events, which is a line that is relatively flat over time with a lot of noise.  Again, clearly this does not have much explanatory power. 

The third variable is global wealth and development, which is growing strongly.  I think the best correlation you would find is with this latter, or rather, with its inverse, which can be thought of as the reduction of poverty.  As people get wealthier, they are better able to either escape or survive severe weather events.

The reason I bring this up is because it is interesting to see the preferred solutions being offered for supposed man-made climate change.  All of these proposals, whether they admit it or not, sacrifice wealth and development for reductions in CO2.  They all reduce the one variable proven to decrease mortality from weather (ie welath) and substitute a focus on a variable (CO2) that has absolutely no explanatory power for the historical data, except perhaps in its inverse.

We All Know Warming Hurts Crops, Don’t We?

Via Tom Nelson, emphasis added:

In the Corn Belt, widespread frost was reported this morning across the Great Lakes region, including much of Wisconsin and Michigan. In isolated locations, hard freezes (temperatures at or below 28 degrees F) may have posed a threat to fruit crops—such as cherries—and emerged corn and soybeans. Elsewhere in the Midwest, crop development remains slow due to below-normal temperatures, while isolated showers dot areas west of the Mississippi River.

Phoenix Misses Record Low. Kindof. Sortof.

This morning, Phoenix hit 51F, just missing the record of 49F last set in 1965.  But as I mentioned in my previous post on the record high we hit (just four days ago!), the growth of the Phoenix urban heat island in the last 4 decades has a lot to do with how these records are set and not set. 

The Phoenix urban heat island has been measured many times, including by my son in a recent science project.  In that project we measured an urban warming of 8-10F around midnight vs. the outlying areas of the city.  We have not measured the daytime heat island effect, but others have, such that it is not hard to imagine that the record high set four days ago would not have been a record when the city was smaller.  Today, we can similarly argue that we could have easily had a record low last night, since we only missed by 2 degrees, had it not been for the heat island effect.  While 2 vs. 8-10 degrees seems compelling, we also had a lot of wind last night that tends to break up the urban heat island effect, so we can never be sure.

Politically Uncorrect Guide To Carbon Abatement

Many of the folks who are the strongest supporters of global warming theory could not actually explain the theory well if you put a gun to their head.  They became global warming believers not because they were compelled by the science, but because widespread acceptance of man-made catastrophic global warming theory seemed to give a boost to their pet policy proposals.  That is why socialists, anti-globalists, anti-capitalists, zero-population crusaders, limits-to-growth Malthusians and back to nature Rousseau-ists have all greedily latched onto the cause.

As a result, proposed solutions to global warming are sometimes an odd fit.  To this end, Wired has an interesting article that says, what if you really started from science, rather than activists pre-existing pet projects, to get to approaches for reducing CO2.  They get a very different list of approaches than one usually sees:

  • Live in Cities:
    Urban Living Is Kinder to the Planet Than the Suburban Lifestyle

  • A/C Is OK:
    Air-Conditioning Actually Emits Less CO2 Than Heating

  • Organics Are Not the Answer:
    Surprise! Conventional Agriculture Can Be Easier on the Planet

  • Farm the Forests:
    Old-Growth Forests Can Actually Contribute to Global Warming

  • China Is the Solution:
    The People’s Republic Leads the Way in Alternative-Energy Hardware

  • Accept Genetic Engineering:
    Superefficient Frankencrops Could Put a Real Dent in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

  • Carbon Trading Doesn’t Work:
    Carbon Credits Were a Great Idea, But the Benefits Are Illusory

  • Embrace Nuclear Power:
    Face It. Nukes Are the Most Climate-Friendly Industrial-Scale Form of Energy

  • Used Cars — Not Hybrids:
    Don’t Buy That New Prius! Test-Drive a Used Car Instead

  • Prepare for the Worst:
    Climate Change Is Inevitable. Get Used to It

The fourth point is one that I have made myself, that if you really care about carbon sequestration, what you want to do is cut down old growth trees, which are sequestering little incremental new carbon, bury them deep, and plant lots of new, fast-growing trees.  Now, there may be good reasons not to do this for other reasons, but we should adopt a clarity about carbon processes that is unfiltered by pre-existing notions.

