July 27, 2007

Ground-Level Ozone Trends: Facts vs. Fantasy

Guest Commentary

Joel Schwartz
Visiting Fellow
American Enterprise Institute

Growing plants absorb some of the carbon dioxide emitted by human burning of fossil fuels for energy. However, according to a new study in the journal Nature, ground-level ozone (AKA “smog”) will rise during the 21st Century and stunt plant growth. This will reduce CO2 uptake by vegetation, exacerbating CO2-induced greenhouse warming.

The study, which was performed by Stephen Sitch and colleagues from England’s Hadley Centre for Climate Change Research, is based on computer modeling of current and future ozone levels. To project future emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants, Sitch et al. relied upon the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) A2 scenario. The scenario includes projections of population, economic activity, energy use, and other factors that determined future emissions.

Unfortunately, comparison of Sitch et al.’s model results with actual trends in ozone and ozone-forming pollutants show that their study has nothing to do with reality.

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July 24, 2007

Polar Bears: Times is on their side

Filed under: Adaptation, Animals, Arctic, Polar

The New York Times sets the stage for a new movie, scheduled to open in the coming weeks, called “Arctic Tale” – a fictitious account of the struggle of polar bears and walruses against a changing climate. In his July 23, 2007 article “Cooking Up a Fable on Melting Ice” Andy Revkin describes how, using footage filmed over the course of several years, filmmakers Adam Ravetch and Sarah Robertson, assembled a story “exploring challenges facing polar bears and walruses, two familiar denizens of the icy, but warming, seas at the top of the world.”

The idea is to create a “new genre of wildlife adventure movies” composed of scenes of wild animals coping with trials and tribulations of the real world and its constantly changing conditions. The movie is apparently geared towards the same folks who lined up to see the likes of pseudo-documentaries like “An Inconvenient Truth” and “March of the Penguins” – the former being all about climate change, while the latter went light on the subject. “Arctic Tale” sounds like it will be somewhere in between.

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July 20, 2007

Lost in Space

Filed under: Climate Politics

As Al Gore continues his global warming crusade, he apparently is finding it necessary to invent scarier and scarier scenarios (no doubt to keep the press and his audience interested) and in doing so, does not feel limited to reality.

For instance, Al Gore’s latest theme is that anthropogenically-induced climate change will threaten the very existence of the human species. Wow. What can be more frightful than that!? (Maybe Gore is going after his next Academy Award in the horror category).

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July 17, 2007

Global Warming Debate Upside-Down: Antarctic Update

Filed under: Antarctic, Polar

No presentation of global warming is complete without a visual of some gigantic block of ice moving away from Antarctica – throw in a few penguins looking at the disappearing ice and … it works every time. But is it all true? Is Antarctica warming and melting away? If you consult the latest report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), you would find statements on the subject in the summary including “Antarctic sea ice extent continues to show inter-annual variability and localized changes but no statistically significant average trends, consistent with the lack of warming reflected in atmospheric temperatures averaged across the region” and “Current global model studies project that the Antarctic ice sheet will remain too cold for widespread surface melting and is expected to gain in mass due to increased snowfall.” Amazing – one would never suspect such conclusions given a cover story in National Geographic titled “THE BIG THAW.”

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July 3, 2007

Lessons from a 5,000 Year Hurricane Record

Filed under: Climate Extremes, Hurricanes

Hurricane (or tropical cyclone) season is here again, and the internet is full of sites predicting an active year in 2007. The hurricane season of 2005 was a global warmers’ dream come true, but the Atlantic hurricane season of 2006 was a monumental dud. Therefore, according to many sites, 2007 will be a return to exactly what we’ve been warned will happen if we do not start reducing emissions of heat trapping greenhouse gases.

The Summary for Policymakers in the 2007 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states “There is observational evidence for an increase in intense tropical cyclone activity in the North Atlantic since about 1970, correlated with increases of tropical sea surface temperatures. There are also suggestions of increased intense tropical cyclone activity in some other regions where concerns over data quality are greater. Multi-decadal variability and the quality of the tropical cyclone records prior to routine satellite observations in about 1970 complicate the detection of long-term trends in tropical cyclone activity. There is no clear trend in the annual numbers of tropical cyclones.” Fair enough, but as we have written about repeatedly in World Climate Report, the scientific literature is full of articles disputing the claim that tropical cyclones are increasing in intensity in recent decades beyond where natural variations would have taken them.

We agree with the IPCC that the detection of trends in tropical cyclone activity is complicated by the lack of long-term records. Don’t look now, but an article has appeared in the prestigious journal Nature entitled “Intense hurricane activity over the past 5,000 years controlled by El Niño and the West African monsoon.” The title suggests that someone has a 5,000 year record of hurricane activity and that the activity is controlled by El Niño and weather in West Africa – there is no suggestion that hurricane activity is controlled by greenhouse gases, planetary temperature, or sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic.

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