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CCNet 05/09/14

Global Temperature Drops Below IPCC Projection Range 

Antarctic Sea Ice Sets New Record 


 
 
The pause in surface temperature warming has sparked a new phase of research in the climate sciences. Among other effects, it invalidated several high profile forecasts. The flattish trend of global surface temperatures during the pause has fallen below the lower bound of the projections used by the IPCC.  --Fabius Maximus, 4 September 2014

 
Watanabe, Nature Climate Change, 2014
 
Events prove some scientists right, and some wrong. Sometimes the right ones were in the minority. --Fabius Maximus, 4 September 2014
 
 
Antarctic sea ice extent continued to set new records in August, finishing the month at 19.154 million sq km, beating the record set last year by 87,000 sq km. --Paul Homewood, Not A Lot Of People Know That, 1 September 2014

 
 image
 

First the climate-research establishment denied that a pause existed, noting that if there was a pause, it would invalidate their theories. Now they say there is a pause (or “hiatus”), but that it doesn’t after all invalidate their theories. --Matt Ridley, The Wall Street Journal, 5 September 2014
 
 
 
Leaders from China, India and Germany have already announced that they won’t attend the UN climate summit in New York and others are likely to follow, leaving President Obama looking a bit lonely. Could it be that they no longer regard it as an urgent threat that some time later in this century the air may get a bit warmer? In effect, this is all that’s left of the global-warming emergency the U.N. declared in its first report on the subject in 1990. --Matt Ridley, The Wall Street Journal, 5 September 2014
 
 
 
All that the global warming scare accomplished was to make people pay with their pocketbooks and to increase wars, terrorism and global insecurity. --Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post, 5 September 2014
 

 
Who do you think said the following: “I always regret it when knowledge becomes controversial. It’s clearly a bad thing, for knowledge to be controversial.” A severe man of the cloth, perhaps, keen to erect a forcefield around his way of thinking? A censorious academic rankled when anyone criticises his work? Actually, it was Brian Cox, Britain’s best-known scientist and the BBC’s go-to guy for wide-eyed documentaries about space. Yes, terrifyingly, this nation’s most recognisable scientist thinks it is a bad thing when knowledge becomes the subject of controversy, which is the opposite of what every man of reason in modern times has said about knowledge. -- Brendan O'Neill, The Daily Telegraph, 4 September 2014
 
 
 
1) Global Temperature Drops Below IPCC Projection Range - Fabius Maximus, 4 September 2014
 
2) Antarctic Sea Ice Sets New Record - Not A Lot Of People Know That, 1 September 2014
 
3) Matt Ridley: Whatever Happened To Global Warming? - The Wall Street Journal, 5 September 2014
 
4) Lawrence Solomon: How Global Warming Policies Have Led To Global Insecurity - Financial Post, 5 September 2014
 
5) Brendan O'Neill: Brian Cox Is Wrong On Science & Climate Controversies - The Daily Telegraph, 4 September 2014
 
 
 
 
1) Global Temperature Drops Below IPCC Projection Range
Fabius Maximus, 4 September 2014 

Summary: The climate science debate not only holds answers vital to our future, but allows us to learn from this demonstration of science in motion. Unfortunately activists on both Left and Right have gained control of the public debate, neither interested in the science except to advance their political goals. Here we look at the exciting developments on the cutting edge of the climate sciences.
 
The essence of science is trial and error, as described by biologist Lewis Thomas in his wonderful essay “To Err is Human”. Scientists form theories and make conjectures. True or false, science either way.  That’s what provides much of its excitement. We see this today in the climate sciences, although journalists too often conceal it from us, preferring the myth of “the science is settled” (now shown to be absurd)..
 
The pause in surface temperature warming has sparked a new phase of research in the climate sciences. Among other effects, it invalidated several high profile forecasts. Some were informal predictions, such as this by Dr David Viner of the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, quoted in The Independent, 20 March 2000:
 
[W]ithin a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”. “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is.”
 
