JUNE 1ST 2006
I have had several complements on my site motto by Josh Billings  "It's not the things you don't know that fool's the things you do know that aint so". It is often attributed to Mark Twain, and I have slightly modified the original.,
Josh Billings was the pseudonym of Henry Wheeler Shaw, 1818-1885 who was a land agent in Poughkeepsie, New York and published facetious almanacs and collections of witticisms. Amongst his other masterpieces were
"Nature never makes any blunders; when she makes a fool, she means it"
"Poverty is the stepmother of genius"
"The wheel that squeaks the loudest is the one that gets the grease"
What has brought this to mind is the recent conversion of Michael Shermer, the resident Skeptic of the "Scientific American" to the cause of global warming. What has convinced him are the "facts" about carbon dioxide. He is sure that the concentratiion in the atmosphere in the last ice age was 180ppmv, and then it rose to 280ppmv before the industrial revolution. Now it is 380ppmv, and "projected" to reach 450 to 550 by the end of the century.
Now, are all these figure right?. I will grant the "projected" ones, but what about the others?
The figure of 180ppmv for the last ice age comes from the measurements on the Vostok ice core, This is from one single location in Antarctica.  How do we know it is typical of the whole earth? We don't.
The figure of 280ppmv just before the industrial revolution is slightly better; three sites, all in Antarctica..The ulktimate in unrepresentative samples.
The figure of 380ppmv is ever so slightly better, but it is still based on a biased sample. Almost all current neasurements are made over the sea. In order to justify the assumption that these may apply over the land carbon dioxide is referred to as "well-mixed"
On what grounds ? NOAA actuall publish a map showing how the concentration varies over the earh for the current measurements over the sea There is  considerable variability. If you can get a different figure in different locations, it is not well-mixed. But there are hardly any measuremnents over land surfaces, and the reason is that when you try, the gas is so poorly mixed that an average figure is almost impossible to obtain. It is called "noise" which may be defined as "unwelcome data"
So we are being scared by the increases of carbon dioxide over our heads when nobody knows how much there is.and our knowledge of the past is even more dubious.
In New Zealand an early attempt to measure carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was set up in Makara near Wellington. It was abandoned because of the "noise" and moved to  Baring Head, where only the measurements over the sea are taken seriously.. We have no figures at all for the avaerage concentration over New Zealand
I attach the latest graph, from Baring Head,  from 1971 to 2006. You will see that it follows a straight line with a slope of o.39% a year. This should be cxompared with the assumption of a majority of computer climnate models that it is 1% a year.
Since it increases every year, each year is a "record"
Also attached is a graph of the growth rate. The rate has increased for three whole years . Other peaks in the graph are associated with El Niño events, so the current increases  are much morer likely to be ENSO influenced than all the coal in China. The current "warm" period seems to be mainly associed with El Niño activity, so it can be expected to subside within a few years
It is a little difficult to find a satisfactory definition of El Niño and its counterpart La Niña. Several websites promise to define El Niño and then fail to do so.
Here is a statement a friend of mine obtained from the Australian Bureau of Meterology
"As for a definition of El Nino, the Bureau does not have a precise defintion at the present time. We have been working with the World Meteorological Organization over the last ~3 years to come up with a globally accepted definition. I suspect this is almost beyond the science as El Nino needs to be referenced to some average and with climate change occuring so rapidly we simply no longer have an average state."
This seems to disagree with the  "Wikipedia" article on
which defines El Niño and La Niña as major temperature fluctuations in the surface waters of the tropical Eastern Pacific Ocean. It is based on its fairly common arrival at Christmas off the coast of South America, hence the "the little boy" (i.e. the Christ Child), followed by the "little girl".
The atmospheric effects of this are called the Southern Oscillation (SO) and  are measured by the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) which is calculated from the monthly or seasonal fluctuations in the air pressure difference between Tahiti and Darwin,
Sustained negative values of the SOI often indicate El Niño episodes and positive values La Niña.
Similar oscillations occur in the other oceans. The global behaviouir is sometines referred to as El Niño, but increasingly as ENSO  (El Noño-Southern Oscillation )
The whole situation seems to be confused. The exceptionally high1998 El Niño was certainly related to a high negative SOI but the current warming spell has not been clearly tied to El Niño, although a modest peak in the negative SOI occurred in 2003.
Vincent Gray
75 Silverstream Road
Crofton Downs
Wellington 6004
New Zealand
Phone/Fax 064 4 9735939
"It's not the things you don't know that fool you.
It's the things you do know that aint so"
Josh Billings