Tuesday, April 7, 2015

#7 Penguins, butterflies and consensus - CC/Steele Landscapesandcycles Debate

A virtual debate with Jim Steele, based on his interview at Heartland Institute:  

Heartland Daily Podcast | Jim Steele | January 27, 2015 
Research Fellow H. Sterling Burnett (for the National Center for Policy Analysis) interviews Jim Steele, ecologist, director emeritus of the Sierra Nevada field campus of San Francisco State University

Steele:  "And we trust the scientific theory because its been fairly tested by others - the theory must out perform all alternate explanations, eliminate confounding factors plus lively debate.  But, what I was finding was the scientific process was being defiled when scientists refused to debate in public. ... and any attempt to prevent that debate, in our schools, in the media, in peer reviewed science, it's only denigrating the scientific process.  ... And I think those public debates would help create real climate literacy …"

Well then Mr. Steele, let's have our Great Global Warming Science Debate.  I will accept these responses from your Heartland Institute podcast as your opening round.  I'll offer my rebuttals, evidence and questions.  I agree to post your thoughtful responses unaltered. (Though it's looking like you're going to do your best to hide and ignore these critiques of your self-certain claims. Your silence will serve to expose your hypocrisy and inability to defend your statements on an even playing field.)

In this seventh installment I'll debate your Antarctic penguin story, your misrepresentation of Dr. Camille Parmesan and your revulsion towards scientific "consensus".

"How should society contend with those who knowingly disseminate misinformation about climate science?"  Lawrence Torcello

Heartland Burnett: In earlier conversations you mentioned a couple other examples - you've already mentioned the butterfly, but you also mentioned the case of the Emperor Penguin.  Could you describe that case a little bit?
Steele:  Sure. There have been a few stories about the emperor penguin marching to extinction, 
~ ~ ~
Who wrote the stories?  Was it an opinion piece of a political type, causal newspaper, right-wing think-tank, left-wing think-tank, letters to the editor, serious science reporting, a retired PhD in an unrelated field but who possesses strong political motivations, a scientist who's active in the field, an actual peer reviewed study, a university press release?  

Mr. Steele, how do you weigh the relative reliability of those competing sources of information? 

You like dramatizing the extinction schtick, but you never mention that all this science you are picking on is about population dynamics.  The scientists are counting and observing populations and reporting trends they are witnessing.  
The few studies that touch on potential penguin extinction have it out on the century horizon.
Steele:  it's sort of based on one colony 
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
What is sort of based on one colony?   

Some studies from Dumont d'Urville, which at nearly 60 is the longest running penguin research lab in Antarctica?

Census and environment studies from throughout the continent that uniformly paint a grim picture for penguins' long term prospects?

After all, there are at least 22 active research programs dedicated to Antarctic penguins, all of them churning out studies painting a consistent image.

Australians – 3French – 1 on continent;  Crozet – 1New Zealand – 2 in Ross Sea;  USA – 4 in Ross Sea;  Bellingshausen – 1;  South Shetlands – 2UK – 2 at South Georgia;  UK – 1 at S Orkney;  Germany – 1Argentina – 1;  Japan – 1Italy – 2

Steele:  that suffered a large decline between about 1960 and 1980 and it was the same colony that was used for the documentary March of Penguins.  But if you look at the British Antarctic Survey data, there was absolutely no warming trend. 
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Jim, why are you ignoring the warming period in the late 1970s and early 80s when average temp rose nearly three degrees centigrade and ice conditions went to pot for penguins and the population lost around 3,000 penguins?  That's what the study you keep picking on was about.  So why are you trying to compare that study then to today?  

In the mid 80s temperatures did return to "normal" - but with a twist.

DDU is at the mercy of frigid Katabatic winds that come screaming down off the high Antarctic continental plateau, in fact it boasts the record wind speed of 199mph (327km/h).  Thing is, the developing Antarctic Ozone Hole (discovered in the 80s) has 'so to speak' punched a hole in the stratosphere allowing more heat to escape into space, thus chilling down the central continent and those winds even more, so the lack of recent warming at DDU is no surprise.  

