NORTH AND SOUTH POLE

lapland.arctic.tundra

Tummeli in Lapland

Arctic Ice Melt Could Pause for Several Years, Then Resume Again
enlarge

ScienceDaily

Aug. 12, 2011

 

Sea ice off the Alaskan coast.

Although Arctic sea ice appears fated to melt away as the climate continues to warm, the ice may temporarily stabilize or somewhat expand at times over the next few decades, new research indicates.

The computer modeling study, by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, reinforces previous findings by other research teams that the level of Arctic sea ice loss observed in recent decades cannot be explained by natural causes alone, and that the ice will eventually disappear during summer if climate change continues.

But in an unexpected new result, the NCAR research team found that Arctic ice under current climate conditions is as likely to expand as it is to contract for periods of up to about a decade.

"One of the results that surprised us all was the number of computer simulations that indicated a temporary halt to the loss of the ice," says NCAR scientist Jennifer Kay, the lead author. "The computer simulations suggest that we could see a 10-year period of stable ice or even a slight increase in the extent of the ice. Even though the observed ice loss has accelerated over the last decade, the fate of sea ice over the next decade depends not only on human activity but also on climate variability that cannot be predicted."

Kay explains that variations in atmospheric conditions such as wind patterns could, for example, temporarily halt the sea ice loss. Still, the ultimate fate of the ice in a warming world is clear.

"When you start looking at longer-term trends, 50 or 60 years, there's no escaping the loss of ice in the summer," Kay says.

Kay and her colleagues also ran computer simulations to answer a fundamental question: why did Arctic sea ice melt far more rapidly in the late 20th century than projected by computer models? By analyzing multiple realizations of the 20th century from a single climate model, they attribute approximately half the observed decline to human emissions of greenhouse gases, and the other half to climate variability.

These findings point to climate change and variability working together equally to accelerate the observed sea ice loss during the late 20th century.

The study appears this week in Geophysical Research Letters. It was funded by the National Science Foundation, NCAR's sponsor.

Rapid melt

Since accurate satellite measurements became available in 1979, the extent of summertime Arctic sea ice has shrunk by about one third. The ice returns each winter, but the extent shrank to a record low in September 2007 and is again extremely low this year, already setting a monthly record low for July. Whereas scientists warned just a few years ago that the Arctic could lose its summertime ice cover by the end of the century, some research has indicated that Arctic summers could be largely ice-free within the next several decades.

To simulate what is happening with the ice, the NCAR team used a newly updated version of one of the world's most powerful computer climate models. The software, known as the Community Climate System Model, was developed at NCAR in collaboration with scientists at multiple organizations and with funding by NSF and the Department of Energy.

The research team first evaluated whether the model was a credible tool for the study. By comparing the computer results with Arctic observations, they verified that, though the model has certain biases, it can capture observed late 20th century sea ice trends and the observed thickness and seasonal variations in the extent of the ice.

Kay and her colleagues then conducted a series of future simulations that looked at how Arctic sea ice was affected both by natural conditions and by the increased level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The computer studies indicated that the year-to-year and decade-to-decade trends in the extent of sea ice are likely to fluctuate increasingly as temperatures warm and the ice thins.

"Over periods up to a decade, both positive and negative trends become more pronounced in a warming world," says NCAR scientist Marika Holland, a co-author of the study.

The simulations also indicated that Arctic sea ice is equally likely to expand or contract over short time periods under the climate conditions of the late 20th and early 21st century.

Although the Community Climate System Model simulations provide new insights, the paper cautions that more modeling studies and longer-term observations are needed to better understand the impacts of climate change and weather variability on Arctic ice.

The authors note that it is also difficult to disentangle the variability of weather systems and sea ice patterns from the ongoing impacts of human emissions of greenhouse gases.

"The changing Arctic climate is complicating matters," Kay says. "We can't measure natural variability now because, when temperatures warm and the ice thins, the ice variability changes and is not entirely natural."

Ice melting into strange forms

Kuvateksti

August 22, 2010
Disaster at the Top of the World
By THOMAS HOMER-DIXON

The New York Times

Aboard the Louis S. St-Laurent


STANDING on the deck of this floating laboratory for Arctic science, which is part of Canada's Coast Guard fleet and one of the world's most powerful icebreakers, I can see vivid evidence of climate change. Channels through the Canadian Arctic archipelago that were choked with ice at this time of year two decades ago are now expanses of open water or vast patchworks of tiny islands of melting ice.

