Climate cuttings 13
Oct 28, 2007
Bishop Hill in Climate: Cuttings

Welcome to the latest edition of climate cuttings in which I round up recent developments in the wacky world of climate science.

The sun appears to have entered a period of low activity. This has created much interest among sceptics as it may lead to a period of falling global temperatures.  

There has been a certain amount of anecdotal evidence in support of this theory, with early snows in the Alps and unusual migratory patterns among birds, apparently all organised by big oil. An abundant acorn harvest in the US is also said to indicate a harsh winter ahead.

An iceberg was alleged to have been seen off the coast of South Africa. 

Last year, hurricane forecasters predicted a bumper season powered by the horrors of global warming. They were disappointed. In 2007 they tried again, and once more Gaia has failed to go off in a huff. The 2007 is set to be one of the least active seasons for years.

The stripbark pine story continues apace. To recap, the reconstructions of past climate involve using tree ring widths as a proxy for temperature. Most of the alleged increase in twentieth century temperatures in these reconstructions has been traced to stripbark pines - trees where a strip of bark has been removed. These are thought to be unreliable because of a possible CO2 fertilisation effect - ie increased ring widths are due to carbon dioxide rather than temperature. Now, blogger Steve McIntyre has discovered huge discrepancies in the ring widths within the same tree. Essentially the tree compensates for bark stripping by putting on growth on the opposite side of the tree - a confounding effect which seems to have gone unnoticed. It appears though that climate researchers have gone out of their way to use these most unreliable of trees though. We wonder why.

Biofuels are in the news. The Adam Smith Institute Blog notes that it takes 1700 kgs of water to produce a gallon of biodiesel. The UN calls biofuels a crime against humanity. Politicians continue promoting them anyway.

Roe and Baker, writing in Nature, say that climate is inherently unpredictable

More evidence has appeared supporting a non-anthropogenic basis for recent climate change. The Earth has become more reflective ("higher albedo") in recent years suggesting that the recent falls in temperature measured by satellites may be due to cloud cover. The interesting thing about this effect is that it is much stronger than that of greenhouse gases, again suggesting that man's impact on climate is small. 

And lastly, Tim Worstall noted an important fact about recent economic history. The world's economy appears to be following the IPCC's A1 scenario in which everyone is much richer than now, rather than the A2 scenario which assumes lower growth. This latter was the scenario chosen for the Stern report, which can now be consigned to the dustbin of history.  

Which is probably where it belonged in the first place.

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