December 30, 2008

Lesson of the Lesser Antilles

Filed under: Climate Extremes, Hurricanes

Are you tired of winter yet? How about a vacation to some warm tropical island with outstanding golf and scuba (excellent winter sports)? If we suggest the Lesser Antilles (also know as the Caribbees), you might immediately agree; a second later, you might realize the shortcomings of your geography training and wonder where on Earth you are going for this vacation.

As seen in the map below (Figure 1), the “Lesser Antilles” include islands that wrap around the eastern end and southern fringe of the Caribbean Sea. The names of the subgroups include the Leeward Islands in the north, Windward Islands to the south, and the Leeward Antilles north of Venezuela. You will find names like the Netherlands Antilles and the Greater Antilles – you will immediately get the “Antilles willies” trying to figure out what names correspond to the various islands! Columbus arrived in these parts in 1492 and thought he was close to India, and the term “West Indies” was the popular as well. Various European languages still refer to the Caribbean Sea as the “Sea of Antilles.” The origin of the word “Antilles” is still debated with some who believe it is related to “Atlantis” while others think it came from the Latin ante-ilha (i.e. “the island out before” or “the island in front of”). You decide!

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December 23, 2008

Christmas Snow Job

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… well, it’s Christmas and all those wonderful holiday-season movies are back on the airwaves. One common feature is snow—we get the impression that every American lives in a place that guarantees a white Christmas. Truth be known, Americans experiencing a white Christmas are on a decline due entirely to migration patterns to the Sun Belt, not global warming. However, if you conduct a web search for “global warming and snow,” an incredible 4.8 million sites are found. You will find everything from global warming causes more snow to global warming causes less snow to global warming is a snow job! Who can ever forget the January 22, 1996 Newsweek cover (below) screaming that blizzards should be blamed on global warming? Get granddad and grandmom reminiscing about Christmas days in the past and you might get the impression something has happened to the climate system.


Figure 1. Cover of Newsweek, January 22, 1996.

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December 17, 2008

Recent Temperature Trends in Context

Filed under: Surface, Temperature History

As 2008 nears an end, there are a lot of folks waiting to see where the final number is going to come in for this year’s global average temperature. It’s likely that the average temperature for 2008 will fall below the value for 2007 and quite possibly be the coldest year of the (official) 21st century. 2008 will add another to the growing recent string of years during which time global average temperatures have not risen. Does this mean that pressure of “global warming” fuelled by increasing greenhouse gas emissions from human activity has abated?

The answer is a qualified “no”—it seems that natural variations have been flexing their muscles and offsetting anthropogenic warming.

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December 11, 2008

Paleostorms of Southern France

Filed under: Climate Extremes

The United Nations Climate Change Conference is well-underway in Europe and environmental groups are lobbying to reinforce every pillar of the greenhouse gas – global warming story. According to their reports, any severe storm any place on the planet can now blamed on global warming. Thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms – it just doesn’t matter … they are all caused by global warming and any deaths or damages from these storms is directly related to the consumption of fossil fuels, particularly that obscene consumption in the United States. Of course, they always insist that the debate on any of these subjects is over, and it is now time for action. Even U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the conference participants, “The economic crisis is serious; yet when it comes to climate change, the stakes are far higher…The climate crisis affects our potential prosperity and our people’s lives, both now and far into the future…we must recommit ourselves to the urgency of our cause.” Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

Well, before you get carried away and win a Nobel Peace Prize, be alert that we have covered this nonsense many times in the past at World Climate Report, and the scientific literature on the subject continues to provide a stream of evidence countering the claims of the global warming advocates. As we have seen many times before, the claims of increasing storm intensity or frequency are generally inconsistent with the conclusions of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and certainly at odds with dozens of articles published each year in the professional scientific literature.

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December 3, 2008

Rethinking Observed Warming

The United Nations Climate Change Conference is underway this week in Poznan, Poland, and literally thousands of folks have convened and reinforced the notion that the buildup of greenhouse gases has caused substantial warming in recent decades and that left unchecked, the continued buildup will undoubtedly cause significant warming in the decades to come. Believe it or not, it is possible that aspects of the traditional greenhouse gas explanation could be largely wrong, and if you think we are crazy, let’s visit an article just published in the prestigious journal Climate Dynamics.

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December 2, 2008

Will the U.N. Chill Out on Climate Change?

10,000 people from 86 countries have descended upon Poznan, Poland for yet-another United Nations meeting on climate change. This time, it’s the annual confab of the nations that signed the original U.N. climate treaty in Rio in 1992. That instrument gave rise to the infamous 1996 Kyoto Protocol on global warming, easily the greatest failure in the history of environmental diplomacy.

Kyoto was supposed to reduce global emissions of carbon dioxide below 1990 levels during the period 2008-2012. But since it was signed, the atmospheric concentration of this putative pollutant continued to rise, pretty much at the same rate it did before Kyoto. (Even if the world had lived up to the letter of the Kyoto law, it would have exerted an influence on global temperature that would have been too small to measure.)

The purpose of the Poznan meeting is to work out some type of framework that goes “Beyond Kyoto.” After completely failing in its first attempt to internationally limit carbon dioxide emissions, the U.N. will propose reductions far greater than those called for by Kyoto. Kyoto failed because it was too expensive, so anything “beyond” will cost much more.

The fact is that the world cannot afford any expensive climate policies now. Economic conditions are so bad that carbon dioxide emissions—the byproduct of our commerce—are likely going down because of the financial cold spell, not the climatic one. Indeed, a permanent economic ice-age would likely result from any mandated large cuts in emissions. If you’re liking your 401(k) today, you’ll love “Beyond Kyoto.”

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December 1, 2008

European Update

The United Nations Climate Change Conference kicks of this week in Poznan, Poland, and in anticipation of this great event, we have examined three research papers published recently in top journals that give us insight into the climate history of Europe. Given the results of these papers, we doubt they will receive any press attention from the massive media delegation covering the climate conference.

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