Thank you, Todd. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.) Well, I’m delighted to welcome all of you to the State Department for this very consequential meeting. As I look around the table, I think I have met in bilateral forums with all of the countries here, if not in multilateral forums, over the last nearly 100 days. And at each and every one of those meetings, global warming, climate change, clean energy, a low-carbon future has been part of our discussions. And I’m very pleased to welcome the personal representatives of 17 major economies, the United Nations, and observer nations to this first preparatory meeting of the major economies on energy and climate.
I think it’s significant that this discussion is taking place here at the State Department, because the crisis of climate change exists at the nexus of diplomacy, national security and development. It is an environmental issue, a health issue, an economic issue, an energy issue, and a security issue. It is a threat that is global in scope, but also local and national in impact. I’m delighted that our Special Envoy for Climate Change, Todd Stern, will be working with you, as will Mike Froman, who sits at that nexus in the White House between the National Security Council and the National Economic Council.
You know the details or you would not be here. There is much going on in the world today that challenges us, and it is remarkable that each of your nations has committed to this because we know that climate change threatens lives and livelihoods. Desertification and rising sea levels generate increased competition for food, water and resources. But we also have seen increasingly the dangers that these transpose to the stability of societies and governments. We see how this can breed conflict, unrest and forced migration. So no issue we face today has broader long-term consequences or greater potential to alter the world for future generations.
So this morning, I would like to underscore four main points. First, the science is unambiguous and the logic that flows from it is inescapable. Climate change is a clear and present danger to our world that demands immediate attention. Second, the United States is fully engaged and ready to lead and determined to make up for lost time, both at home and abroad. The President and his entire Administration are committed to addressing this issue and we will act.
Third, the economies represented here today have a special responsibility to pull together and work toward a successful outcome of the UN climate negotiations later in the year in Copenhagen, and I’m delighted that Denmark could join us because they are going to host this very important meeting. And the Major Economies Forum provides a vehicle to help us get prepared to be successful at that meeting.
And fourth, all of us participating today must cooperate in developing meaningful proposals to move the process forward. New policy and new technologies are needed to resolve this crisis, and they won’t materialize by themselves. They will happen because we will set forth an action plan in individual countries, in regions, and globally. It took a lot of work by a lot of people to create the problem of climate change over the last centuries. And it will take our very best efforts to counter it.
First, I want for the American audience principally, but also for international audiences, to underscore what I said here just a few weeks ago when we had the meeting of the Antarctic consultative group. Some of the countries were represented here. The science is conclusive. The evidence and impact is getting more dramatic every year. Facts on the ground are outstripping worst-case scenario models that were developed only a few years ago. Ice sheets are shrinking. Sea levels are rising. Oceans are becoming more acidic, threatening coral and other life forms. So the imperative is clear. We are called to act, and future generations will judge us as to whether we do or not.
Second, the United States is no longer absent without leave. President Obama and I and our Administration are making climate change a central focus of our foreign policy. We are, as Todd has often said, back in the game. We don’t doubt the urgency or the magnitude of the problem. This forum is not intended to divert attention from working towards solutions, but to assist us in creating those solutions. And we are moving quickly. On April 17th, in a decisive break with past policy, our Environmental Protection Agency announced its finding, that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions threaten public health and welfare. This move will open the door for more robust tailpipe emission regulations.
President Obama has proposed a broad, market-based cap on carbon pollution that would include a mandatory national target through the year 2050, when emissions would be cut by 80 percent. A market-based cap will encourage game-changing private investments in clean energy and improvements in efficiency, streamlining our regulatory process, stimulating new jobs and growth, and setting us on the road to a low-carbon economy. We, with our stimulus package of just a few months ago and our continuing emphasis will make significant, direct investments in clean energy technology and energy efficiency. And our EPA is paving the way for more stringent auto emission standards.
Now, we are well aware that some see the economic crisis as an excuse to delay action. We see it in an exactly opposite way, as an opportunity to move toward a low carbon future. So we work on that internally and we look forward to working with all of you.
