Guest Opinion: Dr. Tim Ball
The “Bomb Cyclone” of 2018 is another example of hyperbole and distortion designed to scare the public and promote false perceptions.
It followed the pattern of presenting normal events as if they are abnormal. In fact, it was just another “Nor’easter.” It wasn’t even close to the blizzard of 1888, reported in the 1976 U.S. Department of Commerce book “American Weather Stories,” that,
“…cut off and immobilized Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston. Snowfall average 40 to 50 inches over southern New York State and southern New England, with drifts to 30 and 40 feet. In Middletown, N.Y., snowdrifts were reported to have covered houses three stories high. The townspeople had to tunnel through the snow like miners, even shoring up the passageways with timber. For 2 days, frequent gale-force to near-hurricane winds accompanied below-freezing temperatures which ranged from near zero to the low twenties over much of the area.”
The “bomb cyclone” extremism followed the outbreak of cold Arctic air that alarmists explained was due to warming. Most people don’t know much about the historic pattern of storms so that hyperbole slipped through. However, the illogic of the cold is due to warm, made many scratch their heads. As a result, the apologist in chief, Seth Borenstein offered an explanation.
Frigid weather like the two-week cold spell that began around Christmas is 15 times rarer than it was a century ago, according to a team of international scientists who do real-time analyses to see if extreme weather events are natural, or more likely to happen because of climate change.
This is a classic example of the deception about the deception. Of course, it is likely that cold spells are rarer than a century ago because from 1900 to 1940 there was a more dramatic warming than occurred in the much-hyped 1980 to 1998 period. The remainder of the comment is similar rubbish. What is “real-time analysis”? What warming trend does the cold spell “buck”? The world has not warmed since at least 1998. Why don’t “the team of international scientists” compare the cold spells with longer records, such as those from 1680, the nadir of the Little Ice Age. Whoops, sorry, I forgot the hockey stick eliminated the LIA in their “real-time” analysis.
This level of twisted illogic and extremism is the best thing that could happen, and an inevitable result of the nature and pattern of the deception.
I always wondered what the role of extremists was in a society. They seemed so destructive and serving no observable purpose. Over 40 years, I came to realize their job was to define the limits of new thinking, known as paradigm shifts for the majority. The paradigm shift of environmentalism appeared in the 1960s, given momentum by visual imagery so essential to capturing people’s minds quickly. The old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words is an understatement – it is worth a million words. The image, in this case, was the composite photograph of the Earth taken by a camera held by a human on board Apollo
8 17 (Figure 1).
Catch phrases appeared to underscore the perceptive importance such as “Planet Earth,” “Spaceship Earth,” and the Little Blue Marble.” Our home was a very small finite space with no evidence of human existence. The message was the central theme of environmentalism – we better tread carefully and lightly and limit the number of people because it could only carry so many. It engendered the paradigm shift to environmentalism. As is always the case, a small group saw the financial and political opportunity and seized the moral high ground. As anthropologist Margaret Mead said,
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
The majority of people were pushed off the moral high ground, and any who questioned were openly and personally attacked. Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) was a subset of the new paradigm of environmentalism. It took the unproved hypothesis that human CO2 was causing warming and set out to prove it. In doing so, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC) narrowed the definition of climate change, ignored, modified, or created false explanations for evidence that contradicted it. Two early pieces of evidence include the infamous Chapter 8 incident in which Benjamin Santer, as lead author, altered the agreed text dramatically. One of four changes he made included this sentence
“While some of the pattern-base discussed here have claimed detection of a significant climate change, no study to date has positively attributed all or part of climate change observed to man-made causes.”
“The body of statistical evidence in chapter 8, when examined in the context of our physical understanding of the climate system, now points to a discernible human influence on the global climate.”
Dennis Avery and Fred Singer noted in 2006,
Santer single-handedly reversed the ‘climate science’ of the whole IPCC report and with it the global warming political process! The ‘discernible human influence’ supposedly revealed by the IPCC has been cited thousands of times since in media around the world, and has been the ‘stopper’ in millions of debates among nonscientists.”
