CCNet CLIMATE SCARES & CLIMATE CHANGE, 24 April 2002
"SCOTLAND has more woods and forests than 700 years ago when Robert
the Bruce and William Wallace were fighting the English, according to a
new Forestry Commission survey. The National Inventory of Woodland and
Trees for Scotland shows that tree cover has increased by 50 per cent since
the last national survey in 1980 and has more than trebled in the past 100
years. Around a sixth, or 17 per cent, of the Scottish landscape is now
forested, compared with 5 per cent in 1900."
--Shirley English, The Times, 22 April 2002
(1) "THE HEAT BEFORE THE COLD": DEBUNKING ANOTHER CLIMATE SCARE
Greening Earth Society, 22 April 2002
(2) RENEWABLE REALITIES
Tech Central Station, 23 April 2002
(3) WHAT WATSON DID WRONG
Tech Central Station, 22 April 2002
(4) SHOCK, HORROR: TREES GAIN GROUND OVER SCOTLAND
The Times, 22 April 2002
(1) "THE HEAT BEFORE THE COLD": DEBUNKING ANOTHER CLIMATE SCARE
>From Greening Earth Society, 22 April 2002
Dr. Terrence Joyce, who is chairman physical oceanography at Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institution, wrote an op-ed published in the April 18th
edition of The New York Times. Dr. Joyce renewed public fear of global
warming when he capitalized on the mid-April heat wave that had set record
high temperatures across the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. over the course
of a couple of weeks, previous. In printing his op-ed "The Heat Before the
Cold," Times editors apparently felt it was time to spread what amounts to
little more than global warming hype when they turned to Dr. Joyce to give
them a good scare story. This is because they were unable to find anyone
else to link the heat wave to global warming. From beginning to end, the
piece is rooted in half-truth and old ways of thinking.
"This week's unexpected heat wave across much of the Northeast and Midwest,
coupled with recent reports about the surprisingly fast collapse of an
Antarctic ice shelf the size of Rhode Island, has heightened fears of a
long-term rise in temperatures brought about by global warming," Joyce
A quick search of on-line newspapers and wire services finds not one single
article suggesting the heat wave is linked to global warming. In fact, in
the only articles where "heat wave" and "global warming" appear together,
the context is one in which the person being interviewed states they
wouldn't go so far as to relate the two.
As for the heat wave being unexpected, extended long-range weather forecasts
more than a week before revealed that what typically would be a summertime
pattern in the eastern U.S. would arrive under the influence of a Bermuda
high pressure system that was developing. As a consequence, the heat should
not have surprised anyone who knows anything about meteorology. It might
surprise people who don't watch daily weather forecasts (but any weather on
any given day would come as a surprise to them, wouldn't it?).
As for the Antarctic ice shelf's collapse, The New York Times own coverage
of the event by science writer Andrew Revkin went to great lengths to point
out that Antarctic climate was not providing a consistent picture of
warming. As Revkin's reportage pointed out, Antarctica's continental
interior has been cooling while its peninsula (the region near the ice
shelf's collapse) has been warming. Some Antarctic glaciers have grown while
others have shrunk. This hardly is a pattern expected under global warming.
But, the op-ed tacitly is labeled "opinion" and Dr. Joyce is entitled to
one, even if it differs from current scientific understanding.
A basic tenet of Dr. Joyce's faith is that global warming possibly will lead
to a slow down, or a southward deflection, of the Gulf Stream. This, in
turn, will cause "an abrupt drop in average winter temperatures of about 5
degrees Fahrenheit over much of the United States and 10 degrees in the
Northeast" and across much of Europe. The argument goes something like this.
More fresh water added to the North Atlantic due to melting of Arctic ice
changes the salinity of the ocean's upper layer, which in turn, alters the
regions of rising and sinking water, thereby altering ocean currents and
Other climate hypesters dub this a climate surprise because they believe
such a change would occur rapidly and somewhat unexpectedly. This kind of
prediction of climate surprise has become increasingly vogue since it became
apparent that the current trend in global warming is far too slow to cause a
great upheaval. The problem with this kind of surprise scenario is that
things just don't seem to work that way. The Gulf Stream doesn't carry as
much responsibility for warming the northeast U.S. and Europe folks like Dr.
Joyce seem to think.
