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Don't tell Greta

16 Oct 2019 | Science Notes

Greta Thunberg thinks warm weather is a crisis. And since she’s easily upset it’s a good thing she doesn't realize her own country of Sweden used to be much hotter than today. For most of the past 10,000 years, in fact. A 2006 study based on lake bed sediments found that today's July temperatures in Northern Sweden average about 11 degrees C, but from 8,000 years ago to about 200 years ago, averaged 13 to 14 degrees C. Another study in 2008 found the same thing for Southern Sweden: Summers today are two to three degrees cooler than they were for thousands of years. How did the Swedes survive?

Studies of past temperatures are notoriously controversial, as the battle over the hockey stick illustrates. The best ones don't try to reconstruct the entire planetary climate. Instead they focus on one region and use a single type of temperature proxy that offers a reasonably consistent record over time. And these two Swedish studies fall into that category.

They use the chemical composition of mud layers at the bottom of Swedish lakes to infer what the pollen and diatom populations were, which in turn vary with temperature in predictable ways. The picture that they provide is that, after the glaciers retreated 10,000 years ago, temperatures began rising pretty quickly, reaching a maximum some time in the interval from 6,000 to 8,000 years ago during the revealingly named “Holocene Climatic Optimum”, then started drifting down while staying high compared to the present, until sharply dropping in the past 200 years to today's relatively cold conditions.

That pattern seems to fit the picture for a lot of Northern Europe. Since the end of the last ice age, the warmest temperatures were around 6,000 years ago with long warming and cooling intervals both before and after, and the Little Ice Age that ended in the mid-1800s was the coldest period we've seen since the glaciers retreated.

We are bouncing back from an exceptionally cold period that, had it not started warming, might have marked the onset of another ice age. Which, had it happened, would have made it very hard for Greta to sail to New York to protest global warming. Or perhaps skate.

6 comments on “Don't tell Greta”

  1. With all the focus on carbon emissions, forgotten is the fact that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has not noticeably changed over the last 100 years.
    It remains at about 0.035-0.04 % of the air we breathe.
    No climate activist, politician or journalist ever talks about the constant level of CO2. They often do not even know what the level is.
    Almost no one does, I am finding out.
    If there was no noticeable change in the CO2 level since the start of the industrial revolution, one can only conclude that the amount of CO2 emissions caused by humans, has no effect on the overall level of CO2.

    It would be good to realize this, with all the crisis hysteria that's going on about emissions.

    Here's a headline: CO2 level still the same in the last 100 years, despite emissions

  2. This is starting to get irritating. Skewing data isn't what science is all about. I am amazed how the water vapour content in the atmosphere isn't even mentioned as a green house gas most of the time.
    By definition the GHG's are something that reacts and retains heat energy in the atmosphere trapping it from going out to space. For those of you that think H2O isn't a major energy retainer of energy. Please hold your hand in front of the spout of a boiling kettle and let me know how that worked out for you. Then let me know how you're going to change the water content of the atmosphere. What I was always aware of was methane was the main concern from what I have seen over the years watching documentaries in respect to GHG's. The methane is frozen in solid form and the risk is when it thaws out either in permafrost or deep ocean deposits. How did CO2 replace this threat, is it because there is nothing we can do about it? We don't make any of it so we can't be taxed on it? Ever wonder how the USA and the world can make Green jobs without a Carbon Tax?
    below is a 20 min video which is very aggressive against CO2 from ex green peace president. ( which yahoo's AI computers will sensor if you try to post !- wow)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TbQXfACmhY
    This one is a little complicated in terminology.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztninkgZ0ws
    Below is a 2 hour video, watch the first hour at least. The second hour so so.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zrejG-WI3U
    https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/gunter-the-uselessness-of-canadas-current-climate-alarmism
    This is cool as long as it doesn't visit us.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhnDQnwDW5Q
    Alan

  3. Here is a letter I wish I could hand to Ms. Thunberg. You can obtain a full version from me, with graphs and links to references, by e-mail request.