Testing the IPCC Climate Forecasts

Of late, there has been a lot of discussion about the validity of the IPCC warming forecasts because global temperatures, particularly when measured by anyone but the GISS, have been flat to declining and have in any case been well under the IPCC median projections. 

There has been a lot of debate about the use of various statistical tests, and how far and for how long temperatures need to run well below the forecast line before the forecasts can be considered to be invalid.  Beyond the statistical arguments, part of the discussion has been about the actual physical properties of the system (is there a time delay?  is heat being stored somewhere?)  Part of the discussion has been just silly  (IPCC defenders have claimed the forecasts had really, really big error bars, such that they can argue the forecasts are still valid while at the same time calling into question their utility).

Roger Pielke offers an alternative approach to validating these forecasts.  For quite a while, he has argued that measuring the changes in ocean heat content is a better way to look for a warming signal than to try to look at a global surface temperature anomaly.  He argues:

Heat, unlike temperature at a single level as used to construct a global average surface temperature trend, is a variable in physics that can be assessed at any time period (i.e. a snapshot) to diagnose the climate system heat content. Temperature  not only has a time lag, but a single level represents an insignificant amount of mass within the climate system.

What he finds is a hell of a lot of missing heat.  In fact, he finds virtually none of the heat that should have been added over the last four years if IPCC estimates of forcing due to CO2 are correct.

Phoenix Sets Temperature Record. Kindof. Sortof.

Yesterday, Phoenix set a new temperature record of 110F for May 19, exceeding the old record of 105F but well short of the May record (set in 1910) of 114F.

Temp2

The media of course wants to blame it on CO2, but, if one really wants to assign a cause other than just normal random variation, it would be more correct to blame "pavement."  My son and I ran a series of urban heat island tests in Phoenix, and found evening temperatures at the official temperature measurement point in the center of town (at the airport) to be 8-10F higher than the outlying areas.  The daytime UHI effect is probably less, but could easily be 5F or higher.  As further evidence, a small town just outside of the Phoenix urban heat island, called Sacaton, was well short of any temperature records yesterday (Sacaton was the end point of our second, southerly, UHI temperature run).

Temp3

Here, by the way, is the site survey my son and I conducted on the Sacaton temperature measurement station.  Bruce Hall has a great analysis demonstrating that, contrary to what one might expect, we have actually been setting fewer new state temperature records than we have in the past.

Victory of Ignorance

Well, I guess we all expected it, but it is no less galling to see polar bears listed by the US Government as a threatened species.  This despite rising polar bear populations and no evidence that a smaller Arctic ice cap will have a negative effect on the bears.   This is, even by admission of its supporters, mainly intended as an open license to sue any one or group over anything that has any element of economic growth.  Freeway projects in Arizona, power plants in Florida, desperately needed new refineries in Texas, oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and even a new shopping mall in California can now be held up in court as a danger to polar bears.

Here are a few reactions.  From my Princeton classmate Henry Payne:

Once again, my profession — journalism — failed its fundamental duty to report the facts Wednesday as the Interior Department bowed to political pressure from green groups to declare polar bears an threatened species due to global warming. This, despite the fact that bear populations have increased from 5,000–10,000 in the early 1970s to between 20,000 and 25,000 today (during the very period their habitat was allegedly shrinking). This is in part due to concentrated efforts to impose harvesting controls that have allowed this once-overhunted species to recover.

 

Indeed, Dr. Mitchell Taylor, a bear biologist with the Canadian government, wrote in 2006: “There is no need to panic. Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present.”

 

This data is readily available in the public record, and yet a review of reports from America’s two leading print sources found nary a mention. The Associated Press completely ignored the bear population data and any critics of the decision. As for The New York Times, reporter Felicity Barringer also ignored the data, but at least alluded to it by quoting M. Reed Hopper of the Pacific Legal Foundation (which is suing the Department of the Interior over the decision) at the very end of her article as saying: “Never before has a thriving species been listed nor should it be.”

