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Thread: See what happens when politics controls science?

  1. #1 See what happens when politics controls science? 
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    NASA: Clean-air regs, not CO2, are melting the ice cap
    theregister.co.uk
    9th April 2009


    New research from NASA suggests that the Arctic warming trend seen in recent decades has indeed resulted from human activities: but not, as is widely assumed at present, those leading to carbon dioxide emissions. Rather, Arctic warming has been caused in large part by laws introduced to improve air quality and fight acid rain.

    Dr Drew Shindell of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies has led a new study which indicates that much of the general upward trend in temperatures since the 1970s - particularly in the Arctic - may have resulted from changes in levels of solid "aerosol" particles in the atmosphere, rather than elevated CO2. Arctic temperatures are of particular concern to those worried about the effects of global warming, as a melting of the ice cap could lead to disastrous rises in sea level - of a sort which might burst the Thames Barrier and flood London, for instance.

    Shindell's research indicates that, ironically, much of the rise in polar temperature seen over the last few decades may have resulted from US and European restrictions on sulphur emissions. According to NASA:

    Sulfates, which come primarily from the burning of coal and oil, scatter incoming solar radiation and have a net cooling effect on climate. Over the past three decades, the United States and European countries have passed a series of laws that have reduced sulfate emissions by 50 percent. While improving air quality and aiding public health, the result has been less atmospheric cooling from sulfates.

    Meanwhile, levels of black-carbon aerosols (soot, in other words) have been rising, largely driven by greater industrialisation in Asia. Soot, rather than reflecting heat as sulphates do, traps solar energy in the atmosphere and warms things up.

    The Arctic is especially subject to aerosol effects, says Shindell, because the planet's main industrialised areas are all in the northern hemisphere and because there's not much precipitation to wash the air clean.

    "Right now, in the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere and in the Arctic, the impact of aerosols is just as strong as that of the greenhouse gases," says Shindell.

    Dirty Chinese coal to save us all?

    Other scientists have recently suggested that it's not just the Arctic which is subject to aerosol effects. Boffins from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have said that aerosol levels from dust storms and volcanoes alone would account for as much as 70 per cent of the temperature rise seen in the Atlantic ocean during the past 26 years, leaving carbon simply nowhere.

    Shindell's new NASA study is particularly topical, as President Obama's new science advisor has just suggested that the subject of "geoengineering" - artificially modifying the climate - must be considered as a countermeasure to global warming. One measure put forward by geoengineering advocates is the deliberate injection of sulphur particulates into the atmosphere.

    There might not even be any need for action on the part of the West, with China building sulphur-belching coal power stations and diesel vehicles at a furious rate in recent times. Dr Shindell doesn't say so, but it's at least possible that this has something to do with the fact that global temperatures have actually dipped slightly over the last couple of years.

    Meanwhile Dr Shindell's position at NASA's Goddard Institute in New York must now be a potentially stressful one. His boss, Dr James Hansen, is more or less the father of the carbon-driven global warming menace. He won't be pleased at the suggestion that carbon emissions may not be such an overriding concern after all. Dr Hansen has even gone so far as to travel to the UK, to add his weight to protests against the Kingsnorth coal plant.

    There are of course many arguments against a deliberate policy of sulphate emissions. They cause acid rain, for one thing: the original anti-sulphur regs weren't introduced just for fun. But the appearance of aerosols at the front of the climate-science stage does indicate that the issue isn't simple, and that environmental policies can have unforeseen and unexpected effects.

    The goal of simply cutting CO2 emissions by any means possible might have to be reconsidered somewhat: Shindell's research, backed by other recent studies, suggests that it might be a lot more cost-effective to tackle emissions of black-carbon aerosols. Filtering soot from exhausts would be hugely easier than capturing and sequestering CO2, building a fully wind/electric Blighty or other ambitious eco-schemes.

