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The Sheep Albedo Feedback

Filed under: — raypierre @ 1 April 2007 - (Español)

The already-reeling "consensus" supposedly linking climate change to CO2 is about to receive its final coup-de-grace from a remarkable new result announced in a press conference today by Dr. Ewe Noh-Watt of the New Zealand Institute of Veterinary Climatology [1]. Noh-Watt and his co-workers, describing work funded by a generous grant from the Veterinary Climate Science Coalition, declared "We have seen the future of climate — and it is Sheep." Prof. Jean-Belliere Poisson d’Avril, star student of Claude Allegro Molto-Troppo (discoverer of the Tropposphere) reacted with the words, "Parbleu! C’est la meilleure chose depuis les baguettes tranchées!"

The hypothesis begins with the simple observation that most sheep are white, and therefore have a higher albedo than the land on which they typically graze (see figure below). This effect is confirmed by the recent Sheep Radiation Budget Experiment. The next step in the chain of logic is to note that the sheep population of New Zealand has plummeted in recent years. The resulting decrease in albedo leads to an increase in absorbed Solar radiation, thus warming the planet. The Sheep Albedo hypothesis draws some inspiration from the earlier work of Squeak and Diddlesworth [2] on the effect of the ptarmigan population on the energy balance of the Laurentide ice sheet. Noh-Watt hastens to emphasize that the two hypotheses are quite distinct, since the species of ptarmigan involved in the Squeak-Diddlesworth effect is now extinct.

The proof of the pudding is in the data, shown in the Figure below. Here, the Sheep Albedo Index is defined as the New Zealand Sheep population in each year, subtracted from the 2007 population. The index is defined that way because fewer sheep means lower albedo, and thus a positive radiative forcing. It can be seen that the recent warming can be explained entirely by the decline in the New Zealand sheep population, without any need to bring in any mysterious so-called "radiative forcing" from carbon dioxide, which doesn’t affect the sunlight (hardly) anyway — unlike Sheep Albedo. Some researchers have expressed surprise at the large effect from the relatively small radiative forcing attributable to New Zealand Sheep, or indeed to New Zealand as a whole. "This only shows the fallacy of the concept of Radiative Forcing, which is after all only a theory, not a fact," says Noh-Watt. "Evidently there are amplifying feedbacks at work which give the Sheep Albedo Index a disproportionate influence over climate."

"A real breakthrough was using the statistical technique pioneered by Frusen-Glädje and Haagendassen in their study of the solar-climate connection." said Noh-Watt "Just as in their case, to get a good match to the observed climate, we had to optimize our smoothing algorithm by smoothing some parts of the sheep record more than others, and then rescaling the results." The optimized smoothing was applied to the years 1975-1991. Noted skeptic Rasmus Benestad has criticized this technique as meaningless curve-bashing (see footnote [3] below), but according to Noh-Watt, " All these guys are interested in is getting rich by riding their bicycles to work and selling carbon credits to the EU."

Not everybody agrees with the Sheep Albedo Hypothesis. Leading the flock of skeptics is the New Zealand Sheep Farmers Guild. Their spokesman, Steve Ramsturf (no relation) was quoted as saying "Baaah, Humbug. No matter what goes wrong with the world, they’re always trying to blame the poor New Zealand Sheep Farmer. First it was the methane belch tax. Now this Albedo thing. "

The recognition of the role of sheep albedo opens up some fascinating new possibilities for climate change mechanisms. There is in fact an important destabilizing feedback in the system: as climate gets warmer, there is less demand for wool sweaters and wooly underwear. Hence the sheep population tends to drop, leading to even more warming. In an extreme form, this can lead to a "runaway sheep-albedo feedback," which is believed to have led to the present torrid climate of Venus. Most researchers do not think this could happen on Earth, though. In fact, Oprah and Averell Chanteur, authors of the popular "Unstoppable" series (soon to be a major motion picture) say that the warming will usher in a new era of peace and prosperity, with less enslavement of domestic wool-bearing animals. The hypothesis is laid out in their forthcoming book, "Unstoppable Sheep, every five or six days," which expands on earlier popular titles in the series, such as "Unstoppable daylight, every 42 hours," "Unstoppable Summer, every 17 months, " and the ever-popular autobiographical work "Unstoppable nonsense, every two or three years."

