Pained Earth’s summer to forget: the rest of the story

On Friday the 13th, the Arizona Daily Star printed, on page one, an AP gloom and doom story about “floods, fires, melting ice and feverish heat” that they claim “It’s not just a portent of things to come, scientists say, but a sign of troubling climate change already under way.” It was an editorial pretending to be news. The story is full of misleading information, omissions, and inaccuracies. Let’s take a closer look.

IPCC predictions

The story states: “The U.N.’s network of climate scientists – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – has long predicted that rising global temperatures would produce more frequent and intense heat waves, and more intense rainfalls.” But the U.N. IPCC has never made any predictions. They just propose scenarios or projections. The IPCC itself says “The climate system is a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.” (If you check this reference see third bulleted point from the bottom.)

IPCC senior scientist Kevin Trenberth noted in Nature magazine: “In fact there are no predictions by IPCC at all. And there never have been. The IPCC instead proffers ‘what if’ projections of future climate that correspond to certain emissions scenarios. There are a number of assumptions that go into these emissions scenarios. They are intended to cover a range of possible self consistent ‘story lines’ that then provide decision makers with information about which paths might be more desirable. But they do not consider many things like the recovery of the ozone layer, for instance, or observed trends in forcing agents. There is no estimate, even probabilistically, as to the likelihood of any emissions scenario and no best guess.”

Russian temperatures and Pakistani floods

The story states: “It’s been the hottest summer ever recorded in Russia…Russia’s drought has sparked hundreds of wildfires in forests and dried peat bogs, blanketing Moscow with a toxic smog…” There are two issues here: are the warm temperatures due to “predicted” global warming and has drought dried out the peat bogs.

The bogs: according to the New York times, “As early as 1918 Soviet engineers drained swamps to supply peat for electrical power stations. That approach was abandoned in the late 1950s, after natural gas was discovered in Siberia, but the bogs were never reflooded, though the authorities are currently weighing the idea.”

The temperature: Russian scientist, Michail Kabanov, member of the Academy of Sciences and advisor of the Institute For Climate And Environmental Monitoring says the regional heat wave taking place in Russia is not a sign of catastrophic climate change and that the permafrost has been thawing since the last glacial epoch 10,000 years ago, and its rate of thawing is also not catastrophic. “Deviations in one direction or the other, in this region or the other, are explained completely by the instability of the climate system. It meanders constantly and reaches various anomalies as a result, and does include extremes. The weather conditions of this year are precisely a result of this.”

The high temperatures in Russia and the heavy rain in Pakistan have a common cause unrelated to global warming according the an article in New Scientist. “According to meteorologists monitoring the atmosphere above the northern hemisphere, unusual holding patterns in the jet stream are to blame. As a result, weather systems sat still. Temperatures rocketed and rainfall reached extremes.” “Stationary patterns in the jet stream are called “blocking events”. They are the consequence of strong Rossby waves, which push westward against the flow of the jet stream. They are normally overpowered by the jet stream’s eastward flow, but they can match it if they get strong enough. When this happens, the jet stream’s meanders hold steady creating the perfect conditions for extreme weather.”

The Arctic

The story states: “Researchers last week spotted a 100-square-mile chunk of ice calved off from the great Petermann Glacier in Greenland’s far northwest. It was the most massive ice island to break away in the Arctic in a half-century of observation.” That statement is almost true, but it lies by omission. Such ice calving is not unusual. In 1962, a 230-square-mile chunk of ice broke off the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf. The Petermann glacier, itself, spawned smaller ice islands in 2001 (34 square miles) and 2008 (10 square miles). In 2005, the Ayles Ice Shelf disintegrated and became an ice island (34 square miles) about 60 miles to the west of Petermann Fjord.

The story states: “In the Arctic Ocean itself, the summer melt of the vast icecap has reached unprecedented proportions in recent years.” Technically true but misleading. Arctic summer sea ice melt has been relatively consistent and sea ice extent returns to normal in the winter. The article failed to mention that Antarctic sea ice reached the maximum extent ever recorded in 2007, and is currently more extensive than normal. For many graphics of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice, see Anthony Watts’ Sea Ice Page, a compilation of data from several sources.

