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ICECAP in the News
Dec 14, 2007
Penguins and Climate Change

By Bob Ferguson, SPPI

The press out of Bali today includes coverage of a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report about the fate of penguin species under climate change. The press reports draw heavily from the press release put out by the WWF to draw attention to their report on penguins, but more importantly, the WWF’s desire for large and immediate carbon dioxide emissions restrictions. From the press reports and the WWF release, things seem bad for Antarctica’s penguin species. But, as is the case with nearly every alarmist issue, the truth reveals quite a different story. In this case, a review of the literature on penguins, climate change, and ecosystem disturbances, reveals a large variety of penguin responses to changing conditions, changes that include in addition to climate fluctuations, a large-scale alteration to the local and regional food chain as industrial whaling and fishery operations over the course of the past several decades have significantly reduced the number of many species, including both predators and prey. This perturbation to the foodweb has likely had large impacts on the resident penguin species and makes isolating or even correctly identifying impacts from a changing climate quite difficult (Ainley et al., 2007). See full story here.

Dec 12, 2007
More on Polar Bears

World Climate Report

We’ve been talking til we’re blue in the face about how the very existence of polar bears today is the strongest evidence possible that they should manage, as a species (although some individual populations may struggle), to hold their own in a warming climate. Why is this? Because their existence today is proof that they survived long periods of time (many thousands of years on end), when the climate of their Arctic habitat was warmer (and thus likely more ice-free) than conditions are now, and will be into the future.  But, in case you were withholding final judgment until you heard it from someone else, well, here you go:

What may be the oldest known remains of a polar bear have been uncovered on the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic. The jawbone was pulled from sediments that suggest the specimen is perhaps 110,000 or 130,000 years old. Professor Olafur Ingolfsson from the University of Iceland says tests show it was an adult, possibly a female. The find is a surprise because polar bears are a relatively new species, with one study claiming they evolved less than 100,000 years ago. We have this specimen that confirms the polar bear was a morphologically distinct species at least 100,000 years ago, and this basically means that the polar bear has already survived one interglacial period, explained Professor Ingolfsson. And what’s interesting about that is that the Eeemian - the last interglacial - was much warmer than the Holocene (the present).

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Will this new finding by Professor Ingolfsson put folk’s minds at ease and quiet the talk of the bear’s imminent extinction? Hardly. After all, the ultimate goal of such talk is not the survival of the polar bear, but the restriction of mankind’s activites on earth. And such fervent desire is not easily doused.

Dec 09, 2007
Climate Warming is Naturally Caused and Shows No Human Influence

By David Douglas, U of Rochester, John Christy, U of Alabama, Fred Singer, U of Virginia

Climate scientists at the University of Rochester, the University of Alabama, and the University of Virginia report that observed patterns of temperature changes ("fingerprints") over the last thirty years are not in accord with what greenhouse models predict and can better be explained by natural factors, such as solar variability. Therefore, climate change is “unstoppable” and cannot be affected or modified by controlling the emission of greenhouse gases, such as CO2, as is proposed in current legislation. These results are in conflict with the conclusions of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and also with some recent research publications based on essentially the same data. However, they are supported by the results of the US-sponsored Climate Change Science Program (CCSP).

Lead author David Douglass said: “The observed pattern of warming, comparing surface and atmospheric temperature trends, does not show the characteristic fingerprint associated with greenhouse warming. The inescapable conclusion is that the human contribution is not significant and that observed increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases make only a negligible contribution to climate warming. Co-author John Christy said “Satellite data and independent balloon data agree that atmospheric warming trends do not exceed those of the surface. Greenhouse models, on the other hand, demand that atmospheric trend values be 2-3 times greater. We have good reason, therefore, to believe that current climate models greatly overestimate the effects of greenhouse gases. Satellite observations suggest that GH models ignore negative feedbacks, produced by clouds and by water vapor, that diminish the warming effects of carbon dioxide.” The report is published in the December 2007 issue of the International Journal of Climatology of the Royal Meteorological Society [DOI: 10.1002/joc.1651]. 

Dec 06, 2007
2007 May Be The Coldest Year of the Millennium

By Lubos Motl, The Reference Frame

RSS MSU satellite data for the lower troposphere show that November 2007 was the coldest month since January 2000. Other major teams that measure the global mean temperature have not yet published their November data. The temperature anomaly was -0.014 C. It means that the whole month was actually cooler than the the average recorded November. It was the first month in this century that was cooler than average.

The continuing La Nina is the main reason behind the recent cold months; La Nina is expected to disappear in Spring 2008. January 2000, a month that was even cooler than November 2007, witnessed a La Nina, too. November 2007 was also a whopping 0.915 C colder than April 1998. Another reason could be an inactive Sun. We are expecting the solar cycle 24 to begin soon but it takes a longer time than expected and there are still almost no sun spots. Via a crucial mechanism, it means that we should be getting more galactic cosmic rays that should create more clouds.

It will end up colder than all other years in the 21st century so far as well as 1998 (by 0.4 C) and 1995. Other teams (HadCRUT3, UAH MSU) except for GISS will also report 2007 to be between the 6th and 9th warmest year. Dr James Hansen’s GISS deviates substantially - it may even announce that 2007 was the warmest year - and their method to measure temperature based on stations is probably dominated by urban heat islands and the results are most likely complete rubbish.  See full blog here. See recent story by McKitrick and Michaels on the warm bias in the global data bases issue here.

