Gransnet forums


Climate Change

(28 Posts)
carboncareful Mon 11-Nov-13 21:59:27

About time you all started thinking about climate change - it seems to have been forgotten of late ! The following should make any
remaining deniers ashamed: -

The head of the Philippines delegation at UN climate talks in Poland has said he will stop eating until participants make "meaningful" progress.

In an emotional speech, Yeb Sano linked the "staggering" devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan to a changing climate.

Mr Sano said he was speaking on behalf of those who lost their lives in the storm and his fast would last until "we stop this madness".

His speech brought tears to the eyes of other delegates and a standing ovation.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote
What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness”
End Quote
Yeb Sano

Philippines climate negotiator

Mr Sano said the typhoon had made land near his home area, and he had just had word that members of his family had survived.

Climate madness

At the opening of the two-week Conference of the Parties (Cop), Mr Sano said he was not just speaking for those who lost their lives but for the thousands who were now orphans.

He told the meeting he would refuse to eat until progress is made.

"In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home, I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate, this means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this Cop, until a meaningful outcome is in sight."

"What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness, the climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness right here in Warsaw," he said.

Aka Mon 11-Nov-13 22:24:32

Nice to see you posting again CC. As long ago as the 1990s there was concern that climate change would bring about more extreme weather and that island nations such as the Philipines would be some of the first to suffer.

We too are an island nation, it's worth remembering, also with large ocean to our west.

janeainsworth Mon 11-Nov-13 22:42:34

You've already put that on the It's not all bad news thread Carbon.
Did you think we hadn't noticed, or something?

Tegan Mon 11-Nov-13 22:51:19

I apologise in advance for thinking it carbon, but it's almost as if you are gleefully pointing out how right you are rather than feeling sorry for all the poor people whose lives have been affected by this tragedy.

annodomini Mon 11-Nov-13 23:04:34

Scientists interviewed on TV are being very cautious about attributing the typhoon to global warming and they are not necessarily scientists known to be climate change deniers.

Aka Mon 11-Nov-13 23:31:34

I think we're all shocked and desperately saddened by this typhoon. Even with warnings there's little could have been done to prevent the devastation and loss of life. So few building were strong enough to withstand the storm. But this has been predicted for years and yes, scientists are being rightly cautious as nothing can actually be proved, it can only be said that this is the kind of weather predicted if climate change is a reality and more can be expected in the future.

Faye Mon 11-Nov-13 23:44:16

carbon has been pointing this out since the beginning of GN Tegan I don't think she is gleeful, more angry that many don't seem to care.

I also thought it a good idea of carbon's to put this subject in its own thread.

I am ashamed to say the Australian Environment Minister will not attend the global climate talks in Poland next week. He will be busy repealing the Carbon Tax. The Abbott gov instead wants to reward Big Businesses that cut back on emissions. He wants to pay them. confused

Aka Mon 11-Nov-13 23:54:14

Yes, Faye I felt Carbon was expressing her anger. In the UK this government is talking about reneging on 'green taxes' and certainly won't hit its targets for reducing carbon emissions. What small reduction there has been is mainly due to the outsourcing of 'dirty' industries to places like China.

We're all to blame. Complaining about the cost of petrol, rather than cutting back our use, and ditto with rising fuel bills.

FlicketyB Tue 12-Nov-13 07:33:20

Personally, I have decided that I prefer to get on and do something about climate change - like halving my domestic fuel consumption rather than contributing to endless threads on climate change on Gransnet when we constantly rehash the same old arguments again and again and nobody changes their mind (including me).

Extreme weather conditions have always happened that is why offshore structures are designed to cope with the 100/1000 year wave.

Aka Tue 12-Nov-13 07:48:07

Yes Flickety I'll try not to get immersed in another pointless discussion on this topic though it's hard. However, like you I've actually taken steps to cut my fuel bills drastically and only use the car when essential.

But extreme weather condition were just that. Now they are more frequent and breaking new records.

FlicketyB Tue 12-Nov-13 08:26:46

Or more extensively reported so that we now actually know about them rather than a couple of inches in the bottom left hand corner on an inner page in a newspaper.

wingnut Wed 20-Nov-13 19:54:48

There is more nonsense being spoken on this subject than you can shake a stick at. This is from Yeb Sano's speech:

"The science has given us a picture that has become much more in focus. The IPCC report on climate change and extreme events underscored the risks associated with changes in the patterns as well as frequency of extreme weather events. Science tells us that simply, climate change will mean more intense tropical storms. As the Earth warms up, that would include the oceans. The energy that is stored in the waters off the Philippines will increase the intensity of typhoons and the trend we now see is that more destructive storms will be the new norm."

