January 16, 2010 | By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC News
The Detainees Media Committee reported that a Palestinian detainee was seriously wounded due to extreme torture by Israeli interrogators at the Salem detention camp in the northern part of the West Bank.
The detainee was identified as Hatheefa Farid Ziyada from the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
He was repeatedly beaten to several parts of his body, mainly to his head, leading a severe injury in his eye, likely leading to internal bleeding.
The committee voiced an appeal to different human rights groups and international humanitarian organizations asking them to intervene and save the lives of hundreds of detainees who are being tortured abused in Israeli interrogation facilities.
The detainee was held at the Negev detention camp, in the Negev desert, and was informed by the administration that he is being moved to Hadarim Prison.
He found out later on that this was a lie as he was moved to the infamous Petah Tikva interrogation center.
He was repeatedly imprisoned by Israel during the first Intifada and was also imprisoned during the second Intifada. In 2004 he was kidnapped again and spent three years in administrative detention without charges or trial.
Ziyada was released in 2007 but was kidnapped again just before the end of the same year and remained under administrative detention since then.
Al Jazeera | January 13, 2010
In 1948, Israel’s founding fathers issued a manifesto declaring among other things that the new state would uphold the equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race or creed.
Six decades later that is not a principal that many of Israel’s Arab citizens – who make up about 20 per cent of the population – believe applies to them, especially in matters involving law and order.
In his film, One Law for All?, filmmaker Tony Stark investigates whether Israeli Arabs are regularly the victims of legal double standards.
On August 4, 2005, a Jewish soldier in the Israeli army boarded a bus on its way to the northern Arab town of Shafr’Amr.
It was just two weeks before Israel withdrew from Gaza and 19-year-old Eden Natan-Zada strongly opposed the plan.
As the bus entered the town, he began shooting passengers with his M16 rifle.
“I was looking through a window when I suddenly heard shooting. I looked and saw someone shoot the driver. I hid under the seats. As I lay flat, the firing continued, and I saw someone’s finger fall to the floor. That’s when I realised he was on a mission to kill everyone,” says Ha’El al-Janhawe, a passenger on the bus.
“I didn’t move a millimetre. I put my hands over my eyes and prayed and just waited for the bullets to hit my back.”During a pause in the shooting, al-Janhawe decided to try to prevent further bloodshed.
“I stood up and he had a chance to kill me. But, thank God, it seems that his magazine was empty. I pushed him near to the back of the bus. I got him onto his back and was on top of him – trying to hold the gun and stop him pulling the trigger. It was very hot and I burnt my hand.”
Al-Janhawe pulled the gun away from the soldier and got off the bus. By then four people, including the bus driver, had been killed and 12 others were wounded.
An angry crowd gathered after the shootings
As news of the shootings spread, an angry crowd gathered. Natan-Zada was still on the bus – now being held by several police officers.”The bus was in chaos. People were falling over each other. Outside, people were screaming, climbing up trying to get on the bus. They didn’t know if the killer was still alive. No one knew what was going on,” says Amir Sabbah who witnessed it all.
People stormed onto the bus and Natan-Zada was attacked and killed.
“It wasn’t a normal reaction. Someone had come to kill people in their hometown and they wanted to protect themselves and their town. We felt a kind of anger that can’t be described,” Sabbah explains.
Seven local men are now being tried for his attempted murder and a further five for lesser offences.
The decision to charge anyone caught up in the events of that day has hit a very raw nerve among Arab Israelis. Sadness at the waste of life is now mingled with anger at the prosecutions.
“This has been a racial decision at the highest level. It’s obvious that the Israeli judiciary, security forces and police have two approaches: one for Arabs, another for Jews,” says Morad Haddad who is part of a support committee for the 12 accused.
The court case has brought into the open a simmering distrust of the forces of law and order among Israel’s 1.5 million Arab citizens.
Protests have been held outside the court in Haifa where the trial is taking place. The claim is that Jews who kill Arabs in Israel are treated in a very different way to the Arabs now being prosecuted for killing Natan-Zada.
It is a view held by some of the most senior members of the Arab community.
“Definitely there is a double standard and discrimination in applying the law towards Jews and Arabs,” says Ahmad Tibi, the deputy speaker of the Knesset.
Jafar Farah, a lawyer who runs a human rights group in Haifa, has been investigating incidents in which Jews kill Arabs and says that there have been 44 such killings since 2000 that raise very worrying questions.”The case of Imad Hamdoun, for example. He was killed in 2002. He was on his bicycle, a Jewish civilian was shooting at the bicycle. He died. The family was compensated by the police but no conviction against the Jewish civilian that shot the bicycle.
“In the 44 cases we know for sure that the victims have not been involved in violence against state authorities or against Jewish civilians,” says Farah.
Israeli law is meant to apply to everyone equally. But Farah is particularly critical of the way police investigate cases where Jews kill Arab citizens in Israel.
Some Israeli Jews working inside the legal system echo these concerns.
Michael Sfard is a lawyer who acts for a number of Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations.
“I think institutional racism is evolving in my country and I am embarrassed and very sad to say that,” he says.
“The Israeli police, Israeli police investigators, they all are extremely professional and extremely motivated when it comes to catching Palestinians. They are much less motivated, much less rigorous when it has to do with Jews that operate on ideological grounds and their victims are Palestinians.
“The danger is that the more discrimination will infiltrate our system, the less our system will be legitimate in the eyes of the people. That’s where we are heading.”
