Administration's Pre-Kyoto Fires
What a coincidence: Exactly one month
before the final meeting of the global warming summit in Kyoto, the Washington Post
belts out about 800(!) column inches of generally one-sided reportage in support of the
The Post's slogan is "If
you don't get it, you don't get it." But maybe they ought to change it to "If
you get it, you get half of it."
The first of four articles leads off
with the clunker that global warming will cause "even bigger" blizzards in the
Northern Great Plains, according to the Administration's computer models. Too bad that
they didn't check to see that there is a clear, significant, and negative relationship
between winter temperature and total snowfall in the upper Mid-west. The warmer it is, the
less it snows. How shocking.
Figure 1. The
relationship between total snowfall and average winter temperature in Minneapolis shows
that when winters are warmer, it snows less!
What the Administration's computers
failed to do, just like the Post, was to get the facts before rushing to hype. Warming
does cause increased snowfall where winters are very cold and drypoleward of 60°.
That's almost a thousand miles north of the Canadian border, in the upper reaches of
Hudson Bay, where we doubt the few people, polar bears, and Arctic char give a hoot.
For expert verification, the Post
went to Farmer Voldal, in Sandberg, N.D., who said he was convinced "it's"
global warming and that the weather "sure as hell has been strange." They could
have called North Dakota's State Climatologist, John W. Enz. But they were probably aware
that 72 percent of state climatologists disagree that the weather has become more severe
in their state, according to a recent survey. And, of the 19 percent who do agree, 78
percent said that the more extreme weather in their state was not because of global
The Post reports that
scientists have found a 10 percent increase in rainfall in the United States this century.
Further, according to the Post, "much of it [is] coming in large doses:
downpours and blizzards."
That's just plain wrong. Here's what
Federal Climatologist Tom Karl wrote in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological
"...Since about 1970 precipitation has tended to remain
above the twentieth century mean, averaging about 5% higher than in the previous 70 years.
Such an increase hints at a change in climate."
The average annual rain across the
United States is about 30 inches. Five percent of 30 inches is 1.5 inches. Variation of
that value from year-to-year just simply can't be noticed by anyone but scientists or
weather hobbyists. Now, how much is "much" that comes in "large
An oft-cited paper in Nature,
also by Karl, found an increase in two- to three-inch 24-hour precipitation totals in the
lower 48 states over the course of this century. Karl found no increase in rains of
greater than three inches.
According to Karl, Around 1910, about
9 percent of all the rain that dampened U.S. soil came from these storms. That's an
average of 2.7 inches (9 percent times 30 inches). By the 1990s, it increased to 11
percent, or 3.3 inches (11 percent times 30 inches). The net increase is a mere 0.60
Since when is 0.60 inches out of
three inches considered "much"? And we'll buy lunch for anyone who has ever
witnessed a flood caused by six-tenths of an inch of rain!
Under "Perils of a Warming
Planet," we read that "if polar ice sheets continue to melt, the oceans could
claim an even bigger share of coastal real estate." We hope this type of panic
statement drives down the price of beachfront property so that it becomes more affordable
to stiffs like us.
But in reality, if the fact-checkers
at Washington, DC 20071 (the Post has its own ZIP code) had inspected Geophysical
Research Letters, they would have found that the West Greenland Ice Sheetthe
largest mass of polar ice in our hemispherehas thickened by up to seven feet since
Can't forget to run down the
satellite data either! Uh-ohsatellite records show a statistically significant
cooling trend over since they started in 1979. Since they don't fit the spin, the Post
elects to paint the scientists who study this as a bunch of fringe-os, or in the
Washington pejorative, "a small but persistent minority."
No professional accolades for the
esteemed satellite guru Roy Spencer. But they call his critic, Dan Albritton, a
"prominent climate expert." Albritton points out that the satellite data measure
the temperature "two to five miles above the Earth's surface."
That's sort of true, but misleading,
because satellite data from this air region match up perfectly with temperatures taken
from one to five miles above the surface.
The "prominent expert" goes
on to say that "you'd expect the result to be different," neglecting that every
climate model of the greenhouse effect ever produced says that the layer one to five miles
above the surface should be warming significantly.
Finally, the Post reports
Albritton is "even more derisive that tiny changes in the sun's energy may account
for a significant share of the temperature change in the last century." Perhaps,
then, NASA scientist Judy Lean and the referees at Geophysical Research Letters
were just wrong when the journal published her finding that solar radiation changes
"may have contributed about half of the observed 0.55°C surface warming since
Or maybe "half" isn't
And what about the phenomenal
correlations discovered by Friis-Christensen between the length of the sunspot cycle and
hemispheric temperature? Maybe "half" is significant after allbecause if
you got the Post's series on global warmingall 800 inches' worthyou got
half of the story.
E., and K. Lassen, 1991, Length of the solar cycle: An indicator of solar activity closely
associated with climate. Science, 254, 698700.
Karl, T.R., et al.,
Indices of climate change for the United States, Bulletin of the American
Meteorological Society, 77, 279292.
Karl, T.R., et al.
1995, Trends in high-frequency climate variability in the twentieth century. Nature,
Krabill, W.R., et
al., 1995, Greenland ice thickness measured by laser altimetry. Geophysical Research
Letters, 22, 23412344.
J., et al., 1995, Reconstruction of solar irradiance since 1610: Implications for climate
change. Geophysical Research Letters, 22, 31953198.
Down on EPA Science
and other lesser beings have long derided the Environmental Protection Agency as a club
thats quite adept at writing regulations and all thumbs when it comes to science.
another one for the thumbs. Theres been
an epidemic of frog deformities in Minnesota. People
first blamed the coal industry, a common reflex. That
didnt hold up so farmers came next with their nasty chemicals. (I tried A
I tried B
) That didnt hold up either, so now the EPA
blameswhat elseozone depletion caused by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
maximum increase in ultraviolet radiation caused by CFCs is a couple of percent averaged
over the year. This is one-third of the
natural difference between Duluth and Minneapolis, owing to latitude. How come all of the Minneapolis frogs arent