You can real his speech in total here

OK, there is no doubting that the typhoon was a human tragedy, but that should not stop people from thinking. It is hardly the biggest tragedy caused by typhoons - in fact I don't think it makes it into the top 50. Here are a few from wikipedia

1582, unnamed, 200,000 dead;
The Great Backerganj Cyclone of 1876, 200,000 dead;
1970 Bhola cyclone, where the official death toll was 500,000, but the number is likely to be higher.
1991 Bangladesh cyclone 150,000.

As I've said before, death toll is not a viable statistic for deciding the power of a storm. In Bangladesh you had a low lying delta with high population very vulnerable to storm surge, so high casualties (note other than the last these were not in the period of 'global warming'). More recently they have been struck again, with a storm as powerful as the 1970 bhola cyclone, but this time the death toll was 10,000. Still large, but why the enormous drop? Because they had invested (with international help) in more effective flood defences. That, too, will make a difference in the Philippines, because it was poverty and corruption that was much to blame for the death toll here.

So, let's look at this connection being made. Big typhoon = Global Warming = equals our fault, so pay damages and build windmills. Does it stack up to reality?

The idea was popularised by Kevin Trenberth. He called a press conference along with Ryan Maue (probably the world's foremost hurricane expert, which Trenberth is not) to discuss any connections between global warming and 'extreme weather events'. Fair enough, and Maue pulled up the data ready. Before it went ahead, however, Trenberth released a statement to the press that, yes, we would see more frequent and more powerful hurricanes, tornadoes, etc, as a result of warming. He said this because some model outputs predicted it. Maue was incensed, because the data said clearly that there was no such connection. In the period of supposed AGW from the late '70s till the late 90's (remember, there has been no warming since) the trend was flat. The opposite, if anything. The hurricane season this year has been very quiet, so has the tornado season (even taking the late one into account), and the West Pacific typhoon season pretty average.

When I heard about Trenberth's announcement, I thought, 'nobody is going to fall for that one, what do you take us for?'. Not only did the data not support his hypothesis, but he was saying precisely the opposite of what he and other climatologists had been telling us for the last 10-15 years. Remember, when temperatures were increasing, people would point to a particularly cold winter or an early snowstorm, and the reply was, 'yes but that's weather, we are talking about climate. You can't look at such short term things, you have to look at the trend over 10-15 years or more to see climate'. And now, when the trend for 17+ years is 'no warming', we are supposed to ignore that and look at individual weather events. Of course the press loved it, it makes easy headlines, but people are too smart, right? Well, many are, but it taught me that you should never underestimate the gullibility of people. Some people can be sold anything.

But the fact remains, there is no trend, and thus we cannot talk about any connection between CO2 and tornadoes or tropical revolving storms. I'll pull up some figures to show this, specifically for the Philippines, and also have something to say about what is happening with the IPCC and UNFCCC agenda that people really should be aware of.

One other thing before finishing. Here is our Beloved Leader, David Cameron: “If I said to you ‘There’s a 60 per cent chance your house might burn down, you want to take out some insurance?’ you take out some insurance. I think we should think about climate change like that. Even if you’re less certain than the scientists it makes sense to act both in terms of trying to prevent and mitigate.”

Well, people here have been around a bit, so I'm sure the first question that comes into your mind is, how much is the premium? Am I right? Because if the premium is more than the value of the house you would be stupid to insure it. Cameron was espousing the Precautionary Principle, an asinine idea beloved of ecoloons which is based on Pascal's Wager. The idea is that, if a possible event is really catastrophic, then even if you aren't sure it is going to happen the safest thing is to assume it will and act accordingly, because if you don't and you are wrong, the cost is just too high.

OK, let's agree, but there is a problem. You see, there is a chance that some aliens have noticed our advancing civilization and are on the way here with their Death Star. When they arrive they will use it to totally destroy the Earth and all living things in it. Yes, ok, it is extremely unlikely, but you have to agree that it is possible. Since this is far more catastophic than a measly couple of degrees centrigrade, the only thing to do is to devote all our resources - all of them - to building interplanetary missile defences before they come.