But, there's more to the story.  The Antarctic vortex wind circling the continent has been increasing in speed and today it's windspeed is unprecedented in the past millennium.  This is creating all sorts of disruption to traditional sea ice flow dynamics and creating problems for penguins and other Antarctic bird life.
~ ~ ~
The Arctic melts, but oceans and ozone hole may cool Antarctica 
John Marshall, Professor of Oceanography, MIT | June 6, 2014 
~ ~ ~ 
Tango in the Atmosphere: Ozone and Climate Change 
By Jeannie Allen, NASA Earth Observatory, February 2004  
~ ~ ~ 
Antarctic wind vortex is strongest for 1000 years 
11 May 2014 by Michael Slezak 
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25547-antarctic-wind-vortex-is-strongest-for-1000-years.html( http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v4/n7/full/nclimate2235.html )
~ ~ ~

Colonies discovered in new study  10
Previously known colonies that still exist  27
Previously known colonies no longer found  6
~ ~ ~
Study of ancient emperor penguin populations creates concern for future of species 
By Felicity Ogilvie and Tyson Shine 
Updated 1 Mar 2015 
Steele:  What they were finding was, and what I argued with some of the scientists there was that when you disturb the penguins during the winter, they are trying to converse all their energy, they have to fast for three, four months if your the male and 
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
And they tried to explain to you why you were mistaken, but you didn't want to hear any of it.

* Where have you documented these studies showing winter research forays into penguin colonies?  
* How often have they occurred? 
* Where's your documentation of the kinds of disruptions researchers create?
* What percentage of the colonies were impacted by researchers?
* What was the extent of these disruptions?  

I haven't been able to find that you've done any of that groundwork.  If I am wrong please share the links.  If you never did any of that homework, you're blowing smoke again.

In any event, those are the types of questions you need to answer before you can legitimately suggest people should imagine scientists are to blame for penguin declines.

Steele:  the recent studies are suggesting that when they were studying them they were attaching flipper bands and disrupting them, and that was causing the penguins not to die but to simply leave and the satellite data has shown that a new population has set up near by and its sort of refuges trying to get away from these researchers.  It had nothing to do with global warming, but that's what they were blaming it on.
~ ~ ~
In one breath you jump from scientist disrupting penguins in the winter, implying researchers aren't aware of their impacts on penguins, then jump to flipper banding, then population relocation.  This is exactly what I mean about your disingenuous scattershot approach.  This is handwaving not science education.

There are around 60,000 nests near DDU, blaming researchers for declines is a stretch particularly since you never produce any substantive evidence only figments of your imagination and tons of self-certitude.

You also ignore that scientists are well aware of their disruptive impacts, as they are with issues surrounding flipper banding and that it's a matter of much discussion within the research community and there have been vast improvements over the years.

For a more thorough review of your many misrepresentations regarding the Antarctic penguin story see:

Sunday, December 28, 2014
Steele's penguin "climate horror story" YouTube series, Video 4a
~ ~ ~ 
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Appendix Steele's penguin "climate horror story" YouTube series, Video 4a
~ ~ ~
Monday, February 9, 2015
LandscapesAndCycles blinded by belief - The straight poop on penguins indeed ¶1/6
Heartland's Burnett: Jim, ... For instance, Why was the conservation success story highjacked as an example of climate disruptions?   Or why the record high temperatures on each continent withstood seventy years of global warming?  
~ ~ ~
That is simply not true.  take a look: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_weather_records
Yes there are a few wild records standing, such as Death Valley's hundred year old record.  But, finding comfort in a couple freak anomalies seems both crazy and suicidal.  

Heartland's Burnett: Would you discuss these examples, questions? 
Steele: Yeah, there's been many examples of climate alarmism highjacking conservation success stories.  And once again one of the most prominent was by Camille Parmesan and her work with the IPCC, she co-authored a paper titled "A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change, impacts across natural systems" and cited by over three thousand consensus scientists 
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Actually it's been cited over 5,000 times.  That brings up the question of professional frustration and jealousy - how much of a roll does that play in your incessant attacks on Dr. Parmesan?

You're using "consensus" scientist, as a right-wing dog whistle.  This attack on consensus is one of the dirtiest (if not traitorous) tricks Republican/libertarian spin-misters have pulled on the American people.  How people fall for it, I can't fathom.  