However, Dirk Blitzen, noted researcher from Hogwartz Institute of Technology, has proposed an additional wrinkle on the sheep-albedo idea, which he calls the "sheep-Iris effect" (see Dasher et al. [4] for details). According to Blitzen, a reanalysis of Landsat images shows that as the climate gets warmer, sheep tend to huddle together less. Since wool has a lower emissivity than bare ground, the lack of huddling allows more infrared emission to escape from the ground, cooling the planet and stabilizing its climate. "Frankly, I don’t see how the climate can change much at all," stated Blitzen in recent testimony before the House of Lords, "To be honest, at this point I have a little trouble figuring out how there can even be summer and winter. In the end, I think it will turn out to be a problem with the data." Ozark Junior College satellite expert Jhon Chrystal agrees; his new analysis of MSU satellite data in fact casts doubt on the "consensus" that summer and winter have different temperatures.

But the sheep story may not be as simple as it seems. Hendreck Svampmark of the Danish Institute for Solar-Sheep Interactions notes that at the same time the number of sheep has been going down, the number of cows (which have a lower albedo than sheep) has been going up. "We believe that what is really behind it all are Galactic Cowsmic Rays, which are transmuting sheep DNA into cow DNA." Svampmark hypothesizes a currently undetected particle flux, which he calls "Cowsmic," because there is no observed trend in any of the better-known components of the Galactic Cosmic Ray flux. "We are trying to get money to put sheep in dark-matter accelerators to test our hypothesis, but there’s a hold-up with PETA. It’s all a big conspiracy to protect the consensus, I say."

Footnotes:

[1] Noh-Watt, Ewe "Sheep-Albedo Feedback: A paradigm shift for climate change science." To be submitted to Readers’ Digest, "Humor in Uniform" section.

[2] Squeak, P.P. & Diddlesworth, I.R. 1987. The influence of ptarmigan population dynamics on the thermal regime of the Laurentide Ice Sheet : the surface boundary condition. In eds Edwin D. Waddington & Joseph S. Walder, The Physical Basis of Ice Sheet Modelling (Proceedings of a symposium held during the XIX Assembly of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics at Vancouver, August 1987), p.381-384.

[3] Benestad, a well-known spoilsport, points out that without the "optimized" smoothing out of the sheep-albedo-dip in the 1970’s, the correlation breaks down; it breaks down further if one looks at the pre-1966 record. His unprocessed version of the data is shown below:

[4] Dasher ON., Dantzer ON, Prantzer ON, Vixen ON, Comet ON, Cupid ON Donner . , and Blitzen, D.R , (2007) "Why does Rudolf’s nose glow so bright? Infrared effects of mammalian herd behavior." Bull. Tromsø Inst. Reindeer Husbandry


206 Responses to “The Sheep Albedo Feedback”

  1. 51
    Pete says:

    I have to take some moral responsibility for this problem since I’m a glutton for mutton.

    I pledge that for each sheep I eat, I will buy two credits to add to the mutton offset flock.

  2. 52
    Gene Hawkridge says:

    I’m glad to see that serious thinkers can still laugh at themselves. Yes, it is April 1st, isn’t it? And it reminds us all the positive corelations do not always equal cause and effect. Still, if butterflies can cause typhoons (chaos theory), perhaps there is a subtle relationship between sheep numbers and climate…

  3. 53
    Dave Rado says:

    So the Sheep and Ewes Protection Project (SEPP)were right all along, and
    Friends of Sheep (FoS) were on the Ball too, it would seem.

  4. 54
    Justin says:

    But how can this be? We’ve had warming in the past when sheep didn’t exist, haven’t we?

  5. 55
    T Aust says:

    So both the CO2 induced climate change hypothesis and the no sense of humour of climate xhange supporters hypothesis are in the word of the the Myth Busters “busted”

  6. 56
    fragment says:

    The sheep theory relies on paleo-agricultural reconstructions based on proxy data collected from second-hand clothing stores. These are sparse and the correlation between recent warming and jersey numbers is almost certainly a result of the decline in hand-knitting rather than indicative of any connection between climate and woollen garments. When I attempted to replicate the results of the reconstructions, I discovered that they vastly over-estimate the significance of just one item: the so-called Waimate cardigan. Furthermore, the exact stitches of many of the garments are not publicly archived, nor are the sizes of the knitting needles inferred.

  7. 57
    Russ Doty says:

    Ve haf yust lert to grow vool on tuna mit a gene implant and now dis! Does this mean der fish von’t need der vool? Ve ver hoping to develop a species ve could catch mit velcro and do avay mit dem nets so harmful to der dolphin.