The second example was the claim that the cooler period from 1940 to 1975 was a ‘dimming’ of solar energy caused by sulfate aerosols from human sources. They determined this by ‘simulating’ the effect in their models. The problem was that after 1975, sulfate levels continue to increase but so did temperature. This technique of tweaking the model to match nature masquerades as validation of the models, but is far removed from reality.
The pursuit of evidence to prove AGW was a treadmill that diverted away from understanding and advance of understanding. Just the focus on temperature was limiting. Now the evidence is accumulating that the AGW hypothesis is incorrect. Many of the claims of impending environmental disasters are not emerging. Aaron Wildavsky identified many of them in his book “But is it True.” Predicted climate disasters, such as an end to Arctic ice in summer, and continued warming, are also failing. Most people are bemused, nonplussed, unsure, but still afraid of potential catastrophe. Their concerns are addressed by the extremists, those who will not face the reality of a failed hypothesis. They can either revisit and revise what they claimed or continue to push the agenda. This can only be achieved by becoming increasingly extreme and illogical.
This is the situation with the AGW claim. They switched from global warming to climate change, but people mostly knew that climate changes. The only option was to exaggerate, but in doing so, they further raised the skepticism. Some knew that the science is never settled, as Al Gore claimed. Many more recognized the illogic of claiming the recent outbreak of cold Arctic air across the US was due to warming. However, many were bedazzled by the “Bomb Cyclone” used to describe a typical US east coast Nor’easter. Sadly, too few climate science skeptics can provide the known scientific explanation for the current patterns of weather.
Middle Latitude Mechanisms
Figure 2 shows the average latitudinal balance between incoming solar and outgoing long wave energy from the North to the South Pole. The points marked Zero Energy Balance (ZEB) mark a very critical boundary in both Hemispheres. It defines the boundary between the warm surplus air of the tropics from the cold deficit air of the polar regions. Notice the point is slightly different in each hemisphere being at approximately 38°N and 40°S because of the different land/water ratios. Approximately 39 percent of the Northern Hemisphere is land, while it is 19 percent in the Southern Hemisphere. The ZEB is coincident with the boundary between the two major air masses that divide the atmosphere and was historically known as the Polar Front. The ZEB is also coincident with the greater change in temperature with latitude known as the Zonal Index. Since wind speed is determined by the temperature and thereby pressure difference is a function of distance it is where you find the strongest persistent wind speeds properly known as the Circumpolar Vortex but more generally known as the Jet Stream. Figure 3 illustrates this juxtaposition.
A similar dome of cold air exists in the Southern Hemisphere except that everything is amplified by that land/water ratio. It is why there is a so-called hole in the ozone over Antarctica and not over the Arctic.
Everything would be simple if the Earth was not tilted on its axis, didn’t rotate around that axis and didn’t rotate around the sun. Just the tilt creates very different seasonal patterns of energy balance. In the Northern Hemisphere, the ZEB migrates from approximately 30°N in the winter to 65°N in summer (Figure 4). The idea of the dome of cold air sitting over the polar regions is essential to understanding the dynamics and impacts of seasonal and longer period climate change.
There are very important boundaries associated with the seasonal positions of the Front.
· The snow line, which significantly alters the area of high albedo seasonally and long term.
· The northern and southern limits of the Boreal Forest.
· The path of mid-latitude cyclones.
· The seasonal prevailing wind patterns.
· The change in ocean surface currents.
· The flight pattern of migrating birds.
· The latitude at which the circumpolar vortex confronts major mountain systems such as the Rockies, the Andes, and the Himalayas.
One of the most intriguing phenomena in nature is the occurrence of sinuosity. Some speculate it is an energy conservation process. Regardless, it is manifest whenever you have a gas or a liquid flowing through a uniform medium. The Jet Stream is a river of fast-flowing air moving through the air. As a result, it develops waves identified by Carl Rossby in the 1940s and known as Rossby Waves (Figure 5).
Zonal Flow Meridional Flow
Relationship Between Rossby Waves, Climate Patterns, and Severe Storms.
Claims of AGW included the prediction that storms would increase. This was incorrect because the major storm systems are mid-latitude cyclones that form along the Polar Front. The intensity of the storms is determined by the temperature difference across the Front. AGW claims that the polar air will warm more than the tropical air. In fact, this would reduce the difference and diminish storm potential.
