Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Interview with David Siegel

Among other issues a discussion of how transport of warm Atlantic waters into the Arctic has caused Arctic warming despite cooling trends in North America and Eurasia. The Arctic temperatures bias the global average, but no similar warming is observed in the Antarctic

Monday, July 19, 2021

Islands of Truth Emerging from the Murky Depths of “Sea Level Science”

During the 1980s, the media and a few scientists warned that island nations in the tropical Pacific would soon be wiped from the face of the earth, drowned by rising sea levels attributed to rising CO2. The Maldives’ Environmental Affairs Director warned that an 8 inch to a foot rise in sea level in the next 20 to 40 years would be catastrophic. The Guardian’s headlines wrote of islanders abandoning their island home to become environmental refugees. In 2002 supported by Greenpeace, Tuvalu threatened to sue the United States and Australia for excessive carbon dioxide emissions. The Smithsonian magazine asked, “Will Tuvalu Disappear Beneath the Sea?”. However, the Smithsonian also admitted “not all scientists agree that Tuvalu’s future is underwater. Some critics have branded island leaders as opportunists angling for foreign handouts…while people and organizations sympathetic to Tuvalu are “eco-imperialists” intent on imposing their alarmist environmental views on the rest of the world.”


Theoretically, the fear of devastating rising sea levels was quite legitimate given the onslaught of global warming narratives and the fact the entire atoll nation of Tuvalu only averages 6.6 feet above sea level. So naturally, Tuvalu’s fund-seeking prime minister, Saufatu Sapo’aga, told the United Nations that global-warming’s threat to his island was no different than “a slow and insidious form of terrorism”. In reality, the latest science published in 2018 combined past aerial photographs and satellite imagery to report a net increase in Tuvalu’s land area. Built on coral reefs, the atoll’s many islands will change shape as coral debris and foraminifera are added to the land on the leeward side, while losing area on the windward side. Nonetheless, 74% of the islands increased in size with only 27% decreasing. Furthermore, Tuvalu’s growth is mirrored in other islands region-wide. A similar study examining “30 Pacific and Indian Ocean atolls including 709 islands, reveals that no atoll lost land area and that 88.6% of islands were either stable or increased in area, while only 11.4% contracted.” So how can coral islands grow in an era of accelerating sea level rise?

The answer may be, in contrast to global warming theories, that regional sea levels have not been rising by 3+ millimeters/year nor has the rise accelerated. The scary misinformation is partly due researchers using short¬¬ term sea level records that are incapable of accurately measuring the long-term trends. Pacific sea levels rise and fall over decades (see maps above). A single El Nino event can temporarily raise or lower island sea levels by 300 millimeters (mm). Thus, one study using just 6.8 years of data determined sea level at Tuvalu had fallen by 8.9 mm/year in contrast to a 2008 study using 15.5 years of data claiming sea level rose by 5.9 mm/year. 

In Tuvalu Not Experiencing Increased Sea Level Rise (2004), the climate skeptic Eschenbach reported climate scientists, who had averaged 27 regional stations using data greater than 25 years, had determined only a 0.8 mm/year trend with no acceleration. Eschenbach further detailed how Tuvalu’s erosion and the saltwater intrusion into the drinking water was not caused by rapid sea level rise. Among other issues, having paved over 10% of the island, the underground reservoir of freshwater was not being replenished, as rainwater was instead shunted away to the sea. Meanwhile the mining of sand and reefs for construction had disrupted the natural dynamics that maintained the island’s shape. 

 In “The Scientific Basis” of the IPCC’s 2001 report, they determined based on tide gauges “mean sea level rise during the 20th century ranged from 1.0 to 2.0 mm/year” and no detections of the predicted acceleration. Still, to bolster a theory unable to link rising CO2, warming, and accelerating sea level rise, Vermeer and Rhamstorf (2009) created a climate change model that projected a sea-level rise that ranged from 2.4 ft to 6.2 ft for the period 1990 –2100. In contrast, Australia’s NSW principal Coastal Specialist observed a consistent trend of weak deceleration at each gauge site throughout Australasia over the period from 1940 to 2000, and in 2011 published Is There Evidence Yet of Acceleration in Mean Sea Level Rise around Mainland Australia? 