Just how far away Israel’s Arab citizens are from receiving equal treatment is shown, some Arabs believe, by the police examination of Natan-Zada’s attack.The police say he was a lone gunman, who acted without help, but that is not the view of Maher Talami, a lawyer representing one of those charged with taking part in his killing.
Talami is conducting his own investigation into Natan-Zada with the help of a former Israeli secret service agent.
The investigation has taken two years and has convinced him that the police overlooked evidence indicating that the attack was a pre-planned conspiracy.
“The police investigation was reckless. They didn’t investigate this case seriously. They just wanted to close this file immediately because it kind of embarrasses the state of Israel because having a soldier who is a terrorist is really embarrassing for the country,” Talami says.
He says the evidence of police failings begin at the bus station in Haifa where Natan-Zada boarded the bus to Shafr’Amr.
Just two weeks before the attack, Natan-Zada was spotted acting suspiciously at the same bus station.
“He was seen by security guards in the central bus station and he was in his army uniform; he had his gun with him and he was looking around in the area where Arabs get the buses to go to the villages and towns. So that made the security guard really suspicious because he had no reason to be there,” Talami explains.
The bus station guard says he spoke with Natan-Zada and later recognised him when his picture was published in the press.
Talami says he also discovered that Natan-Zada had travelled to Shafr’Amr on the same bus the day before the attack and that this is further evidence that the attack was pre-planned.
When the bus reached the end of its journey, the bus driver found Natan-Zada asleep.
“The bus driver asked him what are you doing here and he said ‘oh I fell asleep’. So he gave him some water. The next day he got on the same bus, the same line at the same time and he shot first the bus driver in the head and then he started shooting at all the passengers,” Talami says.
Not working alone
Talami also says that there is evidence that Natan-Zada had help in planning his attack.
“Three eye witnesses at least saw a suspicious car during the time of the attack in Shafr’Amr. It had three people in it. They describe them as religious Jewish people and they had the orange ribbon in the car.
“Now this ribbon used to represent the struggle of the settlers against disengagement in Gaza. The car was waiting and when they saw a police car coming they just swiftly raced out of the town.”
According to Talami, the strongest evidence that Natan-Zada did not act alone was found in his mobile phone records. The lawyer tracked down who he had been speaking to on the day before the attack.
“We found out we’re talking about really dangerous criminals. They are all Jews from settlements, some of them got indicted before for doing terrorist acts. So what was said in these conversations we don’t know. But he didn’t call for example his family or friends. He called people from Tapuah - which is a really Jewish extreme settlement in the West Bank.”
Talami is now calling for the police to re-open their investigation into Natan-Zada.
One in five Israeli citizens is Arab and if a growing number of them continue to feel alienated from the forces of law and order, the legitimacy of the country’s democracy will eventually be undermined.
“We think that the Jewish community have to share responsibility. We need to see the president of the state of Israel and the leaders of the police forces, all of them standing as one voice and say that we will not allow ongoing violence against the Arab citizens,” says human rights lawyer Jafar Farah.
“You have to know that everybody will be equal in front of the law and if people will be criminals and they are Jews or Arabs, they will face the same treatment in front of the law.”
One Law for All? can be seen from Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at the following times GMT: Wednesday: 1230; Thursday: 0130, 1400, 1930; Friday: 0630, 1630; Saturday: 0330, 2030; Sunday: 0030, 0530; Monday: 0830.
January 16, 2010
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli tanks operating near the northern Gaza border near Beit Hanoun targeted civilian properties with heavy artillery fire, witnesses said late Friday night.
Eyewitnesses said tanks were spotted at the border, and noted a heavier than usual weaponry used by the forces. They said the fire hit civilian homes on the outskirts of the town, causing material damages but no injuries.
Families said the louder than usual tank fire terrified their children.
An Israeli military spokesman said he was unfamiliar with any military activity in the area overnight, but said he would look into the incident.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ weekly Protection of Civilians Report, last week saw a steep escalation in violence in Gaza. It counted seven Palestinians in Gaza killed by Israeli airstrikes, and called the deaths a “serious escalation.”
On January 12th, we drive to the southern West Bank city of Hebron. This city is literally drowning in a complex, traumatic, and violent history, that has given birth to the outrageous situation we see today. Most people start the story with the burial of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their wives several thousand years ago, followed by multiple invasions, the Arab massacre of Jews in 1929 one week after Zionists raised a Jewish flag at the Wailing Wall (with many questions regarding the role of the British in this catastrophe), and Baruch Goldstein’s massacre of Moslems praying at the Ibrahimi Mosque in the middle of Ramadan in 1994.
We are touring Hebron with Hisham Sharabati, the uncle of our local co-leader, Lubna. He explains that he went “to the college of the Israeli prison during the First Intifada’ and that after a barrage of tear gas and rubber bullets, he was shot in the leg and sustained a fracture, requiring crutches for 1 1/2 years. He is clearly articulate and educated; suffering has made him strong.
We start in a central open area of the market, old stone buildings with green metal doors on the ground floor, a small square with a palm trees, women in colorful hijabs sitting on poured concrete seats under umbrellas, and a steady circle of traffic and rambunctious young boys, racing around, playing, and harassing us, with unrelenting requests to purchase a variety of Palestinian trinkets. On quick inspection, I notice multiple security cameras and a few guard towers mounted on the tops of the buildings as well as an IDF checkpoint with a swinging yellow metal gate and a solid metal gate guarding the entrance to a Jewish settler area with a soldier perched above. All the ground floor doors, formerly markets, are closed, some welded shut by the IDF, and there is a second floor apartment completely encased in wire to protect the windows as well as the inhabitants from rocks thrown by Jewish settlers. .