In 1994, the "Louie," as the crew calls the ship, and a United States Coast Guard icebreaker, the Polar Sea, smashed their way to the North Pole through thousands of miles of pack ice six- to nine-feet thick. "The sea conditions in the Arctic Ocean were rarely an issue for us in those days, because the thick continuous ice kept waves from forming," Marc Rothwell, the Louie's captain, told me. "Now, there's so much open water that we have to account for heavy swells that undulate through the sea ice. It's almost like a dream: the swells move in slow motion, like nothing I've seen elsewhere."

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, and this summer its sea ice is melting at a near-record pace. The sun is heating the newly open water, so it will take longer to refreeze this winter, and the resulting thinner ice will melt more easily next summer.

At the same time, warm Pacific Ocean water is pulsing through the Bering Strait into the Arctic basin, helping melt a large area of sea ice between Alaska and eastern Siberia. Scientists are just beginning to learn how this exposed water has changed the movement of heat energy and major air currents across the Arctic basin, in turn producing winds that push remaining sea ice down the coasts of Greenland into the Atlantic.

Globally, 2010 is on track to be the warmest year on record. In regions around the world, indications abound that earth's climate is quickly changing, like the devastating mudslides in China and weeks of searing heat in Russia. But in the world's capitals, movement on climate policy has nearly stopped.

Democrats in the Senate decided last month that they wouldn't push for approval of a climate bill. In Canada, Australia, Japan and countries across Europe, the global economic crisis and other near-term concerns have pushed climate issues to the back burner. For China and India, economic growth and energy security are more vital priorities.

Climate policy is gridlocked, and there's virtually no chance of a breakthrough. Many factors have conspired to produce this situation. Human beings are notoriously poor at responding to problems that develop incrementally. And most of us aren't eager to change our lifestyles by sharply reducing our energy consumption.

But social scientists have identified another major reason: Climate change has become an ideologically polarizing issue. It taps into deep personal identities and causes what Dan Kahan of Yale calls "protective cognition" — we judge things in part on whether we see ourselves as rugged individualists mastering nature or as members of interconnected societies who live in harmony with the environment. Powerful special interests like the coal and oil industries have learned how to halt movement on climate policy by exploiting the fear people feel when their identities are threatened.

Given this reality, we'll almost certainly need some kind of devastating climate shock to get effective climate policy. That's the key lesson of the recent financial crisis: when powerful special interests have convinced much of the public that what they're doing isn't dangerous, only a disaster that discredits those interests will provide an opportunity for comprehensive policy change like the Dodd-Frank financial regulations.

It is possible that the changes I'm seeing from the ship deck are the beginning of the climate shock that will awaken us to the danger we face. Scientists aren't sure what will happen when a significant portion of the Arctic Ocean changes from white, sunlight-reflecting ice to dark, sunlight-absorbing open water. But most aren't sanguine.

These experts are especially concerned that new patterns of air movement in the Arctic could disrupt the Northern Hemisphere's jet streams — which are apparently weakening and moving northward. This could alter storm tracks, rainfall patterns and food production far to the south.

The limited slack in the world's food system, particularly its grain production, can amplify the effects of disruptions. Remember that two years ago, when higher oil prices encouraged farmers to shift enormous tracts of cropland from grain to biofuel production, grain prices quickly doubled or tripled. Violence erupted in dozens of countries. Should climate change cause crop failures in major food-producing regions of Europe, North America and East Asia, the consequences would likely be far more severe.

Policy makers need to accept that societies won't make drastic changes to address climate change until such a crisis hits. But that doesn't mean there's nothing for them to do in the meantime. When a crisis does occur, the societies with response plans on the shelf will be far better off than those that are blindsided. The task for national and regional leaders, then, is to develop a set of contingency plans for possible climate shocks — what we might call, collectively, Plan Z.

Some work of this kind is under way at intelligence agencies and research institutions in the United States and Europe. Harvard's Kennedy School of Government has produced one of the best studies, "Responding to Threat of Climate Change Mega-Catastrophes." But for the most part these initiatives are preliminary and uncoordinated.

