Cooking up warmingRichard Treadgold | February 17, 2013
Among the difficult, arcane arguments entangled in the doctrine of dangerous anthropogenic global warming (DAGW), the simplest, most immediate and most understandable is that a general warming leads to dangerous climate change. First warming, then dangerous changes. Nobody seems to argue with that — not openly, anyway.
But we find lots of talk about “climate change” that has nothing to do with warming, as though we can have one without the other, which in turn means that humanity can be criticised for “damage” they have no hand in. In these ways warmists work to alarm the naive. We must keep our heads on our shoulders.
Talking only about “climate change” shouldn’t confuse us: warming is required before we can cause changes in the climate system, even when warming isn’t mentioned. Nobody predicts that reduced rainfall, for example, might lead to cooling over Ethiopia, or that accelerated sea level rise could produce a heat wave in New York. Warming must occur first. Without warming, DAGW doesn’t exist.
So if we humans do indeed alter the climate, we must first heat it up. There’s no other way. Let’s put it backwards. In order to show a human hand in climate change we must first observe warming and then demonstrate that it was caused by human activity.
There’s one further point. There are two time threads in the DAGW fracas: predictions for the future and conclusions about the past. The future holds more climate calamity, according to the DAGW theory, than we can imagine. It’s going to be terrible. But it hasn’t happened yet and it might not happen, since there are no guarantees. No matter how compelling the arguments, no proof of future events is possible. It’s all study and debate, and reasoning and trying to find a consensus on what’s likely, according to the brightest and best-informed minds of our generation. Today we leave that future to itself and consider the past.
No warming for 16 years
The past is clearer because it has actually occurred and we observed it. We’re told that climate changes are already under way and people are studying them. Great, we could learn something. So this article looks at the past, not the future. Remember the warming has to come first and it has to be caused by us.
The facts are that for about 16 years there has been no substantial warming. This is astonishing, considering that we’re told almost daily that warming is “unequivocal” and that the evidence is “overwhelming.” No substantial warming has been seen since last century, certainly not as much as predicted 25 years ago, even though atmospheric carbon dioxide (the “evil cause” of warming!) has been rising remorselessly. For example, from Dr Roy Spencer’s blog, here are GISS global temperature predictions presented to Congress by James Hansen in 1988 compared with the subsequent satellite temperature observations from UAH and RSS:
This graph from Mauna Loa shows the inexorable rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide over a slightly longer period:
Some senior climate scientists have acknowledged this significant stasis (fully half the standard period for judging climatology) in global warming, including James Hansen and the British Met Office.
Other senior climate scientists have remained silent or have continued to claim substantial warming. For example, Dr James Renwick, climate scientist at Victoria University of Wellington, says that there’s “probably” been a temperature hiatus this century. But he cannot stop himself from also claiming “this doesn’t mean climate change is not happening.” Which is having one’s cake while eating it. Yes, 16 years is not 30 years (the normal period) but it’s a hell of a fraction! For the previous predictions to hold up, temperature must right now take an unbelievably huge step upward. Of course, that won’t happen.
Anyway, people keen on a climate crisis have noticed the hiatus (while pretending it doesn’t exist) and have become desperate to demonstrate that it’s still warming — it really, really is. What are they to do? They can’t just abandon “the greatest challenge in human history” as though the last 20 years of their lives have been a complete waste of time, even though they were. Imagine the humiliation.
So they search, as might be expected, for secondary, even tertiary, effects of warming and cite them as evidence that it has, after all, and in defiance of the failure of the thermometers to record warming, been warming. Now they talk confidently of “many lines of evidence”, none of which is the slightest bit convincing.
If these events occurred during global warming, we might agree they are the result of warming. But they have all occurred in the almost complete absence of global warming, which kind of breaks the spell. It spoils the illusion of DAGW. Because if the globe didn’t warm while these things happened, our burning fossil fuels had nothing to do with them. They were the result of natural variability and there’s no cause for concern.