    "There's still a lot more that we need to sort out," says Shindell, in understated style.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Shindell's boss, Dr. James Hansen, was probably not pleased with this report and I'll try to find his firey reply and post it here for general interest.


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    Where do you see the politics?

    There is some spin in the posted article though especially if you don't read the entire first paragraph.

    "New research from NASA suggests that the Arctic warming trend seen in recent decades has indeed resulted from human activities: but not, as is widely assumed at present, those leading to carbon dioxide emissions. Rather, Arctic warming has been caused in large part by laws introduced to improve air quality and fight acid rain. "

    The key is "recent warming."

    The posted findings are pretty consistent with past studies of man-made aerosols that show the flat period from the 40-70 may have at least in part been the result of unregulated release of aerosols masking the green house gas warming. When Europe and America in the 1970s decided to clean their air to improve regional air quality problems we started to feel the full force of the increased green house gases and started to measure significant rise in surface temperatures. Fast forward to the explosive growth of Asian nations in more recent years and we're again masking the warming continuing increases.

    The green house gases increased forcing has never gone away, it's just been masked by aerosols. I've posted about the possible impact of China aerosols before.

    Not much controversial here at all, though his approximation of degree might be a little higher than previous studies. Note also that the projected and ever increasing forcing of man-made green house gases will eventually eclipse cooling from aerosols.

    Sadly the article implies something else that's quite unusual:
    "Meanwhile Dr Shindell's position at NASA's Goddard Institute in New York must now be a potentially stressful one. His boss, Dr James Hansen, is more or less the father of the carbon-driven global warming menace. He won't be pleased at the suggestion that carbon emissions may not be such an overriding concern after all. Dr Hansen has even gone so far as to travel to the UK, to add his weight to protests against the Kingsnorth coal plant. "

    What would be stressful in being successful enough to get your research noticed and recognized enough to be posted for the public by the very agent and approved by the very director who the article maligns? If anything, this is solid evidence that politics don't rule the NASA. Furthermore the effects of aerosols aren't news to Dr. Hansen, who not only includes their effects in his models, but has spent twenty years sponsoring workshops, co-authoring papers that document their effects, and appealing to the director of NASA and other folks to get more money to monitor the effects. Lastly, Mr. Hanson does disapprove of coal plants, because they represent the greatest reservoir of Co2 we humans can put into the atmosphere--far more than petroleum; and more importantly he knows the effects of the Co2 that coal produces will last thousands of years, which is far longer than the year or two the aerosols from burning might mitigate the effects.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox
    Where do you see the politics?

    There is some spin in the posted article though especially if you don't read the entire first paragraph.

    "New research from NASA suggests that the Arctic warming trend seen in recent decades has indeed resulted from human activities: but not, as is widely assumed at present, those leading to carbon dioxide emissions. Rather, Arctic warming has been caused in large part by laws introduced to improve air quality and fight acid rain. "

    The key is "recent warming."

    The posted findings are pretty consistent with past studies of man-made aerosols that show the flat period from the 40-70 may have at least in part been the result of unregulated release of aerosols masking the green house gas warming. When Europe and America in the 1970s decided to clean their air to improve regional air quality problems we started to feel the full force of the increased green house gases and started to measure significant rise in surface temperatures. Fast forward to the explosive growth of Asian nations in more recent years and we're again masking the warming continuing increases.

    The green house gases increased forcing has never gone away, it's just been masked by aerosols. I've posted about the possible impact of China aerosols before.

    Not much controversial here at all, though his approximation of degree might be a little higher than previous studies. Note also that the projected and ever increasing forcing of man-made green house gases will eventually eclipse cooling from aerosols.

