[Discussion document] Global Warming: A Socialist Perspective - Part Three

In part three Brian Baker in answering the question "Is the planet warming?" states that "The short answer is yes" but his opinion is that this "is most probably from the little ice age, but nothing dramatic." Different methods produce different results, therefore one has to take great care in using as scientific and objective a method as possible. Are these statements valid points? We invite our readers to comment.

Note: The position expressed in this article is not the position of the International Marxist Tendency. It is the opinion of one of our readers. We believe he has raised some interesting points that are worth discussing. The purpose of publishing this article is to stimulate debate on an important question. We invite our readers to participate in this debate. Please send any contributions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Is the planet warming?

The short answer is yes, most probably from the little ice age, but nothing dramatic. But the first question that must be asked is how do we measure it? Three methods are used - the first is the land record, from thousands of monitoring stations worldwide. The second is by microwave sensors on satellites. Ships tossing a canvas bag over the side and collecting a sample collected the third method, the Sea Surface Temperature. This was later replaced by measuring the engine cooling water inlet. These methods are now being replaced by the Argo satellite system where the oceans have been seeded with a vast array of sensors to record a number of different parameters. Measuring the heat storage capacity of the oceans is a very important metric as some climate scientists would insist that the disparity between the orbital satellite data (more later) and the land based measurements can be accounted for by the heat absorption of the oceans. In other words this is the sink. Bearing in mind that the oceans account for 2/3rds of the surface are of the globe it would be easy to find.

The surface land temperature record is now coming under close observation, as many of the stations have not been moved whilst urban development encompassed them. There is a primary argument as to whether the stations' records are corrupted by what is known as the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. The ecohondriacs insist that the UHI effect is minimal, whilst a brisk walk around a city after a blazing hot day tells one that the buildings are emitting heat. If this were not the case then night storage heaters would never have been developed. But it is the magnitude of the rise that is at question. Remember that we are only talking in official statistics of 0.7oC!

A retired meteorologist in America, Anthony Watts has decided to revalidate all the sites chosen in the US and has come to some startling conclusions as is demonstrated by comparing the siting of one station in Panguitch, Utah. Watts comments:

"I've seen stations over asphalt, such as the University of Arizona station in Tucson, but this one has a special feature; they made a concrete traffic island especially for the station so that it wouldn't get collided with by nearby parked vehicles. How's that for diligence? The station mount was set right into the concrete. So much for the 100 foot rule away from asphalt, concrete and buildings issued by NOAA."

Looking at the temperature record for the site one can guess when the concrete was poured.

Figure 16
Figure 16: Site of Station Sensor (left) and Temperature Readout. Concrete poured in 2000

The orbital satellite temperature measurements show that the world is not responding in anything like the manner predicted by either the GCM's or the land based records. Specifically John Christy who is an expert in this field stated:

"Questions will continue to linger about these temperature measurements unless and until they conform to the idea that appreciable warming is taking place, which they continue to refuse to do, notwithstanding claims that by narrowing the disagreement between surface and atmospheric readings the disagreement thereby no longer exists."

Isn't science wonderful! Just what is the difference? Rather large exactly. This from S. Fred Singer:

"According to the April 2006 Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) report, considerable disparity exists between the observed warming-rate patterns and those calculated by greenhouse models. Although the models predict that temperature trends will increase with altitude by 200 to 300 percent, the data from both weather balloons and satellites show the exact opposite."

In other words there is either something wrong with the land based measurements or the satellite measurements. There is something amiss with a network that has not been properly maintained due to funding shortfalls, that takes no account of the increasing urban sprawl or there is something wrong with an extraterrestrial calibrated measuring system. For those that are still trained with the scientific method which one would be worth a bet?

As a further compounding factor McIntyre and McKitrick have undertaken a statistical analysis of the land based temperature record and have shown that the

"patterns of contamination are detectable in both rich and poor countries and are relatively stronger in countries where real income is growing. We apply a battery of model specification tests to rule out spurious correlations and endogeneity bias. We conclude that the data contamination likely leads to an overstatement of actual trends over land ...... by 100%."

It is worth comparing the satellite data and the global temperature record as measured by land based sensors. For confirmation of Singer's claim (above) that the stratosphere is not warming we can look at the TLS satellite transponder in Figure 17, which shows a distinct cooling against the GCM expectation of a 2 to 3 times increase with altitude.

Figure 17
Figure 17: Global, monthly time series of Stratospheric temperature anomaly

Compare this with the CET record since 1979 (year satellites were first used) and it is quite clearly seen that far from being a 2 to 3 times increase that both the sign and the gradient are in opposition. But a 2oC increase in the past period is all that it takes to create a panic in the minds of ecohondriacs!

Figure 18
Figure 18: CET Temperature Anomaly over same period as Figure 13

This same trend in the CET data when looked at over the whole period of the record is 0.02oC/decade and is entirely consistent with a slow recovery from the Little Ice Age. One could go further and compare the land-based anomaly with the lower tropospheric satellite record over the same period as is shown in Figure 19.

