November 21, 2008

Hurricane History Lessons

Filed under: Climate Extremes, Hurricanes

Here we go again – hurricane season has come to an end and yet another year has failed to produce the widespread pain and suffering that can reinforce the claim that the buildup of greenhouse gases is the root cause of all the damage. We have covered this topic dozens of times in the past, but the literature on the subject never seems to stop oozing right through the distortion of the greenhouse crusaders. We get tired of writing about this subject over and over and we suspect you see this as another in a very long line of essays on the topic…we feel each other’s pain. The hurricane story should have been destroyed a decade ago, but for whatever reason, the global warmers continue to insist that hurricanes are increasing in frequency, intensity, and/or duration and the blame should sit squarely on carbon dioxide emissions from the United States. If you want more on the subject, visit literally FIVE million websites on the subject!

One of many recent articles on this subject was produced by a pair of prolific scientists with the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University who “acknowledge funding provided by NSF Grant ATM-0346895 and by the Research Foundation of Lexington Insurance Company (a member of the American International Group).” Sounds like “Big Insurance” is involved here, so be aware! Of course, never mind that these guys also secured research dollars from the incredibly competitive National Science Foundation.

Klotzbach and Gray begin by noting “There has been a considerable increase in Atlantic basin tropical cyclone (TC) activity since 1995. Also, the very active seasons of 2004 and 2005 produced record amounts of damage in the United States. This increase in both Atlantic basin activity as a whole as well as U.S. landfalling activity had been anticipated by as early as the late 1980s. Considerable debate has ensued over the past few years as to the causes of this increase.” Once again, we wonder how a major professional scientific outlet like the Journal of Climate can allow anyone to suggest “Considerable debate” continues on anything related to global warming – isn’t the debate over?


November 19, 2008

Why the EPA should find against “Endangerment”

Filed under: Climate Politics

Back in July, as a result of last year’s Supreme Court ruling on Massachusetts v. EPA, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions under the Clean Air Act” and asked for public comment though November 28, 2008.

Aside from the massive bureaucracy that would be involved in trying to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, the EPA primarily needs to determine whether or not greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are endangering the public health or welfare. The underlying analysis to support/deny an endangerment finding is provided in the EPA’s Technical Support Document for Endangerment Analysis for Greenhouse Emissions under the Clean Air Act (Endangerment TSD) which attempts to serve as review of the state to the science concerning the “vulnerabilities, risks and impacts” of climate change, primarily within the United States.

However, the Endangerment TSD is largely a dated document which relies heavily on the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC’s AR4 was published in the spring of 2007, but to meet the deadline for inclusion in the AR4, scientific papers had to be published by late 2005/early 2006. So, in the rapidly evolving field of climate change, by grounding its TSD in the IPCC AR4 the EPA is largely relying on scientific findings that are, by late 2008, nearly 3 years out of date.

And a lot has happened in those intervening three years.


November 14, 2008

Slowdown in Greenland

Filed under: Arctic, Polar, Sea Level Rise

No self-respecting global warming presenter would ever miss the chance to warn the audience that higher temperatures could melt ice in places like Greenland, the melting water could lubricate the interface between ice and rock, and watch-out … the ice could increase its velocity, fall or move quickly into the sea, and cause a rapid rise in sea level. If you happen to be Al Gore, you might show us melting ice, water pouring into some moulin (Figure 1), and then cap it off with an image of water drowning out the World Trade Center Memorial. This story in its near infinite varieties appears on literally thousands of websites dealing with the global warming issue. (more…)

November 12, 2008

Beating a Dead Frog

Filed under: Extinctions

Just in case there are still some folks out there who continue to insist that there is a firm cause-and-effect relationship between anthropogenic global warming and the decline of amphibian species around the world despite our pointing out on numerous occasions just how tenuous such a linkage is (pay attention here Al), we present the following abstract of a paper by Jason Rohr and colleagues titled “Evaluating the links between climate, disease spread, and amphibian decline,” published November 11, 2008 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS): (more…)

November 3, 2008

Natural or Anthropogenic Effects on Atlantic Hurricanes, Past, Present, Future?

Filed under: Climate Extremes, Hurricanes

We have often discussed the observed patterns of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity and what may lie behind them, and we generally have concluded, based upon both our analysis of the data, along with a thorough review of the scientific literature, that identifying a statistically significant and robust human signal in the observed history of Atlantic basin tropical cyclones, whether over the past 100+ years, or in recent decades, is untenable.

We have largely come to this conclusion as the observed increases in hurricane activity in recent decades far exceeds that generally projected by climate models run with observed changes in anthropogenic emissions, and there is ample (and growing) evidence that the Atlantic hurricane record is characterized by multi-decadal oscillations that are tied to multi-decadal oscillations in ocean circulation, atmospheric circulations, and patterns of sea surface temperature variability. That these multi-decadal oscillations can be traced backward in time for at least several centuries, is strong indication that they are a natural part of the earth’s climate system, rather than being primarily driven by human alterations of the earth’s atmosphere.

This conclusion has important implications for the future, as it suggests that as the sign and strength of the natural cycles controlling hurricane behavior wax and wane, so to will the future activity of Atlantic tropical cyclones, both in frequency and intensity. The contrary conclusion—that anthropogenic “global warming” is largely controlling the activity of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity—portends, conversely, an ever stormier future.

While we have tried to present clear evidence that the scientific tide seems to be turning in the direction of a predominately “natural” origin of past, present, and future, Atlantic tropical cyclone variability, there are still many prominent groups, including the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that choose to rely on out-dated findings to support their claims of a significant anthropogenic impact on current and future Atlantic hurricane activity in their current draft versions of climate change summary documents. As public reviewers of these documents, we have continually stressed that their conclusions are ill-founded and out-of-date and must be amended and modified to reflect the current state of scientific knowledge on this topic. We hope that they will choose to do so in when the final versions of these documents are released.

As further support to our contentions concerning the underlying influences on Atlantic tropical cyclone behavior, hurricane researchers Gabriel Vecchi, Kyle Swanson, and Brian Soden published a ‘Perspectives’ piece in this week’s Science magazine which summarizes their view of the subject.


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