    Sadly the article implies something else that's quite unusual:
    "Meanwhile Dr Shindell's position at NASA's Goddard Institute in New York must now be a potentially stressful one. His boss, Dr James Hansen, is more or less the father of the carbon-driven global warming menace. He won't be pleased at the suggestion that carbon emissions may not be such an overriding concern after all. Dr Hansen has even gone so far as to travel to the UK, to add his weight to protests against the Kingsnorth coal plant. "

    What would be stressful in being successful enough to get your research noticed and recognized enough to be posted for the public by the very agent and approved by the very director who the article maligns? If anything, this is solid evidence that politics don't rule the NASA. Furthermore the effects of aerosols aren't news to Dr. Hansen, who not only includes their effects in his models, but has spent twenty years sponsoring workshops, co-authoring papers that document their effects, and appealing to the director of NASA and other folks to get more money to monitor the effects. Lastly, Mr. Hanson does disapprove of coal plants, because they represent the greatest reservoir of Co2 we humans can put into the atmosphere--far more than petroleum; and more importantly he knows the effects of the Co2 that coal produces will last thousands of years, which is far longer than the year or two the aerosols from burning might mitigate the effects.
    Huh?

    Gee Lynx_Fox, do you not see the irony? Read again... "Rather, Arctic warming has been caused in large part by laws introduced to improve air quality and fight acid rain. "

    Are not bad science laws the product of bad and inept politics? Or do you think it Ok if our knee-jerk laws melt our Ice Caps and kill our polar bears?
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by milum

    Gee Lynx_Fox, do you not see the irony? Read again... "Rather, Arctic warming has been caused in large part by laws introduced to improve air quality and fight acid rain. "

    Are not bad science laws the product of bad and inept politics? or do you think it Ok if our knee jerk laws melt out ive caps?
    No because it's misleading and just a different spin on what we already suspect. (I've even talked about on this forum). The misleading part is the forcing and warming is still there, just masked by reduced insolution caused by aerosols.

    And we know about this effect already, and there are many scientific papers that discuss the issue. Here's just a few abstracts.

    " Strong present-day aerosol cooling implies a hot future

    Atmospheric aerosols counteract the warming effects of anthropogenic greenhouse gases by an uncertain, but potentially large, amount. This in turn leads to large uncertainties in the sensitivity of climate to human perturbations, and therefore also in carbon cycle feedbacks and projections of climate change. In the future, aerosol cooling is expected to decline relative to greenhouse gas forcing, because of the aerosols' much shorter lifetime and the pursuit of a cleaner atmosphere. Strong aerosol cooling in the past and present would then imply that future global warming may proceed at or even above the upper extreme of the range projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change."
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal...ture03671.html

    Here's another study which Hansen co-authors that studies the effects of China release of black carbon aerosols:

    Climate Effects of Black Carbon Aerosols in China and India

    Surabi Menon,12* James Hansen,1 Larissa Nazarenko,12 Yunfeng Luo3
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/conten.../297/5590/2250

    And another from the early 90's also that Hansen co-authored which focuses on sulfur aerosols
    Climate Forcing by Anthropogenic Aerosols
    R. J. CHARLSON 1, S. E. SCHWARTZ 2, J. M. HALES 3, R. D. CESS 4, J. A. COAKLEY JR. 5, J. E. HANSEN 6, and D. J. HOFMANN 7
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/conten...t/255/5043/423

    Do a google scholar search and there are many more about the same subject.

    In short the article you posted (don't know the original source and there was no link) was deliberately misleading implying that warming forces didn't exist, implied this new research would be some kind of surprise, said overtly that somehow it would be unwelcome news at NASA sufficient to threaten the authors, implied that there wasn't a difference between short term cooling and long term warming and Hansen didn't know the differences. About the only thing it got right is there's yet one more study of aerosols that show it important to climate and there some discussion of using it as a tool to mitigate the effects of global warming.

