Why Don’t More People Care About Global Warming?

October 1st, 2014

PCM-capitalism-is-killing-us Polls of voters consistently show that Americans place global warming (sometimes framed more generally as environmental concerns) at or near the bottom of their list of priorities. Most of the top concerns are almost always directly related to the economy.

Yet, there were approximately 125,000 people who turned out for the People’s Climate March in New York City. Why aren’t there even more people marching against the poor economy and unemployment, since those are the biggest concerns?

In a way, that really is what they were marching against. Mostly. Let me explain.

First, people really can’t get worked up over weather changes that they haven’t experienced themselves. With most Americans routinely dealing with temperature changes of 50 deg. F or more, they really don’t care much if the average changes by 1 deg. F. With the 18-year hiatus, most teenagers today haven’t even experienced global warming. We should also remember that people prefer warmth over cold. For example, over their lifetimes Americans preferentially move to where it’s warmer.

Second, when it comes to the environment, people have been warned by “scientists” of catastrophe for decades. Many of us were supposed to die long ago from heat, floods, storms, crop failure, etc. It didn’t happen. Global warming fatigue has been brewing for years, and is now firmly entrenched. Google Trends reveals that over the last 10 years, Google searches on “climate” have steadily decreased to about 50% of what they were, whereas interest in “weather” has increased by about 50%.

Next, those of us old enough to remember driving through Gary, Indiana in the 1960s and early 70s know how much cleaner our air and water are today. Smaller gains in “cleanliness” come at greater and greater cost now (although the EPA, which wants everything to be infinitely clean, does not seem to care about that). Unlike government bureaucrats, who get routine pay raises and job security no matter how much they hurt the business (our country), the people who actually pay the bills (taxpayers) still live in a cost-vs-benefits world.

Furthermore, most people understand that fossil fuels have been necessary for the prosperity that we all enjoy (at least those under political systems allowing people to benefit from their labors). Energy which currently is dominated by fossil fuels, and will be for decades to come.

Speaking of which, how’s this for a hockey stick?:

Modern prosperity, as evidenced by increased lifespans, has depended upon access to abundant, low-cost energy -- fossil fuels.

Modern prosperity, as evidenced by increased lifespans, has depended upon access to abundant, low-cost energy — fossil fuels.

I think getting an extra 40 years of life in exchange for 1 to 2 deg. of warming is a pretty good deal. Might even be a win-win.

So, do we really think that the People’s Climate March (which led up to the U.N. Climate Summit 2014) really was about climate?

There is considerable evidence that the People’s Climate March wasn’t as much about climate as it was an excuse for those who want a different political system. If you really believe that capitalism is destroying the Earth and hurting people — or even if you don’t really believe it — then environmentalism becomes a really good excuse to dump capitalism.

Especially if you can convince people you have some new and unusual statistical knowledge (photos courtesy of Zombie at PJMedia.com):

Or, maybe you can convince people that most of our infrastructure is right at sea level, and so is about to be flooded:

Or, some at the march were there for entirely unrelated reasons, such as this walking contradiction:

The march was an excuse for those who are perpetually angry that the top 50% have so much more than the bottom 50%. Arguably, the environmental movement has been hijacked by anti-capitalists who think everyone can live in peace, harmony, and prosperity without anyone having to work hard.

As the Soviets found out, very few people want to “work hard”…unless they are rewarded. Here comes capitalism! You are rewarded in proportion to how much you provide to others. And the age of abundance requires access to affordable, abundant energy.

I often point out that the one-percenters already give back much more than they get. And we all (including Occupy Wall Street-ers) happily make that happen when we voluntarily exchange our money for iPhones, TVs, cars, microwaves, etc. Even our health insurance. We kick in a few extra percent for those entrepreneurs, risk-takers, and experts-in-their-field as our way of saying, “thanks for all the cool stuff, and for our kids actually living to be teenagers!”

Of course, in order for the risk-takers to try a new business enterprise (most of which fail), they have to have some hope they will get rewarded if they succeed. That’s why you can’t just keep taxing the rich more and more. For every rich person, there were ten or more who failed at meeting the needs of society on a grand scale.

