More unfounded alarmism at Hot Topic

Science Daily reports a week ago that the Pine Island Glacier, in Antarctica, is thinning four times faster than it did ten years ago. Gareth Renowden at Hot Topic pounces on this news with an enthusiastic lack of scepticism and hastens to paint it as alarming, saying:

At this rate of thinning, the glacier could disappear in 100 years, instead of the 600 years earlier estimates had suggested.

Although that merely confirms the error in the previous estimate. To raise alarm, one should always quote facts, even out of context, so he says: Continue Reading →

What do we get, Dr Smith?

Update

The minister’s reply was received on 22 September. You can read it here.


Yesterday Nick Smith, Minister for Climate Change, told Parliament that our citizens must “contribute” a “significant” amount towards the government’s climate change targets.

He thinks they should give about $30 per week per family. We agree that is “significant”. Barry Brill, former National Energy Minister, who prompted Rodney Hide’s question to the minister, asserted it will be more like $112 per week.

Now that’s more like political suicide. Incredible! Continue Reading →

Drop conspiracy talk, just look at your thermometer

The other day in the Herald, Mr Chris Barton took up the topic of global warming in an article headed “Climate debate adrift on rising tide of lunacy“.

With hardly a mention of the subject, Barton gets stuck into those who question the orthodox view of the subject. He tries various techniques to get the opposition to shut up; in fact, he tries everything except actually, well, listening to them.

He gets a bit confused, too. At one point he says, of the “madness” of the climate change debate, “there is a lot of it about”. But later he’s forgotten that and, trying to mis-characterise the strength of the opposition, he says “Like the rest of the world we have a small but very vocal group spreading their stupidity”.

He picks up on a typographical error by a correspondent and makes merry with the new word as though it represents a marvellous new insight. But it’s just old-fashioned stupidity.

This is a professional journalist who ought to support a vigorous debate for the good of the community, but instead he’s thinking up dirty tricks to silence a well-informed, well-meaning opposition. I’m ashamed of him.

If he wants to be taken seriously, he can address these questions: Why are global mean atmospheric temperatures falling as carbon dioxide rises? Why is the heat content of the oceans falling as carbon dioxide rises? What is the evidence that the temperature increases of the late 20th century were caused by carbon dioxide? What is the evidence that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide will result in dangerously higher temperatures? Is he happy to bring our productive systems into disarray and ruin our lovely environment with noisy, ugly windmills on the basis of climate models that are known to be wrong and without performing any cost-benefit analysis?

If Barton actually observes the climate and its history he will quickly discover for himself why we’re so doubtful that anything dangerous is about to happen. Perhaps then he will hear the shrill voices of alarm as we hear them: as dogs barking and fleas biting but nothing of consequence.

What else can be said to him? I tried this the next day: Continue Reading →

Wow, listen to that—and look who said it!

Eighty prominent physicists have called on the American Physical Society (APS), the nation’s leading physics organisation, to revise its policy statement on climate change.

This could be one of the most influential events of the year. Many scientists, researchers and professional bodies around the world are watching these events unfold. The century-old APS is the premier scholarly group in the U.S. dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of the knowledge of physics.

Oh, that a group of New Zealand scientists might challenge their masters as freely! Are free-thinking members of the Royal Society listening? Continue Reading →

Sea level raises funding hopes

A worrying story surfaced recently of yet another proclamation that global warming grows and grows. The headline was “Rate of Sea Level Rise Increasing“.

That’s scary, and it sounds like a new result, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t. It raises fears only as a means to raise funds.

It appeared at SciencePoles, the web site of the International Polar Foundation.

It said a new study in Nature announces that global mean sea-level change has increased from a few centimeters per century over recent millennia to a few tens of centimeters per century in recent decades. Moreover, quoting the abstract, they say: “This tenfold increase in the rate of rise can be attributed to climate change through the melting of land ice and the thermal expansion of ocean water.” The mere mention of “climate change” means it’s our fault, and it’s there to alarm us. Continue Reading →

White roofs might cool a city, but hardly the globe

Brian Rudman, in White roofs are good for society, in the Herald last Wednesday, dredges up Professor Steven Chu’s wacky idea from last May to paint our roofs white, reflect more sunlight and thus temper the severe global warming presently afflicting us.

Professor Chu, US Energy Secretary and Nobel-prize-winning physicist, said lightening roofs and roads in urban environments would offset the global warming effects of all the cars in the world for 11 years.

He doesn’t tell us how long everything must remain painted white to earn those 11 years, or how much we’d need to pay for all the paint.

We can tell him, however, that it wouldn’t make any difference to global warming, although it might reduce the urban heat island (UHI) effect.

How does the UHI work? Well, roads and buildings absorb heat from the sun more than trees or grasslands do. So, as a village becomes a town and the town grows into a city, adding more and more roads and buildings, average temperatures climb, especially at night. This happens in both hot places and cold places, it makes no difference; if you build a city, you raise the temperature.

But if more surfaces were light-coloured instead of dark, more sunlight would be reflected and downtown wouldn’t get so hot.

