Archive | January, 2014

Climate News – January Edition No. 2

Fusion of economics and scientific stargazing

Economist Richard Tol estimates that the economic effect of 3.6 degrees celsius global warming from 1900 to 2100 is positive until 2070 and then turns negative; (the earth probably warmed 0.8 of a degree celsius over the past 150 years, though, at most, this is only partly due to the greenhouse effect).

How credible are economic forecasts 100 years into the future (in 1914 did economists envisage computers, the internet, mass air travel or the rise of China)? Moreover, it is almost certain that mankind will invent inexpensive ways to adapt to a warmer climate should it come about.

That aside, the assumed 3.6 degrees celsius of warming is a receding mirage. Richard Lindzen, (interesting profile in the Weekly Standard) maintains that greenhouse gas induced warming could never be much more than 1 degree celsius most of which would already have occurred; regarding claims that the current warming pause is due to heat “hiding” in the deep ocean. He says if that is so, the models predicting catastrophic warming must be wrong since this is not incorporated in their historical data.

The establishment also blames the closing of the ozone hole for delaying the CO2 induced global warming that data like this (which I referred to last edition) has forced them to acknowledge. The IPCC’s most recent estimates are for warming at 0.17 degrees celsius per decade, meaning that it would be 212 years before the earth warmed by 3.6 degrees celsius, and much longer, if ever, should the near absence of warming post 1995 trend be maintained. The progressive downgrading of warming projections is illustrated here.

projections-and-observation

Absence of recent warming: It’s the Sun wot done it

Sun spot activity is especially low according to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. This is usually coexistent with cold weather periods like that known as the Maunder Minimum 1645-1715.

El Nino as an explanation of climate change

Meanwhile Don Easterbrook points out that cooling and warming coincided with the El Nino temperature pattern which has been identified as occurring for at least 300 years. The 2-7 year El Nino cycles are thought to occur within longer term shifts (known as Pacific Decadal Oscillations – PDO) of which one has been in place since 1999. If this runs its usual course it would bring a cooling for the next 25 years.

climate-shift

Facts are common but not everyone has an opinion

The most recent national “Climate Change in the American Mind” survey found that a quarter of Americans think that global warming is not happening, and half say they are “worried” about it.

In a UK ComRes/ITV poll, 62 per cent of people registered disagreement or no opinion that UK weather anomalies were due to human induced global warming. The environment minister appears to share that scepticism since, notwithstanding Prime Minister David Cameron’s linking of recent UK floods to climate change, this year’s spending on climate change initiatives was cut by 41 per cent.

Essential Research estimates 51 per cent of Australians think human induced global warming is happening and that 52 per cent attribute the recent Australian heat wave to it. University graduates were more gullible than average on both counts!

Renewables: costs and contributions

Australian investment in renewables has cost $18 billion and is expected to cost a further $18 billion. Yet the Energy Supply Association of Australia puts the contribution of solar as low as 2-2.5 per cent ($) in Victoria and South Australia through the heat wave week ending January 18.

The EU’s renewable energy policy has now become non-mandatory, though ambitious targets for the distant future remain under discussion. Last week I called for the abandonment of our own targets in an AFR article.

Blasts from the past

“The Arctic Ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consulafft, at Bergen, Norway.

“Reports from fishermen, seal hunters, and explorers all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes.

“Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared.

“…Within a few years it is predicted that due to the ice melt the sea will rise and make most coastal cities uninhabitable.”

From The Washington PostNovember 2, 1922

This historical comment would be echoed by ‘Ship of Fools‘ leader Chris Turney, who gets an Australian Academy of Science award for “pioneering new ways of combining climate models with records of past climate change”. Professor Turney has not agreed to pay for the costs, estimated at $2.4 million for his rescue from Antarctic ice but apologized for any impact his rescue “might have had on fellow colleagues whose work has been delayed”.