There were several more conflicting issues. Scripps’ esteemed oceanographer Walter Munk found IPCC 20th century sea level rise estimates of 1.5 to 2.0 mm/year were too high. In 2013, Gregory et. al wrote Twentieth-Century Global-Mean Sea Level Rise: Is the Whole Greater than the Sum of the Parts? They solved the problem of an unbalanced sea level budget, by simply increasing previously estimated contributions from ocean warming and meltwater. In contrast, Harvard’s Mitrovica solved the same problem by lowering 20th century mean sea level rise to just 1 mm/yr. 

Meanwhile, new satellite era estimations suggested the long-awaited theoretical acceleration had arrived with sea level rising 3.5 mm/year from 1994-2002. Yet, like Tuvalu, such short periods of measurements are usually biased by natural variability and cannot accurately measure long term trends. Accordingly, subsequent satellite measurements between 2003 and 2011 found global sea level suddenly decelerated to 2.4 mm/year. To solve that conflict with global warming expectations, Cazenave et al. added the estimated water trapped on land during La Ninas to observed sea levels, plus added another 0.3 mm/year glacial isostatic adjustment to account for ocean basin expansion. Thus, she raised global warming’s rising sea level trend to 3.3 mm/year for the past 20 years, a rate commonly cited today.
In addition to Cazenave’s misguided trend building from short duration satellite measurements, calibrating satellite data to tide gauges can be distorted by the unaccounted land subsidence typically biasing tide gauges. It is well established that sinking land creates an illusion of sea level rise. China’s Huanghe Delta is sinking 10 inches/year (254 mm) and New Orleans is sinking 1.4 inches (36 mm) per year. Southern Florida experiences localized patches of 1–3 mm/year subsidence, undermining condos in urban areas built on reclaimed marshland. Similarly, San Francisco’s airport is sinking 0.4 inches per year. Between 1980 and 2014, despite San Francisco’s tide gauge experiencing large El Nino sea level spikes, there had been no rising trend suggesting falling sea levels have offset its subsidence.
Robustly evaluating the dangers of rising sea levels for Pacific islanders, in 2020 Alberto Boretti published Relative sea-level rise and land subsidence in Oceania from tide gauge and satellite GPS. Using only the 6 regional tide gauges with 100+ years of data, he found after subtracting subsidence effects from the +1.3 mm/year average relative sea level rise, the average absolute rate of rise computed to an astonishingly low +0.125 mm/year; with no signs of acceleration or evidence of thermal expansion. In addition, Boretti’s special Tuvalu case study, also accounting for subsidence, determined from 1977 to present an absolute rate of rise of just +0.157 mm/year. That rate of sea level rise from increased ocean volumes will only add about 0.6 inches in 100 years. The worrisome “sea-level rise of Tuvalu is due to subsidence rather than the increasing volume of the ocean waters” from thermal expansion or glacial meltwater. The best approach for Tuvalu’s prime minister would be to stop ill-advised urbanization that leads to subsidence and threatens its fresh water supply and stop covering his political rump by shifting the blame to climate change. Still stopping subsidence might not be possible. After all, in the late 1800s, Charles Darwin correctly surmised that atolls like Tuvalu were formed by fringing reefs attached to a naturally subsiding extinct volcano.

Jim Steele is Director emeritus of San Francisco State University’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus, authored Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism, and proud member of the CO2 Coalition Contact:

Sunday, July 11, 2021

The Truth About Heat Waves

For those who truly want to be guided by science, put aside the climate crisis hysteria. We can explain the natural dynamics of all heat waves by simply knowing 1) how heat is transported along the earth’s surface; 2) how heat is transported vertically; 3) how solar heating changes; and 4) how the greenhouse effect varies.

Below is a map of global temperature anomalies for the year 2014 that illustrates natural climate dynamics. There is no uniform warming that might be expected from a global blanket of greenhouse gases. Across the globe, surface temperatures alternate between regions of above average warmth (red) with regions of below average (blue). (Gray regions lack sufficient data). Indeed, the observed cooler eastern USA is dubbed a “warming hole” by climate scientists because its cooling trend contradicts global warming theory. It requires a natural climate dynamic explanation.

The temperature pattern is associated with regions where warmer air from the south more frequently intruded northward, while simultaneously, cold air from the north intruded southward. This pattern is due to a naturally wavy jet stream and associated pressure systems. The warm red regions indicate regions where high pressure systems dominate. In the northern hemisphere, high pressure systems cause clockwise atmospheric circulation that pulls warm air northward on its western side, and cold air southward on its eastern side. Low pressure systems circulate counter-clockwise, conversely pulling cold air southward on its western side. These combined circulation patterns partly explain both the extreme cold that dropped Texas temperatures as much as 50° F below average in February 2021, as well as extreme heating that raised USA’s northwest temperatures 30°- 40° F above normal the following June. Similarly in 2019, northward transport of heated air from the Sahara desert caused heat waves over Europe and Greenland. Such natural heat transport can also cause coastal Alaska to be warmer than Florida.