Or this, more formal, from the NASA press release “Arctic Meltdown“, 27 February 2001:
 
… in 10 years’ time, if melting patterns change as predicted, the North-West Passage could be open to ordinary shipping for a month each summer. These predictions come in a recently declassified report of a meeting of American, British and Canadian Arctic and naval experts in April last year, organised by Dennis Conlon of the US Office of Naval Research in Arlington, Virginia. Entitled “Naval Operations in an Ice-Free Arctic” …
 
Peter Wadhams of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge agrees that the Arctic could soon open up. “Within a decade we can expect regular summer trade there,” he predicts.
 
Some projections are both formal and important. The flattish trend of global surface temperatures during the pause has fallen below the lower bound of the projections used by the IPCC (strictly speaking, not predictions).  See the below updated version of Figure 10.1 from the IPCCC’s AR5 WGI from “Contribution of natural decadal variability to global warming acceleration and hiatus“, Masahiro Watanabe et al,Nature Climate Change, in press.

The grey shaded area shows projections from CMIP5 (a set of model outputs from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5, used in the IPCC’s AR5). The black line is actual global surface temperature (from the UK’s HadCRUT data).

 
Watanabe, Nature Climate Change, 2014 
Annual-mean time series relative to 1961–1990 mean derived from observations (black), ASYM-H (red) and ASYM-C (blue) experiments. Shading represents ranges of 95% confidence. Watanabe et al, Nature Climate Change 2014
 
It’s a small gap, but might grow to become serious if the pause lasts for years — or even decades (as some forecast). The pause gives us some time to prepare for future climate change — and take measures to reduce it. But we might squander this gift of time. Much depends on the possible political effects of the pause in global warming. […]
 
What’s next for the climate sciences?
 
The first round of debate was about the existence of the pause. Has there been a statistically significant change to the short-term warming trend? See the statements of scientists and some of their research here. That round has ended.
 
The second round was debate about the causes of the pause. It’s still running strong, with 11 broad causes identified. As yet there is no consensus on their interrelationships and relative importance. See some of the research here.
 
The third round has barely begun, giving estimates of the pause’s duration. This might prove to be the key question. See some of the research here.
 
Behind all of these is a larger debate about the reliability of the current generation of climate models (e.g. see this and this). That’s a question only time can answer.
 
These are high stakes debates, often petty or even vituperative (neither unusual in academia). Massive research funding, career success, public policy decisions, and perhaps the fate of the world depend on the results. As laypeople, we can just watch and learn. Let’s not treat it as a baseball game, cheering for “our” team.
 
Full post 
 

 
2) Antarctic Sea Ice Sets New Record
Not A Lot Of People Know That, 1 September 2014
 
Paul Homewood
 
Antarctic sea ice extent continued to set new records in August, finishing the month at 19.154 million sq km, beating the record set last year by 87,000 sq km.
It is worth noting that the climatological maximum, using a 1981-2010 baseline, is 18.581 million sq km, set on average on 22nd September. No year prior to 1998 set a maximum extent greater than the current level, and only seven years have had maximums higher than 19.154 million sq km.
 
Full post
 
 
 
3) Matt Ridley: Whatever Happened To Global Warming?
The Wall Street Journal, 5 September 2014
 
On Sept. 23 the United Nations will host a party for world leaders in New York to pledge urgent action against climate change. Yet leaders from China, India and Germany have already announced that they won’t attend the summit and others are likely to follow, leaving President Obama looking a bit lonely. Could it be that they no longer regard it as an urgent threat that some time later in this century the air may get a bit warmer?
 
In effect, this is all that’s left of the global-warming emergency the U.N. declared in its first report on the subject in 1990. The U.N. no longer claims that there will be dangerous or rapid climate change in the next two decades. Last September, between the second and final draft of its fifth assessment report, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change quietly downgraded the warming it expected in the 30 years following 1995, to about 0.5 degrees Celsius from 0.7 (or, in Fahrenheit, to about 0.9 degrees, from 1.3).
 
