Friday, February 29, 2008

Last year's reality: global cooling.

In September of last year I wrote that 2007, by all indications, was going to be a very cold year, much colder than one would expect with all the global warming hype we were reading. In spite of some press reports that Berlin was in the midst of heat wave I was living in Berlin and it was a very cool summer by all indications. I said so in this blog. I also spent a lot of time in England last year and I reported that it was experiencing the “same cool summer”.

This blog reported the coldest August day in New York City since 1911 and how a summer bike ride in New Hampshire was cancelled due to cold weather. I reported similar unusual cold spells in Australia, Peru, Canada and California

I also reported that a global warming awareness concert in South Africa had to be cancelled due to unusual snow for the area. I’ve spent ten winters in that region of South Africa and it never snowed once in my time there. A friend of mine who grew up there said he only saw a brief amount of snow in the area once in his entire life -- he is now 30 years old.

In another story I reported on claims by the Democrats that New Hampshire was being threatened by global warming. I showed that the weather data for New Hampshire showed no such thing. In fact the last half of the century experienced a clearly defined cooling trend.

Just a few days ago the National Post in Canada warned: “Forget Global warming: Welcome to the new Ice Age.” They reported:
The U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported that many American cities and towns suffered record cold temperatures in January and early February. According to the NCDC, the average temperature in January "was -0.3 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average."

China is surviving its most brutal winter in a century. Temperatures in the normally balmy south were so low for so long that some middle-sized cities went days and even weeks without electricity because once power lines had toppled it was too cold or too icy to repair them.
I have been aware that the global warming trend lines have been flat for almost a decade now -- showing no sign of warming in spite of the models predicting such increases. And this last year I was highly suspicious that the trend line would be heading in a cooler direction. So I’ve been waiting for the 2007 data rather impatiently. Now it is available and it confirms my suspicions.
First, here are the trend lines on global temperatures for the last twenty years according to the Hadley Center for Climate Prediction in the UK. Daily Tech reports:
Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile -- the list goes on and on. No more than anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But now, that evidence has been supplanted by hard scientific fact. All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.
The National Post article notes that some scientists have been arguing that a cooling was in the works due to changes in solar activity. They reported:
Last month, Oleg Sorokhtin, a fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, shrugged off manmade climate change as "a drop in the bucket." Showing that solar activity has entered an inactive phase, Prof. Sorokhtin advised people to "stock up on fur coats." He is not alone. Kenneth Tapping of our own National Research Council, who oversees a giant radio telescope focused on the sun, is convinced we are in for a long period of severely cold weather if sunspot activity does not pick up soon. The last time the sun was this inactive, Earth suffered the Little Ice Age that lasted about five centuries and ended in 1850. Crops failed through killer frosts and drought. Famine, plague and war were widespread. Harbours froze, so did rivers, and trade ceased.

Just in case you think that these scientists are way off, Anthony Watts has this graph regarding the levels of solar activity. Not how it has dropped to relatively low levels in 2005 and remained there since. Some scientists contend the increase in solar activity is overdue and expect it to start up any day now. But a panel of experts are now split on the level of activity. Half say they expect solar activity to be more mild than usual.

Of course all this merely reflects what has actually happened. And it doesn’t fit the models that climatologists have used to predict global warming. One can still argue that the models are correct in the long term and that the recent years are anomalies. Or one can argue that models are inherently flawed and that no scientist is yet able to take into account all the factors which determine climate. What we do know is that the last year was much cooler than average and I, for one, don’t like it. I prefer warm to cold any day of the week. But to each his own.

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