Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Arctic is melting. Run for the hills!

That old chestnut – ‘Artic ice cap shrinks to lowest level since records began’.  And what records would those be? Are yes ‘Satellite records’, begun in 1979 a staggering 33 years ago. What the warmists will not tell you is that sea ice around Antarctica is running at record highs. Empirical data seems to show that when Arctic sea ice is growing (on a year on year basis) Antarctic ice shrinks and vice versa. Records going back hundreds of years, show regular seesawing of sea ice cover at the poles. “Shrinking of the Artic sea ices alarms scientists and environmentalist because the Arctic acts as the world’s air conditioner…” You couldn’t make this stuff up.

If you are interested in a really good in-depth analysis of the history and mechanics of sea ice ebb and flow then look at the relevant section in Ian Plimer’s ‘Heaven and Earth: Global Warming – The Missing Science’

Like sea level rise, the growth and shrinkage of ice caps is rather more complicated than the alarmist brigades would have you believe.


Sea Level Rise. Complicated.

You would think that the inexorable rise in sea level since the end of the last ice age, approximately 14,000 years ago, would be a relatively simple calculation. Land ice melts; water runs into sea, sea rises, end of story.

Nice and simple, that is, if you want to get across a simple message that human caused global warming is resulting in the melting of that ice and the subsequent rise in sea levels. So as a global warming alarmist what you don’t want is nasty facts and complicated variables muddying the water of some ‘settled science’.

For instance? Well tidal gauges in the port of Turku (near the gulf of Finland) appear to show that the sea level is falling at 1cm per year (E. Niskanen Isostatic Institution International Association of Geodesy Pub. 6, Helsinki). Stockholm used to be an island, but the sea level here also appears to be falling also at 1cm per year. But even more extreme, the city of Ephesus was a port city in biblical times. Now it is 24km inland and 5 metre above sea level. (Heaven & Earth: Global Warming the Missing Science by Ian Plimer). How can this be possible? We know from high school science that water finds its own level. It can’t be higher in one place and lower in another. But then anyone with a fleeting knowledge of geology would know that this is nothing at all to do with sea level rise or fall but the rise of the land itself. In the case of Scandinavia, the earth is rebounding after the retreat of ice from the last ice age. There are many other possible reasons for these apparently anomalous readings. There could be volcanic uplift, Techtronic uplift.

Other things that enter the equation are things like gravity. Large mountains near the sea will create a locally higher level of sea. The coriolis effect will show a higher sea level on one side of a continent than it will on the other due the earth’s spin.

My point is that sea level rise is very difficult to measure accurately. In some parts of the world tidal gauges are sinking, registering a false sea level rise. Those that claim a sea level rise over and above the background rise due to the current interglacial (if they are alarmists) will point to the 3mm rise per year over the last 20 years which if extrapolated gives a somewhat alarming trend – how satisfying for them. On the other hand since the end of the last ice age sea level rise has moved in fits and starts as a result of surges of land ice into the sea. You might note that these two competing articles use the same graph. But come one, trying to extrapolate what will happen to sea levels when using a time scale of 20 years and with all the potential inaccuracies and variables. That’s pushing it even for these dyed in the wool warmists.

If the sea level rise argument shows nothing else it is that ‘The Science is not Settled’.

Why doom has not materialized

This article by George Will of the Washington Post puts some numbers on a post I made a few days ago (Peak Oil – I don’t think so). The coincidental date of 1972 (my first environmental seminar) with the publishing of ‘The Limits to Growth” from the Club of Rome are clearly no coincidence at all. The use of MIT’s computer models to predict the exhaustion of 12 commodities before 2010 was the basis of this alarmist work of fiction.

A venerable university, a pure environmental organisation – with no axe to grind, an alarmist doomsday piece of tripe. Nothing changes.

Acid Oceans – More on this.

I like this article. Nice comment on Wired Science.

Increase in Ocean Acidity? But Oceans are Alkaline!

This article in Wired Science takes some beating for ignorance and misrepresentation of science. Take this sentence: Already, the acidity of ocean waters, which are generally basic, has shifted about 0.1 on the pH scale, or 10 percent, since pre-industrial times, and could get far more acidic by mid-century.