Even that is likely to be too high. The climate-research establishment has finally admitted openly what skeptic scientists have been saying for nearly a decade: Global warming has stopped since shortly before this century began.
 
First the climate-research establishment denied that a pause existed, noting that if there was a pause, it would invalidate their theories. Now they say there is a pause (or “hiatus”), but that it doesn’t after all invalidate their theories.
 
Alas, their explanations have made their predicament worse by implying that man-made climate change is so slow and tentative that it can be easily overwhelmed by natural variation in temperature—a possibility that they had previously all but ruled out.
 
When the climate scientist and geologist Bob Carter of James Cook University in Australia wrote an article in 2006 saying that there had been no global warming since 1998 according to the most widely used measure of average global air temperatures, there was an outcry. A year later, when David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London made the same point, the environmentalist and journalist Mark Lynas said in the New Statesman that Mr. Whitehouse was “wrong, completely wrong,” and was “deliberately, or otherwise, misleading the public.”
 
We know now that it was Mr. Lynas who was wrong. Two years before Mr. Whitehouse’s article, climate scientists were already admitting in emails among themselves that there had been no warming since the late 1990s. “The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998,” wrote Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia in Britain in 2005. He went on: “Okay it has but it is only seven years of data and it isn’t statistically significant.”
 
If the pause lasted 15 years, they conceded, then it would be so significant that it would invalidate the climate-change models upon which policy was being built. A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) written in 2008 made this clear: “The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more.”
 
Well, the pause has now lasted for 16, 19 or 26 years—depending on whether you choose the surface temperature record or one of two satellite records of the lower atmosphere. That’s according to a new statistical calculation by Ross McKitrick, a professor of economics at the University of Guelph in Canada.
 
It has been roughly two decades since there was a trend in temperature significantly different from zero. The burst of warming that preceded the millennium lasted about 20 years and was preceded by 30 years of slight cooling after 1940.
 
This has taken me by surprise. I was among those who thought the pause was a blip. As a “lukewarmer,” I’ve long thought that man-made carbon-dioxide emissions will raise global temperatures, but that this effect will not be amplified much by feedbacks from extra water vapor and clouds, so the world will probably be only a bit more than one degree Celsius warmer in 2100 than today. By contrast, the assumption built into the average climate model is that water-vapor feedback will treble the effect of carbon dioxide.
 
But now I worry that I am exaggerating, rather than underplaying, the likely warming.
 
Most science journalists, who are strongly biased in favor of reporting alarming predictions, rather than neutral facts, chose to ignore the pause until very recently, when there were explanations available for it. Nearly 40 different excuses for the pause have been advanced, including Chinese economic growth that supposedly pushed cooling sulfate particles into the air, the removal of ozone-eating chemicals, an excess of volcanic emissions, and a slowdown in magnetic activity in the sun.

 
 
 
 
 
 
The favorite explanation earlier this year was that strong trade winds in the Pacific Ocean had been taking warmth from the air and sequestering it in the ocean. This was based on a few sketchy observations, suggesting a very tiny change in water temperature—a few hundredths of a degree—at depths of up to 200 meters.
 
Last month two scientists wrote in Science that they had instead found the explanation in natural fluctuations in currents in the Atlantic Ocean. For the last 30 years of the 20th century, Xianyao Chen and Ka-Kit Tung suggested, these currents had been boosting the warming by bringing heat to the surface, then for the past 15 years the currents had been counteracting it by taking heat down deep.
 
The warming in the last three decades of the 20th century, to quote the news release that accompanied their paper, “was roughly half due to global warming and half to the natural Atlantic Ocean cycle.” In other words, even the modest warming in the 1980s and 1990s—which never achieved the 0.3 degrees Celsius per decade necessary to satisfy the feedback-enhanced models that predict about three degrees of warming by the end of the century—had been exaggerated by natural causes. The man-made warming of the past 20 years has been so feeble that a shifting current in one ocean was enough to wipe it out altogether.
 