We need a much more deliberate Plan Z, with detailed scenarios of plausible climate shocks; close analyses of options for emergency response by governments, corporations and nongovernmental groups; and clear specifics about what resources — financial, technological and organizational — we will need to cope with different types of crises.

In the most likely scenarios, climate change would cause some kind of regional or continental disruption, like a major crop failure; this disruption would cascade through the world's tightly connected economic and political systems to produce a global effect. Severe floods dislocating millions of people in a key poor country — as we're seeing right now in Pakistan — could allow radicals to seize power and tip a geopolitically vital region into war. Or drought could cause an economically critical region like the North China plain to exhaust its water reserves, forcing people to leave en masse and precipitating a crisis that reverberates through the world economy.

A climate shock in North America is easy to imagine. Say a prolonged drought causes major cities in the American Southeast or Southwest to run out of water; both regions have large urban populations pushing against upper limits of water supply. The news clips of cars streaming out of Atlanta or Phoenix might finally push our leaders to do something serious about climate change.

If so, a Plan Z for this particular scenario would help us make the most of the opportunity. It would provide guidelines for regional and local leaders on how to respond to the crisis. We would decide in advance where supplies of water would be found and who would get priority allocations; local law enforcement and emergency responders would already have worked out lines of authority with federal agencies and the military.

Then there are the broader steps to mitigate climate change in general. Here, Plan Z would address many critical questions: How fast could carbon emissions from automobiles and energy production be ramped down, and what would be the economic, political and social consequences of different rates of reduction? Where would we find the vast amounts of money needed to overhaul existing energy systems? How quickly could different economic sectors and social groups adapt to different kinds of climate impacts? And if geoengineering to alter earth's climate — for example, injecting sulfates into the high atmosphere — is to be an option, who would make the decision and undertake the operation?

Looking over the endless, empty horizon of the Arctic, I find it hard to imagine this spot being of any importance to global affairs. But it is just one of many places now considered marginal that could be the starting point for a climate shock that plays a central role in the evolution of human civilization. We need to be ready.

Thomas Homer-Dixon is a professor of global systems at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada.

Older Arctic Sea Ice Replaced By Young, Thin Ice
ScienceDaily (Jan. 13, 2008) — A new study by University of Colorado at Boulder researchers indicates older, multi-year sea ice in the Arctic is giving way to younger, thinner ice, making it more susceptible to record summer sea-ice lows like the one that occurred in 2007.
 
The team used satellite data going back to 1982 to reconstruct past Arctic sea ice conditions, concluding there has been a nearly complete loss of the oldest, thickest ice and that 58 percent of the remaining perennial ice is thin and only 2-to-3 years old, said the lead study author, Research Professor James Maslanik of CU-Boulder's Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research. In the mid-1980s, only 35 percent of the sea ice was that young and that thin according to the study, the first to quantify the magnitude of the Arctic sea ice retreat using data on the age of the ice and its thickness, he said.
"This thinner, younger ice makes the Arctic much more susceptible to rapid melt," Maslanik said. "Our concern is that if the Arctic continues to get kicked hard enough toward one physical state, it becomes increasingly difficult to reestablish the sea ice conditions of 20 or 30 years ago."
A September 2007 study by CU-Boulder's National Snow and Ice Data Center indicated last year's average sea ice extent minimum was the lowest on record, shattering the previous September 2005 record by 23 percent. The minimum extent was lower than the previous record by about 1 million square miles -- an area about the size of Alaska and Texas combined.
The new study by Maslanik and his colleagues appears in the Jan. 10 issue of Geophysical Research Letters. Co-authors include CCAR's Charles Fowler, Sheldon Drobot and William Emery, as well as Julienne Stroeve from CU-Boulder's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and Jay Zwally and Donghui Yi from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
The portion of ice more than five years old within the multi-year Arctic icepack decreased from 31 percent in 1988 to 10 percent in 2007, according to the study. Ice 7 years or older, which made up 21 percent of the multi-year Arctic ice cover in 1988, made up only 5 percent in 2007, the research team reported.
The researchers used passive microwave, visible infrared radar and laser altimeter satellite data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as ocean buoys to measure and track sections of sea ice.
The team developed "signatures" of individual ice sections roughly 15 miles square using their thickness, roughness, snow depth and ridge characteristics, tracking them over the seasons and years as they moved around the Arctic via winds and currents, Emery said. "We followed the ice in sequential images and track it back to where it had been previously, which allowed us to infer the relative ages of the ice sections."
The replacement of older, thicker Arctic ice by younger, thinner ice, combined with the effects of warming, unusual atmospheric circulation patterns and increased melting from solar radiation absorbed by open waters in 2007 all have contributed to the phenomenon, said Drobot. "These conditions are setting the Arctic up for additional, significant melting because of the positive feedback loop that plays back on itself."
"Taken together, these changes suggest that the Arctic Ocean is approaching a point where a return to pre-1990s ice conditions becomes increasingly difficult and where large, abrupt changes in summer ice cover as in 2007 may become the norm," the research team wrote in Geophysical Research Letters.