As we sit down for the usual lunch of felafel, hummus, pita, and a collection of vegetables, Hisham begins to speak, his style sincere and serious with an ironic sense of humor. Shortly, we notice a commotion at the checkpoint site and it appears that a number of the teenage boys have been apprehended by the soldiers, their intimidating automatic weapons ready, and are being taken one by one inside the metal door for questioning after their bags are checked. We move closer and can only peek through a crack in the tall concrete blocks around the checkpoint. The local population does not seem to pay much attention to this encounter, it is clearly an everyday affair. I do not know what happened to the boys, although several were released and came out, tucking in their shirts and resuming a slightly subdued teenage swagger. The little boys watched with curiosity and at one point, two Israeli soldiers came out from their bunker, wearing what appeared to be a significant amount of battle gear, hands always on their weapons, and spoke with the little boys. I suspect this is the only kind of interaction these children have with Israeli Jews.
Hisham explains that after 1967 a group of very right wing Jewish settlers came to a hotel in Hebron and declared they would never leave. A deal was struck with the IDF that they could settle next to a military facility. There were further deals and expansions and ultimately the settlement of Kiryat Arba was officially established in 1971.These settlers have a history of particularly violent, racist, ugly attacks against their Palestinian neighbors, often observed and sometimes even promoted by the local Jewish soldiers. These are the settlers that spray paint: “Death to the Arabs!” or “Gas all Arabs,” on the walls of Palestinian homes and taunt children and women, calling the women “Whores.” Much of this has been well-documented by Palestinians with video cameras, many provided by the Israeli human rights organization, B’tselem in their “Shoot Back” campaign. It is soldiers from Hebron who started “Breaking the Silence,” when they felt guilty and haunted by their violent racist behavior patrolling this city. The local Palestinians have responded with repeated nonviolent resistance, including strikes and demonstrations, and some of the local leadership have been arrested by Israeli authorities and deported. In the 1970s and 1980s there were also armed attacks against the settlers as well as an attack on a nearby settlement called Beit Haddassah.
In the 1990s, a group of 400 settlers, (which included 250 yeshiva students), decided to move into the old city, into homes that they claimed were originally Jewish and these settlers have repeatedly attacked the local Palestinians and destroyed their market and ability to live a normal life. There are 150,000 Palestinians in all of Hebron and 35,000 in H2, the area of the city under strict Israeli control, “taken hostage on behalf of the settlers.” The UN OCHA has documented 98 different kinds of restrictions of movement in an area that is just one square kilometer. 512 Palestinian stores, spray painted with red and black dots, have been closed by military order, there are repeated prolonged closures and curfews, and Palestinians are only allowed to walk on certain streets, even if their homes are on these streets. These people access there homes by traipsing through other backyards or by walking from roof to roof, up and down ladders, to get to their homes. The central bus station was taken for “security” and given to settlers and the Yeshiva was built above the Palestinian market on top of a Palestinian school.
We wander through much of the market, some of it ghostly quiet, some bustling with vegetables, fruit, clothes, and crowds of people. Above the market Hisham points out a metal wiring creating a protective barrier as settlers living above, throw garbage, bricks, stones, plastic bags of urine and feces, and other offensive items down upon the Palestinians. At one stand he points to a plastic covering with a ragged hole above the market area. Here the Jewish settlers threw acid which burned the plastic and caused havoc below. Suddenly we see three Palestinian young men spread eagled against the wall, one kicked by a solder, and several soldiers, patting them down. We move closer, hoping our presence may contain the violence, and after what feels like an endless harassment, the young men are set free. Welcome to the daily Hebron patrol and, as one delegate said, the mass psychology of fascism.
The most painful part of this tour is the visit to Hisham’s friend, Hashem Aza, who not only can not access his house from the main street, but also lives next to one of the most rabid anti-Palestinian settlers. He has been told, “If you want peace, go to Gaza, Egypt, Saudia Arabia,” been cursed viciously, and particularly after the severe curfews from 2000-2003, many of his neighbors gave up and left. He states that there is a 90% poverty rate and minimal available employment. We clamber up a rocky hill, through several back yards and back stairs until we reach his home. He points to the stone stairs and garden that once were his backyard, but this has been repeatedly destroyed by his Jewish neighbors who not only have attacked his home and his family, but they have also cut his fruit trees, water and electricity lines. They too throw garbage and once hurled a washing machine that we see rusting amongst the trees. Only recently has he acquired water again and we see a new bright blue pipe snaking through the various backyards. His little boy comes scampering outside chasing a pink ball, watched carefully by his wife. In his home he shares more horrifying personal stories, shows us a series of videos documenting racist, violent attacks against Palestinians, primarily women and children, often by settler women and children, with no response from the police or IDF nearby. A committed nonviolent activist, he and his wife and nephew have been personally attacked, their home repeatedly trashed, his children suffer from bedwetting and other signs of PTSD, and he has unsuccessfully pursued his case in Israeli courts. He is determined to persevere, to document the realities in his beloved city, and bring this to the attention of the international community. We listen stunned and drowning in shame, outrage, and heartbreak.
Our sobering taste of life in Hebron includes other devastating stories and experiences with Israeli guard towers, camouflage netting, checkpoints, a wall spray painted with graffiti that includes a tribute to the IDF’s Golani brigade and to Betar, a right wing youth organization. I pass a concrete block obstructing the road, spray painted with an arrow and the words: “This is apartheid.” There are occasional Palestinian Authority police, but the consensus is that they are mostly useless.
