This is a long commentary that relates to our current cold spell and the context of the longer climate trends it is part of. Of course, I hope that anyone reading it will enjoy doing so. Some people insist that a long commentary should have an index. Just in case that is important to any reader (Word Press suggest that it is), it is an afterthought and not part of the original version I posted yesterday, but here it is:
• Note on the Little Ice Age (added 2017 12 30)
[Related commentary: Little Ice Age — Climate Trend Milestone?, added 2017 12 31]
• Climate comparisons — Edmonton vs. nearby Elk Island National Park
• Warmth is good, cold not so much, and Honolulu draws tourists for good reasons
• The Absence of Evidence of Global Warming
The effects of global warming – real or not, in the long run – are much overrated. It is cold out there. It was a bone-chilling -31°C at 05:30 hrs today (2017 12 29). Our neighbour wanted to drive to work at that time and could not start her car. She had forgotten to plug-in the block heater for her car’s engine, did that then and managed to leave, eventually, an hour late, leaving a cloud of fog behind her that stretched from their garage all the way down to the end of the block, still stretching around the corner, where she turned into the next street on her way to work.
We live in Bruderheim, Alberta, Canada. It had warmed up a little by noon, to -27.7°C [back down to -29.3 at 23:00 hrs]. The Sun was shining, the sky blue, the wind very light. The furnaces of every house in the neighbourhood were working in unison, their chimneys decorated with long exhaust plumes. What was visible was the water vapour from the natural gas they burn. That turned instantly to ice crystals in the very cold outside air. The long furnace exhaust plumes combined eventually as they spread out a bit, driven by the slight wind for miles, while they treated us to the view of two beautiful sun dogs, one to either side of the Sun.
All of that is beautiful to see, but not all that nice to experience, and this is not even as cold as it often is. I experienced years when the temperatures for weeks on end never seemed to rise above -20°C and often dropped to as low as -45°C and lower. That brings new experiences, such as tools that break, freezing gas lines (actually, that is not what they usually are; the cause of that is gas-line fuel-filters that get plugged with ice crystals). One of the most aggravating consequences of that was that the stove oil in the fuel tank for the oil furnace on our farm would jell on very cold days. I soon fixed that, by building an enclosure for it that got heated by waste heat leaking from the outside wall of our well-insulated house on the farm. The jelling of fuel had happened once too often (twice was enough), as on extremely cold and calm nights the temperatures on the farm were virtually without fail a full ten degrees Celsius lower than they were in the nearby Town of Bruderheim (about nine miles away, as the crow flies), which was “warmly” ensconced in the urban heat island of its own creation.. Well, I made sure that the fuel tank for our furnace was inside one of those heat islands were it stood. The stove oil never jelled again.
Every thing that uses energy radiates heat. Heat islands are everywhere, from very small to very large, depending on what produces and radiates heat, how intensely it does so and how many heat-producing things there are. Where a lot of people lives and works, and where they occupy large areas, the heat island is large and called “Urban Heat Island.” Urban Heat Islands or not, there are many places on Earth where it is much more comfortable, which motivates people from cold areas to move every year to areas that are warm. We call those people “snow birds.” They are people who flee south when the snow flies, and who can blame them for doing that. Warmth attracts people from cold areas. Cold does not attract many people from warm areas, which is good for the tourist industry in warm areas.
Every winter it turns cold in the Northern Hemisphere, and every time that happens, especially when it manifests itself in a cold spell that hits with a vengeance in a given locality, many people will say things such as, “There goes global warming,” to which others respond with expressions such as, “What Global warming?!!”
It gets often cold in places in the Southern Hemisphere, too, except that not as many people live in corresponding southern latitudes and that what they hear and say about it goes unobserved by the English-language media in the north. Hardly anyone in South America speaks English, and feelings depends on impressions made, wherefore feelings about the weather trends that the masses obsess over depend on what the local media will tell them, thereby preventing them from assessing their feelings objectively.
Every summer, in either hemisphere, the process reverses. The attention of the masses is on that it is hot, dry, and on that often that will cause wild-fires to happen and to spread, droughts put crops into peril, and the people not fortunate enough to be able to enjoy air-conditioning sweat a lot. That makes everyone renew his fears of global warming being an aspect of it, and that, what is felt by man must therefore without a doubt also be caused by man.
Many skeptics insist that our old globe may be warming a bit, almost imperceptibly, not enough to matter, let alone measure, but they calculate how much of an impact it may have, and estimates vary. They bring out proof that man’s contributions to global warming are statistically insignificant. They argue that, demonstrably, while presenting proof, that, while mankind without a doubt contributes to warming and how much energy is being converted by mankind to heat, it is not enough to be noticed or to be measurable. The skeptics assert that is so because the signal of mankind’s contribution to global warming is indiscernible and lost in the overall, global warming trend.
