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CLASH OF THEORIES by Professor Will Alexander March 26, 2009

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CLASH OF THEORIES by Professor Will Alexander

Received via email, 23 March 2009

From the very beginning of my involvement in this climate change issue in 1993, I have repeatedly stated that there is no scientifically believable evidence to support the alarmist predictions of climate change scientists.

In this and the next memo I demonstrate via the application of observation scenery why, twenty years after the establishment of the IPCC, climate change scientists are still not able to produce scientifically believable evidence of human causality of climate change, in a format that meets the basic requirements of scientific enquiry and practical applications.

Also, the rapidly deteriorating international situation on the climate change issue must be of increasing concern to all responsible national and international authorities.

The Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. An internationally binding successor agreement has to be reached at Copenhagen nine months from now. A ‘road map’ was negotiated at Bali in December 2007, whereby the developed nations that are the cause of the problem, would entice the developing nations to come aboard by offering financial and technological incentives.

As a result of the global economic recession this ‘persuasion’ is turning from economic assistance to threats of protectionist taxes by the developed nations on imports from developing nations who do not agree to adopt these restrictive measures. This is contrary to the whole spirit of combating the postulated consequences of climate change, as well as the World Trade Organisation’s requirements. Trade wars are on the horizon.

Unless carefully managed, the whole situation could get out of control as it did in the years following the Great Depression and concurrent global droughts, both of which commenced in 1929 and continued through the early 1930s.

This is a time for cool heads and a co-operative scientific effort. My frequent calls for interdisciplinary co-operation have been either rejected or ignored by climate change scientists and the institutions that they represent.

Please try to keep an open mind while reading this and the next memo.

Memo 15/09

Climate change – the clash of theories

Part 1. Observation theory

Monday 23 March 2009

Ponte Vecchio – photo by the author

The Ponte Vecchio across the Arno River in Florence is my favourite civil engineering structure in my favourite city. It was built by Taddro Gaddi in 1334 close to the site of the first Roman bridge which carried the road from Rome to Paris until 1218 when it was destroyed by a severe flood. The earliest recorded flood at this site occurred in 1177, over 800 years ago. Subsequent severe floods are well documented.

This is one of the many thousands of major bridges in the world built over the ages. Without exception, their designs were based on the application of observation theory.

This is how Vriarte described Florence. We must dearly love Florence, for she is the mother of all those who live by thought. It is a good point of departure for this memo.

I have studied, researched, published, practised and taught applied hydrology for more than 30 years. My first encounter with the climate change issue occurred in 1993. I informed a small study group that there was no hydrologically believable evidence of changes in the hydrometeorological data that could be ascribed to unnatural causes. That remains my view after diligent searches ever since then.

Scientific theory requires proof. Proof of unnatural global climate change in the form of numerically verifiable evidence has not been forthcoming. Claims of increases in the hydrological extremes, floods and droughts, are demonstrably false. Sea levels are rising at a rate equivalent to the width of my thumbnail per decade. The volumes of Antarctic and Greenland ice that will have to melt to cause the claimed future increases in sea level are astronomical (many thousands of millions of cubic metres). Where will the energy come from to melt the ice? For this energy to reach the polar regions there has to be an increased energy gradient from the tropics towards the poles. This implies a build up of energy in the tropics. There is no evidence of this happening. Furthermore, the melted ice will have to reach the oceans via flowing rivers. But there are no rivers in Antarctica!

Science has made tremendous advancements in many fields. Why is it that the national and international scientific communities have allowed themselves to be misled on these and other elementary scientific requirements associated with unnatural climate change?

When I expressed my views in reports and publications my interpretations were challenged. I was personally vilified. Having an enquiring mind, I then became increasingly absorbed in trying to determine WHY climate change scientists were so sure of their position when all the physical evidence was to the contrary.

It is now clear, beyond reasonable doubt, that climate change scientists, the IPCC, Al Gore, the Stern Review, the Royal Society and others made, and continue to make, a fundamental error. They applied the wrong scientific theory to the issue. They followed the process theory route instead of the more appropriate, tried and tested observation theory route. Their conclusions have no foundations in science.

Please read on!


Observation theory consists of visual interpretation of recorded observations followed by numerical descriptions. These are then applied in practice. Process theory consists of theoretical descriptions of natural processes that are incorporated in mathematical models. The outputs cannot be used in practical applications. These are fundamentally different approaches.