Consensus is nothing other than the considered educated opinion of the experts.  What you and your Republican/libertarian crowd are suggesting is an intellectual Lord Of The Flies chaos - nothing in a healthy society works that way.  

But considering you have no competent or ethical arguments left on your side I can see why you're reduced to peddling this juvenile, but oh so successful, attack on scientists and 'hate the consensus' childishness.  Wouldn't it be more constructive to do some good-faith learning instead?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Steele:  and in it she argued that CO2 warming was moving animals towards poles, 
~ ~ ~
Why the constant drama and negative spin?  Here's what the study says:
"...Global meta-analyses documented significant range shifts averaging 6.1 km per decade towards the poles (or metres per decade upward), and significant mean advancement of spring events by 2.3 days per decade. ..." NATURE | VOL 421 | JANUARY 2, 2003 
Steele:  but she acknowledged that movement can be caused by landscape changes, or global warming.  
~ ~ ~
What did you expect?  
It is a study that describes what's being observed.

Although you're sounding like you want to make it an either/or situation - instead of them being intimately linked.  Shame, shame.
Steele:  But she offered, but, well, her model could show that all this change was really due to global warming sensitivity and not to landscape changes.  
~ ~ ~

The study claims: "This suite of analyses generates ‘very high confidence’ that climate change is already affecting living systems." NATURE | VOL 421 | 2 JANUARY 2003 

What that study states is a far cry from what you're claiming!

It's such lies, from someone who knows better, that deserve the label of "criminal negligence'.
Steele:  And her best example of that was the case of Silver-spotted skipper that I happened to know a little about, it had been a species that had been restricted to the southern edge of Great Britain and another species the Large Blue were threatened with extinction and the Large Blue actually went extinct in England during that time
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Hmmm.  Jim, but the study tabulated 1,7000 species:
"Here, we explore these differences, apply diverse analyses to more than 1,700 species, and show that recent biological trends match climate change predictions. ..."
"Among appropriate long-term/large-scale/multi-species data sets, this diagnostic fingerprint was found for 279 species. ..."
NATURE | VOL 421 | 2 JANUARY 2003
Heartland's Burnett: Before you go on, tell our listeners what the Silver-spotted skipper was. 
Steele: It was a butterfly, most of Dr. Parmesan's work was with butterflies.  And the Large Blue is a butterfly it's a pretty crazy story if you read it, it's on the website, it has to rely on ants and then it eats the ants, but it's one of those weird nature stories that people like. 
But, anyways they were threatened with extinction because the grassland were becoming over grown.  More efficent grazing, destruction of rabbits that were competing with grazing it now allowed all this grass to grow higher and that cooled the surface which was bad for these butterflies.  So to save those butterflies the government has actually sponsoring programs to encouraged grazing, or encourage mowing these grasslands to shorter heights.   
In response this Silver spotted skipper rebounding, it had nowhere else to go but expand northward, so Parmesan used this example of a conservation success story metamorphosed that into an example of animals high sensitivity to CO2 warming.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Why do you leave out the part where global warming seems to have helped this conservation success story along?

Besides, for a man who calls himself an ecologist why are you so clueless about the complex dependency everything has to weather conditions?  Why do you find it impossible to understanding that when traditional weather patterns are knocked out of kilter, it will ripple through all eco-systems? 
~ ~ ~

Zoe G. Davies, Robert J. Wilson, Tom M. Brereton, Chris D. Thomas
Biological Conservation 124 (2005) 189–198

Many specialist species are declining as a result of habitat loss and fragmentation, such that conservation actions typically aim to stem rates of decline rather than bring about genuine recovery. Here, we document the recovery of a species from former population refuges. An extensive survey of the entire British range of Hesperia comma, conducted in 2000, recorded over three times the number of tetrads (2 km · 2 km grid squares) occupied in 1982. This was accompanied by a fourfold increase in the number of populations and a 10-fold increase in the habitat area occupied. The improving status of H. comma is the product of good habitat management, recovering rabbit populations and climate warming, which have improved the quality, and increased the availability, of suitable habitat. This has enabled remnant metapopulations to expand, via distance-dependent colonisation, through large networks of habitat. Metapopulation recovery in H. comma demonstrates that landscape-scale conservation can be successful.
Ó 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Steele:  And she mentioned other examples and I could go in to a bunch of those, but again they were grabbing onto CO2 warming just by kind of a loose correlation that really had no truth in reality.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"No truth in reality"... aand you are so certain about this, Why?

