We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

It has been a bit parky lately

It has been rather cold lately in different parts of the world. As this gentleman points out, if worries about man-made global warming can cite the early appearance of flowers or migrant birds in support of their case, the argument cuts both ways. In case any supporters of the man-made global warming thesis get sniffy about this point, I am not a ‘denier’ of the thesis: I think there is some evidence that it may be happening. The trouble is that my views are coloured by the fact that supporters of it tend to support a Big Government agenda. And frankly, I see an awful lot of dodgy investment ideas being sold on the basis of encouraging ‘Green’ technology.

I am looking forward to the first article, meanwhile, that tries to blame Britain’s earthquake this week on human activity. Take a good look at the British Geological Survey website: it is fascinating. Apparently, there have been even been quakes in Norfolk. Norfolk, fcrissakes.

55 comments to It has been a bit parky lately

  • Lee Kelly

    I thought that the recent cold weather was proof that my efforts to curb global warming, such as recycling, promoting local produce, reusing toilet paper (it has two sides, you know?), cycling to work and raising awareness, were finally beginning to payoff. I would dispose of my TV, too. However, I find myself somewhat lost without the BBC, and so decided to allow myself that small pleasure, at least.

    I look down upon all who do not emulate my lifestyle–merciless and cruel murderers of Gaia (she likes the cold, obviously, the BBC said so).

  • Ham

    Certainly, most journalists are innumerate and ignorant enough to stir up a panic when snowdrops appear a few days earlier than last year. Indeed, it would take the same sort of ignorance to consider the climate change debate over after a couple of cold winters. Is the article saying that two wrongs make a right?

  • WalterBoswell

    It doesn’t really matter if it gets hotter or colder. The temptation to use the unpredictability of weather patterns and temperature change are too great an opportunity for self hating fascist wannabes to resist – if anything the lack of understanding we have with regards to the weather suits these people just fine. This new beast is out of the cage and it won’t be going back until it’s replaced by some other excuse to control people’s lives.

  • Mememe

    Global Warming is very hard to say through chattering teeth while wrapped in woollies, so the phrase is to be fully replaced by the title Climate Change.

    Same result though with more taxes, more money tipped into the drain.

  • Nick M

    Actually they use “Climate Chaos” a lot these days and that could mean anything.

    Remember every time you drive a car Gaia strangles a bunny.

  • Midwesterner

    This is interesting.

  • WalterBoswell

    You know it’d be a good untainted source of amusement watching these idiots pluck figures from the air and shriek on about how we are all terra-rapists because we refuse to live on leaves and accommodate ourselves in wooden huts if not for the fact that they are making headway.

    Non energy saving light-bulbs will soon be banned where I live. This legislation will be introduced by the end of the year at the command of the most holy Green party. There’s been F-all debate on the subject. No talk of the mercury contained with in these bulbs. No talk of the extra costs involved in both buying and disposing of these bulbs, and absolutely no talk of how pointless an exercise it is to begin with.

  • “I am looking forward to the first article, meanwhile, that tries to blame Britain’s earthquake this week on human activity” – you’ve missed it. Indymedia is full of them. See the comments on this one for instance…

    http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/02/392386.html?c=on#c190113

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Is the article saying that two wrongs make a right?

    No. What it is saying is that extrapolating from a hot summer or cold winter that the earth is freezing or overheating is BS. Read the piece, it’s worth it.

  • Sunfish

    Remember every time you drive a car Gaia strangles a bunny.

    Dang it, Nick, we talked about this. Holy Mother Gaia needs to bring the strangled bunnies back here with enough lead time for me to select an appropriate wine.

    I thought that the end of Global Warming might explain why it’s getting cooler. Then I looked at my watch and saw “TH 2-28.”

  • Remember every time you drive a car Gaia strangles a bunny.

    Ha! Also, every time someone denies global warming, Santa pushes a polar bear into the sea.

  • Frederick Davies

    Excuse me, but this is a bit more than just two cold winters; after the peak in 1998, there has been no more warming globally; that is a whole decade when AGW has taken a holiday.

  • Jacob

    Johnathan:

    I am not a ‘denier’ of the thesis

    Go, learn about it, if you’re so inclined, so you can form a learned opinion, and become a denier.

