April 17, 2009
The Planet Cools While Romm BurnsBy Marc Sheppard
According to blogger Joe Romm of Climate Progress, websites and writers daring to question greenhouse gas orthodoxy are guilty of endangering the "health and well-being of countless billions of people." And in a surprisingly erratic response to recent criticism, the dangerous "deniers" this modern day prophet of doom singles out for suppression are American Thinker and its new environment editor.
Last week, we declared Marc Morano the clear winner in his March 27th Roll Call TV "Green Politics" debate against Romm. And Monday, the loser decided to take me to task, defending not his frail forensic performance but rather the three over the top projections he squeezed into this opening sentence -- which I challenged as alarmist exaggeration: [The emphasis remains mine]
After dismissing American (non-)Thinker (mighty clever these green types) as not a "credible source worth wasting time on," The Climate (Alarmists Against) Progress (touché) editor nonetheless wasted more than 2300 words worth of time attempting to discredit us. The crux of his argument was that while he admits his phraseology was far from stellar, I was way out of line in my analysis that his words were "grossly exaggerating the already hyped predictions of his fellow climate hysterics." But his supporting statements followed the same strange pattern as his original assertions -- two inflated from cherry-picked data and the third completely unfathomable.
Before refuting my refutations, Romm attempted to drain some hysteria from his words by confessing them to be poorly chosen -- not a strong rebuke opener in anyone's book. Although he suggested I was "quibbl[ing] with the word choice," he vaguely admitted that perhaps he should have specified "from preindustrial levels" and "up to" in his temperature and sea level figures, but later supported his numbers as I had originally interpreted them anyway.
Odd, as was proposing that "Readers here know the statement is an accurate representation of the latest science, thought [sic] the part on the desert needs the kind of elaboration this blog provides." I checked with Bartleby and found no form of the word "elaboration" that might describe his claim that he was referring to the Southwest United States when he said "a third of the planet will be desert." We'll get back to that later.
Meanwhile, I must confess some surprise that even the George Soros-funded Center for American Progress senior fellow would attempt to deflate my observations that his figures far exceeded those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) by feigning amusement "that the deniers hide behind the AR4 when they don't even believe it or basic climate science." In reality, no one's denying or hiding behind anything and Dr. Romm knows it. The 2007 synopsis report is the single most quoted, venerated and hyped authority by all manner of alarmists, policy makers and media drones, despite representing the combined work of only 52 carefully cherry-picked UN scientists. Subsequently, holding the wild assertions flowing from the Big Green Scare Machine to AR4's (IPCC Fourth Assessment Report) admittedly arguable metrics merely contains the debate within workable frames of reference.
After all, even a debate one side condescendingly insists is over merits standards.
The Fall of the Romman Empirical Evidence
Which is precisely why I chose AR4's highest climate sensitivity figure of 4.5°C when I pointed out that current CO2 levels of 386ppm must more than double in 9 decades to approach even Romm's lowest warming figure of 10°F (5.8°C). Of course, Romm didn't much care for my assessment of that likelihood as "beyond absurd," claiming that had I "read the IPCC closely," I would have learned it projects that "we will probably hit 1000 ppm [by 2100] even if our emissions trajectory is well below A1F1 [their worst case scenario]." Those words reminded me that Romm warned us just last month that such a level would represent "the end of human civilization as we have known it." Really.
But Romm's longtime nemesis Lord Monckton recently observed that the exponential forecasts of the UN simply don't match reality [PDF]:
That would make Romm's low projection extreme at best even allowing for AR4's worst case scenario. And I was decent enough a chap to use those figures most favorable to his claims. His highest interval (15°F or 8.3°C) at AR4's lowest (2°C, which is still high according to many) would, given the supposedly logarithmic nature of CO2 forcing -- as explained here by none other than fellow-alarmist Gavin Schmidt, require CO2 levels to increase sixteenfold to over an astounding 6000ppm in just 90 years.
And suppose I chose AR4's "most likely" figure of 3°C -- which sounds quite fair. Okay, to get to the 5.4°F that measure translates to, CO2 levels would need to reach 772ppm. To then hit Romm's low level of 10°F, you'd need to nearly double that figure (1544ppm). And to reach his upper level of 15°F would therefore require a CO2 level in excess of 3000ppm. Remember, we're at 386 now and during the 50 years between 1958 and 2008, atmospheric carbon dioxide rose only 70ppm.
Okay, so Romm accuses me of being "uniformed" about such new findings as the positive feedbacks that contribute to the nonlinear nature of CO2 concentrations. In a December 2008 piece (which coincidentally contains all 3 of the claims in question) he stated that at 500ppm (or less) CO2 from such sources as melting permafrost, drying Northern peatlands, destruction of tropical wetlands and the saturation of the ocean carbon sink will trigger runaway carbon diffusion and, of course, "humanity's self-destruction."
But he obstinately denies the existence of "negative" feedbacks which many scientists believe hold climate sensitivity in check, among them Dr. Roy Spencer. The former NASA senior scientist believes one example -- cloud cover -- which both Romm and the IPCC declare to be a positive feedback, may in fact be a negative feedback and that " the ‘balance of evidence' suggests [clouds] have been acting to reduce the small amount of warming being caused by more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere." Such "could limit manmade global warming to less than 0.5 deg. C by late in this century." That's less than one degree Fahrenheit by 2100, not 15 or even 10.
