Yawning and sleeping to spread awareness about climate change
SATURDAY JANUARY 23, 2010
Perhaps like me you are becoming tired of the alarmism about climate change and global warming. In the movie An Inconvenient Truth Al Gore says the polar bear need more ice to survive. Now we have a lot of ice, but the polar bear is starving and find their food at the garbage dumps in towns. To much sea ice, so they are very hungry. In fact, ice between Canada and Greenland has reached the highest level in 15 years (refer link below).
It is a popular belief today that extreme weather is something relatively recent, and therefore that it must have a discernibly recent cause. The name global warming did not exist before 1970. People fear that the polar ice caps will melt, raising sea levels leading to environmental chaos. The idea is that after billions of years of fluctuating natural changes in climate and geological history, the planet has reached a tipping point that is beyond a point of no return, and we are staring in the face of collapse. Nature is now portrayed as an invading army, out to destroy itself and us in the process. The fact that this "invasion" has failed for 4.5bn years is immaterial.
Skeptics quietly say the problem is imaginary and simply an international exercise in slick marketing, but they are not in charge of media and few hear it. Even fewer have access to historical records which tell of many warming episodes and subsequent cooling periods that have bedeviled humans for thousands of years. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato(427 - 347 BC), wrote about major climate changes that were known in his day. In the dialogue, “Timaeus,” he wrote that warming at regular intervals often leads to great floods. Plato’s student, Aristotle, who lived from 384 BC to 322 BC, also recorded evidence of global warming in the first book on meteorology, “Meteorologica.” He noted that in the time of the Trojan War, the land of Argos was marshy and unarable, while that of Mycenae was temperate and fertile. “But now the opposite is the case,” Aristotle wrote. “The land of Mycenae has become completely dry and barren, while the Argive land that was formerly barren, owing to the water has now become fruitful.” He observed the same phenomenon elsewhere covering large regions and nations. In turn, Aristotle's apprentice Theophrastus (374 -287 BC), discussed climate change in his work, “De ventis,” which means “The Wind.” He observed that in Crete, “nowadays the winters are more severe and more snow falls.” In earlier times, Theophrastus said, the mountains there bore grain and fruit, and the island was more populous. But when the climate changed, the land became infertile. In his book, “De causis plantarum,” Theophrastus noted that the Greek city of Larissa once had plentiful olive trees, but that falling temperatures killed them all.
While the few books that have always been around have noted climate changes, no one then appeared to be in a moral panic over their writings. We know a great deal about climate changes from historical records. These changes occurred long before industrialization and could not possibly have been man-made in any way whatsoever. Carbon dioxide emitted from volcanoes has been in the sky well before humans and SUVs came along. There is still no proof that man is now suddenly affecting the climate through carbon dioxide emissions. So what is different, because never before have newspapers been so full of doom? Climate is constantly slowly changing from ice ages through interglacials over hundreds of thousands of years, so local or international changes in the environment can be discounted. Shorter cycles of temperature variation can be explained by changes in amounts of the sun's radiation strength, yet no one seems interested in it enough to fund any research.
The hype is upwardly exponential. Maybe we just enjoy hype. No one ever talks about the good of climate change, like the warm Mediaeval Warm Period from 400-1400AD, when temperatures were much warmer in Europe than today and there was so much over-production in agriculture that a middle class evolved which permanently changed world commerce and allowed art to evolve into a major industry. Is the excitement driven solely by newspapers? Not really, because all newspapers ever want to do is sell more newspapers. They report what they can sell and sell what they can report. By politicians? All they ever aspire to is to get re-elected. The real reasons for this new concern may have more to do with the human psyche than the planet we walk on. The recipe seems to combine gullibility, greed, guilt and excitement. Graft may be in there, too, but I don’t want to be the one to say it. Where once a whacky notion usually died a quick natural death, now the internet and the feeding trough of journalists magnify it and make it salacious. As a result we now have climate porn, which in a matter of hours can be read and gloated over by billions.
