July 1, 2009

The Risk of Impacts from Climate Change is Growing

The risk of impacts from climate change is rapidly growing—not from potential future changes in the weather, mind you, but instead, from potential massive government oversight in how we generate and consume energy. The governemnt is seriously considering rules that will impact the daily lives of each and every one of us—in the name of protecting the earth’s climate.

The past week has been quite a busy one on this front.

Here are some of the highlights (or lowlights) depending on whether you think that it is climate change or government intervention that needs mitigating:


March 12, 2009

Highlights of the 2009 International Conference on Climate Change

Filed under: Climate History

We are just back from the 2009 International Conference on Climate Change sponsored by the Heartland Institute, aka “the global warming skeptics” conference. There were about twice as many attendees at this year’s conference (the second annual) than at last year’s inaugural meeting—an indication, at the very least, that the skeptical view of global warming is not fading away.

In fact, the behavior of the earth’s climate in recent years (a slowdown in the rate of global warming and sea level rise) has emboldened climate skeptics and is helping to win over public opinion that much of what they hear about global warming and its ill effects are exaggerations of the most likely outcome. Andy Revkin of the New York Times writes about a just-released Gallup poll that shows that a growing number of Americans think that the “seriousness of global warming” is being “exaggerated” in the news. The Gallup’s findings are similar to other recent poll results that also show that global warming is not high on American’s list of concerns.


February 2, 2009

Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don’t Want You to Know

Filed under: Climate History

By Patrick J. Michaels and Robert C. Balling, Jr.

We are happy to announce the publication of our book Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don’t Want You to Know which presents an in-depth look at consistent, solid science on the other side of the gloom-and-doom global warming story that is rarely reported and pushed aside: that global warming is likely to be modest, and there is no apocalypse on the horizon.

Those interested in a copy can purchase one over at the Cato Institute Bookstore.

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.


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.


October 31, 2008

Atlantic SSTs and Saharan Dust (and Hurricanes)

In our last World Climate Report article, we described new findings that verified older findings that the patterns of sea surface temperature (SST) variations in the Atlantic Ocean (including in the tropical Atlantic region which is the birthplace of Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes), are largely a reflection of natural variability, with some anthropogenic warming thrown in for good measure.

This time, we report on new research that finds that rather than a large dose of anthropogenic warming, a decline in the amount of dust coming off of the Saharan desert may have collaborated with multidecadal natural oscillations to produce the observed warming trend in Atlantic tropical SST over recent decades. An implication of this finding is to further lessen any impact than human emissions of greenhouse gases may have had on the observed behavior of Atlantic hurricanes, including the recent upturn in activity.


May 9, 2008

Lessons of the Quaternary

Filed under: Climate History

When climatologists talk about the Quaternary Period, you probably think they are referring to events that occurred thousand of years ago. You would likely be right, but for the official record, the Quaternary Period is the geologic and climatic time period that began roughly 1.8 million years ago and includes the present. The Quaternary includes two major geologic epochs including the relatively cold Pleistocene when glaciers ruled the Earth and the Holocene period that began approximately 12,000 years ago when the glaciers retreated. We see the climate alarmists sometimes arguing that we have left the Holocene and entered the Anthropocene – a time when the human impact has significantly altered the Earth. So, we are currently living in the Quaternary, Holocene, and Anthropocene, all at the same time.

One of the world’s leading journals focusing on the geology, geomorphology, geography, archaeology, soil science, palaeobotany, palaeontology, and palaeoclimatology of the Quaternary Period is published by Elsevier and is titled Quaternary Science Reviews. Three articles have been published recently in the journal with what we are calling the “Lessons of the Quaternary.”


February 7, 2008

More Satellite Musings

About a month ago, we ran a piece reflecting back on the behavior of the satellite-derived temperature history of the earth’s lower atmosphere for the past 10 years of so. We commented that the two major realizations of the temperature history of the lower atmosphere—one derived by researchers at the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) and the other by researchers at Remote Sensing Systems (RSS)—seemed to be drifting apart in recent months. Well, it has since been determined that a slight computational error involving the data for 2007 had been introduced in the RSS routines, and this error has now been corrected (see here for more detail) so all is now well again in the world of satellite-derived global temperatures—or it is?

Yes and no.


January 11, 2008

Raining on the Drought Parade

Filed under: Climate History

One of the many pillars of fear regarding global warming is the claim that droughts will become more severe in the future, particularly in continental interiors. The story is very simple and is told over and over – temperatures rise, evaporation rates increase, and even with no change in rainfall, soil moisture levels decrease and droughts last longer and are more severe. Then, crops will fail, ecosystems will collapse, major cities will run out of water, diseases will spread – you know the story. There is always some drought occurring some place on the planet, so supporting evidence is easy to find.

We have written on this subject many times, and like everything else, there is a lot more complexity to the story. Changes in wind and/or clouds could impact future evaporation rates, global dimming could cause a decease in evaporation, plants could become more water use efficient thanks to higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and therefore extract less water from the soil, and on and on. One of the problems is that long term soil moisture data are rare to non-existent, but an article in a recent issue of the International Journal of Climatology brings us a story about soil moisture extending back 1,426 years!


December 12, 2007

More on Polar Bears

We’ve been talking ‘til we’re blue in the face about how the very existence of polar bears today is the strongest evidence possible that they should manage, as a species (although some individual populations may struggle), to hold their own in a warming climate. Why is this? Because their existence today is proof that they survived long periods of time (many thousands of years on end), when the climate of their Arctic habitat was warmer (and thus likely more ice-free) than conditions are now, and will be into the future.

But, in case you were withholding final judgment until you heard it from someone else, well, here you go:

Ancient polar bear jawbone found

By Jonathan Amos
Science reporter, BBC News, San Francisco
Monday, December 10, 2007

What may be the oldest known remains of a polar bear have been uncovered on the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic.

The jawbone was pulled from sediments that suggest the specimen is perhaps 110,000 or 130,000 years old.

Professor Olafur Ingolfsson from the University of Iceland says tests show it was an adult, possibly a female.

The find is a surprise because polar bears are a relatively new species, with one study claiming they evolved less than 100,000 years ago.

If the Svalbard jawbone’s status is confirmed, and further discoveries can show the iconic Arctic beasts have a deeper evolutionary heritage, then the outlook for the animals may be more positive than some believe.

“We have this specimen that confirms the polar bear was a morphologically distinct species at least 100,000 years ago, and this basically means that the polar bear has already survived one interglacial period,” explained Professor Ingolfsson.

And what’s interesting about that is that the Eeemian - the last interglacial - was much warmer than the Holocene (the present).

“This is telling us that despite the ongoing warming in the Arctic today, maybe we don’t have to be quite so worried about the polar bear. That would be very encouraging.”

So there. We’re not the only ones who think that polar bears are quite adaptable, and stand more than a good chance of surviving a warming climate—a feat that they have demonstrated on previous occasions. Will this new finding by Professor Ingolfsson put folks’ minds at ease and quiet the talk of the bears’ imminent extinction? Hardly. After all, the ultimate goal of such talk is not the survival of the polar bear, but the restriction of mankind’s activites on earth. And such fervent desire is not easily doused.

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