Opinion

Opinion

Will off base

February 19, 2009

Advertisement

To the editor:

I read George Will’s comments about climate change, and had to wonder where he got the chutzpah to comment on the subject. As far as I can tell (from a quick search) he has some expertise on politics and political theory (a Ph.D.), but none whatsoever in the area of climate change.

He puts together apparently irreconcilable statements from the mid-1970s and today, apparently in an effort to show that climate scientists don’t know climate change from a hole in their hats. I suppose it didn’t suit his political purposes to consult a few climate scientists. He says that climate change is No. 20 of 20 concerns according to a public poll. He is apparently Will-ing to have it remain there.

Meanwhile the Earth is warming, faster than scientists predicted. Curiously, this warming, if it goes far enough to flood the North Atlantic with fresh water from glacial melt (and thus shut down the Gulf stream) will bring much, much colder winters to northern Europe and possibly to New England, too. Will’s column (Journal-World, Feb. 16) is ill-informed at best. Me, I’m no expert in climate change, either. However, I do read on the subject.

Mark Larson,
Lawrence

Comments

labmonkey 6 years, 4 months ago

Will's article was very good. Even the top hurricane researcher at Colorado State University (the Mecca for Hurricane predictions) questioned global warming.

Will has a great point when he talked about scientists no longer being objective on the matter. I have read several primary literature articles where the evidence pointed against man-made global warming (or greatly called it into question), yet in the conclusion the paper's author would down play his evidence due to this evidence being politically incorrect.

devobrun 6 years, 4 months ago

What is climate and what is temperature, Mr.Larson?

I've read the literature and I have advanced degrees in engineering. The above question is not answered clearly anywhere.

If one integrates over the entire earth, the earth is not warming. If one integrates over the last decade, the earth is not warming. The definition of "earth" and "time" are carefully chosen by the IPCC to enhance the variation of temperature over time.

Even though emission of CO2 has increased dramatically over the last decade (India and China), the CO2 concentration has increased at a steady rate. Even though CO2 has increased over the last decade, average temperature has not. But look what I've just done. I chose the last decade so as to enhance my argument that the earth's temperature is not increasing! What is the answer to this dilemma? We don't know. I don't know and the IPCC doesn't know. The science of climate is sloppy in its definitions. The Conclusions of its computer models are not scientific

Oh, average temperature above is defined by GISS using point source thermometers. Microwave sounding from space not only supports the decrease in temperature over the last 10 years at the surface, but also as integrated over the volume of the atmosphere. And what of the average temperature of the ocean, the soil? To what depth? Ill defined and ready to help the political aspirations of the modelers.

Mr. Larson, the IPCC report and the prognostications of Hansen and others are pure speculation designed to shift political power from capitalism to environmentalism. You may support this power shift. Fine, but don't call Mr. Will to task for commenting on climate change because he isn't a scientist. Neither are the politicians who make up the IPCC. They are ministers and heads of research. They are working a scam. They are not engaged in science.

Climate change is computer programs, bigger than you can imagine. It is non-testable. I believe you are wrong about climate change. We will all suffer economically as legislation is passed that limits our use of fossil fuels. People who have limited means will be hurt the most.

grammaddy 6 years, 4 months ago

Maybe George Will should just retire.

beawolf 6 years, 4 months ago

Will I do agree that global warming should be perceived as an eventual threat to life on our planet, I'm not convinced on the severity of the problem.

The statement "Will has a great point when he talked about scientists no longer being objective on the matter." is valid. Most research in this area is not self-funded. An external agency (pro or con on the subject ) will finance the research. Data can be extrapolated and referenced in many ways and researchers have a tendency to lean toward the ideals of their funding sources.

jayhawkbarrister 6 years, 4 months ago

Will, who loves baseball, was not only off base, he pumped his stats with steroids. In his commentary, Green Day Doomsayers, he refers to the University of Illinois Arctic Climate Research Center to support the proposition the polar region remains the same as it was in 1979. The U of I Arctic Climate Research Center says that in 1979, there was 16.7 million square kilometers of polar region; in 2008, they measured 15.4 million square kilometers of polar region. A stat freak like Will should understand the difference between those two numbers. The polar region is shrinking. Whether that it a result of global warming or some other confluence of events, could be the source of a column, but Will needs to lay off the Bolay when writing.