    A Citizen Responds to a CBC Climate Change Alarmist
    The global warming issue eventually turned into the climate change issue and now we are told a climate crisis as we hear regularly on the CBC. Other mainstream media in Canada also mislead the public on so called climate change, mainly because of scientific ignorance and the seemingly political correctness of the issue. They are private organizations and arguably they can say, to within limits, what they want. The CBC, however, is funded by taxpayers and is ultimately answerable to us. The CBC may object that they simply report the news. Not so, their reports are biased towards a single point of view and consequently are highly misleading. In what follows I respond to an Environment of Canada scientist interviewed on Québec AM, September 30, 2019. It is one of many examples which shows that the CBC's coverage is biased, incomplete, alarmist and lacks scientific rigor. Neither the CBC ombudsman, management or Québec AM responded to the letter, or acted on my complaint about their lack of due journalistic diligence.

    What I would like the reader to retain from what follows is don’t be bamboozled. You need to critically evaluate what is being claimed and you need to verify whether the facts support the claim. Weather and climate are very complex phenomena, far from fully understood, beware of simplistic messages, a la Greta Thunberg.

    Letter to the CBC

    Among the causes of sea level rise proposed by the Environment Canada scientist was the melting of Antarctic ice. The average temperature of the Antarctic is – 50 C⁰. The planet would have to increase its mean temperature by 50 C⁰ before ice in the Antarctic would start to melt.

    Now let us look at the temperature changes at the south pole as measured by satellites starting in December, 1979. I downloaded the data of the UAH satellite-based global temperature measurements of the lower troposphere (80% of the earth’s air mass is in the troposphere and it is where weather occurs) and analyzed them. I found that the temperature at the south pole fluctuates randomly from year to year over a range of about±0.5C⁰. The analysis also revealed that there is no temperature trend, increasing or deceasing. This begs the question of how random fluctuations of the order of±0.5C⁰ around a mean temperature of – 50 C⁰ cause ice to melt. Whatever may, or may not, be happening with Antarctic ice, it cannot be due to due to global warming. And please don’t have him reply “oh well its that ice sheet in west Antarctica out on the ocean rather than on the mainland and it is due to ocean warming”. If so, I’ll be obliged to reveal more data! In fact there is nothing special going on with the antarctic ice sheet, this too can be factually verified!

    The situation is somewhat different at the north pole, but there is no cause for alarm as will be explained. My analysis shows that here is an increasing temperature trend at the north pole (0.025 C⁰/ year, or 0.25 C⁰/decade). Since December 1979 it has been warming at a faster rate than the globe (0.13 C⁰/decade, which means it will take about 100 years for the mean global temperature to increase by 1 C⁰). But now read carefully what comes next. One can only conclude from the data that the increasing trend is over the time span of the measurements! You cannot conclude that this will go on indefinitely, that is not in the data per se. The analysis revealed that at the North pole the temperature fluctuation is of the order of about±0.7C⁰. Thus depending on the direction of the fluctuation (positive or negative), it is possible that more ice may melt, because temperatures at the north pole during summer may reach the freezing/melting point of 0 C⁰. But this is irrelevant to sea level rise, the topic addressed by your guest. The north pole is an ice sheet floating on the arctic ocean, even if it all melted there would be no effect on sea level. Ice melting in water does not change the water level! As Prof. Spencer explains in his recent Kindle book “Global Warming Skepticism for Busy People”:

    “Thus, the Arctic sea ice changes which are reported in the news media since 1979 represent a very brief period of time (40 years) compared to the 1,200 years of sea ice variations in the above graph. During that time, the available evidence suggests large natural variations in Arctic sea ice, with a peak roughly coinciding with the start of the Industrial Revolution and the end of the Little Ice Age.”
    I add that Arctic temperatures are known to be quite variable and that ice coverage and thickness depend on factors other than surface temperature, such as ocean current and wind circulation patterns. Your guest also mentioned that ice coverage seems seasonally later than normal in the Arctic and that this can cause erosion of the shorelines due to storms. Be it or not, it is not a global existential crisis for humans. Things will change, as they always do. Please refer to the 1922 newspaper article I appended to the end of my article as an example of what I mean by ‘things will change’.