Voyage of discovery

In this memo I will take you on a voyage of discovery. Civil engineering is the oldest of all the professions being as old as civilisation itself. From the very beginning, accommodating floods and droughts was one of our major activities. As mentioned in earlier memos these problems date back to biblical times. The Noah event occurred about 2500 BC and the Joseph event about 1700 BC.

The Joseph phenomenon in particular has been an increasing worry as our water resources approach their limits of exploitation. Can we follow Joseph’s example and predict the likelihood of the onset of a serious regional (or possibly global) drought? Should this occur it will have extremely serious consequences on the welfare of the people of this country and possibly elsewhere, particularly in the light of the current global economic recession. The last time that the world experienced this combination was during the Great Depression of the early 1930s. What is the likelihood that this can happen in the very near future?

Consider the following example.

Vaal Dam example

The Vaal Dam on the Vaal River is our most important source of water. The annual river flow recorded at this site is the most studied hydrological record in South Africa. It is therefore a good starting point for our expedition. The record extends from October 1923 through to September 1996. After that time the imports and exports from the catchment affected the flows into the dam. The earlier, undisturbed record is nevertheless sufficient for our purposes.

Table 1 shows the dam inflows.

Table 1. Vaal Dam inflows.

The grouping of sequences of low inflows (droughts) suddenly followed by sequences of high inflows (floods) is immediately apparent. Even more important is our ‘discovery’ that these sudden changes do not occur randomly. They are evenly spaced at approximately 21-year intervals. Without manipulating the data in any way, we can now disaggregate the record into four sequences commencing with the years during which these reversals occurred. (The first sequence began in 1913.) Let us call them periods and renumber the years that followed the reversals, starting with the first year when each reversal occurred.

The next step is to divide all the annual values by the record mean value and express them as percentages of the mean value. This will allow us to compare the data with that of other sites later in our experiment.

Plot the results

We can now plot the results in the form of a vertical bar chart as shown in Figure 1. The bars show the range within which the observations occurred.

Figure 1. Periodic inflows into Vaal dam prepared by Alwyn van der Merwe.

It is now abundantly clear that there is a pattern in the chart. To describe it more precisely, it is very clear that these sequences do not consist of random events about a constant mean. If there are clearly discernible, regular sequences we can use them for future predictions. We are now in period year 13. What we CAN say with a high degree of confidence is that the inflows into Vaal Dam during the rest of the current period are LIKELY to be well below average. Can we improve on this?

The next step is to calculate the averages for each period year. We now have a single value of each period year instead of range of values. This facilitates comparison with the average values derived from the inflows into other major dams.

Add other dam inflows

We are now in a position where we can have a broader insight. Are the Vaal Dam inflow sequences coincidental or are they representative of the wider region of South Africa?

[ In passing, note that we are using dam inflows directly instead of deriving the data from river flow gauging stations. In this way we avoid any calibration uncertainties that may be present in the data, particularly the very important high inflows (floods). It is these high inflows that fill our dams and restore our water supplies.]

Figure 2 was also prepared by my colleague Alwyn van der Merwe. It shows the periodic sequences for ten South African dams. He produced similar graphs for other hydrological data. They all show a similar periodic pattern.

Figure 2. Periodic dam inflows. Prepared by Alwyn van der Merwe.

Now another fascinating pattern emerges. There is a very clear annual oscillating phenomenon that is more prominent in the second half-period than the first half.


This is the end of the first stage of our expedition. All that I wish to bring to your attention at this stage is that there are very clear multi-year patterns in the South African hydrometeorological data. These have to be accommodated in future water resource development and management procedures.

Note that at this stage we are not trying to prove anything. Nor are we determining any causes of these phenomena. This is the very heart of observation theory that has been practised by civil engineers for centuries. We are simply studying the data with a view of applying our observations in practice. Where there are uncertainties these are accommodated by applying factors of safety.

A closer look

For those of you with a closer interest in this subject please pause here for a while. It is very important.

Go back to Table 1 and the two figures. What strikes you most? I have studied tables, graphs and figures throughout my professional career. The re-arrangement of the raw data described in this memo was one of many exercises in my search for information that challenged the minds of many stochastic hydrologists and others involved in water resource and flood studies ever since the introduction of electronic computers.

As described in recent memos, through these patient and diligent studies, together with colleagues, we have not only solved these problems. We have gone further and demonstrated the causal linkage of the 21-year periodicity with synchronous variations in received solar energy. The cause of the annual oscillations clearly evident in Figure 2 has yet to be determined. We are working on it!

