Friday, October 30, 2009

More Pre-Copenhagen Nonsense

The pre-Copenhagen hysteria and junk-science continues. If you repeat a mantra often enough, it must be true even in the face of contrary and mounting evidence that the mantra is false. That’s how propaganda works. As socialist propaganda meisters know, the bigger the lie, the more believable the lie.

First up, we have the UK’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown stating that we have only 50 days to save the world! What? Really? Have we actually proven with evidence, not computer models, that:
a. The recent warming is “unnatural and unprecedented”?
b. That the recent warming is caused by human produced CO2?
c. That destroying the Western economies will actually “save the planet”?

PULEESE! Count me out!

Speaking of count me out, have you seen the “Count Me In” campaign at the UK Science Museum’s web site intended to tell the UK politicians that the “people” want them to destroy the UK’s economy in order to save the world? Well, it’s backfired. Then even after resetting the count and implementing a better procedure to weed out “duplicates” and prevent the alleged “hijacking by skeptics” the count is still going the wrong way…for “Warmistas” that is. As of about 07:45 GMT today (30 October 2009), the count stands at 5675 “Count Me Out” to only 826 “Count Me In.” Hmm, something like 7 to 1?

Seems folks don’t want their government to sell them down the river. Imagine that! Not that the idiot politicians in the UK will listen to their people any better than our own “legal thieves” in the USA listen to their people.

Speaking of idiot politicians and legal thievery, have you seen the Goracle’s new book? He’s got an official announcement on his junk science web site. Goracle’s got a thing about hurricanes too, even though that prediction fell totally flat this year and there’s no actual evidence to back his claims.

If you look at the cover you see it’s a Photoshop attempt to terrorize the masses…and not a very good one at that. At least the Arctic is still there. I guess he forgot to tell the graphic artist that the Arctic is supposed to be gone by the summer of 2013. The hurricane doesn’t even follow the curvature of the earth! You'd think a guy worth over $100 million could affort better graphic artists.

Anthony Watts over at WUWT has a great piece on it, including the real science about the cyclone energy over the last few years.

That's just a handful of the lunacy since the last post. There's much more out there. Come on folks! Demand facts, not computer models!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Alarmist Ramp-up to Copenhagen

In the ramp up for the Alarmist confab at Copenhagen, AKA the UN Climate Conference, the media is firing out almost daily propaganda in their attempt to sway flagging public opinion. The alarmist claptrap is reaching hysterical proportions. “We’re all gonna die!” This is getting a bit old. Here’s some of the latest nonsense, primarily from the AP, which has totally bought into the AGW fraud.

Starting with this 17 September article: “Arctic Woes: Dead Walruses, Low Sea Ice” the drumbeat continues. Problem was it was the only picture they could produce of “hundreds” of walruses and the ones they pictured looked a tad shot. This story sorta dropped off the radar screen waiting for the US Fish and Wildlife Services guys to get on the scene to evaluate the situation. There was additional speculation that poachers were to blame, but without an “on the ground” look everything, including the AGW Alarmist interpretation is pure speculation. The USGS walrus expert credited with the picture never returned emails seeking additional information. Even Joe Romm pulled this story and picture from Climate Progress after a couple days.

The very next day the oceans were boiling: “World’s Oceans Warmest on Record” except that the NOAA deliberately omitted all data sources that contradicted the Alarmist “script.” Let’s also ignore the fact that “on record” means less than 50 years in this case and what we have involves lots of data in-filling.

Three days later we get the very good news that states can sue utility companies for providing electricity to their citizens under the guise of “punishing” them for causing global warming: “Court: States May Sue Utilities over Warming”. Somehow the loonies in California, Wisconsin, Vermont, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York City think they can get more revenue this way and that it won’t in any way affect electricity rates. What do all these states have in common? Loony Lefties in charge.

On the same day we get the sad news that: “Polar Bear Hunters See Culture Melt Away”. Ok, now let’s get this straight. Environmentalists are now sad that evil polar bear hunters can’t kill more polar bears because they’re all drowning out there on the melting ice. Say what? Let’s overlook the five-fold increase in polar bears in the last 50 years. Let’s over look the fact that the reason the polar bear numbers recovered was a world-wide ban on hunting them. Oh and that’s why the polar bear hunters can’t hunt the bears, hunting is severely limited by law.

On 23 September we find out that Greenland is melting…again! “Warming Seas, Greenland Melt Studied”. Of course they can’t actually prove this. There aren’t really any consistent measurements, but the models say so. We also need to conveniently forget that the Vikings grew wheat and flax in Greenland a thousand years ago when it was much warmer and there was less ice. We still can’t grow wheat or flax in Greenland because current soil temperatures are so low that they don’t allow for germination. Tell me again why a warmer Greenland is bad?

Finally, on 24 September the all wise and powerful UN tells us we’re all gonna die…again: “UN: Expect Big Jump in Temperatures”. They never seem to tire of their broken computer models, do they? Despite all actual evidence to the contrary, the models say it’s getting hot. Therefore the UN political wonks tell us we’re all gonna die and nothing we can do will stop it. If that’s the case, why are we planning on wasting, time and money? Why are we trying to destroy in industrialized world and hold back countries trying improve the lot of their people if we can’t stop climate change anyway?

These are just a handful of the increasingly shrill Alarmist stories in the last few weeks with many more coming as those deepest involved in the “Climate Change” fraud fight for economy-destroying CO2 agreements at Copenhagen in December.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It's the Thermometers, Stupid!

I’ve been following the work of E.M. Smith looking at how the Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) calculates their “global” temperature anomaly, which is oft quoted by alarmists everywhere as “evidence” of global warming. Up to now, E.M. Smith has concentrated on the interesting things GISS does with their ramshackle code. Recently he’s taken a step back in one of those “wait a minute” moments one gets when something strange simply pops out. He took a look at the data.

One of the things that popped out for him was that virtually all the warming signal of the past 30+ years occurs in the winter months. The summer months don’t show any significant warming signal. We wonder why this is so. Should not the "unprecedented and dramatic" rise in temperatures caused by the trace gas CO2 occur across all seasons, if indeed CO2 is the culprit? Could it be that more thermometers have moved to the tropics? Would not a change in where we are measuring temperatures have an impact on the average?

At first E.M. was going to put off delving deeper, but ultimately curiosity overcame him. Guess what he found? There was an increase in thermometers in the tropics and a decrease in the northern latitudes during the entire “Modern Warming Period.” Gee, what could that do to our global temperature average? Could it possibly be that if we measure more temperatures in warm places and fewer in colder places that the average will go up? It’s the thermometers, stupid!

So, quite apart from lack of evidence for the anthropogenic cause of global warming, we now can demonstrate, with the data, significant doubt that there is significant warming at all. So far no one has discovered any methodology in GISSTemp that accounts for Tropic Heat Island (THI) effect. Not that their method for Urban Heat Island (UHI) is very good either.

Read the details of E.M. Smith's discovery here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Arguing with the "Dark Side"

When I’m able to get around to various Skeptic blogs to argue with the visiting AGW proponents, I notice some interesting things.

First, there is a tendency among the AGW crowd to argue from authority. This is step one. They almost always fall back on the “peer-review” argument to discredit studies contrary to their world view. Incapable of understanding the studies, or too intellectually lazy to actually read the studies, they use this tactic to divert the arguments. Not that a particular CAGW study is factually wrong, but that it may not have been “peer-reviewed” or “peer-reviewed” by the right referees is the crux of their argument. A study is valid or invalid on its merits, not whether or not it appeared in specific journal.

I've even come across those who say they only read “reports in peer-reviewed journals.” How intellectually lazy can you get? Just flat refuse to check out a study and judge it on its merits. Couldn't be simpler. And they call us "deniers?" It seems to me that in reality these people don't understand the studies unless they are explained for them in the slick magazines.

They completely ignore the fact that two of the “premier” science magazines “Nature” and “Science” simply refuse to publish anything that is counter to the AGW position, no matter what the credentials of the researcher. I suspect that this is deliberate editorial policy at these two journals, which effectively stacks the deck for the AGW proponents in their argument.

Second, there is the tendency toward condescension. “If you bothered to read XYZ, you’d know blah…blah…” What I often find is that these people haven’t read more than the abstract of the study they are referencing, or possibly the “Nature” or “Science” article, but not the actual complete study. Normally when I start citing specific paragraphs from the studies, they move on to new red herrings.

Third, about the red herrings – they are a favorite AGW proponent argumentative technique for getting Skeptics “off-topic” and into irrelevant discussion. Typically these are delivered “barrage style” so that if you miss answering one, they beat you over the head with it in their smug condescending way. Attempting to answer them becomes more and more complicated and difficult requiring longer and longer posts. I’ve fallen into the trap myself on occasion. It’s best to take your time in the first place, identify the red herrings as such and refuse to discuss them.

Fourth, they display a heavy reliance on ad hominem attacks. Typical attacks include: shill for big oil, shill for coal companies, Denier, Flat Earther…and those are the polite ones. This is especially true if you visit their haunts, “Real Climate,” “Open Mind,” and “Climate Progress” just to name a few. A Skeptic visiting these sites will almost always be subjected to a vicious round of name-calling and hostility that the alleged “moderators” gleefully allow and participate in. The moderators of these sites will happily edit your comments in order to twist your words, delete your comments if they can’t handle them, or flat block you from the site.

