Friday, December 29, 2006

Your Year in Climate Goings On

Luboš Motl has a link to Real Climate's 2006 Year in Review, which they describe as:

A lighthearted look at the climate science goings-on over the last year:

I found their review pretty interesting, but Lumo also decided to post his own rejoinder, a sort of amateur climate skeptic's view of the year's events. I thought I might do a bit of deconstruction on Lumo's version, since it embodies many of the fallacies of the climate skeptic community.
The worst temperature news for the alarmists:

2006 is coldest in the last five years (preliminary)


It's also one of the warmest of the past 150 years. There is every reason to expect year to year fluctuations in temperature. If, on the other hand, we were to see what Lumo says would convince him of the reality of the CO2 effect - a five standard deviation five year temperature increase, we would know that the predictions of the climate models are nonsense (or that some other forcing had intervened).

The worst hurricane news for the catastrophic global warming theorists:

The number of hurricanes dropped by 70% from 2005

This is irrelevant even to the speculative idea that global warming causes more intense tropical storms - globally. The Atlantic is just one basin in which tropical cyclones appear. Globally this year has had more than it's share of intense tropical cyclones. Note too that nobody is claiming that global warming produces more tropical cyclones - it seems to cause more intense tropical storms.

This is a typical tactic of the dishonest critic. Set up a strawman and show that it fails and then pretend that this refutes some actual claim about the effects of anthropogenic climate warming.


Skipping over a few more that seem totally irrelevant to me even if true. (See Lumo's post for the details)
The most inconvenient news from the United Nations:

IPCC will downgrade global warming and sea level rise projections by 25-50 percent

This will be good news, if it proves out when the IPCC is released. What's happening here is a tightening of estimates based on new research results - exactly what climate science is supposed to be doing.

The event that has divided the ecofanatics most visibly:

The Stern report

Well, OK, the Stern report is controversial - mainly but not only because of its economic assumptions.

Skipping a bit more:
The worst news for the proponents of the idea that the current warming was unprecedented:

The report of the National Academy of Sciences


No serious climate scientist claims that the current warming is unprecedented - but it does seem to be unprecedented for the last few thousand years.
The insight of elementary school biology that is most inaccessible to the environmental believers and the best as well as the most irritating slogan of the year:

Carbon dioxide. They call it pollution. We call it life.

What a lame-oh slogan! CO2 is an inorganic compound (not life) that happens to be essential for most photosynthesis. It is also poisonous in large amounts, occasionally wiping out a vulnerable village. I wouldn't consider it pollution in the normal sense, but pouring it into the atmosphere at current rates seems like a pretty bad idea because it does cause global warming.
The most inconvenient number about the attribution of the greenhouse effect:

Farm animals emit 1/5 of greenhouse gases

The second most inconvenient number about the attribution:

Hydropower could be the #1 source of the greenhouse effect

CO2 is not the only hazardous greenhouse gas. Methane, the purported culprit in these scenarios, which is also potent, is relatively short lived in the atmosphere. It does get converted to CO2 though. These points, if true, only show that there are a lot of potentially hazardous human activities going on.
The worst new pre-historical insight for climate fearmongers:

Megafauna not killed by climate change

This is not exactly a *new* insight. It has been obvious for at least a few decades that much more direct human action was the proximate cause of recent megafaunal extinctions - in the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, and many smaller islands.

Ok, I'm tired of this game. There are a few more examples of strawmen and irrelevancies but they will be left as an exercise for the reader.