Overall warming of our globe, including the relatively minuscule and immeasurably small contributions (although allegedly catastrophic, as warmists such as Al Gore assert) by mankind, has been small since the end of the Little Ice Age (LIA).
The Little Ice Age
Our current severe cold spell began 2017 12 17 and received first attention by the media and others on about Christmas Eve, when temperatures had fallen so low that no one could avoid noticing that it had become bitter cold and would remain so for some days in all or most of North America. Yesterday morning I had decided to summarize some of the comments I had posted on Facebook about that, to elaborate on them and post that summary in the form of this blog posting to my blog, dads&things.
When I set out to do that, I had wanted to give well-deserved attention to the Little Ice Age and the context of the medium- and long-term climate trends of which the current cold spell as well as any other cold- and warm-spells we experience are part. It is important that it be done, because no raving or raging by any climate alarmist can obscure the reality that not only did the Little Ice Age happen, but that it was nothing more than just a very minor, relatively insignificant event. The Little Ice Age was merely the latest of such events in a very long string of similar ones that had contributed to a very gradual cooling of our globe during the last 9,000 years or so. No one in the world knows why the long-term global cooling trend should stop and reverse now, any time soon or at all.
The Little Ice Age was not very important in the greater scheme of things, but the efforts to obfuscate that it had happened and to eradicate the history of it having happened took on major significance. Therein lies a good story. That story needs to be mentioned. I’ll do that and will of course not be the first to do so, but the story is too long to be made part of this blog posting. It deserves a place all of its own, to give some of the things that were done in connection with it and the doers of them the full attention they should have.
[Update 2017 12 31: Here, a day later than promised, is my commentary on the Little Ice Age — Climate Trend Milestone?“]
P.S. A the time of writing this note, at 09:53 hours, the current temperature was still a solid -30.3°C, the sky blue, there were just very few faint clouds on the horizon far away to the SE, there was no wind, and a large flock of Bohemian Waxwings was busy eating the berries decorating the Rowan tree out front. They seemed to be quite happy doing that, as they always were when doing it for as long as anyone can remember and quite likely for a long time before that, since long before mankind showed up.
The Little Ice Age did happen. Although it was not a true ice age, it was a period of a few hundred years during which some miserably cold weather events took place. Some so-called scientists insist that the LIA did not happen. They did their very best to erase all evidence of the LIA, but that was not good enough. Fortunately, the truth about the LIA having been real can and has been found in many proxies, all over the world and is still being affirmed by more and more scientists through diligent examination of ever more and an ever greater variety of climate proxies of undeniable veracity and credibility. Besides, records of terrible weather events far worse than anything that happened in recent memory were recorded for as long as mankind had been able to write (mostly, it appears, that was during times when climate trends took a more rapid than usual turn to the worse and grew unusually cold — warming had always been more enjoyable, cold weather is deadly, warm weather not so much).
The causes of the downturn in the global climatological trends are not as easily established and are open to speculation. Still, it is a fact that the LIA gradually came to an end by about 1850, and no one knows what brought about a return to generally more comfortable conditions. One thing is not open to speculation. The warming that brought about the end of the LIA could not possibly have been caused by the advent and proliferation of SUVs or by anything else that would have been caused by the great, global industrial growth that began a hundred years after the LIA’s demise.
The debate rages on. Warmists such as Al Gore insist that the future will be bleak for humanity, that it will soon resemble Hell on Earth. They make great personal fortunes through fear mongering. More moderate voices have so far not quite prevailed but appear to be in the process of doing so, successfully. Science is never settled but inexorably advances, while the struggle between expressions based on feelings and the reporting of new scientific discoveries that are corroborated by objective facts continues.
It has not been an easy road to travel for either side. It will be a long time yet until the objective truth of climate trends will become more fashionable than feelings, and so far it is still somewhat more injurious to anyone’s professional career in Academe to insist that climate “science” is not yet settled than it is to drift along and go with the feelings that people like Al Gore do their best to incite.
Feelings about the weather are like opinions. Everyone has one or more, and a lot of money is being made by promoting and cashing in on them. The more fear of climate change, the easier it is to have people shell out money for measures that will allegedly mitigate the adverse causes and effects of climate change. The more it costs to implement and operate those measures, the more profits there are for interested parties. Common sense has little to do with it, the willingness of the masses to pay for saving the globe is what matters. Feelings rule, especially when people feel the effects of weather extremes, however local those may be, while lacking any and all global aspects or prevalence.
