Humans to blame for climate change. Yeah, right.

The Holy Bible

From the Independent, written by Steve Connor, Science Editor, and echoed uncritically by the NZ Herald yesterday, comes an amazing story of faith. It must be faith because it cannot be science — there are too many opinions and the facts are wrong.

With the original Independent headline advertising the ignorance the story is steeped in (Humans must be to blame for climate change, say scientists) the articles of faith are reiterated for the global warming multitudes.

Harken ye unto them, that ye stray not from the green and carbon-free path of righteousness, I say unto thee, even your sons and your grandsons, keep to these my commandments, yea, even unto the hundredth year from this day, when, verily, these green prophecies shall surely come to pass, but, the Lord says, not before then.

But it’s a message with no punch

First we hear the strong conclusion we are to take from the story to come:

Climate scientists have delivered a powerful riposte to their sceptical critics with a study that strengthens the case for saying global warming is largely the result of man-made emissions of greenhouse gases.

Hear how quickly, as you read that, the idea of a “powerful riposte” dissipates into thin air. So the study merely “strengthens the case” for saying global warming is “largely” the result of our emissions. Well, there’s nothing quite like confidence for persuading people, is there? But they’re not prepared to say this proves anything. This is a message with no punch.

A powerful riposte makes factual statements, like “every tonne of carbon dioxide you emit causes the temperature to rise by 5.8°C per week” or “every single SUV kills 18.5 pukeko per month” or “a house with no insulation creates the equivalent of 159 petrol tankers full of CO2 per day” or “the extra carbon dioxide caused by commuting in your private car instead of using the bus increases the growth rate of 15 nearby kauri trees by 3 metres per year each”.

This is no riposte, it descends to mumbling something like “you ought to throttle back some of your polluting engines, old chap, since the biosphere really is proving remarkably difficult to cool.”

Admission of ignorance not knowledge

Is that the best they can come up with? It doesn’t match their bold headline at all, what a let-down! Let’s see if their arguments improve.

The researchers found that no other possible natural phenomenon, such as volcanic eruptions or variations in the activity of the sun, could explain the significant warming of the planet over the past half century as recorded on every continent including Antarctica.

It is only when the warming effect of emitting millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from human activity is considered that it is possible to explain why global average temperatures have risen so significantly since the middle of the 20th century.

That’s certainly confident, but anyone can see it’s an admission of ignorance, not knowledge.

The researchers have observed a mild global warming during the late 20th Century. When they say “since the middle” of the century, they don’t mention that from about 1950 to about 1975 the temperature trend line is flat. That means it didn’t rise. The rise occurred after 1975.

They call the warming “significant” without telling us its magnitude. But we know it was only about 0.1°C per decade, about 0.25°C from 1975 to 2000, and it’s actually gone down again since then. If the rise was maintained, it would amount to about 1.0°C over a century, the same as the last hundred years — perfectly normal. So these scientists are being deliberately alarming by exaggerating the rise.

Cloudiness change of 1% could cause Little Ice Age

They mention the warming occurred on every continent, “including Antarctica”, but since they’ve already called it “global warming” we know that. It’s exactly what the term “global” means. You might like to know that NIWA tells us the global warming in the late 20th Century did not affect New Zealand. Our temperatures did not rise. Their graph proves it.

These scientists claim that they cannot imagine what caused this warming that they have exaggerated. This may be because they don’t know very much about the climate system.

Do they know, as Dr Roy Spencer has said, that a sustained change of only about 1% in cloud cover is enough to create a Medieval Warm Period or a Little Ice Age?

Do they know that water vapour, which the IPCC maintains will dangerously warm the earth, has been observed to considerably cool the earth in the tropics by forming clouds which move vast quantities of heat aloft and reflect the sunlight?

Two things are clear: not much is known about such cloud formation and it is capable of causing the warming our scientific team quickly ascribes to their oil-burning civilisation because they can’t think of anything else.

The Independent goes on:

The study updates a 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and has discovered several new elements of the global climate which have been influenced by humans, such as an increasing amount of water vapour evaporating from the warmer oceans into the atmosphere and a corresponding increase in the saltiness of the sea.