Of course, the idea is stupid, because it is such a remote possibility that it is foolish to act on it. But the form of the argument is no different from Cameron's, only the exact values of the probabilities, and the costs/benefits have changed. Which means you must take these into account. You have to do a cost/benefit analysis, with costs weighted by the probabllity of the event actually taking place.

Enough for now, but I want look at how we can know whether there is a connection between typhoon and warming, or between warming and CO2, later, because this doesn't seem to be understood.

FlicketyB Wed 20-Nov-13 20:03:24

wingnut Should we deduce that you are a climate sceptic or just that you do not see a connection between extreme weather events and Global Warming?

Pentillie Wed 20-Nov-13 20:45:11

I did like reading wing nuts piece - somebody who has a mind of his/her own I would think.

wingnut Wed 20-Nov-13 20:45:32

Well, the evidence says there is no connection between AGW and extreme weather events.

If we look at this particular weather event, and say it is caused by global warming, as the above Philippine politician is doing (let's leave CO2 aside for the moment and just look at warming regardless of cause), then it follows that a) there would have to be warming, and b) the specific waters over which this storm track went must have been unusually warm. But, as I've said, the instrument record says there has been no net warming for 17+ years (HadCRUT4 land surface records); the data from the Argo buoys has been completely flat since they were deployed in 2003-4; and finally, the Sea Surface Temperature (SST) specifically where this storm tracked were not abnormal (it is an ENSO-neutral year, after all). I believe Michael Mann, of hockey stick fame, has said that the waters 100m down were warm where the storm went. Nice try. Tropical revolving storms are driven by the energy of evaporation. I can guarantee you that the water 100m down was not evaporating! It is SST that you have to look at.

So where does that leave the idea espoused in Poland at the moment? You tell me. I studied logic, and I can make neither head nor tail of the argument that the typhoon is due to warming.

wingnut Wed 20-Nov-13 20:54:27

Thank you, Pentillie, I take that as a great compliment.

Am I a 'climate sceptic'? As Voltaire once said, 'if you wish to converse with me, first define your terms'. I'll pull apart these terms in a later post, because the concept is an important one in this day and age, but if we we just take the word 'sceptic' (in scare quotes, like the BBC), absolutely! I am a sceptic about everything I would hope. The motto of the Royal Society is 'nullus in verba', 'take nobody's word for it' and I follow that rule. Show me the argument, let me see the data. Someone using emotional blackmail to get what he wants (hunger strike) does not impress me. Solid argument does.

wingnut Wed 20-Nov-13 20:57:13

How annoying, no edit button. 'Nullius in verba', of course

Ariadne Wed 20-Nov-13 21:51:37

I await the ensuing arguments with interest, but as Flickety points out, I know that the opposing sides will remain just that, after going round in circles, and possibly shouting at each other.

What, precisely, do we DO about it, apart from taking our own small steps?

FlicketyB Wed 20-Nov-13 22:38:11


wingnut Wed 20-Nov-13 23:31:00

I know that the opposing sides will remain just that, after going round in circles, and possibly shouting at each other.

Ain't that the truth! Before we go further, then, let's talk a little about the terms of the debate, because something very bad, and very serious has happened.

For a very long time, within a particular society, anyway, the Truth (with a capital T) was known. We'll come to knowledge later, but right now I just want to say that knowledge came from rulers and, particularly, a priestly elect. Asking awkward questions, or coming up with the wrong answers, could get you killed. That attitude held sway until the Enlightenment, and in fact still holds sway today in the Islamic world; it was an attitude that probably held back civilization for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Then the enlightenment happened, the reins of the Church was gradually loosened, and we were able to ask questions and seek answers, and for a couple of hundred years there was a lot of progress on exactly how to go about asking those questions, and how to interpret the answers.

In science, in particular, it was recognised that the field was always open. It wasn't always so. Here is Lord Kelvin, in 1900:

"There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now, All that remains is more and more precise measurement."

Yup, 'the science is settled', and what better claim to a settled science could there be than physics? Just five years after he said that, some upstart patent clerk in Switzerland published a couple of papers that blew a hole in this settled science. There were conditions, eg near the speed of light, where Newtonian mechanics just fell apart and things got weird. But that was nothing to how weird things got twenty years later, when Niels Bohr, Paul Dirac, Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg, and others started unravelling Quantum Theory. Now that's weird!