  8. 58
    DrYak says:

    I have rock-solid photographic evidence against this hypothesis – http://www.flickr.com/photos/dryak/235270135/in/set-72157594168927782/

    Everyone knows that the apparent decline in NZ sheep population is a statistical artifact based on the decision of the NZ govenment to classify certain genetically engineered sheep as full citizens after the recent tragic events cronicled in the documentary: http://www.blacksheep-themovie.com/

    Ewe have been warned…

  9. 59
    LogicallySpeaking says:

    This is a ludicrous proposal.. research shows that the sheep-albedo index lags behind temperature change.

  10. 60
    Marion Delgado says:

    So to beat so-called global warming all we need are more placid, unthinking sheep reproducing in serious numbers. Exactly what I’ve been saying all along, you Greenie junk scientists!

  11. 61
    danny bee says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXsuXs6kcO0

    I call this climate candle. take a look!

  12. 62
    Richard Ordway says:

    This sheepish theory is blaaaatently false. Everyone knows that there were many more sheep in England during the medieval warming than exist today… and the whole world was at least 10 C warmer then compared to today because of it.

    … And by the way, the reason that there are so few black sheep today, is that the Icelandic and Colorado crocodiles ate them to near-extinction 6000 years ago during a flood.

  13. 63
    Mark A. York says:

    There was no April Fool’s reporting from 60 Minutes reporter Scott Pelly. He did a dynamite piece from Chile and Antarctica with the U. Maine scientist. It was like watching chapters from my novel being filmed.

  14. 64
    Fernando Magyar says:

    An astronomer, a physicist and a mathematician (it is said) were holidaying in Scotland or New Zealand. Glancing from a train window, they observed a black sheep in the middle of a field.

    “How interesting,” observed the astronomer, “all aScottish sheep are black!”

    To which the physicist responded, “No, no! Some Scottish sheep are black!”

    The mathematician gazed heavenward in supplication, and then intoned, “In Scotland there exists at least one field, containing at least one sheep, at least one side of which is black.”

    Poster’s comment: They really should have brought in a statistician to analyze the data and extrapolate the results. Then after much debate they would have arrived at a consensus and published a paper suggesting it might be time to flip the sheep over to reduce the impact of Sheep Induced Global Warming. At least if the SIGW denialists were proven right and this resulted in the begining of a Sheep Induced Ice Age, all that would be needed is for a few mathematicians to be brought in to flip the sheep again shear them and knit woolen sweaters for everyone.

    Cheers!

  15. 65
    Chuck Booth says:

    I accidentally posted this on the IPCC Sea Level Numbers thread. So, I’ll repost it here:

    A bit off topic, but this might be of interest:

    Climatologists Secure Funding To Breed Glaciers In Captivity
    March 30, 2007

    FAIRBANKS, AK. Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration received a $42 million federal grant for a captive-glacier breeding project that will attempt to spawn three to five of the massive, slow-moving bodies of land-carving ice by 2020…

    http://www.theonion.com/content/news_briefs/climatologists_secure

  16. 66
    James says:

    I don’t think you all have realized the full implications of this theory yet. Sheep come in various colors, though for various genetic reasons white is dominant. So we apply a bit of genetic engineering to change the color selection ratios, and presto! We now have full control of climate.

    However, it seems that there may be another factor at work. The researchers were naturally using sheep albedo values that were measured in the lab, using clean white sheep. Sheep in the field readily pick up particulate matter, which results in a significant lowering of their albedo. Pollution control laws enacted in the latter half of the 20th century substantially decreased the amount of airborne particulates, increasing sheep albedo and thus producing the so-called “global cooling” noted in the ’60s &’70s. The recent increase in particulates from Chinese power plants has again reduced average sheep albedo (particularly in Mongolia), causing the warming to resume.

    On the subject of China, further research is definitely needed into how their occupation of Tibet has affected the closely-related yak albedo effect. Humm… Maybe it’s not too late to switch fields so I can get in on all this government grant money…

  17. 67
    Dick Veldkamp says:

    Good article!

    Only I am missing any reference to seasonal influence (sheep shearing resulting in albedo change), which strongly suggests correlation (causation?) with varying CO2 concentration during the year. All the more so since both variations are very small.

    Also you do not disucss why sheep albedo is lagging CO2 concentration by 7-8 days.

