Tag Archives: Scientific American

Conservation and Climate Change – The State of the Birds

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On March 14 2010, Sciam (Scientific American) tweeted a report called “Climate Change – State of the Birds 2010 Report”.  A link is in the Reference section at the end of this post.

My wife and I are a lifelong conservationists with a special place in our hearts for birds.  In our home country, New Zealand, we gardened organically, without pesticides or artificial fertilisers, and planted native trees in the garden of every house we have owned, to attract, feed and encourage the NZ and exotic birds back into our lives.  People change landscapes, and we feel strongly that we should provide the means for the native wildlife to survive those changes.  So we do just that, and are rewarded by the tuis, wood pigeons, fantails, wax-eyes, goldfinches, starlings, sparrows and other birds that swarm in our garden.  They are so comfortable with us that they pick for food at our feet when we sit on the garden deck.  They will do so again when we return.

Here during our sojourn in the Netherlands, our greatest delight is the splendid variety of birds that grace the trees in our tiny lane in Haarlem, and fill the polders, reserves and wetlands.  We put out seeds, nuts, fat balls and insect blocks this winter, because it has been the harshest for forty years.  No doubt we have assisted the great tits, blue tits, jays, tree-creepers and robins that are outside the window, ten feet from me, right now.  And now that spring quickens the trees and the temperature is finally back above zero, we shall once more roam the cycle lanes in the reserves, among the swans, ducks, herons and magpies.

So how does a Grumpy Old Conservationist react to the report?  By grumping – it is shameless advocacy.  A load of self-serving twaddle riding the coat-tails of the highly exaggerated predictions of anthropogenic catastrophic global warming.  Prediction after prediction in the IPCC report is being exposed as nonsense.  Himalayan glaciers, African crop yields, Amazon rain-forest health are three examples.  These are not small errors – they are critical for the IPCC’s advocacy.  It will not be long before their predicted six-degree Celsius global temperature rise for the twenty-first century is similarly nailed, and nailed conclusively.  Already, scientific analyses of the various bases on which that prediction was based are showing them to be doubtful at best, and suggest that some of them have been shamelessly manipulated.  The leaked emails of the Climategate incident add weight to that suggestion.

Audubon and the other conservation agencies have done a great conservation job of maintaining, recovering and protecting wildlife populations, and will continue to do so.  It is important work, mitigating the environmental consequences of the actions of humankind.  It enriches all of life.  They should keep it up.

It saddens me to see that work, and the agencies who perform it, hooked up in the advocacy of the AGW group.  The predictions of the AGW camp will be shown to be about as accurate as the Jehovah’s Witnesses predictions of the end of the world in 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975 and 1994.  IPCC and all of those who have promoted AGW will be utterly discredited.  An angry world may well discredit all conservationist groups along with them.

That would be a very great shame.

References:

2010 State of the Birds:  http://www.stateofthebirds.org/habitats

Postscript: Scientific American is diminished.  It used to be great magazine that reported science.  Now it is an avenue for advocacy.

Methane Alarm (Please fund my Research)

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Scientific American reports a study of Methane bubbling up from the sea floor off the coast of Siberia.  The study was conducted by a team of scientists from the United States, Russia and Sweden, who published their findings in the Science journal on March 4 2010.  The study is titled Extensive Methane Venting to the Atmosphere from Sediments of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf

This is the very first sentence of the abstract of the paper in Science:  “Remobilization to the atmosphere of only a small fraction of the methane held in East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) sediments could trigger abrupt climate warming.”

Not bad as an attention-getter.  They go on to say that the methane leaking into the atmosphere from the East Siberian Arctic shelf is on par with previous estimates of methane venting from the entire world ocean.  They estimate that the region is producing 8 to ten million tons of methane into the atmosphere every year, because warming ocean water is thawing permafrost, allowing methane trapped underneath to escape.

The Scientific American article notes that “Methane is regarded as 20 to 30 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.”  It also points out that it’s “a relatively small slice of the 440 million metric tons of methane emitted worldwide each year from a combination of human activities and natural sources like rotting plants in wetlands, termites and wildfires.”

The lead author of the study, Natalia Shakhova of the University of Alaska, says that scientists had not thought subsea permafrost would begin to thaw and release the gas. She said more research is needed to figure out whether the methane leaking from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is an ongoing, steady phenomenon, or whether it suggests a new source of the gas is emerging as seafloor permafrost thaws.  It seems that every piece of climate related research carries a recommendation for more research.

