The Royal Society of New South Wales held a meeting on Saturday in Mittagong on ‘Global Warming and The Cosmos’. Speakers included the director of the Danish National Space Centre, Eigil Friis-Christensen, and Graeme Pearman, former head of the CSIRO Atmospheric Division and now a consultant with GP Consulting Pty Ltd and an advisor to Al Gore and Ross Garnaut.
Graeme Pearman and Eigil Friis-Christensen, Mittagong, April 5, 2008
Dr Pearman spoke first and focused on global warming from carbon dioxide as a “policy driver”. I was offended by the presentation.
Dr Pearman suggested that much of the 0.7 degree Celsius increase in the earth’s temperature over the last 100 years has occurred in the last 10 years. Yet the last really hot year was in 1998 and global temperatures have since plateaued.
Graph and fitted spline curve from 1979 through to February 2008, from Professors John Christy and Roy Spencer, University of Alabama, Huntsville
Dr Pearman referred to 95 and 99 percentiles as measures of the “proof of an hypothesis” in the same breathe claiming that that there was more than 90 percent proof that global warming is a consequence of greenhouse gas emission. Yet this 90 percent figure, sometimes used by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is not from the testing of a falsifiable hypothesis but rather a political expression of the strength of opinion.
Dr Pearman began his presentation by suggesting that the break-up of the Wilkins Ice Shelf was a consequence of global warming. When I questioned him on this issue, he told the audience that Antarctica is warming.
Yet it is generally accepted and uncontroversial that 95 percent of the landmass of Antarctica has cooled over the last 20 years.
Image depicting the heating and cooling trends over and around Antarctica (1982-2003). Blue indicates cooling trends and red indicates warming trends.From NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio.Data provided by Larry Stock.
There has been warming at the edge of the continent including where Wilkins Ice Sheet recently collapsed. The collapse could be due to global warming , oceanic volcanoes, and/or from internal stresses associated with the accumulation of ice in the bay.
I am grateful to John McLean for information on temperatures in the vicinity of the Wilkins Ice Shelf and Joe D’Aleo for other temperature data, and to Bill Kininmonth and Garth Paltridge for information on the Wilkins Ice Shelf collapse.
I shall elaborate on the presentation by Dr Christensen in Part 2, to be posted in the next day or two.