We believe that the $80 billion in President Obama’s recovering plan, which includes funding and loans for clean energy development, targets to double our country’s supply of renewable energy over the next three years. And we also are working very hard on programs to make homes and buildings more energy efficient. We think this is something that all countries can do in this immediate economic crisis to make this a green recovery, and some of you are far ahead in doing that. We are also reengaged in the UN framework convention negotiations and looking forward to working throughout this year.
Third, as major economies, we are responsible for the majority of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. We may be at different stages of development and we certainly may have different causes of the emissions that we are responsible for, but we think coming together and working to address this crisis is comparable to the G-20 nations addressing the global economic crisis. That is why I want to assure you that the United States will work tirelessly toward a successful outcome of the UN Framework Convention negotiations.
There is no sense in negotiating an agreement if it will have no practical impact in reducing emissions to safer levels. The math of accumulating emissions is clear. So we all have to do our part, and we need to be creative and think hard about what will work in order for us to achieve the outcomes we hope for.
It is going to be both a national and local responsibility, as well as a global one. I believe that this forum can promote a creative dialogue and a sense of shared purpose. Of course, each economy represented here is different. And some, like mine, is responsible for past emissions, some responsible for quickly growing present emissions. But people everywhere have a legitimate aspiration for a higher standard of living. As I have told my counterparts from China and India, we want your economies to grow. We want people to have a higher standard of living. We just hope we can work together in a way to avoid the mistakes that we made that have created a large part of the problem that we face today.
And it will be harder, not easier, if we fail to meet the challenge of climate change for all countries, particularly developing countries, to continue the growth rates that they need to sustain the increase in standard of living that they’re looking for.
And finally, I would hope that we could develop through this mechanism concrete initiatives that leaders of the major economies can consider when they meet in Italy in July. We have to come up with specific recommendations. Breakthroughs can and should come from anywhere and everywhere. That’s why creative diplomacy and genuine collaboration is called for. And I think proposals for transformational technological changes, creating markets for such changes, subsidizing them on a declining basis so that we can get those new technologies into the market, whatever combination of incentive and mandatory requirements that will accomplish this change in the short run, should be considered.
Being good stewards as we must be of this fragile planet that we inherit together, requires us to be pragmatic, not dogmatic. We have to be willing to embrace change, not just repeat tired dogma. And I think we have to be ready to do whatever it takes and whatever the earth demands to succeed in addressing this common danger to our future.
I remember many years ago, as a young woman, seeing the first pictures that came back from space of earth, and looking at that blue and green orb as it spun on its axis, and I remember being so struck about how it was this place of light and life in what appeared to be just darkness and no life, so far as we knew. We now bear the responsibility in this generation, and the United States is ready to do our part. We are ready to listen and learn and to participate as a partner and also as a leader at this critical juncture. We want to be sure that that fragile planet we inhabit continues to provide for the greatest opportunities for our children and generations to come. But in order to do that, we have a historic responsibility to come together and actually create a new history.
So I appreciate your coming. I look forward to the reports of your deliberations. And I urge all of us to do what we know we must do to put our world on the right track to deal with this crisis. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
A tale of two thermometers
Posted in Science, 2nd May 2008 10:02 GMT
Analysis A paper published in scientific journal Nature this week has reignited the debate (http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/news/display.var.2238317.0.Doubt_is_cast_over_global_warming.php) about Global Warming, by predicting that the earth won't be getting any warmer until 2015. Researchers at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences have factored in cyclical oceanic into their climate model, and produced a different forecast to the "consensus" models which don't.
But how will we know whether the earth is warming or cooling? Today, it all depends on the data source.
Two authorities provide us with analysis of long-term surface temperature trends. Both agree on the global temperature trend until 1998, at which time a sharp divergence occurred. The UK Meteorological Office's Hadley Center for Climate Studies Had-Crut data (http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/climon/data/themi/g17.htm) shows worldwide temperatures declining since 1998. According to Hadley's data, the earth is not much warmer now than it was than it was in 1878 or 1941.