Within 10 words the author (Alexis Madrigal) contradicts himself; he clearly lacks the most basic of scientific education. Let’s dissect the sentence. ‘…the acidity of ocean waters, which are generally basic’. Well come on Alexis which is it, are they acid or basic (alkaline). They can’t be both at the same time? The pH scale is not a measure of acidity; it is a measure of how acidic OR basic a substance is. Acids and bases work differently, they are not on some convenient sliding scale as Madrigal would have you believe.

‘…has shifted about 0.1 on the pH scale, or 10 percent…’

First let’s look at the math. The pH scale is from 0 to 14. A 10% change would be 1.4, but we are only talking about 0.1 which is a 0.7% change. But that is not the whole story. The pH scale is logarithmic. That means that pH 9.0 is 10 times more alkaline than pH 8.0 and 100 times more alkaline than pH 7.0. Since sea water is between pH 7.9 and 9.0, 0.1 is an infinitesimally small change. But there’s more. Sea water is highly resistant to a change in its pH (buffered). Adding a large amount of highly concentrated acid would only reduce its pH very slightly.

Talk about alarmism!

Rising sea levels benefit corals just look at the historic record. Our sea levels are rising as any global warming alarmist will tell you (though not as much as they would have you believe).

Not Peak Oil. Peak Idiocy.

So where did it all go wrong for peak-oil alarmists? Interestingly, for better ‘experts’ than Monbiot, it was their abject failure to understand either energy or the economics of energy. A double failure that led inexorably into a state which economist Mike Munger rightly terms: “peak idiocy”. Munger’s thesis bears repeating:

“Of all the idiotic things people believe, the whole “peak oil” thing has to be right up there. It is literally impossible for us to run out of oil. We have never run out of anything. And we never will.
If we did start to use up the oil we have … three things would happen.
1. Prices would rise, causing people to cut back on use. More fuel efficient cars, better insulation on houses, etc. Quantity supplied goes up.
2. Prices would rise, causing people to look for more. And they would find more oil, and more ways to get at it. Quantity demanded goes down.
3. Prices of oil would rise, making the search for substitutes more profitable. At that point alternative fuels and energy sources would be economical, and would not require government subsidies, because they would pay for themselves. The supply curve for substitutes shifts downward and to the right.


Peak Oil – I don’t think so.

A few days ago, I came across this article ‘Some advantages of being an aging conservative white male’ and it set me thinking/reminiscing.

I too am an aging white male. Conservative? Mmm, I prefer sceptical as my blog will tell you. In 1972 I attended my first environmental indoctrination seminar. Part of a two week schools science conference in London (I was an impressionable 16 year old). The title of the seminar was ‘2010 and all that’. Its premise – that by 2010 we would have run out of all natural resources needed as part of our technological western society. Oil was singled out as a resource long past its peak and heading towards oblivion. I was not worried, after all 2010 was 38 years into the future. It was merely an interesting ‘fact’. Clearly I lacked imagination, something available in shed loads to the legion of alarmists that stalked the school corridors, then as now.

In 1980 I bought my first (perhaps only) environmentalist book ‘Earth our Crowded Spaceship’ by science (and science fiction) writer Isaac Asimov, a tome he penned in 1974. Having read all his science fiction stories, this was (I thought) the first science book of his that I had read. But as an aging white sceptical male, I now realise that it was just more science fiction.

SUMMARY: Discusses the problems faced by the Earth’s inhabitants as population increases and energy sources, food, and land become scarce.

Basically Paul Ehrilch’s ‘The Population Bomb’(1968) and Thomas Malthus’ ‘Essay on the Principle of Population’ (1798) with knobs on. Like all alarmists Asimov was not content to predict disaster too far into the future, he wanted to be around to say I told you so, so the last line of Chapter 10 on Oil predictably reads, “…a crisis will come in our use of oil energy long before 2025, the crisis is coming now, in the 1970s —-“ Pause for 1970’s school boy snigger.

Isaac Asimov died in 1992. He was a great man. A hero of mine. He predicted the development of the world wide web, the hand held computer, the use of the atom bomb, and all before 1945. The man was a genius but his socialist leanings got in the way of his ability to see the future clearly when it came to socioeconomic issues.

To all those who like to predict the demise of life as we know it let it be known that some of us have long memories. Some of us read history, some of us remember the predictions of your failed forebears’. If you must cry ‘the end is nigh’, do yourselves a favour and make ‘nigh’ after your dead so as not to make a fool of yourself.