[Coral-List] climate change

Douglas Fenner dfenner at blueskynet.as
Fri Mar 6 03:31:56 EST 2009

    Oh, I think I am guilty of starting this round by sending the message 
about the website WorldNetDaily's article on the petition with 31,000 
signatures.  Might be like religion for some such that they won't change 
their beliefs no matter what the evidence is.  But I've learned a lot 
already and hope others have, and ostensibly we're scientists and base our 
opinions at least partly on the evidence.  And I'm hoping that there are a 
fair number of people out there who do base their views on the evidence. 
Hopefully this is more of a vigorous debate than a minor war.  I lived in 
Australia for 6 years, and if you see parliamentary debate on TV, you 
realize that Americans aren't exposed to vigorous debate very often.
      Speaking of evidence, your friend is correct that Wikipedia is not 
itself an expert source, though its writers may consult expert sources.  For 
me, I was able to read the Wikipedia review on the petition, and compare 
what they said with what I can see of the petition on the petition website, 
and what the WorldNetNews says on theirs.  What Wikipedia said fit perfectly 
with what I saw on the petition websites.  Further, Wikipedia documents it's 
statements heavily with references to original material, which the petition 
doesn't do.  While the informal studies that Wikipedia reports did not do 
exhaustive searches to locate publications of authors and surely not all 
publications are on Google as your friend points out correctly, some of the 
people they tried had no publications at all on Google.  Further, there were 
four different informal studies reported by Wickipedia, all of which found a 
majority of the signatures were not PhD climate scientists, or at least not 
what the petition authors claimed.  Your friend says "These names are most 
likely 90% or more valid."  Now, if we are going to base our views on 
evidence, are we going to go for 4 studies that actually tried checking 
samples of signatures, or are we going to go with "most likely 90% are 
valid" ie no checking whatsoever?  Personally, I don't think it's our 
responsability to check the signatures.  There is a legitimate question of 
their validity from the 4 spot checks.  The authors of the petition conclude 
from the petition that 'global warming is a lie.'  If they want to make that 
statement and try to convince anybody, then it is their job to marshall 
their evidence.  The criticisms have been around for several years and yet 
they haven't revealed any of their data they claim to have from validating 
signatures, so anyone else can see if they're telling the truth.  In 
addition, they want to conclude that "global warming is a lie" when the 
petition said no such thing, plus the "article" in support was put in the 
style of PNAS (who Seitz was the president of so he knows how to do it) 
without any disclaimer that it was never published there or anywhere else in 
a peer reviewed journal.  As others have said on their websites, that is 
deliberately deceptive.  If they are deliberately deceptive, and will not 
provide evidence to back up their claim, I don't see why anyone should pay 
them any notice.  The whole point they wanted to make was that a huge number 
of scientists disagree with the view that global warming is real, and they 
have certainly not proven their point, rather they seem to have shown they 
are willing to use deception to gain converts.  If they want to prove that 
there are lots of scientists that believe that 'global warming is a lie' 
then let them circulate a petition that says that exact thing, and require 
every signer to give their degree and affiliation, and put all that on the 
web so anyone can check their validity.  They don't do that because they 
would get very few signatures.

      I got to thinking that since I'm not a climate scientist and I can't 
properly evaluate the studies your friend quotes, other than that each one 
seems to be trying a different idea, I wondered who would be an expert 
authority.  Should I blindly trust the people who did this petition, who 
have their headquarters in Cave Junction, Oregon?  I gather that the 
anti-warming folks don't trust the IPCC one bit.  Apparently the fact that 
Seitz was head of the National Academy of Sciences makes him an expert (even 
though he is not a climatologist).  OK, then how about the National Academy 
of Sciences?  The top body of scientists in the US, one of the most 
prestigious in the world, said to have had 170 Nobel laureates total over 
their many years of existence.  I see from their website that they have many 
hundreds of top scientists from other countries in addition to their US 
members.  They are asked by the US government to research various questions 
and provide advice.  They have done something like 20 reports on different 
aspects of climate change.  They have a staff of about 1100, and my 
understanding is that they don't do the research, they study what has been 
done and found, and prepare reports based on that.  So what do they say 
about climate change?  Well, they have a 28 page booklet ("Understanding and 
responding to climate change, highlights of National Academies Reports") 
available to download or you can write for up to 15 free paper copies, which 
summarizes the findings from their many reports (which they list and which 
are on their site for free download, so you can find the basis for their 
statements.).  Makes interesting reading.  Well illustrated with graphs 
which I can't include in this message.  But let me quote just a little bit,

