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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."


[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. 101
    Michael L says:

    # Re 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. Comment by Chuck Booth â�� 2 Apr 2007 @ 2:49 pm

    Pielke is absolutely right: Here in the U.S., sheep vote as provoked by Fox’s News.

  2. 102
    Eli Rabett says:

    #97, Australia has opted for the white rabbit solution. They will breed them. Every Australian will be taught in school how to pull a white rabbit out of their hats when it gets too hot.

  3. 103
    Serinde says:

    Re 101: Rather like turkeys voting for Christmas. By the way, it might be profitable to broaden this debate to take account of, alas only anecdotally, the increasing number of white turkeys being produced, particularly in former sheep-rearing areas, such as East Anglia, in England. Once wool exporting counties (especially during the MWP), farmers now have started to turn their attention from sheep to turkeys, especially the white varieties, rather than the previously-common Bronze. While this might only be due to market pressure, it could be an indication of northern-hemisphere global turkey forcing.

  4. 104
    Richard Ordway says:

    Well, seriously, where I work, some of us are, and have been, scared sh_ _ less for our children’s future and our society’s future by the long-term evidence and knowlege of past rapid and violent changes …and we laugh and joke like crazy…like this… just to be able to keep on doing it. Some of us fear the worst…but hope for the best. Laughter is a coping mechanism.

  5. 105

    [[Does anyone know the current forcing per square meter with accepted +/- forcing m2 or the best source for updated estimation? ]]

    I believe the forcing for doubling CO2 is about 3.7 watts per square meter, and I’m not sure on what the error bars on that are. For historical forcings, the IPCC has a table on its website for the third TAR, and I’m sure RealClimate must have reprinted it somewhere.

  6. 106
    Mark says:

    Lets not get ram-bunctious folks. The extra CH4 those wooly ruminants will be spewing into the atmosphere will surely offset any benefits from increased albedo.

  7. 107

    Thank you Barton the +/- was because I saw a few charts with a +/- .1 variable. I will find the charts. I was looking at the chart Dr. Hansen used in his report in February and saw did not know if the chart was up to date. if it is 3.7, then that tells a different story.

  8. 108
    Aaron Lewis says:

    Re # 97
    It is not the sheep in the Southern Hemisphere that are the problem, it is the sheep right here in the USA. If we did our homework, and waved it in front of Bush, he would know that, he either had to lead or be trampled by the flock. The problem is: not enough people are doing their homework and waving it in his face.

    We will have done our work, when sites like this get as many hits as the pop culture websites.

    PS. It was sheep (actually too many sheep) that caused much of the desertification across North Africa and the Middle East. Note that in this case, sheep ate (all) the grass, which lowered the albedo & lowered the ambient moisture resulting in desert and HIGHER temperatures. Thus, many white sheep acturally raise the local temperature. And, too many cattle can do the same.

  9. 109

    Re #108 Aaron, do you have any proof that it was over-grazing that created the Sahara?

    Cheers, Alastair.

  10. 110

    I realize this may be an inappropriate point because I’m not a veterinary climatologist, so please forgive my lack of knowledge on the subject. The extent of my understanding of lamb is limited to icelandic lamb-burgers and the occasional run in with mint jelly.

    My mother used to sing to me this song: “Lambs eat oats, and doe’s eat oats, and little lambs eat ivy, a kid’l eat ivy too, wouldn’t you, wouldn’t you…

    I always thought that when she said kid, it meant human children, but in retrospect it may mean goats?

    So… in context to the conversation of the day, I am wondering if when she sang “wouldn’t you”, might she have meant “wouldn’t ewe”? Any further scientific perspective on this argument would be at the least interesting.

    Back to that other silly question. If 3.7 is a doubling, does that mean we are currently at 1.85% positive forcing in W/m2? I found a picture on the IPCC site that shows positive and negative forcing elements but it was not labeled with numbers.

    I tried to add all the numbers together from: (Halocarbons N2O CH4 Co2) +2.4, Stratospheric ozone -0.2, Tropospheric ozone +0.3, Sulphate -0.4, Black Carbon from fossil fuel burning +0.2, Organic carbon from fossil fuel burning -0.1, Biomass burning -0.2, Aviation contrails +0.1, Cirrus?, Land use (albedo only) -0.2, Solar +0.2

    Mineral dust?, Aerosol indirect effect? [I’m not sure how to add these in.]