Visit to the U of I Arctic Climate Research Center home web site, http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/, and draw your own conclusion. Since Honus Wagner posed for a baseball card Will has been adamant about no global warming. So don't confuse his mind with facts; his mind is already made up. Make up your own by looking at the infrared photos.

geniusmannumber1 6 years, 4 months ago

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Are we still talking about this article? Because it's pretty much been conceded this week that Will not only deliberately misrepresented the varying strains of thought about climate change during the 1970s, some of the quotes he relied on he deliberately took out of context. I like Will, generally. But this is possibly the most dishonest -- not wrong, not misguided, not a differing opinion, but flat dishonest -- that he's ever written.

If you, uh, "defenders" of whatever it is that makes you think that climate changes is, uh, "invented" or whatever the argument is, the Will article is probably not something you want to cite as evidence, is all.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

"I suppose it didn’t suit his political purposes to consult a few climate scientists."

You're parroting was entertaining right up till this point, consumer1-- the difference between Will and Larson was that Larson actually was consulting a few climate scientists-- the vast majority, as a matter of fact.

supertrampofkansas 6 years, 4 months ago

"Even though emission of CO2 has increased dramatically over the last decade (India and China), the CO2 concentration has increased at a steady rate. Even though CO2 has increased over the last decade, average temperature has not." - Devobrun

Since you don't cite your sources Devo, it is hard to verify this statement. For someone who claims to revere scientifically rigorous results, you sure spout off a lot of opinions and beliefs that aren't substantiated. It is also curious that you did not comment on the false statements that George Will made in his article. Instead you attacked what you percieve to be a "far left conspiracy" with the alarmist pleas of a political drama queen. Maybe you would do better to stick with engineering a better microwave since that seems to be the qualification you cite the most from your resume.

"Just remember that bitterly disappointed teachers can be either very effective or very dangerous." - William Forrester from the movie "Finding Forrester"

devobrun 6 years, 4 months ago

supertramp: Regarding my assertion that surface temperatures are ill defined and the definition of them is sloppy:

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/abs_temp.html

With regards my assertion regarding the temps over the last decade being stable or even downtrending:

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt

Take a look at the biyearly average anomalies for the years 1997 to present. They are a mean of 0.5 Celsius above the 1951-1980 mean. Why was 1951-1980 chosen as the interval over which the mean is found? Cherry picking. What is the trend over this 11 years? pretty much flat.....no upward trend. Let me repeat that I am cherry picking just as Hansen is.

Oh, wait, these are the land/sea estimates. What about the air temps at 5 feet above the ground?
Arbitrary level based upon convenience to read. Locations of these roughly 1200 sites (U.S.) are also arbitrary and concentrated in urban areas for convenience. Here they are:

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/NH.Ts.txt

The mean anomaly is about 0.8 C. Trend? slightly upward. The standard dev and R squared are not convincing of a trend. I plugged it into MathCad and found that the trend for both land/sea and air is not significant.

The above data are from GISS. They are subject to "correction" based upon a flaky 1-5 scale. Fudge factors. This is bad science. It is worse analysis and it is politics.

I was commenting on the LTE, not Mr. Will. Frankly, everyone's data is flaky. The predictive models?

Try: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_circulation_model

You can follow links there to various organizations to review their models. But Wiki gives a good synopsis. They are massive things that have taken decades to build. No one person knows everything that is in them. They incorporate parameters and estimates that are very hard to verify.

I know, tell me what is the albedo of thunder clouds in the temperate and tropical regions of the earth. You can't. Nobody knows. They charge ahead anyway with their models even though cloud albedo is a very important parameter.

I'm getting hungry. And this information probably doesn't do any good to you anyway. Liberal bobbleheads.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

"And this information probably doesn't do any good to you anyway. Liberal bobbleheads."