    That phrase “I’m not a denier” – smacks of one who wants to have it both ways, without investing too much effort.

    It would have been more honest to say: “I have no opinion”.

  • Lee Kelly

    It would have been more honest to say: “I have no opinion”.

    Except, of course, that Johnathan does have an opinion, or so I suspect. The scare quotes around the word “denier” seem to be suffucient, and indicate that Johnathan use of the term is not entirely serious.

  • Mog

    Well, one thing I was struck by was the depth of the UK quake. 2km is awfully near the surface.

    Dredging up my undergraduate education from the 80’s, along with very superficial information about the details of the event, it’s plausible that human activity could have played a part. Saline intrusion from the North Sea and collapse of mining galleries leap to mind as potential catalysts, but I think it’s a stretch to blame exploitation of Mother Gaia for the event itself.

  • Mog

    Alisa ..

    Parky = cold , usually in the context of weather (and not, one should point out, ‘climate’). It’s probably Cockney rhyming slang for something

  • Thanks, Mog:-) I figured it meant ‘cold’, it’s just that I never heard it before.

  • WalterBoswell

    The term ‘Parky’ is derived from Nelson Parks, a 1950’s BBC weatherman who by some strange twist of physical fortune always had a slight smirk on his face when forecasting forthcoming cold spells. Interestingly enough his father – also Nelson – invented the balaclava.

    I’m lying BTW…

    … it was Ho Chi Minh who invented the balaclava.

  • RAB

    He wrote Charge of the Light Brigade too…

  • Mog

    … Oh, but just to hog the thread, we should just sharpen up Occam’s Razor here.

    The subsurface geology of the UK is such that you could expect a 4.7 just about anywhere – courtesy of out proximity to the Continental Shelf, the North Sea Fault systems and the Alps; there’s plenty of sources for crustal deformation, and hence, active fault zones.

  • Nick: I have not run into ‘climate chaos’ yet – sounds scary. Not the chaos itself, of course – it has always been with us, but the infinite potential for moralizing and bullying from the usual suspects.

  • I’m far more concerned with Global cooling than Global warming. As has been pointed out by Midwesterner in the DailyTech article-

    Cold is more damaging than heat. The mean temperature of the planet is about 54 degrees. Humans — and most of the crops and animals we depend on — prefer a temperature closer to 70.

    Historically, the warm periods such as the Medieval Climate Optimum were beneficial for civilization. Corresponding cooling events such as the Little Ice Age, though, were uniformly bad news.

    Now, granted there isn’t much humans can do to affect this one way or the other, but given the choice, I’ll go with some Global warming over another Ice Age.

    It still just makes me chuckle every time the sun is mentioned as a “potential factor” in global warming and/or cooling.

    The Sun. Possibly a “factor” affecting the temperature of the earth.
    In other news, a lack of oxygen apparently affects humans abilities to breathe, and wearing warm clothing helps to prevent hypothermia.

    Film at 11.

  • tdh

    To echo a common refrain, I’ve got about 4 feet of Global Warming remaining on half of my driveway. Good thing most of it has melted.

    The reason the other half is clear is, um, to decrease the Earth’s albedo. Just doing my part.

  • Walter Boswell, you are an outrageous purveyor of fine pork pies!!!

  • Nick M

    Alisa,

    It’s (UK based ?) “charity” – Stop Climate Chaos

    They are “raising awareness”.

    But of course it allows any inclement weather to be put down to that last flight you took…

  • I have not flown lately, but I did drive to the mall today – RIP bunny.

  • Lee Kelly

    The latest in the war against unpredictable weather and temperature changes, both increasing and decreasing, and also unexpected steady weather.

    Oh, and the imperialist march of global capitalism, that too.

  • Kevin B

    I blame Maggie Thatcher!

    Seriously, Maggie was the first major politician to raise the subject in a Global forum. I don’t necessarily blame her for what followed, but she has to take some of the flak.

    What should have happened was that a few of the richer countries of the world should have said: ‘Let’s find out what’s going on. Let’s do some science.’ Instead they handed it over to the UN ,(following the ‘successful’ CFC Ozone Hole model), and what followed was of course politics and corruption.