Early Snowfall in early Autumn

HOW LONG WILL THIS LAST

Arctic sea ice melt 'even faster'

By Richard Black, Environment correspondent

BBC News

18 June 2008


 

A widespread Arctic melt would have major impacts on wildlife

Arctic sea ice is melting even faster than last year, despite a cold winter.

Data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) shows that the year began with ice covering a larger area than at the beginning of 2007.

But now it is down to levels seen last June, at the beginning of a summer that broke records for sea ice loss.

Scientists on the project say much of the ice is so thin as to melt easily, and the Arctic seas may be ice-free in summer within five to 10 years.

   
I think we're going to beat last year's record, though I'd love to be wrong
Julienne Stroeve
"We had a bit more ice in the winter, although we were still way below the long-term average," said Julienne Stroeve from NSIDC in Boulder, Colorado.

"So we had a partial recovery. But the real issue is that most of the pack ice has become really thin, and if we have a regular summer now, it can just melt away," she told BBC News.

In March, Nasa reported that the area covered by sea ice was slightly larger than in 2007, but much of it consisted of thin floes that had formed during the previous winter. These are much less robust than thicker, less saline floes that have already survived for several years.
Graph
After a colder winter, ice has been melting even faster than last year

A few years ago, scientists were predicting that Arctic waters would be ice-free in summers by about 2080.

Then computer models started projecting earlier dates, around 2030 to 2050.

Then came the 2007 summer that saw Arctic sea ice shrink to the smallest extent ever recorded, down to 4.2 million sq km from 7.8 million sq km in 1980.

By the end of last year, one research group was forecasting ice-free summers by 2013.

"I think we're going to beat last year's record melt, though I'd love to be wrong," said Dr Stroeve.

"If we do, then I don't think 2013 is far off any more. If what we think is going to happen does happen, then it'll be within a decade anyway."

Rising tide

Countries surrounding the Arctic are eyeing the economic opportunities that melting ice might bring.

Canada and Russia are exploring sovereignty claims over tracts of Arctic seafloor, while just this week US President George Bush has urged more oil exploration in US waters - which could point the way to exploitation of reserves off the Alaskan coast.
   
Summer ice cover in the Arctic has declined sharply

But from a climate point of view, the melt could bring global impacts accelerating the rate of warming and of sea level rise.

"This is a positive feedback process," commented Dr Ian Willis, from the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge.

"Sea ice has a higher albedo (reflectivity) than ocean water; so as the ice melts, the water absorbs more of the Sun's energy and warms up more, and that in turn warms the atmosphere more - including the atmosphere over the Greenland ice sheet."

Greenland is already losing ice to the oceans, contributing to the gradual rise in sea levels. The ice cap holds enough water to lift sea levels globally by about seven metres (22ft) if it all melted.

Natural climatic cycles such as the Arctic Oscillation play a role in year-to-year variations in ice cover. But Julienne Stroeve believes the sea ice is now so thin that there is little chance of the melting trend turning round.

"If the ice were as thick as it was in the 1970s, last year's conditions would have brought a dip in cover, but nothing exceptional.

"But now it's so thin that you would have to have an exceptional sequence of cold winters and cold summers in order for it to rebuild." 

