Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ray Evans' 'Nine facts about climate change' debunked. Pt. 1.

Well, I guess someone has gotta do it.

A book entitled “Nine Facts About Climate Change”, written by Ray Evans, has just been released with much fanfare at our Parliament House. The host was Liberal MP Dennis Jensen.

Ray Evans isn’t a climate scientist, but he sure does have impeccable Right-wing political and mining connections. According to Source Watch:
Ray Evans is an office-holder - and apparent creator - of a string of Australian front groups. He is President of the HR Nicholls Society, Secretary of the Bennelong Society, Treasurer of the Samuel Griffith Society and Secretary of, and main contact for, the Lavoisier Group.

Evans was Executive Officer at Western Mining Corporation (WMC) from 1982 until 2001, during which time he was a close associate of WMC CEO Hugh Morgan. "My role was to engage in the culture wars and provide him with feedback," Evans says of his work for Morgan.

Together with Morgan, he helped found the HR Nicholls Society in 1985.
I’ll look at each of Ray’s nine ‘facts’ and show how they are either wrong, distorted, trivial or just plain idiotic. I was going to do it in one post, but there’s so much wrongness, I’ll have to look at each ‘fact’ individually.

Since I don’t have the book, I’ll use Ray’s pamphlet of the same name – I assume it’s pretty much the same stuff.
1. Climate change is a constant. The Vostok Ice Cores show five brief interglacial periods from 415,000 years ago to the present. The Greenland Ice Cores reveal a Minoan Warm Period 1450–1300 BC, a Roman Warm Period 250–0 BC, the Medieval Warm Period 800–1100AD, the Little Ice Age and the late 20th Century Warm Period 1900–2010 AD.
Climate change is a constant! I’m shocked!! Nobody denies this as far as I know.

As always, the devil is in the detail.
Measurements of isotopic concentrations found within gas bubbles contained within the ice recovered from the Vostok Ice Core, and also from isotopes recovered from ocean sediments, reveal that over the last 500,000 years the earth has experienced mostly Ice Age conditions with average temperatures between 10 and 12 degrees lower than we now enjoy.
Average temperatures over that past 450 000 years were not mostely 10 to 12 degrees lower than today. Even Ray’s own figure 1 shows this. What Ray meant to say was that the lowest average temperatures (as reconstructed from the Vostok ice core in Antarctica) were 10 to 12 degrees lower than today. Simple oversight, I’m sure.

The funny thing is, when I look at seminal Vostok temperature reconstruction, Petit et al. (1999) Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000 years from the Vostok ice core, Antarctica. Nature 399: 429-436, I note that reconstructed average temperatures never even got to 10 degrees lower than present.

Ray directs readers to his figure 1, unfortunately sourced from a paper I don’t have access to. Is it accurate though? It doesn’t match Petit’s reconstruction over the past 8000 years. Look at the area under the red circle. According to Ray:
Earth reached that upper bound about 8,000 years ago and the long-term projection is for a cooling trend.
Quite simply, the data do not show a downward temperature slope from a peak 8000 years ago. The deuterium measurements from which the temperatures were reconstructed do not show this. The portion of Ray’s graph under the red circle is wrong.

Oh well!!
There are two schools of thought with competing theories which seek to explain this history. Those who follow Milankovitch argue that periodic changes in the earth’s position and inclination relative to the Sun provide sufficient cause for the glacial and interglacial cycle. Others argue that these manifestations of huge energy changes in the state of the earth can only arise from perturbations in the state of the Sun and the other giant planets of the solar system, Jupiter and Saturn particularly, and the impact which these perturbations have on the earth.
Two schools of thought? What tosh.

I’m not sure that anyone who could be considered a realist agrees with either; the first is only a partial explanation and the second is utterly ludicrous.

Changes in Earth’s position and inclination are thought to be forcing agents that lead to a positive feedback loop, in the form of CO2 and methane released into the atmosphere by initial warming, which leads to further warming and further CO2 and methane release. On their own, changes in Earth’s position and inclination are not enough to lead to the temperature changes demonstrated in temperature reconstructions. This is why atmospheric CO2 and methane concentrations rise with temperature, though the lag in the initiation of the rises is hundreds of years. In the pasts GHGs were part of the feedback mechanism, and not forcing agents in themselves.
Lance Endersbee states ‘I suspect that the explanation of this phenomenon of such large variations and regular behaviour may be due to geotectonic activity induced by orbital variations’.
Lance Endersbee is a retired civil engineer and his ‘research’ is in the form of a self-published book.

Strange thing to cite. Sort of goes against, well, every peer-reviewed paper ever.
Despite the significant natural increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas concentrations during the warming periods, there has been a recurring upper bound to earth’s temperature over the past million years.
Note that Ray forgets to mention there is also a recurring upper bound to CO2 concentrations, and that that upper bound is well below today’s levels.
Past fluctuations of climate provide a benchmark against which to assess the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC’s) high-end projections of global warming. The IPCC’s computer projections grossly violate earth’s historical experience.
Grossly violate? Did they commit rape or something?

Predictions for warming in the near future are unprecedented, that’s the whole point.

Now it gets really sticky for Ray.

He now disregards the Vostok ice core and uses the Greenland-extracted GISP2 and GRIP ice cores to look at temperatures over the past 5000 years? Or does he?

Rays claims his figure 4 is from Grootes et al. (1993) in Nature.

Only this figure didn’t appear in that paper. There isn’t even a figure remotely like it. The paper is a comparison between the GISP2 and GRIP ice cores. There is no plot of temperature or O18 verses time. Indeed (and this is 1993 remember), the authors state it is impossible to resolve much at all about the recent Holocene period. What the authors most certainly did not state or imply was that:
Clearly manifest are the Minoan, Roman, Medieval and contemporary Late Twentieth Century Warm Periods.

Yet Ray cites Grootes et al. for this statement.

Remember, this is Ray Evans who calls AGW the 20th century's greatest scientific fraud.

Fraud, Ray, fraud?

Note for a latter post on Ray’s guff that he’s delineated the medieval warm period as between 800 and 1000 CE. Kind of strange, don’t you think?

So what do all the other temperature reconstructions over this period say? Why has Ray tried to make broad claims about Earth’s climate from two Greenland ice cores and forgotten to mention all the other data that may have helped him make a case for being representative of global temperatures?

Here’s why:

The reconstructions are all over the place. Ray’s clearly delineated warm periods, particularity the older ones, are not demonstrated based on the range of data available. Ray just cherry-picked the one data set that showed what he wanted it to!
Anthropogenic carbon dioxide cannot provide an explanation for this temperature history, particularly for the Medieval Warm Period.
No shit!

No normal person has ever claimed that CO2 produced from human activities is responsible for anything but a portion of warming in the last 100-odd years.
The most fruitful area of research seems to be in the field of astro-physics where sunspot activity provides good correlations with temperatures.
It’s so fruitful it’s gone nowhere, and silly cosmic ray theories have to be invented, which in turn are schlock.

That’s all until ‘fact’ 2 folks!!