  18. 68
    Trinifar says:

    I haven’t had so much fun with climate science, well, ever! Many thanks for the post and the great comments.

    Since I once helped sheer 30 (white) sheep I think I’ve done my part to fight global warming.

  19. 69

    You guys may poo poo the solar rays, but cosmologico-astrologico-zoodaical-zoologico-bovinical forces are definitely at work as this month we are in the constellation Aries

  20. 70

    Ray,

    You have presented an interesting new hypothesis, but I am rather disappointed that no-one seems to have applied to it the scepticism that new ideas normally receive. Perhaps this was due the considerable reputation of its author. However, appeals to authority should not be used to justify scientific theories so I will ignore that aspect just this once.

    As I see it, your hypothesis is that global warming is due to the decline in the sheep population of New Zealand and this is justified by the correlation shown in the unnumbered figure. But correlation does not imply causation. The only time when that is acceptable is in showing that the validity of climate models are correct, where the outgoing long wave spectrum they calculate matches that measured by satellites. It is easy to show that this is justified, because it is an excellent example of where the exception proves the rule. Moreover, it is balanced by the dismissal of the satellite data which contradicts the models by showing less warming at the top of the troposphere than they predict.

    However, IMHO, it is not just your method which is faulty. The science is also wrong. Surely you are aware that global warming is controlled by the temperature of the atmosphere near the tropopause. One of the wonders of the atmospheric system is how this small layer of air at high altitude can communicate through the overturning region of the atmosphere and so directly control the surface temperature. This is achieved through the lucky effect of LTE (local thermodynamic equilibrium.) The amazing fact is that although the boundary layer is never in thermodynamic equilibrium, because of the diurnal solar heating cycle, yet like the rest of the troposphere it too is in local thermodynamic equilibrium. (BTW, I have made some calculations of this effect and LTE will indeed happen in the boundary layer for an instant twice per day, with the same frequency as a stopped watch.)

    There is another point which you seem to have ignored which is that although the albedo of the earth can be changed by the size of the sheep population, that effect will play very little part in global temperature. Most of the albedo of the earth is provided by the clouds and since we cannot model them correctly, then global albedo has to be treated as a constant. It would be wrong to use the change in albedo from sheep when changes in their population might trigger alterations in cloud density. Don’t forget that they graze nearer the clouds than other ruminants, and so will have a greater effect on the clouds.

    On a more serious note, you should realise that albedo is no longer considered an effect that is important. Long ago the global energy balance equation:

    sigma Te^4 = (1 – A) /4

    was proved to yield the wrong value for the surface temperature. It is the effect of greenhouse gases which keep this planet suitable for life. By emphasising the effects of albedo (A in the above equation) you are only bringing attention to an equation that has only survived because the sceptics cannot accept that it is greenhouse gases, and greenhouse gases alone , which drive global warming.

    Finally, on that theme of giving comfort to the enemy who doubt the infallibility of climate science, I am surprised and deeply disappointed that your views have been published. The IPCC have disregarded the possibility of a collapse of the Greenland ice sheet and the consequent rapid sea level rise, which is the only real threat to our prosperous western life style. Far from alerting us to an imminent danger, your idea is obviously a stunt to promote the sales of cardigans and jumpers, by creating sympathy for the poor sheep farmers who are being driven to extinction by AGW. Since you are obviously being funded by the New Zealand Federation of Local Enterprise and Environmental Committees for Education (FLEECE) then your ideas should be treated with the same contempt as those of other professors who are funded by the coal lobby. It is obvious that under cover of trying to keep us warm, your real intention is to fleece us!

  21. 71
    Sarah says:

    Baaaaaaah!

  22. 72
    Juola (Joe) A. Haga says:

    As a daisy recently eaten by a sheep, my response to Hank Roberts’s #31 is muted(–mooted?). Without enlightenment does climate real?

  23. 73

    I actually thought this was a real article at first, though I didn’t have to read down very far before running into clues like the names of the researchers. Boy, did I feel sheepish.

  24. 74
    pete best says:

    Dr. Ewe Noh-Watt – ha ha – classic.

  25. 75
    John L. McCormick says:

    RE # 43

    And while we are on the subject:

    [No doubt a few eyes will water in the US administration, when they learn how to make a U turn on Global Warming.

    How do you make a British sheep do a U turn?

    Flash a pair of Brittany shears.