In his 1962 book, The structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Kuhn looked at how science goes through settled periods, when it seems like the basic idea is dealt with in a field, and it is just a matter of 'more precise measurement', until the anomalies get too big, and there is an overthrow to a deeper understanding. In 1960, you couldn't a job in geology if you believed in plate tectonics. By 1970 you couldn't get a job if you didn't.

So, if you hear someone say, 'the science is settled', you know they are not talking about science.

The thing about science is, no matter how big a name is behind an idea, anybody, even a patent clerk, can challenge it if they have evidence and logic on their side.

Now, what has happened since the UN involved itself in a branch of science called climatology? Whether or not the current dogma is correct, it has done tremendous damage to society, because they have worked to stifle debate. You question how the IPCC knows something, ask whether the adjustments made 1930s temperature readings are reasonable, anything that doesn't support dogma, and the pitch fork brigade step in: 'heretic! blasphemer! denier!' (these terms are essentially equivalent, you understand). This is Middle Ages thinking, and if it takes root in society, that's what you'll get: the Middle Ages.

Go to he Guardian and ask awkward questions on global warming, or on their blog Comment is Free (known colloquially as Komment Macht Frei) and you will find the moderators will remove your comment. Try a couple more times and your account is deleted.

The BBC, in 2006, decided that they would no longer even make a pretence at even-handed coverage of the debate, they just won't report any objections to IPCC reports or alarmist media from prominant climatologists (or even railway engineers, like Rajendra Pachauri). There was a meeting, of 28 people, where it was decided to depart from the BBC's famed impartiality. What happened was this. The BBC brought together a meeting of 28 people to advise them. About half were of a warmist persuasion - mostly climatologists, but also some other scientists. About half were more cautious, or skeptical; mostly geologists and physicists, but some climatologists, and they.... I can see you are laughing. Of course, it was nothing at all like that. The BBC were curiously reluctant to give the names of the people, so a FOIA request was put in. They fought the request, and were given leave not to publish it. Unfortunately, they had previously given the list on the web before taking it down, but the wayback machine was their downfall.

There were a couple of scientists, including Bob May and Mike Hulme (I'll have more to say about Hulme in a later post), both warmists. There were no skeptics. They had the head of campaigns from Greenpeace; someone from the US Embassy; the advocacy director from Tearfund Ethiopia, and another member of Tearfund Ethiopia; CO2 project manager from BP; someone from Stop Climate Chaos; someone from the Church of England; the director of NPower Renewables, and so on. Are you surprised they gave up impartiality?

When debate is clamped down like this, it is bad for society. Is this the sort of society we want for our grandchildren? If the AGW arguments are sound, then they will stand on their own merits, without preventing anyone from speaking. Calling someone 'denier' (by implication someone so evil they are akin to holocaust deniers) is anti-science, anti-enlightenment, and anti-progress.

wingnut Fri 22-Nov-13 22:26:31

A bit short of time at the moment, I'm afraid. I was hoping to show you a nice graph of typhoon frequency and strength over the last few years, but it is difficult to find a nice one that isn't behind a paywall, unfortunately. Eg, this study:

Well, you can read the abstract for free anyway

[1] A dataset of tropical cyclone landfall numbers in the Philippines (TLP) is created from a combination of historical observation records of the Monthly Bulletins of Philippine Weather Bureau and Joint Warning Typhoon Center best-track data for the period of 1902 to 2005. Interdecadal variability of TLP is found to be related to different phases of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). The annual TLP has an apparent oscillation of about 32 years before 1939 and an oscillation of about 10–22 years after 1945. No long-term trend is found. During the low PDO phase, the annual TLP decreases (increases) significantly in El Niño (La Niña) years. During high PDO phase, however, the difference in annual TLP between different ENSO phases becomes unclear. These results suggest that natural variability related to ENSO and PDO phases appears to prevail in the interdecadal variability of TLP.

I have found something that shows the data graphed, which I give here. David Rose is perfectly correct in his points, but I do so hate to cite the Daily Mail.