Finally, there is the simple fact that they never actually produce any empirical evidence to support their AGW hypothesis. They will throw study after study at you, based upon waves of assumptions supported by model after model and never understand that they are not producing empirical evidence. Closely tied to this is that they rarely understand the difference between causation and correlation.

Their reasoning goes: CO2 has gone up and temperature has gone up, ergo man-made CO2 has caused global warming. They may be able to show correlation, but causality is a different matter.

Basically their argument takes a complex, somewhat chaotic climate system that is full of uncertainty and reduces it to correlation between a trace atmospheric gas and temperature. They state it in terms of absolute certainty, where none exists. Their “consensus” argument is the indispensible bedrock of their belief system and that is why they work so hard to discredit Skeptics rather than actually providing evidence to support their hypothesis.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Some Thoughts on Uban Heat Island (UHI) Effects

Urban Heat Island effect (UHI) is the concept that temperature measurements in urban areas will be biased upwards due to manmade structures holding and reflecting heat. Daytime temperatures are elevated, but it is the impact on nighttime temperatures that wipes out any averaging value that may accrue otherwise. Nighttime urban temperatures tend to be significantly higher than nighttime rural temperatures because the manmade structures like roads, buildings and artificial heat sources continue to emit latent heat that was stored up during daylight.

Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Hadley Climate Research Unit (HADCRU) are the three main reporting agencies that calculate a global surface temperature anomaly. All three agencies rely heavily on land-based surface station temperature records to calculate the anomaly and this is where the dispute about UHI comes into play. There are other arguments against using surface station temperatures as a measure of atmospheric change, but in this post I’ll concentrate on UHI.

This is not a trivial discussion since the Anthropogenic Climate Change Theory Advocates (ACCTAs) also known as Anthropogenic Global Warming Alarmists (AGWAs) tend to use these anomalies as their main “evidence” of AGW. It is these alarming projections and hysterics that are driving politicians into “doing something” even if it further cripples the economy.

All three of the reporting agencies named above make an attempt at accounting for UHI. In this post I’ll point out the general methodology of how GISS does this with their GISSTemp anomaly.

The overall “Readme File” that comes with GISSTemp is somewhat lacking, but here is the documentation about the UHI methodology:

“The goal of the homogeneization effort is to avoid any impact (warming or cooling) of the changing environment that some stations experienced by changing the long term trend of any non-rural station to match the long term trend of their rural neighbors, while retaining the short term monthly and annual variations. If no such neighbors exist, the station is completely dropped, if the rural records are shorter, part of the non-rural record is dropped.”
Set aside the misspelling of “homogenization.” Remember, they’re computer geeks so cut them a little slack. I haven’t yet gone into that section of the code to see exactly how they determine a “rural neighbor,” but at this point it isn’t necessary. All you need know is that if the rural neighbors are “contaminated” by their own UHI issues, then the anomaly for the urban station will be overstated in addition to the anomaly being overstated for the rural neighbor. Add that up a few thousand times and think about what it does to the data.

Given the poor quality control on US surface stations, as documented by Anthony Watts in his spring Surface Stations Report, we should immediately begin to question the resulting anomalies. If the surface stations in one of the most advanced countries on earth demonstrate such bias, what confidence can we have in the accuracy of stations located in less-developed countries? How can we trust an anomaly that results from bad data that isn’t validated despite the best efforts of analysts trying to “clean it up?” You can’t.

This isn’t due to deliberate malfeasance or conspiracy, but to the fact that there simply aren’t the proper controls in place to ensure accurate data. No matter how hard they try to statistically adjust the numbers, no matter their diligence in eliminating obvious outliers, there is no getting around the fact that thousands of surface stations are providing upwardly biased measurements.

I don’t think the agencies are deliberately “fudging” the numbers upward. I think they truly believe that they are adequately correcting for the bias. On the other hand, I think they are ignoring the highly suspect nature of the measurements collected by the surface stations and don’t have a proper understanding of just how bad the data is.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Quiet Sun

Last week (5 May 2009), just over the solar horizon, we were treated to a big CME (coronal mass ejection). Two more big eruptions followed on 6 May. The AGW crowd were all atwitter. The sun was waking up and they could now breathe easy. That mean sun was not going to falsify their beloved hypothesis.

Picture taken by the UV telescope on NASA's STEREO-B satellite.

The world waited for the sun to rotate the great big sunspots into view. The days passed, the sun rotated and there into view for the first time in months, NOTHING! Ooops. The sun is not following the model predictions.

Days later we have a couple of sunspecks, hardly worthy of being called spots, but at least technically they are sunspots. Yet, nothing else. The sun remains quiet.

To make matters worse, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Solar Weather Prediction Center glumly adjusted and announced their forecast for Solar Cycle 24. It’s gonna be a quiet one, maybe also a long one like Solar Cycle 23. Their projections for Solar Cycle 25 are for a continuing quiet sun.

The sunspecks are visible in the upper left quadrant.

So far, measurements indicate a Maunder-type minimum (that period between 1645 and 1715 when the sun was very quiet and temperatures plummeted), which would be very bad not only for the AGW crowd’s pet hypothesis and Al Gore’s bank account, but also for mankind. Things could get a lot colder in a hurry. I’m not saying Ice Age, but a lot colder than we’ve seen in a very long time. Crops will fail and people will starve and freeze. Are we ready for that?

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Layman's Guide to Climate Models - Part II

In my last post, we laid some ground work, provided key definitions and explained why models are not evidence. In part two we will look at some typical components of GCMs used to produce the findings oft cited as evidence by AGW proponents. My comments are general in nature and may not apply to all climate models for each particular component. Where it appears the case that a component does share commonality across models, I will make that statement. While I will not provide code or equations from models here, I will reference the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) averaged values where appropriate.

Climate models are complex mathematical approximations of the climate system. The models are complex, but the system is even more so and more importantly, the system is not completely understood. The graphic below shows the system as we currently think we know it1. Which components are the most powerful? Let’s look at some of the components as described by this IPCC graphic and how they are treated in most of the models referenced by the IPCC.



The Sun.       It’s the largest force in our solar system. The magnitude of how important the sun is a climate forcing should be obvious. Why then, is the sun given so little weight in most climate models? One need only look at the table of contents in Chapter 2, AR4 to see how little importance is assigned to the sun2.

There are at least three major components of the sun’s interaction with our planet and yet the GCMs address only one, solar irradiance3. Even within the solar irradiance context, the models do not address the full spectrum, concentrating instead on what we believe to be the most powerful, namely Ultra Violet (UV) radiation. We’ve only had the ability to measure components of the sun’s influence with any accuracy for about thirty years, during which time we’ve been experiencing a solar maximum which happens to correlate with the most rapid rise in temperatures in the last century.

The other two major components are solar winds and the sun’s magnetic field. Neither of these components are addressed in any GCM referenced by AGW proponents and the IPCC4. They are not addressed because they are not fully understood. It is thought that the solar winds protect the earth from cosmic rays, which in turn are thought to affect cloud formation, which in turn affects how much the sun heats the earth, which in turn affects climate5. Solar winds are greatest during solar maximums, of the kind that occurred during the last 30 years or so when temperatures rose “alarmingly.” The sun’s magnetic properties, while understood to be large, are not understood.

The sun is the largest force in our solar system, the primary driver of our climate and we do not fully understand it6. Yet the IPCC and AGW proponents assume it away or minimize it in GCMs. Parts of the sun’s influence cannot be modeled precisely because we don’t understand it and yet AGW proponents swear by the accuracy of their models.

Cosmic rays.       As powerful as our sun is, there are forces coming into the solar system from deep space that can also alter our climate. Note that cosmic rays are not mentioned at all in the graphic cited above. Our knowledge of cosmic rays is even sketchier than our solar knowledge and we’ve only just begun to measure cosmic rays in the last fifty years. The current theory about cosmic rays is that they influence cloud development7. We have zero understanding about any other impacts of cosmic radiation. Cosmic radiation and its impact on cloud cover is completely ignored in GCMs.

Clouds.       Not all clouds are created equal. Some, laden with moisture (H2O vapor), have a warming effect. Others reflect solar radiation back into space, therefore reducing the heating effect of solar radiation. None of this is well-understood with any certainty. A fact admitted by the IPCC. Cloud affects have one of the largest uncertainty factors in any climate models. Climate models as addressed by the IPCC display huge uncertainty as to cloud affect and that a effect is both minimized and assumed to be entirely a cooling forcing.8

The Oceans.       The ocean is the largest heat reservoir in the climate system.9 The oceans affect global surface temperatures and weather through the interactions of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO)10, the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO)11, and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO)12 as they switch between warm and cold phases. As the names imply, all are cyclical. While we have good knowledge of how long these cycles last, we have no idea what switches them between the phases. When all three are in their cold phase, global temperatures drop. When all three are in their warm phase, global temperatures rise. During the peak temperatures of the late 1990’s, all three were synchronized in their warm phase. At the moment, two of the three Oscillations have switched to the cold phase. The AMO is currently in warm phase, but due to switch in the next year or so. The AMO has the shortest cycle, roughly 5 years. These cycles are not addressed in most of the 23 models referenced by the IPCC.

