Sunday, February 11, 2007

Global Warming is like the Dotcom Boom

It occurred to me this weekend that global warming is much like the dotcom boom of the late 90's. Just when everyone thinks they understand what is happening and is ready to jump aboard - reality steps in and pulls the rug out from under the whole thing.

In fact, it is following the trend for people to only buy into something after it's past it's use-by date, like the housing boom in Australia, the stock market boom in the mid-80s and a plethora of other examples of social behaviour at work. The difference is that this time, the Emperor will really be revealed to be wearing no clothes, much like he was in the dotcom boom.

In Australia we now have both political parties talking global warming, the State governments waving their green credentials and the Greens suggest bold and economically disastrous solutions such as stopping coal mining in Australia. However if you look closely the politicians are playing doubting Thomas, mouthing nice platitudes but basically playing a waiting game in the hope that the hot air around global warming will cool down in time to avoid them committing to disastrous Greens policies.

You wouldn't even need to be into conspiracy theories to see SMH's Miranda Devine's point here:
“By creating a bogeyman scarier than Islamic terrorism, but one which, we are told by eminent personages such as Al Gore, it is possible to defeat, given the political will, using the infallible weapon of science, we are back in control of our destiny.

We don't care how much it costs because we're rich. And it has the added bonus of being global, creating a common abstract enemy to unite all of us here on earth. Nice idea if it works.”
Going back to the scientific facts, there are some interesting reports that increase the doubt factor in the IPCC's recommendations.

New evidence has emerged that global warming has less to do with human causes than the IPCC would have us believe. The Telegraph reports that Danish research into solar effects on global warming has revealed that as well as the simple increase in heat due to extra radiation during active periods, there is an additional effect of reducing cosmic radiation due to magnetic activity that reduces cloud formation (most excellent image courtesy of the Telegraph).
“Henrik Svensmark, a weather scientist at the Danish National Space Centre who led the team behind the research, believes that the planet is experiencing a natural period of low cloud cover due to fewer cosmic rays entering the atmosphere.

This, he says, is responsible for much of the global warming we are experiencing.

He claims carbon dioxide emissions due to human activity are having a smaller impact on climate change than scientists think. If he is correct, it could mean that mankind has more time to reduce our effect on the climate.”
Svensmark has also released a book, co-authored with science writer Nigel Calder, called The Chilling Stars. Calder makes the case for cosmic radiation influencing cloud formation in a recent Times article.

It also appears that reports of the demise of Greenland's glaciers were premature, with a new report indicating they are now back to growing again.
“Using satellite-derived surface elevation and velocity data, we find major short-term variations in recent ice discharge and mass-loss at two of Greenland's largest outlet glaciers. Their combined rate of mass-loss doubled in less than a year in 2004 and then decreased in 2006 to near the previous rates, likely due to fast re-equilibration of calving front geometry following retreat. Total mass-loss is a fraction of concurrent gravity-derived estimates, pointing to an alternative source of loss and the need for high-resolution observations of outlet dynamics and glacier geometry for sea-level rise predictions.”
We can blame some of the IPCC's problems on the fact that it has a fairly early cut-off date for relevant articles, which means it is more a record of the science a year or two ago than now. But the glorying of our modern druids in the supposed confirmation of Mother Earth's intolerance of human technological progress is sickening, and will probably be looked back on like the dotcom boom - as a good idea gone bad.

[UPDATE: The SMH has also caught onto the good news about clouds.]

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