Monday, February 25, 2008

The day after the Day After Tomorrow

It's 'climate change' alright. The National Post says, "forget Global Warming, welcome to the New Ice Age."

According to Robert Toggweiler of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton University and Joellen Russell, assistant professor of biogeochemical dynamics at the University of Arizona -- two prominent climate modellers -- the computer models that show polar ice-melt cooling the oceans, stopping the circulation of warm equatorial water to northern latitudes and triggering another Ice Age (a la the movie The Day After Tomorrow) are all wrong.

"We missed what was right in front of our eyes," says Prof. Russell. It's not ice melt but rather wind circulation that drives ocean currents northward from the tropics. Climate models until now have not properly accounted for the wind's effects on ocean circulation, so researchers have compensated by over-emphasizing the role of manmade warming on polar ice melt.

I'm not sure we are headed for any Ice Age yet, any more than I was prepared to buy into the theory of carbon-driven manmade Global Warming. But I am sure that we don't understand the climate enough to enshrine any particular theory as The Truth. Nor are we in a position to launch an international, multi-trillion dollar, decades long project of climate engineering run by bureaucracies like the Kyoto Protocol.

I think we should de-politicize the entire debate. Cast out the ideological demons from the house of science. Make it possible for researchers of all persuasions to follow their hypothesis without being threatened with jailtime by David Suzuki, George Monbiot or anyone else. Get all the 'Human Rights' and 'speech code' muttawa out of the business of condemning climate criminals. Then let the market decide how to adapt or react to the information as it becomes tested and available.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Technically, we are in an "Ice Age" and have been for quite a while.

An Ice Age is in effect anytime both poles have permanent ice caps.

What is happening right now is the ice isn't advancing at this time, like it has done many times in the past and will do so again.

2/25/2008 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Nomenklatura said...

"I think we should de-politicize the entire debate."

Surely this is naive, in a couple of ways.

There is a large segment of the population out there in all countries for which, if they are ever to achieve anything of note or transform their own personal prospects, then the only likely source, as they see it, is the government. This is a durable potential coalition of people who believe their prospects in life are not geared to what they can achieve in the private economy. It thus tends to unite low achievers of all types, government employees, academics and the general run of people in the media.

This group and their desire for a cause which will bind them together and give them the excuse they need to tax and coerce the rest of us will never go away.


(i) Only an abject public humiliation of the most public sort will ever get them to give up one of their core campaigns (see the collapse of Communism, end of the Cold War and the retreat from overt socialism).

(ii) When this does happen we'll never get an apology, they will just move on to the next handy formula which flatters their self-esteem while appearing to justify all the coercive measures against people in the private sector they really want (see enthusiasm for Global Warming).

While it's understandable to yearn for a future in which we "de-politicize the entire debate", we need to realize that we will not achieve real progress until we find a way to 'drain the swamp' (reduce the proportion of our population who are losers, government employees or otherwise insulated from the success or failure of the private economy). Our private economy is of course the only thing which pays all of our bills, keeps our lights on and finances the defenses which protect us.

We must find a way to deliver education more effectively so we don't create so many losers, and either manage public employees better or employ far fewer of them. Otherwise these people will always be with us, and if they get humiliated over Global Warming will just move on seamlessly to rally around their next anti-private sector cause (of which there are always several bubbling away just offstage).

2/25/2008 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger joe buz said...

May I have a few minutes to check with that Dr. with the Weather Channel to see if these two should be stripped of their credentials? Maybe it is now all about "change". As long as your model predicts change, you are good to go. Climate change = doom, Political change = hope. I hope they spare me the change.
I'm actually surprised that the purveyors of dread are not focusing on a magnetic pole shift(read change if you must)....perhaps they are still tweaking their models so as to lay the blame at the feet of us crunchy conservatives....

2/25/2008 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

The paper below is a good one to read. It covers a lot of ground and is based upon historical data not dubious models.

I like the part about the CO2 being 20x what we have now in the past. And I like the question about "what is the optimum amount of CO2?" and how our current CO2 is barely enough for life on our planet.

We are heading for another solar minimum that will cool things off 2-3 degrees C over the next few years.

The record cold we saw the few months in the N and S Hemispheres is just the tip of the iceberg!

I think we should call this the Gore Minimum!

2/25/2008 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

Sorry about that:

Better link:

Modern Solar Minimum imminent

2/25/2008 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

I remember seeing some commercial about how the tigers would be gone in just a few short years. I followed up on the web address given and told them good one, close enough people feel the need for urgent action, far enough for them to forget about how wrong they are going to be.

I got a reply that essentially said X tigers in the world and Y per year are killed - you do the math. I was quite aware I was tilting at windmills but that is a good exercise from time to time.