I guess that sums up your "purely scientific" analysis, then?

devobrun 6 years, 4 months ago

Bozo:

This is a blog. This is a forum. This is opinions.

You created "purely scientific analysis". I didn't claim it, nor do I accept the notion.

Supertramp asked for support of my opinion. I gave it to him/her.

I challenge all the bobbleheads to look at the first reference to GISS and read it carefully. Would you really destroy the major source of energy on our planet on the basis of this disclaimer?

My opinion, bozo, is that I would not. I would ask for further clarification of the reasons behind the proscription of Al Gore, Jim Hansen, and the bobblehead state official Rod Bremby.

I submit that it is lousy science. Politicians differ.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

"I challenge all the bobbleheads to look at the first reference to GISS and read it carefully. Would you really destroy the major source of energy on our planet on the basis of this disclaimer?"

That is the temperature data that's available, but it's not the only data that supports the probability of global climate change. But clearly, you'd rather risk destroying the planet (as we know it) than taking reasonable precautions, despite the fact that if you're wrong, we're all really screwed. But I guess once that happens, at least then you'll have data that's concrete enough to convince you. You may be a purist of some sort, but your descendants may wish that you'd sucked in your ideology a tad and erred a bit on the side of caution.

"This is a blog. This is a forum. This is opinions."

And yours are obviously (bobblehead?) based on emotions and ideology at least as much as they are on any intellectually honest attempt to look at the data and science.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

ENERGY FUTURE Thursday, February 19, 2009 Posted by Jim Hightower Listen to this Commentary

If you want to see the bold future of alternative energy, don’t look to the relatively timid plan coming out of the Obama White House. Instead, look to the green revolution exploding out of the least likely place you could imagine: the Persian Gulf.

Yes, the oil-soaked monarchies of such Gulf States as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates are designing, developing, funding, and building a visionary future of clean, renewable energy. It completely reconfigures the meaning of “ironic” to see these OPEC oligarchs become the pioneers of a green world – but there they are.

As Elizabeth Rosenthal reported in the New York Times on January 13, "They are aggressively pouring billions of dollars made in the oil fields into new green technologies. They are establishing billion-dollar clean-technology investment funds. And they are putting millions of dollars behind research projects at universities... and setting up green research parks."

In so doing, the Gulf States are becoming the world leader in alternative energy, a position that many assumed belonged to America. In just one small country, Abu Dhabi, the crown prince is investing $15 billion in renewables – as much as Obama has proposed for all of the United States.

From developing “green concrete” and new solar devices to building a model city that generates no carbon emissions, these leaders are making breakthroughs that will redefine the world’s energy economy. In the process, they also are gaining patents, manufacturing capacity, and market power that could put them in a familiar position: the world’s dominant energy provider. Indeed, they candidly state that they intend to be the Silicon Valley of alternative energy.

Where are our leaders? Not only should they think much bigger than they are about developing the green energy future – but also about democratizing it.

“Seeing Oil’s Limits, Gulf States Invest Heavily in Clean Energy,” www.nytimes.com, January 13, 2009. send to friend

Chris Golledge 6 years, 4 months ago

OK Devo,

I have a little training in engineering myself; so, I'll counter in kind.

"If one integrates over the entire earth, the earth is not warming."

What, are you talking about the entire earth body, from stratosphere to core? Nobody has measurements of temperatures more than a few miles down in the crust and considering that the energy exchange between earth and space occurs near the surface, it isn't clear that anyone needs to for the current purpose.

"If one integrates over the last decade, the earth is not warming."

True, but if you only look at decade scale trends in isolation, you get a lot of ups and downs over the last 150 years. However, you get larger ups than downs. Considering that we are near a low point of solar irradiance, it isn't surprising that recent years have not shown as much warming as the years just prior. In effect, more greenhouse effect plus less solar energy yields something approximately neutral in the last few years.

"Even though emission of CO2 has increased dramatically over the last decade (India and China), the CO2 concentration has increased at a steady rate."

