Sunday, August 02, 2009

Alligators in Ellesmere Island?

Ellesmere Island, which lies within the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, appears to have once been the home of alligators, according to the fossil records of the Eocene epoch (see After the Dinosaurs: The Age of Mammals, 2006. By Donald R Prothero. Bloomington (Indiana): Indiana University Press). Alligators cannot tolerate freezing temperatures for long. Such tidbits are of interest to any folks who want to take a long view concerning temperature variations of the earth.

Moving to more contemporary pursuits, Richard Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT, suggests the signature of Greenhouse warming (that the warming should be accompanied by rather large changes in atmospheric temperatures in the tropics) has not occurred. The warming levels that have occurred in the atmosphere of the tropics imply that perhaps only a third of surface warming has been due to the greenhouse effect, and it is unclear how much of that small effect could be attributable to humans. Lindzen says:

This contradiction is rendered more acute by the fact that there has been no statistically significant net global warming for the last fourteen years. Modelers defend this situation by arguing that aerosols have cancelled much of the warming, and that models adequately account for natural unforced internal variability. However, a recent paper (Ramanathan, 2007) points out that aerosols can warm as well as cool, while scientists at the UK’s Hadley Centre for Climate Research recently noted that their model did not appropriately deal with natural internal variability thus demolishing the basis for the IPCC’s iconic attribution (Smith et al, 2007). Interestingly (though not unexpectedly), the British paper did not stress this. Rather, they speculated that natural internal variability might step aside in 2009, allowing warming to resume. Resume? Thus, the fact that warming has ceased for the past fourteen years is acknowledged. It should be noted that, more recently, German modelers have moved the date for ‘resumption’ up to 2015 (Keenlyside et al, 2008).
So should we hope that the political class taxes us to save us from ourselves? Who has lobbied hard for Kyoto? Enron (will we see some revisionist history on that score), Goldman Sachs lobbies fro cap and trade. If Healthcare is a 1000 page bill, how big will a final cap and trade bill be? If a bill is too big to read, maybe it's too big to pass.

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