From the Wall Street Journal:

Polar bears are not the fragile, vulnerable creatures of liberal iconography. They have thrived in the Arctic for thousands of years, both through periods when their sea-ice habitat was smaller, and larger, than it is now. They will continue to adapt – and the Endangered Species Act can’t make the slightest difference.

Such realities haven’t prevented green showboaters from claiming victory after the Bush Administration designated the polar bear as a "threatened" species yesterday. And it is a kind of victory, though the ruling itself is mostly symbolic – at least for now. However, this is really the triumph of bad legislation over the democratic process.

From the SPPI via Q&O:

Although two polar bear subpopulations (Western Hudson Bay and Southern Beaufort Sea) no longer appear to be viable due to reduction in sea ice habitat, polar bears as a species do not appear to be threatened by extinction in the foreseeable future from either a demographic or an ecological perspective.

[...]

Current and historical polar bear subpopulation performance demonstrates that viable polar bear subpopulations have persisted and generally increased throughout the current period of climate warming …

The popular notion that polar bears are declining or already expatriated worldwide has been initiated and perpetuated by environmental organizations and individuals who apparently believe that current subpopulation numbers and trends are an insufficient basis for an appropriate status determination. … Anecdotal information, although useful and interesting, is not equivalent to scientific information based on valid statistical analysis of sample data.

From TJIC:

Let’s just all ignore the Canadian government study that showed that polar bear population is up over the last two decades.

Let’s also ignore the fact that arctic sea ice grew faster in 2008 than ever before : 58,000 square miles of sea ice per day, for 10 days straight.

“Because polar bears are vulnerable to this loss of habitat, they are, in my judgment, likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future – in this case 45 years,” Kempthorne said at a news conference in Washington.

So if short term, potentially random variations are taken as a trend, and if we extend that trend out half a century, then polar bears are “likely” to become endangered … and therefore they are declared endangered now

From Marc Sheppard:

Now consider this — taken but a miniscule regulatory step further, a family motoring about in an SUV in Texas could be cited not only for polluting under the Clean Air Act, but as their “pollution” has been regulated as a global warming contributor, they could be further fined under the Endangered Species Act for harming the protected polar bear.
Did I mention that penalties for such ESA transgressions can be a maximum fine of up to $50,000 or imprisonment for one year, or both — per violation?

Urban Heat Biases in Surface Temperature Measurement

One of my favorite bits of irony is that the primary defenders of using surface temperature measurement over space-based satellite measurements is … the Goddard Institute of Space Studies at NASA, and James Hansen (its director and friend-of-Al) in particular.  If find it amazing that people still want to use the GISS surface temperature numbers in preference to satellite figures, despite their proven biases and lack of consistent coverage.  But the GISS numbers give a higher number for warming (since they are biased upwards both by measurement biases and GISS-added adjustment factors) and that is what is important to global warming alarmists.  Its the "fake but accurate" meme brought to the realm of science.

But, since we do have to keep reminding people of the problems in surface temperature measurement, here is a study by Ren et al in 2008:

What was done
Noting that "a major divergence of views exists in the international climatological community on whether the urbanization effect still remains in the current global and regional average surface air temperature series," the authors employed a dataset obtained from 282 meteorological stations, including all of the ordinary and national basic and reference weather stations of north China, in order to determine the urbanization effect on surface air temperature trends of that part of the country over the period 1961-2000, dividing the stations into the following categories based on city size expressed in millions of people: rural (<0.05), small city (0.01-0.10), medium city (0.10-0.50), large city (0.50-1.00) and metropolis (>1.00).

What was learned
Ren et al. report that mean annual surface air temperature trends for the various station groups of north China over the 1961-2000 period — in degrees C per decade — were 0.18 (rural), 0.25 (small city), 0.28 (medium city), 0.34 (large city), 0.26 (metropolis), and 0.29 (national), which makes the urban-induced component of the warming trend equal to 0.07 (small city), 0.10 (medium city), 0.16 (large city), 0.08 (metropolis), and 0.11 (national), all of which results are significant at the 0.01 level.

This is a Plan?

This is from the Arizona Republic:

Two decades from now, Americans could get as much electricity from windmills as from nuclear-power plants, according to a government report that lays out a possible plan for wind-energy growth.