    The lesson should be clear, one cannot conclude anything about trends based on limited observation times. Other logical pitfalls in this debate are clear. There is presupposition of reference, baseline, normal, or even optimal values for weather and associated natural phenomena. Unfortunately this is not the case. There is no reference mean globe temperature, there is no reference mean value for sea level, there is no reference mean value for global ice sheet coverage, etc. These values fluctuate over time as has CO2 content in the atmosphere. Objecting that the reference value for CO2, is the pre-industrial level is simply arbitrary and it would be even more arbitrary to suggest that this is an optimal level. Another flaw in the alarmist argumentation logic is that all life is extremely fragile, having little capacity for adaptation and requiring a very ‘tight’, if unchanging, environment. This is factually incorrect.

    Your guest (a member or former member of the IPCC) simply paraphrased IPCC reports uncritically and presupposed at the outset that 1) global warming/climate change is real and substantial and 2) due to humans. He then went on to tell us that the sea level is rising and that we should worry. Measuring sea level is extremely difficult, the results are inconsistent _ therefore controversial _ and the measurement methods are not settled. Moreover, sea levels do not simply depend on water volume, they also depend - among other factors - on sea floor depth changes, as your guest partly explained. Your guest also alluded to the ‘precautionary principle’ and suggested we follow it blindly. Unfortunately the precautionary principle is not a principle and in any case the idea should be considered with caution! One must be sure that the cure is not worse than the disease, to use a medical metaphor. Concerning the subject at hand, we are neither sure that there is a disease, nor do we have any cure to offer. Yes we should worry about our children and grandchildren, as the cost of energy will be very high for them and needlessly so. Science should never be co-opted by politics, history shows how badly things have turned out when that was done. On a personal note, I think that the issue has gone beyond politics, it is starting to smack of social engineering. Special interest groups would have us stop eating beef, stop driving vehicles with combustion engines, limit air flights, stop using gas stoves, renovate our homes with no clear benefit to ‘climate change’, but with a definite impact on our finances.

    Importantly, my analysis also revealed that global temperature fluctuations are approximately±0.3C⁰from year to year, excepting El Niño transients. These very small global temperature fluctuations when considered relative to the yearly Canadian temperature fluctuations of ~ 50 C⁰ (yearly maximum minus yearly minimum) are of little concern. You can be sure that the climate in Canada is not ‘changing’, this fall will be followed by next winter and Coconut trees are not likely to grow in Canada anytime soon. As Prof. McKitrick put it in a recent newspaper article “Most of what people are noticing, of course, are just natural weather events. Underneath, there are slow trends, both natural and (likely) human-caused. But they are small and hard to separate out without careful statistical analysis. A few years ago, climatologist Lennart Bengtsson remarked ‘The warming we have had over the last 100 years is so small that if we didn’t have meteorologists and climatologists to measure it we wouldn’t have noticed it at all’.” (Financial Post, April 10, 2019).

    Epilogue

    The CBC continues to promulgate an alarmist message that scares Canadians and helps justify increasing taxes on fuel which lead to a further increase in the cost of living. Our national broadcaster is not serving us well on this issue. We are misled by incomplete and slanted information, this is simply irresponsible. As a Canadian contributing to the CBC budget I have a right not to be misinformed and demand balanced, level headed, reporting, not political propaganda.

    Re-read this article again, lest you accuse me of not acknowledging that the globe has warmed. The best data we have – and for which we can therefore have a very high level of confidence in – is that obtained from satellites over past 40 years. It does show some warming, but it is a short record and the trend is not dramatic. Some of the warming may be due to CO2, how much is currently a moot point. The public needs to understand this, the science is far from settled on this issue. And any speculations about the future implications of this warming, should it continue, are just that, speculations. Even if we accept the doomsday scenario as currently promulgated, consider that Canada represents ~ 0.048% of the world population and ask what possible contribution can we make on our own. Taxing our energy consumption further, making us uncompetitive and impoverishing us is not leadership, it is idiocy and it is dividing the country. What’s more there are no obvious global solutions in any case, despite what the Greens, the Big Green lobby (a la ‘big oil’) and misguided if not opportunistic politicians want you to believe.

    Example of past alarmist predictions that did not come to pass

    Here is something else the Québec AM guest omitted to say in the interview of September 30, 2019. We we have seen melting ice, rising temperatures, etc. in the Arctic before (see the 1922 newspaper article below). Nothing catastrophic happened and then things changed, as they always do. Recall that in the sixties and seventies another prediction that did not come to pass was global cooling and now we have so called man made global warming. Cooler heads must prevail, the road to hell is said to be paved with good intentions.