The most important outcome is that we have developed and verified a broad prediction model for sub-continental, long duration drought sequences. Another very important result was Fred Bailey’s demonstration that variations in received solar energy are more than 17 times larger than the claimed changes caused by increasing undesirable greenhouse gas emissions.

Process theory

Process theory will be discussed in detail in the next memo. As I will describe, all the conclusions reached above, including the periodicity in the Vaal Dam data, were specifically and vigorously denied in an article by Midgley and Underhill of the South African National Biodiversity Institute, that was published in the Water Research Commission’s magazine WaterWheel. All that I wish to emphasise at this stage is that it is both physically as well as theoretically impossible for the hydroclimatic processes illustrated above to be numerically quantified by applying process theory.

While climatologists and environmentalists involved in the climate change issue confined their activities to alarmist media releases and national and international conferences and summits, practitioners simply ignored them. They typically shrugged their shoulders and described these predictions as nothing more than untested hypotheses. They then went on with their work. There is no incentive at all for civil engineering academics and practitioners to participate in the debate on climate change.

The difficulties go even further. Climatologists and environmentalists involved in climate change studies repeatedly refuse to discuss the issue with those of us in the engineering and applied sciences. Civil engineering academics and practitioners with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the fields of floods, droughts and water resource studies, were deliberately excluded from participating in the Midrand Summit. This gave those in the natural sciences a free hand to present alarmist predictions without fears of being challenged.

This is an unstable situation. Eventually the bubble must burst. This may occur within months. It will catch the South African authorities completely unprepared. People will suffer and scapegoats will be sought. It will not be difficult to locate them and the organisations that they represent. My attempts to prevent this from happening have been of no avail. There will be more details in the next memo.


Small new sunspot developing – 26 March 2009 March 26, 2009

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Small new sunspot developing – 26 March 2009

From SolarCycle24.com

Update: The Solar X-Ray flux is starting to move somewhat. Nothing major, however the area on the eastern limb may just have a sunspot with it. A B2 flare took place followed by a B3 flare from this area (I believe).

Just as the region on the eastern limb looks promising, a small new sunspot has formed high in latitude with Cycle 24 magnetism. Picture is below.


Small Sunspot in formation (March 26)

The New Global Ice Age March 25, 2009

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The New Global Ice Age

H/T Climate Change Fraud

Written by MarketResearch.com

At first glance, a research piece predicting significantly colder weather seems rather bold. In reality, we’re very confident about this report. That’s because we are not so much predicting colder weather, but are instead observing it. More important, we’re attempting to coax our readers to view recent weather data and trends with a neutral perspective—unbiased by the constant barrage of misinformation about global warming. We assure you, based on the accuracy of climatologists’ long-term (and short-term!) forecasts, you would not even hire them!

For example, in 1923 a Chicago Tribune headline proclaimed: “Scientist says arctic ice will wipe out Canada.” By 1952, the New York Times declared “Melting glaciers are the trump card of global warming.” In 1974, Time Magazine ran a feature article predicting “Another Ice Age,” echoed in a Newsweek article the following year. Clearly, the recent history of climate prediction inspires little confidence—despite its shrillness. Why, then, accept the global warming thesis at face value? Merely because it is so pervasive?

Unfettered by the Gore-Tex straitjacket of global warming dogma, one might ask some obvious questions. Why, in 2008, did Toronto, the Midwest United States, India, China, the United Kingdom and several areas of Europe all break summer rainfall records? Why was South Africa converted into a ‘winter wonderland’ this past September? Why did Alaska record its coldest summer this year—cold enough for ice packs and glaciers to grow for the first time in measured history? Why has sea ice achieved record levels in recent months? Lastly, why did a rare October snow fall on London, on the 29th, as British Parliament debated—appropriately enough—a climate bill? If you don’t believe that 2008 has been particularly wet and cold, you’ve most likely contracted typhoid or you haven’t been paying attention.

The reality is that there are forces at work, already affecting the weather for the past two years, that will make the next twelve years significantly cooler than anything we have seen in past decades. This report explores these forces and provides a roadmap of what to expect as the new ice age unfolds.

Read more…

Save the planet! Gut Gippsland March 25, 2009

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Save the planet! Gut Gippsland

Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun, March 26, 2009

And all for a plan that couldn’t stop global warming, even if it hadn’t already stopped a decade ago:

REGIONAL economies could shrink by more than 20 per cent over the next 40 years under the Rudd Government’s emissions trading scheme, according to secret modelling commissioned by the NSW Government but never released… The modelling found the impact on coal prices would mean the economies of Gippsland and central-west Queensland contracting by more than 20 per cent.

