Category Archives: Nature

Not Your Ordinary Global Warming Skeptic

I’m nobody.  So, when I question Global Warming, who cares? 

However, what do you say when a man with a PhD from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Instute, a man who won a Nobel Prize and an Oliver E. Buckley Prize, questions it?  That man is Ivar Giaever, and he recently resigned from the American Physical Society because they have declared that their official position is that the evidence for manmade climate change is incontrovertible.  Giaever had previously said that it is clear that the mean termperature of the earth has been amazingly stable and that Global Warming has become a new religion.  He doesn’t believe that science is done by committee vote but by evidence and testing.  He doesn’t believe that scientists should close their minds to dissent or to further discussion of a question.  If scientists can discuss the way a multi-verse behaves, then why can’t they discuss why or if temperatures on earth are rising dramatically?

Giaever pointed out that it doesn’t really matter how many people believe something is true.  It matters whether they are correct or incorrect.  (Seeing that he is an atheist, he almost has to think that way, since the majority of people on earth believe in God or in gods.)

He is hardly a nutty American conservative Christian.  He is Norwegian and is an avowed atheist.  His dissent does not prove that other scientists are wrong on the question, but it does give somebody like me a sense that I could be right in my skepticism.

What do you make of the fact that Freeman Dyson, Professor Emeritus of the School of Natural Sciences is skeptical?  So is Richard Lindzen, Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT.  And Patrick Michaels, who is a retired professor of environmental studies at the University of Virginia.  Add Petr Chylek to the list–a researcher at Los Alamos.  And Philip Stott, Professor Emeritus of Biogeology at the University of London.  Then there’s Tim Patterson, a paleoclimatologist at Carleton University in Canada.

They are not all total skeptics, but each of them has expressed doubt about one or more aspects of the Climate Change consensus.  It is enough to make me wonder.  How about you?

You can ignore people like me when we bring up our skepticism.  What do we know?  But you cannot claim that only non-scientists are skeptics–unless you want to question the credentials of the people I listed and the thirty or more other scientists that somebody took the time to list on Wikipedia–all notable scientists with degrees and positions at universities or research centers.

Satellite Data and Global Warming

We all know that the atmosphere traps heat and keeps the earth warm.  I remember learning it in school and reading about it in various newspaper and magazine articles.   Do you also know that a certain amount of heat escapes from the atmosphere?  If it didn’t, we would be in big trouble.

A former NASA scientist has carefully studied data about the loss of heat from the atmosphere, and in his peer-reviewed article, he shows that the amount of heat loss is greater than predicted by global warming models.  Of course, he has not disproven that global warming is occurring, but he has called one of the theory’s tenets into question.

This is not me saying that I disbelieve the theory just for kicks.  This is an expert relying on scientific data.

 

Hurricane Season 2010

     Since I started this blog I have written several times about the predicted increase in hurricane frequency and intensity.  I distinctly remember climatologists saying, after Katrina in 2005, that we could expect more of the same and even worse.  I, therefore, have kept track of the hurricanes each year to see if that prediction comes true.  Someone has been kind enough to post the data on Wikipedia, which makes it easy for an interested amateur like me to find it. 

     I figure that I will give climatologists the benefit of the doubt.  If they really can predict the number and the severity of tropical storms every year and if they really can predict a longterm trend in hurricane activity, then they probably know what they are talking about when it comes to temperature changes.

     Someone recently pointed out that 2010 was a bad year in regard to hurricane activity.  That is true enough, but a few other facts should be considered.

     There still has not been a year to match 2005, I certainly hope that there never is.  There were 7 major hurricanes in 2005, including the monstrous Katrina.  Since then things have been rather calm.  Here are the numbers of major hurricanes each year since then:

  • 2006     2
  • 2007     2
  • 2008     5
  • 2009     2
  • 2010     5

     And so, although 2010 was bad, the prediction that we were in for more and more disasters like Katrina has not turned out to be true.  But there’s more. . .