Greenhouse Gases (GHG).       The most commonly referenced GHG include: H2O vapor, CO2 (natural and anthropogenic), CH4 (natural and anthropogenic), NO2 (natural and anthropogenic), and halocarbon gases (anthropogenic), and ozone (natural and anthropogenic). Together these gases make up less than 5% of the atmosphere.13

According to the IPCC, water vapor is the most abundant and important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.14 Water vapor constitutes about 96% of all so-called GHG. And yet the models and the IPCC largely ignore this, instead focusing on CO2 as the main culprit in climate change.

CO2 currently accounts for about .0385% of the atmosphere. That’s decimal-ZERO-three-eight-five percent of the atmosphere. The models assume a high sensitivity in the climate to increasing amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere. The models assume a virtually linear cause and effect. And yet, looking at the graph below, it becomes readily apparent that temperatures do not necessarily go up with CO2. If we are agreed that CO2 has increased steadily since the start of the Industrial Age, then how do we account for the drops in temperature during the same period? Something caused the drops and obviously whatever it was, it was more powerful than the CO2 increase.



We are currently in a period of declining temperatures, during which CO2 has continued to rise. (Depending upon the source and adjusting for the 1998 El Nino event, temperatures have declined or remained flat for the past seven to ten years.) Not a single model predicted the current temperature decline. All the models and the IPCC predicted a continuing linear temperature increase. It hasn’t happened. Again, something more powerful than CO2 is in play.

Even the term “greenhouse” is questionable. A recent paper by Professors Gerlich and Tscheuschner points out the false analogy of a glass greenhouse in relationship the concept of an atmospheric greenhouse effect. They point out that such a concept violates fundamental laws of physics and thermodynamics.15 Yet the entire greenhouse concept is central to GCMs.

Notice that we did not even address feedbacks. These can be positive or negative and yet they are not well-understood and generally ignored in GCMs. Indeed the way the IPCC and models ignore away water vapor as an RF is to declare that it is a feedback. Hence it is not a component of most models. We can be free to focus on CO2.

We also did not discuss how these components interact, nor did we discuss any of the other components that influence climate. When you look at climate arguments, look for references to “the models.” Virtually all references to “studies” are in relation modeled results, but models are not in the real world. Models exist in a mathematical virtual world which does not operate under the same parameters as the real world, the world we actually live in.

The models predicting climate catastrophe rely heavily on calculated anomalies (models) as the primary source of almost real-world data. The anomalies are influenced by some of the climate components we discussed above (and a major one not discussed, namely Urban Heat Island effect). This makes reliance on climate models somewhat circular logic and that is why models are not evidence.



References:

1. IPCC Assessment Report Four (AR4), Chapter 1 (Historical Overview
    of Climate Change Science), page 104, (2007).
2. IPCC Assessment Report Four (AR4), Chapter 2 (Changes in Atmospheric
    Constituents and Radiative Forcings), page 130, (2007).
3. IPCC Assessment Report Four (AR4), Chapter 2 (Changes in Atmospheric
    Constituents and Radiative Forcings), page 192, (2007).
4. Nigel Marsh, Henrik Svensmark, Danish Space Research Institute, (Solar     Influence on Earth’s Climate, Space Science Reviews,
    Vol 107), pp 317 – 325, (2003).
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. Henrik Svensmark, Influence of Cosmic Rays on Earth’s Climate,
     (The American Physical Society, Physical Review Letters,
    Vol. 81, Number 22), pp 5027 – 5030, (1998).
8. IPCC Assessment Report Four (AR4), Chapter 2 (Changes in Atmospheric
    Constituents and Radiative Forcings), page 205, (2007).
9. Levitus, S. J. I. Antonov, T. P. Boyer, and C. Stephens, 2000.
      Warming of the world ocean. Science 287:2225-2229. and
      Levitus, S. J. I. Antonov, J. Wang, T. L. Delworth, K. W. Dixon, and
     A. J. Broccoli, 2001. Anthropogenic warming of earth’s climate system.
     Science 292:267-270.
10. http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/phod/amo_faq.php#faq_4
11. http://www.srh.noaa.gov/abq/feature/PDO_NM.htm
12. http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/enso/#science
13. http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7a.html
14. IPCC Assessment Report Four (AR4), Chapter 2 (Changes in Atmospheric
    Constituents and Radiative Forcings), page 135, (2007).
15. Gerhard Gerlich, Ralph D. Tscheuschner; The Falsification of
    The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within the Frame of Physics;
    International Journal of Modern Physics B, Vol. 23, No. 3
    (30 January 2009), 275-364.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Layman’s Guide to Climate Modeling – Part I

Don’t trust climate models and don’t trust anyone who offers the results of such models as proof of anything related to climate. Climate models are not evidence. Specifically, predictive climate models have little more than entertainment value, at least based upon their performance to date. In this category fall the twenty-three or so models the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) refer to that predict doom and gloom for the planet due to human CO2 emissions.

I propose to look at the most commonly mentioned forcings and feedbacks and how they are treated in GCMs. Keep in mind that our ability to model a complex open system will only be as good as the data fed to the model, the assumptions used to account for things for which we have no empirical data and the modeler’s ability to describe processes in plain, spoken language prior to reducing those processes to mathematical language. All italics in the text below are mine and intended to emphasize the theoretical nature of the discussion.

The IPCC and other proponents of Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC) use climate model predictions and simulations to state their case. They do not use empirical observations. Even the mean surface temperatures calculated by Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Hadley Centre Climactic Research Unit (HadCRU) are the output of models. Therefore understanding what GCMs are is important to understanding why they are not evidence of ACC.

About Climate. Climate is the term used to describe weather, averaged over a long period of time, usually about thirty years.1 This is the simple definition most often used by both the Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC) proponents and Skeptics. However, that definition inadequately describes the complex open system of global energy exchange. That is what climate really boils down to. The term climate is a way to describe a long-term, complex thermodynamic process on a regional or global scale.

About climate models. Commonly called GCMs, or Global Climate Models, they are also referred to more accurately as General Circulation Models, but some literature also uses the term Global Circulation Models.2 Climate models are complex mathematical approximations of the climate system. Their predictive ability is limited by how much we understand about each component of the total system, by our ability to empirically measure change within the climate system, and the extent of those recorded changes (how many years of data we have collected).

Some modeling terms. Two of the most common terms used in the discussion of climate models are Radiative Forcing (RF) and Climate Feedbacks (CF) or Feedback Mechanisms (FM).

Radiative Forcing (RF) is a concept used for quantitative comparisons of the strength of different human and natural agents in causing climate change.3 These values are not observed measured values, but are derived based upon assumptions, indirect observations of climate components and assumed correlation/causal relationships between components. Radiative forcing is reported in the climate change scientific literature as a change in energy flux at the tropopause, calculated in units of watts per square meter (W/m2); model calculations typically report values in which the stratosphere was allowed to adjust thermally to the forcing under an assumption of fixed stratospheric dynamics.4 RF is the dominant feature of climate models. It is these derived, not measured, values that drive the model outputs.

The fundamental assumption underlying the radiative forcing concept is that the surface and the troposphere are strongly coupled by convective heat transfer processes; that is, the earth-troposphere system is in a state of radiative-convective equilibrium. The concept of radiative forcing is based on the hypothesis (not even a theory) that the change in global annual mean surface temperature is proportional to the imposed global annual mean forcing, independent of the nature of the applied forcing.5 The above stated hypothesis has not been proven. RF values, frequently cited in climate discussions, are essentially assumptions.

Feedbacks are processes in the climate system that can either amplify or dampen the system’s response to changed forcings. A substantial part of the uncertainty in projections of future climates is attributed to inadequate understanding of feedback processes internal to the natural climate system. 6 Feedbacks are not well understood and this fact leads to assumptions in modeling that affect model output. Most models minimize or ignore feedbacks and this degrades the model’s predictive ability.

In my next post I will begin discussing the individual forcings and feedbacks used/ignored by GCMs.


References:
1. http://www.ncar.ucar.edu/research/climate/
2. http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/modeling/gcms.html
3. IPCC Assessment Report Four (AR4), Chapter 2 (Changes in Atmospheric
    Constituents and Radiative Forcings), page 131, (2007).
4. Radiative Forcing of Climate Change: Expanding the Concept and
    Addressing Uncertainties, page 15, (NRC, 2005).
5. ibid, page 19.
6. Understanding Climate Change Feedbacks, p.1, (NRC, 2003).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ice Capades in the Arctic

UPDATE 1: They're making progress. Their current rate of travel (as of 27 March 2009) is 3.63km per day. If they maintain this pace, they will reach the end of their journey in about 227 days on 9 November 2009. They've knocked a whole year off the adventure.

There’s a great adventure afoot up in the Arctic. Three intrepid explorers in search of future grant money are braving the elements and the dangers of shifting ice on a 1,000km 100-day publicity stunt, complete with NASCAR-like sponsor logos plastered to clothing and equipment, in order to reach the North Pole. Oh, and along the way they are supposedly measuring ice thickness. We’ll get back to that a little later.

So far they have discovered the following things in 18 days of moving almost nowhere:
It’s frigging cold up there!
The ice moves – sometimes many miles overnight while they are sleeping – resulting in being drifted further from their goal and having to make up that lost ground…er…ice the next day.

So far, due to the above two items, they are averaging 1.5km per day, instead of the 10km per day they intended. If they can keep up this pace, they should complete their adventure, oh around 28 December 2010. That’s just a bit longer than 100 days, so I suspect that either funding or their endurance will fail long before then.

