Global Warming Perspectives


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Figure 1  Data Supplied by the University of East Anglia and graphed by Mathematica

Figure 2  Temperatures without dampening factors for 100 planet earths over 1000 years with deviations from 'no change' shown in colour.  Blue is cold and red is hot. .

The Saugeen Times and Kincardine Times are privy to some interesting inside looks at science and technology.  We get information from a group of about 60 scientists, engineers, computer scientists and mathematicians on a daily basis.  What follows comes from a few of them, who did the actual work on the data

Hackers broke into some emails at a University in England and looked at some email messages that go back for up to 10 years. Somebody broke in and looked at the emails and posted them on the Internet.  Who hacked what is at present unknown.

It is now a political thing and the emails have emboldened the skeptical side, especially politicians who have sparse information.  Here is what we know:

  • Hacking is illegal
  • The volume of emails hacked is large.
  • Nobody knows who hacked them and why?

Since the release came in the very weeks of the Copenhagen meeting on Climate Change it 'chilling' to say the least.

What is in question is a large volume of data that was accumulated at the University of East Anglia in England.  What can a person gather from these emails?  Anybody who is around science knows that there are always disagreements before juried papers are published.  It's a race to publish and these emails reflect a lot of conflicting views.

What is being looked at so closely is called a Time Series.  It's like looking at the stock market for the past 100 years and trying to determine how this tells the future.

The emails also reflect techniques in time series analysis that are attempts to work with the data at hand and show work in progress.  Because these efforts take place over a long time, you see bad paths and good paths to the truth.

The data stored at East Anglia was available to anyone in the year 2007, who knew how to deal with the Internet. We got hold of it because it was free to everyone.  The emails were not..  We got all of it dating from 1850 until 2007 and did a graph of it with projections based upon the data stored.  That data is shown in figure 1 above. 

The data is what it is, but let's go further:

Figure 1 Analysis:

Notice that the horizontal scale is in years and the vertical is in parts of a degree C

Also,  the whole deviation is about a little over 1 degree C although the graph makes it look like huge mountains and valleys.  If you are not used to looking at and reading graphs, this will alarm you.

You have to know how to read the graph at first glance and once you understand, then it is important that you realize what the consequences are of it.  An entire earth warming of a few degrees can be catastrophic.  That much is agreed upon.

Going a little further, notice that we drew a green line which is a trend line for the data.  This trend line shows an upturn from 1850 to 2007, which is not in dispute.  Some of the peaks and valleys of the East Anglia Data have come into question because of the reporting stations making mistakes. 

As we've noted before some stations were put too close to cities which are heat 'sinks' and some equipment that recorded temperatures broke and the data was suspect.  The vast majority of this data is not in question.

What is the yellow line?  The yellow line is a cubic fit of the data to show trends, while the green line is a linear fit.  The cubic fit shows the trend better.  They are just two ways of trying to get a 'feel' for the data.    The data shows up trend in temperature.

This does not mean that Bruce County is up or down.  It is an amalgam of some 3000 stations reporting world wide in 2007 and a lesser amount earlier of course.

Is this graph open to criticism?  No!  It shows accurately the first differences of the data that was stored at that time at East Anglia.  It uses standard practices used world over.

Is the graph open to criticism because of the data?  Yes, of course!  There are thousands of instruments with thousands of readings by thousands of technicians world wide.  Did anybody at East Anglia fudge the data?  That is unknown.  This is just one repository and method of taking and keeping data.  There are many more world wide.

The straight lines that are dashed are sigma values used in statistics showing where 95% of the data resides and can be expected.

What did the Hacked Emails Show?

If you take them as a stream of consciousness over a 10 year period they are a normal dialog between people with different interests and different bias.  That is, they are normal.  What's important is not what the emails say, but what did their papers say, that they published?

One of our Computer Scientists from the Far East (from the informal group of collaborators) studied the emails in depth and he reported that this was typical of scientists.  The data was not coordinated properly with the computer programs that did the analysis of it over time.  He pointed out that this was typical of scientists.  They are disorganized prior to publishing their papers that will have to be peer reviewed. They are not used to releasing their computer programs.

They don't like you to look at their past files, emails and computer programs, because you can pick them apart. It's like looking at an artist's sketches before the final work is done. That's the way it is. They culminate their research in published papers, not in their emails and informal conversation.

What are the facts about CO2?

The world is producing about twice the CO2 that the planet can absorb in any reasonable time.   How does the planet absorb CO2 and how long does it take? 

  • CO2 is good for plants and makes them grow, but it takes centuries for the biosphere to completely absorb it.  This is a continual process of emission and absorption.  If the emission exceeds a certain value, then plants grow and oceans rise.
  • CO2 is absorbed by the oceans, but it takes centuries for that to happen too!
  • Rock absorbs CO2 by creating CaCO3  (calcium carbonate).  This takes up to 10,000 years  Notice that as oceans rise so does their ability to absorb.
  • Silicate rocks break down and neutralize CO2, but this takes up to 400,000 years.

What is the Argument of the Anti-Global Warming proponents?

They claim that CO2 is a natural thing and it is good for plants.  They further claim one or more of the following:

  1. The data is flawed

  2. The prediction models are no good.

  3. If there is an warming, it is caused by things like Sun Spots and cannot be helped.

  4. The cure is worse than the disease (economics)

  5. Some deny any warming at all

The current email hack is aimed at 1 above.

The past AGW arguments were aimed at 1 and 2.

Using sun spots is difficult to do because you have to have lots of past history and this suffers from a lack of data that goes back centuries.  That is, the AGW activists are faced with the same problem as the GW group is with only a short period of time for the data.

There is little argument about the retreating glaciers because there is such good data on that, but some of the negative side does not accept the results that the field scientists report or deflects the implications and attribute it to something else other than CO2 which is a valid course to pursue.  AGW has not produced a reason for the melting of the north pole pack ice and Greenland.

What do the Global Warming Activists say?

GW activists say that we are in a crisis situation  whose window of opportunity is closing due to the alarming rise in CO2 caused by industrial nations and emerging nations like India and China.  They further claim:

  1. Glaciers and polar caps are receding.  The north pole cap once the size of the US has now lost 40% of its ice.

  2. The climate changes are outside of what can be expected normally.

  3. Models show that increasing CO2 will cause warming.

  4. Models are tools and do not prove things, but can show trends by 'perturbing' and dampening data and absorption factors.  If the results mimic nature, then they can be useful

The weakness in the GW argument comes from the length of time that we have been collecting data.  Deep Greenland Core samples from 130,000 years ago show promise of solving this problem

What happens to a system that would lose all or most of its ability to dampen and control Temperature?

Figure 2 shows a system that is purely random and the climate does not ameliorate the factors controlling the climate.  Notice that this is a huge simulation of 100 planet earths over 1000 years.  It shows how fragile the earth's climate really is and what a marvel of control nature exercises over it.  It is very fragile however

It is easy to see why we've had ice ages and warm periods with lots of plant growth and extinction of species, if random events are allowed to take over

Notice that some of the 100 planets stay right close to a 0 degree C value, but others over 1000 years wander to extremes, which is what would happen if nature gave up trying to quell drastic changes or was impacted by human factors that were 'not natural'.  The worry of the GW people comes from nature being overwhelmed by situations that push away the natural controls.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009