Increasingly, government policies in general (both federal and state) are anti-business. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Geez. And that discourages those who have the money to spare from investing it into new business, or hiring more people. They then take their business out-of-state, or out of the country. Or, they give up and retire.

Bye-bye, prosperity!

Meanwhile, protesters think all we have to do is spread the wealth around. Sounds enticing, doesn’t it? Kind of like your parents raising your allowance…only now you and your friends are old enough to vote on getting your allowance raised. Cool!

So, this explains why the People’s Climate March was dominated by crazies and political leftists. The mainstream media mostly avoided coverage of the event. Maybe they realized how embarrassing the march would be for the more rational elements of the environmental movement.

3,264 Days Without a Major Hurricane Strike

October 1st, 2014

Who would have predicted it? As of today (October 1) it’s been nearly 9 years since a major hurricane (Cat 3 or greater) has struck the U.S., the last being Wilma in October, 2005.

Remember the 2005 hurricane season? Landfalling hurricanes right and left. Katrina! This was going to be the new normal in a Global Warming world.

Then the bottom dropped out of tropical activity.

As the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season slowly winds down, here the latest tropical outlook from the National Hurricane Center:

Pretty dead. The number of named storms as of today continues below normal:

One might explain the current drought in tropical systems on El Nino, except even that has mostly fizzled compared to early predictions.

While a few “experts” claim to “see the fingerprint” of human caused climate change in the latest severe weather events (which, paradoxically, haven’t increased), it’s good to take a step back and point out that the Emperor’s Tarot card readers have no clothes.

Hey Andy Dessler, Let’s Debate Live

September 29th, 2014

Texas A&M Prof. Andrew Dessler has decided to campaign against skeptics with claims we believe in an “alternate reality“. The video of his NCAR lecture entitled “The Alternate Reality of Climate Skepticism” also includes a factually incorrect claim that I am the only one who looks at the data and sees negative feedback.

He also cites the 97% of all scientists agree claptrap, which as I have testified in congress is so malleable that I might also be considered part of the 97%, since I think it’s entirely possible that half of the warming in the last 50 years has been human-induced (and, therefore, half natural…which leads to a climate sensitivity of only 1.3 deg. C).

(By the way, where is the natural warming in the 100+ climate model runs? Hmmm?)

Dessler further uses the ad hominem claim that my science is politically motivated, as if the IPCC and climate research centers are not dominated by Liberals.


Andrew Dessler working in his non-political role supporting political policies.

Andrew Dessler working in his non-political role supporting political policies.

So, let’s just stick to the science, shall we Andy?

How about we have a live public debate on the subject of whether cloud feedbacks are positive or negative? You and I both have published on the subject.

I’m not interested in another of our blog debates, where you disappear for a day to seek advice on how to respond to my immediate responses before sending yours.

We will find a politically neutral forum (if that’s possible), where the moderator doesn’t have to worry about keeping your mentor and IPCC gatekeeper Kevin Trenberth happy, or about having to resign because he allowed an alternative (peer reviewed) explanation of the data to see the light of day.

If the evidence I have that cloud feedbacks might be negative (and that global warming might well be benign) is so crazy, you should have no trouble refuting my evidence in a public forum.

Now, let the flaming begin. ;-)

Canadian Air Invades the Southeast U.S.: The Movie

September 21st, 2014

One thing I don’t like about living in the southeast U.S. is the humidity. So, when the first really dry air arrives, it makes me happy. Just in time for the start of Fall. :-)

Here’s an animation of the NAM-WRF 4 km model forecast of 2 meter (basically, surface) dewpoint temperature from this morning I put together from imagery produced by Weatherbell.com, showing the dramatic drop in humidity as the Canadian air invades most of the East and Southeast:

The time step is hourly through the 36 hour forecast (Monday evening) then 3 hourly through 60 hours (Tuesday evening).

Maybe I’ll call it Can Air (2014).

