weblog/wEssays     home

Global warming, declining quality, U.S. autos/CAFE, Harun's essay and more   (week of August 10, 2007)

For more stimulating ideas, please visit the Of Two Minds blog and Readers Journal.

George E. Smith
writes in response to the global warming essays posted in RS last month: Global Warming: Our Story So Far Michael Goodfellow and The Hockey Stick Breaks by Protagoras. This is excellent commentary--I recommend it.

I read your broken hockey stick essay with great interest; it has bothered me for some time. I most recently encountered it as printed in the Los Angeles Times, in an article on global warming. The Times asserted that the published graph was identical to that first published except it was shorn of color information, and printed in black and white. That original graph bears one of the 800 pound gorillas that inhabit the global warming field. Prominantly at the top of the graph are the words “Northern Hemisphere”. The hockey stick itself was not a global phenomenon, but just a local effect. It has since been expurgated to delete those revealing two words.

Some other 800 pound gorillas. In January 2001, in Geophysical Research letters, it was reported that about 20 years of ocean buoy temperature records prove that oceanic water temperatures, and oceanic air temperatures are not correlated. Those oceanic buoys simultaneously recorded water temperatures at a constant depth of one meter, and air temperature at a constant three meters above the surface. The temperature increase in the water temperatures during that 20 year period was 40% higher than the increase in air temperature for the same period. Well for over a hundred years temperatures over the 73% of the earth surface that is ocean, had been obtained by throwing a bucket over the side, and recovering water from some unknown depth, and measuring that; or in recent years by measuring intake water used on modern ships. OK, so we have to adjust the claimed global temperature rise downwards by 40% or so.

Well not so fast; the important result of the ocean buoy data is that air temperature and water temperature ARE UNCORRELATED. It is impossible to recover oceanic air tempertaures from oceanic water temperatures; they aren’t related to each other. Why would they be; the ocean currents move at a few knots, while wind speeds over the ocean can be tens to over a hundred knots, so air over Hawaiian waters might be over San Francisco bay tomorrow or a few weeks hence, so why would you even expect them to be in equilibrium with each other; let a lone assume they are the same.

That means that even the global instrumented temperature data are useless back beyone about 1980 when these buoy measurements started. The 73% of the data taken from ocean measurments is totally corrupted and unusable.

How about those proxies now; like coral growth for example. Last time I checked, corals grow in the water, and not in the air. Oooops!! , not another proxy down the drain.

Why anyone would believe that tree rings are a proxy for temperature is quite beyond my imagination. What about water supply, what about mineral supply, a sudden flood could disturb surrounding rocks and soils and replenish depleted soils so that growth was accelerated. And wouldn’t that same variable atmospheric CO2 level have something to do with tree ring growth rate.

In June of 2004, I wrote a letter to Physics Today criticizing a review of a book by a “climate scientist”. The letter was published in Jan 2005, and in it I asserted that when the floating sea ice melts, the ocean level will go down and not up. Other climate scientists scoffed at that, and the book’s author even responded that everybody knows that when ocean water warms, it expands, so the level rises. Well I said nothing about the ocean warming, I said when the floating sea ice melts; i.e. as in the arctic ocean.

In mid 2006 it was reported that a British, and Dutch team had been measuring the radar level of the arctic ocean for ten years using a European satellite, and their results reprted in 2006 show that the arctic ocean water level is FALLING at 2 mm per year. The authors say they are very confident of their data; but they don’t understand why it is so. Well it is so because the laws of physics require it to be so. When one gram of ice melts, it extracts 80 calories of heat energy from the surrounding ocean water that it floats on, so an astonomical amout of ocean water is cooled, when the floating ice melts, and as it cools it contracts and the level goes down. It is 8th grade high school physics, that any “climate scientist” should be well aware of.

In the San Jose Mercury news a few years back, it was reported that an Iranian woman cloud chemist by the name of Azadeh Tabazadeh, working for NASA had published a seminal paper, in which she proved that what “climate scientists” had believed for over 60 years to be true was in fact false.

What they had believed collectively for over 60 years (I think they call that scientific concensus.), was that when liquid water droplets in clouds froze solid, they froze from the inside out. Not so says Tabazadeh; they freeze from the ouside in, and that is very important in the chemistry of cloud formation. So much for scientific concensus. She’s now famous.

What is most remarkable about this incident and about Ms Tabazadeh and her elaborate proof, is why ANY person who calls him/erself a scientist could possibly have believed something that is absolutely prohibited by the second law of thermodynamics.

