Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Climate change roundup

There's a plethora of worrisome news and general whining on the "climate change" front over the last few days. We're hearing from such luminaries as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon(bat), and Tennessee Valley Authority "Customer of the Decade" AlGore, respectively, that Arab Muslim-supremacist genocidal thugs in Sudan, and other airheads like Paris Hilton, are, respectively, motivated by "climate change" and de-motivating to a thoughtful perspective on the topic of "climate change".

"Climate change," AKA "Doom v666," is an advanced climate simulation program being developed by id Software. Here they describe only version 3, but they've got AlGore down cold early on:

Science has unlocked the gates to the unknown, and now only one man stands between Hell and Earth. A sci-fi horror masterpiece, DOOM 3 is like nothing you have experienced. Dramatic storyline, pulse-pounding action, incredible graphics, and revolutionary technology combine to draw you into the most frightening and gripping first person gaming experience ever created.
But back to the main story-line - the pronouncements of Moon(bat) and the Goracle. Leading off, Ban Ki tells us that the genocide in Darfur has been caused by Global warming.
"The Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change," Ban said in a Washington Post opinion column.

UN statistics showed that rainfall declined some 40 percent over the past two decades [maybe because it was on a high in about 1988, see below], he said, as a rise in Indian Ocean temperatures disrupted monsoons. [Increased tropical storms are apparently only a feature of warmer water in the Atlantic.]

...When Darfur's land was rich, he said, black farmers welcomed Arab herders and shared their water, he said.

With the drought, however, farmers fenced in their land to prevent overgrazing.
Sounds like a property rights issue in a country lacking a) the rule of law, b) a free market and c) modern infrastructure. Whose fault would that be?

Apparently, Ban Ki is also unfamiliar with the word "variability," a feature of the area's rainfall for
millennia:
...Rainfall variability at a time scale from years to days is as much a characteristic of climate as the total amounts recorded. Low values, however, do not necessarily lead to drought, nor is drought necessarily associated with low rainfall.

Agricultural drought occurs when water supply is insufficient to cover crop or livestock water requirements. In addition to reduced rainfall, a number of factors may lead to agricultural drought, some of them not always obvious. Much more than the occasional widespread and severe climatological droughts which catch the attention of the media, it is this "invisible" agricultural drought which prevents farmers at the subsistence level from achieving regular and high yields. "Invisible" drought is brought about by environmental degradation as much as by climate.

African droughts

The continent has a long history of rainfall fluctuations of varying lengths and intensities. The worst droughts were those of the 1910s, which affected east and west Africa alike. They were generally followed by increasing rainfall amounts, but negative trends where observed again from 1950 onwards culminating, in West Africa, in 1984.

Since then, starting in 1988, the Sahel has recorded a series of good years (frequently accompanied by floods) which some interpret as the end of the Sahelian drought. [Although, maybe not.] The reality is that rainfall will continue fluctuating, and that good and bad years will continue occurring. Some general regional patterns can be recognised, which can be expressed in terms of variability (inter-annual and intra-seasonal rainfall), trends (upward or downward) and persistence, a typical inertia which affects many climatic variables at all time scales (good and bad years do not occur randomly, but tend to be grouped).
Emphasis mine. The environmental degradation has much more to do with corrupt government, buoyed by the soft bigotry of foreign aid, and the lack of free markets - which would otherwise have encouraged private efforts to secure water supplies - than with "Climate Change."

Why didn't genocide start by 1987, if it's caused by drought?

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

AlGore presents a much more damning charge against Americans: people are being distracted from watching re-runs of "An Inconvenient Spoof Truth" by the antics of Paris Hilton:
The planet is in distress and all of the attention is on Paris Hilton. We have to ask ourselves what is going on here?
Indeed we do, and we will; but first a heartfelt thanks to Paris Hilton. You've put "climate change" in its proper perspective, and even persuaded the Goracle to admit it. Even if he won't admit this:
...First, the accepted global average temperature statistics used by the [UN] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that no ground-based warming has occurred since 1998. [That's after 10 "good" rain years in the Sahel, BTW.] Oddly, this eight-year-long temperature stasis has occurred despite an increase over the same period of 15 parts per million (or 4 per cent) in atmospheric CO2.

Second, lower atmosphere satellite-based temperature measurements, if corrected for non-greenhouse influences such as El Nino events and large volcanic eruptions, show little if any global warming since 1979, a period over which atmospheric CO2 has increased by 55 ppm (17 per cent).

Third, there are strong indications from solar studies that Earth's current temperature stasis will be followed by climatic cooling over the next few decades.
More on that third point later, but the decadal inevitability of "climate change in the warm direction," which seems necessary to Ban Ki's thesis, seems to have stalled out about 1998, despite what you've been told about 2006:
...Meanwhile, you probably missed the latest about 2006. As NOAA reported on May 1 - with minimum mainstream-media fanfare - 2006 actually was the second- warmest year ever recorded in America, not the first. At an annual average of 54.9 degrees F, it was a whopping 0.08 degrees cooler than 1998, still the hottest year.