The trouble is, it’s just not enough to combat global warming. With only about 0.1% of the sun’s energy being reflected away even if every road and building in the whole world was painted white (which would be a miraculous feat of co-operation), we wouldn’t see any change in the global average temperature, which might go down by about 0.1°C.

So we’d pay trillions to keep our parts of the world painted and we wouldn’t see any result for it.

The irony of this proposal is that the US-managed global surface temperature record is contaminated by the UHI effects from urban weather stations all over the world, since so many of them are in towns and cities. Anthony Watts, at Watts Up With That, has gathered evidence of this and for years has been lobbying to have adjustments made to the dataset to remove the spurious UHI warming and see whether we really do have global warming.

There is strong evidence that if this was done most of the surface “warming” recorded over the last part of the 20th century would simply disappear.

How ironic that Rudman picks up on a solution incapable of solving a problem that doesn’t exist, but whose effect could be to remove evidence of the problem.

Uh, so it will solve global warming! White paint, anyone?

By the way, it’s important to remember that this solution only makes sense in low latitudes (closer to the equator), where cooling your building is sensible. In higher latitudes (closer to the poles), where it’s already colder, you must heat the building and you really want darker colours to warm it a bit and save that heating money. So you can’t really paint all the buildings white, only those in the warmer places. And you don’t want to paint the colder roads white, since they ice up more readily.

What a pity. It was such a good idea.

Take it away, take it away, we want it now

You can’t make this stuff up.

Some people are never satisfied, are they? Reuters reports that, after centuries of praying for a local glacier to stop growing, some Swiss villagers are now seeking an audience with Pope Benedict to get his blessing for prayers against the global warming that is causing it to recede.

In 1678, the inhabitants of the Alpine villages of Fieschertal and Fiesch made a formal vow to live virtuously and to pray against the growth of the Aletsch glacier, Europe’s longest, which had caused a lake to flood into their homes.

To reinforce their prayers, they started holding an annual procession in 1862, when the glacier reached its longest during the mini-ice age Europe suffered in the mid-19th century.

But the villagers now want to seek permission from Pope Benedict to change their vow as the glacier is melting fast due to climate change and have requested an audience with him.

“The residents of Fiesch and Fischertal hope that this will happen in September or October and are optimistic that the Holy Father will decide in their favor as he has repeatedly spoken out about climate change,” they said in a statement.

Switzerland’s glaciers shrank by 12 percent over the past decade, melting at their fastest rate due to rising temperatures and lighter snowfalls, a recent study showed.

Oh, a study? Who did it, what does it say? It’s not important enough to tell us, apparently.

It is surprising to hear that a slightly falling temperature has been melting the glacier. Those who know a little about glaciers and where their mass comes from will consider it much more likely that the reported “lighter snowfalls” are in fact responsible for its reduction in size.

It cannot have been higher air temperatures, since temperatures have been going down slightly. Reduced precipitation, on the other hand, will inevitably cause the glacier to slow down through being lighter.

It would be interesting to know if the “study” actually said that all of Switzerland’s glaciers shrank by 12 percent. Odd if they all suffered exactly the same reduction all at the same time. Switzerland’s a big place. Lots of different climate situations.

But who am I to dispute it? After all, they did a “study”. The big implication is that human activities are responsible for all the nice glaciers melting. How, precisely, do they link the melting to anthropogenic carbon dioxide? During a period of declining temperatures! They cannot.

It’s outrageous to imply it.

We should indeed lead on climate change

A letter sent to the NZ Herald. Hope they publish it.

Sir,

Your leader of August 7 headed Seize chance to lead way on climate change, on one level, is easy to support, but on different grounds, for those assumed in your leader are spurious. We must take a lead, indeed—let us be the first to examine the need to respond to climate change.

No matter how far we go along the path towards action, no matter how many people concur that action must be taken, even on marketing grounds, no matter how the arguments for action pluck at our heart strings, no matter that we all want to save the planet, yet if there are no grounds for action, it will be wasted: the taxpayers’ money wasted, the voters’ living spent.

At the risk of sounding repetitive—even a bit shrill, evidence of the catastrophe said to be building around us is yet to arrive, at the very time of decision when its presence is most important. Global air temperatures are recently level, even declining. Even the long-term trend in air temperature is within natural limits. Sea levels are rising no faster than they have for centuries, sea temperatures are not rising, sea ice levels are within normal limits and Tuvalu has still not been evacuated, though an oceanic incursion has been threatened since the 1980s. Glaciers are mentioned only when one is found with pieces conveniently missing; plenty are growing, but unreported. We’re yawning.

The only reason to believe future temperatures will be ruinous are computer models of the climate. But as everyone knows, they are driven in every decisive parameter by human knowledge and its imperfections, not by the climate. They do not deal properly with clouds, which by themselves are capable of overwhelming any temperature change attributed to carbon dioxide or the lack thereof. They do not deal properly with a list of things. They are not reality and they constitute no sort of evidence whatsoever.

So—what is the evidence? Not the propaganda—the evidence!

Regards,

Richard Treadgold
Convenor
Climate Conversation Group