March 20, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano began erupting after slumbering for almost 190 years. The eruption also brought a threat of floods and earthquakes, while the resulting plume of volcanic ash shutdown the European airline industry, costing an estimated $200 million a day. In the short-term, the volcano has been bad for Northern Europe and given a boost to Iceland's tourist industry, but there are larger questions involved. With tedious predictability, a number of climate change alarmists quickly claimed that the volcano was caused by global warming. A more likely outcome is a cool Northern Hemisphere summer caused by airborne ash—which could give the alarmists an excuse for the continued lack of global temperature rise.
Once again, scientists propose that planet Earth has been so altered by human activity that we are entering a new geological time period—the Anthropocene. A viewpoint article by some stratigraphic heavy hitters, just published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, has proclaimed a new age caused by anthropogenic global warming and man's savaging of the environment. According to these experts, the effects of human activity have become so pervasive that Earth has been transformed and the 11,000 year old Holocene epoch is now a “lost world.” Is this really the start of a brave new epoch, one of our own making?
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.
There is a new report in the journal Nature that some climate change alarmists are saying repudiates criticisms leveled at the IPCC over the Glaciergate scandal. In the “news feature,” a reporter looks at the “clues” scientists have found regarding the fate of the Himalayan glaciers from ground- and space-based studies. Though the scientists quoted clearly state they do not have enough data to draw meaningful conclusions—only 15 of 20,000 glaciers were examined on-site—the article still misleadingly says the glaciers are in trouble. It still had to admit the Himalayan glaciers won't vanish by 2035 and that they are not receding faster than glaciers in any other part of the world, both claims made previously by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
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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.
There have been a rash of bogus reports in the news media about rapidly rising sea-levels supposedly caused by global warming. Sea-levels are notoriously hard to measure on a global basis since land also rises and sinks due to tectonic activity. With historical records mostly unreliable how can we tell if current conditions are normal for Earth 14,000 years after a deglaciation? A new report, based on calcium growths in caves on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, says that sea levels around 81,000 years ago were higher than today. Higher sea-levels imply less glacial ice and warmer temperatures than today as well. Even more interesting is that this occurred during a warm period called marine isotope stage (MIS) 5a, which was more than 30,000 years after the Eemian interglacial ended and glaciation had resumed. This could mean that current theories about how ice age glacial periods start are wrong.
Forests and their soils are one of our planet's major sinks of biologically active carbon and contain the majority of Earth’s terrestrial carbon stock. Some climate change alarmists have said that the world's forest are in danger from the effects of climate change. Recent studies have shown increases in plant growth across many forest types. Now, a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that the increase in forest biomass is due to rising CO2 levels and warmer weather—in other words, trees love global warming whether human caused or natural.
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.
There have been a number of strange theories regarding the conditions deep within Earth's interior circulating around the internet. Claims that solar flares will cause nuclear reactions deep below our feet are perhaps the most ludicrous, but fairly easy to dismiss. More timely, perhaps, is the sudden conversion of global warming guru Al Gore into a geothermal energy booster. Evidently Gore thinks it's bad to drill for oil, but good to drill for heat. TV documentaries threaten mega-volcano eruptions and talk about mantle plumes underneath Hawaii, but just what does science tell us about our planet's interior?
In an essay adapted from his 2009 AAAS Annual Meeting keynote address, James J. McCarthy has produced a fairly concise statement of the anthropogenic global warming believer's world view. After a self-serving review of climate science history, McCarthy trots out the usual litany of climate change troubles: increased cyclones, rain and floods, rising sea levels and, of course, those pesky tipping points. The tone of the article is set early on, when research is cited stating that mankind's impact on Earth is “sufficiently profound to declare that we have transitioned from the Holocene era of Earth history to the Anthropocene.”
Recent claims by climate change alarmists have raised the possibility that terrestrial ecosystems and particularly the oceans have started loosing part of their ability to absorb a large proportion of man-made CO2 emissions. This is an important claim, because currently only about 40% of anthropogenic emissions stay in the atmosphere, the rest is sequestered by a number of processes on land and sea. The warning that the oceans have reached their fill and their capacity to remove atmospheric CO2 is accompanied by the prediction that this will cause greenhouse warming to accelerate in the future. A new study re-examines the available atmospheric CO2 and emissions data and concludes that the portion of CO2 absorbed by the oceans has remained constant since 1850.
Climate and environmental scientists have become dependent on computer models in recent decades. The scientific literature and the popular press are filled with strident warnings of impending natural disasters, all predicated on the output of computer programs. The IPCC has solemnly predicted that climate change will drive thousands of species to extinction if anthropogenic global warming is not reined in. The coprophagous press has uncritically swallowed these computer generated droppings, reporting conjecture as fact and possibilities as certainties. Even though the climate change faithful continue to blindly believe the IPCC predictions, at least some researchers are aware of the glaring flaws in their computer models.