Monday, October 29, 2007

Climate Cuttings #13

So, as a government committee suggests the setting up of an unaccountable body to hold us all to ransom over climate change, your humble Devil brings you Bishop Hill's thirteenth installment in his series documenting "recent developments in the wacky world of climate science."

As usual, do read the whole post but, as per, here is a choice selection.
The sun appears to have entered a period of low activity. This has created much interest among sceptics as it may lead to a period of falling global temperatures.

There has been a certain amount of anecdotal evidence in support of this theory, with early snows in the Alps and unusual migratory patterns among birds, apparently all organised by big oil. An abundant acorn harvest in the US is also said to indicate a harsh winter ahead.

An iceberg was alleged to have been seen off the coast of South Africa.

Yup, that's right: I still don't believe that we are all going to fry. And, believe me, I am not funded by ExxonMobil or, indeed, any other oil company. I fucking wish.

Anyway, you might all remember that global warming was going to deliver ever greater numbers of fantastically powerful hurricanes. No, that hasn't happened either.
Last year, hurricane forecasters predicted a bumper season powered by the horrors of global warming. They were disappointed. In 2007 they tried again, and once more Gaia has failed to go off in a huff. The 2007 is set to be one of the least active seasons for years.

Oh well, maybe next year, eh, guys? You keep on plugging on: you've got to be right sometime...

In the meantime, the very ways in which we measure CO2 and temperature levels from the past are under scrutiny again.
The stripbark pine story continues apace. To recap, the reconstructions of past climate involve using tree ring widths as a proxy for temperature. Most of the alleged increase in twentieth century temperatures in these reconstructions has been traced to stripbark pines - trees where a strip of bark has been removed. These are thought to be unreliable because of a possible CO2 fertilisation effect - ie increased ring widths are due to carbon dioxide rather than temperature. Now, blogger Steve McIntyre has discovered huge discrepancies in the ring widths within the same tree. Essentially the tree compensates for bark stripping by putting on growth on the opposite side of the tree - a confounding effect which seems to have gone unnoticed. It appears though that climate researchers have gone out of their way to use these most unreliable of trees though. We wonder why.

I cannot possibly imagine; after all, these noble scientists wouldn't have... y'know... an agenda or anything, would they?

Still, one thing that is becoming clear is that our efforts to counter AGW might well do far more damage than AGW itself.
Biofuels are in the news. The Adam Smith Institute Blog notes that it takes 1700 kgs of water to produce a gallon of biodiesel. The UN calls biofuels a crime against humanity. Politicians continue promoting them anyway.

No surprises there at all. The UN is a fairly useless organisation but it is quite right to point out that giving over arable land to grow crops to burn when there are thousands of people starving does seem somewhat perverse—evil, even.

But then, we have argued for a long time that the poor and the needy would be the first to be hit by anti-AGW measures. All that we can conclude is that the Western governments, caught up in their hysteria and egged on by dishonest scientists, couldn't give a shit.

Of course, the climate has constantly changed, even before man even existed; as such, researching reasons why this happens is always a useful thing to do.
More evidence has appeared supporting a non-anthropogenic basis for recent climate change. The Earth has become more reflective ("higher albedo") in recent years suggesting that the recent falls in temperature measured by satellites may be due to cloud cover. The interesting thing about this effect is that it is much stronger than that of greenhouse gases, again suggesting that man's impact on climate is small.

No shit, Sherlock.

Finally, we turn to the general economics of climate change.
And lastly, Tim Worstall noted an important fact about recent economic history. The world's economy appears to be following the IPCC's A1 scenario in which everyone is much richer than now, rather than the A2 scenario which assumes lower growth. This latter was the scenario chosen for the Stern report, which can now be consigned to the dustbin of history.

Which is where Timmy consigned it after realising that the whole thing was flawed, the day that it was released.

Don't panic, people; neither we nor our children, nor our children's children are going to fry. But that won't stop the control freaks in government trying to convince you...

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