    If we had built a network of sensors around the world that monitored temperature, humidity, pressure and carbon dioxide, and installed them in representative places, (mostly oceans and on land a lot of wilderness with some rural and a relative few urban sites), we would have had twenty years worth of data to base our science on.

    Instead, we are trying to guesstimate the global temperature trends with a diminishing set of weather stations that were built to check local weather conditions and are installed in the wrong place for our new purpose. Oh, and as far as I can tell, our knowledge of the CO2 level appears to be based on a single instrument half way up a volcano in Hawaii.

    If we had sought to understand the climate by doing research, by experimenting, by attempting to isolate the factors and quantify them separately and then attempting to model them together and seeing if we could match what the data and experimentation produced, then we might have been a bit further along the road in deciding what to do. Or whether we needed to do anything. Or whether there was anything we could do.

    And of course we could have done all this for less than the cost of a single Assesment Report or a couple of meetings in Bali.

    Instead, we have a political cascade attempting to steamroller us into precipitous and ridiculous actions and the scientists on one side in their bunkers yelling “Consensus, Consensus” whenever the scientists on the other side try to point out the lack of quality in the data, and the politicians on one side yelling “Denier, Denier” at anyone on the other side who questions the consensus. And everyone with something to sell climbing on the bandwagon.

    Oh, and the Met Office releasing the amazing factiod that Feb 12 2008 was the warmest Feb 12 in Britain ever. And the BBC repeating it in case anyone might be tempted into apostasy by reports of the snows in China and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere .

  • CountingCats

    our knowledge of the CO2 level appears to be based on a single instrument half way up a volcano in Hawaii

    This is simply the reference site. You have to have one somewhere.

    The point about the cold winter is not that this is a single blip in a warming trend. Temperatures didn’t just peak in 1998, it spiked. It shot up to a high during an en Nino event, dropped back to previous years levels, and then increasing as by the trend rate for the next two years. It plateaued below the 1998 high, and has been a bit wobbly, but steady since 2000. 2007 was under the last eight year mean, with some reports claiming it was the coldest since 2001, and some claiming it to be the coldest since 1995.

    The measurements make clear that warming happened, although whether the measurements are accurate is debated. However, the Earth simply is refusing to behave in accordance with the models. No warming for the last eight years, troposphere warming, no increase in hurricanes, no drier Britain, and, interestingly enough for Global warming, no warming in the southern hemisphere. South of the equator there has, over the last thirty years, been no long term temperature trend, either up or down.

    If the alarmists want to label people who point out inconvenient truths ‘deniers’ than so be it. AGW is not science, it is faith and propaganda.

    I do have an opinion, and that is that while some warming did happen, AGW is a discredited hypothesis and that those making the case for it now are driven by faith, hope and/or ignorance.

  • knirirr

    “Climate Chaos” is a rather journalistic term, as shown here.

  • CountingCats

    Sorry, that should be no troposphere warming.

    Increased tropospheric temperature is a required CO2 signature phenomenon according to the models cited by the IPCC.

    It aint happening.

  • Kevin B

    CC

    Solar Sunspot cycle 24 appears to be about a year late in starting. There are fears that this may indicate the start of a true solar minimum. Many scientists associate solar minima with cooling events along the lines of the Little Ice Age.

    We are also in an extended La nina event. Many scientists associate this with cooling of the global climate.

    The Pacific Decadal Oscillation is also entering a cold phase.

    Had we been doing enough proper climate science over the last twenty years we might have had a better handle on whether, (or how), these things connect and whether we should be planning for floods or famines.

    Instead, we, (by which I mean people who can actually do the level of maths and statistical analysis involved), are arguing about how to adjust past, present and future average temps for urban heat island effects in order to get a decent handle on how much the temperature has risen, (or fallen) over the past hundred years. Also being discussed is whether the twentieth century rise in CO2 precedes or lags the rise in temperature, (even though we’re not agreed on the actual rise of either of these measurements) and the modelers still don’t know exactly how clouds affect average temps.

    We cannot deliberately change the climate of the earth. I’m pretty sure we can’t change it accidently by burning fossil fuels and we certainly can’t change it with dumb instruments like Kyoto. So when the climate changes, as climate does, the only thing we can do is adapt.

