Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Climate Denial Industry?

George Monbiot, a Warmie apologist/journalist of the first order, seemed recently to have his religious faith in anthropogenic global warming rocked by the huge scientific scandal in this very field, as evidenced by the e-mails and other documents released from Hadley CRU before Thanksgiving. He still sees clearly the damage those documents have done and what the climate "scientists" need to do to begin to regain their credibility (and take the challenge quotes off their job description). Yet he seems not to have lost his religion and indeed now sees and rails against things that do not exist.

Don't believe me? Read this. Money quote:

The second observation is the tendency of those who don't give a fig about science to maximize their [the leaked documents'] importance. The denial industry, which has no interest in establishing the truth about global warming, insists that these emails, which concern three or four scientists and just one or two lines of evidence, destroy the entire canon of climate science.

Clear thinking Monbiot has just stated that what the climate scientists were doing, as revealed by the leaked documents, was anathema to science, but it is the deniers who don't give a fig about science. I see. I get the picture. But if we really loved science and hated, as Monbiot claims to hate, what the bad climate "scientists" did, would our opinions be any different?

Then there is the bombshell that a denial industry exists. Monbiot later gives some examples, which I will discuss in detail over the rest of the week. An industry! And it is a corrupt industry which has no interest in establishing the truth about global warming. Wow! An evil, corrupt industry which is interested in lying about the climate for money. The swifter of my readers will be thinking projection as the psychological malady from which Mr. Monbiot suffers.

Let's look at his strawmen arguments. He writes that even if you discounted all the things the leaked documents call into question, "the evidence for man-made global warming would be unequivocal." And what is his evidence of man-made global warming? "You can see it in the measured temperature record which goes back to 1850" (which is being reassessed because of the non science at the CRU revealed in the released documents) and in the real world evidence of warming (shrinking glaciers, thinning sea ice, wild animal and plant reaction (what?) and rapidly changing crop zones).

Of course these things are only evidence of global warming are not evidence of what caused it. Of course it has warmed and cooled since we entered, about 12,000 years ago, perhaps the 25th interglacial (which means it warmed and cooled a lot 24 times before, over the past few million years). But we know, from hundreds of peer reviewed articles in paleoclimatology over the past 35 years or so, that even recently, there have been warm periods, the latest of which, the Medieval Warm Period, lasted between around 850 to 1250 AD. The IPCC in 1990 published a graph which showed the overwhelming scientific consensus then that the Medieval Warm Period was WARMER than it is now.

If over the past few milennia it has been warmer than it is now, and those were at times when there was no industrialization nor any wholesale burning of fossil fuels, then why should be believe that this most recent warming is the result of industrialization and the wholesale burning of fossil fuels? Where's the evidence that this most recent warming is special, different...man-made? That's the central question for us deniers.

George Monbiot has an answer: No other explanation for these shifts makes sense. Oh well, case closed then. No, I kid, there's more--Monbiot says that solar cycles can't explain it as they are out of sync with the recent warming (I don't believe that--the sunspot numbers appear to be reaching a minimum of some sort just now and minimum sunspot numbers in the past have been associated with global cooling periods and indeed, over the past decade, despite a rise of 5.4% in global CO2 atmospheric concentration, it has, in fact, cooled).

Monbiot says that the performance of greenhouse gasses has been measured in the laboratories but we deniers assert that they do not have the same effect in the atmosphere. (I am aware of no serious denier making that claim, rather we hold them to their laboratory measurements (see graph) which say that for the doubling of atmospheric CO2, from the agreed upon pre-industrial concentration of 280 ppm to 560 ppm (which we have not achieved and will not for at least another 140 years) the temperature will rise between .4 and 1.6 degrees C by 2150 or so). Yet the Warmies claim a catastrophic temperature rise of 1.1 to 6.4 degrees C by the end of this century. And their proof is? Well, they have no proof, as that term doesn't apply to projections about the future. Why should we trust their projections then? Monbiot's ability to provide support, apparently, ran dry.

More later.



Just fo rthe record, do you deny the planet is getting warmer or just that that the cause of such warming is anthropomorphic?

I don't think the surface-based records are reliable, way too much poor siting and heat island effect, but it has warmed about a degree since the early 19th Century. I do think the anthropogenic CO2, about 80 ppm generated since then, has some effect on global temperature, but so little as to be literally unmeasurable.

Do you consider records from ice: satellite images of diminishing polar ice and measured shrinkage of glaciers, to be reliable indicators.

What about the shrinking sheep of St. Kilda and alterations of breeding patterns of birds?

I do consider satellite records of the yearly growth and melting of polar sea ice to be reliable, at least about the extent of the sea ice. The northern polar sea ice has indeed been shrinking--both the winter maximum and summer minimum are less lately than in the early 80s (but the 2009 summer minimum rebounded nearly 25% from the lowest low in 2007). The trouble is with the length of the record--it is so short. Perhaps there are 100 or 500 year natural cycles of growth and melting. We just don't know. Also, there has been a growth in the amount of sea ice in the southern polar regions. How's that square with global warming? If it's warmer, as it is since 1820, I would indeed expect glaciers and icefields to be melting and their faces retreating or moving more rapidly towards the sea, so yes the melting glaciers are reliable indices of warming (but short termed again and of course they don't tell us what is causing the warming, which I find to be the key question).
The wee sheep of Kilda is interesting, but like other animal behavior studies, once removed from the direct effect of climate change in that things other than the ambient temperature could be part of the reason for the change in behavior et al.

I thought that possibly the continental ice mass in Antarctica might be growing, but it seems that the sea ice shelves are fracturing.

There appears to be a divide between East and West Antarctica and the Antarctica peninsula seems to be a "hot spot" if that term applies to Antarctica. The tiny iceshelves along that peninsula, many of which are just hundreds or thousands of years old, are breaking off from time to time, but it often looks more like tidal forces than melting; and it has been going on all my life. Some Connecticut sized iceberg is breaking off and heading north since as long as I can remember. But the thickness of the ice fields, especially in East Antarctica, has been growing since 1959, just as the extent of the sea ice has been increasing since 1979. I can't look at those two facts and say warming. Can you?
For reference, increasing ice depth will increase glacial activity. As the glacial ice moves away from the center of the continent, it pushes the existing ice shelf further out from the coast. The result in other cases (Greenland, for instance), such movement causes increased iceberg calving.

I can't guarantee that such is the case in Antarctica, but I can't think of any reason why it wouldn't be.
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