Sea level

The story states: “The melting of land ice into the oceans is causing about 60 percent of the accelerating rise in sea levels worldwide, with thermal expansion from warming waters causing the rest. The WMO’S World Climate Research Program says seas are rising by 1.34 inches per decade, about twice the 20th century’s average.” The pretended “acceleration” is the result of cherry-picking starting and ending points. The rate of sea level rise is cyclic, but the overall trend is downward. For a detailed analysis of sea level rise, and to see why the WMO statement is dissembling, see my article, Sea Level Rising? Also, a new paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research, says “The global mean sea level for the period January 1900 to December 2006 is estimated to rise at a rate of 1.56 ± 0.25 mm/yr which is reasonably consistent with earlier estimates, but we do not find significant acceleration.”

Overall temperatures

The story states: “Worldwide temperature readings show that this January-June was the hottest first half of a year since record keeping began in the mid-19th century.” This implies that we are experiencing something unprecedented. Isn’t it strange that 60% of the U.S. had cooler than normal temperatures during this period. The article statement is untrue and due partially to NOAA computer programs actually manufacturing temperature readings where none exist.

It didn’t take me too long to do some fact checking of this AP story. I wonder why AP or the Arizona Daily Star didn’t bother checking the facts. Could there be some political agenda in running such stories?

P.S. For your amusement, see the Warm List, a compilation of everything the press claims is caused by global warming.

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12 comments

  1. how do you explain island communities, that have existed for 1000′ of years sinking below the rising ocean levels if there is a “O sum ” effect of climate change?

  2. Exactly which islands do you think are sinking? I know there has been much press about Tuvalu and the Maldives, but studies from Auckland University and the Fiji-based South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission, using aerial photographs and high-resolution satellite images to study changes in the land area of the islands, as well as on-the-ground observations,found that the islands stayed the same or have grown bigger, according to the research published in a scientific journal, Global and Planetary Change. Coral islands will generally rise with sea level because coral grows and sand islands are continuously being built by wave action.

  3. Coral as a method of determining the rise and fall of ocean levels isn’t a satisfactory method since coral only grows below the surface. coral stops growing out of the water. If the water level rises slowly enough the coral will be able to keep up and the island might remain the same size, unfortunately the water is rising faster than the coral is growing consequently NewZealand has already accepted climate change refuges fromTuvalu an island that has seen the ocean rise around it more than eight inches over the last twenty years or so. Kiritbat has lost islands and the vegitation from other islands because of rising sea levels and invasion of salt into fresh water aquafers. The Italian government is designing methods of controlling ocean levels in order to protect the ancient city of Venice from sinking farther into the ocean as well as protecting it from more and severe flooding from rising ocean levels. More than a half a million Bangladeshy people have been displaced because of rising ocean levels over the past fifteen to twenty years. If we as a people are going to make an error in judgement about the question of rising sea levels it would wise to make it in favour of it rising than pretending that it’s not while others are being drowned by our mistake, if it is. 

  4. The oil spills, hurricanes, floods, mudslides, and the global heat wave (which have been the cause of many fires, toxic smoke, and deaths) have many searching for answers. The internet is buzzing with articles and excellent blogs. But could it be simply the biblical sequence of God’s wrath being poured out upon the earth which is relevant to current events in today’s world. What if we are dealing with the wrath of God? Please understand the wrath of God is letting man slip deeper and deeper into the consequences of his own sin. Please visit my website at http://www.revelation-truth.org . Rev. Daniel W. Blair author of the book Final Warning