The report, a collaboration between Energy Department research labs and industry, concludes wind energy could generate 20 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2030, about the same share now produced by nuclear reactors. Wind energy today accounts for about 1 percent of the nation’s electricity.

To reach the 20 percent production level, wind turbines would have to produce 300,000 megawatts of power, compared to about 16,000 megawatts generated today. Such growth would envision more than 75,000 new wind turbines, many of them larger than those operating today. Turbines in offshore waters would produce about 54,000 megawatts.

I am sure we also could have 3 billion hamsters on little wheels hooked up to generators.  Or we could fill, as Al Gore wants, 5 million acres of Arizona desert with solar panels.  Of course I calculated the latter plan to cost about 20 trillion dollars.

Just because the megawatt numbers add up to some target, does not make it a feasible plan.  The cost per megawatt needs to be balanced against other potential sources of power, and technological deficiencies (e.g. no solar at night, no wind power when there is no wind) also need to be addressed. 

Global Warming Reduces Tornadoes

In a recent story on global warming, ABC claimed that tornado frequency this year is running nearly twice that of last year and that this can be linked to global warming.   (HT Maggies Farm) Now, I would have tended to argue that year-over-year variations are probably not related to multi-decadal climate trends, but if ABC wants to so argue, I will go with it.

The only problem is that the first five months of 2008 have been the coolest since 1993 and has run well below the average temperature for the period from 1978-1990.   This while 2007 was one of the warmer Jan-May periods in recent memory.  In fact, average US temperatures were about a degree Celsius cooler in 2008 than in 2007:

UAH MSU temperature for USA (average anomaly)

Jan-May 2007:  .668 C

Jan-Apr 2008:  -.228 C

Difference:  .896 C

So, if one wants to posit that tornado variation in 2008 is a result of a long-term climate trend rather than natural variability, then one must assume that global cooling causes tornadoes to increase, and that in fact global warming would benefit mankind by decreasing tornado frequency.

The whole history of the global warming causes tornadoes claim is one of grossly bad science, most famously including Al Gore’s claim in that movie of his.  I debunked that claim here, demonstrating that the increase in measured tornadoes is a function solely of better measurement, not more tornadoes, something the NOAA has been careful to state as well.

HIstoric Cyclones

From the Weather Underground, via Planet Gore.  Please forward this to Al so he can stop embarassing himself.  The twenty deadliest cyclones (that we know about):

Rank: Name / Areas of Largest Loss: Year: Ocean Area: Deaths:
1 Great Bhola Cyclone, Bangladesh 1970 Bay of Bengal 550,000
2 Hooghly River Cyclone, India and Bangladesh 1737 Bay of Bengal 350,000
3 Haiphong Typhoon, Vietnam 1881 West Pacific 300,000
3 Coringa, India 1839 Bay of Bengal 300,000
5 Backerganj Cyclone, Bangladesh 1584 Bay of Bengal 200,000
6 Great Backerganj Cyclone, Bangladesh 1876 Bay of Bengal 200,000
7 Chittagong, Bangladesh 1897 Bay of Bengal 175,000
8 Super Typhoon Nina, China 1975 West Pacific 171,000
9 Cyclone 02B, Bangladesh 1991 Bay of Bengal 140,000
10 Great Bombay Cyclone, India 1882 Arabian Sea 100,000
11 Hakata Bay Typhoon, Japan 1281 West Pacific 65,000
12 Calcutta, India 1864 Bay of Bengal 60,000
13 Swatlow, China 1922 West Pacific 60,000
14 Barisal, Bangladesh 1822 Bay of Bengal 50,000
15 Sunderbans coast, Bangladesh 1699 Bay of Bengal 50,000
16 Bengal Cyclone, Calcutta, India 1942 Bay of Bengal 40,000
17 Canton, China 1862 West Pacific 37,000
18 Backerganj (Barisal), Bangladesh 1767 Bay of Bengal 30,000
19 Barisal, Bangladesh 1831 Bay of Bengal 22,000
20 Great Hurricane, Lesser Antilles Islands 1780 Atlantic 22,000
21 Devi Taluk, SE India 1977 Bay of Bengal 20,000
21 Great Coringa Cyclone, India 1789 Bay of Bengal 20,000

Oddly uncorrelated with atmospheric temperature or CO2, huh?  In fact, three of the four most recent occured in the seventies, a time known for its cooling.  Two of the top five occured around the period of the little ice age.

