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.”


June 4, 2008

The Sanctity of Climate Models

Filed under: Surface, Temperature History

Reading between the lines of the new Thompson et al. Nature paper suggests that once they get the details worked out, the “updated” observed global temperature history is going to fit climate model hindcasts even better than it does now, and embolden confidence in their future projections.


December 22, 2007

Contaminated Temperature Data

Filed under: Surface, Temperature History

It’s that time of year again when we see headlines about 2007 being the mth warmest year on record over the past n years whether we are talking about the United States or the world as a whole. Reporters breathlessly reveal that the trend in temperatures is alarming and completely unprecedented over the eons of earth history. The buildup of greenhouse gases is immediately blamed, and we are all left to believe that the rising temperatures can only be explained by human emissions. Rarely does anyone seem to question the quality of the temperature data, and yet, articles appear regularly in the scientific literature showing that the near-surface air temperature measurements are fraught with errors, gaps, and any number of inhomogeneities.


December 14, 2007

Tropical Trends Stir Warming Debate

Filed under: Surface, Temperature History

Over and over, we hear that the global warming debate is over, the science is settled, and it is time to move past the science and turn the focus onto the policy side of the issue. Anyone who suggests that the science is not settled and the debate is still alive is immediately accused of being heavily funded by industry and discredited by the mainstream scientific community. Who could forget the August 13, 2007 Newsweek issue with its cover suggesting “naysayers” are well-funded by industry and apparently unaware that the Earth is becoming the red planet.

Anyone who reads World Climate Report regularly is aware that the debate is very much alive and well in the major scientific journals related to global warming. We find numerous articles each year presenting results that are clearly at odds with the popular predictions and claims of the global warming advocates. A recent article has appeared in the prestigious International Journal of Climatology, and the last two sentences of the piece state “Yet the models are seen to disagree with the observations. We suggest, therefore, that projections of future climate based on these models be viewed with much caution.” To say the least, we wanted to examine this one in far more detail.


May 4, 2006


By and large, the much-touted new report by U. S. Climate Change Science Program (USCCSP) titled Temperature trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences, amounts to little more than throwing water on a fire that has, for the most part, already gone out.


October 14, 2005

Will 2005 Set a Record For Warmth?

Filed under: Surface, Temperature History

According to David Rind from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), 2005 is going to set the all-time record for global warmth. He told Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post (October 13, 2005) only a major volcanic eruption could intervene. Eilperin also interviewed Oregon State Climatologist George Taylor, who told her that Goddard’s findings were “mighty preliminary.”

That’s because there’s more than one history of global temperature. Three receive the most citations. NASA’s record begins in 1880, as does another history from the U.S. Department of Commerce, developed at the Department’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). But the most widely referenced history (and the one primarily used by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)) is compiled by the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at England’s University of East Anglia. It goes back to 1856.

The vast majority of the underlying temperature observations that go into each of these compilations is the same, but each organization has developed its own techniques for how the raw observations are geographically combined and adjusted for confounding factors such as urbanization, missing values, etc. As a result, annual values in each temperature history differ slightly.

So let’s take a look at where the average temperature is each stands through September 2005, and what the prospects are for setting a record for the year as a whole, given that there are still three months of data to be added.

(Read more at Tech Central Station)

June 8, 2004

More Local, Less Global

Filed under: Surface, Temperature History

New research shows that local and regional socioeconomic influences on temperature play a significant role in “observed” global warming.

Factors such as economic activity and data quality—which are not included in climate models—are closely tied to the temperature increases observed during the past two decades, according to a study published May 25 in Climate Research.

May 4, 2004

Assault From Above

Filed under: Satellite/Balloons, Surface

Nature authors make an assumption that defies the laws of physics. But that doesn’t stop them from concluding that the satellite-based temperature record is dramatically cooled by the atmospheric layer just above it.

It’s common knowledge that the satellite-based temperature record of the earth’s lower atmosphere shows much less warming than surface observations or climate model predictions for the past 25 years. The big question, though, is why. A new study in Nature magazine claims the satellite measurements are in error because they include a cooling effect from the atmospheric layer just above it.

But in formulating their case, the authors assume the impossible.

April 19, 2004

Leaving a Trail

Airplane contrails, the condensation trails formed in the wake of high-altitude jets, may be responsible for all warming observed in the United States during the past 25 years, a new study suggests.

Land-use change. The urban heat island effect. Local surface warming in industrialized regions. More and more observational evidence emerges indicating that local and regional processes such as these are important players in recent global temperature changes. As these other influences emerge, anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations resulting from fossil fuel combustion appear less important than previously stated in reports such as those by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC, 2001).

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