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.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Burying 'global warming'.....

Your Sunday miscellany raising lots of new issues about good ol' 'global warming':

(a) An intriguing report by Robert Matthews on the problems faced by academics critical of the standard line on 'global warming': 'Leading scientific journals "are censoring debate on global warming"' (The Sunday Telegraph, May 1):
"Two of the world's leading scientific journals have come under fire from researchers for refusing to publish papers which challenge fashionable wisdom over global warming.

A British authority on natural catastrophes who disputed whether climatologists really agree that the Earth is getting warmer because of human activity, says his work was rejected by the American publication, Science, on the flimsiest of grounds.

A separate team of climate scientists, which was regularly used by Science and the journal Nature to review papers on the progress of global warming, said it was dropped after attempting to publish its own research which raised doubts over the issue..."(read on).

(b) James E. Hansen, one of the fathers of the 'global warming' syndrome, demonstrates his own independence by raising serious issues about a vital climate-model variable (see: Hansen, J.E., et al. 'Earth's energy imbalance: confirmation and implications.' Sciencexpress, April 28, 2005). In this, Hansen argues that the surface temperature ultimately changes 0.67˚C per Watt per square meter (W/m2). Originally, in 1988, he thought it was a full degree; in 2001, he lowered this to 0.75; and now he has given us the even lower figure, which should markedly depress the range of possible climate-change scenarios. A discussion of the new paper can be found here: 'James Hansen increasingly insensitive' (World Climate Report, April 28):
"Hansen calculates that since the 1880s, there has been, in net, an added +1.8W/m2 of radiation reaching the surface, (resulting from positive additions from greenhouse gases, solar changes, black carbon aerosols, and negative changes from sulfate aerosols and land-use changes). His Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) climate model produces a total change in temperature as a result of the 1.8W/m2 of added energy to the earth's climate system of about 1.2ºC (indicating a climate sensitivity of about 0.67ºC/Wm2). Since the planet has warmed up about 0.6-0.7ºC between 1880 and now, that leaves another 0.5-0.6ºC of warming yet to occur. By 'yet to occur' we mean that it is not yet being measured by thermometers at the earth's surface. Using the 'old' sensitivity of 1 degree would give a remaining warming of 1.1˚C, or nearly double what is now expected.

These are big changes and should be big news [my italic], but it is apparent that those who report on these matters may be far from a hand calculator."

Hm! With respect to report item (a) above, why indeed is this seemingly important revision not being reported by the British media?

(c) At last, the geological storage of CO2 is being reported and considered seriously: 'Greenhouse gases buried at sea' ('Money Section', The Sunday Telegraph, May 1):
"The capture and storage of CO2, or carbon sequestration, is not new but the Miller project would be Britain's first. Under the scheme, carbon dioxide emitted by power stations would be liquified, pumped back out to the North Sea via a disused oil pipeline and stored in the depleted Miller field.

The discussions are still at an early stage but if an agreement is reached, the potential benefits could be huge. Scientists estimate that, on average, just one such project could remove 1m tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere every year - the equivalent of the combined emissions pumped out by 100,000 4x4 cars every 12 months."

And there's a lot of support for this from geologists. Rock on, say I.

(d) Finally, if a tad solipsist, my posh new A Parliament of Things web site is now fully up-and-running, with over 20 essays and other comments on the site. I hope you will enjoy the climate, energy, biodiversity, forest, and miscellaneous pages. Do please visit. Thanks as ever.

Philip, unlike The Observer (Editorial Comment, May 1) - The Gloomiad's Sunday stablemate - , delighted that ecohype over 'global warming' has not clouded the elections at all. Yet, will it rain on Thursday? That is the marginal question! What a shower! Time for a good tipple? "Club claret, old chap? Carruthers?"

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

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