Perhaps what has changed is not the climate, but the climate of reporting. As always it is mostly about money. Those calling the loudest for research funding are those who end up with it. The NZ government has put over a billion dollars into research and development into “climate change” over the past decade. It is hard to see where a near-billion dollar debt to Kyoto has been value for money. In an age of eager over-regulation, local councils have dreamed up new revenue gathering plans. Nelson and Christchurch regional bodies seek legislation to ban burning wood and coal in fireplaces. The science is woefully napping. Burning a log of wood merely releases the carbon dioxide that was absorbed from the atmosphere during the growing process of the tree. No more carbon dioxide can ever be added to the environment than was initially there already. It is the same with coal, gas and oil. Otherwise, how does anyone think these materials were formed? Certainly not by bringing in extra carbon from outer space.
It's not the first time scientists have talked rubbish. Idiotic theories come and go in science all the time. In 1899, U.S. Commissioner of Patents Charles H. Duell declared that everything that could be invented had been invented. In 1907 scientists feared the world would soon be poisoned by the fumes from horse manure lying in the streets. In the 1950s rock’n’roll was banned for fear it would corrupt life as we knew it, in the 1960s and 70s it was the Cold War, the Bomb, acid rain, the population explosion, then came the Y2K bug, the end of the world due to a planetary alignment, Mad Cow Disease if you ate hamburgers, Sars if you traveled, and Bird Flu if you ate chicken. In NZ in 1981 a popular paperback, “NZ 2001” (by George Bryant, published by Cassell) was published, with chapters written by prominent visionaries, including Don Brash, Gordon Dryden, Sir James Doig, Jack Shallcrass, and Colin James, looking 20 years ahead. The book postulated that in 2001 we would have no cars, no trucks (“phantoms of a bygone age”) - just “nuclear trams”; that children would carry passports, that cash would be obsolete, that cancer and asthma would be a memory, that there'd be no such thing as fences, that it would be impossible to rob a bank, that the government would pick the All Blacks and that Waitangi Day would be gone forever. To cap it all off, in 2001 we would all be recovering from a nuclear war. The eminent authors were dead wrong. Man-made global warming is also opinion-based and, so far, fictional. The true danger could be the spreading of unmitigated nonsense dressed up to look like real science.
http://sermitsiaq.gl/klima/article30834.ece?lang=EN (click on link to see photo of Greenland’s expanding ice!)
One is still entitled to one’s opinion, but one is not entitled to one’s own facts. When we talk of global warming maybe we should look at what we mean by 'temperature'. In any metservice recording station in the course of a day only two readings are taken, the maximum and the minimum. These are added and halved to find the "mean." Suppose for station X the maximum for today is 25C, taken at say, 3pm. Suppose the minimum is 5C, taken at 6am. The mean, or average, is 25+5 divided by 2, or 15C. But 15C may NOT have been the average for the day at all, especially if the maximum of 25C only lasted for five minutes around 3pm, and the minimum only held at 5C for two minutes, and most of the rest of the day sat on around 18C. A southerly may have come up and pulled most of the day down to 12C, and a northwesterly may have burst in at 2pm raising the maximum. Or any other combination of variations.
Suppose it is summertime. Temperatures can change within a minute when the cloud comes over and obscures the sun. But temperature readings are NOT snapped every minute. A digital system could do that today, but doesn’t, and we didn't have manpower to do it in a pre-computer era. How then do we know what average temperatures prevail, not only for one place but for only a few feet away? It is impractical to set up data-gathering stations every few meters. There is also altitude variation where a mound a few feet higher can have its own microclimate. The top of a garden might be warmer than the bottom. Gardeners know this and plant accordingly. I have an expensive state-of-the-art thermometer, the most accurate available, called an EcoScan. You can stand it in one spot and watch it change temperature every few seconds. In short, no one knows what daily averaged temperature a location has, because our instruments do not measure it. A thermometer only measures the temperature of itself. We have no way of knowing if we are warming or cooling, as a town, a country or a globe, over a year, a century or “since records began”. We only know what we have made instruments to do, not what nature is actually doing.
