You Ought to Have a Look: National Landmarks, Copious Food, Fingerprints, and Satellites

You Ought to Have a Look is new a feature from the Center for the Study of Science posted by Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. (“Chip”) Knappenberger. While this section will feature all of the areas of interest that we are emphasizing, the prominence of the climate issue is driving a tremendous amount of web traffic. Here we post a few of the best articles and essays in recent days, along with our color commentary.

We have a couple of new introductions to make to our You Ought to Have a Look line-up.

We’re big fans of Daniel Botkin. He is an environmental biologist with a panoramic view of nature. He started his career as a forest modeler (that’s someone who predicts the future composition and structure of forests) and was a Government-Issue global warmer. Since then, he has written 16 books on the environment and has become a champion lukewarmer—a person who, like us, synthesizes the climate data and comes to the hypothesis that warming will be modest and readily adapted to. On May 29, he testified before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, on systematic problems with the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. On June 18, he was before a subcommittee of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Botkin has a thought-provoking piece this week in the National Parks Traveler—a website dedicated to all things National Parks. In his article, he critiques a report issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) with the predictably alarming title, “National Landmarks at Risk: How Rising Seas, Floods, and Wildfires Are Threatening the United States’ Most Cherished Historic Sites.”  The paleolithic media were all over the UCS report when it came out six months ago, and it headlined several news shows on the dinosaur networks. For “balance,” we managed a few soundbites.

Botkin’s article is more in-depth than the UCS report, concluding that human-caused global warming gets far more attention than it deserves in the universe of environmental issues, which precludes appropriate attention to real issues.

Botkin writes:

However, global warming has become the sole focus of so much environmental discussion that it risks eclipsing much more pressing and demonstrable environmental problems. The major damage that we as a species are doing here and now to the environment is not getting the attention it deserves.

You ought to have a look at Botkin’s complete article!

Next we bring your attention to Watts Up With That, “the world’s most viewed site of global warming and climate change,” the result of (now retired) broadcast meteorologist Anthony Watts’ blood, sweat, and tears over the past several years. WUWT, as it is known, features a large array of climate-related articles, about four or five per day.  A recent story that caught our eye was one featuring a collection of newsbites highlighting record agricultural output from around the world during the past year. The article “World Food Production at Record Levels” reinforces a point that we like to repeat as often as we can: the world is thriving in the face of, or even because of, climate changes.

Again, we recommend a click on Judith Curry’s Climate Etc. blog. Recently, she featured a guest post by Matt Skaggs, who presents an entirely new (to climate people, anyway) way to isolate (or, perhaps, not find) the signature of carbon dioxide-induced warming. “Root Cause Analysis of the Modern Warming” says that documenting a human fingerprint on global warming is much more uncertain than it is typically made out to be, as it is based upon a faulty line of reasoning. Curry offers this teaser:

The main point of relevance here is that there are different ways to frame and approach the climate change attribution problem, and the one used by the IPCC and mainstream climate scientists isn’t a very good one.

The post is lengthy and technical in spots, but it does make you wonder whether everyone has been trying to solve the attribution issue the wrong way.  

The interwebs also provide a rapid-response platform when one’s scientific work is challenged in the refereed literature, as shown in a recent post at Roy Spencer is writing about a recent publication in the journal Climate Dynamics claiming that his satellite-sensed temperatures—which show much less warming than do surface thermometers—are confounded by cloudiness. According to author Fuzhong Weng and colleagues, when the effects of cloudcover are accounted for, the warming trend in the satellite record increases by about 30%, putting it more in line with the surface records.

(Actually, that wouldn’t cut it for at least one obvious reason—Spencer’s satellite record does not have as much of the “pause” in warming since 1997 that appears in the surface temperature history that scientists prefer over others.)

Spencer’s rejoinder is pretty powerful, noting that he and his co-worker John Christy have visited and revisited the cloud issue for decades and find it to be nugatory. Further, Spencer questions why Weng et al. only looked at one of the very many sensing units that have been launched since 1978, and that only covers 13 of the 35 years of the operational data set. There’s no particular reason cited for this, which tends to confirm that the Weng et al. paper is consistent with the paradigm theory of science first put forth by Thomas Kuhn in the 1962 (and many reprints) classic, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn’s thesis is that most scientists spend their careers trying to defend the established order, and when that order is challenged, they resort to some pretty bizarre attempts to demonstrate that everything is hunky-dory with the established paradigm. In this case, that would be that the surface temperature trends shown in the University of East Anglia are more reliable than the satellite data—providing more (but declining) support for the notion that the human influence on climate is large and dangerous.

Observant readers of our ramblings will notice that we specifically ignore the surface temperature history from NASA, initially developed by Sergei Lebedeff and Jim Hansen. Those data have been processed (perhaps “Jimmied” is more appropriate) in ways that flunk Physics 101, and, la-dee-da, Jimmying produces more warming, more consistent with high-end fantasies about climate change that keep Hansen flying in the front of the plane. For a bit on that, see this story from the WUWT archives.