The current hot buzzword in Information Technology (IT) circles is “cloud computing,” the concept of a shared grid of computer resources, made available to a wide range of consumers in an on-demand, self-service and pay-as-you-go fashion. Even those not immersed in the arcane details of IT are aware of the latest must have techno-doodad from Apple Computer—the iPad. Proving that they can find a dark cloud to go with any silver lining, the perennial eco-pessimists from Greenpeace have declared that the combination of iPads and cloud computing are going to greatly accelerate mankind's march to a planet frying future.
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), also known as the “Ocean Conveyor Belt,” has been the subject of much study since its discovery. The AMOC is primarily responsible for Europe's temperate climate and some scientists have warned that global warming could cause the ocean's flow to slow down or even stop. This rather counter intuitive result of a warming climate would result in a much colder Europe—perhaps even a new mini-ice age. A new analysis of data from satellites and drifting sensors finds no evidence that the conveyor belt is slowing. In fact, a NASA backed study indicates that the conveyor is far less susceptible to throttling by climate change than some climate change alarmists feared.
With the climate science party-line case for global warming rapidly unwinding there is growing interest by researchers from outside the climate change community in applying advanced statistical techniques to climate data. It has long been recognized that statistical acumen is lacking among mainstream climate scientists. This dirty little secret was first publicly disclosed during Congressional hearings regarding the 2006 Wegman Report. Even newer analyses have revealed that many of the predictions made by the IPCC reports and other global warming boosters are wrong, often because inappropriate statistical techniques were applied.
Recently, a number of papers have surfaced that use advanced statistical methods to analyze climate data. The techniques involved have been developed not by climate scientists but by economists and social scientists. These new tools belong to the field of econometrics. The use of statistical break tests and polynomial cointegration to analyze the relationships between time series data for greenhouse gas concentrations, insolation, aerosol levels and temperature have shown that these data are non-stationary. The implication of these findings is that much of the statistical analysis applied by climate scientists is flawed and potentially misleading. So strong is the statistical evidence that a couple of economists are claiming to have refuted the theory of anthropogenic global warming. This, on top of everything else that has recently transpired, may indicate that a climate change paradigm shift is imminent.
Earth's climate history includes numerous incidents of rapid warming and cooling. While Pleistocene ice-age glacial terminations are arguably the most dramatic recent examples of sudden climate change, during the last glacial period the climate of the Northern Hemisphere experienced several other significant episodes when the climate rapidly warmed. Scientists call these episodes Dansgaard-Oeschger (DO) events after the Danish and Swiss researchers who documented them using ice-core studies. These rapid oscillations are marked by rapid warming, followed by slower cooling. The most prominent coolings are associated with massive iceberg discharge into the North Atlantic Ocean known as Heinrich events (HE). The melting icebergs add large volumes of cold fresh water to the ocean, disrupting circulation patterns and causing further climate changes. Scientists look to past events like these to help us understand how Earth's climate system functions—what causes our planet to cool or suddenly warm. Recently, new data on past climate changes have led one commentator to predict the end of winter skiing in the American Southwest.
The golden toad of Costa Rica was declared extinct in 1994, five years after it was last sighted in the wild. The unfortunate toad's was the first extinction to be blamed on anthropogenic global warming and it has often been cited as an example of things to come if mankind doesn't change its CO2 spewing ways. But humanity's conviction of toadacide was premature and based on circumstantial evidence. After years of study scientists have a new finding: humans were not at fault after all.
Experts predict that, over the long term, food security can't be achieved without energy security. Add in mechanization, storage, and transport and the energy impact of a typical meal in industrialized nations is many times the amount of energy the meal's consumer derives. Recently, researchers have been taking a close look at just how much energy it takes to produce even seemingly similar foods. The conclusion: Food choices can have a significant impact on energy use in agriculture, and by extension, on greenhouse gas emissions as well. Beef lovers beware! As the world diverts more of its grain harvests into meat production, some scientists are taking a closer look at more environmentally friendly sources of protein, including insects.