Heat can only flow unaided from a hotter region to a cooler region, so in order for the center of a rain drop to freeze, it must still be warmer than the water surrounding it, and it certainly can’t freeze until it has lost 80 calories per gram to the water surrounding it, so it is absolutely impossible for a rain drop to freeze from inside out.

Just last week Science Journal described a paper in which the authors said that satellite measured data show that a one degree increase in global mean temperature will increase atmospehric water content by seven percent. Computer climate models (aka video games) agree with that contention; after all they are fudged to agree with measured data.

The satellite measured data also say that the one degree rise will also result in the same seven percent increase in global precipitation. The video game models disagree; they predict that a one degree rise will only increase precipitation from one percent to perhaps three percent. There’s that 3:1 fudge factor that is in all computer climate predictions.

So lets get this straight; a one degree rise increases atmospheric moisture by seven percent, but only 1-3% extra precipitates out, so the oceans must lose water to the atmosphere, so the water level should go down. Well actually, that warmer moisture laden air has to rise in the atmosphere, which will eventually cool it, and cause it to precipitate out. Certainly the lower air will be warmer and with more water content, but once that adjustment is made, the total global precipitation always has to exactly equal the total global evaporation.

Once again a simple 8th grade science concept seems to be lost on supposedly expert “climate scientists”. Evidently, most climate scientists don’t know even high school level physics.

Well my list of 800 pound gorrillas is much longer; but you get the idea; scientific concensus, plus 65 cents, will get you a cup of coffee.

comment #2

I have no axes to grind in the climate change debate. I don’t work for, or invest in any energy companies (except that mutual funds I own might do so without any encouragement on my part). I’m just concerned that they get the science right.

There is a very interesting book; that everyone interested in earth climate should read. It is called;- “The Maunder Minimum and the Variable Sun-Earth Connection.” The authors are Willie Wei-Hock Soon, and Steven H. Yaskell ISBN 981-238-274-7, or ...-275-5 for paperback.

Dr Soon it with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astophysics, USA, and I believe Yaskell is primarily a ghost writer (I believe). Soon is Korean with somewhat limited English grammar writing skills, hence a co-author.

The book is somewhat historical chronicling the work of E. Walter and Annie S. D. Maunder; husband and wife solar science team.

The “Maunder Minimum” refers to the almost total disappearance of sunspots during the period from 1645-1715, which is the early part of the little ice age, and gives a lot of insight into how sunspot activity affects the solar flux output, and also how the magnetic fields of the sun affect earth climate, apart from variation in solar output.

Currently in the news is the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58 which was deliberately timed to correspond to a solar maximum for sunspots. They could not have known that the solar maximum of 1957-58 would be the absolute highest sunspot numbers ever recorded, since the first observations in the late 1500s., nor that the solar maxima since that year have been consistently higher than earlier historical numbers. So there is reason to believe that the sun has been unusually active in affecting earth climate since the middle of the 20th century.

The sun’s magnetic field has apparently increased very significantly during the succeeding years, and that increased field has resulted in lower cosmic ray flux arriving at earth. Cosmic rays create charged particle showers in the upper atmosphere that lead to cloud formation; the same mechanism that makes ray tracks in the Wilson Cloud Chamber. So it is likely that the average level of earth cloud cover has been lower since the 1950s, which would increase ground level solar flux; possibly enough to entirely explain present warming (if any)

It so happens that those very same cosmic rays are what leads to the creation of radioactive Carbon14 in the upper atmosphere, that is used in radiocarbon dating. It is known from tree ring assays of C14, that the rate of production of C14, and hence the cosmic ray flux is highly variable, and has been during the entire lifetime of the oldest known trees (Bristle-cone Pines, in the White Mountains of Eastern California/Nevada.).

Why C14 variability is important is that fossil fuels are so old that they contain no carbon 14, so a reduction of C14 in the atmosphere is claimed by the GHG fans as evidence of resident depleted carbon from burning fossil fuels. It could be simply evidence of the reduced cosmic ray flux due to solar activity.

As for the so-called Global Mean Temperature, currently 58 or 59 deg F depending on who says so; there is absolutely no scientific or mathematical validity to such a number. They simply have statistically manipulated a set of numbers, that all happen to be recorded temperatures. There is no connection between the thermal processes that go on over the Antarctic ice sheets, the tropical rain forests or the tropical deserts; so averaging those temperatures in some mathematical algorithm, has no more validity, than measuring the temperatures in your kitchen stove, the freezer, your toilet bowl, and your living room, and computing the “Global Mean Temperature of your home.

