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December 29, 2010
The New York Times is self-destructing on Global Warming. Once again, Climate Change alarmists blame winter weather on Global Warming.
What is interesting in this New York Times op-ed is that the author (Judah Cohen) knocks the underpinning of climate change alarmism right out from under the whole movement:
Several points to ponder here; first, Arctic sea ice has melted in the past. For example, George Ifft, the American consul at Bergen, Norway, reported in 1922 the disappearance of icebergs, seals, and glaciers in general in both the sea and on land. Hunters and fishermen reported a dearth of ice as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes, and warm waters to a depth of 3,100 meters. Strangely, we did not witness this extra cold and snow that Cohen has predicted.
One must also question the assertion that Global Warming (alias Climate Change, alias Global Climate Disruption, alias Global Climate Flatulence) is responsible for melting Arctic ice. As Roger Pielke Sr. has pointed out, if carbon dioxide were driving Arctic melt we should see changes in the thaw and freeze dates -- earlier thaws and later freezes. We see nothing of the sort. And, despite claims to the contrary by James Hansen, we have seen no statistical warming since 1995 -- and that according to Phil Jones, he of the CRU scandal at that!
Furthermore, what do we mean by unusual weather events? We have had blizzards -- many of them -- in the past, and will continue to have them in the future. What is different is that now we are studying every patch of the globe intently, using satellites (and satellite data has only been available since the end of the '70's) and other high-tech gadgets. Are these really unusual weather patterns or simply things we are only now noticing? For example, Sioux Falls, SD received 21 inches of snow in the blizzard of 1909, and 20 inches in 1917. The snowiest year on their record was 1968, when they received 96 total inches.
You will notice that the year of drastic snow melt in the Arctic -- 1922 -- did not make honorable mention there. In fact, Northern Hemisphere Snow Cover Area (SCA) in winter did rise by the end of the 1920's, not during the melt of 1921, according to the IPCC and as of 2005 was down considerably. If Arctic ice melt is causing more snow, then we should see this happen when the Arctic is ice free. The IPCC's own work shows less snow in spring and summer, I might add.
The scientific argument has never been about warming of the globe, but about the role of feedbacks; alarmists claim feedbacks are positive, leading to a runaway greenhouse effect that will drive temperatures up by 7 degrees or more. Skeptics have argued that, well, yes, extra carbon dioxide may give us a minor rise in temperatures on average globally, but that negative feedbacks will ultimately restore balance. (A point that the creator of AGW theory Roger Revelle agreed was the case.) That is exactly the argument being made here by Judah Cohen, even while he strives to make the negative feedbacks seem sinister.
In short, Cohen has done terrible damage to the alarmist position. He is agreeing with the "skeptics" who believe that the Earth corrects itself when conditions change.
We see this process at work on Mars all of the time. Mars has a very thin atmosphere that is 95% carbon dioxide, but because of the lower gravitational gradient it is more voluminous, giving the planet a surface pressure between 6 and 15 millibars (which is one thousandth of the pressure of air at Earth's sea level). The total Martian atmosphere is about 1% that of the Earth's. Because such an atmosphere cannot hold much heat -- despite being carbon dioxide and a much more perfect laboratory for the greenhouse effect, and so the planet is cold enough for much of the CO2 to be frozen as dry ice. Orbital and solar vagaries sometimes see a warming trend on Mars, and then a runaway greenhouse effect occurs, with the atmosphere defrosting and raising Mars up to Earth-like temperatures.
Except it doesn't happen that way; Martian air pressure increases, leading to stronger winds which pull up dust from the planet's surface. This dust blots out the sun, cooling the Martian globe back down to below the freezing point of CO2 (-108 degreesF) and depositing both the atmosphere and the dust back on the surface, thus restoring equilibrium. Air pressure returns to normal, temperatures return to normal, and the planet resumes its frozen slumber.
That's where the argument over increases in the Earth's carbon dioxide levels lie; does an increase in a trace gas (0.039%) really have such a large influence on planetary temperatures? The alarmists claim that the rise in CO2 triggers a rise in water vapor levels, which then lead to a rise in planetary temperatures, which then leads to a rise in outgassing of Methane, which leads to more CO2 etc. In short, positive feedback.
It is obvious that if snow levels rise, and more sunlight is reflected into space, then we are witnessing negative feedback, not positive. The conclusions of the IPCC were all predicated on a positive rather than negative feedback loop.
In short, the Gang Green -- those Global Warming alarmists predicting doom -- have reached the point where they must surrender the core of their theory to make it fit the facts on the ground. Don't invest in that ski resort in Missouri any time soon!