"Temperatures have already risen 1.4oF since the start of the 20th century - 
with much of this warming occurring in just the last 30 years - and 
temperatures will likely rise at least another 2oF, and possibly more than 
11oF, over the next 100 years."  "In the Arctic, where temperatures have 
increased almost twice as much as the global average, the landscape and 
ecosystems are already changing rapidly."  "Most scientists agree that the 
warming in recent decades has been caused primarily by human activities that 
have increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."  "Carbon 
dioxide levels are at their highest in at least 650,000 years and continue 
to rise."  "There is no doubt that climate will continue to change 
throughout the 21st century and beyond"  "Large, disruptive changes are much 
more likely if greenhouse gases are allowed to continue building up in the 
atmosphere at their present rate."  "Rising temperatures and greenhouse gas 
concentrations observed since 1978 are particularly noteworthy because the 
rates of increase are so high and because, during the same period, the 
energy reaching the Earth from the sun has been measured precisely by 
satellites.  These measurements indicate that the Sun's output has not 
increased since 1978, so the warming during the last 30 years cannot be 
attributed to an increase in solar energy reaching the Earth."  "Thus, there 
are no known natural factors that could explain the warming during this time 
period."  "Additional evidence for a human influence on climate can be seen 
in the geographical pattern of observed warming, with greater temperature 
increases over land and in polar regions than over the oceans.  This pattern 
is strongly indicative of warming caused by increasing greenhouse gas 
concentrations, as is the vertical profile of warming in the atmosphere and 
oceans."  "As ice records from Vostok, Antarctica show, the temperature near 
the south pole has varied by more than 20oF during the past 350,000 years in 
a regular pattern that constitutes the ice age/interglacial cycles.  Changes 
in carbon dioxide concentrations (in blue) track closely with changes in 
temperature (in red) during these cycles, but carbon dioxide levels are now 
higher than any time during the past 650,000 years."  (the graph shows red 
and blue lines virtually on top of each other except for the past 50 years 
or so, when the blue CO2 line rockets way up above the rest of the graph.)


I'd just add a little description of one graph which shows the relative 
roles of different factors in causing the observed increases in 
temperatures.  Their Figure 5 shows for each factor the amount in Watts/m2 
of forcings produced by each factor.  Positive values push upward on 
temperatures, negative downward.  I can read the numbers off the graph as 
CO2:  +1.7
CH4 + N2O + Halocarbons = +1
Stratospheric water vapour from CH4: +0.1
Surface albedo, land use: -0.2, black carbon on snow: +0.1
Total aerosol- direct effect: -0.5
Total aerosol cloud albedo effect: -0.7
Linear contrails: +0.01
Solar irradiance: +0.1

So greenhouse gases have +2.7 effect, and solar irradiance +0.1, so 
greenhouse gases have an effect 27 times the size of solar irradiance.

By the way, this booklet clearly points out that there are many different 
sources of evidence that all show strong warming in recent years, following 
many hundreds of years without consistant changes (7 are shown in their 
Figure 3).  There are things like satellites, ice cores and tree rings and 
old photos and paintings of glaciers, and many others.  Records in France 
record the timing of the pinot noir harvest back to 1370 and similar records 
exist for the blossoming dates of cherry trees and other flowering plants in 
Japan, both of which can be used to study climate.  It is definately not 
"nothing more than the computer modeling of climate."
I recommend this report, it is very easy reading, has very clear graphs, and 
would seem to be more authoritative than a couple of guys in a garage in 
Cave Junction, Oregon.  (no offense to Oregon, I went to school there and 
love it.)    -Doug

the academy website is

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Eugene Shinn" <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
To: <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Sent: Wednesday, March 04, 2009 5:58 AM
Subject: [Coral-List] climate change