I don’t know any better than anyone else what is happening to climate; other than it is varying like it always has; and whether or not we are significantly influencing it; we are perfectly capable of adapting to those changes, as Mother Nature always has.

So if the “Global Mean Temperature” of the Earth is 58 0r 59 F, and you are unhappy, what value would you like it to

comment #3

I do not work in the climate field, so my inputs are the published literature, including the daily press.

My general opinion is that it is not particularly relevent whether the computer climate models are accurate. They ignore so many important factors such as water vapor; which they simply dismiss as too variable and difficult to understand. A really great approach to scientific research. But for me it is the very measured data that goes into these models and projections that is suspect. I don’t believe we have very reliable data much further back than the 1980 as a result of the ocean temperatures fiasco. Satellite measurements of the Solar constant go back only about 35 years, and give a present number of about 1367 Watts per square meter, whereas the best experimental value in use in the late 1950s and early 1960s was 1353 Watts per square meter. It is hard to say if earlier numbers had systematic errors due to the residual atmosphere, but the researchers back then weren’t idiots, and they tried to compensate for the remaining atmosphere above their balloons and rockets, so I give that earlier number a lot of credibility; which suggests the sun really is warmer since the mid last century.

Then the best atmospheric CO2 data is that from Mauna Loa in Hawaii and that data also only goes back to the 1950s. That data also suggests to me that CO2 is removed from the atmosphere much faster than the claimed 200 years we are told it will remain there.

Then there is the whole problem of the sampling of global temperatures, which is done both timewise, and spatially, since you can’t measure the temperature at every point all at the same time. I believe those sampling processes grossly violate the Nyquist sampling theorem, which is fundamental to signal recovery in sampled data systems. If the violation is bad enough which it is; then you can’t even recover the average of the data properly, so all these statistical regression schemes for smoothing the data, as used in the Mann Hockey Stick, are being applied to data that is irretrievably corrupted by “aliassing” noise introduced by invalid sampling.

Some of the data published in one of the recent IPCC reports; I believe the first one for government decision makers, on ocean level rise predictions, wasn’t even precise enough to know whether the level would go down or would go up. The standard deviation of the stated value of the rise was larger than the amount of the rise, so that in fact the level might actually go down according to the data.

Michael Goodfellow

I have another recent paper to read off that anti-warming site. The summary claims that the paper now agrees that historic temperature cycles are due to the sun. They claim that only the last 50 years are not driven by solar cycles, but by CO2 instead. They claim the current changes in solar climate should produce cooling, which we're not seeing.

Of course, the anti-warming people are crowing that this paper concedes 99% of their argument, and that warming has apparently stopped since 1998. So the current data are not inconsistent with a change in direction. I haven't read the paper yet though.

Here's the northern and southern hemisphere satellite data. A geologist warned me that regional factors are pretty huge, but I didn't realize it was this obvious:

Dorothy S.

One reason the public is not creating more of a stink about Iraq is that the war really has not hit home for most Americans. Most people I know do not have any close relations fighting in Iraq. If a draft were in place, you would see far more anti-war, anti-govermnent protests. Watching your "baby" be forced into going to war is just too close for comfort at that point. But right now we can sit back and watch all the drama on TV, shake our heads, say how horrible it all is and then hop in our SUV and go shopping on credit. Why shake make waves when the beach here is so quiet and nice.

A comment on product quality: My mother and I recently purchased a new mid priced blender because her old blender of 35 years has finally pooped out. She got it as a wedding gift and it has lasted all these years. Grant it we don't use it as much as a toaster or oven, but still 35 years is a long time. When examining each blender side by side you can see the differences in quality. The old blender's base is heavier and the plastic much thicker than the new one. The glass pitchers have the same thickness but the metal blades are thicker on the old one. The old blender's cover is pliable and thick where as the new cover was rigid, light and cheap looking. (We kept the old cover as it fits the new pitcher) Even the electical cord is thicker on the older model. Anyway, we both agree that the new blender will probably be capoot in about 3-5 years.

James C.

Just read your post about the low quality products and services from big box stores et. al. I have driven GM vehicles all my life. My first car was a 1961 Chevy. My current one in a 2002 Cadillac Deville. Now you would think that when you buy a Cadillac you would be getting a top of the line GM automobile. If the the Deville is the best GM can build, then I certainly see why they have lost their position at the top of the world in auto sales!