  26. 76
    Terry Miesle says:

    RE:59 and 67.
    Albedo must not be confused with the seasonal Lanolin Insulative Effect. After shearing, the LIE is reduced, allowing terrestrial heat to escape more rapidly to the atmosphere. Though transient, the LIE is significant.

    I refer you to Dr. Bruce’s work at the Univ. of Woolamaloo.

  27. 77
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Well, at least now we can get some sleep. No need to count ewe-noh-watt anymore…

  28. 78
    Alvia Gaskill says:

    Scientists Debate Use of Animals as Global Warming Fix

    By OVIS ARIES, Unaffiliated Press Writer
    1 hour, 18 minutes ago

    WASHINGTON, DC – A recently issued report on global warming fixes sponsored by NASA , the National Albedo and Sheep Administration was the subject today of a tense and at times bizarre hearing of the Sen. Subcommittee on Reflective Farm Animals.

    The report, which catalogued various schemes for reducing the impact of climate change was ridiculed by ranking member Jim Imhott as a hoax and worthy of a “Golden Fleece Award,” for wasting taxpayer dollars, noting that his conclusions were based on a separate report issued last week by NAS. Imhott later admitted to reporters that the NAS he was referring to was actually the National Association of Shepherds and not the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

    Those testifying included noted livestock modeler Ken Cowdairy of the Carnation Institute who presented the results of computer simulations showing that since sheep are somewhat mobile, their impact on scattering of sunlight will depend on their location at any given time. “You heard it here first,” he said.

    Proposals were also described that involved increasing the size and shape of sheep in order to maximize the amount of reflected sunlight. Several companies already claim to have bioengineered sheep that are almost entirely flat on the top, while others said that sheep the size of small cars are only a few years away.

    Witnesses also claimed to have been seen evidence of military involvement in the projects, stating that the number of clouds resembling sheep have increased in recent years, although senators forced one advocate of the so-called SheepTrail conspiracy theory to admit he also saw clouds resembling dogs, cars and even former Golden Girls star Bea Arthur.

    A leaked document sparked much debate when it was revealed that the Bush Administration had secretly implored the IPCC to consider lifting the ban on wearing white after Labor Day while publicly arguing the contrary.

    Noted climate blog poster Alvia Gaskill said that while some of the solutions proposed are “shear nonsense,” the answer to global warming will “require more gas skill than we have ever marshalled before.”

  29. 79
    J.C.H says:

    Bad ewe jokes.

    Bad mutton jokes.

    Bad shear jokes.

    I think you’re just tossing out a scapegoat here.

    Somebody mentioned the Bush administration, so I’m certain the bad “why sheep are always nervous” jokes are soon to follow.

  30. 80
    Jeff says:

    Shear brilliance ;^ )

  31. 81
    Walt Bennett says:

    Almost as good as Google’s Toilet (T)ISP, which was also unveiled yesterday.

    Good fun, boys, now back to work!

  32. 82
    Dave Frame says:

    Nice study. Myron Ebell and pals ought to love this. Shows that global warming is entirely the fault of the European Union’s protectionist policies: the main thing responsible for the decline of the NZ sheep industry was Britain joining the EEC.

  33. 83
    John L. McCormick says:

    Folks, This is for real.

    The New York Times just reported the US Supreme Court handed down its opinion on EPA regulating CO2;

    see link which includes link to the entire opinion:

    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/business/AP-Scotus-Greenhouse-Gase.html

    The story leads off with the following:

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ordered the federal government on Monday to take a fresh look at regulating carbon dioxide emissions from cars, a rebuke to Bush administration policy on global warming.
    In a 5-4 decision, the court said the Clean Air Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from cars.

  34. 84

    Ray,

    Advocating for sheep as a solution to global warming, only adds further evidence that climate science is fully politicized.

  35. 85
    Zeke Hausfather says:

    Yep, the new supreme court decision is pretty unambiguous in its language. On page five of the decision, we find the real kicker:

    “Under the Act’s clear terms, EPA can avoid promulgating regulations only if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change or if it provides some reasonable explanation as to why it cannot or will not exercise its discretion to determine whether they do. It has refused to do so, offering instead a laundry list of reasons not to regulate, including the existence of voluntary Executive Branch programs providing a response to global warming and impairment of the President’s ability to negotiate with developing nations to reduce emissions. These policy judgments have nothing to do with whether greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change and do not amount to a reasoned justification for declining to form a scientific judgment. Nor can EPA avoid its statutory obligation by noting the uncertainty surrounding various features of climate change and concluding that it would therefore be better not to regulate at this time. If the scientific uncertainty is so profound that it precludes EPA from making a reasoned judgment, it must say so. The statutory question is whether sufficient information exists for it to make an endangerment finding. Instead, EPA rejected the rulemaking petition based on impermissible considerations. Its action was therefore “arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law,” §7607(d)(9). On remand, EPA must ground its reasons for action or inaction in the statute.”

