I figured enough feathers had settled down after the release of the IPCC's Fourth Summary a few weeks back to do a very brief summary about the record. Here's some graphs for you to ponder. First, the surface temperature record from 1850 to 2000:
The second graph shows the temperatures from 1979 up until the present day (the graph is compiled by the good folk at JunkScience, from the most reliable recent temperature record, the satellite (MSU) measurements in the lower atmosphere, recorded by from Dr. John Christy & Dr. Roy Spencer, Global Hydrology and Climate Center, University of Alabama - Huntsville, USA, and Remote Sensing Systems)
There are a few things of note when you actually study that surface record. As Arctic researcher Syun Akasofu notes
[pdf], quite sensibly:
There seems to be a roughly linear increase of the temperature from about 1800, or even much earlier, to the present. This trend should be subtracted from the temperature data during the last 100 years. Thus, there is a possibility that only a fraction of the present warming trend may be attributed to the greenhouse effect resulting from human activities. One possible cause of the linear increase may be that the Earth is still recovering from the Little Ice Age [pdf].
Thus, natural causes cannot be ignored in the present warming trend, in addition to the greenhouse effect. [Emphasis in the original.]
Another point is the general trend across the twentieth century itself, described so succinctly by film-maker Martin Durkin
when exploding via email last week:
Since 1940 we have had four decades of cooling, three of warming, and the last decade when temperature has been doing nothing. “Why have we not heard this in the hours and hours of shit programming on global warming shoved down our throats by the BBC? [Emphasis added. Well-earned swipe at the BBC in the original email.]
Across the twentieth century we've seen a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and a slight surface warming of between 0.3 and 0.6 degrees Celsius, much of that pre-194o -- that is, much of it before
the 'great carbon deluge' from 1950 on. That's the record.
Now, what about that more recent graph. Have a good look. Earlier extrapolations of the temperature record suggested temperatures would be spiking after 2000. They didn't. Just to confirm what you see in that graph above, paleoclimate scientist Bob Carter notes: there is indeed a problem with global warming -- it stopped in 1998
According to official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the UK, the global average temperature did not increase between 1998-2005... this eight-year period of temperature stasis did coincide with society's continued power station and SUV-inspired pumping of yet more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere...
Just to reconfirm the point, Christopher Monckton summarises from the UN/IPCC's draft Assessment Report
[pdf] (whose conclusion he suggests should really be "the panic is officially over"),
Figures from the US National Climate Data Center show 2006 as about 0.03 degrees Celsius warmer worldwide than 2001. Since that is within the range of measurement error, global temperature has not risen in a statistically significant sense since the UN’s last report in 2001.
Not at all what was predicted by the IPCC in earlier reports.
So where's the warming? In particular, where's the man-made
warming. As Richard Lindzen points out, climate always changes, "yet the definition of climate change assumes stationarity of the climate system." Just to repeat the point made by Syun Akasofu above, the surface temperature record shows climate changing in a linear fashion since 1800 (well before human-produced carbon emissions) and in a roughly upward direction.
"This trend," he says, is clearly a natural one, and "should be subtracted from the temperature data during the last 100 years. Thus, there is a possibility that only a fraction of the present warming trend may be attributed to the greenhouse effect resulting from human activities."
We've had a doubling
of CO2 in recent human history ... and with that we've seen a temperature increase of just 0.6 degrees Celsius, and not all of that due to all that CO2. Even the IPCC is only willing to say "most" warming since the mid-twentieth century is our fault. As Dr Vincent Gray points out
, that effectively means "most" warming from 1979 to 1998, which means, according to the IPCC, that
"most" of this 0.53ºC warming was caused by anthropogenic (human-induced) greenhouse gas increases. “Most” of this would be between 0.3ºC and 0.5ºC, the amount that the statement considers to be due to human influence.
Speaking on this point as to the difficulty of establishing who or what is responsible, the Fraser Institute's Independent Summary for Policymakers
[pdf] points out:
Attribution of the cause in climate change is not formally possible. The term attribution means consistency with a climate model-generated scenario, rather than formal proof of causality. The same data could be consistent with contradictory hypotheses, including large or small greenhouse warming. Attribution studies rely on the validity of model-generated estimates of the climatic response to forcing, and model-generated estimates of natural variability. The reported uncertainties in attribution studies do not take into account basic uncertainty about climate model parameters.
These uncertainties can be considerable. Evidence for a human influence on climate relies on model-based detection studies. On average, models used for attributing recent climate change to human interference assume that natural forcings alone would have yielded virtually no change over the 20th century, and global cooling since 1979 [something rendered rather foolish by Akasofu's point above]. Attribution studies to date do not take into account all known sources of possible influence on the climate.
They conclude, "Due to the uncertainties involved, attribution of climate change to human cause is ultimately a judgment call."