NIWA’s website is in agreement with the IPCC, in that the globe has warmed 0.6 of a degree over the past century and by just one degree in total over the past 8,000 years. If true then there is little to worry about because every single day goes through a temperature variation maximum to minimum of at least ten degrees and over thousands of millennia Man has found ways to cope with this phenomenon. The Earth seems to know what it is doing and has remarkably all by itself orchestrated ice ages and interglacials without our help. Thermometers were only invented about 300 years ago initially as a plaything of the rich. About 200 years ago they began to be employed in weather. Until the digital age the old thermometers were made of glass and could not read tenths, so a global 0.6C rise over a century is just a guess. Scientists think that if you put a decimal point in something it will not be disputed. Satellites have been recording temperatures since 1979, too recent for a global perspective spanning centuries. Few temperature readings are gathered from icecaps, deserts, craggy mountain tops, swamps and uninhabited islands, let alone the sea, which alone covers 76% of the earth's surface. So we are left with ground-based stations. These are around cities, mainly at airports or on top of schools or post offices. They are in high density suburbs and main streets for convenient access and maintenance. The equipment is housed in white boxes with wooden vanes all around. Cities have become steadily warmer over the past century, with the increase and expansion of reflective glass, asphalt and vehicle fumes. The difference between town and country temperature can be anything up to 5C. If you have a vehicle-dash thermometer, watch it drop as you leave the city. Cities are not representative of the globe.
But wait, there is more. Now councils shift these temperature recording boxes to the warmest parts of a city. Whoever can boast the best climate can attract more tourists and their money, and those retired looking for a warmer environment to live and invest. There are thermometers next to air conditioners, sewerage treatment plants, airport tarmacs and parking lots. Already New Plymouth, Kerikeri, Wanganui, Kaikoura, Rotorua and Napier have downtown temperature recorders. In Napier there is an agreement to supply radio and TV with the daily temperature from either the airport or mid-city Nelson Park stations, whichever is the higher. NIWA's carbon dioxide measuring apparatus for Auckland can be seen at tail-pipe exhaust level at an intersection on the Mountain Rd- Khyber Pass corner, on the busiest, fumiest road in the whole country, right beneath a motorway overpass. You could be forgiven for thinking that such unscientific techniques could not possibly be permitted, let these are the nation's climate trends spokespeople. This is this how ‘evidence’ of ‘global warming’ and CO2 increase is gathered.
Ask any geologist - Earth's natural state is Ice age. Our planet has spent 80% of its geological history iced up. Only 15,000 years ago Antarctica was forested, ice-free and occupied by humans, with the South Pole close to Perth. Western Australia was snow-covered (NZ was not). The North Pole was over Chicago, the 'Illinoisian Icecap'. Ice ages occupy 50-60,000 years and interglacials, which we are in now, span 10,000 years. Astronomers teach about solar and lunar cycles, and that ice ages are caused by the cosmos passing through a zone of space dust as it orbits the Celestial Centre in the Milky Way, which blocks solar radiation. The Earth has been in an “Ice House Climate” for the last 30 million years. When the Earth is in its Ice House climate mode, there is ice at the poles and the seas are lower. Since the last Ice Age with the melting of the ice caps the seas have been rising and seas are now the highest they have ever been. They will not go higher. Nine tenths of the ice has already melted. As it has been 11,000 years since the last Ice Age geologists say we are now on the way to the next. The polar ice sheet expands and contacts because of variations in the Earth's orbit (Google Milankovitch cycles) and not because of what lightbulbs humans are using.
The real catastrophe is the erosion of what we used to call freedom and what we used to call science, because freedom is becoming undermined by over-regulating governments and science is becoming hijacked by business and politics. As poles gently shift and countries find themselves at different latitudes the climate will always change, over thousands of years. But it won’t fall over because humans suddenly decide to walk to work or recycle plastic. It’s a pretty safe bet that volcanoes will continue putting CO2 in the air, the glorious sun will shine and the rains follow to wet the Earth, long after the dust of many centuries has blown over all our graves.