Philippines is NW Pacific basin. For SW Pacific Basin we have Australia's BOM data, though:

There were no measurements made on the ground, only estimates from satellite photgraphs while the storm was still at sea. It certainly looks like the fiercest typhoon to hit Philippines that we have any decent data on remains Typhoon Joan in 1959. The pressure of Haiyan centainly went down very low in the eye, which is interesting, but as Ryan Maue points out, there have been 58 NW Pacific storms with pressures below 900mb since 1950, of which 50 arrived before 1987. Only eight have been seen since.

Highest winds at landfall record still stands with Hurricane Camille, in 1969. That one did have anemometers available, but it broke them. We don't have real typhoon records earlier than the late 1950s, but a study of Chinese archives suggest a roughly 50 year cycle. They are very influenced by the ENSO cycle and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, as you might expect.

This is what the IPCC say in their latest AR5 report

page 2-60 says

“Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century”.

Here’s what the IPCC says in Ch 14 (which is about regional projections):

“it is likely that the global frequency of occurrence of tropical cyclones will either decrease or remain essentially unchanged, concurrent with a likely increase in both global mean tropical cyclone maximum wind speed and precipitation rates.”

It goes on to say that there is low confidence in regional projections of frequency and intensity. So nothing up to now (the data makes that clear anyway), and their 'projection' is that frequency won't increase, but they think individual storm intensity will. We'll examine the basis for that projection later.

There is this meme, as I said, that increasing temperatures will create more extreme weather, but it appears to be the opposite. The ocean-atmosphere system acts as a Carnot heat engine. The tropics absorb more energy that they radiate back into space, whereas the polar regions are net energy emitters. When the climate warms, it preferentially warms the poles rather than the tropics. This is because it take around three times as much energy to warm a given volumne of moist air from 25deg to 26deg than it does to warm the same volume of cold dry air from -2deg to -1deg. The result is that during warm periods there is less of a temperature differential between tropics and poles, and thus the heat engine loses efficiency - it has less capacity to do work. That 'work' is what we see as storms. If you want to hear what that can be like, look up the Great Storm of 1703, or even more, the Grote Mandrenke of 1362. The year 1287 was also a terrible year for storms

Again, none of this in any way diminishes the human (and non-human) tragedy at all, but it does affect what we do about it. Predictably, perhaps, at the Poland conference, poorer nations tried to hold the West to ransom, saying that these events are all our fault, and we should sign up to measures that would cripple our society (and transfer lots of wealth to them whenever a natural disaster happens). However, I think we should not go down the path of thinking we should help countries hit by disasters in this way because of some guilt complex - what happens when temperatures go down and everyone finally abandons this CO2 fetish? Do we stop helping? I think not.

Faye Sat 23-Nov-13 01:06:54

I found this information in the Guardian.

The strongest tropical cyclones in world history:

Typhoon Year Winds/mph mb Landfall

Nancy 1961 215 882 Made landfall as a Cat 2 in Japan, killing 191 people.

Violet 1961 205 886 Made landfall in Japan as a tropical storm, killing 2 people.

Ida 1958 200 877 Made landfall as a Cat 1 in Japan, killing 1269 people.

Haiyan 2013 195 895 Made landfall in the Philippines at peak strength.

Kit 1966 195 880 Did not make landfall.

Sally 1964 195 895 Made landfall as a Cat 4 in the Philippines.

wingnut Sun 24-Nov-13 10:06:37

Thanks Faye. Not something I would expect to read in the Grauniad, of all places. However, the basis of their story is something tweeted by Jeff Masters, who got his figures mixed up, as he later admitted in a conversation on twitter with Ryan Maue (and kudos to Masters for that, so many in this field just try to cover up their mistakes - I'm looking at you, Michael Mann).

These are all NW Pacific basin typhoons, but most of them tracked North of the Philippines. Sally (1964) is actually a long way down the list for the Philippines for max sustained windspeed at landfall (number 217, in fact). Top 5 would be Joan (1959), Zeb (1998), Megi (2010), Joan (1970), Winnie (1958), all of which are apparently more powerful than Haiyan (which I think would be #6), but I say 'apparently' because no hurricane hunter aircraft went into it, and no anemometers at landfall, so it is all estimates. It was certainly one of the strong ones, whatever the exact figures.

carboncareful Thu 19-Dec-13 13:32:37

Her is some interesting reading for those of you seriously interested in what is happening to this planet:

thatbags Mon 23-Dec-13 20:47:53

James Hansen supports nuclear power and criticises some environmental groups.