Figure 19
Figure 19: Global, monthly time series of Lower Troposphere temperature anomaly

The lower troposphere measurement is most closely based on the area we inhabit and shows only one third of the rise in temperature compared with the land-based record. Hence the concern of Christy and Singer, that this disparity should be addressed. But just as important all the data sets show no warming whatsoever since 1998. The three primary El Niños during the past 20 years are clearly evident as peaks in the satellite time series occurring during 1982-83, 1987-88, and 1997-98, with the most recent one being the largest.

The final piece of evidence is the temperature anomaly in the oceans. The Argo Project has been seeding the oceans with 3,000 transponders that monitor the currents and temperatures at various depths. For the period since 2000 the oceans temperature has been constant, or slightly falling, whereas the GCMs assume that the oceans are absorbing heat. Since the oceans account for 2/3rds of the surface area of the earth and that 80 percent to 90 percent of global warming involves heating up ocean waters, it is surprising is it not that no temperature increase has been observed. This is obvious from the science because salt water holds much more heat than the atmosphere can because of their volume and specific heat. The volume of air in the atmosphere cannot heat the oceans, but as has been seen from the satellite monitoring of El Nino events the oceans directly heat the atmosphere.

Ellis determined that the variation in the annual amplitude variation in the solar radiative forcing is 11.2 Watts per meter squared (due to the Earth's elliptical orbit around the Sun) and provides a perspective on global warming and cooling due to this "purely external driving mechanism". While this heat imbalance sums to zero in an annual average, there clearly is global warming and cooling within each year. When all of the influences on the global heat budget are considered, the variation across the year is of the order of 40 Watts per meter squared. This large variation in the value of global radiative imbalance within the year makes the accurate diagnosis of the multi-decadal trends in anthropogenic radiative forcing (the estimated 1.6 Watts per meter squared total net anthropogenic value since the start of the Industrial Revolution) complicated.

To determine the net temperature rise due to this global forcing, scientists determine a value for the average albedo of the plant, the rise in temperature in degrees C per Watt per square metre. The GISS Model E assumes a value of 0.75 ± 0.25 °C per Wm-2, whereas empirical measurements by Kiehl, Trenberth and Pielke produce a value of 0.1 °C per Wm-2, 5 to 10 times less. Model E further determines that the oceans should be absorbing heat at a rate of 0.8 Wm-2, whereas the Argo project measurements show that no heat is being absorbed at all.

The final irony here is that it was at the Scipps Institute for Oceanography that Keeling first established the CO2 monitoring station on Mauna Lao in Hawaii, with the belief that ‘man was playing a dangerous experiment with the planet by the release of anthropogenic CO2 from fossil fuel burning.' But it is the same Institute that pushed for the deployment of the Argo buoys with the ‘belief' that it would prove that the oceans are absorbing the heat as required by the climate models.

The Melting of the Cryosphere

Every summer and winter there are scare stories in the media highlighting either that in summer, the Arctic is melting or at the end of winter that the Antarctic is melting. Needless to say both events are monitored by journalists travelling to the ends of the earth in order to provide a snapshot of the relevant melting icebergs. Last summer provided a beautiful scenario when two environmentalists Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen, travelled across the Arctic ice field and were planning a swim, in just their swimming costumes, in one of the many ice crevices that open up every year. This demonstration of the impact of global warming was to be broadcast to many schools in North America to drive home to children the impact of global warming. Unfortunately they chose one of the coldest periods for years, and with temperatures of -100oC, were unable to leave their tents. Needless to say, no broadcast was made as the girls were to busy cutting off their toes which had turned black with frostbite. This is what happens when you believe your own propaganda.

The really interesting aspect for the journalists, who swallow too quickly, the latest press release from the survey teams, would be to visit the Arctic and the Antarctic during their respective winters. This year at the end of the Southern Hemisphere winter, we have this reported by Andrea Thompson in Livescience, which was subsequently reported by ITV, BBC etc:

"Glaciologist Ted Scambos of the University of Colorado was monitoring satellite images of the Wilkins Ice Shelf and spotted a huge iceberg measuring 25 miles by 1.5 miles (37 square miles) that appeared to have broken away from the shelf. Scambos alerted colleagues at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) that it looked like the entire ice shelf - about 6,180 square miles (about the size of Northern Ireland)- was at risk of collapsing. The region where the Wilkins Ice Shelf lies has experienced unprecedented warming in the past 50 years, with several ice shelves retreating in the past 30 years. Six of these ice shelves have collapsed completely:"

However as climatologists Joseph D'Aleo commented,

"Let's put this in perspective. The account may be misinterpreted by some as the ice cap or a significant (vast) portion is collapsing. In reality it and all the former shelves that collapsed are small and most near the Antarctic peninsula which sticks well out from Antarctica into the currents and winds of the South Atlantic and lies in a tectonically active region with surface and subsurface active volcanic activity. The vast continent has actually cooled since 1979.