    If anyone knows a good source link for some raw numbers that are solid, that would be very appreciated. The more current the better. I’m just trying to get a clear picture of where we are in perspective to where we’ve been.

  11. 111
    Tom Servo says:

    Richard Ordway wrote: “Some of us fear the worst…but hope for the best. Laughter is a coping mechanism.”

    “Your levity is good. It relieves tension. And the fear of death.”
    Terminator 3

  12. 112
    Mathis says:

    I argue that recent warming is rather related to the decline in bold headed men since the beginning of the metrosexual era in the 90s. Even though we do not fully understand the mechanisms behind it. E.g.: Richard& Malcom et al. mention a decline in dandruff related to it.

  13. 113
    Craig Allen says:

    Re #109 Alistair check out Climate Change: Environment and Civilization in the Middle East (Issar & Zohar, 2004). You can read snapshots from it at this site. Unfortunately it’s a pricey book, so hopefully you can find it at your nearest academic library. You can buy it at Springer if you are feeling rich. (Yeah OK, I know that the Sahara isn’t in the Middle East, but I’m sure that its very relevant.)

  14. 114
    Aaron Lewis says:

    Re # 109
    I did NOT say that over grazing created the Sahara. I said that overgrazing contributed to desertification. In the 1960â??s,a United Nations program did series of studies that pointed to overgrazing as a cause of desertification of the Sahel area between the Sahara and Nigeria. Then, six-mile square areas were fenced off and protected. While the areas were protected, the areas inside were grassland and the areas outside the fenced area were desert. This mitigates statements, that the Sahel was the victim of climate change. It was the victim of climate change; it was also the victim of a grazing commons and greed that led to too many cattle. Photographs of the areas from the air were very dramatic. Grass inside the fence, sand outside the fence. The UN money for such protection ran out in 1969 and the herders knocked the fences down within months. Now the only green left from that program is the green bound reports in the back of the UN Document Reading rooms.

    The literature on desertification by overgrazing is extensive and should be required reading for any climate modeler. The first hit by Google is: then you have, Remember when you read topics such as that over grazing will reduce the humidity of an area and thereby reduce the rainfall, creating a feedback loop towards desertification.

  15. 115
    Philip Machanick says:

    This effect must of course be traded off against any increase in ovine flatulence, a well-known contributor to greenhouse gases.

  16. 116
    Chuck Booth says:

    While a bit off topic, this seems the appropriate place to discuss the humorous side of climate science…such as today’s (April 3) Mallard Fillmore cartoon (
    For those of you not familiar with this cartoon strip, suffice to say it leans to the right, politically. Several recent Mallard Fillmore cartoon strips have dealt with global warming, with cartoonist Tinsley adopting the skeptical view toward AGW. I’ll him credit, though – in today’s cartoon he cites his sources for his “news,” one of which is a Feb. 28 National Geographic News story about Russian space scientist Habibullo Abdussamatov, who claims “the [NASA Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions] Mars data is evidence that the current global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun.”

    I find it interesting is that if you go to the National Geographic News homepage ( and click on the heading “Environment News”, you’ll find at least half a dozen mainstream science news stories on global warming from the past couple of months – I guess cartoonist Tinsley couldn’t see the humor in those stories?

    The other source cited in the cartoon is the report from the Danish National Space Center about a “new theory of climate change.” ( which the RealClimate crew reviewed March 9:

    What I find esp. interesting about these “news” stories is how they are played up at the the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works website:

    If you check out this site, note that the article runs under the banner “Inhofe EPW Press Blog.” Note also the blog entry from March 16: 03/16/07: “Scientific Smackdown: “Skeptics Voted The Clear Winners Against Global Warming Believers in Heated NYC Debate.”

