Thursday, June 29, 2017

GWPF Newsletter: The Truth About The Global Warming Pause








More Evidence of the Great 21st Century Warming Pause

In this newsletter:

1) David Whitehouse: The Truth About The Global Warming Pause
The Spectator, 29 June 2017

2) More Evidence of the Great 21st Century Warming Pause
CO2 Science, 26 June 2017
 
3) Green Killing Machines: Germany’s Coalition Government Makes Killing Wildlife Easy
Global Warming Policy Forum, 26 June 2017
 
4) Roger Pielke Jr: Climate Politics As Manichean Paranoia
Global Warming Policy Foundation
 
5) Keith Kloor: The Science Police 
Issues in Science and Technology, Summer 2017

Full details:

1) David Whitehouse: The Truth About The Global Warming Pause
The Spectator, 29 June 2017

Between the start of 1997 and the end of 2014, average global surface temperature stalled. This 18-year period is known as the global warming pause, also sometimes referred to as the global warming hiatus. The rise in global temperatures that alarmed climate campaigners in the 1990s had slowed so much that the trend was no longer statistically significant. It has been the subject of much research and debate in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
 


Global surface temperature between January 1997 and December 2014 – click on image to enlarge

Then, in the spring of 2015, El Niño, a warm ocean phase in the equatorial Pacific developed. It rapidly drove up global temperatures by 0.5°C in less than a year. In fact, the 2015/16 El Niño turned out to be the strongest such event in recorded history and helped to make 2015 and 2016 the warmest years in the modern warm period.

This El Niño spike encouraged a number of climate activists and campaigners to claim that the warming pause was now over for good. Some said we were on the verge of runaway global warming. Others even denied that a hiatus ever existed.

One of these scientists is Dr Phil Williamson from the University of East Anglia. Writing in the Spectator, he rather confusingly claims that the non-existent pause ‘ended’ when there was a sudden rise in global temperatures in 2015 and 2016. Climate activists make much of the recent run of these record-breaking warm years, but they are quite wrong to blame climate change. These records are primarily a product of El Niño, a short-term and entirely natural ocean phase that habitually drives up global temperatures for a short period of time.

It is obvious that the sudden rise in temperatures during the most recent El Niño was far too fast to be the result of long-term global warming. After all, global temperatures have risen very gradually by 1°C in the last 150 years or so. Williamson is also wrong in claiming that global temperatures have not dropped since the end of the El Niño spike. Since it peaked last year, they have declined by 0.4°C. They are now almost back to where they were before the start of the El Niño:




I noted in an earlier article that the world’s media were ignoring research papers in mainstream scientific journals that showed that global temperatures had slowed or stalled.

This attitude is noteworthy and seems to be the new norm. Last week, a group of climate scientists who have analysed temperature data from the lower atmosphere concluded that since around 2000 there had been a hiatus in temperature increases, stressing that this was inconsistent with what is known about natural climatic change. What is more, computer climate simulations, so central to the case for climate alarm, did not predict this might happen and cannot explain why it did. This is another important paper confirming the existence of the hiatus, and another case of the mainstream media’s lack of interest.

Still, many climate activists claim that the ‘missing heat’ must have gone into the oceans. In reality, the evidence is not as clear as they maintain. The best data we have to throw some light on ocean temperatures comes from the ‘Argo’ system of monitoring buoys which are now giving us unprecedented levels of high-quality observational data. Yet a recently published analysis shows that for the past decade or so, although average global ocean temperatures have slightly increased, the oceans of the northern hemisphere and indeed most of the southern hemisphere have not warmed at all. Warming, the Argo buoys show, is coming from just one region of the South Pacific.

The lesson of the pause is not that the greenhouse effect doesn’t exist, but rather that the computer models, which predicted an acceleration in global warming, and on which current policy is based, have proved to be inaccurate. Nevertheless, the pause is an important event that enriches our understanding of a highly complex climate system. In the future, a long-term rise in global temperatures may resume. There is a good chance, however, that the recent super El Niño only interrupted the 1997-2014 pause. No-one knows. But if the pause were to resume or warming keeps slowing down, many of the fundamental assumptions of climate science would have to be re-assessed.