Satellites Image Massive California Wildfire

September 21st, 2014

The massive King Fire 60 miles east of Sacramento, CA was deliberately set on Sept. 14, and still remains mostly uncontained due to the drought and shifting winds.

It has burned over 120 square miles of forest, including some homes, and has required the use of a record amount of fire retardant dropped from aircraft.

The MODIS instruments on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites captured the following three images as the fire progressed, with winds eventually blowing smoke over much of Northern California, including the San Francisco Bay area:

The Uninformed, Hypocritical, Emotionally-Driven People’s Climate March

September 20th, 2014

PCM_windmill_316_450While as many as 100,000 people gather in New York City tomorrow to march for the use of more unreliable and expensive energy, over 300,000,000 people will be staying home.

The marchers will be relying on fossil fuels for transportation to get to the event, and relying on mostly fossil-fueled electricity to power their cell phones. They will be enjoying food and drinks which similarly relied on fossil fuels for growing, processing, and transportation. Their clothing relied on fossil fuels.

Their health care and entire standard of living that allows them the luxury of attending the march required abundant and affordable fossil fuels.

Most of these marchers have romantic, emotional, uninformed attitudes about energy. I get letters and emails from them sometimes, advocating nonsensical solutions to the global warming problem, like increased reliance on “anti-gravity”.

After I appeared on a TV talk show with Daryl Hannah a few years ago she told me, “We just need to switch to solar and wind power now”. Such misinformed and naive attitudes are pervasive in the Green movement.

I suspect engineers and others who actually make the country run will not be well represented at the march tomorrow. My father used to say, “those who can, do…those who can’t, teach”. The marchers are trying to teach us how we should live our lives, when they have no clue what life would be like if they got their way.

Someday we will have a realistic, affordable, abundant energy alternative to fossil fuels. But that day is not here yet. And its arrival cannot be legislated or negotiated with a treaty.

It will arrive not through the efforts of politicians and actors, but through the hard work and technical knowledge of geeks (probably employed by a fossil fuel company) seeking to meet the energy demands of every human on Earth. A demand which will never go away, because energy is required for everything we do.

As Germany and other countries rapidly backtrack on their commitment to the use of renewable energy, finding just how expensive and economically damaging it is, we Americans are allowing ourselves to be railroaded into a similar, bleak future.

And maybe that’s the real goal of the People’s Climate March.

The Curious Case of Record August Ocean Temperatures

September 19th, 2014

Several people have noted the apparent mis-match between the NCDC report of all-time record warmth of global average sea surface temperatures in August, and the satellite tropospheric temperatures which are nowhere near a record.

But, as I have cautioned, there tends to be a time lag between SST warming and atmospheric warming…typically 1 month during non-ENSO conditions, and 2-3 months during ENSO. Furthermore, tropospheric temperature variations are somewhat larger than the SST variations that drive them, making direct comparison of the numbers more difficult.

You can get around both of these problems by plotting one versus the other on a graph to see if the latest behavior departs from the normal relationship previously displayed by the two variables (ocean surface temperature and oceanic lower tropospheric temperature).

If you also “connect the dots”, you get what’s called a phase space diagram. If we make such a plot for the 1997-98 super-El Nino, the 2009-10 El Nino, and the current (still weak) El Nino, it looks like this:

Phase space plot of monthly sea surface temperature versus tropospheric temperature anomalies for three El Nino events.

Phase space plot of monthly sea surface temperature versus tropospheric temperature anomalies for three El Nino events (all begin in January, anomalies are relative to 1981-2010 averages).

The time lag of tropospheric temperature behind ocean surface temperature causes a curved trajectory in the data, as I’ve indicated with the light gray line.

What is interesting is that the “record warm” SST month of August, 2014 seems to be an outlier, with the SSTs being too warm (or the tropospheric temperatures too cool) compared to the usual behavior.

Barring some mistake in data processing, the only explanation I have for this is the possibility I blogged about yesterday, that near-record low ocean winds are allowing excessive surface warming while transferring less energy through convection to warm the troposphere. As I also mentioned yesterday, such an excursion would be due to natural variability…not due to “extra” carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which basically remains unchanged from one month to the next.