The last DeVille that I owned had minor transmission problems at 78,000 miles and cost about $1,400 to fix. The heater fan on the current one quit at under a 100,000 miles and cost $600 to replace, (they had to remove the entire dash)! This is crazy! I used to go to the parts store and buy a fan for $20 and put it on myself in about 15 minutes.

I gripe to the local dealer about all this stuff and they just smile and say, "you should see what a heater fan (or whatever).. on so and so would cost". They don't care, because they know we are all addicted to cars and will be driving something that they can charge us an arm and a leg to repair.

We are experiencing a modern day version of the decline and fall of Rome! We are a little like the old Bugs Bunny cartoons, where a crafty Bugs would convince one of the other less intelligent characters to take some self defeating action. Remember the "sucker Icon"? That is what I felt like when they told me what a Cadillac heater fan cost. Never again!

Add this to be fair: my last few GM cars prior to the two Cadi's ran well over 200,000 miles with little or no repairs. We also have a Cutlass currently with 208,000 and it runs great. I was just really disappointed in the DeVilles.

Michael Goodfellow

I note that regulatory changes were the root of these appliance problems. Reminds me of low-flow toilets that clog, low-flow showers that we all hate, etc. It would happen with cars too (the CAFE mileage mandates), but there are lots of high-mileage imports. It will just kill the domestic car producers. These costs of regulation are apparently out of control, but no one sees them in the price, so they are ignored.

The wood quality at Home Depot does stink -- I've been building furniture for an RV and I have the same problem. Still, there's a good quality lumber yard near me. The problem is the wood costs 5 times as much! So you have choices, if only you are willing to exercise them. If you want low prices, go to big box stores who time their register people in order to keep costs down. If you want higher quality, pay higher prices. But don't whine "stop me before I shop again!"

The reference to CAFE (vehicle mileage standards) launched an email exchange between Michael and I on the U.S. auto industry and related topics which I reprint here:


Funny I was just reading about the Demo congresspeople from Michigan trying to stop the CAFE standards modification, and I was thinking, if these guys had actually encouraged strict standards back in the 80s and 90s,then the US auto industry would still be competitive. The Honda CRV is now the best-selling SUV I read somewhere, and I am sure it's all about quality and efficiency of the engine (mileage) not looks or price.

I was also thinking about Boeing and Airbus. Boeing was down and out a few years ago, and they have battled back by building a superior product that is way more efficient to operate, the 787. Meanwhile the US auto makers have cut corners at every stage to lwoer the cost of their products, and made a tepid attempt to create hybrids while Toyota has sold 1 million vehicles Detroit claimed weren't profitable.

It seems you can't regulate stupidity and short-sightedness--the companies and unions have to supply that themselves.

Michael Goodfellow

I've been meaning to try and find the sizes and mileages of U.S. cars through history. Every now and then I pass a classic car on the highway, and those old cars from the 20's right through the 60's are huge. A Model A or something probably stands nearly as tall as a Hummer. The old Rambler station wagon we had as kids probably got worse mileage than anything on the road today.

What happened was that the 70's oil shocks produced a (temporary) desire for small cars. Everyone got used to those in the 80's, and that now defines "normal". So people saw SUV's coming along in the 90's and thought they country was getting hugely self-indulgent. Actually, with low gas prices, we were just returning to the norm of roomy cars. I think if you drew a graph of legroom or something, it would just show a temporary dip in the 80's.

Now that prices are going up, small cars are coming back. I have no problem with that. It's a rational response to prices. What isn't rational is the CAFE legislation and all the green guilt tripping about large cars. If gas isn't a factor, of course you'd rather ride high up and have plenty of room! And if you can afford it, let people drive a big car and pay for it in higher gas bills. The legislation just causes problems.

Specifically, I drive a Ford van with a wheelchair lift. If CAFE standards are increased, where does a vehicle like that fit in? It's not just me, it's millions of small businesses that use those as commercial vehicles. In my case, I almost never drive, so my environmental cost is tiny even compared to someone who commutes in a Prius. It's the same with RVs. Terrible mileage, but the typical vehicle doesn't even get driven 8000 miles a year. In the case of businesses, they don't really have a choice if they are going to lug around equipment, etc. I don't know what Ford is supposed to do about this -- raise prices until no one buys a van or truck, to keep their fleet mileage up?

That's why I'd really rather have expensive gas so you can make your own choices, rather than standards mandated by the government. And I'd really rather have gas prices reflect economic reality, rather than just be a source of punitive taxes like in Europe.