In an extensive paper to be published in the Quaternary Journal of the Royal
Meteorological Society, a research team lead by Dr. Robert Seager of
Columbia University's Lamont Doughty Earth Observatory carefully examines
the role of the Gulf Stream on the climate of Europe and North America. The
"It is widely believed by scientists and laypeople alike that the transport
of warm water north in the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Drift, and its
release to the atmosphere, is the reason why western Europe's winters are so
much milder (about 15-20°C) than those of eastern North America... This idea
seems to have gained wide currency with the subtle difference that the
poleward flow of warm water is now more likely to be ascribed to the
thermohaline circulation than the Gulf Stream per se. It remains a central
organizing principle of climate research."
"In the current paper we demonstrate that transport of heat by the ocean is
not responsible for the contrast between Europe's mild winters and the harsh
ones of eastern North America. Indeed, this contrast would occur if the
ocean was a motionless slab of modest and uniform depth. Instead the
contrast arises as a consequence of atmospheric advection around the
Icelandic Low and the simple maritime-continental climate distinction."
In other words, the climate of western Europe and the eastern U.S. primarily
is driven by their geographic position and does not rely on the Gulf Stream.
Because any land area would respond to temperature change (or changes in
solar radiation) faster than would water, land areas are colder in winter
and warmer in the summer than is the ocean.
Eastern North America has cold winters because there is a large continental
landmass to its west (the direction from which most of the weather comes in
the Northern Hemisphere extra-tropics during the winter). Western Europe has
relatively mild winters because it has a large ocean west of it. Unless a
"plate tectonic surprise" looms ahead, these facts are not soon going to
Seager, R., et al., 2002. Is the Gulf Stream responsible for Europe's mild
winters? Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, in press.
Copyright 2002, Greening Earth Society
(2) RENEWABLE REALITIES
>From Tech Central Station, 23 April 2002
By Sallie Baliunas 04/23/2002
"After the last woman has been sawed in half, after the elephant has been
made to disappear, after the last brood of chicks has been made to appear in
a spectator's pocket, the magicians will sit around for hours in their
magical headquarters and talk about the simplest of all effects. "In the
trade it's called the Scarne effect."
-- Introduction to Scarne on Cards by W.A. Caldwell
John Scarne never believed in luck. His fingers deftly dealt cards almost as
fast as his mathematical mind computed gaming odds. He was a master card
player because he knew card games rely on a mixture of skill and
probability, but not luck. During World War II the War Department had Scarne
educate our soldiers on gambling scams in the military.
I mention Scarne to make a point as I begin a series focused on whether
renewable energy sources can meet future U.S. energy needs. In the realm of
energy, as in card games, luck does not exist.
Life depends on energy. And energy is not only essential to life, it is
essential to civilization. Early hominids first controlled fire some 1.5
million years ago and have traveled a long road in improving their
utilization of energy. With energy they improved their chances of survival.
According to estimates by researchers at the UCLA Gerontology Research
Group, Homo sapiens' average life expectancy 50,000 years ago was 10 years,
owing to death by disease, predators and accidents. The average life
expectancy in the United States is now over 76 years, thanks to energy use
and science that have curbed nature's brutality. The wealth arising from
energy use enables health and welfare to prosper.
Today approximately 85% of our total energy needs are met by fossil fuels,
8% comes from nuclear power and only 7% by renewables. Renewables other than
hydroelectric power - geothermal, landfill gas, solar and wind power, plus
incineration of wood, municipal waste or other biomass material that can be
regrown or re-accumulated - account for only 2% of the 35% of our energy
used to produce electricity.
Providing energy growth is essential to economic growth. A bill now in the
Senate, S. 517, would focus most of our energy development on renewable
energy sources - now redefined to exclude hydroelectric power, because of
the apparent detrimental environmental footprint of dams Electric utilities
would be mandated to increase to 10% the portion of their electricity
provided by renewables - except hydroelectric power - by 2020.
Such a requirement might seem easily accomplished. That's perhaps why
Independent Senator from Vermont, James Jeffords aimed to double the
renewable requirement, again excluding hydroelectric power, to 20%. That
amendment, though, was defeated.
But as for reliably providing for future energy growth by relying on
renewables - that's akin to relying on luck. As Scarne would say: There's no
such thing as luck in the realm of energy!
The reasons have to do with the laws of energy.
What energy is
We learned in school that energy is defined as the ability to do work, and
that the rate at which energy is used is power. We also found out that
energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only converted from one form to
As the Nobel Physicist and superb teacher Richard Feynman wrote in Six Easy
Pieces: " There is a fact, or if you wish, a law, governing all natural
phenomena that are known to date. There is no known exception to this law -
it is exact so far as we know. The law is called the conservation of energy.
