Saturday, 28 November 2009

The times are a-changin’

in 1962, one year Before Bob Dylan recorded his famous song, Humble Energy (now Exxon) ran the advertisement below which is hopelessly outdated. Times have changed indeed.

Exxon advertisement melting Glacier global warming
Exxon advertisement

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Ton Begemann cruisin’ the arctic

In an earlier post I mentioned professor Ton Begemann published a video in which basically he made the claim all scientists are following the money, making it impossible to be a climate sceptic when working for a university or so. A claim which was refuted by climate sceptic Bas Van Geel, working at the University of Amsterdam, who wrote he never met ANY attempt to oppress his visions on climate change
Yet the main subject of Begemann’s video was the fact he went on a couple of “semi-scientific” [sic] cruises through the arctic.
In the comments section on the Klimatosoof he makes the claim arctic ice is growing rapidly. For two years in a row now. He backs up his claim by linking to a NASA’s picture of the day section containing the two images below demonstrating, at least according to Begemann, that the arctic ice is “nearly back on the long term average!!!!”

seaice_graph_2009258 2

Clearly, the extent of the arctic ice is nowhere near both the long term median and the mean extent.
But there’s more : while the extent of the ice sheet of course is a way of obtaining information about the amount of ice, it’s not an absolute way : the 2007 decline was a bit of an outlier in the whole series, with a much bigger decline than to be expected.
The most probable explanation is heavy winds in the area in 2007 caused the ice to cluster together more than it would in an average year, leaving more open waters than normally. Making 2007 an anomaly which probably was more an indicator for ‘wind’ than for ‘melt’. It’s a fine example of how one has to be careful with interpreting data.
Luckily, modern techniques have been developed making it possible to have an indication of the age of the sea-ice, which is an indicator for the thickness, with one-year old ice of course being rather thin, while the older ice is thicker.
The image for the ice-thickness of the last three years is given below :
meerjarig ijs

The image supports the hypothesis from above that 2007 was nothing but an outlier. There’s no doubt that the amount of old ice, and therefore the amount of thick ice is decreasing, and the summer melt is compensated for any more by the winter freeze.
On the klimatosoof, i did comment that in the climate debate there’s no room for two year trends. And i gave a link to the image containing the arctic ice age. Here’s the reply of Tom Begemann :
Jules, nice that you are proving yourself wrong with the figure you present yourself, as it demonstrates the 2009 ice-area increased, just like i said.
Considering 2-year trends not belonging in a serious climate debate :
Then the same thing is valid for the dramatic stories in the years before when ice was melting, the melting polar cap with the Polar bear on a little iceberg which became the symbol of climate alarmists, the 2007 decrease and the incorrect claim that in 2008 there was a huge decrease in arctic ice …. headline news !!! … one day later NASA had to admit there’s been a mistake the size of California … and there was significant rise …. unfortunately no headline news any more … let alone it was headline news there was a 24% growth mid September 2009 !!!!!!!!!!
So there a more than relevant turn in the trend and is very important !!!! …. And if this trend continues for a couple of years the whole Global warming is lying on it’s scientific ass [I guess the meaning of this rather vulgar Dutch expression needs no explanation? - J] because this wasn’t predicted by climate models. And finally, but this isn’t decisive evidence yet (we need to wait a couple of years you say) the only place where earth still is warming is in climate models. It’s very probable all of them have been infected with the Gigo-virus (Garbage in, Garbage Out)
The main conclusion to be drawn from Begemann’s reply is that the professor really loves exclamation marks.
And that he doesn’t have a clue about the difference between weather and climate. Begemann is another amateur who gets lost in his bias.
Meanwhile, on the website of the National Snow and Ice Data Centre it’s possible to see how the arctic ice evolved after September :

Due to warm winds in the arctic area, currently there’s little growth in winter ice. Despite’s Begemann’s claim of a fast increase in arctic ice the past two years, reality is that the ice-extent for the moment is exactly the same as in the record year 2007. Which is nature’s way of saying : ‘Ton Begemann, thou shall not use 2-year trends in a climate debate”

UPDATE : Begemann also takes about eskimo-farming in his video, while of course they never practised agriculture

Sunday, 15 November 2009

John Mashey really should start his own blog

But as unfortunately for some reason he seems to be reluctant to start his own blog, let me just draw attention this way to John Mashey's latest effort.

As p.ex. my series on Dutch climate scepticism have shown, often there are close connections between climate sceptics throughout personal contacts and non/pseudo-scientific networks or movements.

In an attempt to try to convince the general public "scientists don't agree amongst themselves", one of the beloved ways of the the climate sceptic lobby is to produce petitions signed by scientist (rarely climate scientists) which should "prove" the academic world disagrees on the subject of climate change. And as there's no consensus, there's no need for politics to act on a subject they claim to be "unproven".

In itself, the argument is flawed itself as of course science is all about right or wrong, but those petitions do manage to create confusion amongst the public, just as the lobby wants to.

The latest lobby-effort is a petition towards the American Physical Society (APS) in an attempt to make the APS alter it's position on Global Warming.

When looking closer at who sings such petitions and open letters, often the same names return, and often they are related to right-wing or libertarian think thanks.
John Mashey took the immense effort to make an analysis of the people who signed the APS-petition. He starts his explanation like this :
The American Physical Society (APS) was petitioned by 206 people, about 0.45% of the 47,000 members, to discard its climate change position and declare decades of climate research non-existent. The Petition was “overwhelmingly” rejected, but this anti-science campaign offers a useful case study. The Petition signers‟ demographics are compared to those of APS in general.

Then, the social network behind the petition is analyzed in detail, person by person for the first 121 signers. This might seem a grassroots groundswell of informed expert argument with the existing position, but it is not.

Rather, it seems to have originated within a small network of people, not field experts, but with a long history of manufacturing such things, plausibly at the Heartland Institute‘s NYC climate conference March 8-10, 2009. APS physicists can, do, and will contribute strongly to solving the 21st century‟s conjoined climate+energy problem, but this petition was a silly distraction, and rightly rejected. However, its existence was widely touted to the public.
The entire 128 page pdf can be found here

Politics and Lobby talking in one voice

Yesterday the New York Times published a devastating article demonstrating what happens when politicians are getting too close to an industrial lobby :
In the official record of the historic House debate on overhauling health care, the speeches of many lawmakers echo with similarities. Often, that was no accident.

Statements by more than a dozen lawmakers were ghostwritten, in whole or in part, by Washington lobbyists working for Genentech, one of the world’s largest biotechnology companies. E-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that the lobbyists drafted one statement for Democrats and another for Republicans.
Read the whole article on the NYT-site : In House, Many Spoke With One Voice: Lobbyists’

Taking the above into account, it makes you wonder what the effect is of all the money Exxon spent on lobbyism during the past years.