Dr David Whitehouse is the science editor of the Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)

2) More Evidence of the Great 21st Century Warming Pause
CO2 Science, 26 June 2017

Paper Reviewed
Xie, Y., Huang, J. and Liu, Y. 2017. From accelerated warming to warming hiatus in China. International Journal of Climatology 37: 1758-1773.

One of the many conundrums facing climate alarmists — who predict that dangerous future global warming will result from increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2 — is the existence of the aptly-named “warming hiatus.” Also referred to as the “warming pause,” this phenomenon describes a nearly two-decade-long leveling off of global temperatures despite a ten percent increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration since 1998. The significance of these observations resides in the fact that all climate models project that temperatures should not be levelling off, but should be increasing (despite interannual variability) in direct consequence of the ongoing rise in atmospheric CO2.

The fact that a warming hiatus does exist does not bode well for the Climate Industrial Complex, which requires dire projections and global warming scare stories to maintain its multi-billion dollar strangle-hold on the federal budget. Any hint that the model projections are off and that dangerous global warming is unlikely to occur is a threat to their theory and livelihood; and, therefore, there have been a number of attempts by die-hard climate alarmists to deny, deride and destroy any and all discussion of the great 21st century temperature pause (see, for example, Karl et al., 2015 and Lewandowsky et al., 2015). Yet despite such efforts, researchers continue to document the existence of the hiatus (see, for example, Koska and Xie, 2013 and Guan et al., 2015), as well as the most recent scientific team of Xie et al. (2017).

Focusing their attention on Asia, it was the goal of these three Chinese researchers to examine “the robustness of the warming hiatus in China.” To accomplish their objective, they performed a series of analyses on both monthly and daily mean surface air temperature data, which they obtained from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia (Harris et al., 2014) and the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), respectively.

And what did those analyses reveal?

In the words of Xie et al., they say that “using the CRU grid data and CMA regular surface meteorological observations, we showed the robustness of the warming hiatus that occurred in China,” which “was mainly induced by the cooling trend during the cold seasons.” Indeed, as shown by the black lines in the figure below, the annual mean temperature of both datasets increased through 1998, but thereafter a warming pause is evident (see the gray-shaded portion of the record).

And, as revealed by the solid blue lines in the figure, this pause is clearly dominated by a cooling trend during the cold months of the year (November through March).

Those who continue to deny the existence of the current warming pause would be wise to accept the reality of the data presented here by Xie et al. and elsewhere by so many others. It does exist, and it does add to the ever-growing mountain of evidence that warming due to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations is unlikely to be dangerous. It is time for policy makers around the world to wise up to this reality and shut down the climate-warming cabal by cutting climate change research funding and pulling out of the Paris Accord and the Rio Framework Convention.
 


Figure 1. (Left Panel) Surface air temperature (SAT) anomaly time series averaged over China relative to the 1981-2010 reference period from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) database. The solid lines are the linear trend lines based on the least squares estimator for 1998-2013 for warm (May-Sep) and cold (Nov-Mar) seasons, respectively, while the corresponding thick dashed lines are results from Mann-Kendall analysis. The gray shaded area indicates the recent warming hiatus period 1998-2013.. (Right Panel) Same as the left panel, but for results from China Meteorological Administration (CMA) dataset. Source: Xie et al. (2017).

3) Green Killing Machines: Germany’s Coalition Government Makes Killing Wildlife Easy
Global Warming Policy Forum, 26 June 2017
By Dirk Maxeiner, Achse des Guten

In one of its increasingly clandestine late-night meetings, the German parliament has neutered the Nature Protection Act and partially abolished previous species protection regulations — in order to accelerate the construction of wind farms.




The power drunkenness of Germany’s grand coalition has no limits. Increasingly, unconstitutional and ragged laws are pushed through under cover of night. The latest outrage: Last Thursday (22 June), new ghostly rounds of shenanigans occurred in the German Bundestag. In one of its increasingly clandestine late-night meetings, parliament neutered the German Nature Protection Act and partially abolished previous species protection regulations. This was done quite obviously to enable the construction of wind turbines in regions where this has hitherto been taboo.