Are Record Ocean Surface Temperatures Due to Record Low Wind Speeds?

September 18th, 2014

The fortuitous revelation of record warm sea surface temperatures in August, only days before Climate Summit 2014, begs the question — why?

Why were SSTs so warm? (Not “Why announce it just before Leonardo DiCaprio’s coronation?”)

As readers here know, I follow the “ocean products” produced by RSS from the SSM/I and SSMIS satellite sensors, and a curious thing has been shaping up in the last few years.

Global average ocean surface wind speeds have been decreasing. In fact, August 2014 had the lowest surface wind speed in about 25 years.

Even after I correct for the typically lower wind speeds that occur with El Nino approaching (-0.5 m/s wind decrease per unit Multivariate ENSO Index value), it’s still at near a record-low since the satellite record began:

SSM/I and SSMIS monthly global ocean average surface wind speed anomalies.

SSM/I and SSMIS monthly global ocean average surface wind speed anomalies.

For those wondering what these wind fields look like, here are the average gridpoint wind speeds for August (1 m/sec is about 2 knots), both as absolute values and as anomalies (departures from the mean):

Grid point ocean surface wind speeds from SSMIS in August 2014, shown as absolute values and anomalies.

Gridpoint ocean surface wind speeds from SSMIS in August 2014, shown as absolute values and anomalies.

Why is Wind Speed Important to SST?

Wind-driven evaporation is the largest source of heat loss from water bodies, including the global oceans. Assuming a global average rate of ocean surface heat loss of 90 W/m2 (which is mostly evaporative), the August value of about 4-5% below the long-term average would mean about 4 W/m2 less cooling of the ocean surface.

Importantly, this 4 W/m2 reduction in heat loss is LARGER than the supposed anthropogenic radiative forcing of about 2.3 W/m2, the IPCC’s RCP6 current radiative forcing value. (The true radiative imbalance is actually less than that because warming has offset some of it with increase IR emission to space). The net result that the wind speed effect is probably at least 4 times the anthropogenic effect.

So, what’s my point? Natural variations in all kinds of things are going on, including a reduction in wind-driven evaporation, which likely contributed to “record warm” SSTs in August.

I have no strong opinions of why the reduction in wind speeds is occurring. Usually the best guess in climate is that it’s part of some cycle that will reverse itself at some point. Only time will tell.

10 Ways To Tell Tuesday’s UN Climate Summit Isn’t About Climate

September 17th, 2014

Next Tuesday’s UN climate conference in NYC (called Climate Summit 2014) is for politicians, celebrities, and rent seekers. It’s not about climate science, nor Saving the Earth from “carbon emissions” of fossil fuels.

Here are ten ways to tell the United Nations really isn’t interested in climate per se. Some of us suspected over 20 years ago this would happen, back when the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was being formed to help combat “global warming”.

1. There is no way with current technology to get beyond 15%-20% renewable energy in the next 20 years or so….and even that will be exceedingly expensive. No matter how much you care about where your energy originates, physics and economics trump emotions.

2. The UN doesn’t care that global warming stopped 17 years ago. It doesn’t matter. Full steam ahead.

3. The UN’s own climate models have grossly over-forecast warming. Doesn’t matter. Full steam ahead.

4. Scientists and politicians have had to resort to blaming severe weather events on climate change. Like, we never had severe weather before? Really? (Oh, BTW, severe weather hasn’t gotten worse.)

5. The UN Climate Summit participants’ “carbon footprints” far exceed those of normal people…and they don’t care. Flying jets all over the world, traveling and dining in style, and telling a billion poor they can’t have inexpensive electricity? That’s the moral high ground?

6. Leonardo DiCaprio, UN’s Messenger of Peace. Al Gore, Nobel Peace Prize and crony capitalist. ‘Nuff said.

7. The leaders of Australia, China, India, Canada, and Germany are opting out of Tuesday’s meeting. They have real problems to attend to, not manufactured ones.

