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Antarctic Warming: New Old News

In recent months, an iceberg nearly as large as Rhode Island broke off an Antarctic ice shelf, apparently because of rising temperatures there...” R. Monatsersky, Science News, June 10, 1995.

This speculation will no doubt be bolstered by a report in the Geophysical Research Letters. British researcher Phil Jones demonstrates that there’s been a statistically significant warming of Antarctica since widespread records began in 1957.  However, he goes on to state that “all of this warming occurred before the early 1970s.”

Indeed.  We ran trend analyses of his data backwards, beginning in 1993. Is there a statistically significant warming trend, say, between 1970 and 1993? No.  How about 1965-93? No.  In fact, only data that begins prior to 1961 induces the trend that Jones describes.  Inasmuch as the record begins in 1957, this means almost all of the warming occurred over 30 years ago.

Figure 1 (7502 bytes)

Figure 1.  Temperature readings averaged over Antarctica between 1957 and the end of 1993.  All of the warming ended, statistically speaking, three decades ago.

It’s also interesting that this paper talks about warming trends at certain stations, but then states that “few of the trends are significant.” This means that they cannot be mathematically distinguished from a flat line with no trend.  So why say that there’s any warming in these records?  Under general scientific guidelines, there is none.

Note that our analysis of the overall record does not include the very cold year of 1994. That’s because most of the data was available only from ocean stations surrounding Antarctica, rather than from stations on the continent.  One is left, though, to speculate how to associate the calving of a Rhode Island-sized berg with warming, when it occurred following two of the coldest years in the entire record?

Of additional note: Over a decade ago,  a ‘berg broke off that was described as “Delaware sized.”


Jones. P.D., 1995.  Recent variations in mean temperature and the diurnal temperature range in the Antarctic. Geophysical Research Letters 20, 1345-1348.


Rio Rumors

An irregular feature describing actions pertaining to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.

The Clinton/Gore Climate Plan Fails…What’s Next?

In October 1993, President Clinton announced a voluntary program that would bring the U.S. into compliance with the goal of the Rio Treaty, which is to reduce net carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000.

Critics scoffed and were called cynics.  Eight months later, the Natural Resources Defense Council said that we were exceeding our emission goals because the price of oil was too low and there was too much economic growth.

Even so, U.S. negotiators agreed last April in Berlin to commit the nation to a course of mandatory emission reductions beyond the 1990 level which will be announced over the next 18 months.

By 1994, net carbon emissions from the U.S. reached an annual level of 1,400 million metric tons (mmt), or a 4.1% increase over the 1990 base.  As Skip Laitner of the Northern Virginia-based Economic Research Associates told this Report about the Clinton/Gore plan, “It’s not going to be done.”

In fact, Laitner told us, the actual rise in net carbon emissions is closer to 5% because the original administration calculations of the 1990 base were a little too high.   As noted by Laitner’s group, “the jump in carbon emissions largely results from a 9.1% increase in economic activity since 1990.”


The BIG Rumor

Washington policy wonks, both elephantine and asinine, all agree that the flat income tax is going to be a big issue in the 1996 campaign.  Will the administration respond by keeping the graduated tax, but proposing a lower median tax rate than the Republicans, while making up the revenue shortfall with a tax on energy or carbon? How else to comply with the Rio Treaty, which has force of law?

Easy to sell, too:  revenue neutral, progressive, and it helps us all live better and more ecologically sound lives!  And the more efficient we are, the less tax we pay!!