Kevin O'Brien's column "Forget Global Warming" made more sense in Canadian

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 03/19/2008 - 00:14.

On March 12, 2008, Cleveland Plain Dealer deputy editorial page director Kevin O'Brien published a snide, pointless editorial taking the position global warming is over-hyped. His conclusion is a Russian scientist predicts the world is entering a new Ice Age, which trumps Global Warming, so do nothing about Global Warming. I googled the Russian scientist O'Brien references - Oleg Sorokhtin - and came across a February 25th National Post column, by conservative Canadian columnist Lorne Gunter, to which O'Brien's March 12th column is so similar as to be plagiarism, in my book.

Gunter's column "Forget global warming: Welcome to the new Ice Age" was fairly well written to promote his do nothing conservative slant away from environmental responsibility, concluding:

Last month, Oleg Sorokhtin, a fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, shrugged off manmade climate change as "a drop in the bucket." Showing that solar activity has entered an inactive phase, Prof. Sorokhtin advised people to "stock up on fur coats."

The last time the sun was this inactive, Earth suffered the Little Ice Age that lasted about five centuries and ended in 1850. Crops failed through killer frosts and drought. Famine, plague and war were widespread. Harbours froze, so did rivers, and trade ceased.

O'Brien rewrites Gunter's column poorly, layering in some political barf about "Brother Al Gore & His Oscar-Winning Nobel-Laureate Traveling Climate Show and Relevancy Revival", but O'Brien covers the same misinformational territory as Gunter, at times near verbatim, concluding...

There is, after all, another theory out there, most recently propounded by a Russian scientist named Oleg Sorokhtin. He says -- and I want you to slow down here and really let this sink in -- it's the sun that's actually responsible for temperatures on the Earth. Pretty revolutionary, eh?

And he goes on to say that although the sun has been pretty intense in recent decades, heating things up in this part of the planetary neighborhood, it has just throttled back quite a bit. You can guess what he says is coming. It does not involve palm trees swaying in the Yukon.

 

Read through each of these entire columns and post your thoughts on this. To me, O'Brien copied the Gunter article without attribution, and made a real mess of it in the process.

Forget global warming: Welcome to the new Ice Age

Lorne Gunter, National Post 
Published: Monday, February 25, 2008

Snow cover over North America and much of Siberia, Mongolia and China is greater than at any time since 1966.

The U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported that many American cities and towns suffered record cold temperatures in January and early February. According to the NCDC, the average temperature in January "was -0.3 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average."

China is surviving its most brutal winter in a century. Temperatures in the normally balmy south were so low for so long that some middle-sized cities went days and even weeks without electricity because once power lines had toppled it was too cold or too icy to repair them.

There have been so many snow and ice storms in Ontario and Quebec in the past two months that the real estate market has felt the pinch as home buyers have stayed home rather than venturing out looking for new houses.

In just the first two weeks of February, Toronto received 70 cm of snow, smashing the record of 66.6 cm for the entire month set back in the pre-SUV, pre-Kyoto, pre-carbon footprint days of 1950.

And remember the Arctic Sea ice? The ice we were told so hysterically last fall had melted to its "lowest levels on record? Never mind that those records only date back as far as 1972 and that there is anthropological and geological evidence of much greater melts in the past.

The ice is back.

Gilles Langis, a senior forecaster with the Canadian Ice Service in Ottawa, says the Arctic winter has been so severe the ice has not only recovered, it is actually 10 to 20 cm thicker in many places than at this time last year.

OK, so one winter does not a climate make. It would be premature to claim an Ice Age is looming just because we have had one of our most brutal winters in decades.

But if environmentalists and environment reporters can run around shrieking about the manmade destruction of the natural order every time a robin shows up on Georgian Bay two weeks early, then it is at least fair game to use this winter's weather stories to wonder whether the alarmist are being a tad premature.

And it's not just anecdotal evidence that is piling up against the climate-change dogma.

According to Robert Toggweiler of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton University and Joellen Russell, assistant professor of biogeochemical dynamics at the University of Arizona -- two prominent climate modellers -- the computer models that show polar ice-melt cooling the oceans, stopping the circulation of warm equatorial water to northern latitudes and triggering another Ice Age (a la the movie The Day After Tomorrow) are all wrong.

"We missed what was right in front of our eyes," says Prof. Russell. It's not ice melt but rather wind circulation that drives ocean currents northward from the tropics. Climate models until now have not properly accounted for the wind's effects on ocean circulation, so researchers have compensated by over-emphasizing the role of manmade warming on polar ice melt.