NOAA explained that it had updated its 2006 report "to reflect revised statistics" and "better address uncertainties in the instrumental record." This tinkering is standard procedure. NOAA always scientifically tweaks temperature readings for various reasons -- weather stations are moved to different locations, modernized, affected by increased urbanization, etc.
And well they should tweak these temps. There's more variability in the surroundings of NOAA's temperature recording stations than you may have appreciated. Some of these stations have been in place for a long time, and cities have grown around them. Cities are always warmer than rural land. In some cases, industrial activity has impinged so that air-conditioner exhaust is blowing out within 100 feet of the thermometers.

Finally, let us revisit the question of variability in insolation (that's solar energy input, for those of you think huge increases in ethanol production will help "save the planet"). Here's a Canadian researcher - R. Timothy Patterson, professor and director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre at Carleton University - with a word about a study he's been conducting since 1998, about the time Ban Ki-moon's male-only climatocidal excusees would have had to have been completing their formal, or
3rd grade, education in a nomadic Madrassa.

Dr. Patterson:

...Climate stability has never been a feature of planet Earth. The only constant about climate is change; it changes continually and, at times, quite rapidly. Many times in the past, temperatures were far higher than today, and occasionally, temperatures were colder. As recently as 6,000 years ago, it was about 3C warmer than now. Ten thousand years ago, while the world was coming out of the thou-sand-year-long "Younger Dryas" cold episode, temperatures rose as much as 6C in a decade -- 100 times faster than the past century's 0.6C warming that has so upset environmentalists.

Climate-change research is now literally exploding with new findings. Since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the field has had more research than in all previous years combined and the discoveries are completely shattering the myths. For example, I and the first-class scientists I work with are consistently finding excellent correlations between the regular fluctuations in the brightness of the sun and earthly climate. This is not surprising. The sun and the stars are the ultimate source of all energy on the planet.

My interest in the current climate-change debate was triggered in 1998, when I was funded by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council strategic project grant to determine if there were regular cycles in West Coast fish productivity. As a result of wide swings in the populations of anchovies, herring and other commercially important West Coast fish stock, fisheries managers were having a very difficult time establishing appropriate fishing quotas. One season there would be abundant stock and broad harvesting would be acceptable; the very next year the fisheries would collapse. No one really knew why or how to predict the future health of this crucially important resource.

...Using various coring technologies, we have been able to collect more than 5,000 years' worth of mud in these basins, with the oldest layers coming from a depth of about 11 metres below the fjord floor. Clearly visible in our mud cores are annual changes that record the different seasons: corresponding to the cool, rainy winter seasons, we see dark layers composed mostly of dirt washed into the fjord from the land; in the warm summer months we see abundant fossilized fish scales and diatoms (the most common form of phytoplankton, or single-celled ocean plants) that have fallen to the fjord floor from nutrient-rich surface waters. In years when warm summers dominated climate in the region, we clearly see far thicker layers of diatoms and fish scales than we do in cooler years. Ours is one of the highest-quality climate records available anywhere today and in it we see obvious confirmation that natural climate change can be dramatic. For example, in the middle of a 62-year slice of the record at about 4,400 years ago, there was a shift in climate in only a couple of seasons from warm, dry and sunny conditions to one that was mostly cold and rainy for several decades. [Note to Ban Ki-moon - check the definition of "variability."]

...In the sediment, diatom and fish-scale records, we also see longer period cycles, all correlating closely with other well-known regular solar variations. In particular, we see marine productivity cycles that match well with the sun's 75-90-year "Gleissberg Cycle," the 200-500-year "Suess Cycle" and the 1,100-1,500-year "Bond Cycle." The strength of these cycles is seen to vary over time, fading in and out over the millennia. The variation in the sun's brightness over these longer cycles may be many times greater in magnitude than that measured over the short Schwabe cycle and so are seen to impact marine productivity even more significantly.

...Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe solar cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on Earth. Beginning to plan for adaptation to such a cool period, one which may continue well beyond one 11-year cycle, as did the Little Ice Age, should be a priority for governments. It is global cooling, not warming, that is the major climate threat to the world, especially Canada. As a country at the northern limit to agriculture in the world, it would take very little cooling to destroy much of our food crops, while a warming would only require that we adopt farming techniques practiced to the south of us.
So, the good news is that by 2020 AlGore's air conditioning bill may well fall below that of a small town, and we'll be shipping thermal underwear to Darfur where it's become too cold to fight.

Sadly, the beach front property in Prudhome Bay you've been counting on selling for your retirement fund looks less of a good idea.

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