  17. 117
    James says:

    Re #110: [My mother used to sing to me this song: “Lambs eat oats, and doe’s eat oats…]

    (Sigh) I do believe you’ve misquoted your mother. It’s mares that eat oats, not lambs. Or if you prefer the classic spelling, it’s “Mairsie doats, and dozy doats…”

  18. 118

    I profess being deeply shocked at McDonald’s assertion that one of RC’s sainted proprietors is an agent of FLEECE– were it true,by now we would have seen a Channel 4 special on how modelers obsessed with the optical depth of fleecy clouds conspire to exclude discussion of the Lamb effect from the IPCC process. While awaiting Alastair’s recantation, perhaps you can sell a couple of cardigans to the folks appearing in

    They need to explore fashion alternatives

  19. 119

    That’s what I love about science sites, people know what they are talking about. Mom sang me that song till I was around 5-6. I hadn’t even thought about it again till reading these posts, funny how the brain works sometimes :)

  20. 120

    Re 113 & 114 where Craig and Aaron reply to my request for proof of a man/sheep made Sahara.


    That seems a very interesting book. However, the author seems to be saying that climate created history, and not that history created the climate, i.e. the spread of pastoralism resulted in a vast desert in the North of Africa. I, unlike others, accept that man can and is changing the climate through the emission of greenhouse gases and through land use changes. It has even been postulated that man made emissions of greenhouse gases has extended the current Holocene interglacial. That I am willing to accept, but I would like to know of any historical and archaeological evidence that land use changes in the past have altered the climate.


    Over grazing happens when the population of the grazers is too great for the land. In nature this will seldom occur, because with less food the grazers will die and the vegetation can recover. Man is quite capable of arranging situations where overgrazing does happen, but then the pastoralists will move away or die out. It is only in modern society, where the tribes no longer have access to other lands because they are owned by farmers or other nations, that moving is ruled out. Moreover, strenuous efforts are made by the Red Cross and Bob Geldorf to keep the tribesmen and their children alive.

    However, these conditions did not exist in the past. So the tribes should have died out and the land recovered. It seems more likely that abrupt climate changes related to solar activity, impacts, and volcanic eruptions. Those, not mankind, were the real culprits.

    OTOH, we do know that the Dustbowl was the result of ploughing up the soils of the Mid West, and with the same cry of “the rain follows the plough”, the Australian farmers also dried out their soils. Could it be that with the initiation of the Iron Age, the farmers were then armed with iron ploughshares and so dried out their soils too. Was that was the cause of the pre-Hellenic Dark Age?

    Cheers, Alastair.

  21. 121
    P. Lewis says:

    Re #117 and #119, and anyone else interested: Mairzy doats

  22. 122
    Alvia Gaskill says:

    Bush Administration Still Seeking to Create Its Own Version of Sheep

    Climate and Ocean Scientists Put Under New Speech Restraints
    Any Scientific Statements “of Official Interest” Must be Pre-Approved
    By: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)
    Published: Apr 3, 2007 at 08:10

    Federal climate, weather and marine scientists will be subject to new restrictions as to what they can say to the media or in public, according to agency documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Under rules posted last week, these federal scientists must obtain agency pre-approval to speak or write, whether on or off-duty, concerning any scientific topic deemed “of official interest.”

    On March 29, 2007, the Commerce Department posted a new administrative order governing “Public Communications.” This new order covers the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which includes the National Weather Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service. Commerce’s new order will become effective in 45 days and would repeal a more liberal “open science” policy adopted by NOAA on February 14, 2006.

    Although couched in rhetoric about the need for “broad and open dissemination of research results [and] open exchange of scientific ideas,” the new order forbids agency scientists from communicating any relevant information, even if prepared and delivered on their own time as private citizens, which has not been approved by the official chain-of-command:

    * Any “fundamental research communication” must “before the communication occurs” be submitted to and approved by the designated “head of the operating unit.” While the directive states that approval may not be withheld “based on policy, budget, or management implications of the research,” it does not define these terms and limits any appeal to within Commerce;
    * National Weather Service employees are allowed only “as part of their routine responsibilities to communicate information about the weather to the public”; and
    * Scientists must give the Commerce Department at least two weeks “advance notice” of any written, oral or audiovisual presentation prepared on their own time if it “is a matter of official interest to the Department because it relates to Department programs, policies or operations.”

    “This ridiculous gag order ignores the First Amendment and disrespects the world-renowned professionals who work within Commerce agencies,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Under this policy, National Weather Service scientists can only give out name, rank, serial number and the temperature.”

    The agency rejected a more open policy adopted last year by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The new policy also was rushed to print despite an ongoing Commerce Office of Inspector General review of communication policies that was undertaken at congressional request.