And MIT's Prof. Richard Lindzen recently reiterated his position that:
The following chart comes courtesy of Climate Researcher Alan Siddons and illustrates the theoretical pattern logarithmic CO2 forcing would assume at each of these four sensitivity levels. Needless to say, the difference when allowing for negative feedback is staggering.
I must confess, I chose Spencer and Lindzen in part because many alarmists consider them among the "small number of credible skeptics out there," and thereby don't automatically dismiss them outright, as they so arrogantly do others. But keep in mind that although CO2 continues to climb, there's been no warming since 1998. Not only was this little anthropogenic global warming (AGW) glitch obviously not predicted by IPCC models, but it lends great credence to those scientists who believe Earth's greenhouse effect to be either non-existent or inconsequential. No wonder alarmists continue to ignore that the historic correlation between CO2 levels and temperature trends observed in Greenland ice core samples depict CO2 lagging, not preceding temperature, by hundreds of years.
Its implications shatter the theory on which their entire duplicitous agenda is built.
Where Rebuff Fellow Romm
Romm apparently felt the need to remind me that AR4 is "already about three years out of date," and he's right, something AR4 rarely has been. Still, in decrying Romm's alarmism in predicting sea level rise (SLR) of 5 feet or higher I referred to its "intentionally alarm-biased models only projected figures running from 0.18 to 0.59 meters by 2100." Countering my "uninformed assault," he of course cites a number of sources claiming AR4's projections to be far too conservative. And wouldn't you know it -- each supports his 5 foot figure. But that's no great trick -- I'll bet if you look hard enough, you'll find someone somewhere to even back up Al Gore's hilarious Inconvenient Truth Manhattan submerging predictions of over 20 feet.
But the truth is, as the aforementioned Monckton paper reveals -- I'm sure Romm will have a ball with my quotations from his Lordship -- there's been no SLR in the past 3 years. What's more, many scientists attribute the bulk of previous rise to thermal expansion, which will no-doubt be in recession as naturally occurring ocean phenomena continue into their cooler phases. See my report on this year's International Conference on Climate Change for PDO/AMO details.
Not surprisingly, the prediction I had the most fun with proved to be the one he had the hardest time defending. In analyzing his claim that "a third of the planet will be desert," I allowed for three possible interpretations. That he was either suggesting the entire planet would become desert (as only one third of the planet is actually dry land) or that one third of dry land would become desert, which it already is. As neither made much sense, I suggested that perhaps he hadn't given it much thought at all but instead hoped the media and most citizens will continue to ignore what truth hides beneath the shocking imagery.
So rather than coming at me head-on, as he had with CO2 and SLR, he had no choice but to completely change both the syntax and implications of his words. In fact, in the very title of his response to me he completely altered the final third of the sentence the piece was meant to champion to now read "and the SW will be a permanent Dust Bowl." Yet, he then defends his original statement anyway, explaining he had taken the quote from a Guardian (actually it was the Independent) article (about a Hadley Center report) sub-heading. And here it gets even more confusing as he explains the Environmental Editor who wrote the piece really meant [Romm's emphasis] "'one third of the land,' but the statement is clearly inadequate anyway as a stand-alone statement given the various definitions of the word ‘desert.'" Romm concluded that they "were talking about extreme drought, which it is probably best characterized as a Dust Bowl, rather than a desert."
So while he'd shock the Roll Call audience by suggesting that 2100 would find the entire landmass of the planet an arid, hostile, lizard infested wasteland, what he really meant -- he explains -- was that "levels of aridity comparable to the 1930s Dust Bowl would stretch from Kansas to California." Here we go again -- didn't the naturally occurring dust storms of the ‘30's spread nearly that wide without any help from runaway Escalade emissions?
Just as I was about to dust off my old hardcover of Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath to corroborate my recollection, I noticed Romm's piece had slipped two new items into his 2100 forecast -- "half or more species extinct, and much of the ocean a hot, acidic dead zone." That does it. It's not just his irresponsible temperature and SLR forecasts that have now seeped down even into the very soul of our schools. Or the self-righteous way he questioned my motives or referred to the previous as my "beloved Bush administration." Or even how he mocked my "misunderstanding and misapplication of basic climate science," as though only pompous self-proclaimed climate experts are qualified to analyze data, understand line graphs, and draw conclusions from formulae.
It's the bottomless well from which he unabashedly draws shocking imagery rather than prove why he's right even when the evidence he arbitrarily dismisses suggests otherwise. It's the slick manner in which those nightmare illusions, once debunked, are simply redrawn with slightly softer edges, only to repeat the process when debunked anew. It's not the debate that's over - only rational debate, as such requires rational rival opinions and an acceptance of empirical facts - including that right now it's warming that's over and the planet is, in fact, cooling -- no action necessary.
Considering the want and suffering their progress-ravaging and unnecessary policies would inflict on people worldwide, particularly the poor and sickly in developing countries, it is they and he who threaten the health and well-being of "countless" billions among the earth's population of 6.77 billion.
And must be stopped.
Marc Sheppard is the editor of AT's forthcoming Environment Thinker.