So what do we do with this shameful reality? While most Israelis do not support these settlers, they receive full support, protection and encouragement from the Israeli government and military, and this has not changed in the past 42 years, no matter who is in power. They have made the lives of the Palestinians in Hebron a living hell, and they have never been held accountable. This does not happen by accident. From the moment Goldstein massacred the Palestinians in the mosque, it was a political decision by the Israeli government to put the Palestinians under curfew and protect the Jewish settlers who now celebrate his murderous actions. While these settlers are clearly the most racist, religiously fanatic, possibly deranged, and fascistic element in Israeli society, they both use and are used by the government as a wedge in the never-ending land grab and Judaization of the West Bank.
Given the blather that mostly passes for news about the settler issue in the US and Netanyahu and Leiberman’s blatant support for the settlement project and utter disregard for the the welfare of Palestinians, BDS is looking more and more like a reasonable imperative. I take my inspiration from the nonviolent activists who shared their painful reality with us. Such is the impact of a day in Hebron.
GAZA, (PIC)– Palestinian premier Ismail Haneyya on Friday called for having a new Arab strategy based on the rehabilitation of the historic axis of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria in order to create a kind of power of balance in the face of Israel.
During the weekly Friday khutba (sermon), Haneyya called on this axis to renew its historic relations with Turkey, which started to reconsider 60 years of its alliance with Israel and restored its Islamic role.
He also expressed his pride to see the rapprochement between Turkey and the Arab and Muslim worlds, calling for investing this for the benefit of the Palestinian cause.
The premier, in another context, stressed the importance of keeping the strategic relations with Egypt and called for addressing the last events of Rafah in a responsible way and stopping the media campaign against Gaza.
In an interview with the Iranian Al-Kawthar satellite channel, premier Haneyya had condemned Thursday the option of settlement and negotiations with Israel to restore the usurped Palestinian rights as a “false pregnancy”, highlighting that the adoption of this option will not lead to real results in light of Israel’s intransigent attitude.
The premier called for a Palestinian-Arab strategy taking into account the fact that the option of negotiation had failed and there is a need for restoring the Palestinian-Arab initiative.
“We do not call on the Arab states to wage a war on the Zionist entity, but we say that we must build a new balance in the region based on the axis of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria in addition to Turkey and benefit from the Islamic republic of Iran,” he underlined.
Regarding the inter-Palestinian reconciliation file, the premier said that 2010 is the year of the national reconciliation because it is a strategic choice and a national need, stressing that his government is seriously determined to end the internal division.
By Richard K. Moore | Aletho News | January 16, 2010
This document continues to evolve, based on continuing research. The latest version is always maintained at this URL:
You can click on any graphic in this document to see a larger image.
If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence.
— Bertrand Russell, Roads to Freedom, 1918
Science and models
True science begins with observations. When patterns are recognized in these observations, that leads to theories and models, which then lead to predictions. The predictions can then be tested by further observations, which can validate or invalidate the theories and models, or be used to refine them.
This is the paradigm accepted by all scientists. But scientists being people, typically in an academic research community, within a political society, there can be many a slip between cup and lip in the practice of science. There are the problems of getting funding, of peer pressure and career considerations, of dominant political dogmas, etc.
In the case of models there is a special problem that frequently arises. Researchers tend to become attached to their models, both psychologically and professionally. When new observations contradict the model, there is a tendency for the researchers to distort their model to fit the new data, rather than abandoning their model and looking for a better one. Or they may even ignore the new observations, and simply declare that their model is right, and the observations must be in error. This problem is even worse with complex computer models, where it is difficult for reviewers to figure out how the model really works, and whether ’fudging’ might be going on.
A classic example of the ’attached to model’ problem can be found in models of the universe. The Ptolemaic model assumed that the Earth is the center of the universe, and that the universe revolves around that center. Intuitively, this model makes a lot of sense. On the Earth, it feels like we are stationary. And we see the Sun and stars moving across the sky. “Obviously” the universe revolves around the Earth.
However, in order for this model to work in the case of the planets, it was necessary to introduce the arbitrary mechanism of epicycles. When Galileo and Copernicus came along, a much cleaner model was presented, that explained all the motions with no need for arbitrary assumptions. But no longer would the Earth be the center.
In this case it was not so much scientists that were attached to the old model, but the Church, which liked the model because it fit their interpretation of scripture. We’ve all heard the story of the Bishop who refused to look through the telescope, so he could ignore the new observations and hold on to the old model. Galileo was forced to recant. Thus can political interference hold back the progress of science, and ruin careers.
Climate models and global warming
Over the past century there has been a strong correlation between rising temperatures, and rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere, caused by the ever-increasing burning of fossil fuels. And it is well known that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Other things being equal, higher CO2 levels must cause an increase in temperature, due to trapping more heat from the sun. Many scientists, quite reasonably, began to explore the theory that continually rising CO2 emissions would lead to continually rising temperatures.
Intuitively, it seems that the theory is “obviously” true. Temperatures have been rising along with CO2 levels; CO2 is a greenhouse gas; what is there to prove? And if the theory is true, and we keep increasing our emissions, then temperatures will eventually reach dangerous levels, melting the Antarctic ice sheet, raising sea levels, and all the other disasters presented by Al Gore in his famous documentary. “Obviously” we are facing a human-generated crisis – and something has got to be done!
But for many years, before Gore’s film, governments didn’t seem to be listening. Environmentalists, however, were listening. Public concern began to grow about CO2 emissions, and the climate scientists investigating the theory shared these concerns. They had a strong motivation to present the scientific case convincingly, in order to force governments to pay attention and take effective action — the future of humanity was at stake!