    While claiming to provide clarity, the new Commerce order gives conflicting directives, on one hand telling scientists that if unsure whether a conclusion has been officially approved “then the researcher must make clear that he or she is representing his or her individual conclusion.” Yet, another part of the order states non-official communications “may not take place or be prepared during working hours.” This conflict means that every scientist who answers an unexpected question at a conference puts his or her career at risk by giving an honest answer.

  23. 123
    James says:

    Re #120: [Man is quite capable of arranging situations where overgrazing does happen, but then the pastoralists will move away or die out.]

    Yes, leaving desert behind them, because the vegetation does not recover – at least not with anything like the same speed that it took to degrade in the first place. Arid grasslands are self-sustaining: the deep-rooted sod holds moisture in the soil. Destroy that by overgrazing or plowing, and it does not easily regenerate. So what you get is just what we see in the Sahara: an ever-expanding desert surrounded by a ring of grazing lands.

  24. 124
    John Mruzik says:

    Off topic, sorry, but I would like some help with my brother, a PhD (I’m an MD) who is a global warming deiner. I have a couple of e-mails from him that are laughable but have not the means to adequately refute him. Any way to help without quiting work and researching full time….

  25. 125
    Aaron Lewis says:

    RE # 120
    More likely, there were several causes including a transition to the collection of taxes in olive oil, which resulted extensive planting of olive trees. Olive trees have deep taproots and deplete subsurface moisture and do little to prevent soil erosion. These olives replaced the fibrous rooted fruit trees and vines that had protected the hillsides from erosion. The olive groves were then over grazed, resulting in massive erosion.

    This political change resulting in a cultural change seems to have been more of a problem than any particular change in agricultural technology. One factor in the political change was an increasing population that was increasingly urban, and that wanted goods for trade rather than just food and goods for subsistence.

    If the hillsides are barren, and do not absorb the rain, then the hydrology of the fertile valley below is changed. With less useable water, food production in the valley drops. Thus, planting olives reduced food production miles away. Of course, it took 50 years after the olives were planted for the effects to be seen on the wheat production in the valleys below. By then, the soil from the olive groves had been washed away, and they could not go back to growing figs, grapes, and apples on the hillsides.

  26. 126
    J.C.H says:

    I thought the Sahara was created by a change in the tilt of the earth.

  27. 127
    Janis Mara says:

    I am an American and would like to respond to Aaron Lewis’ post. Mr. Lewis, a fellow American, says we must all do our homework and wave it in President Bush’s face. But what if we are not students? Ah ha HA, Mr. Lewis, got you there!

  28. 128
    CobblyWorlds says:

    “At the beginning of the simulation, Daisyworld is so cold that only a few black sheep, and almost no white sheep, can survive. Whenever the planet’s temperature decreases, the black sheep tend to predominate, they absorb a little heat from the sun, which causes the planet’s temperature to rise, allowing a greater proliferation of black sheep, more absorption of heat, and so on. As the planet becomes hotter white sheep begin to breed as well, and eventually the planet reaches a point of temperature equilibrium . Any increase in temperature is combated by a greater proportion of white sheep; any decrease leads to more black sheep. ”

    Obviously Lovelock & Watson had to call the sheep something and there were too many to name individually. So they opted to call all of them “Daisy”. This choice has lead to the details of their study being inadvertently misrepresented ever since. Not a lot of people know that.

  29. 129
    David B. Benson says:

    Re #124: John Mruzik — In a side bar there is a link to the AIP history of climatology. Also there is a link to the A Few Things Ill Considered site, which directly refutes the usual denialist’s arguments.

    Your brother will profit by reading both…

  30. 130
    Ray Ladbury says:

    John Mruzik, do you realize that you are apologizing for going off topic from an April Fools post? You know, you can take politeness too far. ;-) Here’s a good history:

    And a blog entry–think of it as an on-line support group manual:
    Best of luck to you. What does your bro have his PhD in? If it’s engineering, I’d say you’re screwed.

  31. 131
    Hank Roberts says:

    > thought the Sahara was created by a change in the tilt of the earth …

    I haven’t looked for followups, you may want to dig a bit and see what’s been said later.

  32. 132
    Figen Mekik says:

    Speaking of childhood songs, here’s one my nephews sang for a long time and I had to correct the major climate fallacy in it!