Of course, I can't figure out the U.S. car companies in the first place. They've been slowly dying since the 70's and seem unable to stop the slide. I understand their health care costs and retiree costs, but somehow they just seem to have given up. There's none of the competitive spirit that I associate with the tech industry. It seems like they've just decided to ride it down to eventual bankruptcy. Even when I worked for IBM in the 80's, and it seemed like they were headed for the same fate, they managed to turn it around. Sad.


Re: the Rambler--my stepmom drove a stick Rambler with non-synchromesh first gear. It was her first car and she held onto it for a long time. I suspect it got good mileage (25+mpg) because it had no AC or other extras and it sure was sturdy/reliable.

When I have some spare time (haha) I want to look up horsepower in 40s/50s autos and trucks. I suspect the 1500 CC engine in my Honda civic produces more HP than engines twice the size in the 50s. VW vans were underpowered (45 HP as I recall) but countless people drove them without complaint except for the VW unreliability (talk about an inefficient engine).

I am pretty sure you could toss the standard Honda 1500 CC engine in a van and the only difference you'd notice was acceleration on freeway onramps. It's actually 1590 CC and the standard model in my 1998 Civic produces 106 HP. The VTEC engine of same displacement generates 127 HP--pretty amazing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_D_engine#D16Y7

I get 40+ MPH on the highway with correct tire pressure and modest driving speeds (65- 70 mph). A heavier vehicle would lower the mileage but if it had good wind characteristics probably not by much,

Michael Goodfellow

I don't know much about engines, but I'm pretty sure you are right about today's smaller engines being more powerful for the size. They had to be to run the 80's cars. I don't think you are right about the mileage though. I seem to remember when "high mileage" cars started coming in during the late 70's, 25mpg was considered unusually good. I don't think I saw anything in the 30mpg range that wasn't really tiny for years. And even my first Acura Integra in 1991 didn't get much over 30mpg, and that was only about 110hp, if I remember correctly. Of course, it was more tuned for performance, but it did have problems climbing hills!

I don't remember what the hp on my 2002 van is. I have the 6-cylinder, which is the cheapest (and rare) version of the engine. The Ford site lists the new model at 225 hp, but that's the 8 cyl 16-valve. I'm sure mine is no where near that. (also can't climb hills!) The gas mileage is around 12-15mpg. Which really hurts with our gas prices. I'd like to drive to the beach in Santa Cruz, but the 70 mile round trip is $18 in my van. Can't do that every week on my budget.
Mark D.

Harun hit the nail on the head about imperial domination, except that I view any presence in america by islam the exact same way as they do chrisitanity in theirs. as long as there is no right of return for jews in islamic lands, i have zero interest in allowing any islamic migration. demographics eventually rule, and islam understands this in the long run and are not concerned with day to day musings. i thought we should have staked out a claim several times throughout 20th century history for land in the middle east. I also feel the kurds need a country. countries are basically societal norms, and those which seek to eliminate a societal norm, ie islam for non-believers, and since there logically is no separation between religion and the state in islam, i feel it is a danger. ALL the founding fathers thought so, on this there was no debate, except for protecting interests in international waters.

the word blackmail originated in the scottish highlands. mail means rent or extortion, a common ploy of islam that still commands respect as a reasonable ploy, particularly with non-believers, and black refers to the color of the cattle at the time, black angus. the clans were essentially the equivalent of native american indians where marauding was viewed as fun, and they continually blackmailed each other. thankfully this was ended as scotland ceded to become part of great britain in the 1730's and gained access to markets and spawned a great society from ashes to basically give a good percentage of the logic to the orgainization of our country.

logically, if one society has codified into law the elimination of all others, and others allow them into society, then they will be eliminated as they have no room for either stasus or expansion, except by force. laws will not work, unless absolutism is comprimised, which has basically zero chance of happening, in spite of what is happening in supposedly democratic turkey and egypt, where fanaticism, er populism, is on the rise. if no progress can be made but if by incorporation, then this must be imposed by islam itself, and it's circular logic defeated in the courts in the US as quickly as possible.

Thank you, readers, for such thoughtful contributions.

For more on this subject and a wide array of other topics, please visit my weblog.


format and content copyright © 2007 Charles Hugh Smith except as noted. All rights reserved in all media. All writers published herein retain the copyright to their own work.

The writers would be honored if you linked this Readers Journal to your site, or printed a copy for your own use.


  weblog/wEssays     home