Here’s what neither the article nor the study tell us about the atmospheric content of greenhouse gases:

  • Water Vapour, 40,000 parts per million.  Water vapour is the most powerful greenhouse gas.
  • CO2,  360 parts per million
  • Methane, 1.7 parts per million.

Yes, that’s right.  1.7 parts per million!

But then, why would they point that out?  They want to do more research, and for that they need funding.  The billions available from the IPCC and its affiliates can best be assured by showing that your work supports Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming.

References:

Scientific American Article:  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=methane-siberia-climate-change

Science Publication: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/327/5970/1246

Table of Atmospheric Gases:  http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7a.html

A Funny Thing did not happen in the Cambrian and Late Ordovician Periods

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Climate Change scientists warn us to act right now to limit our CO2, or our climate will tip over irreversibly, and there will be a disaster for marine life.

The climate tip-over is foretold in a study reported by “Scientific American” on 12 January 2010.  It finds that “even if the world’s governments manage to cut global emissions in half by 2050 and then do everything possible to limit emissions from 2050 on, society has only even odds of limiting global temperature increases to 2º, a goal noted in the recent Copenhagen Accord“.

The article says that “The science is not clear what level poses a threat, but some research suggests concentrations must remain at or below 450 parts-per-million to prevent drastic climate change.”  And it says that “emissions today are on the path to 550 ppm and beyond”.  The last quote in the article is from Gary Yohe, an economist at Wesleyan University (an economist – what’s he doing here in “Scientific American”?)  He says that “Tip an ecosystem or planetary process – such as the atmosphere – too far in one direction, and it may suddenly and irreversibly “flip” into an altered state that precludes any notion of going back to the unaltered version”.

The marine disaster is foretold in a report published by the EU-funded European Project on Ocean Acidification.   The report says that levels of aragonite, the type of calcium carbonate which is essential for marine organisms to make their skeletons and shells, will fall by 60% to 80% by 2095 across the northern hemisphere.  Dr John Baxter, a senior scientist with Scottish Natural Heritage, and the report’s co-author, says “The bottom line is the only way to slow this down or reverse it is aggressive and immediate cuts in CO2.  This is a very dangerous global experiment we’re undertaking here.”

Now, let’s put what they are saying into perspective:

Consider the geological history of Earth from the Cambrian period that began 600 million years ago.  In the latter part of the Cambrian period, about 530 million years ago, the proportion of atmospheric CO2 was nearly 7000 parts per million.  In the Late Ordovician period, about 430 million years ago, CO2 was at 4400 parts per million.

Today we are in the beginning of the Quaternary Period.  In all of the past 600 million years, CO2 levels have been less than 400 parts per million in only the Carboniferous period and the present.  For about 70 percent of the whole 600 million years, the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere has been above 1000 parts per million.  1000 ppm – that’s well above the 550 million ppm they are rabbiting on about, up to peak of nearly 7000 ppm!  For 420 million years out of the last 600 million.

And guess what.  A funny thing didn’t happen in all of those 420 million years.  The sky did not fall.  That is, the ecosystem did not flip over to an irreversible state.  The Greenhouse Effect did not run away.  And, in the waters beneath an atmosphere containing 7000 ppm of CO2, the marine acidity did not kill the marine animals and plants that teemed in the Cambrian oceans.

Update July 2012:

The study reported here in WUWT may explain why the seas under a high-CO2 atmosphere support  life very well indeed.

P.S:

It’s a wonder the two “studies” didn’t say outright “Be afraid…  Be very afraid”.  They don’t use the words “Runaway Greenhouse Effect”, and they avoid any specifically testable conclusions,  but they want us to be afraid, all right.  Penn & Teller would love them.

In accord with good literary manners, I have enclosed the name of the scientific publication in quotes – viz: “Scientific American”.  I have no hesitation in also enclosing my final comment on the reported studies in quotes: “Yeah Right!”

References:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/10/ocean-acidification-epoca

The “Guardian” article “Ocean Acidification Rates pose Disaster”, reported on the Copenhagen Summit.

http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Carboniferous_climate.html.  They quote:

Temperature after C.R. Scotese http://www.scotese.com/climate.htm
CO2 after R.A. Berner, 2001 (GEOCARB III)

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=climate-policy-analysis-goals-long-mid-term.

The study they quote was published by scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, and the Energy Research Center in the Netherlands, under the auspices of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.