By JR on Monday, November 30, 2015
A moderate Warmist?
They are rather thin on the ground but Times/Guardian journalist Tom Whipple seems to be one. The original title of his article below was rather immodestly titled "The fact and fiction of climate change" but he does in fact look at both sides of the question to some extent. He IS a Warmist, however, so he has to do big stretches to make his points.
His assertions about the recent Philippines cyclone are a bit amusing for instance. Warmists normally date the start of all the badness to the second half of the 20th century. Not so, our Tom. He takes us back to "before the industrial revolution" -- i.e 1750 or thereabouts. That's called "shifting the goalposts" -- and on a spectacular scale.
He also has a coat-trailing reference to the laws of thermodyamics -- an unexplained reference and a most dubious one
As usual, he explains the "pause" as heat hiding in the oceans. But how come the heat started hiding there only 18 years ago? Why was it not hiding in the oceans during the glory-days of global warming in the "80s and '90s?
And he speaks of sea-level rise as if that proved something. Tiny rises in average sea level are however very hard to measure and are very much open to dispute. And on some accounts sea level rise has slowed down rather than speeded up. And sea level expert Nils-Axel Mörner points out that the raw satellite data shows barely any rise. So Tom asserts as known that which is in fact contentious.
And he refers to the recent claims that 2015 will show a non-negligible global temperature rise. Even Warmists at NOAA and such places, however, admit that the higher readings are at least in part el Nino at work, a cyclic influence of ocean currents.
And Tom is quite simply wrong when he said that "human civilisation developed in a period with a temperature range that we have just breached". The truth is the opposite. At least two of the great flowerings of ancient civilization took place during periods warmer than ours: The Minoan warm period and the Roman warm period. And our own medieval warm period saw great advances too.
And in his final paragraph he gives the goalposts a hell of a kick back in time. He makes comparisons with the geological past. And the past he talks about was in fact a time of cooling! He tells us what cooling does, not what warming does. Poor Tom. He knows that Warmism is all bollocks but cannot allow himself to see it
Last year, amid the ordinarily genteel corridors of the Royal Society, a meeting of ice scientists became unexpectedly heated. At issue was a talk by a respected professor who expected the summer collapse of Arctic ice before 2020. The problem, for those listening, was that this same professor had previously given different dates — 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016.
Like a millenarian expecting the apocalypse he kept shifting the criteria and, they argued, made them all look stupid in the process. The arctic is warming fast, and sea ice is declining fast, but the September minimum still covers an area bigger than India. This does not mean we should not worry. The people predicting its eventual disappearance are not just left wing environmentalists, they are oil companies and shipping companies, looking to exploit an ice-free arctic. The best-accepted models predict that time will come at some point before 2050.
Extreme weather is going to get worse
In one sense, the science could not be simpler. Really big storms are caused by hot seas, so if you make the sea hotter you will get more big storms. Even so, climate scientists are wary of making bold predictions about something as uncertain as weather systems.
The problem is the complexities of atmospheric science. Tropical storms may be caused by warmer seas, but they are also disrupted by windier conditions higher in the atmosphere, caused by climate change. Equally, heavier bursts of rain due to hotter air holding more moisture may cause some flooding in some places, but less snow on mountains may also make flooding less likely in spring in others. Some risk factors are undeniable though: among these, sea level rise.
In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines — less because of the strength of its winds, than its storm surge. Before the industrial revolution a storm of precisely the same scale as Haiyan would have hit with the same speed, but that surge would have been 20cm lower.
There is a “pause” in climate change
The masthead on the web page of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the climate sceptic think tank, shows one simple graphic: a graph of the global surface temperature since 2000.
Their point is that it appears to have slowed dramatically. For those who argue that climate change is not happening, or is not worth worrying about, the apparent slowdown in temperature rises this century — as the actual data has slowly crept off the bottom of the computer models’ predictions — has become an increasingly powerful weapon. Among climate scientists — who point out that if temperature rises had actually stopped there might well be problems with the laws of thermodynamics — it has been puzzling.
One possible explanation is that reliable temperature records only exist for the planet’s surface, which compared with the sea stores a tiny proportion of the sun’s energy. And there has indeed been some evidence of the oceans warming, not least their continual rise. In any case though, it may well be moot: 2015 is set, by some distance, to be the hottest year on record. More than one environmentalist is waiting to see what the Global Warming Policy Foundation will do with its masthead.
Climate change will be good for us
CO2, so the argument (or, at least, the more extreme end of it) goes, has been unfairly demonised as a pollutant. So much so that we have forgotten the essential truth about it: it is plant food. With climate change will come better growing conditions, useful land opened up in the Arctic, and — at least at moderate levels — a more productive world.
On the one hand, there are plenty of arguments against this, such as, to give just one example, those who point to the possible effects of extreme weather. On the other hand it is hard to argue against, precisely because of all the uncertainties that remain. What we do know, is that human civilisation developed in a period with a temperature range that we have just breached. What we also know is that ostensibly small changes, of just a few degrees, can have huge long-term effects.
The difference between us today and a Britain that in the geological past had London underwater is a rise of less than two degrees. The difference between Britain today and a Britain beneath a kilometre of ice, meanwhile, is a fall of four degrees. In that context, betting on a positive outcome is quite a high-stakes gamble.