I’m afraid the very silly editorial in the Weekend Australian about how environmentalists hate the proletariat, already taken to pieces by Glenn Albrecht doesn’t qualify as part of their War on Science because it doesn’t include anything on the science, but they can’t resist taking another shot at climate science, so today’s Australian has an article by political scientist Bjorn Lomborg:
Obama went on to say why he wants to prioritise global warming policies: “The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear. Sea levels are rising. Coastlines are shrinking. We’ve seen record drought, spreading famine, and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season.”
Yes, global warming is happening, and mankind is partly responsible, but these statements are – however eloquent – seriously wrong or misleading.
Sea levels are rising, but they have been rising at least since the early 1800s. In the era of satellite measurements, the rise has not accelerated (actually we’ve seen a sea-level fall during the past two years).
No we haven’t. Look at the graph, who are you going to believe, Lomborg or your lying eyes?
Obama’s claim about record droughts similarly fails even on a cursory level: the US has in all academic estimates been getting wetter through the past the century (with the 1930s dust bowl setting the drought high point). This is even true globally during the past half-century, as one of the most recent scientific studies of actual soil moisture shows: “There is an overall small wetting trend in global soil moisture.”
Before we look at this study, what is your estimate of the probability that Lomborg has misrepresented the study?
Global and regional trends in drought for 1950-2000
So it’s not the past half-century as Lomborg claimed.
Despite the overall wetting trend there is a switch since the 1970s to a drying trend, globally and in many regions, especially in high northern latitudes. This is shown to be caused, in part, by concurrent increasing temperatures. Although drought is driven primarily by variability in precipitation, projected continuation of temperature increases during the 21st century indicate the potential for enhanced drought occurrence. We analyze changes in future drought occurrence using soil moisture data for the SRES B1, A1B and A2 future climate scenarios from eight AOGCMs that participated in the IPCC AR4. The models show decreases in soil moisture globally for all scenarios with a corresponding doubling of the spatial extent of severe soil moisture deficits and frequency of short-term (4-6 month duration) droughts from the mid 20th century to the end of the 21st. Long-term (more than 12 month duration) droughts become three times more common.
So there has been a drying trend since the 1970s. Which is when the temperature started increasing strongly.
Back to Lomborg:
Finally, it is simply wrong to say that storms are growing stronger every hurricane season. Even for the Atlantic hurricane basin, which we tend to hear about most, the total hurricane energy (ACE) as measured by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has declined by two-thirds since the record was set in 2005. For the world, this trend has been more decisive: maximum ACE was reached in 1994 and has plummeted for the past three years, while hurricanes across the world for the past year have been about as inactive as at any time since records began to be kept.
Don’t you like the way that for soil moisture he reported the 50 year trend, but for hurricanes it’s the trend since 2005 that he reports? Such short trends are weather and not climate. (And the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season was more active than Lomborg claims.