New Years Eve


Cryosat spots Arctic sea-ice loss in autumn

Jonathan Amos, Science correspondent

BBC News

3 February 2013


The dramatic recent decline in Arctic sea-ice cover is illustrated in new data from Europe's Cryosat mission.

The spacecraft, which uses radar to estimate the thickness of marine floes, has observed a deep reduction in the volume of ice during autumn months.

For the years 2010-2012, this is down a third compared with data for 2003-2008.

For winter months, the fall in volume is not so great - down 9% over the same period.

A lot of thicker ice appears to have been lost from a region to the north of Greenland, the Canadian archipelago, and to a lesser extent the northeast of Svalbard.

We have become accustomed to the big retreats in sea-ice area that occur in summer. Last year saw the smallest extent yet measured in the satellite era.

But the latest Cryosat report gives an indication of the status of the floes during the months when the seasonal re-freeze occurs with the advance of colder temperatures.

"We've only been in orbit with Cryosat for two complete winters, and so it is not possible at the moment to discern any long term trends," explained mission scientist Dr Katharine Giles, from the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) at University College London, UK.

"But as the mission moves forward we will get more and more information and that will help us describe better the patterns that are emerging."

Cryosat was launched by the European Space Agency (Esa) in early 2010.

It is what is known as an altimetry mission, using advanced radar to measure the difference in height between the top of the marine ice and the top of the water in the cracks, or leads, that separate the floes.

From this number, scientists can with a relatively simple calculation work out the thickness of the ice.

Multiplying by the area gives an overall volume, and it is the volume that is likely to provide the most reliable assessment of the changes now underway in the Arctic.

The data gathered so far by Cryosat were compared with information compiled by the US space agency's (Nasa) Icesat spacecraft in the mid-2000s.

For autumn (October/November), the analysis found the Icesat years from 2003 to 2008 to have recorded an average volume of 11,900 cubic km.

But from 2010 to 2012, this average had dropped to 7,600 cu km - a decline of 4,300 cu km - as observed by Cryosat.

For winter (February/March), the 2003 to 2008 period saw an average of 16,300 cu km, dropping to 14,800 cu km between 2010 and 2012 - a difference of 1,500 cu km.

The smaller relative decline in winter volume highlights an interesting "negative feedback".

"Thin ice grows more quickly than thick ice in the winter. Ice acts as an insulator - the thinner the ice, the more heat can be lost to the atmosphere and the faster the water beneath the ice can freeze," Dr Giles told BBC News.

"But even with an increased ice growth during the winter, we can see from the Cryosat data that it's still not fully compensating for the deep summer melt."

Cryosat's altimetry observations agree well with independent measures of sea-ice thickness derived from aircraft surveys and under-ice moorings.

They also look very similar to the simulations coming out of Piomas (Pan-Arctic Ice-Ocean Modelling and Assimilation System), an influential computer model that has been used to estimate Arctic sea-ice volume and which has been the basis for several predictions about when summer sea ice might disappear completely.

"The decline predicted by Piomas is slightly less in the autumn and slightly more in winter, but broadly speaking there's good agreement," said Dr Giles.

A paper describing the latest Cryosat results has been published online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Its lead author was UCL's Seymour Laxon, the renowned polar scientist who tragically died following an accident on New Year's Day.

Prof Laxon solved the problem of separating ice from water in the satellite altimeter signal.

This has allowed scientists to retrieve information about the Arctic Ocean region's gravity field, its surface circulation, and the thickness of its sea-ice cover.

More recently, his techniques have begun to reveal how the changing ice cover might affect the interaction between the Arctic Ocean and the atmosphere.

"Seymour's work provided evidence with which to propose and eventually launch the Cryosat mission, which is now - as his last paper describes - providing the first observations of the annual cycle of sea-ice growth and decay throughout the Arctic Ocean," Dr Giles said.

Laplander

Arctic ozone loss at record level

Richard Black, Environment correspondent

BBC News

2 October 2011

Ozone loss over the Arctic this year was so severe that for the first time it could be called an "ozone hole" like the Antarctic one, scientists report.

About 20km (13 miles) above the ground, 80% of the ozone was lost, they say.

The cause was an unusually long spell of cold weather at altitude. In cold conditions, the chlorine chemicals that destroy ozone are at their most active.

