The author is the founder of 350.org which says that as long as we can stay below that carbon-dioxide level we are OK. Well, we are above that level and we are OK.
The author starts off with the Colorado wildfires as apparently being a sign that our CO2 level is too high. It turns out that the current wildfire numbers are not at all unusual, historically speaking, and like many of my comparisons here, they were far more serious in the 1930’s and 40’s. when there were 185,000 in 1939 compared to 34,000 so far this year.
He then goes on to point out the heat in the USA, and the Northern Hemisphere temperature being record breaking in May. It is strange that the global temperature did not exhibit any record so it was a lot cooler someplace else. They cite over 3,000 warm records but fail to mention the huge number of cold records for peak low temperature. After the period of warming from the 80’s and 90’s it is amazing that there are any record low temperatures anywhere! A recent raw temperature data analysis showed that there has been no warming in the USA but there has been a serious adjustment made to the numbers making old temperatures lower. What makes that even more interesting is the build-up around urban areas has resulted in hotter readings in urban areas, not to mention their rual counterparts so the adjustment should have been in a downward direction for current temperatures. More data fiddling.
McKibben then claims that the chances of 327 months in a row being above the 20th century average is 3.7X10^=99 after which he calls that a large number when in actuality it is a very small number. Some of the math wizards in the comments section got the idea that it was a small number but at least one claimed the figure was not accurate when it was right on. Just use y ^x on your calculator with y=.5 (the probability of the temperature being on one side of the average ) and x=327 (the number of times it was on one side). The number comes out to 3.66×10^-99 which the author, or more likely someone else, rounded up to 3.7… Standard probability formula. Whether this statistic is correct depends greatly on the temperature data set you use. It is not true of all the world’s data sets and certainly not true for the satellite data which is untainted by manipulation.
McKibben uses the tired line about the spring in the USA being warm but you can see what I had to say about that here. Then after a lament about the lack of political will to do anything, he says it boils down to 3 numbers.
Number #1: 2 degrees Celcius
At the recent Rio Sustainability Conference (notice; no mention of global warming) there was an agreement, kinda-sort-a, to limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celcius.
Some context: So far, we’ve raised the average temperature of the planet just under 0.8 degrees Celsius, and that has caused far more damage than most scientists expected. (A third of summer sea ice in the Arctic is gone, the oceans are 30 percent more acidic, and since warm air holds more water vapor than cold, the atmosphere over the oceans is a shocking five percent wetter, loading the dice for devastating floods.)
That was quite a mouthful! Mr. McKibbin, I have news for you. One third of the summer sea ice is gone? Maybe so, if you compare this summer’s ice to the 1979-2008 average, but it is on track, with the annual minimum to be seen in a month or two, to be the highest level of summer minimum sea ice in 5 years and this past winter virtually tied with 1996 winter peak. There were higher levels in the interim but you can’t look at one year and say anything without a full picture. Also, I don’t know the source he used for the water vapor over the world’s oceans, but the total water vapor on a global basis is below the overall average. I could give a hoot how much it rains over the ocean. Unless we get some cooling, that water is going to stay up there, so what is the point? Then after saying there was this potential of flooding in the oceans, he links this argument to droughts in Africa. Will Alexander, a scientist from South Africa, has been trying to explain to the government there that the droughts are a cycle driven by the Sun. He has been writing papers about this for some time which he has forwarded to me and he makes some excellent points. Folks, the drought situation is temporary and not linked to carbon-dioxide.
As far as ocean acidification, pH levels vary more in a few months than the catastrophic shift they claim to be so afraid. And they are never acidic.
Number #2: 565 Gigatons
That is the weight of CO2 human emissions that will result in the aforementioned 2 degrees Celcius temperature rise. He talks about how the CO2 that we have already put up there has staying power but more realistic studies have shown it has about a 7 year lifespan. He is wrongly thinking several decades.
Another interesting point is that the rate of human emissions has had little to do with atmospheric concentrations. The concentration has risen about the same rate over the past decades despite a significant increase in the human caused rate. As it turns out, there is enough limestone rock in the oceans to accept all of the CO2 from all the fossil fuels on the planet and many times more. It would turn the CO2 into clathrates and settle to the bottom of the ocean. No harm, no foul. The 565 Gigaton figure is practically meaningless.
Tom Wigley, the former head of the CRU in East Anglia, UK, is quoted that where before they only had 20 models of the climate, they now have 20 more and they all agree.
“The new data provide further evidence that the door to a two-degree trajectory is about to close,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s chief economist. In fact, he continued, “When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of about six degrees.” That’s almost 11 degrees Fahrenheit, which would create a planet straight out of science fiction.”
Only problem with this logic is that the current head of the CRU, Phil Jones, has stated that:
So, if the previous 20 don’t work and the new batch are the same, then none of them work. They certainly haven’t worked so far.
The other fly in the ointment is that pesky thing called data. Warming ceased early in the previous decade. With all the CO2 that has been generated in the past 10 years, the climate has refused to warm. That gives us a climate sensitivity of zero to CO2.
The other fact that throws a monkey wrench into this monkey business is the narrow band of radiation that contributes to warming by CO2 is over 95% saturated. Little further warming can happen. CO2’s effect on our planet is to slow the cooling at night. It does not generate heat as some may like to have you believe.
You can easily see that when you look at the data and the facts, as presented by government agencies, that the claims made by advocates like McKribben just do not hold up. There is a logical explanation for each of their claims but you have to look for them. In each of the phony claims there is a kernel of truth and a truckload of something else. Just calling it as I see it.