According to the expedition web site Catlin Arctic Survey, all three are experienced Arctic explorers who have previously been to the North Pole. And yet, when reading their daily posts, one notes that they are surprised to wake up in a different place than when they bedded down for the night. They are surprised to find that their tents fill with ice crystals and it’s hard to get warm. One must wonder if, on their previous expeditions, they were simply hanger’s on rather than integral members of the team. One must also wonder if they made their previous trips on foot, as they are doing now, or via some automated conveyance.

Among the top three sponsors for this publicity stunt are:

Catlin Group Limited, a leading global specialty insurer and reinsurer writing more than 30 classes of business. We provide creative risk management solutions and excellent financial security to clients worldwide. (Any bets about their “Climate Change Mitigation” lines of insurance?)

ECX, the premier marketplace for trading carbon emissions, providing the focal point for the majority of trading in the recently developed emissions or carbon markets.

Unlike the AGW crowd who likes to claim that sponsorship taints the science, I’m simply pointing out the hypocrisy of such claims by the AGW crowd. The top two sponsors for this expedition have a vested interest in AGW hysteria. By the AGW line of argument, whatever this survey finds is tainted due to the funding. Most of the gadget sponsors can be excused because their sponsorship of such an expedition is more along the lines of proving their equipment in an extreme environment.

In reality the value, or lack thereof, of this expedition should be in the data collection, but even before they left the starting blocks their results were likely biased. As one looks at their web site, it becomes readily apparent that they are not following the scientific method.

Let us review that method (the steps are listed in the order in which they should occur):

1. Ask a question. The question should be about something that can be measured.

2. Do background research. No sense reinventing the wheel.

3. Formulate a hypothesis. The hypothesis attempts to explain how things work. It should be stated in way that is measurable, falsifiable and which answers the original question. By falsifiable we mean there are measures that, if observed, will negate our hypothesis.

4. Test the Hypothesis through experimentation and observation. This is where we do our measurements. It is also important to run our tests/observations many times.

5. Analyze the data collected through experimentation and observation.1 This is where we look for patterns that either fit or negate our hypothesis.

6. Draw a conclusion. Having analyzed the data, we conclude one of the following three things:
a. the data supports our hypothesis
b. the data does not support our hypothesis (our hypothesis is falsified)
c. the data is ambiguous - it neither supports nor negates our hypothesis.

If the data is ambiguous, then we must re-examine the assumptions and methodology used in our experiment. In other words, go back to the drawing board. This happens more often in science than most lay people realize.

7. Communicate results. We tell the world what we found out. This is where the fun begins in real science, as opposed to most climate science. In real science, the scientist shares his methodology, data, and computer code so that other interested scientists can attempt to replicate the results. In addition to replication, these other interested scientists look for methodological flaws and erroneous assumptions that might invalidate the study. I’ll explore why many climate studies are not real science in a future post, but for now let’s examine why this particular publicity stunt is bogus science.

From the Catlin Arctic Survey web site, it appears that this is the question they are attempting to answer: “How long will the Arctic Ocean's sea ice cover remain a permanent feature of our planet?”

Inherent in this question, however, is a bold assumption that is already falsifiable. They assume that Arctic Sea ice is a permanent feature of our planet. Evidence shows that for about 96% of the Earth’s 4-plus billion years of existence, there was NO ICE ANYWHERE. In rephrasing their question, I’d drop the word “permanent.”

Their background research seems to be based solely on accepting the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, all of which rely heavily on climate models for their findings and Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.” They even emphasize the plight of polar bears.

Which brings us to their hypothesis: the Arctic Sea Ice is melting and this melting is human-caused.

This hypothesis is based upon computer models, not observation. In real science we formulate a hypothesis to explain empirical observations.

As they state on their web site: “The most frequently cited date for the seasonal disappearance of the Arctic Ocean's sea ice is the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2050-2100, based on the known rate of its shrinking surface area, and the IPCC’s long-range global climate forecasts." (computer models)

A problem with these IPCC models is that we really don’t have a long-term “known rate” of shrinking surface area. We have less than thirty years of data and in the last two years, sea ice extent seems to be recovering…growing.

In other words, at the moment empirical observations are at best ambiguous.

Unfortunately, they’ve already reached their conclusion before they even set out on their expedition or taken a single measurement:

“The melting of the sea ice will accelerate climate change, sea level rise and habitat loss on a global scale. Its loss is also a powerful indicator of the effects of human activity on our planet’s natural systems and processes. The Survey’s scientific findings will be taken to the national negotiating teams working to replace the Kyoto Protocol agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties in Copenhagen in December 2009.”

Their opening sentence is already scientific nonsense. Sea ice floating in water has already displaced all the water it will displace. Melting the sea ice will not raise the sea level.

So they’ve constructed an experiment whereby they will take ice measurements. However, as there is no other data against which to compare their data, there is no way to falsify their hypothesis with the single data set they collect.

“The team will be travelling on foot, hauling sledges from 81°N 130°W, across 1000-km of disintegrating and shifting sea ice…” (bold mine)

“The Catlin Arctic Survey has developed and tested (more likely one of their sponsors) a portable, ice-penetrating radar. This will take continuous and detailed measurements of both the snow and ice layers along the 1000 km route.”

The measurements will be continuous only for the duration that they are on the ice and shifting ice somewhat negates the level of possible detail. Sea ice at a given location changes daily due to wind and ocean current.

On their web site they emphasize that the climate modellers rely on the ice data rather than snow data. This totally ignores the fact that as the snow accumulates it compresses, melts and freezes, and becomes ice. Snow also reflects sunlight, which affects the rate of melt and overall global warming.

“Despite the technological advances of the 20th century, we still only have estimates of the thickness of the sea ice cover on the Arctic Ocean. Travelling across the sea ice, the Catlin Arctic Survey team will take precise measurements of its thickness and density. This will enable the programme’s Science Partners to determine, with a greater degree of accuracy, how long the sea ice will remain. Currently, its predicted meltdown date is anywhere between four and a hundred years from now.”

Nowhere is there any discussion of return trips or continuous measurements over the next several years. They are taking one set of measurements. They are, in effect, creating the cherries they intend to pick later. (Cherry-picking data.) Their "science partners" are the very climate modellers and the IPCC who have a vested interest in AGW hysteria.

“Evidence for the earlier meltdown date would provide fresh impetus to resolve through international agreements the more sustainable and responsible management of the increasingly accessible natural resources, revealed as the ice recedes. The survey will assist scientists in providing policy-makers with higher resolution forecasts than are made to date, which in turn will facilitate decisions where previously indecision has existed.”

Not only did they reach conclusions prior to taking any measurements, they tip their hand as to the purely political component of what they are doing. They are not collecting data to better understand climate processes in the Arctic, they are collecting data to drive policy in a particular direction.

In a nutshell, here is the Catlin Arctic Survey scientific method:

1. Draw Conclusions. Our results will help us formulate carbon limits and trading schemes in developing the Kyoto replacement accord.
2. Formulate hypothesis. Accept and parrot the AGW consensus.
3. Do background research. Accept and parrot computer model projections quoted by a political organization that is promoting a specific political agenda.
4. Ask a question. Phrased in a way that our pre-ordained answer will scare the public and politicians so that we get more money.
5. Test the hypothesis. Gather dubious data absent any falsifiability criteria or multiple iterations.
6. Analyze the data. Feed said data into supercomputer models to “refine” the pre-ordained conclusion of those earlier models.
7. Report Results. The ice will melt sooner rather than later, so give us more money so we can get a firm date of the ice melting.

This is not science.

This is propaganda.

This is a publicity stunt.

1. In most explanations of the scientific method, this step and the following step are combined. I separate them here for clarity.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Some Updates

As promised in my original post, I've added some blogs and websites from both sides of the Climate Change debate and governmental sites. More will be added later along with links to documents and research papers.

Most of the AGW blogs censor input to either "true believers" or buffoons among Skeptics who can't carry a debate. "Real Climate" and "Open Mind" are among the worst offenders. Very few allow posts by educated opponents, but see for yourself. That's why I'm giving you the links if you are new to this.

The Skeptic blogs rarely snip comments unless they become abusive. "Climate Audit" will snip comments that are heavy in ad hominem or name-calling from either side. "Climate Audit" is probably the most professional of the open blogs, but you will need a strong understanding of statistics and modelling to follow most of the threads.

My recommendation is to study both sides' arguments. Look for evidence presented in a clear concise manner without argument from authority, ad hominem or name-calling.

Here is a brief refresher on what we mean by ad hominem and argument from authority. I assume we are all clear on name-calling.

Description of Ad Hominem

Translated from Latin to English, "Ad Hominem" means "against the man" or "against the person."

An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting).

This type of "argument" has the following form:
1. Person A makes claim X.
2. Person B makes an attack on person A.
3. Therefore A's claim is false.

The reason why an Ad Hominem (of any kind) is a fallacy is that the character, circumstances, or actions of a person do not (in most cases) have a bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim being made (or the quality of the argument being made).

Example of Ad Hominem
Bill: "I believe that global warming is the result of natural causes."
Dave: "Of course you would say that, you're a shill for oil companies."
Bill: "What about the arguments I gave to support my position?"
Dave: "Those don't count. Like I said, you're a shill for oil companies, so you have to say that global warming is natural. Further, you don't have a PhD in climatology, so I can't believe what you say."

