Deconstructing the “Truth”
Now let’s look at two things that Al, and all the scientists who have provided those “hockey stick” graphs never seem to mention. First, if you go back farther than 1, 000 years, there were temperature increases similar to today 2, 500, 4, 000, 5, 200, 8, 700 and 11, 000 years ago. Lonnie Thompson himself in his glacier studies has identified many of these warm periods.
Second, they do not include solar activity, which is at an 11, 000 year high. The graph below (Solanki 2006) shows solar activity for the past 12, 000 years. In this graph you can see that there was an increase in solar activity during the same warming periods listed above.
Al’s presentation on carbon dioxide quickly falls into the biggest trap in the global warming debate. He accurately tells how scientists measure past levels of carbon dioxide from air bubbles in ancient ice from glaciers. He accurately discusses how scientists can examine isotopes of oxygen in the ice to figure out what the temperature was when the ice formed. He also uses the Vostok ice core graph to show how, over the last several hundred thousand years, temperature and carbon dioxide are closely correlated. He interprets the data, as, “when there is more carbon dioxide, the temperature gets warmer.” The graph below is similar to the one used by Al Gore, the blue line is temperature and green line is carbon dioxide going back 450, 000 years.
What Al Gore did not mention, and what is very well known throughout the scientific community, is that higher resolution studies of the same ice cores revealed that the temperature changes came first then were followed by changes in CO2. (Mudelsee, 2001;Clark, 2003;Vakulenko et al., 2004)
During this part of the presentation Al says that when you look at the ice core that you can see the year that congress passed the clean air act. This one makes a lot of people laugh.
For instance, Eric Steig, a geochemist at the University of Washington with lots of experience in ice cores and an ardent supporter of Al Gore’s side of the debate said, “At one point Gore claims that you can see the aerosol concentrations in Antarctic ice cores change “in just two years”, due to the U.S. Clean Air Act. You can’t see dust and aerosols at all in Antarctic cores — not with the naked eye — and I’m skeptical you can definitively point to the influence of the Clean Air Act. I was left wondering whether Gore got this notion, and I hope he’ll correct it in future versions of his slideshow.”
Al then shows global temperatures for the past 100 years using a graph similar to the one below. “In any given year it might look like it’s going down but the overall trend is extremely clear” I’ve added the green line, which is CO2. What Al does not show you is that most of the warming started before the CO2 increase. He also fails to mention the cool period between 1944 and 1976 does not correlate with greenhouse theory;the globe should have been warming at that time.
Now let’s stop here for just a moment and look at the graph below. We have all heard of El Nino. During El Nino years you see reports on the news about flooding in California, but El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) also has a relation to global temperatures.
The blue shaded areas on the graph show La Nina or ENSO negative conditions (cooling) and the red shows El Nino or ENSO positive conditions (warming). Notice how there is a shift of more ENSO negative conditions before 1976 and ENSO positive conditions after 1976. Remember the year 1976, because it is an important year in later parts of this essay.
When you consider the effects of the 11, 000 year solar high and the very positive phase in the ENSO in the past 30 years, you should start to see the real trend and exactly why temperatures changed the way they have in the past 30 years. And before anyone tries to say ENSO conditions are related to global warming or CO2, the NOAA says no it does not. Also, the only person I am aware of who predicted ENSO events several years in advance used a model of solar changes with a hit rate of almost 90%. Al Gore never puts into consideration El Nino’s or solar variation as a part of global warming which is one of his most crucial mistakes.
Al then discusses how many of the worlds cities have broken their temperature records in recent years. This maybe true but much of this is caused by “Urban Heat Island Effect.” Urban Heat Island Effect is when the masses of concrete in cities absorbs heat and holds it longer than vegetation in the countryside. Also, storm drains carry water away that would otherwise evaporate and thus cool the area. One of the problems with surface temperature data is that many of the thermometers are located in cities or airports. As cities grow, the temperature gets warmer. When you look at global temperatures where only data from the countryside is considered, about one third of the temperature increase of the last 30 years disappears.