It states that there is a certain quantity, which we call energy, that does
not change in the manifold changes which nature undergoes. ... It is not a
description of a mechanism, ... it is just a strange fact that we can
calculate some number and when we finish watching nature go through her
tricks and calculate the number again, it is the same."
Some examples of energy are heat energy, electrical energy, electromagnetic
energy, chemical energy, nuclear energy, kinetic energy and mass energy.
Feynman highlights that we describe energy as a number. As on a double-entry
accounting spreadsheet, if we add energy on one side of the ledger we must
subtract it from the other side. And as long as we have properly counted all
the different forms to which energy has been converted in the physical
process, the bottom line is that the net of input to output is always zero.
That's true whatever counting system we use, even if I count in Sumerian.
The conservation law stands.
Our knowledge and control of energy continues to progress, so much so that
modern Homo sapiens verges on replicating the fusion process that powers the
Sun as it converts simple hydrogen into more complex and more massive atoms
like helium. Still, we cannot create energy ex nihilo. Because of the law of
conservation of energy, we are allowed only to convert energy from one form
And this is where the argument for renewables as a means of growing our
energy supply and our economy fails.
Sources and non-sources of energy
If fossil fuels, uranium and hydroelectric continue to be disfavored for
providing growth in energy needs, then growth will rely on expanding the
remaining renewables. Furthermore, fossil fuels, uranium and hydroelectric
energy supplies may be forced to shrink from the base production they now
yield, further increasing reliance on renewables.
But the physical laws make the prospect for renewables on a grand scale look
dismal: solar and wind energy have enormous environmental footprints.
Because they are dilute and intermittent sources, they require great
acreage. Their intermittency requires that stable power sources like coal or
uranium provide the steady base so critical to electrical supply. Biomass
power requires frequent clear cutting of areas devoted to growing
fast-rotation woody crops. Large swaths of land devoted to biomass clear
cutting, wheezing wind towers or habitat-hungry solar facilities could be
viewed as an aesthetic, and actual, environmental hazards. Opportunities for
power from geothermal sites and landfills are limited, and decline with use.
Hydrogen fuel cells, often touted as another futuristic renewable, merely
carry energy. Fuel cells are not sources of energy. The process of
energizing a fuel cell with hydrogen cracked from methane (itself a valuable
energy resource) or water requires more energy than returned from use of the
fuel cell. Their utility is in applications where people may want zero local
pollutants like oxides of nitrogen or sulfur. But if carbon dioxide
emissions are also undesired, then fuel cells would be disfavored unless the
hydrogen-production and distribution phases of charging a fuel cell were to
use no fossil fuels, but instead rely on uranium or renewables.
Conservation is sometimes lumped with the neauveaux renewables (i.e., minus
hydroelectric power) as a source of energy. Conservation and efficiency
improvements may make sense on their own economic or other merits and play
an important role in energy policy, but they are not sources of energy.
Securing U.S. energy and electrical production is a high-stakes effort,
because our powerhouse economy depends on energy. But energy production
depends only on skill - i.e., the laws of physics - and not luck. Solar,
wind and biomass energy cannot be counted on to provide the timely,
reliable, inexpensive electricity resources the U.S. needs. As Scarne
writes, "So much for luck."
Stay tuned for the luckless facts of science in energy and electricity
Copyright 2002, Tech Central Station
(3) WHAT WATSON DID WRONG
>From Tech Central Station, 22 April 2002
By Paul J. Georgia 04/22/2002
Environmental activists are attacking the Bush administration for
orchestrating the ouster of an American scientist, Robert Watson, as
chairman of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC), the supposed ultimate scientific authority on global warming.
They've picked the wrong culprit. Watson orchestrated his own demise. As
Friday's vote for IPCC chairman showed, the administration was hardly alone
in its opposition to him. Seventy-five other nations also voted for Indian
challenger, Rajendra Pachauri, an engineer and an economist. Only 49 nations
The New York Times characterized Watson as an "outspoken advocate of the
idea that human actions - mainly burning coal and oil - are contributing to
global warming and must be changed to avert environmental upheavals." And
that was the problem. Watson's "advocacy" of the environmentalist agenda
clouds his scientific objectivity, it has cast doubt upon the IPCC's
What did Watson do wrong? A whole list of things.