It is currently impossible to predict if such losses will occur again, the team writes in the journal Nature.

Early data on the scale of Arctic ozone destruction were released in April, but the Nature paper is the first that has fully analysed the data.

"Winter in the Arctic stratosphere is highly variable - some are warm, some are cold," said Michelle Santee from Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

"But over the last few decades, the winters that are cold have been getting colder.

"So given that trend and the high variability, we'd anticipate that we'll have other cold ones, and if that happens while chlorine levels are high, we'd anticipate that we'd have severe ozone loss."

Ozone-destroying chemicals originate in substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that came into use late last century in appliances including refrigerators and fire extinguishers.

Their destructive effects were first documented in the Antarctic, which now sees severe ozone depletion in each of its winters.

Their use was progressively restricted and then eliminated by the 1987 Montreal Protocol and its successors.

The ozone layer blocks ultraviolet-B rays from the Sun, which can cause skin cancer and other medical conditions.
Longer, not colder

Winter temperatures in the Arctic stratosphere do not generally fall as low as at the southern end of the world.

No records for low temperature were set this year, but the air remained at its coldest for an unusually long period of time, and covered an unusually large area.

In addition, the polar vortex was stronger than usual. Here, winds circulate around the edge of the Arctic region, somewhat isolating it from the main world weather systems.

"Why [all this] occurred will take years of detailed study," said Dr Santee.

"It was continuously cold from December through April, and that has never happened before in the Arctic in the instrumental record."

The size and position of the ozone hole changed over time, as the vortex moved northwards or southwards over different regions.

Some monitoring stations in northern Europe and Russia recorded enhanced levels of ultraviolet-B penetration, though it is not clear that this posed any risk to human health.

While the Arctic was setting records, the Antarctic ozone hole is relatively stable from year to year.

This year has seen ozone-depleting conditions extending a little later into the southern hemisphere spring than usual - again, as a result of unusual weather conditions.

Chlorine compounds persist for decades in the upper atmosphere, meaning that it will probably be mid-century before the ozone layer is restored to its pre-industrial health.

Reindeer

If you still believe in 'climate change' read this

James Delingpole

The Telegraph

September 3rd, 2013


James Delingpole is a writer, journalist and broadcaster who is right about everything. He is the author of numerous fantastically entertaining books, including his most recent work Watermelons: How the Environmentalists are Killing the Planet, Destroying the Economy and Stealing Your Children's Future, also available in the US, and in Australia as Killing the Earth to Save It. His website is www.jamesdelingpole.com.


If any business were to submit a prospectus as patently false and deliberately dishonest as the ones used to advance the cause of the global warming industry, its directors would all be in prison by now. (C Jeff Randall)

Does that mean Ed Davey should have followed Chris Huhne into the slammer for his claim to Andrew Neil on BBC Daily Politics the other day that in "a recent analysis of 12,000 climate papers…of the scientists who expressed a view 97 per cent said that climate change was happening and that it was human-made activity."?

Not quite, unfortunately, because nothing Davey has said there is technically untrue. A better candidate for prison, actually, would be whoever tweets under the name @BarackObama. When he Tweeted: "Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous" he was promulgating a demonstrable untruth.

No one has ever doubted that climate changes.

Pretty much everyone - probably more than 97 per cent, even - agrees that there is a degree of anthropogenic input, even it's just the barely measurable contribution of beef cattle farts or the heat produced by cities.

But the dangerous bit? No one has come even close to demonstrating it, there is no reliable evidence for it, and very few scientists - certainly far, far fewer than 97 per cent of them - would ever stake their reputations on such a tendentious claim.

The background to all this - and the "97 per cent of climate scientists say…." meme - is expertly covered in a new paper for the Global Warming Policy Foundation by Andrew Montford.

In a sane world it wouldn't have needed writing. An obscure green political activist called John Cook and a few of his eco-cronies produced a pseudo-scientific paper so riddled with flaws that it ought to have been tossed straight in the bin. Instead, it was bigged up by a compliant mainstream media, a desperate and propaganda-hungry green industry, and by the US President as a vitally significant meta-analysis offering indisputable proof of the scientific "consensus" on "climate change."

