NZCLIMATE & ENVIRO TRUTH NO 101
WHAT EVERYBODY KNOWS
I have had several complements on my
site motto by Josh Billings "It's not the things you don't know
that fool you.it'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
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
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
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
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
Sustained negative values of the SOI
often indicate El Niño episodes and positive values La
Similar oscillations occur in the
other oceans. The global behaviouir is sometines referred to as El
Niño, but increasingly as ENSO (El Noño-Southern
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.
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"It's not the things you don't know that fool you.
It's the things you do know that aint so"