By the way, what else are these governments not telling us about their global warming policies?

The Available Evidence Does Not Support Fossil Fuels as the Source of Increasing Concentrations of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide (Part 1) March 24, 2009

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The Available Evidence Does Not Support Fossil Fuels as the Source of Increasing Concentrations of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide (Part 1)

From the Jennifer Marohasy blog, March 25, 2009

BECAUSE the increase in the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide has correlated with an increase in the use of fossil fuels, causation has been assumed.

Tom Quirk has tested this assumption including through an analysis of the time delay between northern and southern hemisphere variations in carbon dioxide.  In a new paper in the journal Energy and Environment he writes:

“Over the last 20 years substantial amounts of CO2 derived from fossil fuel have been released into the atmosphere. This has moved from 5.0 gigatonnes of carbon in 1980 to 6.2 gigatonnes  in 1990 to 7.0 gigatonnes in 2000…  Over 95% of this CO2 has been released in the Northern Hemisphere…

“A tracer for CO2 transport from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere was provided by 14C created by nuclear weapons testing in the 1950’s and 1960’s.The analysis of 14C in atmospheric CO2  showed that it took some years for exchanges of CO2 between the hemispheres before the 14C was uniformly distributed…

“If 75% of CO2 from fossil fuel is emitted north of latitude 30 then some time lag might be expected due to the sharp year-to-year variations in the estimated amounts left in the atmosphere. A simple model, following the example of the 14Cdata with a one year mixing time, would suggest a delay of 6 months for CO2 changes in concentration in the Northern Hemisphere to appear in the Southern Hemisphere.

“A correlation plot of …year on year differences of monthly measurements at Mauna Loa against those at the South Pole [shows]… the time difference is positive when the South Pole data leads the Mauna Loa data. Any negative bias (asymmetry in the plot) would indicate a delayed arrival of CO2 in the Southern Hemisphere.

“There does not appear to be any time difference between the hemispheres. This suggests that the annual increases [in atmospheric carbon dioxide] may be coming from a global or equatorial source.”

Read the rest here

Skeptics Handbook spreads en masse: 150,000 copies! March 24, 2009

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Skeptics Handbook spreads en masse: 150,000 copies!

From the Joanne Nova website

A donor in the US felt The Skeptics Handbook was so worthwhile that they have paid to print and post 150,000 copies of the booklet through Heartland. Just soak in that number. A “bestseller” only has to notch up 5,000 copies…
Cover Skeptics Handbook

As always, Joseph Bast and his team are efficient and ambitious. For starters, the Handbook was provided to everyone who came to the 2009 International Conference on Climate Change in New York, but the big plan extends far and wide. It includes some 850 journalists, 26,000 schools, 19,000 leaders and politicians, just to mention a few (see the list at the bottom for details).

My aim, as always, is to lift standards of science communication to help people make up their own minds. Scientists need to stand up and defend the discipline that gave us penicillin, cures for cataracts, and machines that fly round the world in a day. Science has become the victim of politics and economics and like everything valuable in life it needs to be defended against the ever present entropy of unreason. There are infinite ways to confuse, confound and be incorrect.

For those who are wondering, I will not, and have not received any payment for my work or costs. I did not ask for any, nor was any offered. Heartland approached me with a request for permission to print the Handbook, which I was happy to give. That I should have to even mention payments (or lack of) shows how weak the AGW case is. After all, if the alarmists had the evidence they claim, they could discuss the science instead of the funding. (DeSmog and Deltoid tried and failed pathetically to find any faults in the science. See my reply to DeSmog here.) Thanks to the special online supporters who’ve bought me boxes of chocolate and to everyone for all the enthusiastic feedback. It keeps me going.

Real science is not afraid of debate.

Like predictable performing poodles, no doubt some who pretend to be concerned about the environment will find the time to question my motivations (as if that changes Earth’s climate somehow). Apparently some ‘idealists’ can’t imagine anyone working for free for a cause they believe in passionately. It’s hard to believe I’m just as dedicated and sincere as all those greenie bloggers eh? Ironically, I’m just like them, except—I can reason.

Even if I had been paid, it makes no difference to the graphs from NASA. The hypocrisy is rich.
No one expects NGO office bearers to work for free, and when funded-Greenpeace-activists publish reports, no one shrilly dismisses the science because it’s produced by an organization that benefits from inflating crises.

