A little on climate science
I've taken a few body blows this week, so I figure, why not take on more?
I belong to that category of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) skeptic that is skeptical of all sides in the debate.
A better way to put it is that I'm interested in anthropogenic and natural causes of climate change and what to do about them.
I remember that the fear in the 70s was of "global cooling
". A very interesting page on wikipedia is on Global Dimming
. Stop reading me now, go read that, it's interesting, trust me, regardless of what you think of carbon credits.
I'm distressed that the satellite temperature data we have only starts in 1979, right after that cooling period, and frustrated that even the satellite data seems to be inaccurate and subject to revision.
The ground station temperature data is almost hopelessly polluted by the urban heat island effect, the changes in tracking methods (whitewash, siting and paint problems
) over the last century are disturbing, and Hansen's methods and data adjustments nearly impenetrable.
Really good work on the ground station issue and temperature tracking methods is being done by volunteers
. This particular chart of measured error in the surface station data is really interesting:
There's even a google earth mashup
and photo gallery of every station surveyed
, and a howto on how to join the effort. My hat is off to the amateurs in this project.
There is an open source effort going on that is trying to pick apart the software that is being used to analyze global warming. (I can't find it this morning, but I am very happy that the code is out there, being independently analyzed, even improved. More science needs the input of the open internet and open source programmers)
I have tried hard to find sites that seem reputable that are doing non-consensus research. I like:Real Climate
, Watt's up with that
and Climate Audit
... because alternate and falsifiable hypotheses are what science is all about. Update
: When I first wrote this I committed a cardinal sin in not posting any pointers to non-global-warming-skeptical sites. New Scientist, a nearly complete convert to AGW, tackles many myths
with great success. As always, I enjoy the comments
, and the ongoing research into bad data behind the 45-79 cooling trend.
At the moment I'm willing to defer judgment on the amount of global warming that is anthropogenic until the middle of Solar Cycle 24, which will be a few years yet. Sunspots do seem to correlate with the earth's temperature, although research is ongoing. See: Maunder Minimum
Cycle 24 is quite delayed.
The controversy over the effects of Sunspots
can only be resolved by more data and time. The whole climate change field needs more data and time and less politics.
Secondly I've concluded that many major valleys in global temp are related to catastrophic events such as asteroid impacts and volcanic eruptions. It will take just one wayward asteroid to render this whole debate moot. I wrote a piece once, trying to be morbidly funny, about encouraging more volcanoes to blow
. It turned out to be a somewhat valid approach...
It's harder to figure out the peaks. I buy that we are in a long term warming period, with periodic downticks. Based on the solar data, I think a downtick is coming up, moderated by AGW only somewhat. How moderated remains to be seen, but I've moved to the tropics because I prefer heat over cold.
For the record, I don't agree with the hockey stick theory of runaway global warming.
This makes the whole GW debate much-less-life-threatening and great fun, and you'll find me arguing in favor of AGW with a Republican and against with a Democrat simply because I believe in the primacy of doubt.
As for CO2 levels, I'm concerned but not alarmed. (I hate that the most commonly published graph starts at 280 ppm and ends at 380 ppm, which shows a much more alarming slope than reality) CO2 is good for plants. We need more plants. And less people. And nuclear power. And solar/wind/geothermal energy. I'd favor all these things even if global warming didn't exist. Flattening mountains/polluting rivers for coal, and going to war in the Middle East for oil has no appeal.
And that said, I have difficulty buying into CO2 as the
major GW cause. Other compounds
are potentially far more potent for heating and cooling
Meanwhile... the decline of life in the seas is well documented and world threatening. Peak fishing was in 1988. I'd like it if there was someone of the stature of an Al Gore - or better Jacques Cousteau
- talking coherently about it... because we'll be down to eating plankton and jellyfish before long if we don't do something about it.
The pirates in Somalia got their start in the early 90s because they needed to defend their fisheries
from international fishing fleets.
Lobster used to be food for the poor.
A crash of the economy would be good for Mother Earth, methinks.
Bonus link: Some debate about alternative energy
(This post started as a failed comment on Doc's blog
. Hopefully I've figured out trackbacks now)
I've been closing out a lot of pieces lately with song lyrics, because, well, because - poetry and music carry feeling that is impossible to express in numbers and graphs.
Today's tune-age comes from The Door's "Strange Days" record. The final track was When the Music's Over
... a portion of which goes:What have they done to the Earth?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
And tied her with fences
And dragged her down
Labels: global warming, science