Montford concludes:

    The consensus as described by the survey is virtually meaningless and tells us nothing about the current state of scientific opinion beyond the trivial observation that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and that human activities have warmed the planet to some unspecified extent. The survey methodology therefore fails to address the key points that are in dispute in the global warming debate."

So how do the bastards go on getting away with it? Jamie Whyte provides a fascinating, erudite and original answer in his new paper for the Institute of Economic Affairs - Quack Policy.

(And for a summary of the lefty reaction so far, see here)

In it, he exposes the "rhetorical bluster" used, inter alia, by the climate alarmist establishment to make their case sound stronger and more trustworthily "scientific" than it really is. He is especially sceptical of those who try to advance their cause with the weasel phrase "evidence-based" policy.

    "They are partial in their accounting for costs and benefits; they ignore substitution effects; they pretend that mathematical precision is evidence; they confound risk and uncertainty; and they exaggerate the certainty warranted by the available evidence. Having committed such errors, they obscure them with grandiose irrelevancies about peer-reviewed publication, consensus among scientists and the proclamations of official scientific committees."

For Whyte - an economist as well as a philosopher - the fundamental flaw in the warmist argument is its failure to a use a realistic discount rate.

None of the projected disastrous effects of climate change exists in the present but only in an imaginary future (which may never come to pass: these are only unverifiable computer model "projections", remember). So we ought, when considering our expensive prevention/mitigation policies, factor in the key point that "future generations" are going to be richer than we are and therefore better able to pay for any problems that "climate change" may cause them.

But the alarmists cannot afford to admit this, for to do so would be fatally to weaken their case that the time for action is now and that any delay will be fatal. Their emphasis on their imminence of catastrophe is designed to preclude rational analysis, so as to railroad through policies before more temperate heads notice their flaws.

In order to give this catastrophism more credibility, alarmists are wont to appeal to the authority of the "consensus.' (Which is why, of course, the warmist establishment made such a meal of the Cook paper above).

Again, Whyte finds a fatal flaw in this line of argument:

    The climate models that predict AGW have not been tested and they are not mere entailments of well-known physics and chemistry. Why, then, do scientists have such high levels of confidence in them? In other words, if a scientific consensus really does exist, this is what needs to be explained. It cannot explain itself, nor justify itself.

Good point. And I'd love to hear a convincing answer to this from the numerous well-known scientists who have used their prestige or their celebrity or their presumed expertise to help push the great climate change scare. I'm thinking here of everyone from Lord Winston and Sir Paul Nurse to science-background celebs such as Ben Goldacre, Simon Singh and Dara O'Briain, all of whom on various occasions have purported to know that "climate change" is a major problem because apparently there is some kind of "consensus" among scientists.

Whyte elucidates further:


    We do not have confidence in the predictions of physics because physicists say we should. Rather, our confidence is founded on the extraordinary success of physics. Physical theory does not merely allow us to anticipate the existence and location of previously unobserved planets or the speed at which little trolleys will travel across school science laboratories; it allows us to build televisions, space ships, microwave ovens and so on. Physicists inherit their credibility from physics, not vice versa. That is why their special credibility is restricted to physicists.

    Those who build climate models are scientists. But their branch of science has no success with which to impress us, neither in its predictions nor in its applications. In the absence of such success, their assertions of confidence should carry little weight. Especially when such assertions are predictable even in the absence of proper grounds for confidence.

Whyte is right. The idea that the catastrophic climate change industry can derive any authority from real science is an insult to real science.

By way of further confirmation, you might care to read this superb recent essay from Dr Richard Lindzen, which you can reach via Watts Up With That?. He argues that mainstream climate science is currently akin to Lysenkoism and that its adherents have more in common with religious zealots than scrupulous seekers-after-truth.

    "Global climate alarmism has been costly to society, and it has the potential to be vastly more costly. It has also been damaging to science, as scientists adjust both data and even theory to accommodate politically correct positions. How can one escape from the Iron Triangle when it produces flawed science that is immensely influential and is forcing catastrophic public policy?"

Right, snivelling, mendacious, corrupt, shrivelled-and-syphilitic-membered, pseudo-scientific, rabid climate trolls. Let's be hearing your pitiful excuses….

Dreaming of Spring