> Doug, I promised myself a few years ago that I would avoid getting
> caught up in public debates about climate. It is too much like
> arguing religion. Sorry I let my guard down and forwarded the
> comments of a friend who is very much engaged with the issue. Guess I
> opened Pandora's box.
> I did communicate your comments to this fellow. His response is below.
> (Do you get the feeling there is a minor war going on??)
> "They are trying to obfuscate the issue, Gene. Wikipedia is not an
> expert source, nor is googling names a legitimate way to identify
> people. If you were to google me, you would not find all my 23
> publications on climate, nor most of my background, nor my 200 plus
> total publication record. Same for you. This argument is nothing more
> than the computer modeling of climate - vapid at best,   dishonest at
> worst. I agree, there is no arguing with theology."
> Since everyone is stirred up they might as well read this:
> Paul Biggs [<mailto:p.m.biggs at bham.ac.uk>p.m.biggs at bham.ac.uk]
> Kyle Swanson and Isaac Held make some odd comments in the Discovery News
> article (CCNet 3/3/09), which questions where global warming went.
> Apparently, the 'radiative forcing' of CO2 will stay in an unknown
> hiding place for 30 years and then jump out on us! This sounds like an
> excuse for buying more time for the failing hypothesis which attempts to
> implicate CO2 as THE driver of climate. They also seem to claim that
> natural variability largely manifests itself as cooling rather than
> warming.
> Swanson was, of course, a co-author on the 2007 Tsonis et al GRL paper
> 'A new dynamical mechanism for major climate shifts' in which the
> authors claimed to be able to explain all the global temperature
> tendency changes and El Nino variability in the 20th century, without
> CO2. They go on to say that major climate shifts have occurred or will
> occur around 1913, 1942, 1978, 2033, and 2072 and they also predicted a
> 0.2 Celsius cooling between 2005 and 2020 which should be followed by a
> 0.3 Celsius warming until 2045 or so - then cooling for the rest of the
> 21st century. The authors also state that, "The standard explanation for
> the post 1970s warming is that the radiative effect of greenhouse gases
> overcame shortwave reflection effects due to aerosols [Mann and Emanuel,
> 2006]. However, comparison of the 2035 event in the 21st century
> simulation and the 1910s event in the observations with this event,
> suggests an alternative hypothesis, namely that the climate shifted
> after the 1970s event to a different state of a warmer climate, which
> may be superimposed on an anthropogenic warming trend." A new paper from
> Wang, Swanson and Tsonis, 'The pacemaker of major climate shifts'
> suggests the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) as the 'pacemaker.' The
> latest paper from Swanson and Tsonis, accepted for publication on 24th
> February, asks the question 'Has the climate recently shifted?' Their
> answer is yes it probably has. In 2001/02 climate shifted away from the
> consistent warming trend for the period 1976/77 to 2001/02. This is set
> against a background of global CO2 emissions increasing at a rate of
> 3.5% per year since 2000.
> Meanwhile, Nir Shaviv's latest paper finds more evidence of an unknown
> solar amplification mechanism, where the radiative forcing associated
> with small changes in Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) over the 11-year
> solar cycle are multiplied by 5 to 7 times. So, rather than developing a
> 'hiding place for CO2' hypothesis, we can look to the collective
> behaviour of known climate cycles such as the Pacific Decadal
> Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation, the El Nino/Southern
> Oscillation, and the North Pacific Oscillation, plus poorly understood
> solar factors as a big part of the explanation for climate change. Of
> course, this explanation isn't attractive to social engineers or
> politicians wanting to impose 'green' taxes and restrictions.  You can't
> tax the Sun, which brings us to the subject of falling solar activity.
> On 21st December 2006 NASA's David Hathaway was predicting that solar
> cycle 24 would be bigger than cycle 23. By January 2009 he changed his
> mind and predicted a smaller cycle 24. Hathaway also predicts a very
> small cycle 25, and Milivoje Vukcevic claims to have a formula that
> predicts cycle 26 that will be even lower than cycle 25. In their 2008
> GRL paper Weiss et al asked 'For how long will the current grand maximum
> of solar activity persist?' The answer was probably not very long, but
> they couldn't predict the level of the ensuing minimum and they remained
> loyal to the greenhouse warming 'consensus' by stating that any cooling
> would be "insignificant compared with the global warming caused by
> greenhouse gases. "
> So, the lack of cycle 24 sunspots continues and the 'grand maximum' of
> solar activity we enjoyed during the 20th century may be coming to an
> end.  Small changes in the Sun may have much larger effects on climate,
> and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) seems to have entered a cool
> phase that could last between 21 to 25 years. If the global non-warming
> since 2002 continues for 30 years as Kyle Swanson suggests, then we have
> to consider the possibility that, rather than going into hiding, CO2
> isn't the all powerful climate driver that some would have us believe.
> Regards,
> Paul Biggs
> <mailto:p.m.biggs at bham.ac.uk>p.m.biggs at bham.ac.uk
> References:
> Tsonis, Anastasios A.; Swanson, Kyle; Kravtsov, Sergey, A new dynamical
> mechanism for major climate shifts', Geophys. Res. Lett., Vol. 34, No.
> 13, 12 July 2007
> Wang, G., K. L. Swanson, and A. A. Tsonis (2009), Pacemaker of major
> climate shifts,' Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2008GL036874, in
> press.
> Swanson, K. L., and A. A. Tsonis (2009), Has the climate recently
> shifted?, Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2008GL037022, in
> press.(accepted 24 February 2009)
> Shaviv, N. J. (2008), 'Using the oceans as a calorimeter to quantify the
> solar radiative forcing,' J. Geophys. Res., 113, A11101,
> doi:10.1029/2007JA012989.
> Climate Research News:
> 'Big' Solar Cycle 24 Now Predicted to be Smaller than Cycle 23
> <http://climateresearchnews.com/2009/01/big-solar-cycle-24-now-predicted->http://climateresearchnews.com/2009/01/big-solar-cycle-24-now-predicted-
> to-be-smaller-than-cycle-23/
> <http://www.vukcevic.co.uk/combined.gif>http://www.vukcevic.co.uk/combined.gif
> Long Range Solar Forecast, 05.10.2006: Solar Cycle 25 peaking around
> 2022 could be one of the weakest in centuries.
> <http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2006/10may_longrange.htm>http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2006/10may_longrange.htm
> Abreu, J. A., J. Beer, F. Steinhilber, S. M. Tobias, and N. O. Weiss
> (2008), For how long will the current grand maximum of solar activity
> persist?, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L20109, doi:10.1029/2008GL035442.
> -- 
> No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
> ------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
> E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
> University of South Florida
> Marine Science Center (room 204)
> 140 Seventh Avenue South
> St. Petersburg, FL 33701
> <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
> Tel 727 553-1158---------------------------------- 
> -----------------------------------
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