    I am cow, hear me moo
    I weigh twice as much as you
    And I look good on the barbecue
    Yogurt, curd, cream cheese and butter
    Come from liquids in my udder
    I am cow, I am cow, hear me moo (moo)

    I am cow, eating grass
    Methane gas comes out my ____
    And out my muzzle when I belch
    Oh, the ozone layer gets thinner
    With the outcome of my dinner
    I am cow, I am cow, Ive got gas

  33. 133
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    #122 — who do those gov scientists work for, Bush or us?? Who pays their salaries, Bush or us?? I think we need to fire Ewe-Noh-Hoo in middle-management.

  34. 134
    J.C.H says:

    Speaking of cows, the French have Charolais while we’re sportin’ more and more Black Angus.

    We’re just so out of step.

  35. 135
    Mark Hadfield 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.”

    Driving into work just now listening to NZ’s National Radio I heard an advertisement for an upcoming program. “Global Warming bla bla we’re all going to fry bla bla” said the announcer, “but those who disagree with the consensus are seldom heard from.” I almost drove off the road laughing! My humour was abated by the soothing voice of Augie Auer. It’s a pity he’s so seldom heard from. When was the last time he was in the news? Oh yes, this Tuesday.

    It’s another glorious morning in Wellington by the way and the view from the top of the Melrose hills towards Baring Head is really quite beautiful. Not a single sheep in sight.

  36. 136
    James says:

    Re #126: [I thought the Sahara was created by a change in the tilt of the earth…]

    Certainly there can be many factors at work in the creation of large-scale deserts. Orbital changes may play a part, but the effects of humans and agriculture are very real. An orbital shift 4000 years ago may have started turning the Sahara to desert, but 2000 years later North Africa was still the breadbasket of the Roman Empire.

    You can also see the human-caused desertification process at work elsewhere, not least in the western US. I and my neighbors even have a microcosmic version. One neighbor keeps 3 horses on an acre: their pasture is eaten to bare dirt. Another neighbor used to until a few years ago, then left their pasture alone: it grows thistles, tumbleweeds, and cheatgrass. Mine was much the same when I bought it, but each year I have planted some with native grasses and other dryland plants. It takes 3-4 years of supplemental watering to get an area established, after which it can survive on the 8-10 inches or so of natural rainfall we get.

  37. 137
    Alvia Gaskill says:

    132: “Oh, the Arctic ice gets thinner”

    133: The reason the Commerce Dept. can get away, at least temporarily, with this stunt is that both NOAA and NWS are part of Commerce and NWS reports to NOAA. Any complaints from their leadership can be dealt with by Commerce Secy Gutierrez, whereas a complaint from Michael Griffin, the NASA Administrator would put him in direct conflict with the White House. Suffice to say the White House don’t need no more conflicts right now. I hope readers saw the difference between the NASA and Commerce “policies,” the primary difference being that the NASA policy appears to have been written by Griffin and the new Commerce one by a bunch of lawyers. The earlier NOAA policy seems to mirror the one from NASA.

    Note: I could not find the “NASA policy” on their website. This is as detailed as it gets. Nevertheless, since James Hansen continues to appear freely and without an entourage of minders, I must assume that NASA has not implemented a crackdown on free speech.

    Various: Creation of deserts. Large deserts like the Sahara can begin for a variety of reasons, but once they reach a critical size, they tend to control their own destiny. Thus, the outcome of the argument that goes do droughts create deserts or do deserts create droughts depends on how big the desert.

    The warming of Mars that seems to be in progress may also be explained by a surface albedo effect, according to a recent study. Winds blowing lighter colored surface matter away expose darker surface matter that absorbs more solar radiation. The increased IR raises the temperature of the Martian atmosphere and contributes to shrinkage of the ice caps.

    Of course, it could also be due to the collapse of the Martian sheep industry.

  38. 138
    Paul M says:

    Are the people who run this website on vacation? There is so much going on right now with the climate and all that has been on here is this April fools joke. It was funny, but now it is bordering on unprofessional. I do appreciate this site, and my thirst for more climate updates has gotten me antsy.

  39. 139

    It’s time to put a stop to this Climate Wars nonsense. Send in the Merinos!