Description of Argument from Authority

'Argument from Authority is an informal logical fallacy, formally known as argumentum ad verecundium, where a participant argues that a belief is correct because the person making the argument is an authority. The most general structure of this argument runs something like the following:

Person A claims that P
Person A is a respected scientist or other authority
Therefore, P is true.

This is a fallacy because the truth or falsity of the claim is not necessarily related to the personal qualities of the claimant.

Examples

Example 1:
Protagonist: There's nothing necessarily immoral about atheism.
Antagonist: Well, my parents said that there is, and they wouldn't lie to me, so you must be wrong.

Example 2:
Antagonist: That actor who plays a doctor on TV just recommended this particular medicine. It must be effective!

Example 3:

Antagonist: Aristotle said that heavier objects fall faster than light objects. Therefore it must be true!

Example 4:
Antagonist: The Prime Minister said that it's easily possible to live on a minimum wage job, so we don't need to raise the minimum wage.

These are not the only logical fallacies you will encounter, but they are the most common. What about evidence? What is evidence and what is not?

What Is Evidence?

Science depends on observations, made by people at some time and place. Things you can see, hold, hear, and record.

These things would be evidence that carbon is a major cause of global warming:
If temperatures followed CO2 levels in the past.
If the atmosphere showed the characteristic heating pattern of increased greenhouse warming. (A "hotspot" in the troposphere.)

These things are NOT evidence of Anthropogenic Global Warming:

Arctic ice disappearing
Glaciers retreating
Coral reef bleaching
Mt. Kilimanjaro losing snow
Madagascan lemurs doing anything
Four polar bears caught in a storm
Pick-a-bird/tree/moth facing extinction
A change in cyclones/hurricanes/typhoons
Droughts
Dry rivers
Computer models*
There is no “better” explanation
Some guy with a PhD is “sure”
2,500 scientists mostly agree
A government committee wrote a long report
Government spending on “Emissions Trading Plans” tops $100 million
Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell signed a skeptics petition
A failed theologian, ex-politician made a documentary

Why are these things not evidence of AGW? Because none of these things tell us why the planet may have warmed. In fact, some of these things may be caused by other factors. For example, the snowline on Mt. Kilimanjaro is never above freezing, therefore it isn't warming that is causing the reduction in snow.

*Why are computer models NOT evidence?

They’re sophisticated, put together by experts, and getting better all the
time. But even if they could predict the climate correctly (they can’t),
even if they were based on solid proven theories (they aren’t), they still
wouldn’t count as evidence. Models of complex systems are based on
scores of assumptions and estimates piled on dozens of theories. None
of the current models forecast that temperatures would stop rising from
2001 – 2008.
So there is at least one other factor that is more important
than CO2 and the models don’t know what it is.

So, armed with the above information, look at what is presented on the blogs and web sites I've listed. Keep these things in mind when following the Climate Change debate.

References

Discussion of what constitutes evidence comes from Joanne Nova's, "The Skeptics Handbook" Version 2.0, page 11, February 2009. (with some additional editing).

Description of Argument from Authority from SkepticWiki

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Inducing Errors in Temperature Measurement

In order to determine if man’s CO2 is causing global warming, we must first determine if the planet is indeed warming. This seems like a trivial process because it appears there is agreement. In reality, because our measurements are so recent (only about 150 years), not recorded in a standardized way throughout those 150 years, and recorded in relatively few places globally for most of that 150 years, there are significant reliability questions.

In the earliest part of this record, daily temperatures were almost exclusively recorded where people lived and that has not changed. Getting to remote areas (the Arctic or Antarctica) was an undertaking for only a handful of adventurers seeking to “get there first.” However, we can include places like the Sahara, the Amazon and other such places that even today present challenges to penetration.

In addition to the scarcity of recording stations early in the record, there was also a scarcity of data points. As automated stations did not exist early on, the temperature record was subject to someone reading the thermometer at least once a day. Early thermometers were not digital and there was always a probability of reading and recording error. Most early daily temperature records used in calculating long-term temperatures are a single entry. Therefore that day’s recorded temperature was highly dependent upon the time of day the thermometer was read. In addition, it was not well-understood all the ways a temperature reading could be distorted, for example by placing the weather station on a roof or in the shade.

Over time it became apparent that a point reading was not accurate and attempts were made to read the thermometer at varying times, but this was still not standardized. Not until the advent of automated stations that could record a high and low temperature over a 24-hour period did we get something like a true daily average.

Even today, with systems able to record temperatures continuously throughout the day, the main anomaly reporting agencies still use an average of the high and low. This presents a problem as shown in the table below. It is the result of the fact that there simply are not enough continuous measurement stations in the world. Most stations are still only capable of recording high and low.


This table shows temperature readings in °C from a hypothetical weather station. The first column is a single point reading of the type common in much of the early temperature records. The second column shows how most daily averages are derived. The third column shows what the average temperature would be if readings are collected hourly and the low reading predominates. The fourth column shows what happens when the reverse is true. The point I'm demonstating is that data collected either in single point or high and low points may either overstate or understate the actual average. With most of the early records we have no way of knowing the real average with any certainty.

Now take potentially flawed readings each day for a year for roughly 2000 weather stations over a 50 year period. You are talking about roughly 36,500,000 data points that may be in error. How do we account for this potential error? If you think that anyone has validated this data, you'd be wrong. The volume precludes this although statistical methods can eliminate outliers.


Our coverage of remote areas is still spotty. Of the three main temperature anomaly reporting agencies (the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Met Office Hadley Centre Climactic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia(HadCRU)), only HadCRU comes clean showing the huge gaps in surface readings. None of the reporting agencies provide their raw data or their code for calculating the anomaly, a distinctly unscientific stance regardless of their reasoning. We are simply to accept that their temperature reconstructions are accurate. Except that all three have different methodologies and each come to slightly different conclusions on their anomalies.
The white areas in this Hadley Centre graphic show the parts of the globe where we have NOT collected actual data. Note that the Arctic, Antarctic, Africa and South America, and large expanses of ocean have no data. In order to create the global temperature anomaly, these areas are statistically filled in.

As I stated in the previous post, the anomaly is not simply an average of all available data, but it is a statistical calculation. It is a model, a temperature reconstruction. The blank spots in the previous graphic are filled in statistically and you are not allowed to know how. You are simply to trust the modelers.

If the mere collecting of the data is fraught with potential error, should we not check how these agencies get around all the potential errors? Should we not question how they fill in missing data? And all this is just to answer the most basic question of whether warming is occurring or not. None of this would matter if this was all a simple academic exercise, but real money and our future are being staked on unproven hypotheses.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Dissecting an Activist Web Site (Part Two)

This is part two of my critique of One Blue Marble. Rather than critique point-by-point on the presentation of climate change myths, I will highlight some key points. The method of argument presented throughout “One Blue Marble” remains a heavy reliance on Ad Hominem, Argument from Authority and name-calling.

The "climate scientists" who deny global warming are, with one or two exceptions, not actually climate scientists. They work at "institutes" that are funded by big oil, and they are unable to publish their "findings" in respected peer-reviewed scientific journals. They are out solely for number one. The Friends of Science (FoS) and Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI) are prime examples. (The Union of Concerned Scientists has an excellent PDF available).

Again this is ad hominem attack and unsupported assertion.

As I stated in my previous post, scientific hypotheses stand or fall on merit through testing using empirical or experimental data. As such, the findings are independent of who funded them. Arguing that a study is invalid because it was funded by this or that organization is not scientific refutation, but ad hominem attack. If a study is flawed, it can be demonstrated as such through testing.

The “excellent” pdf from the Union of Concerned Scientists is similarly short on scientific refutation and long on ad hominem. A quick read will show that the author has adapted this particular document virtually whole cloth for most of his assertions, particularly when he connects to the tobacco industry.

Myth # 2: The world isn't warming, it's cooling, and it has been cooling since 1998.

Fact: See how clever the deniers are? Truth to tell, 1998, with a very strong El Nino event, was the second warmest on year on record. So if you compare, say, 1998 and 2002, you will find that 1998 was warmer.


His opening sentence is ad hominem. Satellite readings, thought by many scientists to be more accurate than surface measures, have declined or remained flat since 1995 after you adjust for the 1998 El NiƱo.1 Given that atmospheric CO2 levels have steadily increased within the same timeframe. Based on climate models advanced by the ACCTA crowd, this should not happen.

But that doesn't mean the world is cooling, and that's not the comparison you should be making. If you compare 2002 with any year in the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s, you'll find that find that 2002 was much warmer. And if you plot the yearly temperatures for the last 130 years, you'll get a graph that looks like this one.



Actually you get this graph from plotting the yearly temperature anomaly, not the actual temperature. Look closely at the graph. It looks pretty scary until you realize that it is measured in tenths of a degree.

The anomaly is calculated relative to an average temperature, which in this case happens to be about 14°C for the period between 1961 and 1990. The anomaly shown in this graph then is, in very simplistic terms, the annualized daily deviation from that average. Keep in mind that the average, or mean temperature, should not be called the “normal” temperature. There is no such thing as a “normal” temperature.

None of this is raw data. This data, including that used to compute the average, is a derived figure since we do not actually have complete surface coverage. According to GISS, the best estimate for global mean temperature over the past 128 years is 14°C and this value is used by most scientists as the baseline for anomaly calculations.2

Second, notice that there are three significant and prolonged anomaly drops on the graph all of which occurred while atmospheric CO2 levels are said to have increased. If the causal link between rising atmospheric CO2 and rising temperatures is so strong, then these dips or even periods of flat-line should not occur.