What is normal?  One other thought.  I have often asked, vis a vis climate, the question "What is Normal?"  Because of the quality of observation by sattelites, we tend to define normal by what we have observed since about 1979, when the first satellites began gathering relevent global climate data.  For example, when news stories last year said the Arctic sea ice was at "an all time low," they actually meant the lowest point since satellites began observing the ice c.1979.  "All time" meant the last 30 years.  Note that only one of these 22 storms occured in the last 30 years.  By defining "normal" as the last 30 years, we would in this case miss over 95% of the severest storms.  Even defining "noral" as the time since 1900 would cause us to miss 7 of the top 10 storms.

Spot the correlation:  Do you see a correlation in this list?  How about with poverty?  When cyclones hit US low-lying coastal areas and drive flooding up river valleys and deltas (think Katrina) we get a few hundred or at most a couple of thousand deaths, at most.   A tragedy for sure, but Katrina did not even kill 10% of the people killed by the bottom storm on this list.  What is the difference?  Poverty.  From this data table, which option makes more sense:

  1. Reduce CO2 and perhaps ocean temperatures by a few tenths of a degree, in the process limiting economic growth and increasing poverty.
  2. Burn all the fossil fuels we can on the path to helping people in Bangladesh and China and India become wealthier.

I am sure I know which would save more lives.

Where did that Warming Go?

Though not particularly relevent to discussion one way or the other about long-term warming trends, world temperatures in April appear to again be relatively cool.  More intresting is the satellite-measured temperature trend for the last decade, which looks pretty flat (and this before shift of the PDO to its cool phase, probably this year).

Rssmsumonthlyanomzoom_042008

Global warming theory as reported by the last IPCC predicted that the most warming was predicted for the middle troposphere over the tropics.  Its hard to see any warming in this region even over the last 30 years.  With no apparent warming in the sourthern hemisphere, "global" warming seems to be limited in the last 30 years to the Northen Hemisphere outside the tropics, and even this warming has stopped over the last 10 years.

The Zen and the Art of Surface Temperature Measurement

Readers of this blog will be familiar with the many problems of surface temperature measurement –  the measurement points are geographically spotty, of uneven quality, and are subject to a number of biases, the greatest of which is probably the encroachment of man-made urban environments on the measurement locations.  I have discussed these issues many places, including at the 1:00 minute mark of this video, in my book, and in posts here, here, and here.

I have not posted much of late on this topic, becuase I am not sure there is a lot of new news.  Satellites still make more sense than surface measurement, and the GISS still is working to tweak its numbers to show more and more warming, and Anthony Watts still finds a lot of bad measurement points.

In the last week, though, the story seems to be getting out further than just the online skeptic’s community.  Steven Goddard has a good article in the UK Register online.  I don’t think any of the issues he covers will be new to our readers, but it is a decent summary.  He focuses in particular on the GISS restatements of history:

One clue we can see is that NASA has been reworking recent temperatures upwards and older temperatures downwards – which creates a greater slope and the appearance of warming. Canadian statistician Steve McIntyre has been tracking the changes closely on his Climate Audit site, and reports that NASA is Rewriting History, Time and Time Again. The recent changes can be seen by comparing the NASA 1999 and 2007 US temperature graphs. Below is the 1999 version, and below that is the reworked 2007 version.

US temperatures: NASA's 1999 version

NASA’s original data: 1999

US temperatures: NASA's 2007 version

NASA’s reworked data: 2007

This restatement is particularly hard to justify as direct inspection of the temperature measurement points reveals growing urban heat biases, which should imply, if anything, adjustments up in the past and/or down in the present, exactly opposite of the GISS work.  I have written a number of letters and inquiries asking the GISS what systematic bias they are finding/assuming that biased measurements upwards in rural times but downwards in urban times, but I have never gotten a response, nor seen one anywhere online.