Putting the icing on the cake of good news, Xianyao Chen and Ka-Kit Tung think the Atlantic Ocean may continue to prevent any warming for the next two decades. So in their quest to explain the pause, scientists have made the future sound even less alarming than before. Let’s hope that the United Nations admits as much on day one of its coming jamboree and asks the delegates to pack up, go home and concentrate on more pressing global problems like war, terror, disease, poverty, habitat loss and the 1.3 billion people with no electricity.
 
Mr. Ridley is the author of “The Rational Optimist” (HarperCollins, 2010) and a member of the British House of Lords. He is a member of the GWPF’s Academic Advisory Council.
 
 
 
 
4) Lawrence Solomon: How Global Warming Policies Have Led To Global Insecurity
Financial Post, 5 September 2014
 
All that the global warming scare accomplished was to make people pay with their pocketbooks and to increase wars, terrorism and global insecurity.
 
Global warming policies abet terrorism and global insecurity. If Western governments weren’t spooked by global warming, ISIS would be less of a threat to the West, the Middle East would be less of a cauldron of hate, Europe wouldn’t be held hostage by Russia and China wouldn’t be threatening its neighbours over islands in the South and East China Seas.
 
Over the last two decades, global warming activists succeeded in slowing the development of the oil sands, blocking major pipelines like Keystone XL, phasing out coal plants and banning shale gas and oil projects. Without their activism, the Western world would have years ago not only become self-sufficient in fossil fuels, it would have become an exporter. Even with the roadblocks, the U.S. managed a miraculous transformation — once the world’s largest energy importer, it is now becoming a major exporter. Only Europe among the Western continents remains subject to dictates from energy exporters, most of them from unsavoury and hostile areas such as the Middle East, Russia and Venezuela.
 
Had the West earlier become a major energy exporter, these hostile economies would have lost their chief markets and the bulk of their revenues, particularly since prices would also have collapsed in a world awash in energy. Russia, for example, relies on energy for 30% of its GDP, Venezuela for 33%, some Middle East countries for more than 50%. Their economies would have retrenched, unable to finance social services at home let alone military adventures abroad. Their regimes would have focused on self-preservation rather than spreading ideologies abroad.

In a world of low-cost, plentiful energy, ISIS could never have emerged as a major threat. This ultimate-Islamic-terror group largely relies on generous grants from energy-exporters like Qatar, a Muslim Brotherhood-friendly emirate, and on sales from its own oil fields, captured in battle. Without global warming dogma, neither of these revenue sources would have taken ISIS far.
 
Likewise Iran, Qatar’s rival for the title of No. 1 funder of Islamic terrorism, would have been strapped for cash. It would have been unable to bankroll such notables in the region’s terrorist gallery as Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Assad in Syria, not to mention their terror cells in the West.
 
Russia would also have been sapped of strength and unable to threaten its neighbours, much as occurred in the 1980s, when the USSR’s failed economy led to its breakup and the release from its grasp of Ukraine and the rest of eastern Europe. The potent Putin we created would instead have been Putin the Impotent. [...]
 
Ironically, the environmentalists who pushed global warming policies on the West thought they would be enhancing global security. Wars — particularly those in the Middle East — stemmed from the West’s desire for oil, they argued. By getting the West off oil and onto CO2-free renewables, the West would lose its lust for the Middle East’s energy resources, ushering in a new era of peace.
 
They were half right — it did make sense to rid the West of dependence on Middle East energy. And half wrong — the alternative to oil and gas from the Middle East was not renewable energy but oil and gas from Western countries. And they were entirely misguided — contrary to their claims, the planet has not warmed in almost 20 years now.
 