    The article appeared on page 2 of the Washington Post on November 2, 1922, under the headline, “Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt.” The text of the article reads:

    “The Arctic Ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consul Ifft, at Bergen, Norway. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers, he declared, all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met with as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts, which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds.”

    The article, which was written by the Associated Press, appeared in scores of newspapers around the country in November of 1922. A researcher named John Lockwood found the article archived at the Library of Congress in 2007.

  4. Not true John Klein. As the Vostock and other ice core data reveals, the average natural CO2 levels have ranged during our current ongoing Pleistocene/Holocene Ice Age between 180-280ppm. Depending entirely on whether we were in a glacial phase (180ppm) or an interglacial phase - as we are today (280ppm). This is because CO2 solubility varies with temperature. As temperature rises, CO2 outgasses from earth's water resulting in an increase in the biosphere. However, CO2 levels began to increase steadily and significantly to today's current 400ppm beginning after WWII. That is unusual. It's been twelve million years since the earth has enjoyed CO2 levels that high. However, TEMPERATURES have not increased at all beyond the last twelve THOUSAND year average. Debunking entirely the concept of a CO2 driven climate.

  5. Exactly Dr. Charles Capaday. Greta's been duped. Turns out homeschooling taught her nothing about climate, energy, or CO2s essential contribution to the environment. Or that coal, oil, and gas are 85% of the world's energy. Or that they have made us the most prosperous, longest living, best fed human beings that have ever existed. Or that they have increased the carrying capacity of the earth by billions of people over the last century. Or that they have made us ten times safer from climate over the last century. Or that the CO2 they produce has made the planet greener, shrunk deserts, and brought a string of world record crop yields. About the only thing a little more CO2 hasn't done is warm the climate! Poor uninformed Greta. There are many fine studies that picture our Holocene interglacial and its frequent (in geological time) changes in temperature over the last twelve thousand years. Bernier and Scotese et al detail a twelve thousand year frequent increase and decrease in temperature during our current twelve thousand year interglacial (of about 4 degrees C up and down). About a dozen times over twelve thousand years. And ice core evidence shows a 100,000 year cycle of interglacials/glacials going back 800,000 years (nearly three million years if you count an amazing Californian study). This frequency correlates very well with Milankovitch Eccentricity. About the only ones that find climate change controversial at all is Michael Mann and his band of mythical CO2 driven climate hysterics. Mann's study failed the random data test. Pump in some random data, out pops a hockey stick. Failure on so many levels. Dr. Tim Ball has a graph comparing Mann's hockey stick to a much more broadly accepted Medieval Warming Period and Little Ice Age erasing Mann's hockey stick. And Kobshi, Alley, and May show just half of the Holocene interglacial where each time there is an uptick in temperature (from today's), a new civilization is built! The Minoan Warm Period, the Roman Warm period, and as you say, the Medieval Warm Period. Nice reference to Dr. Roy Spencer. His colleagues Dr. John Christy and Dr. Judith Curry are also credible 'skeptics'. Dr. John Christy's lecture in Paris makes the point clear that our climate, on multiple fronts, is neither catastrophic or even remotely dangerous. Bjorn Lomborg of Denmark has made clear that 100 years ago climate killed 500,000 people a year. Today, after 100 years of fossil fuel powered development, climate deaths are ten time less frequent, killing only 56,000 a year. CBC's ridiculous climate hysteria has earned them zero funding from the taxpayer IMHO. If it was up to me, I would sell them off to Murdoch to create a conservative television presence in Canadian television. Canadians deserve that kind of balance. You'll only find it in print in Canada. Here's Dr. John Christy's lecture. Again, I agree wholeheartedly with your healthy CO2 driven climate skepticism Dr. Capsaday. I wish more people in a position to know spoke up so courageously. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8hdE3eZ6vs&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0ShidK9wBjnA-zNAY3hCiAf4eHd_ciKW6QHNQdeVtbvAR935mdZuY9aQQ&t=13s

  6. Thank you Barry, it is appreciated. Although my article/comment dates back a year or two, the analysis and conclusions remain true today, being March 12, 2022. Sorry I missed your reply way back then.

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