At the centre of the legal changes is the so-called killing-prohibition of wildlife. Bats, for instance, had been protected in accordance with the Federal Nature Conservation Act and were not allowed to be killed. If a construction project threatened to violate this prohibition of killing, it could not be approved. If building a new road was to be to prevent, the law has been very welcome; however, when it comes to the construction of wind turbines, the ban on killing has become an unwelcome obstacle.

Now, however, the windmill ideologues have succeeded: Parliament and government have pushed through what the German wind lobby has been demanding since 2008, to give the interests of a subvention-savvy industry preference over wildlife protection. The prohibition of wildlife killing is being eroded in favour of wind energy projects. The draft law for the amendment of the Federal Nature Conservation Act, which was first published in December 2016, was voted through by a few dozen MPs at around 22:15.

The Bavarian Association for Landscape Care and Species( VFLAB) and the initiative “Reasonable Power” write:

“After a storm of indignation by ideology-free nature conservation organisations, it had been quiet for several months. It was taken for certain that nothing would be done in this legislative period. Contrary to all expectation, however, the amendment was added to the agenda of the Bundestag at short notice. Obviously, a gap in public attention was being exploited to push through this far-reaching change in the law in favor of the wind energy lobby shortly before the current parliament comes to an end.”

In recent years, the construction of the often useless 27,000 wind farms has violated species protection regulations and has regularly exceeded the expansion limits stipulated by the legislator. Now that all hurdles have been removed, the champagne corks are popping up in the wind industry’s board rooms. The ideological elimination of species protection is reminiscent of the darkest times of the 1960s concrete mania, when the then transport minister Georg Leber promised: “No German is to live more than 20 kilometers away from a motorway driveway”. Fortunately, this obsession has been done; instead, everyone should now see a wind turbine spin in front of their bedroom window.

Here is a statement by the German Wild Animal Foundation issued last December when the draft of the new law was presented:

In the context of amending the law, central concerns of nature conservation are to be ignored when it comes to the construction of wind farms. “The amendment leads to a dramatic increase in the threat to birds and bats posed by wind energy installations. That is unacceptable, “says Professor Dr. Fritz Vahrenholt, sole director of the German Wildlife Foundation.

The intended revision of § 44 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act is intended to impose a loosening of the previous prohibition of killing and injuring of animals if such “impairment is unavoidable”. Unavoidable impairments can occur in the operation of wind turbines. This would mean a relaxation of how to handle the power-plant related risks to birds and bats. “The killing of birds is thus no longer a fundamental obstacle to the construction of wind power plants”, Professor Vahrenholt criticised.

As a result, the growing danger of a collision of wild animals such as birds and bats with wind turbines will be increased further. This amendment is justified by the claim that the development of wind energy is in the public interest. This allows wind farm operators to obtain exemptions from the prohibition of killing wildlife.

The rapid expansion of renewable energies, such as wind power, already leads to serious violations of the prohibition of killing (§ 44 BNatSchG). Just how dramatic the conflict between wind energy expansion and species protection is has recently been documented in a study by Dr. Klaus Richarz (Wind energy in ecological forest habitats) which was commissioned by the German Wildlife Foundation.

Already, German wind farms are killing 250,000 bats and more than 12,000 birds of prey per year. The list of endangered species listed in the study reads like the “Who is Who” of the bird kingdom. Public resistance is growing too: According to a survey by Emnid last October shows that 80 per cent of respondents are against wind farms in the forest – with 87% of rejection the opposition in Eastern Germany is particularly high.

While companies such as Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) are forced by law to resettle lizards for millions of euros, the same legislator has now opened the door to the massive killing of rare animals. This double standard is purely ideological. An animal that dies as a result of normal economic activity (for example, because an industrial plant contaminates a lake or a river) continues to enjoy the full protection of the law. An animal killed by wind turbines for the purpose of the ‘Green Energy Transition,’ however, dies for the good cause. This has nothing to do with appropriate legislation, but much with ideology. The way in which this law has been smuggled through in a cloak-and-dagger operation is testament to the fact that the guilty parties are well aware of what they have done.