I did not bother to follow up on how they determined X and Y nor do I recall the exact formulation. From my recollection according to my e-mailer the tigers should be extinct by now.

It would be funny if these people were not so determined to undermine civilization.

I remember the horror stories of the '70s about the coming ice age unless we mended our ways.

I wonder if the squawk of these people can actually predict the coming cooling & warming? Kinda like how the grouse and owl populations in the north US & in Canada fluctuate in relation to each other? I sense an Unbelievable News Service story coming up!

2/25/2008 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

I'm not sure we are headed for any Ice Age yet, any more than I was prepared to buy into the theory of carbon-driven manmade Global Warming. But I am sure that we don't understand the climate enough to enshrine any particular theory as The Truth.

This is exactly right. The fact that people are still picking up on major faults with the climate modeling is disconcerting. There are still some problems with the data that cause doubts, and I don't think we even have the capability of modeling solar irradience yet. It's hard to do any planning when we have so little understanding of what's happening, why it's happening and how to change it. In a situation of such profound uncertainty, however, I think we should keep two things in mind. First, change in climate can hurt us. Since we have optimized our infrastructure for the current climate, we can expect any change to be economically harmful. Second, when we don't know what's happening it pays to be conservative.

Unfortunately, humans are changing several parameters in very non-conservative ways. We are impacting the CO2 concentration and we are effecting the ozone layer. We are also destroying forest and removing keystone species from almost every habitat on the planet. Do we have the remotest idea what the effects of these trends will be?

Regarding the cost, we should be able to pull back somewhat on these changes with some fairly low-cost and cost-compensated ways. Encouraging nuclear power comes to mind. Any measure that reduces fossil fuel usage in the US would, additionally, be equally useful in terms of national security.

2/25/2008 06:15:00 PM  
Blogger Kinuachdrach said...

It would be nice to depoliticise climate research, and pursue knowledge & understanding instead. But depoliticising climate research would in today's circumstances be a political act.

President Eisenhower worried about this kind of thing. Everyone knows about his concern about the "military-industrial complex" as stated in his 1961 farewell address. Less often remembered is that Ike went on to point out a second risk in the brave new post WWII world -- the [taxpayer-funded] "scientific-technological elite":

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research.

Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present -- and is gravely to be regarded. [Emphasis Added]

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

2/25/2008 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

"Any measure that reduces fossil fuel usage in the US would, additionally, be equally useful in terms of national security."

The United States has the world's largest coal reserves. The Germans ran their war machine in WWII in large part from petrol and gasoline made from coal. Why can we do the same? Ah, because we are worried about CO2 emissions. Read the paper that Red River has linked to. It is very sobering, especially if you have been following the debate between the solar scientists on what seems to be occuring with the Sun like I have. The money quote from the report:

"but soon the focus will change to our ability to feed ourselves, and that is a subject that will concentrate a lot of minds."

The last time humanity faced one of the serious solar minimums there was under a billion people on the planet. Now there is over six billion. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are saddling up if this report is half true. Meanwhile we are attempting to sell everyone on the idea of turning our arable land to the task of fuel production, in an effort to reduce the use of petroleum, in the hopes of reducing greenhouse gasses, in the belief that this will stabilize our climate. Madness!

2/25/2008 07:29:00 PM  
Blogger newscaper said...

Guys, I'd be cautious in getting too excited about the Archibald paper referenced by someone else earlier.

I sniffed around and found some pretty good hole-poking.

Just because there is some interesting science about solar activity doesn't mean we don't need to be careful about going too far out on a limb with some amateur and sawing it off, discrediting skepticism in th bargain.

P.S. Wretchard, please do something about posting URLS by pasting -- longer ones get cut off and handcoding anchor tags is a PITA.

2/25/2008 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger John Lynch said...

I don't know what to think of an education that has pounded the mantra "correlation is not causation" into my head, but then tries to convince me of human-initiated climate change.

2/25/2008 09:30:00 PM  
Blogger John Lynch said...

Thinking further, what's really annoying isn't the experts on climate. It's the people with minimal scientific training, or scientists from other fields, that try to push an agenda. This annoys me because they aren't really any more qualified than I am.

If anyone remembers, "Nuclear Winter" was a big deal about twenty five years ago. A nuclear war would supposedly darken the skies and freeze us all. They had a computer model. Carl Sagan was part of the group. Turns out that the model was trash. Carl Sagan wasn't a climatologist. It was all hooey.

The whole idea was driven by a desire to stop nuclear war by making the consequences seem even worse. I don't think that the climate researchers are biased in this way, but the people pushing the idea in public most certainly are.