Umm, just plain wrong. It is accelerating. I took the numbers from http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/ and added averages every 8 years. Looks like the rate is increasing to me; you can run them through a stats program if you want to; I'm a little rusty in that area.

1961 0.95 1962 0.69
1963 0.73
1964 0.29
1965 0.98
1966 1.23
1967 0.75
1968 1.02 0.83 1969 1.34
1970 1.02
1971 0.82
1972 1.76
1973 1.18
1974 0.78
1975 1.1 1976 0.92 1.115 1977 2.09
1978 1.31
1979 1.68
1980 1.8 1981 1.43
1982 0.72
1983 2.16
1984 1.37 1.57 1985 1.24
1986 1.51
1987 2.33
1988 2.09
1989 1.27
1990 1.31
1991 1.02
1992 0.43 1.4 1993 1.35
1994 1.9 1995 1.98
1996 1.19
1997 1.96
1998 2.93
1999 0.94
2000 1.74 1.74875 2001 1.59
2002 2.56
2003 2.25
2004 1.6 2005 2.53
2006 1.69
2007 2.17
2008 1.71 2.0125

On stats:

"The mean anomaly is about 0.8 C. Trend? slightly upward. The standard dev and R squared are not convincing of a trend. I plugged it into MathCad and found that the trend for both land/sea and air is not significant."

Really, you put millions of readings through an analysis? I suspect that what you did was put the aggregates through an statistical analysis and you should know that will not yield the same signifigance numbers that an analysis of the non-aggregated data will yield.

Chris Golledge 6 years, 4 months ago

"Oh, wait, these are the land/sea estimates. What about the air temps at 5 feet above the ground? Arbitrary level based upon convenience to read."

Well, yeah, let's take measurements from some location that is difficult, that way we have fewer measurements to work with. (sarcasm) Besides, you should also know that air temperature varies with altitude; ask any aerospace engineer if you aren't sure how that works. If you are looking for trends over time, it doesn't matter as long as you don't move the ground station. (And yes, you do have to account for urban heat island effect; that has been done.)

Sea temps matter in a big way because the mass of the entire atmosphere in a square surface area is equaled in the first 30 feet of sea water, and sea water tends to turn over fairly quickly to depths a few times that. So, a lot of the heat energy is not so much in the air as it is in the ocean. Also, for that matter CO2 dissolves in water and the ocean has absorbed about half of what humans have dumped into the air. That is not a good thing; look up ocean acidification and think about how many people are dependent on fish for food.

You know this whole argument over temperature measurements is somewhat misguided; we have instrument measurements and real world observations. Every instrument is subject to some error; measure the mass of a penny to 4 or 5 places to the right of a gram and I can just about guarantee that you won't get the same mass twice in a row. But that level of error hardly matters. Look at events in the real world, arctic ice (extent and thickness), the timings of animal migrations, the fact that ice formations like Larsen B which were stable for thousands of years have broken up, etc. Then ask yourself if the events in the real world agree with an upward trend in temperature that the instruments are telling us. The answer is 'yes'.

A friend of mine tried to convince me in 2007 that the record low of arctic ice was a result of a 30-year wind cycle event. My reply was, hmm, and when was the last time the NW passage was fully navigable? I believe it was a lot more than 30 years ago. BTW, this past year, both the NE and NW passages were open. You could have circumnavigated the polar cap if you wanted.

Chris Golledge 6 years, 4 months ago

"Oh, average temperature above is defined by GISS using point source thermometers."

Really? I've read a few works from that group and it seems to me that they use all sorts of measuring devices, including satellites. Besides, is it required that you measure the temperature of every gram of a turkey to know if it is done, or is it enough to take a sample of a few points?

http://www.giss.nasa.gov/

for instance "(2) the satellite analysis of global sea surface temperature of Reynolds and Smith [ref. 4],"

Sorry, it may seem that I've put an unjustified amount of effort into discrediting your comments, but it isn't personal, I always feel an urge to squash misinformation when I see it.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.