HT:  Anthony Watts

Update:  Similar article here

"Particularly troubling are the years from 1986-1998. In the 2007 version of the graph, the 1986 data was adjusted upwards by 0.4 degrees relative to the 1999 graph. In fact, every year except one from 1986-1998 was adjusted upwards, by an average of 0.2 degrees. If someone wanted to present a case for a lot of recent warming, adjusting data upwards would be an excellent way to do it.

Solar Panel County

Via Tom Nelson and Schlotzville, comes this from our modern day Savonarola, Al Gore:

Gore mentioned a few statistics that drove home the notion that we actually have the capability to be oil free with existing technology. If, he said, we were to build on a 90 mile x 90 mile tract of land in the Southwest a field of solar panels, we would have enough electricity to power the entire United States. So, why don’t we build it? What is stopping us?

Its kind of cool to think about – I always get excited about man-made structures you can see from space.  When I think about this, my mind keeps jumping to the Sunflower fields in Larry Niven’s Ringworld.

So, is this feasible?  Well, I was suspicious, since I live in one of the best solar sites in the world (Phoenix) and could not even come close to making solar pay on my house, even with 50% subsidies. 

First, is it enough power?  Well, its turns out the answer is "sortof."  I looked around at solar panels, and decided to assume a 200 watt panel that was 13 sq ft and cost $900.  Actually, you can’t quite get that panel today.  You can get a 200 watt panel that is that cheap, but bigger, or you can have one that is that small and more expensive.  But you will see soon that it does not matter.  I assumed a third of the 8100 sq. miles would be dead space between the panels, roads, transformers, access paths, etc.  I assumed you put the installation in the best solar sites in the southwest, which yield on average about 6 peak-sun-hour-equivalents a day.  I assumed a 20% loss in conversions and transformers.

So 8100 sq miles  x  2/3  x  200 watt/12sq ft  x  6 hours x 365 days x 80%  (with necessary unit conversions thrown in) yields 4.08 billion Megawatt-Hours of electricity, which is about exactly our current US generating capacity.  (Way to go!  Al got a number right!)

I say sortof for the following reason:  This does not cover elimination of fossil fuels in the transportation sector.  And it does not address the problem of how you store this power at night, which of course is a catastrophic problem for the idea.

Al doesn’t know what is stopping us.  Well, other than the storage problem, one thing might be the cost.  Using the assumptions above, and assuming that installation costs (with land acquisition, transformers, inverters, roads, mounting, installation, etc) is as much again as the panel costs themselves, the total installation would cost just under $21 trillion dollars.  This is orders of magnitude more than a nuclear program of the same size would cost.  And presupposes the environmentalists would let you cover 5 million acres of desert with metal and silicon. 

Postscript:  Al Gore thinks its the oil companies at fault (of course):

Well, he gave one possible answer – the oil companies. Apparently, according to Gore, the oil companies drive up prices reducing supply and then depress them in a telling pattern. As soon as the political will swells to a light boil, the companies reduce prices/increase supply. And we, really the pols that be, fall for it all the time and the political will it is vanquished

LOL.  Environmentalists have one card to play – its the oil companies fault! – and they are going to play it every chance they can.  Of course, the boom-bust patterns in oil are characteristic of nearly every other commodity out there, which therefore presupposes that if oil prices are the result of manipulation, then every other commodity must be as well since their prices demonstrate the same patterns.  We see these patterns in commodities that politicians have never even heard of and in which they have never thought to exercise their "political will."  (political will in this context defined as use of government force against a segment of the populace).

A reasonable person might suppose that the surge in prices followed by a drop a number of years later is better explained by the time delay in increasing oil production after oil prices spike. In many ways, Al’s theory is simply delusional.  If your friend started trying to tell you, in all seriousness, that every action Microsoft takes is actually aimed at thwarting him personally, you would think him insane.  But this is effectively Gore’s argument, showing the immensity of the politician’s ego.  Oil prices move not because of supply and demand, but because of us politicians.  Every tick up and down is carefully managed to thwart us brave Congressmen!

I had a long post here on why conspiracy and manipulation can’t possibly drive oil prices but for the shortest possible periods.

Update:  Here is my spreadsheet if anyone thinks I made an error in the numbs.  Download solar.xls