The climate scientists began building computer models, based on the observed correlation between temperature and CO2 levels. The models looked solid, not only for the past century, but extending back in time. Research with ice-core data revealed a general correlation between temperature and CO2 levels, extending back for a million years and more. What had been “obvious” to begin with, now looked even more obvious, confirmed by seemingly solid science.
These are the very conditions that typically cause scientists to become attached to their models. The early success of the model confirms what the scientists suspected all along: the theory must be true. A subtle shift happens in the mind of the scientists involved. What began as a theory starts to become an assumption. If new data seems to contradict the theory, the response is not to discard the theory, but rather to figure out what the model is lacking.
In the case of the Ptolemaic model, they figured out that epicycles must be lacking, and so epicycles were added. They were certain the universe revolved around the Earth, and so epicycles had to exist. Similarly, the climate scientists have run into problems with their models, and they’ve needed to add more and more machinery to their models in order to overcome those problems. They are certain of their theory, and so their machinery must be valid.
Perhaps they are right. Or perhaps they’ve strayed into epicycle territory, where the theory needs to be abandoned and a better model needs to be identified. This is the conclusion that quite a few scientists have reached. Experts do differ on this question, despite the fact that Gore says emphatically that the “science is settled”. Which group of scientists is right? This is the issue we will be exploring in this article.
Compared to the historical record, are we facing a threat of dangerous global warming?
Let’s look at the historical temperature record, beginning with the long-term view. For long-term temperatures, ice-cores provide the most reliable data. Let’s look first at the very-long-term record, using ice cores from Vostok, in the Antarctic.
Here we see a very regular pattern of long-term temperature cycles. Most of the time the Earth is in an ice age, and about every 125,000 years there is a brief period of warm tempertures, called an inter-glacial period. Our current inter-glacial period has lasted a bit longer than most, indicating that the next ice age is somewhat overdue. These long-term cycles are probably related to changes in the eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit, which follows a cycle of about 100,000 years.
We also see other cycles of more closely-spaced peaks, and these are probably related to other cycles in the Earth’s orbit. There is an obliquity cycle of about 41,000 years, and a precession cycle, of about 20,000 years, and all of these cycles interfere with one another in complex ways. Here’s a tutorial from NASA that discusses the Earth’s orbital variations:
Next let’s zoom-in on the current inter-glacial period, as seen in Vostok and Greenland, again using ice-core data. Temperatures here are relative to the value for 1900, which is shown as zero:
Here we see that the Southern Hemisphere emerged from the last ice age about 1,000 years earlier than did the Northern Hemisphere. As of 1900, in comparison to the whole inter-glacial period, the temperature was 3°C below the maximum in Vostok, and 3°C below the maximum in Greenland. Thus, as of 1900, temperatures were rather cool for the period in both hemispheres, and in Greenland, temperatures were close to a minimum.
During this recent inter-glacial period, temperatures in both Vostok and Greenland have oscillated through a range of about 4°C, although the patterns of oscillation are quite different in each case. In order to see just how different the patterns are, let’s look at Greenland and Vostok together, for the period 500BC–1900. Vostok is shown with a feint line, actually a dotted line if you click to see the enlarged version.
The patterns are very different indeed. In many cases we see an extreme high in Greenland, while at the same time Vostok is experiencing an extreme low. And in the period 1500—1900, while Greenland temperatures were relatively stable, within a range of .5°C, Vostok went through a radical oscillation of 3°C, from an extreme high to an extreme low. These differences between the two hemispheres might be related to the Earth’s orbit (See NASA tutorial), or they might be related to the fact that the Southern Hemisphere is dominated by oceans, while most of the land mass is in the Northern Hemisphere. Whatever the reason, the difference is striking.
There may be some value in trying to average these different records, to obtain a ’global average’, but it is important to understand that a global average is not the same as a global temperature. For example, consider temperatures 2,000 years ago. Greenland was experiencing a very wram period, 2°C above the baseline, while Vostok was experiencing a cold spell, nearly 1°C below the baseline. While the average for year 1000 might be near the baseline, that average does not represent the real temperature in either location.
This distinction between a global average, and real temperatures, is very important to keep in mind. Consider for example the concern that warming might lead to melting of the tundra in the Arctic, leading to the runaway release of methane. If that happens, it must happen in the Arctic. So it is the temperature in the Arctic that is relevant, not any kind of global average. In Greenland, temperatures 2,000 years ago were a full 2°C higher than 1900 temperatures, and there was no runaway release of methane.
The fact that the global average 2,000 years ago was dragged down by Antarctic cooling is completely irrelevant to the issue of melting tundra. Temperatures in the Arctic must rise by more than 2°C above 1900 levels before tundra-melting might be a problem, and this fact is obscured when we look at the global-average-derived hockey stick put out by the IPCC:
This graph gives the impression that temperatures 2,000 years ago were relatively low, and that in 1900 temperatures were higher than that. This may have some kind of abstract meaning, but it has nothing to do with what’s been going on in the Arctic, and it is very misleading as regards the likelihood of tundra-melting, or Arctic-melting in general. The graph is a gross misrepresentation of what’s been happening in the real world. It obscures the actual temperature record in both hemispheres, by presenting an artifical average that has existed nowhere.