    There is nothing ironic and not much new for those who's followed the science, and just more reason to be concerned because we really shouldn't depend on a short term cooling that also creates huge regional health and environmental problems (e.g. last Olympics, acid rain etc) to offset green house forcing that will be around for thousands of years.
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    Disregard comment about not knowing who the author is. It's Lewis Page. Seems like more an entertainer than a responsible science journalist . He's written some pretty entertaining pieces such as:

    New ISS piss-recycler still troublesome
    Sweat and tears only for parched astronauts

    DARPA orders hypersonic Nazi Doodlebug engine
    'Continuous Explosion' fireball bomb/jet hybrid wanted

    Ex-Star Wars boffins build mosquito-blasting raygun
    Fiery photon vengeance wrought upon pestilential bloodsuckers

    Shark attacks predict economic bubbles, says boffin
    'Provocative' surfer sluts asking for it, seemingly

    Hey but maybe he's a Renascence man, a brilliant journalist who can report every science advancement across a wide range of fields with perfect accuracy.


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    LMAO! Smog will save the north pole! I love it! Thanks for posting this article from that prestigious agency known as NASA.
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    Quote Originally Posted by williampinn
    LMAO! Smog will save the north pole! I love it! Thanks for posting this article from that prestigious agency known as NASA.

    I just love the way they defend a dying thing global climate change, attacking anything not in line with it.


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    William McCormick
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    The rate of increase of icemelt in the northern polar region follows almost exactly the rise of fast food restuarants in the former Soviet Union.

    along with mobile phones, Ipods and get this, CD'S ! not forgetting that 99.3% of all statisitics are made up on the spot.
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    not forgetting that 99.3% of all statisitics are made up on the spot.
    including this one ? :wink:
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    :wink:
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    Quote Originally Posted by William McCormick
    Quote Originally Posted by williampinn
    LMAO! Smog will save the north pole! I love it! Thanks for posting this article from that prestigious agency known as NASA.

    I just love the way they defend a dying thing global climate change, attacking anything not in line with it.


    Sincerely,


    William McCormick
    As S. Fred Singer says, "It would be funny if it wasn't so sad."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox
    Disregard comment about not knowing who the author is. It's Lewis Page. Seems like more an entertainer than a responsible science journalist . He's written some pretty entertaining pieces such as:

    New ISS piss-recycler still troublesome
    Sweat and tears only for parched astronauts

    DARPA orders hypersonic Nazi Doodlebug engine
    'Continuous Explosion' fireball bomb/jet hybrid wanted

    Ex-Star Wars boffins build mosquito-blasting raygun
    Fiery photon vengeance wrought upon pestilential bloodsuckers

    Shark attacks predict economic bubbles, says boffin
    'Provocative' surfer sluts asking for it, seemingly

    Hey but maybe he's a Renascence man, a brilliant journalist who can report every science advancement across a wide range of fields with perfect accuracy.


    Ok, Lynx_Fox, since you so need an authority figure, and since you tried so hard to kill the poor messenger above who dared bring you such inconvenient data... I hereby give you the authorized WORD as it is direct from your esteemed scientist friends over at (hushed tones) NASA (hallowed be their initials)...

    Aerosols May Drive a Significant Portion of Arctic Warming
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    Ya Saw it and referred to it already:

    "What would be stressful in being successful enough to get your research noticed and recognized enough to be posted for the public by the very agent and approved by the very director who the article maligns?"

    As I showed already it reinforces what NASA already knows. I already explained that my issue was mostly with the spin of the original piece--much of it being flatly wrong or making incorrect inferences.


    Your point is?
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  15. #14  
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    Milum,

    Surely you do not believe the NASA research indicating that pollution cools the planet?

    Kind regards,
    FR
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  16. #15 Re: See what happens when politics controls science? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by milum
    Shindell's boss, Dr. James Hansen, was probably not pleased with this report and I'll try to find his firey reply and post it here for general interest.
    Any luck with your search?

    While you're looking, take time out to read today's Real Climate note which explains aerosols. Here's part of the followup discussion:

    Duae Quartunciae Says:
    13 April 2009 at 8:39 AM
    ..........Many of the usual suspects seem to be taking this paper as a sign that NASA has published a report indicating that changes in aerosols are responsible for global warming; rather than greenhouse gases. One report even speculates that Shindell’s position with his boss (James Hansen) has just become more difficult because of this.

