March 31, 2004

Extinguishing Extinction Hysteria

Filed under: Adaptation, Animals, Extinctions, Plants

Human-induced climate change is not leading to mass species extinctions, nor should it in the future.

On March 29, 2004, a pair of Congressional briefings exposed the bad science currently being published on climate change and mass extinction. Patrick Michaels, professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and senior fellow in environmental studies at Cato Institute,

Michaels examined the plethora of recent claims concerning anthropogenic climate change and its possible link to past, present, and future species shifts and extinctions. Michaels’ overarching conclusions? 1.) Climate affects species distribution. 2.) Plants and animals adapt, evolve, or perish under changes in climate. 3.) That process may be slowed or accelerated by human activities. 4.) Little evidence exists to suggest anthropogenic climate change is leading to mass extinctions, nor should in the future.

March 30, 2004

Try, Try Again

Filed under: Climate Politics

The House introduces a companion to the Senate’s Lieberman-McCain Climate Stewardship Act. But neither bill would have a discernable influence on global temperatures.

On March 30, 2004, a companion bill to the Senate’s Lieberman-McCain Climate Stewardship Act (S.139) was introduced to U.S. House of Representatives by House members John Olver (D-Mass.) and Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.).

Recall that the McCain-Lieberman bill was defeated 55 to 43 in a vote back in late October 2003. At that time, Sen. McCain (R-Ariz.) promised that he would continue to reintroduce the bill as often as necessary to get it passed. The word is that this will be sooner rather than later.

Apparently not wanting the senators to have the monopoly on discussing vacuous climate change initiatives, Olver and Gilchrest decided that the House should get into the act. Their bill, like S.139, would require U.S. industrial greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 and thereafter to be no greater than the level of emissions in 2000.

March 24, 2004

Junk Science

Filed under: Climate Politics

In a city swept by major maelstroms, a smaller but not insignificant one swirling through our Nation’s Capital concerns a purported Republican effort to employ something called “sound science” to loosen environmental regulations. What keeps this one spinning is pressure by Democrats to purportedly strengthen regulations using what they too deem to be “sound science.”

Sound science is science its proponents find to be agreeable. What they find scientifically disagreeable is labeled “junk science.” Sad to say, whenever you hear someone using the term “sound science” you’ll hear a lot of the first word and not see very much of the second.

March 22, 2004

Ups and Downs

Media hypes a jump in carbon dioxide, ignoring recent years’ CO2 growth rate fluctuations. In fact, there has been no significant trend for 27 years.

The Associated Press newswire lit up over the weekend with reports that atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration grew last year at a record pace. But AP neglected to mention the year-to-year fluctuations that characterize the CO2 growth rate and that in fact no significant trend has existed for 27 years.

Measurements made atop Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano showed that this winter’s CO2 level was greater than last year’s readings by about 3 parts per million (ppm). Missing from AP’s report was that growth the year before was only about 2 ppm, and the year before that was 1.5 ppm, and the year before that was 1.2 ppm, and two years prior to that, the growth rate was 2.9 ppm. In other words, there is a fair degree of fluctuation in the year-to-year to year values of the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 concentration. So a year with a large growth rate is no more or less newsworthy than a year (such as 2000) that had a low growth rate.

March 18, 2004

The Vapor Rub

Filed under: Climate Models

Climate models exaggerate global warming because they wrongly characterize the amount of water vapor reaching the upper atmosphere as temperatures rise.

New research shows that global warming projections from climate models are overblown, something that shouldn’t surprise readers of these pages. The overestimates arise from an inaccurate handling of the physical processes responsible for controlling the amount of water vapor that reaches the upper levels of the atmosphere when temperatures rise.

Both water vapor and carbon dioxide are greenhouse gases that can act to warm the air. Warmer air has the capacity to contain more water vapor than cooler air. For that reason, climate models contain a “positive feedback loop” between atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and atmospheric moisture content: As CO2 levels increase in the atmosphere, they lead to warmer conditions, which lead to more water vapor in the air, which leads to even warmer conditions. In the absence of this positive water vapor feedback, enhanced carbon dioxide levels alone result in the climate models’ projecting only about one-half to two-thirds the amount of warming than when the water vapor feedback is included.

March 17, 2004

For Land’s Sake

Filed under: Climate History

Industrialization and other changes in land use account for much of the 20th century’s surface temperature increase.

In recent months, we’ve reported on a number of studies that have appeared indicating land use change may well be a dominant component of the overall surface warming trend. These are acts that might, at first, seem climatically innocuous: For example, turning prairies into farms, or farms into cities. There have been some important recent findings:

March 15, 2004

Greenland’s Secret

Filed under: Arctic, Glaciers/Sea Ice, Polar

The recent hype in Nature notwithstanding, Greenland has been cooling for the better part of two generations.

It’s hot news: Temperatures in Greenland have been rising like a rocket during the past 10 years or so—returning to the temperatures that characterized the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s.

Yet that bit of history—that temperatures were as warm or warmer in Greenland 50 years ago—appears lost on the global warming crowd. Instead, they have increasingly pointed a finger at the changing conditions there during the past decade as a clear sign of anthropogenic global warming.

March 11, 2004

Scorched Truth

Filed under: Climate Politics

The environmentalist organization Bluewater Network is taking credit for inspiring Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) to ask the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) to investigate potential impacts of climate change on public lands and waters.

Let’s hope the GAO gets it right, because the Bluewater Network report that purportedly prompted the Senators’ request is a bit off the mark, to say the least.

March 9, 2004

European Hotties

Filed under: Health Effects, Heat Waves

Summer 2003 may or may not have been Western Europe’s hottest on record. But Europeans should have seen it coming and adapted as Americans have.

Whether or not the summer of 2003 was the hottest on record in Western Europe we may never know. But the heat itself should not have taken Europeans by surprise.

March 7, 2004

‘Snow Fooling!

Mt. Kilimanjaro’s glacier retreat is not related to global warming. The media and scientists blamed human activity, but a 120-year-old natural climate shift is the cause.

Despite countless reports blaming global warming, it turns out Mt. Kilimanjaro’s glaciers are retreating because of a climate shift that occurred more than 120 years ago, long before humans could have caused it.

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