Third, between 1880 and 1950 there were fewer than 4,000 surface stations measuring temperature world-wide for which there are records of any kind. GISS currently uses 6,257 stations world-wide in calculating the anomaly3. Given the Earth’s surface area of 196,939,900 sqmi, the surface station density used to calculate global temperature is one station per 31,475 sqmi. Given that surface temperatures can vary wildly within a few miles, this implies huge gaps in the actual data coverage. These data gaps are filled in mathematically to create the anomaly and to feed the climate models. Additionally, measurement accuracy in the early years is dubious, given the instruments available at the time.

Fourth, there is not, nor has there ever been a uniform international standard for when and how temperatures are recorded and this includes standards for proper sighting and configuration of measuring stations. Nor is there any process in place to evaluate stations in order to ensure that sampling errors are not influencing the data. In 1997 the IPCC, during preparation of the Third Assessment, recognized the need for some system to do this, but nothing was implemented.4

In the US a grassroots effort was launched to do this after the NOAA failed to take action. This was done in large part as a result of the urging in 2007 of Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr. and others who were concerned that inaccurate data could be leading to invalid conclusions resulting in alarmism and knee-jerk reactions by governments.5

There are currently 1221 surface temperature stations in the US, of which 819 or 67% have been surveyed and evaluated as of 25 January 2009.6 Of this number 58% fall into the Category IV error (an artificial heat source within 10 meters). A further 11% are Category V error (Temperature sensor located next to/above an artificial heating source, such a building, roof top, parking lot, or concrete surface). Category IV and V are most likely to create “heat island” effects. Many of these stations are classified as “rural” by GISS, which then in turn affects how the raw data is handled in creating the anomaly.

See, here's the thing. It doesn't make sense mathematically to compare one year to any other year. It does make sense to compare decades. In truth, nine of the warmest 10 years on record have occurred in the last decade, and the last decade has been the warmest our planet has seen in more than 100,000 years.

In an earlier paragraph the author compared individual years, yet here he says that it is not the correct comparison. At least the author finally throws out an actual fact. Based on the calculated anomalies recorded over the last 128 years the last ten were the hottest on record.

Given that for about 88% of the past 100,000 years the earth was in an Ice Age (IA) the assertion about the last ten years being the hottest in 100,000 years becomes a little ridiculous. And yet the earth warmed roughly 2°C (from an annual average of about 12°C to 13.9°C) starting about 12,000 years ago and all without significant inputs of human-produced atmospheric CO2.

Myth # 3: If human induced carbon emissions are responsible for the slight half a degree Fahrenheit rise in the earth's temperature since the 1970s, how do you explain the temperature increases during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) from 900-1300 prior to the invention of the internal combustion engine?

Fact: Again, notice the cleverness: take a real event, and suggest that it means more than it does. Depending on world events, our climate does naturally warm and cool, so scientists confidently proclaim that the world did go through a period of slight warming after the Dark Ages and a period called the Little Ice Age (LIA) in the 1600 and 1700s.


Most estimates of MWP temperatures are higher than the current “drastic” warming and yet the author cavalierly dismisses the MWP as a period of “slight” warming. Prior to the MWP there was another cooling period and prior to that another warm period, each of which lasted hundreds of years. There seems to be a pattern here.

All of this is occurring during something called the Holocene Interglacial (HIG), a climate event so far lasting 8,000-12,000 years. The HIG in turn is occurring during something called an Ice House (IH), where mean surface temperatures are between 12°C and 14°C. The current IH has lasted roughly 30 million years (the low end for an IH).

I've watched as global warming deniers have used these events to promote preposterous ideas, including one wag who suggested that Greenland is called Greenland because it was ice free during the days of Eirik the Red, and that Eastern Island is treeless now because the cold weather during the LIA forced natives to burn the forests to stay warm. (It's far more complicated than that).

In fact, recent glacial retreat in Greenland has uncovered Viking settlements that had been buried under ice. It isn’t a wag at all. There are historical records of wheat and flax shipments from the settlements in Greenland to Denmark and other points in Europe.7 Viking settlements in Greenland were abandoned when farming became impossible in the late-14th century with the advance of the LIA. Today it is impossible to grow wheat in Greenland because it is too cold and much of the land the Vikings farmed is still under ice.

But the point remains. Why did the Earth warm during the MWP? Well, the first point is that we don't know if the entire planet warmed, as the data is only conclusive for the North Hemisphere, which does appear to have enjoyed a milder climate for three or four centuries.

Scientists don't know the exact causes, but expect a number of variables came into play, including a shifting of ocean currents, a dearth of volcanic eruptions, and a dramatic increase in solar activity. But even still, over the 400-year course of the MWP, temperatures only rose by an estimated 0.3°C.

Temperatures have risen by more than 1°C in the last century, and more than 0.6°C in the last 30 years alone. As the above graph shows, that is a dramatic spike. Nine of the warmest 10 years on record have occurred in the last decade.


The author is comparing a 400-year average during MWP with an anomaly point-to-point increase. This is comparing apples and oranges and clearly demonstrates the author’s lack of understanding in both science and math. If we compare average to average, we are currently well below the MWP. In 2000 the 120-year average was about 13.97°C. By 2008, the 120-year average had risen to about 14.03°C, a “stunning” rise of .06°C, still nowhere near the MWP average quoted by the author8.

Myth # 4. More than 17,000 American scientists — two thirds with advanced degrees specializing in physics, geo-physics, climatology, meteorology, oceanography, environmental science, chemistry, and biochemistry — have signed a petition disputing the "consensus view" that man is responsible for climate change. If there is a scientific "consensus" that human carbon emissions are responsible for "global warming" how would you characterize the scientists who signed this petition? Are they merely heretical "deniers" in the pocket of Big Oil companies?

Fact: Of all the oily tricks played by the global warming denier industry, this is one of the oiliest. It's known as The Petition and, according to some sites, the number of scientists who openly debate the global warming consensus now stands at 31,000.

It's nothing more than a dirty trick organized by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine.


Apart from being all ad hominem, did the author really look at The Petition Project, or did he take someone else’s word for it? Draw your own conclusion below.

Nevertheless, 17,000 did sign the petition, and Seitz would have you believe that all 17,000 - or 31,000 in 2008 - are working scientists with PhDs.

But when you look deeper into the list, it begins to fall apart. The vast majority of signatories have nothing more than a bachelor's degree. By Seitz's definition, I'm a scientist. As well, scattering among the number of "scientists" are signatures by Spice Girl Dr. Geri Halliwell, author John Grisham, Hawkeye Pierce and BJ Honeycutt from MASH.


This is more ad hominem and argument from authority, but at this point we must also argue that either the author is intellectually lazy, or a liar.

The Petition Project web site contains no declaration that all the signatories are PhD’s. In fact, the site provides a breakdown by qualification and an explanation of what qualifies a signatory to be on the list. Simply having a college degree is not enough. There are currently over 1,000 additional signatories waiting to have their credentials verified so they may be added to the list of over 31,000.

There are two Honeycutts on the Petition: John D. Honeycutt, PhD and Baxter D. Honeycutt.

There are two Grisham’s: Richard S. Grisham and Strother Grisham.

There are ten Pierces: Bill D. Pierce, PhD, Matthew Lee Pierce, PhD, Susan K. Pierce, PhD, Allan Pierce, PhD, Walter H. Pierce, PhD, Frank A. Pierce, Mark S. Pierce, William Schuler Pierce, John E. Pierce, Rhonda L. Pierce, DVM.

There is no Geri Halliwell on the petition.

There is no way the author actually bothered to check the petition, which would indicate intellectual laziness, given the above findings. The option exists that he is lying to embellish his argument.

Don’t take my word for it, check for yourself: The Petition Project. While there, check the requirements for getting one’s name added to the petition.

Almost 10,000 signatures come from engineers, another 3,063 come from physicians and veterinarians. I have no doubt that these professionals are smart people, but it would be difficult to believe they are experts on global warming.

As I pointed out in the previous post, scientists from the author’s side of the debate also come from a myriad of fields including economists, veterinarians, medical doctors and engineers. Nor should anyone be counting Al Gore, the most prominent spokesperson, as a scientist - Nobel Prize not withstanding.

But even if we allow their signatures to stand unchallenged, they prove nothing. Even if more than 3,000 doctors signed the petition that would mean that 99.7 percent of all doctors practicing in the US didn't sign the petition, and 99.2 percent of US engineers didn't sign.

The Petition is a fraud and a deception.


What the signatories show is that there is disagreement and the science is not settled. That is the intent of The Petition Project. The Petition Project only includes scientists in the US. There are similar petitions and declarations being circulated world-wide.

The author is using logical fallacy: Some scientists argue “A”, therefore all remaining scientists argue “B.”

More to the point, when did we start settling science by vote?


References:
1.   http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/hadcrut3vgl.txt,
     http://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/
2.   http://data.giss.nasa.gov/
3.   http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/
4.   http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/hofn/
5.   Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229.
6.   http://www.surfacestations.org/
7.   Jones, Gwyn; A History of the Vikings. Oxford University Press, 1968.
8.   http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/GLB.Ts.txt

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dissecting an Activist Web Site (Part One)

This is an example of what one can find on a typical environmental activist web site devoted to ACC. (NOTE: I'm not using ad hominem describing the site this way, the web site author uses this description of himself.)