Full post (in German)

4) Roger Pielke Jr: Climate Politics As Manichean Paranoia
Global Warming Policy Foundation
 
Talk by Prof Roger Pielke Jr., University of Colorado
London, House of Lords, Committee Room 4A,
20 July 2017 ** 6 – 8pm
 
 
Roger Pielke Jr.

The decision by US President Donald Trump to remove the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change was met with both derision and applause. Such is climate politics in the United States in the 21st century. This talk focuses on climate politics as “Manichean paranoia,” a term used by the late US statesman Zbigniew Brzezinski to describe an worldview in which your opponent is considered to be malign and wilfully ignorant, whereas your own side is noble and uniquely enlightened. While the two sides of the contemporary US climate debate disagree on many things, they are firmly united in their Manichean paranoia. I will describe this pathological approach to climate politics and why it matters. There are alternatives, and I’ll recommend five specific actions to improve political debate over climate. Changing climate politics won’t be easy and isn’t possible without a demand for change. The shared commitment to partisan battle between otherwise dueling camps of the climate debate is deeply held, and the siren calls to join the ranks on one side or the other is difficult to resist. However, rethinking climate politics should matter — not just for those who care about climate policy, but more generally for achieving the broadly shared goals of economic growth and the sustainability of liberal democracy.

Roger Pielke Jr.

Roger Pielke, Jr. has been on the faculty of the University of Colorado since 2001. He founded the university’s Center for Science and Technology Policy Research in 2002. He currently is the director of the Sports Governance Center within the Department of Athletics. Since the early 1990s, Roger’s research has focused on various topics at the intersection of science, innovation and politics . Roger holds degrees in mathematics, public policy and political science, all from the University of Colorado. He has been active in the climate debate for more than 2 decades, and has the scars to prove it. Before joining the faculty of the University of Colorado, from 1993-2001 Roger was a Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He is also author, co-author or co-editor of hundreds of articles and seven books, including The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2007), The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell you About Global Warming (2010, Basic Books) and The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change (2014, Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes). His most recent book is The Edge: The War Against Cheating and Corruption in the Cutthroat World of Elite Sports (Roaring Forties Press, 2016).

This event is by invitation only. Please contact harry.wilkinson@thegwpf.org for further information.

5) Keith Kloor: The Science Police 
Issues in Science and Technology, Summer 2017

On highly charged issues, such as climate change and endangered species, peer review literature and public discourse are aggressively patrolled by self-appointed sheriffs in the scientific community. […]

The academic climate

Until recently, Roger Pielke Jr. spent most of his career teaching in the Environmental Studies program at the University of Colorado, Boulder. An interdisciplinary scholar, his research for over two decades was at the intersection of public policy, politics, and science—largely in the treacherous climate arena, where every utterance can be weaponized for rhetorical and political combat.

Thus, it is perhaps not surprising that Pielke has come to be defined not so much by his actual research, but by his public commentary and barbed jousting with peers and the reaction that has spawned on Internet forums, influential blogs, and elsewhere.

To the casual observer, his story is a puzzling contradiction. Pielke is among the most cited and published academics on climate change and severe weather. Yet he says he has been told by a National Science Foundation (NSF) officer: “Don’t even bother submitting an NSF proposal, because we won’t be able to find a reviewer who will give you a positive score.”

Pielke defies categorization. He believes that global warming is real and that action to curtail human emissions of greenhouse gases is justified. He is in favor of a carbon tax. At the same time, he has for many years openly feuded with climate scientists. As Science magazine noted in 2015, “Pielke has been something of a lightning rod in climate debates, sometimes drawing attacks from all sides as a result of his view on research and policy.” The controversy centers on his research finding that although the climate is warming, this does not necessarily result in the increased frequency or severity of extreme weather disasters.

