Friday, February 02, 2007

Global Warming. Case Closed?

Well, if cases are closed by out-shouting any opposing points of view -- maybe.

Incidentally, spoiled brats are generally best at the art of shouting.

In this Time/CNN story, the illustrating photograph and caption illustrate part of the problem in the argument -- that being, if you assume A is the problem, then any problems that A might possibly have a hand in must, in fact, be due to A.

Here is the caption, which describes the picture enough that no reproduction is really necessary:
An Inupiat Eskimo walks on melting ice on top of the frozen Chukchi Sea in Shishmaref, Alaska. The town will have to be evacuated within the next few years because of global warming.

Really? I got curious. Where is Shismaref? How much of a sea level change have we had that a whole town would have to move already? How much above sea-level is this town anyway?

So I did a search. I found more than what I was looking for. I found out why, in fact, it's so close to sea level.

It's basically built on what amounts to a huge sand bar barrier island about 5 miles out into the Bearing Strait. And an Alaskan newspaper story which was linked from the page talked about the villiage having to be relocated -- not because of rising sea levels -- but due to massive erosion. Erosion of islands that were themselves products of erosion. These are the kinds of islands that are formed by storms and coastal currents, and it is a part of their nature to shift, change, move, disappear, and reappear (often farther along the coast).

Remember the story of the guy who built his house on sand?

The town is indeed just 25 feet above sea level in its highest spots, and is bordered by coastal marshes. Excavations have shown that people have lived on these islands for a few hundred years

The argument being made by the AGW believers who have studied it (as opposed to the vast majority -- who haven't) is not really rising sea-levels here (although they'd likely be more than happy to let you believe that.) It is instead that there's less shelf ice now that used to protect the sand bar from erosion, and much of the sand-bar's permafrost has thawed, accellerating erosion. This is not a new phenomenon, though. Apparently enough of this erosion took place before 1960 to cause the village to have to move once back then.

Erosion giveth, and erosion taketh away.

Did warmer local temperatures play a role? Probably. Is it because the global mean temperature has risen half a degree? Maybe. Is it due to catastrophic global warming? Not hardly. If catastrophic global warming were on the way, would this be one of the first places to go? No doubt it would be. Does the fact that the island is being eroded into temporary extinction (in geoligic time) mean that the predicted global warming is obviously here? No way. Not from by any use of scientific method I've ever seen.

The fact of the matter is, that big sand bar got there somehow. Storms churned the bottom and deposited it in the shallow coastal waters, and it didn't do it when ice covered the Bearing Strait.

The earth warms and cools. Coastlines are not constant (barrier islands even less so). We can show this. Climate is not constant. We can show that. The Earth is not a delicately balanced, stable entity spinning in space. It was once so warm that there were giant cold blooded reptiles roaming in areas that have been icy for centuries. It's been so cold that glaciers covered most of North America. Delicate balance? Is there a "correct" state for the earth to be in, and "unnatural" humans are making it spin wildly out of control to some point of no return?

Who are you kidding?

The Yellowstone cauldron could explode any time and shut down life on earth as we know it down for thousands of years. It's happened (repeatedly) before. It'll happen again. Save the Planet? From what? Humans? We are surface mold, and a very thin layer of it at that. And we are a part of it. Maybe even just a phase its going through. We are not something that happened to the Earth. We are something the Earth is doing.

The report says that 2,500 "leading" scientists participated in the U.N.'s (there's your first clue) latest study by the IPPC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

You read the word "leading", and you're supposed to think "ah, the best and the brightest". But who decides who is a "leading" scientist, or what constitutes a scientist at all for that matter?

A side question for you. What is the percentage of physicians in the make up of the PCRM (Physician's Comittee for Responsible Medicine?)

Answer: It's about 5%. Surprised? Wanna take anything they say with a little grain of salt now? I'm not saying that the makeup of the group of 2,500 IPPC people only included 5% scientists (but I'd be interested to find out how many of them were even meteorologists, much less climatologists just out of curiosity - it's one of the many questions nobody asks). But that's not my main point.

The point about the 5% is that you can call any group by any name you want, but that doesn't make the group what you called it. And if you are a scientist who doubts the Anthropological Global Warming theory, what do you think are the chances that you were invited to take part in this IPPC "study" and be a part of the scientific "debate"? When we have people like Al Gore calling for the censoring of anyone who dares to argue against AGW, I'm going to guess ... zero.

If you're going to invite only people who are pre-disposed to find what you're looking for, you're going to get a concensus on what you wanted a concensus on in the first place. This is not science.

I have a degree in meteorology, and I understand the science behind the AGW theory. I understand the physics and the chemistry. And I also understand how little we really know about how the whole system works (inputs, sinks, feedback) . I further understand that "balance" is a constantly shifting line with many, many factors contributing to the constant shifting -- many of which we really haven't quantified and some we may know little or nothing about. I further understand that we are a part of the equation and we can and do have input into the processes, however small that may be.

The data simply doesn't fit yesterday's model projections, and that's no surprise to me. It's no surprise not because I didn't believe them (I actually did when I first heard about them) -- but because I know that they are woefully incomplete. And there's no reason to believe that today's models are significantly more complete. I had people telling me 20 years ago that by now we'd be 1-6 degrees warmer ("probably" on the high end) than we were in 1986. We're not. Now I have people telling me ... pretty much 0.25-0.75 degrees warmer by 2020, and the 1-6 degrees (the true believers saying that's too conservative) won't get here until 2100. It's still based on woefully incomplete models.

And so, in recognition of this terrible problem that we are all causing and we must move heaven and earth to stop and do it now, Paris will turn the Eiffel Tower's lights display off.

For five minutes.

And then it will turn them back on.

That shows real comittment, real concern. 650 megawats a year, to make a piece of Paris look pretty at night. In the mean time, turn your thermostats down, and take public transportation to work.

This is politics, not science.
"Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen"
Sir John Houghton, first chairman of IPCC

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