I will be arranging an Australian print run in the next week, which will be distributed by Max Rheese at The Australian Climate Science Coalition, and in NZ by Terry Dunleavy at the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition. Heartland have offered to give me some copies from the Australian print run, which I will make available for a small fee to help recoup some costs. Many people have emailed me asking for a hard copy and I will be in touch when the handbook is ready. I will also offer bulk class sets for schools. But there won’t be many extra copies, so email me now if you want some and I’ll make sure the print run is big enough to include you.


Canadian Prairie Winter Temperature Anomalies Drop By 6.6- 7.1 Degrees C in Just Three Years March 23, 2009

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Canadian Prairie Winter Temperature Anomalies Drop By 6.6- 7.1 Degrees C in Just Three Years


By Matt Vooro

For decades we have been urged by IPCC and various AGW supporting scientists to urgently prepare for unprecedented global warming. Yet only few years after the issue of their 2007 or latest report, exactly the opposite is happening. The entire planet is cooling and significantly. Some governments have implemented carbon tax and most are proposing more ‘back door taxes’ through the ‘cap and trade’ mechanism to fight even more global warming.

Sounds to me like another groundless search for weapons of mass destruction that never ever existed. Good taxpayer money is again being wasted for what purpose.

Global cooling is projected to last for another 20- 30 years and the future is likely one of alternating cycles of cooling and warming rather than unprecedented warming for 100years. (Don Easterbrook)

How Come The Media Is Giving IPCC A Free Ride Despite The Flawed Results?

Recent Global And Canadian Evidence Of Global Cooling

1] Global air temperature anomalies have been dropping for 3 years from 0.482C in 2005 to 0.325C in 2008.

2] Global sea surface temperature anomalies have been dropping for 5 years from 0.383C in 2003 to 0.274C in 2008

3] Southern hemisphere sea surface temperature anomalies have been dropping for 6 years from 0.372C in 2002 to 0.287C in 2008

4] The northern hemisphere sea surface temperature anomalies have been dropping for 5 years from 0.479C in 2003 to 0.261C in 2008

5] Canadian national annual temperature departures from the 1948 -2008 trend have been declining for two years from 2.4C in 2006 to 0.7C in 2008



6] Canadian west coast annual temperature departures from the 1948-2008 trend have been declining for four years from 1.5C in 2004 to -0.1 in 2008

7] Canadian national winter temperature departure from 1948-2009 trend has been dropping for 3 years from 3.9C in 2006 to 0.3C in 2009

8] The average winter temperature anomalies from the 1948-2009 trend for the three Canadian prairie provinces have dropped some 6.6 to 7.1 degrees C in only three years since 2006

IPCC projected decadal increases of 0.2 C degrees for each of the next 2 decades and 2 to 6 C by 2100. The observed historical trend is closer to 1.5 C per century during the last several years since 2005 actual temperatures are cooling at � 0.157 C per three years or equivalent of -0.52 C per decade per CRUtem 3 global air temperatures. Read more on how Matt ties the changes to the PDO and uses that to project ahead here.

Video Interviews at the ICCC, Elsewhere March 23, 2009

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Video Interviews at the ICCC, Elsewhere

Posted on ICECAP

Reporters from TheNewAmerican.com

The second International Conference on Climate Change concluded its 2-1/2 -day run March 10, 2009 in New York City after confronting the theme “Global warming: Was it ever really a crisis?”


The answer was a resounding “No.” Here are some of the early youtube videos from the conference. There will be many more available in the weeks ahad and we will maintain them in a master list.

Henry Lampman, reporter for The New American interviews Willie Soon, Phd, Chief Science Advisor at Science and Public Policy Institute at the International Global Climate Change Conference in New York City March 2009

Henry Lampman, reporter for The New American interviews Dennis Avery, Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute on Global Warming at the International Conference on Global Climate Change in New York City March 2009

Ed Hiserholt, reporter for The New American interviews Dr David Evans at the March 2009 International Conference on Global Climate Change in NYC.

Hal Shurtleff, reporter for The New American interviews Roy Innes National Chairman Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) at the March 2009 Conference of Global Climate Change in New York City.

Ed Hiserholt, reporter for The New American interviews Lord Christopher Monckton at the March 2009 International Conference on Global Climate Change.

Hal Shurtleff, reporter for The New American interviews Tom DeWeese, President American Policy Center. Hal asks Mr. DeWeese about Law of the Sea TREATY (LOST) and the ICCC.