    http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/06pdf/05-1120.pdf

  36. 86
    Janis Mara says:

    I am of course excited about the Supreme Court news, but I cannot rest until I have debunked the horrendous falsehoods perpetuated by Dirk Blitzen and his idiotic so-called “sheep-iris” effect. Clearly, he’s a Wolf in sheep’s clothing. (And unendingly grateful thanks to RealClimate for your inspired April 1 posting. Only a scholarly and thorougly credible blog like yours could have pulled off something this effective.)

    Janis Mara
    http://www.ecotality.com

  37. 87
    Dick Veldkamp says:

    Re: US Supreme Court EPA Ruling #83 (McCormick) #85 (Hausfather)

    Thanks John & Zeke, interesting read.

    Question: does this mean the EPA actually has to do something, or can they now get away with some wishy-washy do-nothing-really regulations, as long as it is OK legally?

  38. 88
    Hugh says:

    Sorry to be sooo OT but it appears that we’re (in England) now producing so much wine we’re risking sanctions under the CAP.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cornwall/6514147.stm

    PS. Camel Valley Brut is pretty special

  39. 89
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re # 84 Roger Pielke
    “Advocating for sheep as a solution to global warming, only adds further evidence that climate science is fully politicized.”

    I don’t know about that – in my state sheep don’t vote.

  40. 90
    Phillip Shaw says:

    RE # 84 & 89,

    I believe what Mr Pielke meant to say was climate science is wooly politicized. Moth ado about nothing, in my opinion.

  41. 91
    PHE says:

    RE 80. I agree, “Shear briliance”. As artilces go on this website, this is one of the more plausible.

  42. 92
    Tom Fiddaman says:

    Amazing – TCS already has the answer:

    Wether as Ewe Like It

    By Mikhail Fermento : BIO| 01 Apr 2007

    Discuss This Story! (0) Email | Print | Bookmark | Save

    Scientists at the Climatic Research Unit at UEA Norwich, collaborating with Monsanto, have genetically built a better sheep. By adding a gene borrowed from chameleons, they have created a wooly bugger of a different color – the new ovines can go from black to white and shades between at will. The novel creatures act like ruminant heat pumps, warming and cooling the earth by altering its albedo. The idea is that large numbers of engineered sheep would be released in climate-challenged areas so they could interbreed with wild ones (hello, Dolly!). Over time more and more of the population would carry the new trait.

    The first sheep will be expensive, but prices are expected to fall as the bioneering public-private partnership rams up breeding. Ski Dubai is exploring an early application of the technology to lower air conditioning costs, though so far researchers are stymied in the quest for golden fleece. Disney representative Shep Woolrus would not comment on rumored plans to conduct a trial at Epcot, creating a New Zealand Pavilion in the World Showcase. NASA spokesman John Merino confirmed that the agency was considering the possibility of monitoring experiments with the Sheep Weather Earth Albedo Tropospheric Energy Radiometer satellite (SWEATER), to be launched in 2017.

    CRU-Monsanto has distributed test sheep to several prominent global warming skeptics, including climatologist Richard Lambzen, who named his Personal Adaptive Quadruped “Iris,” prompting students to nickname her “iPAQ.” Lambzen noted that, “she’s warm in winter, cool in summer, and doesn’t resort to alarmism to win grants.” Tim Balkhi tried a pair and liked the stable microclimate, but had to give it up; “people started calling me ‘Little Bal Peep,’ which led to confusion about my academic credentials, and they’re all I’ve got.” Paparazzi captured prominent writer Michael Crikey consorting with ewes, though CRU-Monsanto Deputy Director Knit Briffa could not recall providing him with samples. “I’d like to have a go at those too,” commented former political columnist Mick Crowley.

  43. 93
    Joseph O'Sullivan says:

    The Supreme Court ruled the EPA has the authority to regulate CO2, this is not an april fools joke.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/02/washington/02cnd-scotus.html?_r=1&hp=&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1175548682-B6dmX05t6/AUN/sWkn4Iyg

  44. 94
    El Niño says:

    I already held Master StoneHumbert in great esteem, but after this essay I cannot speak more highly of him than to declare him the Albus Dumbledore of climatology.