     There were quite a few years that were as bad as or worse than 2010 when it comes to the number of major hurricanes:

  • 1999     5
  • 1996     6
  • 1995     5
  • 1969     5
  • 1964     6
  • 1961     7
  • 1958     5
  • 1955     6
  • 1951     5
  • 1950     8
  • 1933     5
  • 1926     6
  • 1916     5
  • 1893     5

     What should we conclude?  Well, I conclude that in regard to major hurricanes there are, from time to time, seasons in which there are five or more.  It’s that simple.  Therefore, in regard to that measure, 2010 was nowhere near unique in weather history.

     Even though 2010 was a bad year for hurricanes, the remarkable thing is that the hurricane seasons in 2006 and 2009 were very mild.  In fact, they were the calmest years since 1997.  In other words there has been no positive correlation between the years since Katrina and the frequency or intensity of hurricanes.

     Some people point out that, by one measure, 2010 was the third worst year for hurricanes. 

Most Named Tropical Storms

  • 1st  2005   28
  • 2nd  1933  21
  • 3rd  1887   19
  • 3rd  1995  19
  • 3rd  2010  19
  • 4th  1969  18

It needs to be noted that in regard to the number of named storms, 2010 tied for third place, and it was only a little ahead of the fourth-place season.  So, as bad as it was, it does not demonstrate that tropical storm activity is steadily increasing.  There were as many tropical storms in 2010 as there were 15 years earlier and 123 years earlier.  And there were not as many in 2010 as there were 77 years earlier.

     Some people point out that, by another measure, 2010 was the second worst year for hurricanes. 

Most Hurricanes in All

  • 1st  2005   15
  • 2nd  1969   12
  • 2nd  2010   12
  • 3rd  1887   11
  • 3rd  1950   11
  • 3rd  1995   11

So, 2010 tied with a season that occurred 41 years ago, and it was barely ahead of seasons that occurred 15 years ago, 60 years ago, and 123 years ago.

     There just hasn’t been a steady increase in the number of named tropical storms, the number of hurricanes, or the number of major hurricanes.  It has fluctuated a lot, with 2005 just happening to be the worst year of all.

Too Bad to Be True?

     When one of my readers posted a link to this article about Crispin Tickell, I thought at first that it was satire or a joke.  Nobody could really hold such views, I thought.  For one thing, the racism and inequality expressed by Sir Crispin are not even thinly veiled.  For another thing, such radical and evil views practically demand that people completely denounce them or, at the very least, ignore them.

     Unfortunately, it is neither satire nor a joke.

Global Warming Evidence

UPDATE:  Please limit comments to propositions related to the topic and not personal insults or assertions about the motives of other commenters.  This topic is worthy of great passion, but please don’t attack other people as you comment on it.

——————–

     My friends’ daughters are visiting them from Germany.  Their trip was delayed because of bad weather–not unseasonably warm weather, as predicted by some “climate experts” but unseasonable wintry weather.  Snowstorms have been happening all over Europe.

     In addition my friends all over the United States are reporting snow in places that usually do not have snow this soon.  In fact, a friend in Alabama said that her town has had the first white Christmas in over 100 years.

     One amusing thing about this snowy weather is that in the year 2000, a British paper reported that winter snowfall was a thing of the past, thanks to. . .what else?. . .global warming.

     I was tipped off to this amusing report at the American Elephants blog, who got it from Drudge.  Please click the link to see the hilarious title at American Elephants.

     Of course the real punch line is the headline on this article in another British paper.

     Then again, some of my readers will tell me that colder-than-normal temperatures are proof of global warming, just as they told us ten years ago that warmer-than-usual temperatures were proof of global warming.  What’s next?  Are wetter-than-normal conditions proof of global drying?  Are fewer earthquakes proof of global tectonic instability?

     No wonder they decided to call it “climate change” instead.  NEWS FLASH:  Weather patterns are continually changing.  It doesn’t mean that the earth will continue to get either colder or hotter, drier or wetter.  Several scientists realize and assert that it is practically impossible to make accurate predictions about something as complex and unpredictable as climate.

Is Nature a Person?

     I saw a man on TV arguing against the breeding of the liger, a mix of a lion and a tiger.  He claimed that breeding such an animal is unethical.  Among his reasons was this gem:  it’s not what nature intended.

