Sep 01, 2010
Apr 05, 2010
I found this article on Digg today, several pages back, so I’m not certain when it made it to the front page.
For the reader who’s not aware, Digg is a social generated site, to make it to the front page, links get voted on by those who choose to pay Digg for the right to vote on links. When a link becomes prominent according to the Digg algorithm, the article becomes featured, and lurkers such as myself can then see what those who vote have valued.
The Digg community has voted both pro man made global warming (anthropogenic global warming, AGW) and con AGW articles to the homepage. Many of the links on tCotCC have come from Digg.
On to the article…
In the article Larry O’Hanlon discusses how sequoias were harvested by researcher Thomas Swetnam of the University of Arizona. Dead wood was collected and returned to the U of A for study by Swetnam and colleagues over a period of years.
During those years spent in study, Swetnam found that the period from 800 to 1300 A.D. was a “very dry and fiery period”. This is the time of the Medieval Warm Period, which Mann and his hockey stick refute.
Let’s see what Swetnam says about it, as reported by Larry O’Hanlon:
“That period was very dry,” said Swetnam. “But we’re not so clear how warm it was during the Medieval Warm Period.”
Modern temperatures already exceed those of the Medieval Warm Period, said Swetnam. So if heat has anything to do with fire frequency, we could expect more fires.
Stop, drop, and roll, Larry! Fires need (1) heat, (2) combustible material, and (3) oxygen.
First sentence paraphrased: “we don’t know how warm it was during the Medieval Warm Period”.
Next sentence paraphrased: “today’s temperatures exceed the Medieval Warm Period”.
My first thought: “Huh? Any reporters around? Or just parrots?”
My second thought: “Okay, the bit about the fires may be appropriate”, so let’s continue.
“What makes this work unique is that it goes so far back in time,” said U.S. Geological Survey research ecologist Nathan Stephenson, who has spent a lot of years studying sequoias.
Okay, O’Hanlon has introduced a new character to this tale.
“That way were able to establish a fire chronology,” Swetnam told Discovery News.
O’Hanlon, “were” is not “we’re”, any editors around, our reporter seems not to be? Or was the sentence supposed to read: “That way they were able to…” in which case Swetnam outsourced his research?
“The punch line from all of this,” said Stephenson, “Is that over at least 2,000 years the most severe (sequoia) reproduction reduction has been in the last 100 years. Human land use changes have had greater effect than the preceding 2,000 years of changing fire regimes.”
So, human land use changes have produced some horrible effect on the sequoia? What is the effect: the effect is an apparent decline in the need for the trees to signal reproduction. The cause? The cause is a reduction in the amount of fires.
The problem, said Stephenson, is fire suppression. Excluding fires from the sequoia groves, makes it very difficult for sequoia seeds to germinate or have enough space for saplings to get started.
So, human land use changes in the Sequoia National Park have done what exactly? We don’t know from this article, instead we only get a glimpse of fear as understood by O’Hanlon, and a missplaced comma after “groves”. No word on how human activity excludes fires from the sequoia groves. I’m fairly certain we are unable to demand from a lightning produced fire that it produce some sort of ticket to enter the forest, or else we’ll exclude it from participation in burning the forest. Sure, clearing brush in the forest limits the spread of fires, but I had to supply this information, our reporter did not. Perhaps it is as this point is not germane? If, afterall, we were clearing the forest to the detriment of the ticket holding fires, then would there not be space for the saplings to grow? (Germane, germinate, oh the punniness on tCotCC)
Look at the sentences: The problem, said Stephenson, is fire suppression. Excluding fires from the sequoia groves, makes it very difficult for sequoia seeds to germinate or have enough space for saplings to get started.
Remember, the “problem” described by Stephenson is the trees not signalling reproduction, but the article by O’Hanlon begins discussing hot, dry conditions producing fire, and the temps today are supposedly warmer than during the Medieval ages, so where are the increased fires today then?
Stephenson’s problem is a lack of fire, O’Hanlon’s suggestion is that we’ve caused a problem by not contributing to the conditions that cause fires: hot, dry conditions. Forest fires are primarily caused by lightning, and the conditions today don’t seem to be producing as many as Swetnam found in the historical record, without apparent regard for any possible brush clearing.
So, O’Hanlon: defend reporting this supposition, “Modern temperatures already exceed those of the Medieval Warm Period, said Swetnam.”
And Digg, please justify voting this article up. It is more drivel by those who are selling an agenda, this is not a proper scrutiny of anything.
“the question is not ‘is the climate changing’, the question is to what degree are we to blame?”
This article adds emotion, but not logic to the debate. Why is that the case?
Let’s look at other articles by our reporter Larry O’Hanlan.