The site is called One Blue Marble. The author offers not one iota of evidence for any assertion on this page. This page is found under the aptly named link, “ The Misinformation.” Apt since this page contains nothing but misinformation and ad hominem attacks.

The Climate Change Denial Industry

The title is already an ad hominem. ACCTA’s have borrowed the “Denier” ad hominem from the pages of those who counter the position that the Holocaust did not happen. It’s a clever and subtle maneuver and one you will see frequently on these kinds of sites.

Let’s begin with the preliminaries. The first is that global warming isn’t a scientific theory, it’s a scientific fact. The time for debate has ended. We can still argue over tipping points and the minutia — like when the arctic will become ice free during the summer months, or how much world sea levels will rise by 2050 — but the core truth is as solid as the rock of Gibraltar. Global warming is a scientific fact. We're just dotting the Is and crossing the Ts.

The argument of global warming stated here is overly general and therefore misleading. The issue is the anthropogenic component of the ACC theory, not climate change per se. Of course the I’s to be dotted and T’s to be crossed are these bothersome minutia:
     a. Proving the cause and effect relationship between human CO2 emissions and global warming vs warming caused by natural cycle.
     b. Proving the impact (how much will temps rise given “x” human induced CO2 input).
     c. Proving that the negative impacts of increased temperature are greater than the positive impacts.
     d. Proving that CO2 reduction schemes will:
        a. Work.
        b. Not have a significant deleterious impact on world economies.

These are not minutia and they have not yet been proven. Therefore the time for debate is most assuredly not ended. Claiming that the debate is over is a common ACCTA argument deflection. Constantly repeating this assertion is an attempt at avoiding the proofs listed above by closing the argument with a simple declaration. It’s the old, “repeat something often enough and it becomes truth” trick.

Of course, many people, including Canada's Prime Minister and US Senator James Inahofe, have been bamboozled into believing that global warming is a hoax or a socialist money grab, ignoring the fact that conservative governments throughout the world are already vigorously fighting climate change.

This is ad hominem, arguing from authority, and exaggeration. The author is first attempting to denigrate the intelligence of the Canadian PM and Senator Inhofe. His implication is that only the US and Canada stand opposed to ACC theory, specifically certain uninformed politicians. By further implication, since all the lemmings are going over the cliff, we should too.

And many others think that scientists are still engaging in a vigorous debate. With thousands of studies all pointing in the same direction, how is that possible?

This is an unsupported assertion, more exaggeration and arguing from authority. The implication being that all studies point in the same direction and that all “real” scientists buy the theory of ACC. There are 650 scientists (many of them were formerly ACCTA’s) in the Senate Minority Report that was released on 11 December 2008 who disagree.1 Additionally, there are over 31,000 scientists who have signed the Petition Project.2 It isn’t that they deny climate change, but that they are skeptical of the anthropogenic impact on climate change.

Well, we can thank the tobacco companies. In the 1980s, big tobacco paid big money to establish "independent" think tanks and "research" institutes that were charged with confusing the public over the dangers of sidestream smoke.

Astroturfing began when Imperial Tobacco, Canada’s largest tobacco manufacturer, commissioned a secret study that weighed various strategies for combating the growing influence of nonsmoking groups like The Lung Association and the Nonsmokers Rights Association.

“Passive smoking [should be] the focal point,” the study suggests. “Of all the health issues surrounding smoking… the one that the tobacco industry has the most chance of winning [is to argue] that the evidence proclaimed by [anti-smoking groups] is flawed… It is highly desirable for us to control the focus of the debate.” Later, the study urges a comprehensive attack on “the credibility of the evidence presented to date,” and tells the company to hire several doctors and scientists who would be willing to take their side.

And that's exactly what they did.

Companies like Phillip Morris used their huge profits to create institutes and smokers-rights groups to promote pseudo-science and false research as the real thing, thereby confusing many people who don’t really understand how the scientific process works. The campaign convinced many nonsmokers that secondhand smoke was just another unfounded fear — a fear that could be equated to concerns over cell phones, pesticides and, believe it or not, global warming.


All five preceding paragraphs are ad hominem made more insidious by the specific linkage to tobacco. Effective, but still fallacious logic. In fact, the tobacco companies’ studies were debunked on solid scientific grounds not emotion or “consensus.” Counter-studies proved the linkage between cancers and second-hand smoke while exposing the scientific errors of the tobacco companies’ studies, thereby defeating the tobacco company efforts.

Ten years later, when study after study confirmed that global warming was real, and that it seemed likely to roll over us and lead to catastrophic warming, scientists sounded the alarm. The oil industry saw the way the wind was blowing. But rather than do the ethical thing, and join the fight to slow global warming, most companies took a page from the tobacco industry playbook.

More ad hominem (linkage to evil oil companies and evil tobacco companies) and unfounded assertion. Note that the argument still it isn’t entirely dishonest. What the author repeatedly does is omit the anthropogenic component of his argument. Therefore he is correct to argue that global warming is real (so is global cooling), but he leaves the human component (the contentious part) out.

The(y) created research institutes and public policy centers — all very official sounding — that are paid to distort and confuse. They aren't trying to disprove global warming; they're trying to convince decent folk everywhere that the debate is still ongoing, and that the scientific community still isn't speaking with one voice.

Scientific hypotheses are not determined by the character or belief of the person or organization who funds the research. Scientific hypotheses are proven on their merit by using tests against either empirical or experimental data. Who paid for the data to be gathered or the analysis is irrelevant. As I've already shown with real numbers, the scientific community is most definitely NOT speaking with one voice, nor should it.

In a nutshell, these groups are paid to lie in a very clever, media-savvy way.

Ad hominem.

And it's worked. It's still working. People are busy. We lead frenetic lives. In the attempt to provide balance, newspapers give voice to people who can lie boldly and confidently, and still sleep at night. As a result, most people in the North America and the UK still don't believe that climate change is a major concern, or they still believe that we have to put the economy and jobs before the melting glaciers. Most Canadians believe that our country is getting warmer, but they seem to think the real problems are a century away, or that technology will solve the issue before it gets out of hand.

Given the preponderance of media support for the ACC position, I would think that the author has this reversed. Several media personalities and scientists who have dared step out of the perceived orthodoxy have had careers threatened or views quashed.3

Belief is irrelevant, that's a concept for religions. What matters are provable facts, the province of science. That most people at one time believed the earth was flat, did not make it so. That most people once believed that the earth was the center of the universe, did not make it so. That most might believe that man’s CO2 emissions are the primary forcing factor of climate change, does not make it so. The possibility remains that there may be causality, but it has not been proven.

Both possibilities are nothing more than pipe dreams. What we do it the next five years will determine the fate of humanity. If we fail to convince governments in North America to tackle climate change with the same steely resolve that we displayed during WWII, then we are putting the health of our bank accounts before the physical and emotional well being of our descendants, beginning with your children and grandchildren.

And we know this for a fact how? Tugs the heartstrings, but short on fact.

This climate change debate has become a story of citizen journalism gone awry, for the blogosphere is littered with amateur writers who have been duped into fighting against global warming by slick web sites with official-sounding names like the Science and Public Policy Institute and the Friends of Science. There you will find "climate scientists" who spout all manner of opinion that muddies the global warming waters. But if you did deeper, you’ll find that SPPI — and their ilk — are sponsored by oil companies who borrowed the tobacco industry’s guidebook. Their experts aren’t experts; they either pocket oil industry money, or they can't publish their work in respected scientific journals.

Again the author is using unproven assertion and ad hominem. The Internet is equally littered with amateur writers with slick web sites like “One Blue Marble” who have been duped into fighting for the economic destruction of the civilized world in the hope of stopping climate change that will happen with or without human intervention. Note the usage, “climate scientist.” Clearly this is used in a denigrating manner to impugn the professional qualifications of any who dare argue against the orthodoxy. Equally the author implies that his side only uses facts while these heretics offer only opinion. The entire time the author makes this argument, he does not offer a single supportable fact.

Major climate change has occurred in the past absent any forcing by human emissions of CO2. The burden of proof is on the ACCTA community to prove that this time, human CO2 emissions are the primary forcing factor of climate change rather than natural forces. They have yet to do this and that is why there are Skeptics.

To make a climate skeptic sputter, you need to as ask him for real evidence — published in a respected, peer-reviewed scientific journal and authored by a scientist with a PhD in climatology — that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 can rise above 450 parts per million (ppm) without affecting global temperatures. No expert will make that claim. The overwhelming majority of climate scientists believe that a global tragedy is drawing nigh.

Arguing from authority…again. A report, even a peer-reviewed report, is not necessarily evidence. A report peer-reviewed only within a small pool of researchers who frequently collaborate on papers is highly suspect.4 Data is evidence. Climate models, the tool of the ACCTA’s, are not. Nor is there any single scientific field that has total knowledge of climate. Even the IPCC points to the myriad of complexity requiring experts from many fields in order to understand climate.5 Any “scientist” who claims to know everything is a fraud.
More to the point, the author demands that Skeptics produce counter-evidence from a PhD in climatology, as if this is the gold standard for authority. If that is his standard, then perhaps the author should withdraw from this discussion altogether. He will find it equally difficult to find a scientist with a PhD in climatology to support his arguments.

