For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

Partial book review: first impressions

I started on a new book today, Wild Weather; The Truth Behind Global Warming by Dr. Reese Halter.

From reading the reviews and the back cover, I got the impression that this book would be on the neutral side of things - a sort of "this is what we know, this is what we think we know, decide for yourself" sort of book.

I was wrong.

And I'm only into the 5th chapter! (they're very short chapters)

The first hint that it wasn't neutral should've been clear right from the first chapter, The Deadly Surge. It was all about Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans (you know, a lot of other places were wiped out of existence in that hurricane, but no one ever mentions them). This is a book about wild weather, however, so it made sense to me that it would talk about Katrina. If anything, I got the impression that building homes and cities in low lying, hurricane prone areas is really rather stupid. But then, so is living on a delta in an earthquake zone, and I've done that myself. ;-)

There were a couple of other hints that things were not that way they should be in the second chapter, Wild Weather. It described "extreme or wild weather events are those that surpass known records." It then goes on to say that, "since the inception of official records, there have been some exceptional extreme weather events, particularly in North America," giving examples in 1888, 1953, 2003, and of course, Katrina in 2005.

After talking a bit about how scientists use ice cores, tree rings and sediments to figure out past climates, and a brief mention of the "tremendous shifts in climate" during the Pleistocene epoch (which is when the last ice age occured), the author starts to talk about how long North Americans, the English and the Dutch have been keeping temperature records. North America is a big place, the English Empire spanned continents, and the Dutch had extensive colonies as well. The impression given is that these groups have been keeping continuous records over a wide geographical area. In reality, continuous record keeping is rather sporadic. I believe there's only one spot in England that has continuous records of more than 200 years. A lot of places haven't had any sort of continuous, reliable record keeping until very recently, and there are actually fewer weather stations in North America today than there were 30 odd years ago. Many European weather stations had to be abandoned during WWI and WWII, since people tend to be more interested in surviving than reading thermometers, so there are gaps there, as well.

Still, this is a very short book with very short chapters, so I figure there's only so much detail that could be included.

Then I got to this part. First, the author talks about the increases in human population and the burning of fossil fuels. He then writes:

The release of certain so-called greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and 28 other trace gases, including water vapor...

Wait, wha??? Did he just call water vapor a trace gas?!?!?! Water vapor constitutes 95% of the greenhouse gases. How can he refer to it as a trace gas?

He then proceeded to make numerous blanket statements, none of which are backed up in any way - no footnotes, etc. These included several inaccurate, dis-proven and questionable claims. First, there's the claim that the Earth's temperature has dramatically risen. The number changes depending on where you look, but all the ones I've seen have claimed an increase in average global temperatures of less than 1C over the last 100 years - hardly dramatic. He then claims that, as a result of these increases, there are more extreme weather events. Since I know that many climatologists, particularly hurricane experts, have been trying to counter this oft repeated myth, I found myself wondering just what kind of "expert" this author is. So I checked the bio at the back.

Dr. Halter, it turns out, is "an award winning conservation biologist and television host."

So here we have a book about extreme weather and global warming, written by a biologist.

Ok, I can accept that people can be a certified expert in one area, and still become experts in other areas without that official certification. However, if someone's expert enough to publish a book on a subject, you'd think they'd at least list how and why that person is qualified to do so. There's nothing of the sort.

All right, let's look at the back of the book on the inside. Surely there's an index or bibliography or some sort.

Not exactly..

There's a few fairly typical "THE EARTH IS DYING BECAUSE OF US, AND WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW!!!!" quotes. There's a "select bibliography" listing book titles, but no research papers, studies, etc. There's some websites listed, including the IPCC website. The Acknowledgements lists more books, including An Inconvenient Truth, and a number of news articles and their websites. Still no references to actual studies, research data and base data sources. This is something I've noticed as a big difference between books claiming AGW and those that counter them. AGW books never list detailed source information, while the books that counter them tend to have very extensive appendixes, indexes, footnotes and bibliographies listing original research papers.

Ah, here we go - About the Author.

Dr. Halter is a conservation scientist (award-winning). He's a family man. A best-selling children's author (that explains the overly-simplistic style of writing), a syndicated science writer, a TV nature documentary host, and a professor of Botany at Humbolt State University. He's "founded Global Forest Science as a charitable international forest research foundation." Among the list of things this organization has accomplished, only one seems to be climate related; "using trees and forests in Manitoba and Wyoming as a barometer of rising global temperatures..." He also "visits schools and encourages children worldwide to embrace conservations, science exploration, and learning."

All well and good, but I still don't see anything that makes him an expert in extreme weather, related to global warming or otherwise.