Today, most Western governments are reining in their global warming policies, slashing their ruinously expensive subsidies to renewables and aggressively developing fossil fuels. All that the global warming scare accomplished was to make people pay with their pocketbooks — tens of millions of Europeans now suffer “fuel poverty,” the household term in Europe for those who now can’t afford to pay their power bills — and to increase wars, terrorism and global insecurity.
 
Full post
 
 
 
5) Brendan O'Neill: Brian Cox Is Wrong On Science & Climate Controversies
The Daily Telegraph, 4 September 2014
 
Who do you think said the following: “I always regret it when knowledge becomes controversial. It’s clearly a bad thing, for knowledge to be controversial.” A severe man of the cloth, perhaps, keen to erect a forcefield around his way of thinking? A censorious academic rankled when anyone criticises his work? Actually, it was Brian Cox, Britain’s best-known scientist and the BBC’s go-to guy for wide-eyed documentaries about space.
 
Yes, terrifyingly, this nation’s most recognisable scientist thinks it is a bad thing when knowledge becomes the subject of controversy, which is the opposite of what every man of reason in modern times has said about knowledge.
 
Mr Cox made his comments in an interview with the Guardian. Discussing climate change, he accused “nonsensical sceptics” of playing politics with scientific fact. He helpfully pointed out what us non-scientific plebs are permitted to say about climate change. “You’re allowed to say, well I think we should do nothing. But what you’re not allowed to do is to claim there’s a better estimate of the way that the climate will change, other than the one that comes out of the computer models.” Well, we are allowed to say that, even if we’re completely wrong, because of a little thing called freedom of speech. Mr Cox admits that his decree about what people are allowed to say on climate change springs from an absolutist position. “The scientific view at the time is the best, there’s nothing you can do that’s better than that. So there’s an absolutism. It’s absolutely the best advice.”
 
It’s genuinely concerning to hear a scientist – who is meant to keep himself always open to the process of falsifiabilty – describe his position as absolutist, a word more commonly associated with intolerant religious leaders. But then comes Mr Cox’s real blow against full-on debate. “It’s clearly a bad thing, for knowledge to be controversial”, he says. This is shocking, and the opposite of the truth. For pretty much the entire Enlightenment, the reasoned believed that actually it was good – essential, in fact – for knowledge to be treated as controversial and open to the most stinging questioning.
 
It’s right there in John Locke’s 1689 Letter Concerning Toleration. Truth is arrived at precisely through testy public engagement, said Locke, through the right of an individual to “employ as many exhortations and arguments as he pleases” on the truths of the day. The truth does not need to be protected from challenge, he said, for “[she] would do well enough if she were left to shift for herself”. In the 19th century, John Stuart Mill suggested controversy is the lifeblood of knowledge. “Complete liberty of contradicting and disproving our opinion is the very condition which justifies us in assuming its truth for purposes of action”, he said. That is, the best way to discover whether a piece of knowledge is true is through subjecting it to as fulsome a discussion as possible.
 
Mill frowned upon the kind of absolutism promoted by Mr Cox, saying: “Where the discussion of the greatest questions which can occupy humanity is considered to be closed, we cannot hope to find that generally high scale of mental activity which has made some periods of history so remarkable.” Today, too many tell us that the discussion about climate change – a great question occupying humanity – is closed. “The debate is over”, they say, discouraging Mill’s “mental activity”. [...]
 
Knowledge ringfenced from controversy will quickly become prejudice rather than truth, an ossified set of beliefs kept hidden from the raucous value of doubt. Climate change is fast becoming just that: an orthodoxy we’re “not allowed” to question, making it more akin to a protected religious truth than a piece of reasoned knowledge susceptible to provocative challenge.
 
People like Mr Cox think they are standing up for truth and reason when they say they are absolutist on issues like climate change. In fact, they are doing the opposite – they are making truth and reason seem weak, so weak that they cannot possibly be allowed to become the subject of testy, rowdy, prejudicial discussion. To deploy the A-word, Mr Cox is absolutely wrong – it is a good thing for knowledge to be controversial.
 
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