Hadley's data (April 13, 2008)
By contrast, NASA data shows worldwide temperatures increasing at a record pace - and nearly a full degree warmer than 1880.
NASA's data (April 13, 2008)
The other two widely used global temperature data sources are from earth-orbiting satellites UAH (http://climate.uah.edu/) (University of Alabama at Huntsville) and RSS (http://www.remss.com/data/msu/graphics/tlt/medium/global/ch_tlt_2008_03_anom_v03_1.png) (Remote Sensing Systems.) Both show decreasing temperatures over the last decade, with present temperatures barely above the 30 year average.
Anomalies 1998-2008; University of Alabama (UAH)
Anomalies 1998-2008; Remote Sensing Systems (RSS)
Confusing? How can scientists who report measurements of the earth's temperature within one one-hundredth of a degree be unable to concur if the temperature is going up or down over a ten year period? Something appears to be inconsistent with the NASA data - but what is it?
One clue we can see is that NASA has been reworking recent temperatures upwards and older temperatures downwards - which creates a greater slope and the appearance of warming. Canadian statistician Steve McIntyre has been tracking the changes closely on his Climate Audit (http://www.climateaudit.org/) site, and reports that NASA is Rewriting History, Time and Time Again (http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2964). The recent changes can be seen by comparing the NASA 1999 and 2007 US temperature graphs. Below is the 1999 version (http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/hansen_07/fig1x.gif), and below that is the reworked 2007 version (http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.D.lrg.gif).
NASA's original data: 1999
NASA's reworked data: 2007
In order to visualize the changes, I overlaid the 2007 version on top of the 1999 version, above, and a clear pattern emerged. The pre-1970 temperatures have been nearly uniformly adjusted downwards (red below green) - and the post 1970 temperatures have been adjusted upwards (red above green.) Some of the yearly temperatures have been adjusted by as much as 0.5 degrees. That is a huge total change for a country the size of the US with thousands of separate temperature records.
How could it be determined that so many thermometers were wrong by an average of 0.5 degrees in one particular year several decades ago, and an accurate retrofit be made? Why is the adjustment 0.5 degrees one year, and 0.1 degrees the next?
Describing this more succinctly, the 2007 version of the data appears to have been sheared vertically across 1970 to create the appearance of a warming trend. We can approximate shear by applying a small rotation, so I tried "un-rotating" the 2007 graph clockwise around 1970 until I got a reasonably good visual fit at six degrees.
What could be the motivation for the recent changes?
Further examination of the NASA site (http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/station_data/) might give us a clue as to what is happening.
NASA staff have done some recent bookkeeping and refined the data from 1930-1999. The issues has been discussed extensively at science blog Climate Audit (http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2964). So what is the probability of this effort consistently increasing recent temperatures and decreasing older temperatures? From a statistical viewpoint, data recalculation should cause each year to have a 50/50 probability of going either up or down - thus the odds of all 70 adjusted years working in concert to increase the slope of the graph (as seen in the combined version) are an astronomical 2 raised to the power of 70. That is one-thousand-billion-billion to one. This isn't an exact representation of the odds because for some of the years (less than 15) the revisions went against the trend - but even a 55/15 split is about as likely as a room full of chimpanzees eventually typing Hamlet. That would be equivalent to flipping a penny 70 times and having it come up heads 55 times. It will never happen - one trillion to one odds (2 raised to the power 40.)
(Authors note: Several readers have astutely pointed out that the probability calculation is incorrect. A proper statistical calculation of coin toss probabilities shows greater than four sigma deviation - which places the odds of a random 55/15 distribution at closer to "one out a million," rather than "one out of a trillion" as originally reported.)