Mr. Jim Steele, Considering that you wave around your San Francisco State University affiliation like a badge and then you speak as though you have the authority of serious science at your back and in your heart, I believe that a case can be made that your above comment (among others) constitutes criminal negligence.

Greenhouse gases ARE thoroughly understood.
We are witnessing our planet significantly warming, 
the rippling impacts of that warming 
are visible throughout the global climate system 
and our planet's biosphere - (you only need to open your eyes).

Continuing to ignore the scientific reality of atmospheric GHGs, which has been known to the interested public for over a half century, has guaranteed a future of increasingly deadly weather upheaval and ocean poisoning.  

Continuing this right wing PR fraud seems unthinkable, why do you do it?

Jim, remember last year I told you about the car that was careening straight for a tree, and the driver and passenger were so busy arguing about their actual speed 60 or 65, that neither was doing anything to avoid the collision.  
You know, as this past year has unfurled with the news from Antarctica and the Arctic, the extraordinary typhoons, the continuing wide spread droughts, and the increasingly venomous and disconnected from reality Republican/libertarian attacks, I'm imaging more along the lines of a maniac pilot powering up the throttle in complete disregard of the impending disaster.

Jim, what do you make of the tragic news coming from DDU these days?  

This would be one of those cascading consequences caused by human actions I talk about.  First greenhouse gases, then the ozone destroying CFCs, and you know, one thing leads to another and before we know it intensified Antarctic vortex winds are screaming around the continent and being slammed by the Katabatic winds coming off the continent, creating conditions very rough for wildlife and other living things. 

Penguin reproductive season crash in the Antarctic
http://www.normer.uio.no/blog/penguins2014.htmlJason D. Whittington | April 29, 2014

... This year, from the ~60,000 nests we monitor around Terre Adelie, not a single chick survived to fledging. The first complete reproductive collapse ever seen in the territory.
All other avian species struggled, with record poor reproductive success for the southern giant petrels (Macronectes giganteus), cape petrels (Daption capense), Wilson’s storm petrels (Oceanites oceanicus), snow petrels (Pagodroma nivea), and south polar skuas (Stercorarius maccormicki).

The reasons for the bad year are related to a variety of proximate and ultimate causes, some of which are still poorly understood. 

... The hyperextensive sea is the primary proximate reason for the poor breeding year for the birds. The open sea never made it closer than 40 km to the base, so penguins had to travel 80 kilometers round-trip to forage. This is not a trivial distance for a flightless species to cover to forage for food. ...

There are different proximate reasons that explain why the sea ice is so much more extensive this year. ...

Ocean Currents: ... With the increase in Global Climate Change effects, scientists are observing changes in many of the features that drive the currents. The changes are many and complex have led to a net weakening of the Southern Ocean currents. Hence, ice blocks are more stationary and can freeze in position more solidly.

Wind: ... Among the many and complicated effects of Global Climate Change, there are many changes to the wind patterns. The changes themselves are many and complex and poorly understood, but they have led to an overall decrease in the large-scale wind currents, and sea ice and icebergs are not being pushed around as much.

Solar radiation: ... Around DDU, when the sea ice is very solid, the ice reflects most of the incoming solar radiation, and stays cold and solid. But, when one or more little patches of ice melts and the sea or rocky islands become exposed, more warmth is absorbed and more sea ice melts. 

Glaciers and Icebergs: ... Global Climate Change is affecting large-scale changes to global and local climate patterns. In some areas of the Antarctic continent, there is now much higher precipitation (snow), while other areas have much less precipitation. ... Around DDU, some of our problems with increased sea ice are the result of a large glacier called Mertz blocking part of the sea channel where the sea surface ice can be blown away.
     This has been a problem since at least 2010, and nobody is sure how long it will continue. ...

By Jason D. Whittington  |  Published Apr 29, 2014

Closing thought

Professor Stephen Schneider PhD

“Science is Never Settled”
“System Science” 
“Value Judgement”
 “Risk Management”
"We are insulting our global environment at a faster rate than we are understanding it."

by Stephen Thomson of Plomomedia

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