According to the AP, top researchers now agree that the world is likely to get stronger but fewer hurricanes in the future because of global warming, seeming to settle a scientific debate on the subject. But they say there's not enough evidence yet to tell whether that effect has already begun. Despite warnings by scientists that identifying an actual trend in storm variability is impossible due to a lack of reliable historical data, a new report in Nature Geoscience is being cited as a solid prediction of future trends in tropical cyclone activity. The other thing not mentioned is that this research is based on models of questionable accuracy.
With CO2 driven global warming becoming more discredited by new scientific evidence every day, the world's meddling climate regulators are casting about for a new gas to demonize. Last year the US Environmental Protection Agency was reportedly thinking of even classifying water vapor as a pollutant, due to its central role in global warming. Because water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, accounting for the majority of the Earth's natural greenhouse effect, water vapor emissions during human activities—such as the processing and burning of fossil fuels—are again coming under increasing scrutiny by government regulators.
A surprising revelation from a new paper: industrial emission actually have a net cooling effect on Earth's climate. The paper that appears in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences early edition attempts to apportion blame for global warming among various economic sectors. Climate impacts of CO2, tropospheric ozone, fine aerosols, aerosol-cloud interactions, methane, and long-lived greenhouse gases were all analyzed and the appropriate human activities cited. When the dust settled, two sectors turned in large net negative (i.e. cooling) forcing values: biomass burning and industry.
The debate over anthropogenic global warming—a theory propounded by the UN IPCC—is often portrayed as an argument between deniers and true believers. The deniers supposedly claim that there is no global warming, man made or otherwise, and that the whole theory is a plot by left-wing agitators and closet socialists bent on world domination. The true believers, conversely, accept every claim of pending future disaster uttered by scientists and activists alike. As with most controversies both extreme positions are wrong and the truth lies somewhere in-between. As a scientist, I have studied the evidence and find the case for imminent, dangerous, human caused global warming unconvincing—here is why I am an AGW skeptic.
A 2009 editorial in the journal Nature Geoscience, opined that, if participants at the Copenhagen Climate Conference failed to map out a path for future greenhouse-gas emissions that is both effective and feasible, then humanity might have to consider turning to “geoengineering.” Geoengineering, a term unfamiliar to most, is the deliberate manipulation of Earth's climate system to control global warming. Since Copenhagen was a resounding flop, new geoengineering proposals have been springing up in a number of scientific journals. Science is still struggling to understand how climate works and what accidental impacts human activities have on that system. Now a number of “visionaries” want to mess with the planet on purpose—what could possibly go wrong with that?
A new report in Science underscores what many scientists have been saying for years, it's water vapor, not CO2, that has been driving global temperature changes in recent decades. Stratospheric water vapor concentrations decreased by about 10% after the year 2000, slowing the rate of global surface temperature increase over the past 10 years. It also seems likely that water vapor in the stratosphere increased between 1980 and 2000, causing surface temperatures to warm by an extra 30% during the 1990s. These findings show that stratospheric water vapor represents an important driver of decadal global surface climate change, yet the IPCC crowd continues to focus on CO2.
With all the predictions of short term climate catastrophes proffered by global warming alarmists it is hard to look forward to a future time on Earth. What does the future hold a thousand, ten thousand, a million years from now? Science has some predictions about that as well, though the news media have not picked up on them. What environmental changes await us on the long road ahead?
One well accepted definition of the “Three Pillars of Science” lists the three as theory, experimentation and computation. For climate science this translates into climate theory, gathering climate data, and climate modeling. The three pillars are due an update in this post Copenhagen, post Climategate world. After reviewing the past year's crop of discoveries and disclosures, it seems that all three pillars are still wobbly at best—even without questionable conduct on the part of warm-mongering researchers.