If you canvass scholars in the environmental and climate policy world, a number of them will say they cross swords with Pielke, but they also respect him and teach his work. “I disagree with him about many things, but think he is someone who is worth reading and taking seriously,” says Jonathan Gilligan, an environmental sciences professor at Vanderbilt University. “I teach his book The Climate Fix every year precisely because I want my students to read someone who is smart and disagrees with me, in order to encourage them to think for themselves.”

This intellectual caliber is presumably what led the statistics whiz Nate Silver to hire Pielke in 2014 to write for FiveThirtyEight, the data journalism website that Silver created that year. Pielke’s first column questioned the strength of the evidence supporting the widely shared assertion among climate scientists that extreme weather disasters had become more prevalent in recent decades because of human-caused climate change. The uproar in the climate advocacy community was immediate and furious. Although Pielke had previously presented the same argument in the scholarly literature and in comments to science reporters, advocates were seemingly incensed that this perspective would now receive widespread public attention on Silver’s popular new website.

The Center for American Progress, a left-leaning Washington, DC-based think tank, used its influential blog, Climate Progress, to spearhead a campaign to discredit the column and Pielke’s reputation (something its lead blogger had already turned into a pet cause). The effort worked. After it became clear to Pielke that FiveThirtyEight would not let him write about climate issues anymore, he left the site within months of being hired. When news of his departure became public, the editor of the center’s blog bragged in an e-mail (disclosed in a 2016 WikiLeaks dump) to one of its wealthy donors: “I think it’s fair [to] say that without Climate Progress, Pielke would still be writing on climate change for 538.”

The episode followed on the heels of Pielke’s clash with John Holdren, then President Obama’s science advisor. Holdren had testified to Congress that on the issue of climate change and severe weather, Pielke’s interpretation of the data was “not representative of mainstream views on this topic in the climate science community.” Pielke found this offensive. He responded on his blog: “To accuse an academic of holding views that lie outside the scientific mainstream is the sort of delegitimizing talk that is of course common on blogs in the climate wars.” It is perhaps understandable why Pielke bristled at being characterized as outside the “mainstream.” His harshest critics have branded him a climate “skeptic” or “denier,” a pejorative tag that has made its way into blogs and some media outlets.

The cumulative effect of the controversies and assault on his reputation by detractors has taken a personal and professional toll. He’s become radioactive even to those sympathetic to him: “I’ve had people tell me, ‘I can’t be seen working with you, because it might hurt my career.’” Pielke mentions how one “very close colleague” said he had wanted to come to his defense on social media, then admitted: “But I don’t want them [Pielke’s critics] coming after me.”

“I get it,” Pielke says.

Unable to escape the tar flung at him in the climate world, he’s recently pivoted from climate research to sports governance, also at the University of Colorado. “Yeah, I have a new career now,” Pielke says. “I’m sitting in the athletic department. I’ve moved on.” Still, Pielke finds it difficult to let go of his old life completely. Several months ago, he testified before Congress about his climate research and the efforts to silence him. He also remains an active participant on social media, with about a quarter of his tweets climate related.

In December 2016, he penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal titled, “My Unhappy Life as a Climate Heretic.” In the column, Pielke said that he is on the right side of the climate-severe weather debate in terms of where the evidence lies, but that this is an “unwelcome” view because it is perceived to be undermining the climate cause. He went on to say that the “constant attack” on him over the years is a form of bullying that was intended to “drive me out of the climate change discussion.”

After Pielke’s op-ed was published, Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist and director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, essentially rolled his eyes on Twitter. He said that Pielke “playing the victim card” doesn’t cut it and that, in any case, “what goes around, comes around.” Schmidt’s tweet (which was part of a larger thread) suggested that Pielke’s situation did not owe to qualms about his research; it was more a Karmic reckoning.

Michael Tobis, another climate scientist who has locked horns with Pielke, posted a more judicious response on a widely read climate science blog. “Roger is a problematic figure, who is quick to criticize while being quick to take offense,” Tobis wrote. “He’s often right and often wrong, which can be a useful role in itself, but he ought to be able to take as well as he gives if he wants the net of his contribution to be constructive.”