So where's the crisis? The crisis is not in the record, it's in the predictions for the future generated by those computer-generated climate models, and there is considerable uncertainty and much opportunity for bias in the 'tuning' of these models, which involves an almost amusing degree of circularity; expectations of warming induce a certain method of 'tuning' the models, producing the desired predictions, inducing more 'certainty' about more warming, more tuning etc. On top of that, the mathematics underlying the models is frequently beyond the capacity of all but the most highly qualified mathematical specialists (which does not begin to describe most climate scientists). Indeed, as the IPCC themselves pointed out in their Third Assessment Report (2001),
In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible. The most we can expect to achieve is the prediction of the probability distribution of the systems future possible states by the generation of ensembles of model solutions. (Third Assessment Report, Section 22.214.171.124)
The 'crisis' then is largely in the models, and the scary predictions made by these models is decreasing as each new IPCC report is released. I'll let author and former warmist Michael Crichton conclude, with comments he made in the New York debate I described on Saturday
[B]ecause I look for trouble, I went at a certain point and started looking at the temperature records. And I was very surprised at what I found. The first thing that I discovered ... is that the increase in temperatures so far over the last hundred years, is on the order of six-tenths of a degree Celsius, about a degree Fahrenheit. I had'nt really thought, when we talked about global warming, about how much global warming really was taking place.
The second thing I discovered was that everything is a concern about the future and the future is defined by models. The models tell us that human beings are the cause of the warming, that human beings producing all this CO2, are what‘s actually driving the climate warming that we‘re seeing now.
But I was interested to see that the models, as far as I could tell, were not really reliable. That is to say, that past estimates have proven incorrect. In 1988, when James Hanson talked to the Congress and said that global warming had finally arrived, The New York Times published a model result that suggested that in the next hundred years there would be twelve degrees Celsius increase. A few years later the increase was estimated to be six degrees, then four degrees. The most recent U.N. estimate is three degrees.
Will it continue to go down? I expect so. And this left me in a kind of a funny position. But let me first be clear about exactly what I'm saying. Is the globe warming? Yes. Is the greenhouse effect real? Yes. Is carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, being increased by men? Yes. Would we expect this warming to have an effect? Yes. Do human beings in general effect the climate? Yes. But none of that answers the core question of whether or not carbon dioxide is the contemporary driver for the warming we‘re seeing.
And as far as I could tell scientists had postulated that, but they hadn't demonstrated it.
So I'm kinda stranded here. I've got half a degree of warming, models that I don‘t think are reliable. And what, how am I going to think about the future? I reasoned in this way: if we‘re going to have one degree increase, maybe if climate doesn't change, and if there‘s no change in technology – but of course, if you don‘t imagine there will be a change in technology in the next hundred years you‘re a very unusual person. [Emphasis mine.]
It has to be said in this regard that there are very many "unusual persons" about. Few people would have been prepared to predict in 1900 the technology we would be using a century later, but a century later many "unusual persons" are both happy to do so, and at the same time actively hindering potential changes in technology by promoting measures that strangle the necessary advances in technology.
Rather than help, these "unusual persons" are in fact a threat to human life on this planet -- at least to the extent that their stories of crisis and their nostrums to avert it are taken seriously. As George Reisman summarises, "Global Warming Is Not a Threat But the Environmentalist Response to It Is."
Or as Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary puts it so colourfully, "You can't change the world by wearing sandals."UPDATE 1
: I liked this comment over at Steve McIntyre's 'Climate Audit' blog
I’m on the side of Michael Crichton, though, not for the science, but for what is a crisis. AIDS in Africa is a crisis, Darfour is a crisis, Iraq is a crisis, Malaria is an ongoing crisis that prevents many African countries from moving forward. My sister who practices as a doctor in Mali for one month a year says that because most of the people there have either malaria or anemia, they’re just too weak to be productive the way we are. That’s a crisis. If we had the same here, we would be in real trouble too.UPDATE 2
Now is climate change a crisis? No. Nobody has died from climate change so far. And don’t talk to me about heat waves or Katrina, as they could have happened without any extra CO2. Katrina would not have been a crisis if the levees had held...
: Film-maker Martin Durkin makes his more measured, public response
to critics of his Channel Four film The Great Global Warming Swindle
. It's good reading. He concludes:
Too many journalists and scientists have built their careers on the global-warming alarm. Certain newspapers have staked their reputation on it. The death of this theory will be painful and ugly. But it will die. Because it is wrong, wrong, wrong. LINKS: Why has global warming become such a passionate subject? Let's keep out cool - Syun Akasofu [5-page PDF]
News - Junk Science
Is the earth still recovering from the little ice age? A possible cause of global warming - Syun-Ichi Akasofu, International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks [14-page PDF]
There IS a problem with global warming ... it stopped in 1998 - Professor Bob Carter, (UK) Daily Telegraph
IPCC Fourth Assessment Report 2007: Analyis and Summary - Christopher Monckton [10-page PDF]
"New report says global warming is negligible, short-lived, and now ended" - Dr Vincent Gray - Not PC
Independent Summary for Policymakers - Fraser Institute [64-page PDF]
Global warming is not a crisis - DEBATE TRANSCRIPT, Intelligence Squared US [79-page PDF]
Global Warming Is Not a Threat But the Environmentalist Response to It Is - George Reisman's Blog
"You can't change the world by wearing sandals." - Michael O'Leary interview, (UK)Daily Telegraph
RELATED: Global Warming, Science, Politics-World
Labels: George Reisman, Iraq, United Nations