    Pity we don’t have a clue as to which way it’s heading.

  • nick g.

    You have all missed the most interesting part about the earthquake. If it was not caused by a really good lover making the earth to move, then the first part of the name of the nearest village, MARKET, must be causing offence to some superior entity, Gaia or God.
    There’s a lesson there somewhere! We have been Warned!!!!

  • permanentexpat

    KevinB:

    Yerr….dun all that in me ‘ead…don’t waste yer time. Accordin’ to the berk in my bike ‘ire shop everythin’s cyclical wo’ever that is.

  • permanentexpat

    I remember my father using the expression ‘parky’ back in the 30s.

  • Faye

    I wait for the day when a destructive earthquake happens in minnesota and the retards try and claim its those dirty humans fault. (there is an earthquake fault in Minnesota.)

  • Midwesterner

    Kevin B,

    We cannot deliberately change the climate of the earth.

    Actually, I believe we can.

    Sept. 11-14, 2001, had the biggest diurnal temperature range of any three-day period in the past 30 years,” said Carleton. Contrails form when water vapor and particles from jet engine exhaust enter the atmosphere. If the atmospheric temperature is cool enough, and the humidity high enough, the exhaust forms ice crystals that create the contrail. Contrails generally last one to two hours, but can last as long as six.

    Rescheduling air flights to leave there contrails in either the day or night, would appear to have a rather strong effect either to cool or warm, respectively, the areas where they form. I suspect that they form over a great enough portion of the planet that the result would be appreciable.

    Because we can, though, doesn’t mean we should. I am convinced we are still so clueless of a very complicated system that we are likely to do more harm than good. But that may change with better data and research in the future.

  • Allan

    “Had we been doing enough proper climate science over the last twenty years we might have had a better handle on whether, (or how), these things connect and whether we should be planning for floods or famines.”

    I think we are going to have seven fat years, followed by seven lean ones. Build grain stores.

    BTW, what did happen to that ozone hole business, haven’t heard about that for years.

  • Kev

    Somewhat related, and rather amusingly, it seems that on ‘Energy Saving Day’, the good people of the UK actually managed to use more energy than on the average day:

    http://e-day.org.uk/

  • nick g.

    I always thought ‘Parky’ was a missaying of ‘perky’, as in ‘the weather is a bit perky’, i.e., a bit lively, as in gale-force winds.

  • Alice

    Midwesterner’s comment on the impact of jet con-trails is interesting. However, it is unacceptable in polite company because it is based on fact & measurement.

    That is simply not how science is done these days! Get with the program. Build a complicated mathematical model which assumes as an input what you intend to prove as an output. Problem solved. Real data is just too messy — gives the wrong conclusions too.

    Besides, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Peace Be Upon It) has concluded that con-trails have an insignificant effect on climate. Look — those guys don’t want their next jolly in Bali to be cancelled because of concerns about plane travel. Hey! The best part of the climate change gig is the travel to exotic locations. Nobody gets to mess with that!

  • nick g.

    Alice, a warning. Cynicism gives you wrinkles. just trust and obey the government in all things, and you’ll leave a good-looking corpse, which is the highest goal in life.

  • Sorry, Nick G.: I don’t want a good looking corpse. I also don’t want to leave the %^@%@!%$# bastards good-looking organs, unless my estate is compensated for them. But that’s a discussion for a different thread….

  • Frederick Davies

    Somewhat related, and rather amusingly, it seems that on ‘Energy Saving Day’, the good people of the UK actually managed to use more energy than on the average day

    Britons can be such a contrarian people; just ask Napoleon and Hitler about it.

  • Kevin B

    Parky comes from the Urban Heat Island effect.

    At night, the built up areas of the city are kept warm by the release of solar energy stored in the brick, concrete and asphalt of the buildings, but when you wander into the park the temperature drops and you feel a bit chilly.

    Hence Parky.

    And yes, there is a discussion over at Climate Audit as to why the temperature records from Central Park are adjusted upwards, rather than the city sensors being adjusted downward to compensate for UHI.

  • CountingCats

    Dear God. They are starting.

