Anatomy of Global Warming Alarmism
For the record; I do not think that any sea ice will survive this summer – Paul Beckwith, climatologist, 3/20/2013
Day after day the airwaves are filled with tales of human-caused global warming catastrophes and ever more frightful ones lurking ready to strike at any moment.
Hurricane Sandy, an East Coast blizzard, Australian wildfires and even an Egyptian plague of locust were all recently blamed on human-caused global warming (AGW).
How does climate catastrophism come about?
The answer is found in the latest new threat just out a couple days ago…
Runaway methane release in the Arctic threatens to melt the north polar icecap this summer!
“Climate change: Is it game over for Earth?“
– Dorsi Diaz, examiner.com, 3/20/2013
The Roots of AGW Alarmism
This latest news story contains all the elements of AGW alarmism commonly heard every day on radio and television and written about in newspapers. Admittedly, The San Francisco Examiner (examiner.com) isn’t the New York Times and Paul Beckwith isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.
Each alarmist story makes claims, cites new data and quotes authoritative sources. But like all classic alarmism, they de-emphasize the most important details.
Take examiner.com’s latest new disaster in the making, for example.
Claims, Evidence and Authorities
From examiner.com we get…
- “worst case scenarios are now playing out in real time”
- “The results of an upcoming unchecked methane release will be nothing short of catastrophic”
- “a record methane level has been reached in the Arctic”
- Methane will “super-heat the planet”
- “Extreme weather events are on the rise with no letting up in sight”
- Scientist “linked a changing Arctic to increasing blizzards” (my personal global warming favorite)
- IASI measurements (Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer)
- Analysis of the IASI data
- 2,200 U.S. high temperature records set in 2012 by March 19th
- February 2013 marked the 336th consecutive month that global temperatures rose above the 20th century average
- Paul Beckwith, climatologist
- Dr. Michael Mann, climatologist
- Scientific American
Sounds impressive, doesn’t it?
The Tale of Two Marches
The first thing to notice is the cleverly titled banner graphic at the top of the story. It clearly shows that the first 18 days of March 2013 is COLDER in the U.S. than the first 18 days of March 2012. Most 2013 readings are well below average.
That isn’t mentioned. Instead, the article highlights high temperature records, mostly in the continental U.S. in 2012.
It also doesn’t mention that most new station records come from young weather stations without enough temperature history to be statistically meaningful. Stations with long recorded histories that set records are meaningful. Most reporting weather stations on Earth are young.
You might also ask yourself, what do continental United States temperatures have to do with methane release in the Arctic?
The Science behind the Story
An event unprecedented in human history is today, this very moment, transpiring in the Arctic Ocean
– Paul Beckwith, 3/20/2013
Every alarmist story always contains elements of truth. This one is no different.
The main science triggering it are measurements this month of the Arctic from an earth orbiting satellite called IASI. It is an instrument package monitoring weather and climate put up by EUMETSAT – the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.
Those measurements are displayed visually in the above graphic created by Dr. Leonid Yurganov, Senior Research Scientist at UMBC. It displays the first 10 days of March 2013.
Reds and warm colors show higher levels of methane (CH4). Blues and cool colors show lower levels. As we can see, the CH4 is concentrated over the Arctic’s Barents and Norwegian Seas above Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. To a much lesser degree some is even found down in the Sea of Okhotsk and North Atlantic and upper Pacific Ocean.
The difference between the deep cold blue and red hot burgundy is +120 parts per billion by volume (ppbv) of CH4. According to NOAA data, the average atmospheric CH4 levels over the Arctic between 1994 and 2010 is around 1,850 ppbv. That puts CH4 early this month about +70 ppbv, or 3% above the baseline.
Records have been collected by IASI for 7 years. This is the highest of the seven March 1st through March 10th measurements collected so far. It is just 3% above the 1994-2010 Arctic average for the 10-day period.
Translated into technical scientific jargon… “It ain’t no big deal!”
The Beckwith Analysis
This is abrupt climate change in real-time
– Paul Beckwith, 3/20/2013
Beckwith’s “analysis” is presumably based on Yurganov’s new data. “Analysis” is in quotes because there is no numerical analysis and little peer reviewed anything. It is only talking point reactions to the new data and a personal blog posting where he claims, among other things, that the Arctic icecap is cracking open!
Pack ice is breaking up early this year, is all. It’s unusual, but not a rare event according to a witness – Daniel Wall, a professor in Barrow Alaska.
In the blog posting Beckwith incorrectly claims that this winter’s refreeze “went dismally and the surface area and thickness never recovered”. That is at odds with NOAA who recorded, before it even ended, that last winter’s ice pack growth is the highest since 1980 and over 20% higher than the previous record set in 2008.
Beckwith supplied no source data for his claim, though he is right about the icecap being thin.
Dr. Yurgenov, inexplicably, isn’t asked what he thought of his own results.
Spend 5 minutes googling and you find that Beckwith is not even a climatologist, let alone a credible one. He has no published scientific works in the field.
The first sentence of his own May 2012 resumé reads, “Studying to become a climatologist”. His highest listed degree is a masters in physics. His only listed teaching experience is chess teacher at a community center.
Beckwith is a student in a paleoclimatology Ph.D program at the University of Ottawa.
Dr. Michael Mann, on the other hand, is a widely published climate scientist.
The Most Important Details
Here are details glossed over or ignored…
- March 2013 is colder than March 2012 and colder than average
- The CH4 “record” is a 10-day period compared to the same 10-day period for just 6 previous years
- In context, the “record” CH4 release is miniscule and literally meaningless
- The CH4 detected is over ocean only
- The CH4 detected is NOT over the East Siberian Sea where most seabed CH4 is located
- No temperature evidence exists proving that the Arctic seabed is warming
- Without ocean floor warming in the East Siberian there cannot be a massive methane release
- 2012 temperatures in the continental U.S. are spurious data within the story
- Dr. Yuganov is never queried on his IASI data results and its meaning
- Lacking evidential support, a claim of more numerous extreme weather events is made
- Paul Beckwith, the primary quoted authority, is NOT an authority at all
The best way to describe what all this adds up to is… think Swiss cheese!
When government and science mix, science loses.
Climate change politics has evolved two non-scientific extremist camps. Alarmists see human-caused climate change disasters everywhere. Deniers steadfastly refuse to believe the Earth is warm.
Alarmism is sexier than denial so, cloaked in media pseudo-science, it draws the most attention.
Fanciful yarns like the north polar icecap will totally melt away before summer’s end are the product of alarmism.
The alarmist formula is simple. Mix 3 parts of outrageous claims; 1 part real science; add 1 part unrelated connections; ignore 3 parts contrary evidence and then top it all off with 2 parts of legitimizing authority from an unqualified expert.
It’s easy. That is how examiner.com did it.