These views by Schmidt and Tobis are echoed by others in the climate science community. To understand why Pielke has experienced such a backlash, it is necessary to rewind the story more than a decade, to a time when climate scientists were feeling as deeply and unfairly maligned as Pielke feels today. […]

When I spoke at length with Pielke for this article, he compared his experiences to a recent episode involving Bret Stephens after he joined the New York Times roster of opinion columnists in April 2017. In previous years at his perch on the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, Stephens penned numerous columns disparaging climate science in terms even more inflammatory than Pielke. Stephens also downplayed the risks posed by climate change and doubted that humans were largely responsible for it. So after he was hired by the Times, the newspaper was inundated by angry complaints. Numerous climate scientists announced on Twitter that they were cancelling their subscription in protest. An online petition circulated calling for the Times to recall the hiring of Stephens, who has since modulated his stance on climate change.

Watching this from the sidelines, Pielke saw similarities with what happened to him at FiveThirtyEight and the larger crusade to silence his voice. “This is not an argument about climate science or even climate policy,” Pielke says. “This is an argument about who gets to speak in public on these issues.”

Controlling communications

There might be something to this. Mike Hulme, a British scholar and scientist who is the head of the Department of Geography in the School of Global Affairs at Kings College in London, told me that he’s been “blackballed at some meetings, because on issues related to climate communication, I’ve been deemed not helpful.”

This is a head scratcher. Hulme’s 2009 book, Why We Disagree About Climate Change, is highly regarded as an insightful examination of the fraught cultural and sociopolitical dynamics of the climate debate. He is considered a thoughtful contributor to the field of climate communication. But he has also been critical of some social science research that became the basis for climate messaging campaigns in recent years that emphasize the authority of climate science, which he doesn’t think will advance the public debate.

This view has earned Hulme the cold shoulder from some peers, who would seemingly prefer he keep quiet. Absent that, periodic efforts have been made to freeze him out of the climate debate. The most recent attempt occurred after he was invited to participate in a conference on climate communication to be held in Austria in September 2017. Experts at the gathering will offer suggestions on “how to talk about climate change and climate protection,” according to the conference website.

Hulme recently learned that a member of the conference steering committee—a well-known academic in the field of climate communication—criticized him after his name was floated as one of the prospective panelists. In an e-mail to the steering committee, the academic wrote: “To be honest, I found Hulme’s recent work to be disappointingly ambivalent, ambiguous, and sometimes downright unhelpful. I know I’m not the only one in the climate community who thinks this. I therefore am less certain that he’ll provide the clarity our audience might expect.” The steering committee apparently disagreed. They voted to invite Hulme, so he will attend the meeting, presenting his views on climate communication, no doubt to the consternation and disapproval of some in the audience.

Hulme has observed other forms of policing that seem intended to foreclose certain lines of scientific inquiry. He points to a widely discussed and controversial paper published a few years ago by several prominent researchers who argued against climate scientists investigating the phenomena generally identified as a “pause” or “slowdown” in the rate of global warming. The authors of the paper asserted that the “pause” was a “contrarian meme” that had seeped into the climate science community.

Never mind that there were actual short-term climate variability trends that had already caught the attention of scientists. The paper implied that climate scientists were “rolling over and having their bellies tickled by these [contrarian] bloggers,” Hulme says. “That’s a soft form of policing, because it’s criticizing scientists who are doing what they are supposed to do. If there is some interesting or unanticipated curious phenomenon in the physical world, well, you should go and investigate and find out why.”

Hulme wasn’t the only one who felt this way. Numerous climate scientists, including Richard Betts, Head of Climate Impacts at the UK’s Met Office, were astonished at the suggestion in the paper that a main avenue of climate research (natural variability) should be ignored. When I revisited the controversy with Betts during a recent e-mail conversation, he said: “Even if scientific discussion of the ‘pause/hiatus/slowdown’ is (rightly or wrongly) perceived by the public and politicians as considering a ‘contrarian meme,’ should this matter? Isn’t investigating all genuine questions simply part of being credible, objective scientists?”

In an ideal world, it shouldn’t matter. But in the zero-sum world that governs the climate debate, every blog post, every op-ed, every tweet, and every study tends to be viewed through an us against them lens.

Full post

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.

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