    Here(Link) is a claim that if the ‘sceptics’ are right we have even more cause to worry.

    How long before this starts being parleyed into “We understand so little that we can’t possibly allow unfettered freedom, because we just can’t predict how bad the results will be”.

  • Alice


    Alice, a warning. Cynicism gives you wrinkles.

    Isn’t that the truth!

  • CC:

    “We understand so little that we can’t possibly allow unfettered freedom, because we just can’t predict how bad the results will be”

    I actually know people who will say precisely that. If you think, you’ll probably notice that you know some of them too. Like I said, scary.

  • Pa Annoyed

    Mid,

    I remember that paper. I had heard of the result shortly after it was published, it was only later during an argument with an AGWer that I had occasion to look it up. While it is true that the DTR was the largest in thirty years, it was only just. It is right on the edge of the usual spread. If it hadn’t been 9/11, it wouldn’t have stood out as being anything unusual. There were many other peaks of virtually the same height that obviously hadn’t involved a national shutdown. The coincidence of the two may indeed be significant, but any effect there may be doesn’t appear to be very strong compared to natural variation.

    There are some other scientists that have had a look at it too.
    http://www.int-res.com/articles/cr2004/26/c026p001.pdf

    Incidentally, the OED describes ‘Parky’ as “19th century, of unknown origin”. I hope the purveyors of pork pies feel satisfied that you made me go and look it up.

  • The linking of the diurnal temperature range to the grounding of flights after 9/11 was a facile piece of analysis whose purpose was the generate some publicity for some academic. You never know when this might help a grant application.

    As for the ozone hole, it was recently found that one of the intermediate chemical reactions in the beautiful chain of reactions that “proved” the mechanism for human CFC emissions to destroy the ozone layer runs at 10% of the required rate. This causes a major problem for the theory.
    Recently one of Jerry Pournelle’s correspondents, who was a JPL engineer, said he was involved with a large NASA study back in the 19990’s which did a global search for the CFC’s and intermediate reaction products. They used satellites balloons, U-2’s etc. Never found more than 5% of the levels the models said would be there. The sponsors declined to publish the results.

  • Midwesterner

    Thank you for that link. It certainly provides a needed different perspective. I take it with caution as far as a rebuttal to Travis, et al as this group has made a few changes in data selection criteria and appears at a quick glance to be challenging claims that were not made.

    An example of this is the change they made in sampling interval. Because they choose the method they did, they had to rely on hi/lo ranges collected on the same day instead of on subsequent days. Since the target sample is less than 4 days long, this change in measurement interval seems (to my not mathematically trained mind) to make a huge reduction in the appropriateness of the data used to the hypothesis Travis is testing.

    IIRC, air traffic was grounded at ~9 or 10 AM. Using morning lows from prior to the grounding would defeat the 1st days spread to a substantial degree. Air traffic was returning on the 4th day so collecting highs from that day would tend to effect that days spread. Contrails lasting typically 2 to 6 hours, I think this change in data selection is perhaps a problem.

    I just found this quote from the news article:

    “Because the shutdown occurred before noon on Sept. 11, the low temperature had already been reached, so we looked at 24-hour periods beginning with the high on Sept. 11 to the low on Sept. 14,” said Carleton.

    Yet this group specifically removed that stipulation in their rebuttal. And in a sample this small, I gotta think it matters.

    Another thing, I am working from memory here, I seem to recall Travis making the case that the effect occurred specifically in high traffic areas meeting certain weather requirements. Yet this group states:

    An air-mass approach to any assessment of a regional DTR is beneficial, since it takes into account the entire ‘umbrella’ of air present over a region, rather than just individual meteorological conditions.

    They also say they found the network of stations to be randomly to uniformly distributed in space with no regional bias.

    This is quoted from the news article on Travis’ study:

    All jet exhausts do not create contrails. In warmer areas, contrails are rare, while in temperate areas, especially in the Midwest and Great Plains, contrails are common, especially in the winter and spring. Sometimes, the added moisture of a series of jets will increase the atmospheric humidity enough so that subsequent aircraft will form contrails even though earlier ones did not.

    Yet the contrarians choose this sample group.

