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Junk Science: New Science Challenges Climate Alarmists?

“People like to complain about the weather,” goes the old saw. This is especially true nowadays as bad weather becomes an excuse for the climate alarmist-friendly media to trot out its manmade global warming boogeyman.

The alarmists seem to need thinly-veiled headlines – such as the Washington Post’s “Across Globe, Extremes of Heat and Rain” (Aug. 8) and the New York Times’ “Warming Threatens Farms in India, U.N. Officials Says” (Aug. 8) – as two more studies published this week in the journal Science and the discovery of an embarrassing temperature error rained on their parade.

In the first study, UK researchers claim to have “improved the forecasting skill of a global climate model by incorporating information about the actual state of the ocean and the atmosphere, rather than the approximate ones most models use.” The new model predicts that warming will slow during the next few years but then speed up again, and that at least half of the years after 2009 will be warmer than 1998 – the warmest year on record according to global warming legend (more on that later).

“A common criticism of global climate models, particularly for predicting the coming decade, has been that they only include factors, such as solar radiation, atmospheric aerosols and greenhouse gases, which are affected by changes from outside the climate system [while neglecting] internal climate variability that arises from natural changes within the system, like El Niño, fluctuations in ocean circulation and anomalies in ocean heat content,” researchers said.

This internal variability could lead to short-term changes, especially regionally, that are quite different from the warming predicted to occur over the next century by global climate models, said researchers.

While the researchers want us to believe that climate modeling has advanced, it really has not.

First, and as an overarching comment, if existing climate models are so prone to error, then why would Congress want to rely on them as a basis for enacting energy price-hiking and economy-harming laws and regulations?

The new model predicts that, during the coming decade, average global temperature will be 0.3 degrees Centigrade (plus/minus 0.21 degrees Centigrade) higher than the 2004 average temperature.

But can mathematical models really estimate global temperature change within 0.3 degrees Centigrade when we don’t even know what the average global temperature is to within 0.7 degrees Centigrade?

As NASA’s alarmist-in-chief James Hansen admits, we have no definition of what we are trying to measure in the context of average global temperature. “For the global mean, the most trusted models produce a value of roughly 57.2 degrees Fahrenheit, but it may easily be anywhere between 56 and 58 degrees Fahrenheit and regionally, let alone locally, the situation is even worse,” says Hansen.

For a dimmer view of the concept of average global temperature, consider the thoughts of renowned theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson who says that average land temperature is “impossible to measure… is a fiction… nobody knows what it is… there’s no way you can measure it.”

The UK researchers (and most other climate alarmists) are even wrong on the matter of 1998 being the warmest year on record – at least for the U.S. According to a new analysis which discovered an error in a NASA dataset, 1934 is the new warmest year on record for the U.S. In fact, four of the warmest 10 years in the U.S. date from the 1930s while only three date from the last 10 years. This is an embarrassing setback for alarmists, especially since about 80 percent of manmade carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions occurred after 1940.

In the second Science study, Desert Research Institute scientists report that increased levels of industrial pollution (soot) in Arctic snow during the late-19th and early-20th centuries may have caused the warming occurring in that region at that time. The researchers say the soot reduced the reflectivity of snow and ice, allowing the surface to absorb more energy from the sun.

If true, that line of reasoning may be relevant to the ongoing Arctic warming trend.

Though alarmists attribute that warming trend to increased atmospheric CO2, this argument seems easily batted aside by the observation that there is little correlation between atmospheric CO2 and temperature in the Arctic region.

Could ongoing Arctic deposition of soot be a possibility? You might not think so because U.S., Canadian and Western European industries now operate under strict soot control regulations. But what about China? After all, it burns more coal than the U.S., EU and Japan combined – typically without the emissions controls of developed nations

A 2006 New York Times article, entitled “Pollution From Chinese Coal Casts a Global Shadow,” reported that soot emissions from the thousands of Chinese coal-burning factories and power plants waft across the Pacific Ocean and are easily detectable in the U.S. Northwest. The Desert Research Institute scientists note in their paper that, “Some models suggest that a large fraction of Arctic pollutants originate in south Asia.”

If you’re worried about polar bears floating on melting chunks of ice, clamping down on CO2 emissions from SUVs may do absolutely nothing to alleviate that concern.

Because of the many questions about the science used to inflate the climate-worry bubble – and as reported on the Fox News Channel show Special Report (Aug. 7) – my Web site JunkScience.com is offering quite a nice prize to the first person who can scientifically prove that humans are causing catastrophic global warming. But it’s going to take a lot more than ominous weather reports to win the “Ultimate Global Warming Challenge.”

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and DemandDebate.com. He is a junk science expert, an advocate of free enterprise and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.