We have “Controlled Burns Slash Greenhouse Gases” where O’Hanlon seems to champion controlled burning of brush in the forests. Huh?
And we have “Coping With Climate Science Haters” where O’Hanlon laments, “If you are a regular reader of Discovery News’ Earth page, you have probably seen some of the ugly exchanges that take place in the comments sections of blog posts or news story (it’s “stories” Larry, “story” is not a collective noun, editor???) that attempt to cover the facts of climate science. Names are hurled at science writers and scientists, conspiracies are alleged to account for why we continue to “lie” about climate science, etc.” and “Alas, most science journalists and scientists are not trained debaters (I am certainly not).” Really? I never would have guessed you weren’t adept at defending your position with logic, Larry, especially given that you argue from the specific “I am not” to the general “most journalists are not”.
And then we have “Why is Climate Change Denial So Seductive?”, where Larry jumps right in to equating his situation with being in a witch hunt.
So, we see quite clearly where Larry stands, and all the silliness in his tree ring article makes sense.
Larry, you are illogical, and you contribute to the confusion, you are providing no insight or inquisitiveness whatsoever, and your journalistic skills are sadly average for the Digg era.
Congrats, I have no doubt you’ll maintain your paying position in a Discovery psuedo-scientific-popularism blog. Tell us about ghosts next.
Dec 17, 2009
Michael Mann’s ‘Hockey Stick’ graph purports to show that global warming is accelerating in recent times. This graph was produced for a 2001 UN IPCC report on global warming and has been circulated throughout the news media and schools since. This is the graph that depicts, without a shadow of a doubt, that if we do not act NOW, we are all going to die.
Give Mann money so he can continue to research this obvious issue:
This is an incredibly alarming graph, obviously by next Tuesday we will all be roasting our holiday hams by simply placing them on the sidewalk out front.
Michael Mann is an incredibly well respected climatologist who is able to consider all mitigating factors in climate change and inform us of his conclusions regarding our lifestyle decisions. He’s been doing this for years.
Somewhere in Michael Mann’s education he should have passed the requirement of basic statistics, as well as hopefully an ethics class.
His hockey stick graph is an indication that he failed at both the above mentioned disciplines that most scientists hold sacrosanct.
Turns out that climatologist Michael Mann personally selected only 12 tree rings from which to draw the above graph. Yes, of all the dentrochronology data available to Michael Mann, he opted to use 12 tree rings to draw his infamous hockey stick.
A more in-depth analysis of the consequences of doing so: here.
Personally, I do not believe that using 12 trees to make a hockey stick is environmentally responsible.
Dec 13, 2009
Not only do the main stream media and Al Gore have a fixation with carbon, so do the plants. However, only the plants’ fixation is necessary for life on Earth.
Plants convert 100 billion tons of carbon into biomass each year through the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis, the simple process of converting light into sugars, consumes six times more energy per year than humans, and grows 100 billion tons of new plant matter in that time.
Plants: the trees, the algae, the flowers, the weeds, and others consume 600% more energy per year than humans produce with our coal fired power facilities, nuclear energy reactors, and gasoline consumption.
One end resultant by-product of human power consumption is the production of carbon dioxide gas. That is, we help feed the plants. We help feed the trees, we help feed the algae, we help feed the flowers, the weeds and all others in the plant kingdom.
In turn, the plants strip the carbon atom from the carbon dioxide gas to grow, releasing oxygen back into the air. Animals breathe in the air, animal lungs absorb some of the oxygen from the air into their bloodstream and circulate the oxygen to their cells. Animal cells bind excess carbon to the oxygen and send it back to the lungs where it is expelled as carbon dioxide, plant food.
And the cycle continues.
The photosynthetic process of converting carbon and sunlight into sugar is carbon fixation, a quick review of which can be found here.
Dec 09, 2009
A statistically significant correlation exists between the amount of cosmic rays hitting the Earth and tree growth as noted in tree rings. Plant physiologist and tree growth expert David Ellsworth, at the University of Western Sydney said it was an, “intriguing phenomenon”.
No word in the article on whether other tree ring (dendrochronology) data has since been re-evaluated in light of non-Earthly effects on tree ring growth changes. So, no word how any estimates of using dendrochronology as proxy data an any (ahem, CRU) reports may be skewed by not considering cosmic rays.
Dec 09, 2009
As people move into the cities, the rainforests are growing back. As a bonus, growing trees require more sugars than mature trees (growth requires more energy than sustenance). As a result, growth requires more photosynthesis and thus more CO2 consumption than sustenance. That is, the old growth forests (the vast Northern Forests and the smaller Rainforests) may not consume as much CO2 as a tree farm of the same size. Note, I am absoultely not advocating cutting old growth trees, I am merely pointing out that forest management can actually reduce atmospheric CO2 levels.