John Coleman sings the Nah-Nah Goodbye Global Warming song at the Conference on Global Climate Change in New York CIty March 2009

Hal Shurtleff, reporter for The New American interviews John Coleman on “What’s/Who is behind the ‘Global Warming Hoax’ at the International Conference on Global Warming Climate Change in New York

Henry Lamkin, reporter for The New American interviews Joanne Nova, author of “The Skeptic’s Handbook”. Joanne Nova believed in manmade warming by carbon dioxide emissions from 1990-2007. Not any more!

Henry Lampkin, reporter for The New American interviews Dr. Tom Segalstad, Head of the Geological Museum at Univ. of Oslo during the International Conference on Global Climate Change in New York City – March 2009

The the full proceedings with videos of the keynote addresses and Introductions and the powerpoint and PDFs here. More videos of the talks will be posted in upcoming days.

Gore was invited again but ignored the invitation. He is featured in a mock debate here with 7 scientists on The American Thinker here.

Anf finally, this interview with liberal democrat Harold Ambler here.

Hansen’s talk in Oslo courtesy of Paal Brekke of the Norwegian Space Centre.

Natural Drivers of Weather and Climate March 22, 2009

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Natural Drivers of Weather and Climate

From Watts Up With That, March 22, 2009

Note: The full PDF of this author manuscript was sent to me via an email contact of the author, Bob Foster. He says it has been published in E&E.  Energy & Environment · Vol. 20, No. 1&2, 2009. Online now here and now in print.- Anthony

Bob Foster
Director, The Lavoisier Group, Australia
fosbob [- at -] bigpond.com

Will it be warmer or cooler? Policy-makers need to know; because human well-being depends on them being correctly informed. Confusingly, there are two plausible – but mutually-exclusive – hypotheses as to the direction of climate-change within the planning horizon of governments. Which will be proven right?

The scientific consensus invokes an autonomous Earth with a self-contained climate – stable and benign, until only now disturbed by people burning fossil fuels. In this people-driven-climate hypothesis, variability of external influences is minuscule – and in the policy sense, irrelevant. For planning purposes, Earth can be treated as if it were travelling in an empty Universe.

However, a substantial number of scientists disagree; and as the flow of satellite observations becomes a flood, their number grows apace. Contrarians assert that, at all human-relevant time-scales, factors external to our planet – some identified and, doubtless, some not – powerfully influence a climate that has always varied. The preindustrial Arcadia mourned by the scientific consensus is a myth. In this variable-Sun/Earth-connection hypothesis, external influences on weather and climate far outweigh those from people. Our climate is not self-contained.

Read the rest click here

MIT Scientists Ask: Is Global Warming Part of a Natural Cycle? March 22, 2009

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MIT Scientists Ask: Is Global Warming Part of a Natural Cycle?

Posted on ICECAP

By Casey Kazan

A team of MIT scientists recorded a nearly simultaneous world-wide increase in methane levels -the first increase in ten years. What baffles the team is that this data contradicts theories stating humans are the primary source of increase in greenhouse gas. It takes about one full year for gases generated in the highly industrial northern hemisphere to cycle through and reach the southern hemisphere. Since all worldwide levels rose simultaneously throughout the same year, however, it is probable that this may be part of a natural cycle – and not the direct result of man’s contributions.

MIT’s Matthew Rigby and Ronald Prinn, the TEPCO Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science, state that this imbalance has resulted in several million metric tons of additional methane in the atmosphere. Methane is produced by wetlands, rice paddies, cattle, and the gas and coal industries, and is destroyed by reaction with the hydroxyl free radical (OH), often referred to as the atmosphere’s “cleanser.”

Methane accounts for roughly one-fifth of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, though its effect is 25x greater than that of carbon dioxide. Its impact on global warming comes from the reflection of the sun’s light back to the Earth. Methane is broken down in the atmosphere by the free radical hydroxyl (OH), a naturally occuring process. This atmospheric cleanser has been shown to adjust itself up and down periodically, and is believed to account for the lack of increases in methane levels in Earth’s atmosphere over the past ten years despite notable simultaneous increases by man.

One thing does seem very clear, however; science is only beginning to get a focus on the big picture of global warming. Findings like these tell us it’s too early to know for sure if man’s impact is affecting things at “alarming rates.” We may simply be going through another natural cycle of warmer and colder times – one that’s been observed through a scientific analysis of the Earth to be naturally occurring for hundreds of thousands of years. See the full study here.