This is not to say the future holds no measurable climatic effects from our steel mills, concrete plants, thermal power stations, internal combustion engines and profligate lifestyles — in fact, it’s quite reasonable to expect some — but there have been none detected so far.
Here’s a short list of secondary effects cited by warmists as proof of warming with brief comments.
Changing onset of seasons
Sea level rise
Polar bear endangerment
North pole ice cap melting
Antarctic ice melting
More and stronger cyclones
I searched Google using the following key words:
GOOGLE SCHOLAR “season creep” 2008 – 2013: 11 results
GOOGLE SCHOLAR “onset of seasons” 2008 – 2013: 35 results
Since there were 415,000 results for “climate change” from 2008 to 2013, 46 seems a small number of papers for such an important topic, although there may be phrases better suited to the search.
Is the onset of the English summer advancing? “…the onset of summer in England has been advancing since the mid 1950s. The occurrence of ‘summer’ temperatures has advanced more than early summer flowering, by eleven and three days respectively in the 1990s compared to the period 1954–1963. This may have encouraged drought or heat wave conditions by prolonging the period of warm temperatures and lower rainfall in which these events occur.”
I’ve spent hours looking for time series of the start and duration of seasons over two centuries or so, without success. Maybe they don’t exist. Without such a comparison, I strongly doubt that variations of “eleven and three days respectively” are outside the range of natural variability or even significant — much less caused by human activity.
Consequences of Climate Change for Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services in the Tropical Andes “While recognizing uncertainties in climate change projections, we suggest that the climatic fate of ecosystems and ecosystem services in the tropical Andean region will be largely related to a few key trends. First, there is widespread evidence of increasing air temperature across the region (+0.11°C / decade over the past 60 years), a trend that has intensified in the past 25 years (+0.34°C / decade; Vuille and Bradley 2000; see Marengo et al., Chapter 7 this volume). Recent studies have suggested that warming across the region is more evident in the minimum than maximum temperature time series (Vuille et al. 2008; see Marengo et al., Chapter 7 this volume). Second, there is some evidence of change in patterns of precipitation, but these changes vary between eastern and western slopes of the Andes and inter-Andean valleys. Third, changes in cloud cover may also be significant for ecosystems, both in terms of rising cloud levels (Foster 2001; Ruiz et al. 2008; 2009) and in terms of the sunshine to cloud ratio. Some evidence suggests a decrease in occurrence of cloudy weather in the northern Andes, a trend that leads to more hours of sun exposure (Ruiz et al. 2008; 2009; Chapter 12, this volume).”
It’s difficult to be impressed by the magnitude of the variations in these climate metrics.
The original caption for this figure is: “Figure 1.1. Temporal and spatial changes in mean temperature and precipitation in the tropical Andes. (a) Annual temperature anomaly with respect to 1961-90 average in the tropical Andes (1°N-23°S) from 1939 and 2006. Gray shading indicates ±2standard errors of the mean. The long-term warming trend (0.10°C/decade) is also indicated (from Vuille et al., 2008).”
I can’t see any cause for concern in these temperature anomalies, can you?
We must take the discussion of the “creeping” seasons with a huge grain of salt, since there’s no definition of the seasons to begin with, so how can anyone say with confidence how they might be shifting?
NASA says: “Global sea level rose about 17 cm in the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century.” But it speaks with forked tongue. Here’s the record from the Sea Level Research Group at the University of Colorado:
Compare this with the New Zealand record at Auckland, 1899 to 2007:
Only when winds and currents move the stuff into the North Atlantic.
Yep, every year. Details, anyone?
Nope, not happening.
NASA, that bastion of dependable astrophysical, but not climate, science, adds:
Shrinking ice sheets
Declining Arctic sea ice
Not too much, obviously, or the air would be warming, and it isn’t.
For some, but by no means all glaciers.
Maybe, but it’s patchy, low magnitude and there are no historical reference points.