Here are eight of the most prominent names in the ACCTA side of the debate:
     Michael Mann, PhD Geology and Geophysics (this is the Dr. Mann made famous in Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” with the now-discredited “hockey stick” graph)
     James Hansen, PhD Physics (NASA, one of the most prominent and vocal advocates, now on Obama’s “Science Team”)
     Rajenda K. Pachauri, PhD Industrial Engineering, PhD Economics (Chairman IPCC)
     Herve LeTreut, PhD Geophysics (Co-Lead Author, IPCC WG1 Fourth Assessment)
     Richard Somerville, PhD Meteorology (Co-Lead Author, IPCC WG1, Fourth Assessment)
     Peter Huybers, PhD Climate Physics and Chemistry (MIT)
     Benjamin D. Santer, PhD Physics and Astrophysics
     Steven Sherwood, PhD Oceanography

The first three names listed above are like the “high priests” of ACC. NONE have a PhD in climatology. Therefore, if having a degree in climatology is so critical to credibility, then the ACC proponents are equally without credibility.

And again the author totally ignores or misses the crux of the debate, namely whether human emissions of CO2 are causing warming and by how much.

Our parents have been described as the greatest generation. If we fail to act, we will be known as the selfish generation, and our children and grandchildren will remember us for the rest of our days — for all the wrong reasons.

The effective heartstring tug again, but still not proof of anything.

References:

1 U.S. Senate and Environment Public Works Committee Minority Staff Report, 11 December 2008.

2 Petition Project. (Among the most prominent signers is Edward Teller, PhD. Physics)

3 U.S. Senate and Environment Public Works Committee Minority Staff Report, 11 December 2008.

4 AD HOC COMMITTEE REPORT ON THE ‘HOCKEY STICK’ GLOBAL CLIMATE RECONSTRUCTION, Edward J. Wegman, George Mason University, David W. Scott, Rice University, and Yasmin H. Said, The Johns Hopkins University, John T. Rigsby, III, Naval Surface Warfare Center, and Denise M. Reeves, MITRE Corporation. (July 2006)

5 Technical Summary, 4th Assessment, Working Group 1 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), page 21. (August 2007)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I'm A Skeptic

I’m a Skeptic (the uppercase is explained below) and I’ve pretty much always been one. I’ve been pondering creating this blog for a long time. This is just what the blogosphere needs, another blog about climate change.

Over the past year I’ve read the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Fourth Assessment (released in November 2007) in its entirety. Yes, it took me that long. I read the Third Assessment a year ago and I plan to go back and read the first two assessments just capture the history, though I’ll more likely just skim them.

Of course I’ve visited the blogs and web sites for both sides of the debate (some are better than others), but what really strikes me is how the preponderance of ACCTA (Anthropogenic Climate Change Theory Advocate) sites and blogs rely primarily on ad hominem, argument from authority, threats, and strawmen in order to advance their agenda. Rarely do they argue with actual points of evidence. (Model results are not necessarily evidence, but we’ll leave that for a future post.) On those rare occasions when they do use evidence, ACCTA’s are just as guilty of cherry-picking data as some of their Skeptic opponents.

While I frequently use sarcasm (aka Ad Hominem) when arguing politics and emotional social issues (hey, I’m human too), I make an effort to avoid it in scientific discussion. And so, on this blog I will strive to avoid such fallacious method and stick to evidence and logic. I will also ruthlessly point out the above common reasoning errors when my opponents or supporters use them here.

To that end, I’ll start with some conventions I’ll use from now on.

Some conventions for future argument:

Temperature. All temperatures will be discussed in °C (degrees Celsius). 0°C is the freezing point of water and 100°C is the boiling point at sea level.

HH (Hot House). A period of warm conditions on Earth where the mean temperature is about 22°C and there is no ice anywhere. This is the normal state of Earth's climate, if by normal we mean predominant as in 96% of Earth's history.

IH (Ice House). A period of cooling and glaciation lasting 30 - 50 million years. This is an aberration from the normal hot planet. In an IH, mean temperature falls from 22°C to 12-14°C. Ice caps form and glaciation can cover significant portions of the planet. Current global mean temperature is about
14°C. There have been three IH periods in the last 542 million years (Phanerozoic Eon). There has been ice a total of about 4% of Earth history. We are in an IH now.

IA (Ice Age). That period during an IH when glaciation predominates. Ice covers significant portions of Earth's surface. IA's last 40,000 - 200,000 years.

IG (Interglacial). Those warming periods between IA's during an IH where glaciation and ice caps recede, but do not vanish. We are currently in an 8,000 - 12,000-year IG known as the Holocene Interglacial. IG's typically last 10,000 - 30,000 years.


This graph shows the three "Ice Houses" of the past 542 million years1.
Note that Ice Houses are of shorter duration than Hot Houses.


Climate. Climate is weather, averaged over time—usually a minimum of 30 years. Regional climate means the average weather trends in an area. Global climate, an average of regional climate trends, describes the Earth’s climate as a whole.2 (For this definition I used a source that endorses the ACCTA position, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), but hopefully we are all in agreement. It isn’t really a controversial point.)

Global climate change. Recognizable shifts in the global climate. (Personally, I think using the words “climate” and “change” together is redundant. Climate is all about change. Climate has never been stable.)

ACC (Anthropogenic Climate Change). The paradigm that the earth is warming at an unprecedented and abnormal rate causing ice to melt, oceans to rise, climate to change. This is attributed to the activities of man since the industrial revolution, principally the release of CO2 into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. This has also been called AGW, or Anthropogenic Global Warming in some circles. Recent convention is to call it ACC.

ACCTA (Anthropogenic Climate Change Theory Advocates). This refers to the interlocking cartel of taxpayer-funded professors, leftish-intellectuals, corporate news media pundits, government policy makers, environmental activists, UN agency operatives and a community of climate scientists who have agreed to a consensus that ACC is real, is irrefutably proven, is drastic, is immensely dangerous and requires massive government-forced intercession into the industrialized capitalistic sector to control.3

Skeptics. Those who are not convinced in ACC or, even if they are, believe that massive intercession is neither necessary to control ACC, nor desirable. Some Skeptics may work for oil companies. They are a subset of the total. The majority simply do not believe that ACCTA’s have proven their case. Skeptics say, prove it with objective hard evidence.

Talking about climate change as if it is an exclusive artifact of human activity is disingenuous and dishonest. That is where the real argument begins between Skeptics and ACCTA’s -- anthropogenic climate change (meaning caused by human activity). Whether and how much humans affect global climate through CO2 emissions are the issues that are still not resolved.

As I stated in my opening, I’m a Skeptic. I don’t work for an oil company -- no matter how much ACCTA’s may wish to think so. I’m an Engineer by education (United States Military Academy) and an ORSA (Operations Research and Systems Analyst) by post-graduate training. I can do the science and math from primary sources. I don’t let others synthesize my opinion for me.

ORSA’s do computer modeling. ORSA’s are by training, Skeptics. We don’t trust computer modelers because we know the craft. It’s what we do. We tend to want raw data and the code so we can run the model ourselves and this is a bone of contention between Skeptics and ACCTA’s. That particular conflict will be a topic for another post.

Climate Fact Summary with Emphasis on the Holocene IG:

A. The earth is warming and has been for about 150 years. However, the scale of what we are talking about is broad, our measurements are recent (in geological time), all the variables are not known, nor do we know with certainty how to weight the variables we do know. Because we don't know all the variables or their proper weight, we cannot say with certainty if we we are at the beginning, middle or end of the upswing.
B. The current warming is part of a natural cycle, a rebound. (This is the main point of argument and we’ll come back to it in a future post.)
C. Prior to the current warming, it was colder for 400 years. This period is known as the Little Ice Age (LIA).
D. Prior to LIA, it was warmer than it is today. This period is known as the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and it lasted about 400 years.
E. The 20th Century warming slope is approaching, but has not yet reached, the level of MWP.
F. The current warmth should be expected to last for about 400 years.
G. During warming periods, agriculture moves further north. (During MWP, Viking settlers farmed wheat and flax in Greenland. Today, this is impossible because the climate is still too cold).
I. When the current warming period is over, we should expect the temperature to go back down as part of the normal fluctuation (unless we are leaving the IH).
J. These 400-year cycles have been going on throughout the Holocene IG. Assuming only a 15,000-year IG, we can expect 8 - 18 additional 400-year cycles (warming/cooling) based upon past history.
K. Before the Holocene IG, earth was in a deep freeze that lasted about 100,000 years. This is often called The Ice Age (IA), but more accurately it is merely the most recent IA.
L. The current IH has lasted about 30 million years. Within this IH there have been roughly 20 cycles of IA and IG.

This then is our starting point. I will be adding links to sources later which will include: research papers, data, graphs, web sites, and blogs where this issue is presented. It is my intention to group web site and blog links based upon scientific value and whether the site uses ad hominem, strawmen, threats, argument from authority, and personal attack to advance their position. I will be equally unkind to both sides.

References:

1. This is a rough graph intended only to illustrate the IH's of the past 542 million years from Earth in Time.
2. The National Center for Atmospheric Research
3. Borrowed from Earth in Time with modifications. John Donohue uses the term TEA (The Established Authority) instead of Anthropogenic Climate Change Theory Advocate.