The debate cannot be depoliticized. That stopped being an option once policy became an issue. Now it's politicized forever.

2/25/2008 09:36:00 PM  
Blogger PharmaGuy said...

Having lived in the Midwest and now the Northeast all my life, I find is so odd and sad that so many buy into the "Global Warming" hysteria. Everywhere I have lived in WI, MI and now RI was under 100s if not thousands of feet of ice 15K-25K years ago, yesterday as far as geologic time is concerned. Not just one either, but 4x in the last 2 Million years. The park across the river in CT has a nice display about how Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Block Island, Fishers Island and even Long Island are glacial moraines from not really very long ago.

Alas, there is too much $$ to be made adding to the heated discussion- if it were only truly so, a real discussion!- of climate change influenced by human activity. No one gets research money saying the sun rises in the east....

2/26/2008 02:04:00 AM  
Blogger Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

The most interesting thing in the climate debate is the extent to which both geologists and astronomers as a group tend to be highly skeptical.

It's probably because we, unlike other scientists, are trained to think in four dimensions, meaning TIME. Ten million years is pocket change.

So we tend to know things like:
a) 450 million years ago (mya) when Earth was at its coldest in about a billion years, CO2 levels were ten times higher than today.

b) 90 mya there were crocodiles in the Arctic Ocean, but Antarctica still had lots of ice.

c) 50 mya extreme northern Canada had a climate similar to Memphis, Tennessee, but it didn't stop 'em from saying 'oot' eh?

d) Earth has been in a long term cooling trend since that time.

e) Within that cooling trend there have been repeated rapid warmings, during which temperature rise has preceeded CO2 rise by about 800 years.

f) Present rates of warming are quite common in geological history. Maybe it was Fred's SUV ...

2/26/2008 04:32:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Boy, did Al Gore get it wrong!

Satellite data shows that concerns over the levels of sea ice may have been premature.

It was feared that the polar caps were vanishing because of the effects of global warming.

But figures from the respected US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that almost all the “lost” ice has come back.

Ice levels which had shrunk from 13million sq km in January 2007 to just four million in October, are almost back to their original levels.

Figures show that there is nearly a third more ice in Antarctica than is usual for the time of year.

Global Warming is now a religion. Heretics beware!

Originally the Global Warming True Believers just said "Hey, the Earth is heating up!" The problem with this is that they were making a prediction which could be disproved, if their theory was wrong.

Today they say:
If temperatures go up that proves we're right!
If temperatures go down that proves we're right!
If there's a flood that proves we're right!
If there's a drought that proves we're right!
If there's more hurricanes that proves we're right!
If there's fewer hurricanes that proves we're right!

Can sane people take their claims seriously?

2/26/2008 04:44:00 AM  
Blogger david leaner said...

Global Warming and Cooling dire predictions are not the point-- it's Global Sameness that threatens steady state and natural diversity/ fluctuation. And Democrat, EU prospects.

2/26/2008 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

DL, if we run into a rough patch of global cooling it won't be 'Global Sameness', it will be a return to the tribal instincts of mankind, Us vs Them. I doubt Americans, or Argentines, or Aussies are going to be too keen on sharing the grain if there is not enough to go around at home. Places like Europe, Russia, China and the Middle East that are dependent on food from aboard are going to be in a world of hurt if there are widespread crop failures. We are several generations away from any sort of living memory of what widespread famine is like. Could get very ugly and all the "let's hold hands together" singing ain't going do much when the world descends into the state that Hobbes described.

2/26/2008 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

I'm a believer in AGW, but if it comes to it, I'm all for burning coal instead of oil. The ME oil money is draining our economy and feeding our enemies. As the oil pours into our fuel tanks, the gold pours into the coffers of ME tyrants and fanatics.

I'm also not against ethanol. I believe that we will find more efficient ways of producing ethanol, but only if we can guarantee the market. If we require that all gasoline contain a specified percentage of ethanol and promise to keep it that way, then the market will have a chance to work its magic. As with everything else, there will be temporary dislocations, but at least a part of our fuel money will be recycled back into our own economy. We should gradually raise the percentage of ethanol as we develop improved technologies for it.

Energy independence is almost impossible, but we can easily take steps to at least improve our energy posture, and a lot of those steps would also improve the CO2 picture. Solar, wind, nuclear, biofuels, conservation -- all will address both problems. Planning a reasonable energy future is better than letting the lights go out when the Straits of Hormuz are closed.

2/26/2008 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

Deltoid says that the impending "Ice Age" meme was instigated by IBD and does not reflect the opinion of the solar scientist in question, Kenneth Tapping. Jan Dawson, a conservative opposed to AGW, tracked down the scientist himself.

2/27/2008 05:56:00 PM  

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