Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Global Warming "On Hold"

If you have been paying attention to all sources then you will not be surprised to read that global warming seems to have plateaued in 2001 and planetary temperatures have declined a bit since then.

On the other hand, if you get your science news from the Discovery Channel then you only found this out yesterday. This is big news. Until now the Discovery Channel's web site has been a stream of unrelenting doom. This article on Greenland is more typical.
If Greenland's ice sheet ever melts entirely, the results would be catastrophic. The water unleashed into the ocean would be enough to raise sea level 6.5 meters (21.3 feet), jeopardizing the homes and lives of hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

For these people to admit that the world is not warming on cue shows that problems reconciling the climate models with reality can no longer be glossed over. Not that they aren't trying:

Swanson thinks the trend could continue for up to 30 years. But he warned that it's just a hiccup, and that humans' penchant for spewing greenhouse gases will certainly come back to haunt us.

"When the climate kicks back out of this state, we'll have explosive warming," Swanson said. "Thirty years of greenhouse gas radiative forcing will still be there and then bang, the warming will return and be very aggressive."

What is less clear is that this nothing but speculation. None of the climate models show the current cooling phase (referred to here as being flat). There are a couple of other stark admissions in the article:

But just what's causing the cooling is a mystery. Sinking water currents in the north Atlantic Ocean could be sucking heat down into the depths. Or an overabundance of tropical clouds may be reflecting more of the sun's energy than usual back out into space.

"It is possible that a fraction of the most recent rapid warming since the 1970s was due to a free variation in climate," Isaac Held of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Princeton, New Jersey wrote in an email to Discovery News. "Suggesting that the warming might possibly slow down or even stagnate for a few years before rapid warming commences again."

The first admission is that they don't have any idea why the world is cooling instead of warming. The second is that some of the warming that we have been seeing is natural variation rather than human-induced climate change. This point is particularly telling since the people warning us about global warming insist that carbon dioxide is the major cause for all climate change.

A third climate-related article on Discovery.com shows the carbon-centric view of warming alarmists. For decades historians have known about a cooling period known as the Little Ice Age that peaked around 400 years ago. Many global warming skeptics (including me) point to this as an example of variable climate. In fact, the Little Ice Age was such a problem that climatologists spent a lot of time and effort trying to prove that it didn't exist. Now that these efforts have been discredited they are trying to fit a period of global cooling into CO2-based climatology. This article speculates that expanding wetlands absorbed CO2, causing the Little Ice Age. The problem with this hypothesis is that it is know that world temperatures cause variations in CO2 levels but the CO2 levels follow the temperature changes.

All of this brings me back to my main point - the models are wrong. All of them predicted continuous warming. None of them allowed for enough natural variation to even be detectable. If a natural cooling can overwhelm the greenhouse effect, at least for a while, then it is also probable that some of the observed warming has also been natural.

In fact, the current cooling means that we need to question everything about the predicted global warming. It is often said that peer review is the gold standard of science. It isn't. It is the silver standard. Peer review means that your paper has been run past some experts to see if it looks plausable. The actual gold standard is prediction and failability.

To really validate the climate models, you have to be able to run them forward for a few years and compare their predictions with real measurments. If they match then you have validated the models. If they fail then the model is invalidated and needs more work. All of the models that the IPCC used failed this simple test.

This is important when you remember that the developed world is making decisions based on flawed climate models. Barack Obama's 2009 budget includes new taxes on CO2 emmisions that will push electric rates 4-5 times what they are today. We should not be crippling ourselves based on disproven computer models.

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