8. A UN official admitted the climate goal was wealth redistribution. Naomi Klein has admitted what Obama, Kerry, and Clinton won’t admit: it’s about stopping Capitalism. Unless you are a crony capitalist friend getting green energy subsidies.

9. What they can’t admit is that global greening and increasing global crop productivity is the result of us putting some of that CO2 back where it was in the first place – in the atmosphere. I’m still predicting some day we will realize more CO2 is a good thing.

10. The UN’s climate reports exaggerate and misrepresent the science. For example, the warming of the deep oceans over the last 50 years is described in terms of gazillions of joules (which sounds impressive) rather than what was actually measured…hundredths of a degree (not so impressive). The resulting average planetary energy imbalance, if it really exists, is only 1 part in 1,000.

As I’ve said before, I really don’t care where our energy comes from, as long as it is abundant and inexpensive. But telling the poor they can only have concierge energy – if they can pony up enough money — will end up killing people. Lots of people.

And that’s what the U.N. should be concerned about…not having meetings in Bali and Cancun.

What if the Global Warming “Pause” was “Fast Forward” Instead?

September 15th, 2014

I’d like to take you through a little thought experiment.

We all know that global warming has been on hiatus – set on pause – however you like to characterize the lack of significant warming, for over 15 years. Depending on how you do the statistics, the vast majority of the climate models used to guide our energy policy have over-predicted the surface warming trend since the satellite record began way back in 1979.

Oh, and those aren’t just failed forecasts…they are failed hindcasts. Even knowing the answer, the climate modelers can’t explain why the Earth hasn’t warmed as fast as it was supposed to.

The most cited potential reason for this unexpected inconvenience is that the oceans have been taking up the extra heat and replacing it with cooler water from the ocean depths. In that scenario, the natural ocean surface-cooling mechanism now in progress (if it exists) will eventually go back to normal, and surface warming will return with a vengeance. Just you wait and see.

But what if this supposed natural ocean fluctuation, which is supposedly cooling the surface, was reversed?

What if warming was set on fast forward, rather than pause? What if surface warming was progressing faster than 95% of the climate models had predicted, rather than slower than 95% of the models? How would the global warming establishment be playing it?

After watching the IPCC crowd for the last 25+ years, I feel pretty confident they would be falling all over themselves declaring “it’s worse than we thought!” They would be adjusting the sensitivity of their models to produce even more warming.

Yet, they would never substantially reduce the climate sensitivity of their models to produce less warming, as seen in nature. In other words, if warming hasn’t materialized, then we must have faith that it will eventually appear – because the climate system must be really sensitive…

So that the climate researchers’ lives have meaning.

But…if there happens to be *faster* warming than expected, well, the experts would be all too willing to adjust their models to have even greater climate sensitivity.

This is a reflection of the fact that the global warming establishment is biased toward high climate sensitivity. It is a specific example of the tendency of natural scientists to view nature as fragile, full of tipping points and hobgoblins.

That they fancy themselves as objective is embarrassing to me. No, I don’t consider myself completely objective either. But at least I can entertain alternative possibilities regarding the sensitivity of the climate system. If a scientist entertains anything that smacks of “skepticism”, however, they are not allowed to play in the IPCC sandbox.

Both of these scenarios: (1) the lack of significant warming, or (2) rapid warming, could happen with a climate system that warms exactly the same amount in the next 100 years (that is, has the same climate sensitivity). The difference is the timing of natural warming and cooling events, which can last two or three decades.

But it is unsettling how our feelings about climate change (and the political rhetoric and policy changes) can waver based upon what happens over only a year or two. Yet, the rate of both surface and deep ocean warming since the 1950s, after accounting for natural El Nino and La Nina fluctuations, suggests no cause for alarm.

If faster warming does resume in the coming months and years, it’s important to stay focused on the amount of warming…over the long term. Thinking and talking in qualitative terms, like record warm years, can be used to fool and manipulate people’s emotions on the subject.

Even a new “record warmest year”, year after year, is not that significant if the total warming ends up being only 1 deg. C more over the next 100 years.

And until the models can explain what happened in the past they should not be trusted for guiding policy into the future.