Which explains, I suppose, his list of questionable information. In a few short paragraphs, along with erroneously claiming that extreme weather has increased due to global warming, he claims:

- accelerated die-off of coral reefs in the Caribbean. This is actually an unknown. There are many reasons corals might die from. Increased ocean temperatures *might* be one of them - or might not.

- increased droughts

- increased forest fires,

- with a subsequent increased die-off and damage due to insect infestations and disease.

This is just in the second chapter!

The third chapter, Hurricanes, opens with "Hurricanes are nature's fiercest storms." He describes 2 hurricanes in detail; one in 1900 ("Isaac's Storm, Galveston Bay, category 4) and another in 2005. That's right, Katrina again.

Chapter four, Tornadoes, opens with "Tornadoes are the most violent storms on Earth."

I don't know why, but claiming one type of storm to be the "fiercest" and another to be "most violent," somehow seems odd to me. Like you can have one or the other, but not both. Probably because, in weather, fierce and violent tend to be used interchangeably.

At this point, I stopped reading it for the day. We'll see how the rest turns out.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

The media responds.

Obligatory disclaimer...

I'm actually quite surprised by the response to Gore's Nobel Peace Prize win in the media. Not all of them are fawning over him, like the one I linked to in my previous post. Here's a sampling.

Gore gets a cold shoulder

Steve Lytte
October 14, 2007

ONE of the world's foremost meteorologists has called the theory that helped Al Gore share the Nobel Peace Prize "ridiculous" and the product of "people who don't understand how the atmosphere works".

Dr William Gray, a pioneer in the science of seasonal hurricane forecasts, told a packed lecture hall at the University of North Carolina that humans were not responsible for the warming of the earth.

His comments came on the same day that the Nobel committee honoured Mr Gore for his work in support of the link between humans and global warming.

"We're brainwashing our children," said Dr Gray, 78, a long-time professor at Colorado State University. "They're going to the Gore movie [An Inconvenient Truth] and being fed all this. It's ridiculous."

A coup for junk science

Gore's 'truth' nets Nobel Prize

Terence Corcoran, National Post

Published: Saturday, October 13, 2007

Global warming theory has been in political and scientific trouble for some time, but who knew it had sunk so low it needed a boost from the Nobel Peace Prize committee?

David Warren, The Ottawa Citizen

Published: Saturday, October 13, 2007

We (royal we) awoke yesterday morning to the following citation from the Nobel Committee, awarding their peace prize for 2007 not to us for our thoughtful columns on Iraq, Afghanistan, and the global menace of "Islamism" (we were not even nominated!) -- but to Al Gore:

Honouring a panic-monger

Giving Al Gore the Peace Prize has subordinated science to hype

David Frum, National Post

Published: Saturday, October 13, 2007

And so Al Gore joins the list of the Nobel Peace laureates, alongside such immortals as Baroness Bertha von Suttner, Karl Hjalmar Banting, Emily Greene Balch and Eisaku Sato.

To do justice to the former U.S. vice president, he certainly represents a big improvement over such past winners as Yasser Arafat and Rigobertu Menchu. Menchu, a propagandist for the leftist Guatemalan guerrilla movement, won the prize in 1992 on the strength of her heart-rending personal testimony, I, Rigobertu Menchu. Menchu's story later proved fabricated, leading to calls for the rescission of her prize. As we shall see, Gore often traffics in hysterical exaggeration--but at least he does not consciously invent.

The Gazette

Published: 19 hours ago

There was a time when the Nobel Peace Prize was almost the private preserve of statesmen, people who actually and directly made or preserved peace in the world: Lester Pearson after Suez; Willy Brandt for his role in East-West d├ętente; and so on.

But the Norwegian Nobel Committee has occasionally found time for peace activists, social workers and the righteous, from those involved in the international arbitration movement before the First World War through to Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, and microcredit pioneer Muhammad Yunus.

So it's not really a surprise that Al Gore will now have a Nobel to put on his mantle (does he use his fireplace?) between his Emmy and his Oscar.

Of course, there's increased speculation about his running for president, both for...

Emmy, Oscar, Nobel: How 'bout that presidency, Al?


Saturday, October 13, 2007 – Page A27

If the world could vote, Al Gore would be the next president of the United States.

He is the most qualified American to be president of the world's most important country: congressman, senator, vice-president, statesman, policy expert, communicator, winner of an Oscar, an Emmy and, now, the Nobel Peace Prize. No candidate, not even Hillary Clinton, can match those credentials.

... and against.

