‘The Arctic ice cap is melting…’ – ‘The Truth’?

With regard to John Gibbon’s article The Arctic ice cap is melting…’ ‘Irish Times Opinion 27th September 2012 I feel it necessary to take him to task on ‘the truth’ in his submission. He quotes Churchill in respect of ‘the truth’ and then proceeds to be very economical with this most precious and rare commodity. He states ‘the truth’ that on 16th September Arctic sea ice hit its lowest level ever recorded but spares us ‘the truth’ that we are seeing a record sea ice expansion in the Antarctic. Could the record sea ice melt be due to other factors? If John is so wedded to ‘the truth’ then why did he not mention that NASA posted a video on 18th September in which they stated that an Arctic Cyclone on 5th August played a ‘key role’ in record ice melt.

John also states “The last time the Arctic is believed to have been ice-free is during the Eemian period about 125,000 years ago yet the Holocene Climate Optimum 6,000 years ago was 4 degrees C warmer than today. Is it reasonable to hypothesise that the Arctic would have been ice-free under those conditions? Many scientist think so. So John’s statement about the Eemian being the last time the Arctic is believed to have been ice-free is simply his version of ‘the truth’.

John is clearly exhibiting what the Nobel Laureate Ferdinand von Hayek called “Pretence of Knowledge”. John thinks he understands climate, like the economists of 1929 and 2007 thought they understood the world economy, but the contradictions, innumerable variables and sheer size of these complex systems makes humanity’s attempts to understand them, let alone control them, utter hubris.

John is not the first to cry wolf. This quote from ‘The New Scientist’ magazine 1st December 1960 – ‘…warming is evident. …If this goes on the Arctic Ocean will be open year round before the close of the twentieth century’.

And John is wont to quote the scientists who speak his ‘truth’. In relation to the alarmist vision of a 97% surface ice melt in Greenland on 12th July he quotes Son Nghiem of NASA “This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: was this real or was it due to data error?” If only Nghiem had spoken to his NASA colleague Dr Lora Koenig (a Goddard glaciologist and member of the team analysing the satellite data) his fears would have been allayed, quote, “Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time.” Now John talks in his opening paragraph about spin and obfuscation. His selective quotation is a clear example of spin and obfuscation as these two quotes are from the same NASA article.

When someone begins the defence of their particular position with an appeal to ‘the truth’ beware. John is mistaken in his belief that science, whether climate or otherwise, is about the search for ‘truth’, as every scientist knows, science is the never ending search for error.

Forest Fires – Not proof of Global Warming

The sensationalist press love to make wild predictions and equally wild claims. This year’s forest fire in the US were grist to their mill. Colorado’s June forest fires were billed as ‘largest fires on record’ – ‘will burn until the winter snows’. These doom merchants are all the same, but unfortunately they are rarely taken to task. As mentioned in a previous post, I have a long memory for such events. But having said that who needs a long memory. Summer rains had put the fires out by mid-July. As for them being the largest fires on record, a forest fire in September 1898 burned the entire northwest quadrant of Colorado. The fires this June were only 1% of the area.



Burt Rutan – Global Warming Sceptic

Burt Rutan – the man who brought you the first non-stop (no refuelling) round the world flight, the man who brought you the first commercial flight into space (winner of the $10 million X-Prize in 2004) and hopefully, the man who will launch the space tourism industry next year – doesn’t believe in human caused global warming.

As I have said in a previous blog, there is no such thing as a climate expert. This is why we should sit up and take note when a man like Rutan expresses sceptical views. He is nothing to do with the climate scene, but he is a data analyst. Point him at slew of data and he knows better than most how to crunch the numbers and tease out a defendable conclusion of its meaning.

I take heart when people of his intellect turn their attention to this most important of world issues, going to the source of the data and drawing his own conclusions.


The True Cost per mile of an electric car.

From MarketWatch:

GM has suspended production of the [Volt] all-electric car for a month so they can retool the plant to make more Chevy Impalas. Read more about the Volt’s production issues.

… So far this year, GM has sold about 11,000 Volts — far less than hoped and planned for by the auto maker. The market has spoken: Most Americans simply are not ready for an electric car from Detroit…

The website ExtremeTech calculates that the car costs about 6.3 cents per mile when running on electricity at 13 cents per kilowatt hour. But that rate ignores depreciating the cost of a replacement battery ($8,000) over the life of the battery warranty.

When you add in the cost of the battery depreciation, you get a calculation of about 14.3 cents per mile for the Volt. As the tech site notes: “A compact car getting 35 mpg would cost 10 cents per mile using $3.50-a-gallon gasoline.”  So in other words, the Volt, in addition to the high cost to purchase, costs 43% more to operate than a conventional car.


Wind Farms do not reduce CO2 emissions.

In recent months the Dutch parliament has been presented with data showing that the CO2 created in the manufacture, construction and maintenance of wind turbines will not be balanced out by the CO2 savings from the ‘Green’ electricity generated during the life time of a machine.

It has been received wisdom that a wind turbine would be 15 years into its 20 to 25 year life span before it started to have an impact on CO2 reduction. This calculation was based on ‘computer models’. We now have empirical data from a number of energy grids across the world to show that the actual savings are derisory or simply non-existent.  The error in the computer models derives from the fact that savings of carbon fuel used by back-up power generation are not being realised. An extreme example is the Australian state of Victoria which uses lignite (brown coal) for its base load power stations. The power stations do not use any less fuel when they reduce energy production at times of high wind turbine generated electricity. This is because it is more energy efficient to run a lignite station at full power rather than to cycle it up and down. This is true to a lesser degree for other forms of carbon energy including gas.

As I understand it, the sole purpose of wind generated electricity is to reduce the level of industry generated CO2 going into the atmosphere. 20 years of wind farms has shown us that wind turbines cannot generate cheap electricity. Advances in technology have increased known carbon energy reserves many times over and the fear of peak oil/gas is now behind us. If the only reason we have left – low CO2 emissions, has been taken away, then let us consign the wind turbine to the dustbin of history where it belongs.


Another angle

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).