    [Response: Particularly amusing nonsense, since Jim [James Hansen] has been pointing out the importance of black carbon deposition (which replaces the normally highly reflective snow surfachttp://www.realclimate.org/e with highly absorbing particulates, thus enhancing surface warming) on Arctic warming for a number of years. This effect is additive to the greenhouse gas warming. Any claim by the contrarian noise machine that this (very important) research by Drew and colleagues in any way challenges our understanding of the influence of rising greenhouse gas concentrations on the warming of the Earth’s surface suggests a remarkably deep level of confusion, disingenuousness, or both. -mike]
    http://www.realclimate.org/
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    Quote Originally Posted by free radical
    Milum,

    Surely you do not believe the NASA research indicating that pollution cools the planet?

    Kind regards,
    FR

    What do you call, volcanic ash? Clean air? It is known to be followed by very cool weather patterns.

    I believe that carbon from burning oil fields might deposit black carbon, on the snow. In the very intense almost constant light of summer, this could cause the ice to melt at a very high rate.

    I believe volcanic ash could do that too. Bringing about cooler weather patterns to the northern and far southern regions, after the caps recede, and cool the mass of the ocean. I am looking for very cold weather patterns myself in the northern and southern regions. With a lot of drought and heat waves in the warmer equator regions.

    When the ocean cools it tends to intensify the weather.



    Sincerely,


    William McCormick
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  18. #17 Re: See what happens when politics controls science? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    Quote Originally Posted by milum
    Shindell's boss, Dr. James Hansen, was probably not pleased with this report and I'll try to find his firey reply and post it here for general interest.
    Any luck with your search?

    While you're looking, take time out to read today's Real Climate note which explains aerosols. Here's part of the followup discussion:

    Duae Quartunciae Says:
    13 April 2009 at 8:39 AM
    ..........Many of the usual suspects seem to be taking this paper as a sign that NASA has published a report indicating that changes in aerosols are responsible for global warming; rather than greenhouse gases. One report even speculates that Shindell’s position with his boss (James Hansen) has just become more difficult because of this.

    [Response: Particularly amusing nonsense, since Jim [James Hansen] has been pointing out the importance of black carbon deposition (which replaces the normally highly reflective snow surfachttp://www.realclimate.org/e with highly absorbing particulates, thus enhancing surface warming) on Arctic warming for a number of years. This effect is additive to the greenhouse gas warming. Any claim by the contrarian noise machine that this (very important) research by Drew and colleagues in any way challenges our understanding of the influence of rising greenhouse gas concentrations on the warming of the Earth’s surface suggests a remarkably deep level of confusion, disingenuousness, or both. -mike]
    http://www.realclimate.org/

    A quote from the same source:

    "The impacts of aerosols on climate are significant, but also very uncertain."
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  19. #18 Re: See what happens when politics controls science? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by williampinn

    "The impacts of aerosols on climate are significant, but also very uncertain."
    Which isn't the same as not knowing anything...or even the same as not having figured out most of what's to be known. A scientist tries to determine every nuance of a subject and will often make a statement such as this when discussing the intricacies of the particular niche he's researching.
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  20. #19 Re: See what happens when politics controls science? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox
    Which isn't the same as not knowing anything...or even the same as not having figured out most of what's to be known. A scientist tries to determine every nuance of a subject and will often make a statement such as this when discussing the intricacies of the particular niche he's researching.
    The evidence in this and other threads points to the fact that William Pinn has received no formal training in how to read a research paper, nor does he appear to understand the nature of scientific research, of peer review and the like. It all points to an untrained, unregulated intelligence filled with passion, but no meaningful direction. Dicussion then becomes somewhat like arguing with a creationist, since both sides are employing differnt ground rules and only one set of these rules is scientific. (Go ahead William take the bait. You know you want to.)
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