Below is an illustration of how high and low pressure systems also cause opposite patterns of vertical air circulation, as in the natural Madden Julian Oscillation. Low pressure systems are regions of upward rising air. As the air rises, water vapor condenses to form clouds. Although the clouds increase the greenhouse effect, clouds reduce solar heating to a greater degree. The net effect causes cooler surface temperatures. To balance the weight of rising air, the air must sink elsewhere, causing a high pressure system. However, that sinking air is now almost devoid of water vapor. The resulting clear skies reduce the greenhouse effect, allowing more infrared heat to escape, but also increases solar heating. Because increased solar heating is greater, the net effect is warmer surface temperatures.

High pressure systems often cause heat waves due to how heat is transported, their associated clear skies and increased solar heating. The eastward moving Madden Julian Oscillation, as well as El Nino and La Nina events along with other oscillations, can unexpectedly interact to amplify regions of sinking air and thus determine the location of a high pressure system and heat wave.

Finally, vertical air motion adds another warming dynamic. The gas laws are unequivocally proven physics and state that by simply increasing pressure, air temperature will increase without any added energy (aka adiabatic warming). Thus, the increasing weight of the atmosphere on sinking dry air warms that air by 5.4°F for every 1000 ft it descends. In addition to surface wind transport, this dynamic contributed to record heat on the northern tip of the Antarctic peninsula where air was descending from the mountains. Along the west coast of the United States, air pushed from the Sierra Nevada to the ocean coast (aka the Santa Ana and Diablo winds) causes California to experience unusually warm temperatures (and larger fires) during the winter. A similar descending flow of air from the Cascade mountains, contributed to the June 2021 extreme heat wave in Washington and Oregon.

Even when descending air doesn’t reach the surface, it also warms the surface by suppressing convection. Air contacting the earth’s solar heated surface warms and rises (aka convection). However, air only rises if its warmer than the surrounding atmosphere. Descending air from several thousand feet in altitude warms as it falls. Yet despite that warming air only reaching 100 feet above the ground, it suppresses convection that normally carries heat from the surface to the upper troposphere. The effect is like the extreme warming of a car’s interior when rolled up windows prevent heated air from leaving.

The world’s expert on northwestern USA’s weather, Cliff Mass, has presented evidence showing the 2021 heat wave was a “black swan event” where all the natural dynamics discussed above converged. As illustrated by global warm and cold anomalies below, the northwest heat wave was a uniquely local event. Yet to support his agenda, President Biden has fear-mongered the Northwest heat wave as a global climate crisis. Biden doesn’t know science and would look foolish in a climate debate. Disturbingly, some scientists dependent on global warming funding also suggest only global warming explains that heatwave. However, they ignore the fact that the heatwave’s clear skies reduce the local greenhouse effect driven by water vapor. Additionally, global warming can’t explain cold events such as Europe’s record cold just 2 months earlier. So, beware! The media is promoting misinformation. Only natural climate dynamics scientifically explain recent extreme weather events.

One more added thought since first pubished. In contrast to the media's fear mongering about ever increasing heat waves due to the so-called climate crisis, here's the EPA's heat wave trend:

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

On Slavery, Climate, and the Promise of Gettysburg

  To honor their sacrifice in the battle of Gettysburg July 1-3, 1863, President Lincoln later spoke, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.” Indeed, the American Civil war was a pivotal moment in the battle for human dignity versus thousands of years of worldwide slavery. 

Slavery economically only benefits those in power. Throughout recorded history, captives from tribal warfare were enslaved, as were criminals and debtors. Slaves worked the fields and mines, fought in the conqueror’s military, or became domestic and public servants. Such constant inter-tribal warfare was in large part driven by natural climate change. During favorable climates, to feed a thriving population they expanded into neighboring territories. Similarly, centuries of drought and famines also forced populations to seek out greener pastures to survive. During the last ice age, the unpopulated Sahara Desert was larger than today. But when the climate warmed about 10,000 years ago, causing monsoons and the tropical rain belt (Intertropical Convergence Zone) to shift northward, the “Green Sahara” evolved with bountiful grasslands with scattered shallow lakes, which were rapidly colonized by humans. 