Watson presided over the IPCC's Third Assessment Report (TAR), published
last year. The assessment reports are supposed to be a comprehensive review
of the state of climate science in support of the international climate
negotiations. What they have become under Watson's guidance is a political
bludgeon to enforce global warming orthodoxy.
The first inkling that Watson was manipulating the panel's work for
political ends was two weeks before the 2000 presidential election. A draft
of the report's Summary for Policymakers was leaked to The New York Times,
which reported that the IPCC "has now concluded that mankind's contribution
to the problem is greater than originally believed," and that, "Its
worst-case scenario calls for a truly unnerving rise of 11 degrees
Fahrenheit over 1990 levels." The leak was clearly calculated to aid Al
In January 2001, Watson publicly released the final draft of the summary,
even though the report itself was still under revision, producing another
media circus. Watson chimed in that, "This adds impetus for governments of
the world to find ways to live up to their commitments ... to reduce
emissions of greenhouse gases."
The Summary for Policymakers, written by U.N. politicos rather than
scientists, is used by Watson to misrepresent the science. IPCC lead author
Dr. Richard Lindzen noted that the 35-page chapter that he worked on was
summarized in one sentence, and avoided any mention of the many problems
with how the models misrepresent key climate processes.
By releasing the Summary for Policymakers before the report itself, Watson
assured that its alarmist message was well ingrained in the public psyche
before the real science could get a fair public hearing. Watson's unorthodox
strategy has achieved the desired political impact as the report itself has
been largely ignored.
Unfortunately, the report itself wasn't free of Watson's meddling. The new
report estimates that the Earth's average temperature would rise between 1.4
and 5.8 degrees Celsius -- or 10.44 degrees Fahrenheit, which The New York
Times rounded up to 11 -- over the next century, a big change from its
earlier estimate of 1 to 3.5 degrees C.
The higher prediction is not based on new evidence or on a new understanding
of the relationship between greenhouse gases and climate change, but on an
unwarranted change in the assumptions about future population growth,
economic growth and fossil fuel use.
Stephen Schneider, a professor at Stanford University and staunch proponent
of the global warming agenda, expressed reservations in Nature magazine
about the new assumptions. According to Schneider, "This sweeping revision
depends on two factors that were not the handiwork of the modelers: smaller
projected emissions of climate cooling aerosols; and a few predictions
containing particularly large CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions."
To come up with the outlandish CO2 projections, for instance, Watson formed
a group of academic scientists, environmental organizations, industrial
scientists, engineers, economists, and systems analysts that decided to
"create 'storylines' about future worlds from which population, affluence
and technology drivers could be inferred. These storylines "gave rise to
radically different families of emission profiles up to 2100 -- from below
current CO2 emissions to five times current emissions," according to
To get the final "dramatic revision upward in the IPCC's third assessment,"
he wrote, it combined the climate sensitivities of seven general circulation
models (GCMs) with the "six illustrative scenarios from the special report"
within a simple model to get 40 climate scenarios.
To add insult to injury, these storylines were not subjected to peer review.
In fact, they were added to the IPCC report during a "government review"
after the scientific peer review was concluded.
Watson's actions proved that he was not fit to continue as the head of a
scientific review process. The product of his tenure was not science but
advocacy. The IPCC's new chairman faces the difficult task of getting the
IPCC to promote sound science rather than political advocacy masquerading as
Copyright 2002, Tech Central Station
(4) SHOCK, HORROR: TREES GAIN GROUND OVER SCOTLAND
>From The Times, 22 April 2002
By Shirley English
SCOTLAND has more woods and forests than 700 years ago when Robert the Bruce
and William Wallace were fighting the English, according to a new Forestry
The National Inventory of Woodland and Trees for Scotland shows that tree
cover has increased by 50 per cent since the last national survey in 1980
and has more than trebled in the past 100 years. Around a sixth, or 17 per
cent, of the Scottish landscape is now forested, compared with 5 per cent in
For the first time the number of indigenous, broadleaf trees being planted
has outstripped conifers, rising from 15 per cent to 18 per cent of the
total wood cover, showing a new trend in forestry towards more natural
looking, native woods, instead of the bland regimented plantations of the
Launching the report, Allan Wilson, the Scottish Forestry Minister, said:
"Few countries have tackled the issue of forest loss as vigorously as we
The report said conifers still represent almost 70 per cent of all woodland
in Scotland. The main species is sitka spruce.
Altogether Scotland has 18.58 million live trees. The industry now supports
more than 10,000 jobs and is worth £800 million a year.
Copyright 2002, The Times
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