This is slippery. First, the study “updates” the IPCC’s AR4 (Fourth Assessment Report) of 2007 — but what does that mean? The AR4 hasn’t been reissued; this study is not connected in any way with the IPCC. I don’t know what this means. It’s misleading and aims to connect itself with the authority of the IPCC.

This is rubbish

Then we read “and has discovered” — which means we’ve left the AR4 behind, but we retain the flavour of it, so we might imagine that we’re reading it now. But we’re not fooled, are we? So they’re saying the study “has discovered several new elements of the global climate which have been influenced by humans …”

I can’t go on quoting that passage. It’s rubbish. No new elements of climate have been discovered. The salt content of the sea doesn’t affect the climate.

“There is an increasingly remote possibility that climate change is dominated by natural rather than anthropogenic [man-made] factors,” the scientists concluded in their study, published in the journal Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews of Climate Change.

That’s their conclusion. But no evidence has been given for it. It’s just an opinion.

Scientific observations based on temperature recordings on every continent, as well as thermometer readings on, in and above the oceans, leave “little room for doubt” that the earth is warming.

What are scientific observations “based on” temperature recordings? A “recording” is a scientific observation. The writer is functionally illiterate, certainly unpractised in thinking. But he mentions the temperature of the oceans. Why does he say they are warming?

Argos project

The Argos network of over 3300 drifting buoys, first started about seven years ago, constantly measure temperature, salinity and velocity in all oceans. What have they reported regarding temperature? I’m glad you asked.

Graph of ocean heat content since 2003

According to a paper by Craig Loehle, Ph.D., National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, Inc. (NCASI), ocean heat content data from 2003 to 2008 (4.5 years) were evaluated for trend. A trend plus periodic (annual cycle) model fit with R2 = 0.85. The linear component of the model showed a trend of -0.35 (~0.2) x 1022 Joules per year. The result is consistent with other data showing a lack of warming over the past few years.”

In other words, for the last four and a half years the oceans have shown significant cooling. There is, contrary to what this article says, substantial room for doubt that the earth is warming. Particularly from “thermometer readings on, in and above the oceans.”

What a mushroom: so many opinions, there’s not mushroom for truth. Where can they go from here?

Statistical chicanery

They try this:

trying to attribute a cause for this global warming is not possible unless man-made activity in the form of carbon dioxide emissions is taken into account, the scientists said.

Which doesn’t work. There exist other plausible explanations. This argumentum ad ignorantiam, or argument to ignorance, is a logical fallacy. When you don’t know the cause of the temperature increase, nominating a cause is meaningless because you’re acting from ignorance.

The review … found the “fingerprints” of human activity on many different aspects of climate change, including the overall warming of the Antarctic recently documented for the first time by other researchers.

The Antarctic warming was created by statistical chicanery, in effect “spreading” the warming of the Antarctic Peninsula (which projects 500 km beyond the Antarctic Circle into warmer waters) over the rest of the frozen continent. It is a spurious warming, torn apart by other scientists.

The mention of fingerprints sends our mind into a whorl …

But what fingerprints? What evidence links “many different aspects of climate change” with human activity? Most importantly — and this is where the Herald should have been our proxy interrogator — why is it they don’t tell us the evidence?

What planet is he measuring

There is no evidence, or they would have told us what it is. If there was actual evidence, they would have mentioned it ten times at least. In the first two paragraphs. We don’t believe this story.

“The observations cannot be explained by natural factors,” Dr Stott said. Since 1980, the Earth has warmed by about 0.5C and is now warming at a rate of about 0.16C per decade, with even higher rates at higher latitudes such as in the Arctic.

Global temperatures 1978–2009

Stott claims warming of 0.5°C over 30 years, which is 0.17°C per decade. This is wrong; it is too high. The graph of the UAH MSU lower troposphere temperatures shows warming from 1980 to Dec 2009 of about 0.2°C. It went a bit higher (more in 1998, the big El Nino), but came down again. What planet is he measuring?

In Dec 1980 the UAH anomaly was about +0.1°C; in Dec 2008 it was about +0.3°C. Stott is exaggerating the warming.