 Then about 6000 years ago, the earth began to cool (the Neoglaciation) and the Sahara quickly reverted to desert, forcing humans to seek productive lands elsewhere. The cooling trend brought increasing drought not just to the Sahara but throughout the Mediterranean and Middle east regions as well as parts of India and China. Some humans migrated to river valleys of the Nile, Mesopotamia, Indus, and Yellow River leading to the great river civilizations. Some moved to higher elevations or were forced southward, while others became warring nomads. The good news is some climate models suggest the current warming could bring more rain to the Sahara region. 

Beginning around 2500 years ago, the Romans were forced to battle their neighbors. With each victory Romans acquired more slaves to work their fields and mines, and to grow a slave army that could further expand the Roman empire. By 1 AD it is estimated approximately one third of Rome’s residents were slaves. Although most cultures that embraced slavery also forbid enslaving people of their own tribe, slavery was not driven by racism. It was driven by economics. Most Roman slaves were acquired from racially identical neighboring tribes in Italy and Europe. 

The coldest period of the Neoglaciation was the recent Little Ice Age, approximately lasting from 1300 to 1900 AD. During that period, a warring tribe of nomads evolved into the Ottoman Empire. In part they also gained dominance via a powerful slave army (Janissaries). The Ottoman’s thirst for slaves also induced robust regional slave markets. Barbary Coast pirates (modern day Morocco and Algiers region) and the Crimean kingdom launched slave raids into Europe for slaves to be sold to the Ottomans. Europeans often lacked the numbers to repel those slave raids because the Bubonic Plague and Little Ice Age famines had decimated many populations. Slavic populations were targeted so frequently, their ethnicity gave rise to the term “slave”. 

West African "Slave Coast"

 The city of Timbuktu (in the modern country of Mali) located just north of the Niger River flourished in the 1300s as western Africa’s trade center for gold, salt, ivory, and slaves. As a result, it was targeted by several competing tribes and empires battling to control the wealth of the trans-Saharan trade routes. West African slave trade was mostly confined to the continent. It is estimated the nearly one third of the Songhai empire consisted of slaves during the 1400s and 1500s. When improved ocean navigation by the Spanish and Portuguese opened the America’s, a very profitable slave trade developed between Europeans and Africans. Enslaved native Brazilians working sugar plantations, were first to generate great wealth for the Portuguese. But native Brazilian populations were soon decimated by introduced diseases like smallpox. Seeking cheap slave labor, the Portuguese and Spanish turned to the ongoing African slave market and African tribal leaders were eager to expand their slave trade for European goods, particularly guns and ammunition to better defend themselves. By late 1500s west-central Africa became known as the Slave Coast

The trans-Atlantic slave trade expanded from Brazil to new sugar plantations in the Caribbean, and then the cotton plantations of southeastern USA. But the slaves never went peaceably. Throughout history from the Spartacus Wars of 73 BC, to the Haitian Revolution of 1791, to Nat Turner’s Rebellion of 1831, slaves fought for their freedom. In America there was also a growing humanitarian movement pushing to abolish slavery led by blacks such as Frederick Douglas and whites such as William Lloyd Garrison. As a result, the Slave Trade Act of 1794 prohibited American ships from engaging in the international slave trade. In 1807 the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves made it illegal to import new slaves. However due to its national economic importance, domestic slavery was still not outlawed. The northern state’s textile industry (as well as England’s) also profited from cheap cotton and indirectly fostered slavery. Given such economic incentives to maintain slavery, the emerging abolitionist movement was a tribute to America’s guiding creed that all people deserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Although still falling short of equality, between 1781 and 1804, all states north of Maryland passed laws to gradually abolish slavery. 

 It wasn’t that Southerners were more racist than northerners. Politics were simply driven by highly profitable cotton plantations, and cotton only thrived in the warmer southern climate. Only 25% of southerners owned slaves. Many of the south’s yeoman farmers voted against seceding from the union. Blacks and whites formed the Free State of Jones in Mississippi and the Free State of Winston in Alabama. Some formed the Arkansas Peace Society and many whites, especially from Arkansas and Tennessee joined the union army. Eventually, it was a Union army consisting of 90% white and 10% black soldiers, facing death and mutilation from canons, muskets, and bayonets, as they did at Gettysburg, that began America’s irreversible emergence from millennia of global slavery and step closer to our ideal of equality. Finally in 1865, the 13th amendment to the constitution legislated, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." 