    6 stations were examined:
    Phoenix, AZ; Miami, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Chicago, IL;
    St. Louis, MO; and Seattle, WA

    Only two of their sample sites met the original research description, and even the ones not in warm places (Philadelphia and Seattle) are in areas more prone to cloudiness that could reasonably be expected to eliminate the contrail effect.

    Those two factors alone cause me to raise an eyebrow to this rebuttal. If someone is going to rebut research, they should be challenging the claims made. In effect, this group appears to have possibly been engaging in straw man arguing. But I haven’t read it completely, I’ve only lightly skimmed it, so I could be wrong. I don’t know if I will have time to read it so if I’ve greatly misread them, please correct me. I like to get my facts straight.

  • Pa Annoyed

    Mid,

    You’re quite right to treat everything in this debate with caution. And that’s a good analysis of possible concerns. You might also be interested in the issue of TObs bias, which touches on similar issues.
    http://www.john-daly.com/tob/TOBSUM.HTM

    For the sort of reasons you state, a more appropriate measure than either would be to take all the maximum temperatures, and all the minimum temperatures, and look at the difference between the two groups. To make up a silly example, suppose the temperatures over three days went 0,10,5,15,10,20. Pair them one way, and you get a 10 degree daily range, pair them the other and you get a 5 degree daily range. The trend in temperatures pollutes the DTR, with the cross-day version being bigger if the temperature is falling. Travis et al gave a good reason for using switching days around, but would they have done it the other way if the results had been better? However, you can see in figure 3 that they agree that there was a large peak on the 11th/12th, they don’t appear to be challenging the claim about the magnitude.

    More interesting is this observation that the ranges are correlated to air masses. Now maybe if you changed the choice of stations, this would effect would reduce, but given that it’s there, and it seems likely that the air masses affect the DTR and not the other way round, the fact that high values could be predicted over this period does weaken the claim for significance. Really, you would have to work this out for the whole 30 year period and all the stations and then see if it was still unusual compared to the usual distribution (it could be), but it doesn’t seem so likely. The paper hasn’t shown that the DTR as calculated by Travis wasn’t unusual, but it has shown that there is another factor at work that would make generally higher DTRs more probable. Maybe there was a peak due to contrails, but superimposed on a pre-existing peak due to normal weather. Hence their concluding paragraph.

    It’s worth thinking about some more. But you’re right about another point as well, the tiny sample size and the large amount of noise mean it is difficult to tell if any of this means anything.

  • Midwesterner

    the tiny sample size and the large amount of noise mean it is difficult to tell if any of this means anything.

    That is something that I’ve also expressed towards the larger climate picture quite often. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I have a predisposition to believe that there is a localized but substantial contrail effect. Around the same time that Travis was stopping and staring at the sky, I was ten miles away from him doing the same thing.

    I have lived all of my life in the area just west of Lake Michigan. We have countless thousands of flights to dozens of airports and my brother and I will sometimes try to guess based on elevation and direction which of the many airports they are heading from or to. Seeing 3 contrails forming at once is normal. Seeing 5, 6 or even 7 forming is not terribly unusual. Considering their persistence and how quickly an airliner crosses the sky, the cumulative effect is extreme. On the days the planes were grounded I was literally stunned looking at the sky. Not since I was ten years old have I seen a sky like that in the Midwest. I had no idea how much the sky had changed, or even that it had changed at all. The sudden change caused me an extreme flashback to that time. It would be difficult for me to overstate the difference. As soon as even the few flights returned to the air, the newer sky returned and has not left.

    But what I observed was an optical, not thermal effect. And there are many more reasons to want more information and understanding before reaching conclusions.

    And as an optimist who believes humans can accomplish almost anything, I find the possibility that we could so easily make deliberate changes in our weather to be a reassuring affirmation, not a distressing cause for panic. In a very small subset of climate change doubters, I sense some of the same desperate will to believe that is much more common among the AGW believers. If deliberate anthropogenic climate change is possible, I consider that an added option for action, not a symptom of impending doom.

  • Pa Annoyed

    Then you might also be interested in the views of Freeman Dyson on topsoil.

    Dyson also invented the Dyson sphere, and the Astrochicken. An interesting guy.