Dec 05, 2007
Global Warming Melting Arctic Ice: Manipulation of Public Perceptions

By Dr. Tim Ball, NSRP

Exploitation of fear by environmental groups was explained well in Crichtons book, State of Fear. He could also have written a book titled, State of Knowledge. Most people know very little about the natural world and how it works. This lack of knowledge is easily exploited and coupled with fear makes it an even more powerful manipulative tool. The idea that knowledge is power isnt new, but that is the positive side.  Lack of knowledge is the negative side and makes you very vulnerable. As Derek Bok said, If you think education is expensive - try ignorance. Ignorance allows presentation of natural events as unnatural or normal events as abnormal.  Arctic ice conditions are a perfect example.

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Notice how much ice has already formed this winter, a more rapid growth than previously in the record. It was claimed the summer ice was the smallest on record but the valid record is short coincides with arrival of satellite data in 1980. While the media raised alarms over Arctic ice melt, they did not report that Antarctic winter sea ice extent was the greatest on record. Read more here.

Dr. Ball is a renowned environmental consultant and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg. Dr. Ball employs his extensive background in climatology and other fields as the Chairman of Natural Resources Stewardship Project.

Dec 04, 2007
Kansas Climate Profile

By Robert Ferguson, SPPI

On October 18, 2007, The Kansas Department of Health and Environment rejected a request to build two new 700-megawatt coal-fired electricity generating power plants, citing concerns over the contribution of the proposed plants carbon dioxide emissions to climate change and the potential harm to our environment and health. In making this finding, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment had to ignore all of the known climate history of the state of Kansas, established climate science as well as the climate model projections for the future climate of the state of Kansas. Both observations and projections clearly demonstrate that:

- Kansans have neither experienced nor are predicted to experience negative effects from climate variations and trends
- There have been no overall changes in temperatures during the past 75 years
- Total precipitation has increased slightly, making more water available for all to use
- The frequency and severity of drought has decreased
- Kansans sensitivity to heat-waves has declined
- The number of severe storms, such as tornadoes is relatively unchanged
- Tropical diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, or West Nile Virus have been erroneously predicted to spread due to global warming
- Future projections indicate that Kansas will be less impacted by rising global temperatures than any other state in the country

China alone opens a new coal-fired plant every 4 - 7 days, any Kansas-derived savings of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere will be made up in a matter of days, effectively exporting emissions and jobs overseas.  These facts make it inconceivable that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment would, on spurious grounds of climate change, deny the application to add more generating power aimed towards reducing the cost and insuring an abundant future supply of electricity, prosperity and general well-being to Kansans. Read more here.

Dec 03, 2007
Quantifying the Influence of Surface Processes and Inhomogeneities On Global Climate Data

By Ross McKitrick and Pat Michaels

In a new article just published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, Pat Michaels and I have concluded that the manipulations for the steep post-1980 period are inadequate, and the global temperature graph showing warming is an exaggeration, at least in the past few decades. Along the way I have also found that the UN agency promoting the global temperature graph has made false claims about the quality of their data. The graph comes from data collected in weather stations around the world. Other graphs come from weather satellites and from networks of weather balloons that monitor layers of the atmosphere. These other graphs didnt show as much warming as the weather station data, even though they measure at heights where there is supposed to be even more greenhouse gas-induced warming than at the surface. The discrepancy is especially clear in the tropics.

The surface-measured data has many well-known problems. Over the post-war era, equipment has changed, station sites have been moved, and the time of day at which the data are collected has changed. Many long-term weather records come from in or near cities, which have gotten warmer as they grow. Many poor countries have sparse weather station records, and few resources to ensure data quality. Fewer than one-third of the weather stations operating in the 1970s remain in operation. When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, more than half the worlds weather stations were closed in a four year span, which means that we cant really compare todays average to that from the 1980s.  Read a background summary here and a technical paper published in the JGR December 2007 here.

McKitrick is an Associate Professor at the University of Guelph. Michaels contributed to this research while a member of the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, and while a visiting lecturer at Virginia Tech. He is now with the Cato Institute

Dec 02, 2007
Polar Bear Population Forecasts: A Public-Policy Forecasting Audit

By J. Scott Armstrong, The Wharton School, Kesten C. Green, Monash University, and Willie Soon, Harvard-Smithsonian

The issue of listing a species under the Endangered Species Act should be based on credible scientific forecasts. Based on our Internet search of the published scholarly research and on appeals to other researchers we have been unable to locate any papers that referred to scientific procedures for making forecasts of polar bear populations. Furthermore, a review of the references in the nine government reports written to support the listing of polar bears under the Endangered Species Act failed to find any papers relevant to scientific forecasting procedures. We take no issue with the scientific work of the researchers whose work we have reviewed as it relates to the past. Our concern is that there are currently no scientific forecasts of the polar bear population; nor of direction or magnitude of changes. Without scientific forecasts of a substantial decline of the polar bear population and of net benefits from feasible policies arising from listing polar bears, a decision to list polar bears as threatened or endangered would be irresponsible.

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