Let’s now look at some other records from the Northern Hemisphere, to find out how typical the Greenland record is of its hemisphere. This first record is from Spain, based on the mercury content in a peat bog, as published in Science, 1999, vol. 284, for the most recent 4,000 years. Note that this graph is backwards, with present day on the left:
This next record is from the Central Alps, based on stalagmite isotopes, as published in Earth and Planteary Science Letters, 2005, vol. 235, for the most recent 2,000 years:
And finally, let’s include our Greenland record for the most recent 4,000 years:
While the three records are clearly different, they do share certain important characteristics. In each case we see a staggered rise, followed by a staggered decline — a long-term up-and-down cycle over the period. In each case we see that during the past few thousand years, temperatures have been 3°C higher than 1900 temperatures. And in each case we see a gradual descent towards the overdue next ice age. The Antarctic, on the other hand, shares none of these characteristics.
If we want to understand warming-related issues, such as tundra-melting and glacier-melting, we must consider the two hemispheres separately. If glaciers melt, they do so either because of high northern termperatures, or high southern temperatures. Whether or not glaciers are likely to melt cannot be determined by global averages. In this article we will concern ourselves with the Northern Hemisphere.
In the Northern Hemisphere, based on the shared characteristics we have observed, temperatures would need to rise at least 3°C above 1900 levels before we would need to worry about things like the extinction of polar bears, the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, or runaway methane release. We know this because none of these things have happened in the past 4,000 years, and temperatures have been3°C higher during that period.
However such a 3°C rise seems very unlikely to happen, given that all three of our Nothern Hemisphere samples show a gradual but definite decline toward the overdue next ice age. Let’s now zoom in the temperature record since 1900, and see what kind of rise has actually occurred. Let’s turn to Jim Hansen’s latest article, published on realclimate.org, 2009 temperatures by Jim Hansen. The article includes the following two graphs.
Jim Hansen is of course one of the primary proponents of the CO2-dangerous-warming theory, and there is considerable reason to believe these graphs show an exaggerated picture as regards to warming. Here is one article relevant to that point, and it is typical of other reports I’ve seen:
Son of Climategate! Scientist says feds manipulated data
Nonetheless, let’s accept these graphs as a valid representation of recent temperature changes, so as to be as fair as possible to the warming alarmists. We’ll be using the red line, which is from GISS, and which does not use the various extrapolations that are included in the green line. We’ll return to this topic later, but for now suffice it to say that these extrapolations make little sense from a scientific perspective.
The red line shows a temperature rise of .7°C from 1900 to the 1998 maximum, a leveling off beginning in 2001, and then a brief but sharp decline starting in 2005. Let’s enter that data into our charting program, using values for each 5-year period that represent the center of the oscillations for that period. Here’s what we get for 1900-2008:
Consider the downward trend at the right end of the graph. Hansen tells us this is very temporary, and that temperatures will soon start rising again. Perhaps he is right. However, as we shall see, his arguments for this prediction are seriously flawed. What we know for sure is that a downward trend has begun. How far that trend will continue is not yet known.
Next, let’s append that latest graph to the Greenland data, to get a reasonable characterization of Northern Hemisphere temperatures from 2000 BC to 2008:
This graph shows us that the temperature rise in the Northern Hemipshpere from 1800 to 2005 was not at all unnatural. That rise follows precisely the long-term pattern, where such rises have been occurring approximately every 1,000 years, with no help from human-caused CO2. Based on the long-term pattern of diminishing peaks, we would expect the recent down-trend to continue, and not turn upward again as Hansen predicts. If the natural pattern continues, then the recent warming has reached its maximum, and we will soon experience about two centuries of rapid cooling, as we continue our descent to the overdue next ice age.
So everything depends on the next decade or so. If temperatures turn upwards again, then the IPCC may be right, and human-caused CO2 emissions may have taken control of climate. However, if temperatures continue downward, then climate has been following natural patterns all along in the Northern Hemisphere. In this case there has been no evidence of any noticeable influence on climate from human-caused CO2, and we are now facing an era of rapid cooling. Within two centuries we could expect temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere to be consideralby lower than they were in the recent Little Ice Age.
We don’t know for sure which way temperatures will go, rapidly up or rapidly down. But I can make this statement:
As of this moment, based on the long-term temperature patterns in the Northern Hemisphere, there is no evidence that human-caused CO2 has had any effect on climate. The rise since 1800, as well as the downward dip starting in 2005, are entirely in line with the natural long-term pattern. If temperatures turn sharply upwards in the next decade or so, that will be the first-ever evidence for human-caused warming in the Northern Hemisphere.
As regards the the recent downturn, here are two other records, both of which show an even more dramatic downturn than the one shown in the GISS data:
Based on the data we have looked at, all from mainstream scientific sources, we are now in a position to answer our first question with a reasonable level of confidence:
Temperatures, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, have been continuing to follow natural, long-term patterns — despite the unusually high levels of CO2 caused by the burning of fossil fuels. There have indeed been two centuries of global warming, and that is exactly what we would expect based on the natural pattern. Temperatures now are more than 2°C cooler than they were only 2,000 years ago, which means we have not been experiencing dangerously high temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere.
The illusion of global warming arises from a failure to recognize that global averages are are a very poor indicator of actual conditions in either hemisphere.
Within the next decade, or perhaps sooner, we are likely to learn which way the climate is going. If it turns again sharply upwards, as Hansen predicts, that will be counter to the long-term pattern, and evidence for human-caused warming. If it levels off, and continues downwards, that is consistent with long-term patterns, and we are likely to experience about two centuries of rapid cooling in the Northern Hemisphere, as we continue our descent toward the overdue next ice age.
Why haven’t unsually high levels of CO2 significantly affected temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere?