  45. 95
    Eli Rabett says:

    Clouds are the spirit of sheep who have donated their chops and gone to heaven. Clouds have increased because the Chinese are eating more NZ lamb, thus there are less sheep, and albedo is conserved

  46. 96
    Dr. Paul Harris says:

    Oh dear, New Zealand’s (well deserved) reputation as the world centre of flat earth climate change deniers will only be reinforced by this article.

    On a scientific note, please note that one means of reducing the albedo effect is to remove financial subsidies paid to sheep farmers on the basis of the size of the sheep flock each claims to have. This leads to a rapid reduction in sheep numbers (NZ went from having about 60 M sheep in 1983 to perhaps 6 million a decade later), thus mitigating the albedo effect.

  47. 97
    Craig Allen says:

    Actually I think this research hints at but misses the real influence of sheep. It isn’t in temperate New Zealand that sheep are having their greatest influence, but rather is the vast arid and semi-arid landscapes of Australia next door. In addition to the direct sheep albedo effect you get an order or two of magnification caused by the fact that the hard hooves of sheep break up the dark geophyte crust (composed of lichens, fungi and mosses) that carpets the ground in ungrazed arid places. The exposed subsoil is much lighter and therefore has a much higher albedo. Furthermore, without the geophyte crust the fragile arid zone soils are prone to wind erosion, which rapidly strips the top few centimeters that contain the most organic matter. Deeper, lighter, higher albedo soils are then exposed. At the same time, all that nutritious top soil is lifted in dust storms and dumped into the Pacific. In the process some ends up on New Zealand’s glaciers canceling out their sheep albedo effect, but more importantly, the rest ends up in the ocean fertilizing phytoplankton which then sequester more carbon than otherwise. The current (possibly climate change induced) Australian drought is significantly enhancing this effect according to By Harry Butler of the University (see article here).

    The Australian Prime Minister recently agreed that climate change is real and is such a big problem that Australia should not muck around with any namby pamby solutions such as increasing energy efficiency, signing the Kyoto Protocal or supporting green energy technologies. But instead, will solve the problem by going nuclear, putting a few million into checking out the viability of implementing carbon sequestration, and making lots of money out of ramping up coal and uranium exports. In the same selfless spirit, I believe that the Australian nation should massively increase it’s sheep population and abolish national parks, thereby stripping all remaining native vegetation and exporting the remaining top soil to the Pacific. All other carbon emitting nations can thereby pay carbon offsetting fees to the Antipodeans and happily get on with burning their remaining fossil fuel reserves. I note that large numbers of developing nations in Africa, the middle east and Asia are taking the same approach and should be similarly encouraged to re-double their efforts with fiscal incentives ;)

  48. 98
    John Monro says:

    I live in New Zealand and have done for more than twenty years. I am speechless, cross, envious and amazed. Here is this American scientist who has, on a brief visit to this country, with a bright flash of inspiration, seen something which has escaped me and the other 4 million denizens of these islands over generations. Disregarding Dr Paul Harris’s snide observation about this country, I have up to now, seeing the effect of the Bush adminstration on the climate debate, written America off in regard to leadership on this overwhelming moral issue. But this article brings hope, that something so revolutionary can be disovered, described and dealt with in such a short time frame (12 midnight to 12 midday on the Ist April 2007) by one American, publishing this paper under the nom-de-plume of Noh-Watt (anyone can see that’s not a real name) and his colleagues (nationality not stated, I suspect he did this all on his own) that there must be many other such Americans amongst the 300 million citizens of that once great country, who can take up the torch of progress (or is that the shears of incisiveness) in dealing with climate change.

    Thank you so much for your insight, Ray, I will never eat a lamb chop again without thinking of you and your work. (Sorry, I am actually a vegetarian.)

  49. 99

    I know this is a serious article, so I have a silly question. Does anyone know the current forcing per square meter with accepted +/- forcing m2 or the best source for updated estimation? Thanks :)

    PS If you ever travel to Iceland, I recommend the lamb burgers up on the north side of Whale Bay. They are wonderful!

  50. 100
    Terry says:

    I stood in the middle of a flock of a thousand sheep in New Zealand and the heat being given off by the sheep’s bodies was incredible, negating any albedo effect I should think


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