A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

We're back - and with a Kyoto update.....

My apologies for the long silence ("Oh no! He's back!", I hear you cry!) - life has been hectic, in both work and play. Let's start with an update on the death rattles of the Kyoto Protocol:-

(a) First, the sidelining of Kyoto proceeds apace. The Tenth Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-10) will be held from 6-17 December, 2004, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. However, as is well reported in 'Prepare for the Worst, Says Next Host of Climate Change Meet' (IPS News, March 17), the agenda may have a new focus on adaptation rather than climate control:-

"In the past five international conferences on climate change, hopes have focused on attempts to get the United States and Russia to agree to cut emissions of greenhouse gases. But the wait has been in vain, and the global meetings flopped, one after another.

The strategy at the next conference, to be hosted by Argentina in December, will be to change the central focus of the debate, on the premise that climate change is inevitable even if emissions are drastically cut, and that developing countries must start getting ready to deal with the damages.

Instead of preparing for yet another meeting concentrated on bringing the Kyoto Protocol -- in which industrialised nations agree to meet binding targets for reducing emissions of the gases that cause global warming -- into effect, Argentina proposes discussing the creation of funds and mechanisms for 'adapting' to the increasingly accelerated phenomenon of global warming."

It is interesting to note that this wise initiative has the backing of some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and essentially comes from the Developing World. Let's hope Europe listens for once;

(b) Meanwhile, some new research is putting a damper on extreme 'global warming' scenarios, as is briefly reported in: 'Study Disputes Idea on Global Warming' (The New York Times, March 18 - free registration required before you can read articles):

"Work by a New Mexico researcher [published in the Journal of Climate] suggests that global warming may be less severe than some predictions."

The "... results put Dr. Minschwaner, along with a fellow researcher, Andrew Dessler of the University of Maryland, in the middle between the skeptics and those who argue that warming caused by burning of fossil fuels could be extremely severe."

"... the amount of water vapor they found fell short of the level typical of global climate computer simulations used to predict trends." [Now there's a surprise!]

"Dr. Minschwaner said the new research raised questions about the high end of that range but supported the idea that some warming would occur."

(c) And, in the real world, things are, yet again, not quite so simple as the 'global warming' fraternity would have us all believe - this time in relation to tropical mountain glaciers: 'Glacial Retreat on Kilimanjaro' (CO2 Magazine, March 10):

"In reviewing a wealth of pertinent data, the authors conclude that 'changes in air humidity and atmospheric moisture content (e.g. Soden and Schroeder, 2000) seem to play an underestimated key role in tropical high-mountain climate (Broecker, 1997).' Noting that all glaciers in equatorial East Africa exhibited strong recession trends over the past century, they report that 'the dominant reasons for this strong recession in modern times are reduced precipitation (Kruss, 1983; Hastenrath, 1984; Kruss and Hastenrath, 1987; Kaser and Noggler, 1996) and increased availability of shortwave radiation due to decreases in cloudiness (Kruss and Hastenrath, 1987; Molg et al., 2003a),' both of which phenomena they relate to a dramatic drying of the regional atmosphere that occurred around 1880 and the ensuing dry climate that subsequently prevailed throughout the 20th century.

Kaser et al. demonstrate that all relevant 'observations and facts' clearly indicate that 'climatological processes other than air temperature [my italic] control the ice recession in a direct manner' on Kilimanjaro, and that 'positive air temperatures have not contributed to the recession process on the summit...'" [again my italic]

Well, well, what a surprise - life's multivariate and jolly complex!

It's good to be back, and I'll try to do better to keep the Enlightenment flag waving in these dark and dangerous days.

Philip, off for a good Merlot. Hm! Nice bouquet.....

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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