One place to look for answers to this question is in the long-term patterns that we see in the temperature record of the past few thousand years, such as the peaks separated by about 1,000 years in the Greenland data, and other more closely-spaced patterns that are also visible. Some forces are causing those patterns, and whatever those forces are, they have nothing to do with human-caused CO2 emissions. Perhaps the forces have to do with cycles in solar radiation and solar magnetism, or perhaps they have something to do with cosmic radiation on a galactic scale, or something we haven’t yet identified. Until we understand what those forces are, how they intefere with one another, and how they effect climate, we can’t really build useful climate models, except on very short time scales.
We can also look for answers in the regulatory mechanisms that exist within the Earth’s own climate system. If an increment of warming happens on the surface, for example, then there is more evaporation from the oceans and more precipitation. While an increment of warming may melt glaciers, it may also cause increased snowfall in the arctic regions. Do these balance each other or not? Increased warming of the ocean’s surface may gradually heat the ocean, but the increased evaporation acts to cool the ocean. Do these balance each other?
Vegetation also acts as a regulatory system. Plants and trees gobble up CO2; that is where their substance comes from. Greater CO2 concentration leads to faster growth, taking more CO2 out of the atmosphere. Until we understand quantitively how these various regulatory systems function and interact, we can’t even build useful models on a short time scale.
In fact a lot of research is going on, investigating both lines of inquiry. However, in the current public-opinion and media climate, any research not related to CO2 causation is dismissed as the activity of contrarians, deniers, and oil-company hacks. Just as the Bishop refused to look through Galileo’s telescope, so today we have a whole society that refuses to look at many of the climate studies that are available.
I’d like to draw attention to one example of a scientist who has been looking at one aspect of the Earth’s regulatory system. Roy Spencer has been conducting research using the satellite systems that are in place for climate studies. Here are his relevant qualifications:
Roy W. Spencer is a principal research scientist for the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. He has served as senior scientist for climate studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
He describes his research in a presentation available on YouTube:
In the talk he gives a lot of details, which are quite interesting, but one does need to concentrate and listen carefully to keep up with the pace and depth of the presentation. He certainly sounds like someone who knows what he’s talking about. Permit me to summarize the main points of his research:
When greenhouse gases cause surface warming, a response occurs, a ‘feedback response’, in the form of changes in cloud and precipitation patterns. The CRU-related climate models all assume the feedback response is a positive one: any increment of greenhouse warming will be amplified by knock-on effects in the weather system. This assumption then leads to the predictions of ‘runaway global warming’.
Spencer set out to see what the feedback response actually is, by observing what happens in the cloud-precipitation system when surface warming is occurring. What he found, by targeting satellite sensors appropriately, is that the feedback response is negative rather than positive. In particular, he found that the formation of storm-related cirrus clouds is inhibited when surface temperatures are high. Cirrus clouds are themselves a powerful greenhouse gas, and this reduction in cirrus cloud formation compensates for the increase in the CO2 greenhouse effect.
This is the kind of research we need to look at if we want to build useful climate models. Certainly Spencer’s results need to be confirmed by other researchers before we accept them as fact, but to simply dismiss his work out of hand is very bad for the progress of climate science. Consider what the popular website SourceWatch says about Spencer.
We don’t find there any reference to rebuttals to his research, but we are told that Spencer writes columns for a free-market website funded by Exxon. They also mention that he spoke at conference organized by the Heartland Institute, that promotes lots of reactionary, free-market principles. They are trying to discredit Spencer’s work on irrelevant grounds, what the Greeks referred to as an ad hominem argument. Sort of like, “If he beats his wife, his science must be faulty”.
And it’s true about ‘beating his wife’ — Spencer does seem to have a pro-industry philosophy that shows little concern for sustainability. That might even be part of his motivation for undertaking his recent research, hoping to give ammunition to pro-industry lobbyists. But that doesn’t prove his research is flawed or that his conclusions are invalid. His work should be challenged scientifically, by carrying out independent studies of the feedback process. If the challenges are restricted to irrelevant attacks, that becomes almost an admission that his results, which are threatening to the climate establishment, cannot be refuted. He does not hide his data, or his code, or his sentiments. The same cannot be said for the warming-alarmist camp.
What are we to make of Jim Hansen’s prediction that rapid warming will soon resume?
Once again, I refer you to Dr. Hansen’s recent article, 2009 temperatures by Jim Hansen.
Jim begins with the following paragraph:
The past year, 2009, tied as the second warmest year in the 130 years of global instrumental temperature records, in the surface temperature analysis of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). The Southern Hemisphere set a record as the warmest year for that half of the world. Global mean temperature, as shown in Figure 1a, was 0.57°C (1.0°F) warmer than climatology (the 1951-1980 base period). Southern Hemisphere mean temperature, as shown in Figure 1b, was 0.49°C (0.88°F) warmer than in the period of climatology.
The Southern Hemisphere may be experiencing warming, but it has 2°C to go before that might become a problem there, and it has nothing to do with the Northern Hemisphere, where temperatures have been declining recently, not setting records for warming. This mathematical abstraction, the global average, is characteristic of nowhere. It creates the illusion of a warming crisis, when in fact no evidence for such a crisis exists. In the context of IPCC warnings about glacers melting, runaway warming, etc., this global-average argument serves as deceptive and effective propaganda, but not as science.