 Nonetheless, still attempting to profit from forced labor, some tried to circumvent the 13th amendment by using convicted criminals to engage in free forced labor. In the past a racist police force could disproportionately and dishonestly convict blacks and poor whites, but today we are weeding out such racists cops. The great majority of police are good people trying to keep our neighborhoods safe and uphold our ideal of equal protection under the law. Likewise, the Jim Crow laws first enacted during the late 1800s were attempts to maintain political control by suppressing black voters, but the Voting Rights Act of 1965 put an end to that injustice. Unfortunately, others seeking their own political power, introduced a new form racism that dishonestly pandered to black voters and has abandoned Matin Luther King’s universal ideal that we judge people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. 

For instance, in 2006 when white members of Duke University’s lacrosse team were accused, albeit falsely, of raping a black stripper. It ignited waves of social justice protests. The white attorney general, Mike Nifong seeking re-election, hoped to garner the support of black voters by convicting those white players, despite obvious evidence of their innocence. Nifong was later disbarred for fraud, dishonesty, deceit and making false statements to a judge. And despite an ATM photo of one of the accused that verified his innocence, mobs of students and professors eagerly abandoned our ideal of presumed innocence until found guilty in order to “virtue signal” their anti-racism. Photographs of lacrosse team members were posted around campus while others suggested the lacrosse team had been acting like rich plantation owners of the past. Even now there are professors who similarly virtual signal that Americans ought to abolish “whiteness” and politicians like Georgia’s new senator, Rev. Raphael Warnock gave a sermon arguing the “US must 'repent' for whiteness worship”, all pushing a racist suggestion that all whites think and behave the same. 

 Just as we must work to rid racists from all positions of power, we must also disavow those fabricate racists actions. Activists and politicians ignore America’s great forward strides simply to manipulate white disgust and guilt for the horrific racism of the past. To gain political power, they exacerbate a racial divide that had been healing. Some white politicians claimed you “aint black if you don’t vote for me”; versions of “vote for me and I’ll set you free” only maintain a “ball of confusion”. There are others like actor Jussie Smollet, simply trying to gain personal notoriety by fabricating a racial attack. When the black attorney general Daniel Cameron found no evidence to charge white police officers in the death of a black woman, to maintain the racial divide, politicians and activists denigrated his integrity repeating he was “skin-folk not kin-folk”. Despite bipartisan recognition of past voter fraud, one party has pushed to eliminate the fraud prone practice of ballot harvesting. Although it does not prevent anyone from voting, politicians in favor of ballot harvesting dishonestly call its elimination “Jim Crow on steroids”. All those activists and politicians are only dividing the races and dividing our country.

 Any objective analysis would find America’s system should be praised for our steady, albeit slow, evolution from global slavery engaged in by all races, towards more completely ensuring our ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for everyone. Politicians and activists suggesting the USA is systematically racists use backwards thinking to suggest past injustices are still ever present. Yet they ignore the facts that people from the Nigerian region were once brought to this country as slaves in the 1700s and 1800s, but now Nigerians voluntarily come to America and are one of America’s most successful immigrants. Such present-day success repudiates claims of systematic racism. For people who truly want equality for all, our focus should be on those countries where forced labor and modern slavery still run rampant. 


As the Global Slavery Index recently reported, the 10 countries most engaged in today’s forced labor and modern slavery are the African countries of Eritrea, Mauritania, South Sudan, Burundi, the Central African Republic, as well as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Cambodia, and communist North Korea. As in past centuries, those countries are vulnerable to modern slavery due to the constant conflicts which are often driven by environmental crises and corrupt systems. And unlike the USA’s dedication to liberty, those countries suffer politically from highly repressive regimes, such as the Chinese Communist government’s enslaving of Uighur Muslims. 

Similarly, those with a political agenda will wrongly blame a CO2 induced “climate crisis” for Africa’s environmental crises. But it is the naturally shifting of rain patterns since the loss of the Green Sahara and during the Little Ice Age that generated conflicts then and made 21st century Africa vulnerable to inevitable drought inducing natural climate variability. La Ninas periodically bring drought and famine to the east African region of Ethiopia and Eritrea every few years, a region now at war. The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation drove devastating drought in the Sahel region in the 1970s and 80s forcing migrations but reverted to more rains since the 1990s. These natural episodes of drought are predictable and allow governments weeks to prepare and adapt. But in the long run, only improved agricultural systems and vibrant trade will prevent environmentally driven conflicts, and that requires a free entrepreneurial economic system and honest politicians.

Abe and me at Gettysburg June 2021