Particularly troubling are the years from 1986-1998. In the 2007 version of the graph, the 1986 data was adjusted upwards by 0.4 degrees relative to the 1999 graph. In fact, every year except one from 1986-1998 was adjusted upwards, by an average of 0.2 degrees. If someone wanted to present a case for a lot of recent warming, adjusting data upwards would be an excellent way to do it.
Looking at the NASA website, we can see that the person in charge of the temperature data is the eminent Dr. James Hansen - Al Gore's science advisor and the world's leading long-term advocate of global warming. (Go back and read that again! - Norm)
NASA and Had-Crut data are largely based on surface measurements, using thermometers. They both face a lot of difficulties due to contaminated data caused by urban heating effects, disproportionate concentration of thermometers in urban areas, changes in thermometer types over time, changes in station locations, loss of stations, changes in the time of day when thermometers are read, and yet more factors.
NASA has a very small number of long-term stations in the Arctic, and even fewer in Africa and South America. The data has been systematically adjusted upwards in recent years - as can be seen in this graph (http://cdiac.ornl.gov/epubs/ndp/ushcn/ts.ushcn_anom25_diffs_urb-raw_pg.gif), reproduced below. Temperatures from the years 1990 to present have more than one-half degree Fahrenheit artificially added on to them - which may account for most of the upwards trend in the NASA temperature set.
Official difference between the publicly reported temperature and the original data from USHCN/NASA - click to enlarge
Satellite temperature data (UAH (http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/t2lt/uahncdc.lt) and RSS (http://www.remss.com/pub/msu/monthly_time_series/RSS_Monthly_MSU_AMSU_Channel_TLT_Anomalies_Land_and_Ocean_v03_1.txt)) is more reliable because it covers the entire earth - with the exception of small regions near the north and south poles. They use the same methodology from year to year, and the two sources tend to agree fairly closely. The downside of satellite data is that it only goes back to 1978.
Now back to the present.
NASA (http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt) temperatures for March 2008 indicate that it was the third warmest March in history, but satellite data sources RSS (http://www.remss.com/pub/msu/monthly_time_series/RSS_Monthly_MSU_AMSU_Channel_TLT_Anomalies_Land_and_Ocean_v03_1.txt) and UAH (http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/t2lt/uahncdc.lt) disagree. They show March as the second coldest ever in the southern hemisphere, and barely above average worldwide. (The northern hemisphere in March was split between a cold North America and a very warm Asia, causing temperatures in the northern hemisphere to be above average.) Data so far for April shows both hemispheres back on the decline, and April is shaping up to be an unusually cool month across most of the globe (Africa, South America, North America and portions of Europe and Asia).
Both of the satellite data sources, as well as Had-Crut, show worldwide temperatures falling below the IPCC estimates. Satellite data shows temperatures near or below the 30 year average - but NASA data has somehow managed to stay on track towards climate Armageddon. You can draw your own conclusions, but I see a pattern that is troublesome. In science, as with any other endeavour, it is always a good idea to have some separation between the people generating the data and the people interpreting it.
Some good news moving forward was reported this week by Anthony Watts, who blogs at Watt's Up With That? (http://wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/) USHCN has issued a press release (http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/press_release_042408_climatereferencenetwork.pdf) indicating that they are upgrading their methodology and ending the practice of adjusting data upwards for future temperature readings. This will make the data more credible, though will not resolve the issues associated with growing urban heat islands or a lack of spatial coverage across the planet.
Bear in mind that warming and cooling concerns are nothing new, as this alarming bulletin reminds us -
The Arctic ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consul Ifft, at Bergen, Norway. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers, he declared, all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met with as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts, which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds.
A RealClimate blogger? No, that was the US Weather Bureau in 1922.
We saw a global cooling scare in 1924, a global warming scare in 1933, another global cooling in the early 1970s, and another warming scare today. The changes the USHCN promised Watts won't help resolve anything for another decade or so, but perhaps future generations will be able to reduce the alarming increase in the number of climate alarms.®