  40. 140
    Figen Mekik says:

    Re #137; I like “Oh the Arctic ice gets thinner”. Thanks!! My students like to sing and occasionally harmonize this song!

  41. 141

    ‘SecDef, retarget the nukes at New Zealand, Wales and Yorkshire.’

    ‘It was a joke, Mr President.’

  42. 142
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    #137, “since James Hansen continues to appear freely and without an entourage of minders, I must assume that NASA has not implemented a crackdown on free speech.”

    I wouldn’t assume that. Hansen is a senior scientist, well-known, closer to retirement. I doubt they can do much against him without there being a scandal. However, I imagine there may be junior scientists afraid of losing their jobs. I imagine there’s a real chilling effect throughout the government, even in agencies that don’t have such drastic rules. Of course, we’ll never know if people are afraid to speak out and remain silent.

    I had a distant relative who worked for the EPA under Reagan. She started out in grad school as a strong environmentalist, but understood how to advance her career in the agency and shifted to an anti-environmental stance (some lower persons in the agency who didn’t sell their soul to the devoil, commented about how she had sold-out to advance, begging to remain anonymous).

  43. 143
    John Mruzik says:

    Thanks for the links, I appreciate you all,
    her is the text of my brother’s maddness…….

    All the evidence points to net benefits from warming. and catastrophe for mankind is irrational over the top political rhetoric

    without foundation..

    And the point is NOT that the left wing looks stupid if they are wrong but rather that we waste resources and halt needful

    reform and that does real harm..

    Andrew tells me there are space alien conspiracies that pose a danger to mankind. You tell me global warming is caused

    by human activity.. Your arguments are the same.. MANY people believe it. What if it really is true, you say. The

    consequences are too horrible to ignore RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.. ALL WITHOUT ANY REASONABLE EVIDENCE or REASON.

    Let me give you the SECOND point to look up. For nearly 30 YEARS, the poor old earth had a measurable, consistent,

    and widely reported net COOLING from 1940-1970+ while we had the LARGEST increase in CO2 to that point.. The vast

    left wing whacko conspiracy nuts claimed they should be elected because ONLY they recognized the onset of a new ice age

    and ONLY they could be trusted to reverse the trend by the power of their intrinsic goodness..

    No model predicted this or even now can accurately reproduce the effects. look up Navier Stokes simulations and

    CHAOS theory.because it is unlikely we will ever be able to calculate it. please read the National Academy of Science

    book I sent you. It is a good layman’s summary of model inadequacies..

    Hope all is well.



    P.S. As for the first point that more CO2 doesn’t reflect more heat but reflects it from a lower altitude. large part of

    the reason is because the effect is logarithmetic. For radiation to be absorbed, it has to make the molecule jiggle

    in some way. CO2 has a narrow band of frequencies at which it jiggles (rotates, twists, shakes, rattles, and rolls).

    These frequencies are all quantized but so dense that they can be approximated as a continuum. (similar to the

    ultraviolet-catastrophe resolution by Max Planck on black-body radiation). IN ANY EVENT, before humankind

    changed 1 air molecule in 10,000 to CO2 over the last 200 years, CO2 was ALREADY absorbing nearly 100 percent

    [that’s everything for the general public] of all possible heat loss.. Have you looked this inconvenient fact

    up yet and are ready to discuss the science? Or should we all vote on it? And by the way, this wouldn’t

    be the first time I have observed MASS HYSTERIA fostered by politicos on a weak-minded and scientifically-illiterate


    Time to get some sleep.. Best Wishes.

    —–Original Message—–
    From: []
    Sent: Friday, March 30, 2007 4:52 PM
    To: Dr. Michael R. Mruzik
    Subject: Re: Feel sorry for the public but also feel a growing contempt for stupidity…

    I guess I feel sorry for you. Since the great majority of scientist accept the fact that humans are responsible for global warming. Maybe there is some vast left-wing conspiracy to alter the peer reviewed science………… Well, we are wrong, we look stupid, if you are wrong it means catastrophe for mankind.