In the next section Al discusses computer models, which predict future climate. In my view, predicting future climate with computers is a joke. I am not talking about how weather cannot be predicted accurately two weeks in advance;I am talking about predicting climate 50 years in advance. Three big things in nature that affect climate, solar variation, volcanoes and El Nino Southern Oscillation, cannot be predicted 50 years in advance. For example, a strong volcano and two years of La Nina conditions would be enough to eliminate all of the warming of the last 30 years. Also, computer models are not yet updated enough and the effects of many different things that affect climate such as clouds and water vapor are still not understood.
Al then starts his section on weather. He begins with hurricanes. Most people don’t think of El Nino’s being an important to weather patterns, but it is. For instance, not many people would think that El Nino’s suppress hurricanes. Dr. William Gray, considered the world’s best hurricane forecaster, said, “Al Gore doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” Dr. Gray forecasts hurricanes in large part with consideration of the El Nino Southern Oscillation.
According to the NOAA, “The primary explanation for the decline in hurricane frequency during El Ni√±o years is due to the increased wind shear in the environment.”
“In El Ni√±o years, the wind patterns are aligned in such a way that the vertical wind shear is increased over the Caribbean and Atlantic. The increased wind shear helps to prevent tropical disturbances from developing into hurricanes. In the eastern Pacific, the wind patterns are altered in such a way to reduce the wind shear in the atmosphere, contributing to more storms.” http://ww2010.atmos.uiuc.edu/(Gh)/guides/mtr/hurr/enso.rxml
Using El Nino data from the NOAA and hurricane tracking information from Unisys I averaged out hurricanes and tropical storms in the Atlantic from 1975 to 2006. I separated them by El Nino, La Nina and neutral years and found that Dr. Gray was right. During La Nina years there was an average of 9 hurricanes and 14 tropical storms with an average hurricane category 2.4. During El Nino years there was an average of 4 hurricanes and 4 tropical storms with an average hurricane category 2. During ENSO neutral years there was an average of 7 hurricanes and 14 storms and an average hurricane category 2. There were no trends that show increasing numbers of hurricanes, tropical storms or strength. The only unusual year was 2005 (ENSO neutral) where there were 15 hurricanes and 13 tropical storms.
In the next part of Al’s weather section he says that tornadoes are getting worse. Al’s claim that global warming is increasing the number of tornadoes is also misleading because new radar and satellite technology allows us to see more of them. The numbers of severe tornadoes, the ones we have been able to track, are decreasing. The graph below is from NOAA and shows the number of strong tornadoes since 1950.
Al then says that Japan set an all time record for typhoons in 2004. This was true except he failed to mention that these were only the typhoons that actually hit the coast of Japan. In reality, the highest typhoon seasons ever recorded were 39 typhoons in 1968 and 33 in 1972 and the 2004 season was normal with a total of 29 typhoons. (Matsumura et al. 2003 with updated data from Dr. Matsumura 2006)
Al then discusses the first hurricane in the South Atlantic that hit the coast of Brazil in 2004. This was not from global warming, the sea temperatures that year were slightly cooler than normal but the air temperature was very cold causing the kind of temperature difference between surface and air that it usually takes to create a hurricane. http://www.ucar.edu/communications/quarterly/summer05/catarina.html
In the last part of his hurricane section Gore talks about Hurricane Katrina that hit New Orleans in 2005 and was the most expensive natural disaster in American history. Al asks, “Something new for America. How in gods name can that happen here?” I can answer that question for him.
New Orleans is a coastal city that is mostly below sea level. The protective levees around New Orleans were designed to protect the city from category 3 storms. This means that the people that built the levee system were taking a chance. When Katrina hit New Orleans it was a category 4 to 5 storm.
Next, the canal walls that broke down were not being maintained. “But with the help of complex computer models and stark visual evidence, scientists and engineers at Louisiana State University’s Hurricane Center have concluded that Katrina’s surges did not come close to overtopping those barriers. That would make faulty design, inadequate construction or some combination of the two the likely cause of the breaching of the floodwalls along the 17th Street and London Avenue canals — and the flooding of most of New Orleans.” The Washington Post
Finally, the human toll was a result of people who did not evacuate when they were supposed to and poor planning by individuals who were responsible for evacuating people under their care.
Al then talks about how the insurance industry pays out more money to flood and storm victims. This may be true but is because more people are building expensive beach houses right where the storms hit.
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