But when Profs. Toggweiler and Russell rejigged their model to include the 40-year cycle of winds away from the equator (then back towards it again), the role of ocean currents bringing warm southern waters to the north was obvious in the current Arctic warming.
Last month, Oleg Sorokhtin, a fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, shrugged off manmade climate change as "a drop in the bucket." Showing that solar activity has entered an inactive phase, Prof. Sorokhtin advised people to "stock up on fur coats."

He is not alone. Kenneth Tapping of our own National Research Council, who oversees a giant radio telescope focused on the sun, is convinced we are in for a long period of severely cold weather if sunspot activity does not pick up soon.

The last time the sun was this inactive, Earth suffered the Little Ice Age that lasted about five centuries and ended in 1850. Crops failed through killer frosts and drought. Famine, plague and war were widespread. Harbours froze, so did rivers, and trade ceased.

It's way too early to claim the same is about to happen again, but then it's way too early for the hysteria of the global warmers, too.

lgunter [at] shaw [dot] ca

 

For global warming worry-warts, an inconvenient cold spell -- Kevin O'Brien


Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Kevin O'Brien
Plain Dealer Columnist

It would be so cool if we had the Southern Baptists to thank, but I fear their intervention in the "problem" of global warming has come too late to explain the last 14 months.

At a meeting just this month, the denomination's leaders discerned a biblical duty to get right with Brother Al Gore & His Oscar-Winning Nobel-Laureate Traveling Climate Show and Relevancy Revival.

For what seems like eons, but in fact has been only years, Brother Al has been trying his hardest to help the planet get saved.

And wouldn't you know it, just when a group of fellow preachers answers his altar call, the four biggest temperature tracking outfits on the allegedly fevered planet come out with the news that in January 2008, the Earth's average temperature was down 1.35 degrees from January 2007.

Not much, you say? A snowflake in the bucket?

Well, for the sake of comparison, that's about twice the 0.72 degrees the Earth's average temperature has risen since 1978.

Those numbers don't come from the skeptics routinely dismissed by global-warming hysterics as corporate toadies. No, they come from outfits the global-warming hysterics generally respect: NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies; Remote Sensing Systems, affiliated with both NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the University of Alabama-Huntsville; and Britain's Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research.

Yes, yes, we all know that we can't read too much into one cold month. Only the prophets of sudden, catastrophic climate change are allowed to use such anecdotal evidence to further their arguments.

But then again, it wasn't just one cold month. It was the beginning of what, so far, has been another cold year.

Throughout 2007, even as Brother Al waved aloft the little golden idol presented to him by the movie people and demanded a rain of fire and brimstone (of the carbon-neutral variety, one would think) on the global-warming scoffers, the Almighty sent ice and snow instead.

 The last winter when North America had as much snow cover was 1966. Same for Siberia and Mongolia. China is enduring its coldest winter in 100 years. A major snowstorm paralyzed most of Greece last month. Baghdad got its first snowfall in recorded history, and they've been recording for quite a while in that part of the world.

Now, it's really cold in Greenland, which normally would not be news, but the effect on the famous sea ice sheet has been most enlightening: It's back, bigger and better than ever. Between Greenland and Canada, the ice is the biggest it's been in 15 years, according to Denmark's Meteorological Institute. The Canadian Ice Service -- yes, there really is such a thing -- says that in many places, the Arctic ice is also thicker this year than last.

Good news? Bad news? I honestly don't know. All I know is that over the weekend, as the snow fell and fell and fell in Northeast Ohio, I found myself wondering which might arrive in our little cul-de-sac first: the Greenland ice sheet or the municipal snowplow.

You have to wonder how Brother Al looks at the last 14 months. Is he glad that maybe the Earth is getting saved without his drastic measures, or is he worried that he might have to come up with a new sermon because he's been riding the wrong crisis?

There is, after all, another theory out there, most recently propounded by a Russian scientist named Oleg Sorokhtin. He says -- and I want you to slow down here and really let this sink in -- it's the sun that's actually responsible for temperatures on the Earth. Pretty revolutionary, eh?

And he goes on to say that although the sun has been pretty intense in recent decades, heating things up in this part of the planetary neighborhood, it has just throttled back quite a bit. You can guess what he says is coming. It does not involve palm trees swaying in the Yukon.

I like it. I'd like to think the sun has more influence on the Earth's climate than Chinese factories and muffler-dragging Chevys. But I -- unlike Brother Al and his choir of grant writers, moviemakers and hyper-extrapolating scientific bandwagoneers -- don't claim to know.

I think I'll just keep taking it one season at a time, adjusting as needed. And the next adjustment will be a snowblower.

Yea, though I walk through the shadow of drifts higher than my head, no global warming will I fear.

O'Brien is The Plain Dealer's deputy editorial page director.

To reach Kevin O'Brien:

kobrien [at] plaind [dot] com, 216-999-4146

Previous columns online:

cleveland.com/columns