Is there a way out? Is it possible for the common man, for Joe Sixpack, to be able to cut to the chase? Yes, it is, and it can be done with just a few key strokes and very little effort. There are tools that permit anyone with Internet access to compare his experiences of what the weather is like where he lives to somewhere else where he is not. To make that comparison for a location right in an Urban Heat Island (UHI) to one nearby that is not within the boundaries of that UHI, and to be able to see the differences between aspects of the weather over time in the two locations, will illustrate whether one of the two locations is experiencing the effects of global warming as much as the other one is. It is not possible for two locations that are not separated by a large distance to differ much with respect to temperature trends or with respect to the sum of climate aspects for a number of decades on account of only global warming or cooling. When there are large weather differences at locations of close proximity, then those are not caused by global warming but by something else. For example:
The comparison is of hourly measurements and calculated for daily averages over time in an average year for the City of Edmonton and in nearby Elk Island National Park (both in Alberta, Canada).
- CYXD is a weather station at what was the Edmonton Municipal Airport, close to the heart of Edmonton, both located in an Urban Heat Island, and
- CWFE is the weather station in Elk Island National Park, at a rural location that is not within the boundaries of or even close to any Urban Heat Island.
The two weather stations are separated by 42 km (26 miles) and do not differ much in elevation (666 m above sea level for the first vs. 718 m above sea level for the second). The comparison illustrated by the following graphs is for the averages of measurements from January 1, 1980 to December 31, 2016. (“The details of the data sources used … vary between places and are discussed in detail on each place’s dedicated page: Edmonton City Centre Airport; Elk Island National Park” — Weather Spark; the following graphs are from that web page.)
There are no large differences between the two locations with respect to the characteristics of the weather on offer to tourism. Edmonton is slightly more attractive from the end of May to the middle of September. On the other hand, that is where without a question Honolulu really shines throughout the whole year, and no fears about global warming that anyone like Al Gore manages to drum up will put a dent into that difference and the attraction the Hawaiian Islands have for snow birds from the cold regions of the World.
Let Al Gore think about the advantages Honolulu has for snow birds, and about why he did not locate any of his posh residential palaces within our pristine climatic conditions so close to the Arctic. He does not put his money where his mouth is. Nevertheless, given that there are many millions of people who are not as discerning as he is, here is a bit of information that is of interest to my niece in Düsseldorf, Germany, who maintains that the mild Atlantic climate that prevails in Düsseldorf is much preferable over what people in the Edmonton region are forced to endure: a steady alternation between influxes of mild Pacific air driven by a “Pine Apple Express” from Hawaii and cold Arctic air slumping down from the “Arctic Vortex,” as meteorologist so lovingly designate two major sources of our local weather changes and turn-overs.
In absolute, objective terms, the differences in the local climates of Edmonton and Düsseldorf, respectively, are not all that large, by far not as large when compared to what Honolulu and other equally attractive localities have on offer for tourists, but have a look:
Compared to what Honolulu has on offer to tourism, whatever Düsseldorf offers in comparison to Edmonton is only marginally better. The year-round climate conditions of locations like Honolulu present advantages of Global warming (if only it were to happen) that people like Al Gore have not yet been able or willing to wrap their minds around, but why should they? They make a good living from promoting climate alarmism. They vote with their feet and instruct their bankers to pay for the real-estate purchases they make where the climate is benign, benevolent and enjoyable.
The Absence of Evidence of Global Warming
Focusing the Comparison of Edmonton vs. Elk Island National Park on specific intervals of the periods from 1945 to end of 2017
Weather is not only absolute, locally. Local weather phenomena are also relative, different in different localities of a region. Globally, global warming is an abstract that many people cannot relate to without confusing it with their experiences, and those experiences are very personal and were gained locally. None of those experiences have anything measurable to do with global warming. Global warming cannot be perceived realistically or objectively, let alone be blamed realistically on anyone or on mankind. For example, today it warmed far more outside, from 05:30 (-31°C) to 11:30 (-29.1°C), than it did globally from 1850 to 2017. No one can perceive the differences on any scale, not through feelings, and not chronologically or geographically. It is possible to make meaningful comparisons that people have no trouble relating to objectively, in relative terms. Let’s do that through records of measurements that were made.
So, Al Gore, put that into your pipe and smoke it. Let’s see whether that will take people’s minds off what bothers them right now, namely that “it is cold enough to freeze the balls of a brass monkey,” for hundreds of millions of people in the northern hemisphere who do not have your wealth to be able to live where you choose to live. They must endure the cold weather they have, the only weather they’ve got, rather than to attend the Church of Global Warming you run for profit.
There is no escaping it, and as Benjamin Franklin put it: “One of the greatest tragedies of life is the murder of a beautiful theory by a gang of brutal facts”.