November 28, 2010

Two sides to the same lump of coal.

Over at Real Science Steven Goddard has explained the Met Office "having it both ways" policy on China's Coal powered electric plants. However it is always interesting and amusing to point out how the climate science community is always contradicting itself.

First from the Met Office via the UK Telegraph, the headline and the lead:

Global warming has slowed because of pollution
Global warming has slowed in the last decade, according to the Met Office, as the world pumps out so much pollution it is reflecting the sun’s rays and causing a cooling effect

Pretty straight forward right? They explain that it isn't warming as they said it would because of plain old air pollution:

But in a new report the Met Office said the reduced rate of warming can be easily explained by a number of factors. And indeed the true rate of warming caused by man made greenhouse gases could be greater than ever.

One of the major factors is pollution over Asia, where the huge growth in coal-fired power stations mean aerosols like sulphur are being pumped into the air. This reflects sunlight, cooling the land surface temperature. Dr Vicky Pope, Head of Climate Change Advice, said pollution may be causing a cooling effect.

“A possible increase in aerosol emissions from Asia in the last decade may have contributed to substantially to the recent slowdown,” she said. “Aerosols cool the climate by reflecting the sunlight"
So the warming caused by the CO2 pumped out by the coal power plants is being offset by the pollution of the same power plants, got it? They have used this little device many times in many ways over the years when what should have happened based upon their hypothesis...didn't. You could say that air pollution is the last refuge of environmentalist...except  when it isn't.

Which brings us across the Atlantic to the good old New York Times. Here we have other esteemed climate scientists contradicting what Dr. Pope just said, in a catchy little article titled:
To Fight Climate Change, Clear the Air

Now as we all know the global warming in the UK Telegraph story is the same as the climate change in the NY Times story, so the headline in the Times could just have easily read "To Fight Global Warming, Clear the Air", in fact the article is in large part about that very subject, fighting global warming by fighting the very pollution that Dr Pope said was artificially keeping us cooler than we would be!

Who is making such claims? Why it is Veerabhadran Ramanathan a professor of atmospheric physics at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and David G. Victor, a professor at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at the University of California.

Here it is what they have to say about Dr. Popes pollution:

Soot likewise offers an opportunity to marry local interests with the global good. A leading cause of respiratory diseases, soot is responsible for some 1.9 million deaths a year. It also melts ice and snow packs. Thus, sooty emissions from Asia, Europe and North America are helping to thin the Arctic ice. And soot from India, China and a few other countries threatens water supplies fed by the Himalayan-Tibetan glaciers.

New air pollution regulations could help reduce soot. Such laws in California have cut diesel-soot emissions in that state by half. In China and India, a program to improve power generation, filter soot from diesel engines, reduce emissions from brick-making kilns and provide more efficient cookstoves could cut the levels of soot in those regions by about two-thirds — and benefit countries downwind as well.

Reducing soot and the other short-lived pollutants would not stop global warming, but it would buy time, perhaps a few decades, for the world to put in place more costly efforts to regulate carbon dioxide. And it would help the major economies demonstrate credibility on climate change, which has been in short supply in the diplomatic talks so far.
Now everything they say about soot is true and a serious and well founded reason to control soot. However why would "Reducing soot and the other short-lived pollutants .....would buy time, perhaps a few decades, for the world to put in place more costly efforts to regulate carbon dioxide..."?  If reducing soot and the other pollutants associated with coal burning are "causing a cooling affect" as Dr. Pope and the Met office claim how would reducing it "buy time"?

For one outcome to be correct, the other has has to be wrong. Either the pollution resulting from coal burning in Asia has a net cooling affect or it has a net warming affect. Yet here we have scientist in the same week  making the case that the same pollution has  contradictory affects on the same climate they claim to be experts about.

Just another example of a science where no matter what happens is what they knew would happen even if it is the opposite of what they predicted would happen, and if you don't believe them you're an idiot.

No comments:

Post a Comment