Jim continues with this paragraph, emphasis added:
The global record warm year, in the period of near-global instrumental measurements (since the late 1800s), was 2005. Sometimes it is asserted that 1998 was the warmest year. The origin of this confusion is discussed below. There is a high degree of interannual (year‐to‐ year) and decadal variability in both global and hemispheric temperatures. Underlying this variability, however, is a long‐term warming trend that has become strong and persistent over the past three decades. The long‐term trends are more apparent when temperature is averaged over several years. The 60‐month (5‐year) and 132 month (11‐year) running mean temperatures are shown in Figure 2 for the globe and the hemispheres. The 5‐year mean is sufficient to reduce the effect of the El Niño – La Niña cycles of tropical climate. The 11‐ year mean minimizes the effect of solar variability – the brightness of the sun varies by a measurable amount over the sunspot cycle, which is typically of 10‐12 year duration.
As I’ve emphasized in bold, Jim is assuming that there is a strong and persistent warming trend, which he of course attributes to human-caused CO2 emissions. And then that assumption becomes the justification for the 5 and 11-year running averages. Those running averages then give us phantom ’temperatures’ that don’t match actual observations. In particular, if a downard decline is beginning, the running averages will tend to ‘hide the decline’.
It seems we are looking at a classic case of over-attachment to model. What began as a theory has now become an assumption, and actual observations are being dismissed as “confusion” because they don’t agree with the model. The climate models have definitely strayed into the land of imaginary epicycles. The assumption of CO2 causation, plus the preoccupation with an abstract global average, creates a warming illusion that has no connection with reality in either hemisphere, as we see in these two graphs from Jim’s article:
As with the Ptolemaic model, there is a much simpler explantation for our recent era of warming , at least in the Northern Hemisphere: long term patterns are continuing, for whatever reasons, and human-caused CO2 has so far had no noticeable effect. This simpler explanation is based on actual observations, and requires no abstract mathematical epicycles or averages, but it removes CO2 from the center of the climate debate. And just as powerful forces in Galileo’s day wanted the Earth to remain the center of the universe, powerful forces today want CO2 to remain at the center of climate debate, and global warming to be seen as a threat.
What is the real agenda of the politically powerful factions who are promoting global-warming alarmism?
One thing we always need to keep in mind is that the people at the top of the power pyramid in our society have access to the very best scientific information. They control dozens, probably hundreds, of high-level think tanks, able to hire the best minds, and carrying out all kinds of research we don’t hear about. They have access to all the secret military and CIA research, and a great deal of influence over what research is carried out in think tanks, the military, and in universities.
Just because they might be promoting fake science for its propaganda value, that doesn’t mean they believe it themselves. They undoubtedly know that global cooling is the real problem, and the actions they are promoting are completely in line with such an understanding.
Cap-and-trade, for example, won’t reduce carbon emissions. Rather it is a mechanism that allows emissions to continue, while pretending they are declining — by means of a phony market model. You know what a phony market model looks like. It looks like Reagan and Thatcher telling us that lower taxes will lead to higher government revenues due to increased business activity. It looks like globalization, telling us that opening up free markets will “raise all boats” and make us all prosperous. It looks like Wall Street, telling us that mortgage derivatives are a good deal, and we should buy them. And it looks like Wall Street telling us the bailouts will restore the economy, and that the recession is over. In short, it’s a con. It’s a fake theory about what the consequences of a policy will be, when the real consequences are known from the beginning.
Cap-and-trade has nothing to do with climate. It is part of a scheme to micromanage the allocation of global resources, and to maximize profits from the use of those resources. Think about it. Our ‘powerful factions’ decide who gets the initial free cap-and-trade credits. They run the exchange market itself, and can manipulate the market, create derivative products, sell futures, etc. They can cause deflation or inflation of carbon credits, just as they can cause deflation or inflation of currencies. They decide which corporations get advance insider tips, so they can maximize their emissions while minimizing their offset costs. They decide who gets loans to buy offsets, and at what interest rate. They decide what fraction of petroleum will go to the global North and the global South. They have ‘their man’ in the regulation agencies that certify the validity of offset projects. And they make money every which way as they carry out this micromanagement.
In the face of global cooling, this profiteering and micromanagenent of energy resources becomes particularly significant. Just when more energy is needed to heat our homes, we’ll find that the price has gone way up. Oil companies are actually strong supporters of the global-warming bandwagon, which is very ironic, given that they are funding some of the useful contrary research that is going on. Perhaps the oil barrons are counting on the fact that we are suspicious of them, and asssume we will discount the research they are funding, as most people are in fact doing. And the recent onset of global cooling explains all the urgency to implement the carbon-management regime: they need to get it in place before everyone realizes that warming alarmism is a scam.
And then there’s the carbon taxes. Just as with income taxes, you and I will pay our full share for our daily commute and for heating our homes, while the big corporate CO2 emitters will have all kinds of loopholes, and offshore havens, set up for them. Just as Federal Reserve theory hasn’t left us with a prosperous Main Street, despite its promises, so theories of carbon trading and taxation won’t give us a happy transition to a sustainable world.
Instead of building the energy-efficient transport systems we need, for example, they’ll sell us biofuels and electric cars, while most of society’s overall energy will continue to come from fossil fuels, and the economy continues to deteriorate. The North will continue to operate unsustainably, and the South will pay the price in the form of mass die-offs, which are already ticking along at the rate of six million children a year from malnutrition and disease.
While collapse, suffering, and die-offs of ‘marginal’ populations will be unpleasant for us, it will give our ‘powerful factions’ a blank canvas on which to construct their new world order, whatever that might be. And we’ll be desperate to go along with any scheme that looks like it might put food back on our tables and warm up our houses.
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