Award heats up Gore-for-president buzz

Former U.S. vice-president, UN panel on climate change named for efforts to spread awareness on global warming

From Saturday's Globe and Mail

WASHINGTON — When he refused to take questions from reporters, the speculation only became more intense.

The movement to draft Al Gore for the Democratic presidential nomination went into overdrive Friday, with the news that he was co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

"This award will only add to the tremendous tidal wave of support for Al Gore," declared the website, an Internet-based collection of Democrats who are trying to persuade the former vice-president to enter the race for the party's presidential nomination.

"He has no choice but to take the one step left to have the greatest impact in changing policy on global warming — run for President."

But Mr. Gore will almost certainly not run, if for no other reason than there is very little chance that he would win.

As much as I don't think Al Gore even qualified for a Nobel Peace Prize (check out Lawdog for a copy of Mr. Nobel's will to see why), I think this may turn out to be a good thing in the end. It may finally call a lot more attention to the errors and exaggerations in AIT, and more people will finally learn more and recognize it for the political propaganda it is.

One can hope.


So Al Gore has won his Nobel Peace Prize. (Heaven help us if he decides to run for president now!) I was hoping it would actually go to someone who did something to further, you know, peace in the world, but I didn't really expect it. In light of some of the others who've won the NPP, I wouldn't exactly be bragging about it.

The irony of this is that AIT is increasingly - and rightfully - being slammed for its numerous errors, even in a court ruling,

Mr Justice Burton identified nine significant errors within the former presidential candidate’s documentary as he assessed whether it should be shown to school children.

and calls are being made to have him stripped of his Oscar.

“Given that the Oscar Award was presented in the documentary category and not the drama category, the only appropriate action now is for the Academy to rescind the Award as it was clearly inappropriately classed as a documentary.

“The truth, as inconvenient as it is to Al Gore, is that his so-called documentary contained critical distortions that are quite contrary to the principles of good documentary journalism. Good documentaries should be factually correct. Clearly this documentary is not."

How's that for a contradiction.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Worth a look

This is a fairly long video, but I think it's really worth checking out.

Friday, October 05, 2007


Obligatory disclaimer...

The girls and I are waiting at a bus stop to go home (and waiting... and waiting...) when a young woman walks buy. She's wearing a t-shirt visible under her open jacket. It shows a cartoon popsicle with a face on it, next to the caption "I hate global warming."

Being the sh*tdisturber I sometimes am, I immediately thought of an alternative t-shirt design. Picture lush greenery and baskets of colourful fruits and vegetables surrounding the caption "We love CO2." Then we came up with an image of glittering diamonds with the caption "Carbon is a girls' best friend."

Youngest really wants a t-shirt with that one. *L*

Then Eldest came up with the idea of a cartoon CO2 molecule holding a protest sign that reads "Molecules Against Gasism!"

We could have fun with this!


Anyone else have ideas they'd like to share?


Thursday, October 04, 2007

I asked; now the answer

Obligatory disclaimer...

A while ago, I asked if anyone could explain the report that Arctic ice the size of Florida "melted" away in just 6 days, since it's physically impossible for an ice mass that large can melt in so short a time, especially in a region where temperatures are so low, even in the warmest times of the year (Sept. and August, when large ice free areas are the norm in Canada's Arctic regions).

Shortly after, I realized I'd been somewhat led astray in my assumption of the accuracy of the article. This assumption was reinforced by the graphic manipulation showing a Florida shaped cutout in an ice sheet. That assumption was that all this ice "melted" away in one big solid chunk. This isn't how things work, of course. For that much mass of ice to disappear in such a short time, it would have to be a combination of many smaller masses breaking up and melting. That realization alone gave me an inkling of what the answer was - the ice didn't "melt" away, but was broken up by wind and currents, which in turn would allow more smaller pieces of ice to actually melt in a climate otherwise too cold for significant seasonal melting. With the Arctic ice cap floating on water the way it is, it would be greatly affected by any changes in winds or currents.

It turns out my supposition was correct.

Here's a response at the new Watt's Up With That site to NASA's quietly released article.

From the NASA article...

Nghiem said the rapid decline in winter perennial ice the past two years was caused by unusual winds. "Unusual atmospheric conditions set up wind patterns that compressed the sea ice, loaded it into the Transpolar Drift Stream and then sped its flow out of the Arctic," he said. When that sea ice reached lower latitudes, it rapidly melted in the warmer waters.

"The winds causing this trend in ice reduction were set up by an unusual pattern of atmospheric pressure that began at the beginning of this century," Nghiem said.

Meanwhile, take a look at this graphical representation of the Arctic ice cap from 1979 to 2006.

This is what we're being told is an ice cap melting away to nothingness.