    —– Original Message —–

    From: Dr. Michael R. Mruzik


    Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2007 9:25 AM

    Subject: Feel sorry for the public but also feel a growing contempt for stupidity…

    It is discouraging to see otherwise educated people, who are entirely ignorant of science,

    spouting nonsense like we have global warming or WORSE, humanity is to blame. What this

    means is that they have no judgment.. So anything they say or think on other subjects is highly

    suspect as well and can be safely discounted. there is no other reasonable alternative

    Do they also believe that SPACE ALIENS fathered Anna Nicole’s baby. I wouldn’t doubt they

    believe it. what other amusing nonsense are you into these days?

    I, on the other hand, actually look at the scientific data and not the opinion polls which

    most are too busy/otherwise occupied to be concerned with.. Not on everything but on

    warming/Navier Stokes/climate models/physical processes in atmosphere like water nucleation

    (my PhD Thesis)..

    Spin/misrepresentation/selective filtering of data/flights of fancy in “op-ed” pieces is NOT

    science. believe it or not. nor are they much good for anything except if you simply

    memorize the most outrageous far-out-man opinion to shock (and unfortunately amuse) people

    at parties..

    P.S. Why don’t we lead a crusade to get the constant pi set to 3.0 instead of some ridiculous

    approximation most people can’t memorize?

  44. 144
    John Mruzik says:

    His email is

  45. 145
    woodentop says:

    Agreed #138 – this is a tired thread. Surely there’s science to be discussed. Otherwise people will think this whole AGW thing is an April Fool joke about sheep(seriously!).

  46. 146
    Margie says:

    That was a wonderful Poisson d’Avril.

  47. 147
    Craig Allen says:

    Re 144 & 145: John; ask questions, make comments, tell jokes, but for pities sake don’t paste in huge long verbatim email exchanges. Use this website as a resource and put together your own replies to your brother. Even the inane sheep jokes are more interesting than your sibling rivalry.

  48. 148

    [[For nearly 30 YEARS, the poor old earth had a measurable, consistent, and widely reported net COOLING from 1940-1970+ while we had the LARGEST increase in CO2 to that point..]]

    Right, because there were few controls on pollution, and aerosols reflected away sunlight and blocked it from reaching the ground. This was the era of mass pollution deaths at Donora PA and London. When pollution controls came in in the ’70s (remember Earth Day?) aerosols were reduced and the warming effect of CO2 took over. It is strong enough now that warming still dominates, even though India and China are producing record levels of aerosol pollution.

    [[The vast left wing whacko conspiracy nuts claimed they should be elected because ONLY they recognized the onset of a new ice age and ONLY they could be trusted to reverse the trend by the power of their intrinsic goodness..]]

    No. No one of that era ran for office on that platform. This claim is simply made up.

    [[No model predicted this or even now can accurately reproduce the effects. look up Navier Stokes simulations and CHAOS theory.because it is unlikely we will ever IN ANY EVENT]]

    The models are becoming more and more accurate with time. They can already set up based on half of detailed climate history and accurately reproduce the second half. They correctly predicted troposphere warming, stratosphere cooling, and polar amplification. As scientific computer models go, modern atmosphere-ocean coupled general circulation models (AOGCMs) are among the best ever written.

    [[changed 1 air molecule in 10,000 to CO2 over the last 200 years, CO2 was ALREADY absorbing nearly 100 percent
    [that’s everything for the general public] of all possible heat loss.. Have you looked this inconvenient fact]]

    Absorption doesn’t just take place at the center of a band, but in the wings as well, and when the band center is saturated, there is still absorption in the wings. That’s why the radiative forcing is still proportional to the logarithm of the concentration. It’s not flat. What’s more, a lot of absorption takes place high in the atmosphere where the pressure broadening is much less and the bands are not saturated. Radiation from the ground isn’t all that matters, radiation from each level has to be totalled up.

  49. 149
    phil says:

    Here is a great article about how cattle emissions contribute more to greenhouse gases than transportation worldwide!!:
    Cattle Emit More Greenhouse Gases Than Transportation

    [Response:This wasn’t true when you first posted it – and it remains untrue now. – gavin]

  50. 150
    Hank Roberts says:


    Looks like a contamination problem may affect this approach:

    Monitoring poisons in the environment — a woolly matter

    Heavy metals are present in variable amounts in the natural environment in the UK. Dr Jennifer Sneddon (Liverpool John Moores University) will present the results of a pilot study assessing the use of upland sheep wool as a bio-monitoring device for natural levels of heavy metals ….

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