  5. Jonathan,
    IPCC predictions:  There are many projections in the IPCC report.  Projections are predictions within a range.  For example, temperatures will probably rise between 1.1 and 6.4 Degrees C during this century.  Ranges of this kind are informative, even though no exact number is given.  Do you agree?  If you disagree with the many ranges (temperature, sea level rise, co2 levels, etc.) please tell us why.
    Russian Temperatures and Pakistani Floods: Yes, these are weather events and you are generally correct.  What needs to be examined is whether extreme events of this kind are on the increase.  That would be climate change.  And they are.  Take a look at the Munich Re and Swiss Re websites.  The largest reinsurers in the world are worried.  Should we be worried too?
    The Arctic: You are correct and it was wrong to present this as proof of climate change.  But do you not agree that there is overwhelming evidence that the Greenland glaciers are melting at increased rates.  Why is this happening?  Because world temperatures are increasing.
    Sea levels: I looked at your article.  Okay, the relationships between temperature increase and sea level rise may not be linear.  There may or may not be acceleration.  A good article with a broader emphasis can be found on at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/08/ups-and-downs-of-sea-level-projections/.  But I am just about finished with Peter Ward’s, “The Flooded Earth.”  A startling book.  Hard to refute that glacier’s are melting around the world and that there were will be overall rise of sea levels during this century.
    Overall temperature:  All averages are “manufactured.”  In fact, in teaching statistics I always told my students that descriptive measures, such as averages, measures of scatter and deviation, even percentages are created numbers that are meant to help us understand sets of numbers too large to be comprehended easily by our minds.  That does not mean they are wrong.  Average world temperature does not exist in the sense that you can go out and find it someplace registered on a thermometer.  (Averages within grids are also calculated based on surrounding measures inside and outside the grids.)  So, are you saying that the methods used by NOAA (or NASA) are wrong?  Your reference to US temps is certainly disingenuous.  My house averages 79 degrees but it is 74 in the basement and 83 on the third floor.  Does that mean that 79 degrees is a lie?

    1. To TonyL:

      Whether you call them projections or predictions, they are based on assumptions. So far, the “predictions” of the IPCC models don’t square with observation.

      Some of your questions are answered in the embedded links in the story.

      The frequency and intensity of major storms is still something that is not fully answered, see http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v3/n3/abs/ngeo779.html

      There does seem to be, however, a cycle of about 60 years in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes/cyclones, which can be correlated with solar cycles.

      As for overall temperatures: click on the “manufactured” link. NOAA computer algorithms produced “data” for great swaths of the Arctic where no actual measurements exist. When I said that 60% of the U.S. was below normal temperature, that was based on real data (from NOAA).

      Your statements: “Your reference to US temps is certainly disingenuous. My house averages 79 degrees but it is 74 in the basement and 83 on the third floor. Does that mean that 79 degrees is a lie?” bring up a good point. Is there such a thing as an average global temperature? There is great controversy on that point and on how to measure or calculate it.

  6. Seems like climate change is always going on because climate constantly changes…last 10,000 years the climate in Southern Arizona after the end of the last Ice Age has changed significantly….stuff that grew at 3,000 feet is now at 4,000…there were pine trees around what is now the Wilcox Playa according to archeology….the Sonoran Desert as we know it didn’t really exist….and I rather doubt paleo humans caused the last Ice Age to start or for it to end….

    people seem to confuse “weather” which is highly variable and caused by more immediate stuff like stuck jet streams, high pressure ridges that stall, el nino and la nina… with “climate”.

  7. Whether the present state of affairs is a natural inclination of the physical forces around us or not is a mute point. The fact that the introduction into the atmosphere of billions of tons of unnaturally created co2 by the human condition is not helping the end result of what is obvious to anyone watching the suffering of our kind around the globe. Since what we are doing by our day to day existence is obviously exacerbating the problem then  it would stand to reason we should do what ever it takes to curb our production of co2.  The alternative is to continue to play football with the problem until the effects of climate change prove themselves. Which if the pros to climate change are correct there will be no reversing the already exponentially compounding problem. So dither away my friend because the only answer that will satisfy you is the final out come when it happens. If your right in your assumptions, then congratulations, if your wrong you wasted a lot of time that could have been better spent by erring on the side of caution.

    1. Hey Wooden Indian (Kawlija), Perhaps you should buy Rev. Blair’s book – you both have strong religious convictions.

  8. Well one thing about being a wooden Indian I’ll float. It’s strange how some people think that giving consideration to others is leftist. The fact of the matter remains that to sit around and wait to see what is going to unfold is folly, we are not doing ourselves any good, and doing our grand children even less good, by not reducing our carbon emissions as much as we can regardless of whether they are accentuating global warming or not.

  9. I might add in answer to your assumptions about my religious convictions, I think if something you want to call god, which in my opinion is nothing more than”dog” spelled backwards, made mankind in his own image then, he sure played one hell of a joke on everything else he supposedly made.

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