     I immediately thought, “Who is nature, and how does this guy know what nature intended?”  In order to intend something, wouldn’t nature have to be a person.  Did nature communicate with the commentator somehow?  Pretty weird, I think!

     I generally think of nature as whatever exists in whatever way it exists.  It consists of all the matter, energy, time, and space in the universe.  It also consists of the scientific laws governing all those aspects of the universe.  Am I wrong?

     If I am right, then nothing can be different from what nature intended, since nature is whatever exists and however it exists.  If a lion and a tiger can breed successfully, then that is part of nature.  (And, wouldn’t it prove that nature intended them to do it, if nature could intend things?)

     The commentator suggested that since lions and tigers have not had contact in the wild, that is how we know that nature did not intend them to breed with each other.  Again, I have to say that nature would seemingly not have made it possible for them to produce offspring, if nature, whoever that is, had not intended them to do so.  Additionally, people brought them together, and people are part of nature.  Aren’t they?

     Since people bred lions and tigers, and since they successfully produced offspring, nature, if such an entity has the ability to think and to will, intended it to happen.  Of course, if nature can think and will things, then it sure sounds an awful lot like what I call God.

The Right View of Rights

     What are rights, and where do they come from?  Though seemingly philosophical questions only, they have significant practical implications.

     If a right is something that a person naturally has by virtue of being a living human being, then it cannot change based on the whims of others.  If, however, a right is something granted by another person or group, then it could change as often as the granting group or person wishes to change it.

     For example, the United States abolished slavery and gave freedom to all citizens, freedom in the sense of not being owned by another person.  If the basis of that abolition was that certain powerful people simply chose to give African Americans that right, then at some future point another set of powerful people could choose to take away that right.  If however, the basis of abolition is that African Americans already had the right to be free, and so the law had to recognize that pre-existing right, then it can never be taken away.  Somebody could try to, or even succeed at, restoring slavery in America, but the right to be free would still be there, and the law, therefore, would be unjust.

     People who believe otherwise had better rethink the entire slavery issue.  If African Americans did not have a natural right to freedom, then what right did the Union have to fight the Confederate states and force them to abolish slavery?  In that case, the Union was using military power to force its will on other people, and that is a might-makes-right mentality.  At the very least, a might-makes-right approach does not make for a pleasant life for most people.  (I would say that might-makes-right is wrong, but that somewhat begs the question.)

    In fact, the history of the subject reveals that abolition was based on the notion that all people have the natural, inherent right to be free. 

     It is the same thing with the supposed right to have an abortion.  The basis of Roe v Wade was not that women wanted government to give them the right to control their bodies, but that they already had the right to do so, and the law must recognize that right.  Anti-abortion folks, like me, argue that the fetus is a little person and has a natural right to life that the government should recognize.  It is not a right that the government can either give to or take from the fetus.  (Who is correct is not the point here; the point is that both sides couch their position in terms of natural rights.)

     Are most people wrong?  Is their no such thing as a natural right to something?  Are rights simply privileges or entitlements that are granted by the pleasure of a moarch or by majority rule or by informal consensus?  Are rights just social constructs?

     Think about a scenario in which you see somebody leaving your house with your brand new computer.  If you are like me, you experience a rush of emotions, but somewhere within your mind, beyond the raw emotions, you think that is wrong.  You do not just think merely that it is inconvenient to you or hurtful to you, but you, I presume, think that it is just plain wrong.  It is not a selfish impulse, for you would think the same thing if it happened to your neighbor, even a neighbor you do not know and possibly even a neighbor that you do not like.  Way beyond that, most of us would think it was wrong if we were doing it to somebody else.   It’s not just empathy, either, because most of us agree that it’s wrong even if the victim has insurance to replace the stolen item or has enough money to buy another one without great loss to himself.

     Nobody thinks it is wrong for somebody to steal my computer because society says so.  Such thinking would imply that a society could just as easily have decided that it is okay to steal, and that everyone should continually raid each other’s homes or work spaces for whatever loot they could collect.  It seems, to me at least, absurd on the face of it.  I cannot think of a time when an organized group of people ever voted on whether to allow stealing or to prohibit it.  Everybody, or nearly everybody, simply understands that stealing is wrong.  Almost everybody believes that a person natually has a right to keep his own property and that nobody else has a right to take it without a good reason.