Dr Stott said, “What we see here are observations consistent with a warming world. This wealth of evidence we have now shows there is an increasingly remote possibility of climate change being dominated by natural factors rather than human factors.”

He’s leaving an escape hatch

He mentions evidence as if we’ve seen some. But even though he says there’s lots of evidence, he still can’t bring himself to say it proves humanity is harming the climate. He says only that it’s an increasing possibility.

It’s more accurate to say he won’t come right out and say it, because he has to leave himself an escape route. One day, he’ll be asked to account for his alarmism, his advocacy and his deception and he wants to be able to deny he ever said humanity was harming the climate. He’ll claim he only said it was a possibility. There are many scientists in the same position, trying to leave themselves a way out of the mess.

But now the story takes a bizarre turn.

He also said that more water vapour is evaporating into the atmosphere as a result of warmer oceans and this is driving the water cycle harder, causing wetter areas in northern latitudes such as Britain to get wetter and drier areas in tropical regions such as East Africa to get drier.

Remember that the Argos data shows cooling oceans, so there cannot have been more water vapour recently from warming oceans, but he claims a strange effect he calls “driving the water cycle harder”. Can anyone explain what he means? Notice that the Herald didn’t bother asking; their eyes were probably glazed over as they fought sleep.

Water vapour causes drying?

Increased water vapour might well lead to more precipitation, but he’s claiming that increased amounts of atmospheric water vapour cause more drying in areas already dry. What? We’ve heard recently how global warming causes cooling in places. Now water vapour causes drying? This article is beyond humorous — it’s stupid. The NZ Press Council would chew it up and spit it out.

Has the Herald done any checking on this creative piece of editorialising? It should not have been presented as journalism, for surely no journalist was involved. The Herald has, however, performed admirably, once again flying the pennants of the IPCC, NIWA and the vested interests anxious to launch the global warming juggernaut before the scam falls apart around them.

Dr Peter Stott is with the Met Office Hadley Centre and how he got his PhD is a complete mystery. The only excuse for this excursion into blatant advocacy would be that the Independent’s “Science Editor”, Steve Connor, made a complete hash of the story and misquoted the good doctor on almost everything he said.

The final paragraph, even if it’s misquoting him, we can at last agree with:

Asked whether climate sceptics would agree with the findings, Dr Stott said: “I just hope people look at the evidence of how the climate is changing in such a systematic way. I hope they make up their minds on the scientific evidence.”

Well, Pete, that’s just what we’ll do, then. We’ll take note of such evidence as:

  • cooling oceans
  • cooling atmosphere
  • water vapour thermostat (negative feedback, Spencer)
  • iris effect (negative feedback, Lindzen)

We’ll also take note there’s no evidence for:

  • runaway warming in the last 4500 million years
  • human causation of strong warming
  • carbon dioxide causing strong warming

That’s enough for me. I don’t believe in your new religion.

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2 Thoughts on “Humans to blame for climate change. Yeah, right.

  1. ray on 07/03/2010 at 9:58 pm said:

    excellent rebuttal Richard, your piece deserves wider dissemination

  2. Barry Brill on 13/03/2010 at 2:14 pm said:

    In her formal answer to the 3 written questions posed by Australian Senator Fielding in 2009, Climate Minister Penny Wong explained that the atmosphere had stopped warming because all the heat was going into the ocean:

    “Most of warming since 1960 (about 85 percent) has happened in the oceans. Thus, in terms of a single indicator of global warming, change in ocean heat content is the most appropriate.

    An analysis of a 42-year record of change in ocean heat content (from 1962 to 2003) shows that over half of the total increase during that period occurred in the last 10 years of the period (1993- 2003). That is, the rate of change of ocean heat content has risen sharply over the past 15 years. So,not only is the heat content of the oceans increasing, it is increasing faster”.

    Now, this is right at the core of the whole climate change debate. As Dr Trenberth said in a well-quoted email – “We can’t account for the missing [warming] and it’s a travesty that we can’t”.

    But Minister Wong thought she had found it. She says ocean heat was rocketing upwards until 2003, but you say it’s been pointing downwards since 2004. Who is right? Did the trend flip just as ARGOS were introduced? Or was there a problem with the old measurement methods?

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