There are natural conditions that will cause increased storm frequency and intensity.
The problem for the AGW claimants is they are related to a cooling world and the expansion and change in dynamics of the cold air dome. Remember, cold air, which is heavier and denser than warm air, determines what happens. So, an expansion of the dome will cause greater intensity and a different track of the storms. It was a major area of study for Hubert Lamb and more recently Marcel Leroux.
When reconstructing past weather patterns, you must accommodate the gradual change of the seasonal positions of the dome of cold air with long-term climate change. This was the problem I faced when asked to reconstruct the weather patterns Sir Francis Drake would have confronted when he arrived on the west coast of North America in 1579. Here is my map (Figure 6) of the estimated mean summer position of the Polar Front in 1579 in western North America.
The Rossby Wave patterns divide into two groups, 1-4 Waves around the Circumpolar Vortex associated with Zonal flow and 5 to 8 associated with Meridional flow. Zonal flow produces low amplitude waves with NW winter and SW summer winds dominant and relatively stable weather patterns. The 5 to 8 waves associated with Meridional flow are high amplitude with more north/south winds in summer and winter and much greater extremes of temperature and precipitation. This is the condition existing now, so the AGW promoters are correct, it is climate change, but it is not new, and it is due to cooling not warming.
The waves migrate from west to east taking on average 4 to 6 weeks to pass through a location. I used to tell the farmers to watch for a significant change in the weather and anticipate that general condition for the next 5 weeks as an average. This helped them a great deal for seasonal planning. It also helped municipalities and automobile associations in Canada I worked with as they used the data to plan staff and equipment needs for snow and cold in the winter. This pattern is the basis for the Groundhog forecasts of 6 more weeks of winter or early spring.
With Meridional Flow the wave pattern increases carrying outbreaks of cold air much further toward the Equator as with the “Bomb Cyclone,” and warm air toward the Poles. Occasionally, the waves become high amplitude and stalled in a pattern that simulates the letter omega (Ω) on the weather map (Figure 7).
When that happens, the forecasters talk about a ‘blocking high’ because the systems persist for 8 to 12 weeks. This creates prolonged and worrying patterns, whether it is of temperature, precipitation or drought.
It appears that Zonal or Meridional patterns can dominate for long periods such as the climate cycles from a longer temperature pattern, such as the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. Two distinctive centuries in this were the 14th century and the 17th century. The transition out of the former and its impact on the human condition was well documented by Barbara Tuchman in her book “A Distant Mirror.” She took a single life of a man who was born in 1300 and died in 1399. The century was predominantly Meridional with seasonal changes so that there were cool, wet summers and warmer drier winters so seasonal differentiation became very difficult. It led to the survival of pathogens and disease-causing crop failures and major plagues. The same occurred in the 17th century. An interesting event was the occurrence of warm winters that again allowed plagues and diseases to decimate the population. It is estimated than in the winter of
1688 1695/96 two thirds of the population of modern Finland starved to death or died from the plague. Samuel Pepys’ records the consternation including the fact that the King ordered citizens to pray for colder weather to make things healthier again.
What we need today are prayers to save us from those who use science and environment to spread falsehoods for political control. As Mencken said decades ago,
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed, and hence clamorous to be lead to safety, by menacing it with an endless series all hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
Consider this quote from Lowell Ponte’s book The Cooling.”
It is cold fact: the global cooling presents humankind with the most important social, political, and adaptive challenge we have had to deal with for ten thousand years. Your stake in the decisions we make concerning it is of ultimate importance; the survival of ourselves, our children, our species.
Change the single word “cooling” to warming, and the real bomb cycle continues. The book underscores the hysteria and falsehoods of AGW, because Stephen Schneider, a major architect of the warming deception, wrote a foreword;
The dramatic importance of climate changes to the world’s future has been dangerously underestimated by many, often because we have been lulled by modern technology into thinking we have conquered nature. But this well-written book points out in clear language that the climatic threat could be as awesome as any we might face, and that massive world-wide actions to hedge against that threat deserve immediate consideration. At a minimum, public awareness of the possibilities must commence, and Lowell Ponte’s provocative work is a good place to start.
God help us because the AGW crowd won’t. They are too busy helping themselves to another profitable serving of deception.