     This post is longer than I had hoped, but I want to make a final point.  I have read that rights are social constructs–that there are no such things as natural rights or natural law.  A major problem with that line of thought is that it creates a false dichotomy between things that are natural and things that are devised by human beings.  Aren’t human beings a part of nature?  Even if rights were things that we made up and normalized for ourselves, that would still be a natural phenomenon, since our minds are a part of nature.

No Significant Warming in 15 Years

     It’s one thing if a skeptic like me says that global warming has not actually been occurring, but it’s another thing if a true believer says so.  Phil Jones, formerly head of the Climate Research Unit of East Anglia University has admitted that no significant level of warming has occurred since 1995.  In fairness, he did say that a small amount of warming has occurred and that it is necessary to look at data over longer periods.  He remains a true believer; however, to an ordinary person like me it doesn’t make sense to say that global warming is occurring unless temperatures are going up significantly.  It’s like the Cheshire Cat or the Mad Hatter is speaking when you say, “No, the earth has gotten hardly any warmer in the last 15 years, but global warming definitely is occurrring.”

     To my American friends:  have those winter storms convinced you that the earth is getting warmer?

     I think we are supposed to play stupid.  We are supposed to read articles about record cold temperatures one day and articles about the destructive consequences of global warming the next day without seeing the contradiction.  We are supposed to hear about mistakes in the IPCC reports and about secret memos from climatologists that undermine the whole theory but just ignore those things as irrelevant and insignificant.  Oh, and we are supposed to believe that people are terribly frightened about climate change in one article and then read about the amount of CO2 the emitted at the Copenhagen Summit and not find them insincere.  Sorry, folks.  I’m not that stupid. 

     (I hope.)

Oops!

     Do you remember reading that a huge and important glacier in the Himalayas was receding at such a rapid rate that it was doomed to disappear within 30 years from now?  Well, the UN now says that it was a mistake.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that the glacier is not melting that fast.  They still stand by the claim that climate change is occurring as a result of human activity, but they acknowledge that the much-needed glacier is not in as much danger as previously reported.

     How many of these slip-up’s need to occur before the whole house of cards comes crashing down?  It reminds me of a character on Saturday Night Live named Emily Litella, played by Gilda Radner.  After being caught in an incredible error, she would quip, “Never mind!”

Harming the Planet to Save the Planet

     In Copenhagen a conference on climate change is occurring, and its carbon footprint, as they say, is huge.

     I have never flown in a private jet, but apparently 140 private jets have been used to get people to this meeting, as well as commercial jets.  Many of the attendees have used limousines and taxis to get around town.  Then there’s the food.  And the hot water.  And the electronic gadgets, including probably thousands of laptop computers.

     I read today about the massive amounts of paper being used at the summit, and not all of it is marked as recycled paper.  I thought that those folks were concerned about cutting down trees.

     That’s what irks me.  They lecture us about reducing, reusing, and recycling, but there they are using tons of paper.  They tell us not to drive SUVs (I don’t) and to ride a bicycle to work (I do), but they are doing the exact opposite.  It’s called hypocrisy.

     Of course, none of this negates or invalidates the claims of scientists that man-made emissions are causing dangerous climate changes, but it does mean something.  It means that, as a group, the people saying that they fear for the future of our planet are not sincere in their alarm.  Until they, as a group, show me that they really are in mortal dread of rising tides and catastrophic storms, then I will not get too alarmed myself.  It seems only fair and logical to me.  I would imagine that my carbon footprint is less than every one of the official delegates and most of the attendees at the conference.  How about you?  Do you fly around in private jets, ride in limousines, and print hundreds of pages of material about not cutting trees?

     Oh, but there was one hour in which they practiced what they preached.  They cut the lights off for one hour, one evening.  Wow!  That must have kept earth’s temperature cooler by 0.0000000000001 degree.