"The full Wilkins 6,000 square mile ice shelf is just 0.39% of the current ice sheet (just 0.1% of the extent last September). A very small piece broke off as an iceberg (37 square miles). Then only a small portion of it around 160 square miles partially disintegrated late this February into early March. That represents just 2.67% of the full Wilkins ice sheet and 0.01% of the total Antarctic icecover (0.003% of its level last September), a little like an icicle falling from a snow and ice cover roof. No big deal (unless you are standing beneath it).

"And this winter is coming on quickly. Satellite images show the ice has already refrozen around the broken pieces and expanded. In fact the ice is returning so fast, it is running an amazing 60% ahead (4.0 vs 2.5 million square km extent) of last year when it set a new record. The ice extent is already approaching the second highest level for extent since the measurements began by satellite in 1979 and just a few days into the Southern Hemisphere fall season and 6 months ahead of the peak. We are very likely going to exceed last year's record. Yet the world is left with the false impression Antarctica's ice sheet is also starting to disappear."

At the end of last Northern Hemisphere summer, reports in the press indicated that the entire North Pole might soon melt. This led to Syun-Ichi Akasofu, Founding Director of the International Arctic Research Center to issue following request to the IPCC:

  • Ask the mass media to stop using scenes of large blocks of ice falling off the terminus of a glacier and of the spring break-up in the Arctic as supposedly due to the manmade greenhouse effect. (Glaciers are 'rivers of ice', so that calving is natural, and spring break-up is a normal, annual event; both have been going on from the (beginning of) geological time.
  • Tell (them) that sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is not a single plate of ice. (The area covered by sea ice changes considerably because of winds and ocean currents, not just by melting.)
  • Call attention to the fact that anomalous, extreme, and unusual weather phenomena are not directly related to the manmade greenhouse effect. (The manmade greenhouse effect is represented by a slow increase of temperature at the rate of 0.6°C/per 100 years.)
  • Acknowledge that the present warming trend is not unusual or abnormal in the light of past temperature changes. (There were many warmer periods than the present one, which lasted hundreds of years during the present interglacial period that began 10,000 years ago.)

Added to these comments must be the British Antarctic Survey findings on comparing the actual climate of Antarctica with that predicted by the Computer Generated Climate Models.

"However, when results from all models are averaged, the resulting pattern of change bears some resemblance to that observed, with greatest warming in the Peninsula region and little change elsewhere [20]. This result suggests that some of the observed change may have an anthropogenic origin, but the lack of a clear and consistent response to changed forcing between models also suggests that much of the observed change in temperatures may be due to natural variability. These differences between modelled and observed changes could be used to argue against attributing change to anthropogenic forcing but some caution is called for as the models used may not adequately represent all of the complex processes that determine temperatures in the polar regions"

So even the believers in AGW cannot find proof of its existence in an area of the world where ITN regularly send news crews to report on the latest ice calving purportedly as proof of human influence on the planet. The weasel words of ‘may have an anthropogenic origin,' is usually stated for grant application purposes meaning ‘more research is needed'.

The Wilkins ice sheet break up, which recently hit the mainstream media involved the break up of just 80 km³ of ice. To arrive at Jim Hansen's estimate of a 15 foot sea level rise this century translates into 46 millimeters per year, requiring 16,500 km³ of additional water per year! This is about 65 times the current rate of ice melt, if we accept the mass balances of Vilaconga and Wahr for the Antarctic and Luthcke for Greenland. If the ice sliding into the ocean is a third of a kilometer thick, then Hansen's doomsday scenario would require 50,000 square kilometers of ice to move from land to ocean every single year!!!!

Perhaps the best way to illustrate the absurdity of the present ecohondria is to look at satellite images from 28 years ago compared with today as shown in figure 20 from the University of Illinois, ‘The Cryosphere Today':

Figure 20
Figure 20: 28 years of Anthropogenic Global Warming (University of Illinois)

Yes it has been very cold this winter, the snow pack covering (shown in white!), has encompassed all of Russia, which had the coldest winter for a century with temperatures 30 degrees below normal. The 48 contiguous states in the US were covered for the first time in recorded history with Seattle reporting over 100 inches of snow in one night. It has fallen in Riyadh - Saudi Arabia, Tehran - Iran, Tel Aviv - Israel. It has fallen on cherry blossoms in Tokyo for the first time in 25 years. The biggest snowstorm covered China with the worst weather for 100 years. According to the Red Cross, many people died in Mongolia this winter as a result of a bitter cold front sweeping across northern India, which brought "the coldest temperatures to hit the region in several years". The same cold front also swept into Pakistan, killing many Afghan refugees and threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands others, while blizzards paralysed South Korea in what weather experts there described as "the worst snowstorm in 20 years". Kazakhstan was subjected to its coldest winter weather in 40 years.

The Warming is something that should be welcomed instead of feared. Cold kills more than warm. But as with DDT the misanthropes of the environmental movement care more for their religion than the consequences, which will safely be ignored by the world's press.

[To be continued...]

See also: