The shock and awe resulting from the massive tsunami that hit Indian Ocean nations Dec. 26 has left many wondering what could have caused such a disaster and if there is anything humans can do to control or mitigate future events.

Some quickly suggested that an increase in the frequency of natural disasters such as the tsunami were a harbinger of what we have in store because of the increase of Earths greenhouse gases resulting from the burning of fossil fuels.
Nothing could be further from the truth, says Daniel Sarewitz, a professor of science and society and director of the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes at ASU.

In an article in The New Republic, Rising Tide The Tsunamis Real Cause, Sarewitz and Roger Pielke Jr., of University of Colorado, Boulder, say that tying the tsunami and other natural disasters to human induced climatic change is both scientifically and morally unsupportable.

“Reducing emissions is important, but it will not reduce vulnerability to disasters, Sarewitz adds.

Sarewitz notes that while the world has seen a sharp increase in natural disasters, from around 100 per year reported in the early 1960s to 500 800 per year by the early 21st century, the cause is not an increase in the frequency or severity of such events, but an increase in human vulnerability caused by where people live and how they live.

“We know how to prepare for disasters, but the world has not made this a high enough priority, Sarewitz says. If disaster preparation received the same political attention as global warming, significant progress could be made.

While more people live in coastal regions, especially in poor and developing countries, and while it is true that sea levels are rising, there is no research that suggests that the Kyoto Protocol or even more ambitious emissions reduction proposals would significantly reduce the impacts of disasters like hurricanes and tsunamis.

“It is absurd to suggest that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an important part of the answer, Sarewitz says.

Yet coastal populations will continue to swell, putting more people in a vulnerable position should another tsunami strike. Sarewitz adds that tools to mitigate the effects of these disasters are at hand.

“Most tools needed to reduce disaster vulnerability already exist, such as risk assessment techniques, better building codes and code enforcement, land-use standards, and emergency preparedness plans, both researchers say. The question is why disaster vulnerability is so low on the list of global development priorities.

For Sarewitz, the answer is clear: Fruitful action on climate change and disaster vulnerability should proceed simultaneously.

“This will not happen until the issues of climate change and disaster vulnerability are clearly separated in the eyes of the media, the public, environmental activists, scientists and policymakers, Sarewitz says.

The United Nations is trying to blame natural disasters on, of all things, people. President Bush, however, is standing in its way.

The U.N. is holding its second-ever “World Conference on Disaster Reduction”  this week in Kobe, Japan. Scheduled for the 10th anniversary of the deadly January 1995 earthquake in Kobe and following in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami, you might think that the conferences focus would be natural disasters.

But the first indication that this isnt necessarily the case comes when you compare the titles of the current and previous U.N. disaster conferences.

The title of the U.N.s first disaster conference, held in 1994, was the World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction, which, incidentally, occurred during the U.N.-proclaimed “International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction” (1990-1999).

Natural disasters, as far as the U.N. is concerned anyway, apparently are no longer natural.

Behind the “1984”-like de-natural-ization of the disaster conference is, of course, the ongoing effort by the U.N. a leading promoter of the unproven notion that humans are significantly altering global climate for the worse to be able to blame people, as opposed to Nature, for deadly and costly occurrences such as hurricanes, floods, droughts, heat waves and the like.

And the particular people that the U.N. would most like to pin the blame for global warming on would be deep-pocket Americans, American businesses and the American government. As the global warming alarmist community likes to point out, the U.S. is the largest single contributor to the alleged global warming, emitting 25 percent of all greenhouse gases while possessing only 4 percent of the worlds population.

Toward the goal of blaming the U.S. for what used to be considered natural disasters in order to eventually extract financial compensation, the U.N. conferences draft action plan is riddled with references to climate change [read, U.S.-made climate change] as causing or contributing to disasters.

The Bush administration rightly opposes the U.N.s effort to de-naturalize disasters and has requested that the documents references to climate change be removed. But U.N. officials oppose such changes.

I hope there will be a global recognition of climate change causing more natural disasters, said Jan Egeland, U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs.

Weather disasters like hurricanes, floods, droughts, heat waves, cold snaps, ice storms always have, and always will plague man. As far as we know, they are entirely natural occurrences. There is absolutely no credible evidence that humans much less Americans in particular have had have any discernible impact on the frequency and severity of dare I say it? natural disasters.

Given the medias new habit of linking virtually any extreme or unusual weather with global warming, some scientists now even feel compelled to go out of their way to reaffirm that global warming isnt causing natural disasters, as in the case of the string of hurricanes that hit south Florida last summer.

The U.N. dramatizes the need for its action plan by claiming that: economic damages resulting from disasters have increased from about 1,500 disasters costing $200 billion during the 1970s to 6,000 disasters costing $700 billion during the 1990s; and the number of people threatened by disasters has increased from about 750 million people in the 1970s to about 2.5 billion people in the 1990s.

I dont know how accurate those estimates may be, but to the extent that natural disasters do wreak more economic havoc and threaten more people now than 30 years ago, that is most likely due to all the upscale development that has spread during that time to coastal regions and other areas more vulnerable to the whims of Mother Nature.

Participating in the U.N. conference is the German insurance company Munich Re, which issued a report Megacities Megarisks: Trends and challenges for insurance and risk management, bemoaning the alleged impacts of global warming and other disasters on insurers.

Munich Re claims, for example, that the urban heat island effect the modern-day phenomenon where cities are warmer than surrounding rural areas due to increased heat trapping by concrete and asphalt amplifies the effect of global warming to increase the number of deaths caused by heatwaves.

Despite any intuitive appeal, this assertion is unfounded since there is no scientific evidence that global warming which involves a hypothesized few-degree rise in global temperatures over the course of a century has anything to do with summer heatwaves which involve sudden dramatic, short-term shifts in local temperature.

Weather, after all, is not climate.

The end-game of the insurance industry, like that of the U.N. , is to be able to blame natural disasters on global warming so that it also can eventually seek compensation for its losses from U.S. businesses and taxpayers.

Insurers, apparently, are more than happy to accept premiums for writing risky policies, but not too happy when Mother Nature and policyholders force them to make good on claims.

Steven Milloy publishes and, is adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and is the author of Junk Science Judo: Self-defense Against Health Scares and Scams (Cato Institute, 2001).

Respond to the Writer


Full document available in pdf format

Dear Ms. Previte: 

On behalf of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a non-profit public policy organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., I am pleased to submit this comment on the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protections (DEP) proposed rule, Reclassification of CO2 as an Air Contaminant (PRN 2004-399).

I. Introduction

DEP proposes to revise its regulatory definitions so that carbon dioxide (CO2) is removed from the category of distillates of air and reclassified as an air contaminant (pp. 3-4). This change in CO2s status is a regulatory prelude to anticipated future regulatory adoption of a Model Rule proposed through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), culminating in a Northeast/Mid-Atlantic regional CO2 cap-and-trade program (p. 5).

 DEP believes that regulating CO2 is in the best interest of human health, welfare, and the environment (p. 5). I respectfully disagree. A carbon cap-and-trade program would make energy scarcer and less affordable, adversely affecting economic output, job creation, and household income. Because wealthier is healthier and richer is safer, cap-and-trade has a high potential to harm public health and welfare. The environmental benefits of a regional trading program, if any, would be so miniscule as to be undetectable.

The proposed rule is a conceptual muddle. Logically, DEP cannot classify CO2 as an air contaminant unless it is prepared to apply the same designation to water vaporthe atmospheres main greenhouse gas. Presumably, DEP has no intention to cap steam from nuclear power plants, or evaporation from public green spaces, but it should be aware of the regulatory folly that its argument implicitly demands.

 More importantly, the proposed rule lacks a credible scientific rationale. There is no solid evidence that CO2 emissions are causing, or are likely to cause, dangerous interference with the global climate system. On the contrary, the balance of evidence suggests that CO2 emissions are greening the planet, enhancing biodiversity and global food availability.

Even if DEPs scientific premises were correct, the RGGI cap-and-trade program would have no discernible effect on global climate change. Thus, any DEP-administered CO2 regulatory program is bound to fail a rudimentary cost-benefit test.

Stratospheric cooling?

by William Yeatman on January 16, 2005

FONT face=”arial, verdana, helvetica” size=2>One of the more interesting “Sky Is Falling” postulations made in recent years has been the claim that the apparently cooling stratosphere is masking observation of anticipated warming in the troposphere. Quaintly, such claimants point to satellite MSU (Microwave Sounding Unit) stratosphere data suggesting such cooling to try to invalidate satellite MSU troposphere data, data which obstinately declines to demonstrate the trend Big Warming requires to maintain the scare and nurture the cash cow.

One of the reasons suggested for stratospheric cooling is that more infrared (re-)radiation from the Earth is being trapped by increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and is thus unavailable to warm the stratosphere (you are required to ignore any thought of saturation to believe this). Another, more plausible explanation would be reduced stratospheric ozone (ozone is a greenhouse gas) from whatever cause and the stratosphere is thus capturing less energy and cooling. Possible reasons for ‘loss’ of ozone are not addressed here but no, we are not staunch supporters of the Montreal Protocol either.

Typically, the cry at is “Show me the data!” and, happily for our band of wandering skeptics, the required data is readily available here. Since most people exhibit signs of distress when faced with tabular data we have provided a representation in graphical format (linked from the thumbnail below). Two startling anomalies are obvious in the data, the stratospheric response to explosive volcanic eruptions of El Chichon in 1982 and Mt. Pinatubo in 1991. Although they are of limited value we know that people will ask, especially as they are not marked on the graph so, entire series trend value: y = -0.0038x + 0.5538 and first split 12/78 – 12/93 trend value: y = -0.0021x + 0.4581. (32588 bytes) We’ve all heard the claims (repeatedly) that the Earth is currently hot and getting hotter. In fact, a quick sort on the GISTEMP near-surface amalgam shows the top 7 global mean temperatures since 1880 have occurred in the period following our Pinatubo shading. Logically then, if “global warming” (enhanced greenhouse) causes stratospheric cooling and 7 of the 11 years in our final trend split are the hottest years, at least since 1880, we expect to see stratospheric temperatures cooling, no? Let’s look at the graph…

… uh-oh – that’s not Big Warming’s desired result is it. What could have gone “wrong?”

Perhaps the near-surface record is now so UHIE-corrupted that the planet wasn’t really that warm? Possible but they won’t go there because that would trample the enhanced greenhouse thing about increased infrared capture in the troposphere denying the stratosphere and causing cooling there (which is masking the warming in the tropospheric record – right?).

Recovery in the stratospheric ozone? Nope, that would upset too many fellow travelers because there’d be no need to continue attacking chlorine/bromine compounds as alleged ODS (Ozone Depleting Substances) – imagine a world where you couldn’t get rid of so useful a compound as methyl bromide – unthinkable!

Hmm… a tough one. Big Warming seems to have [another] problem.

How long, do you suppose, before they come up with the old shell game: stratospheric cooling being masked by tropospheric warming?

No? Why not? Big Warming, the three-M coalition of Misanthropists, Miscreants and Misguided are certainly masters of the art of circular reasoning. The troposphere is really warming, despite what your lying eyes and empirical data tell you, it’s just being masked by the cooling stratosphere – which you could see to be cooling except that cooling is being masked by tropospheric warming. Quod erat demonstrandum. (33037 bytes) More for amusement than anything the two tracks prove here then is the combination showing both the lower troposphere and lower stratosphere along with a few important influences noted.

Presenting data in this fashion does not help Big Warming’s campaign since, absent obvious external factors, one track neither consistently mirrors nor mimics the other – not what we might expect if warming one cools the other.

We might surmise that components of Mt. Pinatubo debris increased ozone destruction, contributing significantly to stratospheric cooling as the atmosphere cleared following that event. It is interesting that there appears to be two step reductions in stratospheric temperature following both the explosive volcanic events that caused initial warming – that would not appear consistent with enhanced greenhouse-induced cooling since increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide has been more or less consistent over the period. We might surmise a lot of things but we find no support for Big Warming’s contention though.

Obviously we’re still having trouble with the “it’d be hotter if it wasn’t cooled” thing.

Arctic warming update

by William Yeatman on January 14, 2005

Once again claims are flying thick and fast regarding dramatic, in fact, unprecedented Arctic warming.

Once again, we look at the available data, now updated to the end of 2004.

Once again, we find the claims to be dead flat wrong. Click on the following thumbnails to view the full size images in a new browser window. (26365 bytes) We begin, as is our want, with the bare annual mean temperature track for the region 64N-90N. We use this particular dataset since the Arctic Circle describes a line of latitude near but south of the north pole marking the northernmost point at which the sun is visible on the northern winter solstice and the southernmost point at which the midnight sun can be seen on the northern summer solstice – roughly the parallel of latitude approximately 6633′ north and we are thus confident of having captured the boundary between the North Temperate and North Frigid zones.

Rather obviously it indicates a sustained warming, followed by a cooling and recovery. (33746 bytes) Of course, some people want (and others need) rather more aggressive highlighting of apparent trends and so we present the same data with shading and trend lines added. This next graphic shows the very same data with split trends and shading to highlight the warming trend 1880 through 1938 (the warmest year in the series). Had the pre-1938 trend continued there would certainly be some Arctic warming to talk about. Just as well we are not staunch advocates of post hoc, ergo propter hoc or we’d be claiming that increasing the rate of atmospheric CO2 increment stops Arctic warming. (32211 bytes) We would be remiss if we did not point out the most significant warming in the series. (36673 bytes) And now, trends 1918-1938 and 1966-2003 compared (yes, we know data is available in the series to include 2004 but the region’s annual mean temperature fell two-thirds of one degree C from the partial series maximum value of 2003). (30718 bytes) Finally, let’s look at the low-high trend values for the warming periods before and after the cooling demonstrated 1938 – 1966.

In other words, we’ll consider three decades of cooling an anomaly in the series and take a longer perspective – how has the Arctic recovery from the Little Ice Age varied over roughly one hundred and twenty years?

The answer is, it hasn’t. The post-LIA recovery seems to be trundling along the same as before, despite an Earth-insignificant setback of a few decades in between. The last 3-4 decades are not the fastest warming period of the series nor the slowest, rather, with the longer-term perspective they appear very ordinary.

So, according to data from the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN), from this file hosted by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), there has been no net Arctic warming since 1938, the Arctic did warm quite abruptly over the two decades prior to that, has subsequently cooled and (nearly) recovered to what it was before being so rudely interrupted.

Beyond all doubt atmospheric carbon dioxide content has increased over the period, mainly from about the time the Arctic shifted to cooling mode for a spell. That trace gas increase has had no apparent effect on the Arctic’s post-LIA warming.

Since the rate of warming is unchanged and the net Arctic temperature has not increased in almost 7 decades it is very difficult to see what all the hysteria is about.

In a recent op-ed published in the Washington Post, science historian Naomi Oreskes, elaborating on her essay for Science magazine, argued that the nation’s leaders were ignoring a unanimous agreement in the scientific literature that man is responsible for global warming and that something must therefore be done about it. Yet an examination of the form the much-touted scientific consensus actually takes reveals that it does not mandate policy choices. Moreover, the charge that people are denying what Orsekes defines as the consensus appears to be a straw man. It is therefore worth asking what the point is of this argument, which is growing increasingly popular.  

What do scientists mean when they talk about the “scientific consensus on climate change”? The answer is helpfully provided by the new web log set up by a variety of climate scientists entitled There, British Antarctic Survey scientist William Connolley defines the consensus in these terms: 

“The main points that most would agree on as ‘the consensus’ are:
1.       The earth is getting warmer (0.6 +/- 0.2 C in the past century; 0.1 C/decade over the last 30 years)
2.       People are causing this
3.       If GHG emissions continue, the warming will continue and indeed accelerate
4.       (This will be a problem and we ought to do something about it)”

 Connolley also includes the following important rider:

“I’ve put those four points in rough order of certainty. The last one is in brackets because whilst many would agree, many others (who agree with 1-3) would not, at least without qualification. It’s probably not a part of the core consensus in the way 1-3 are. Mostof us here on RealClimate are physical scientistswe can talk sensibly about past, present and future changes in climate, but potential impacts on ecosystems or human society are out of our field.”

 This is a useful summary, because it enables us to see where the disagreements lie. Point 1 is generally accepted, although the fact remains that satellite temperature measurements show a smaller warming trend and the reasons for that remain a topic of genuine scientific debate. Nevertheless, there is general agreement that the world warmed slightly over the past century.

 Point 2 is rather imprecisely worded as everyone agrees that temperature changes over the last century have been affected by a variety of human and natural effects, both warming and cooling. The idea that man has not affected the climate in any way has virtually no supporters. Roger Pielke, skepticof the University of Colorado compiled a list where he demonstrates that all the so-called skeptics, including Fred Singer, Pat Michaels and even President Bush, have accepted that there is an anthropogenic influence on climate. The claim that opinion-formers deny this is a classic straw man.

 Yet all scientists agree that there is more than just one form of human influence. As well as greenhouse gases, land-use changes, aerosol concentrations and other “forcings” have a role to play. At the time of the last IPCC report, we knew a lot only about the role of greenhouse gases (see figure 9 here), but we have invested a lot of time, money and energy into finding out more about the other forcings. They have enabled scientists to declare that such factors as land-use changes and black carbon (soot) concentrations may account for large portions of the recent warming. Moreover, we now know more about natural forcings such as the oceanic phenomenon known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation which some researchers think may account for half of the recent warming trend. This is an area of genuine ongoing scientific discovery.

 Point 3 is more contentious, as it relies on theories that assume that there is a so-called “positive feedback mechanism” in the atmosphere that will accelerate any warming trend. This is where the so-called skeptical scientists part company with the consensus. MIT Professor of Meteorology Richard Lindzen, for instance, is well-known for having advanced a credible, peer-reviewed theory that the Earth has an infrared “iris effect” that will produce negative feedbacks. Recent NASA research indicates that feedback mechanisms are not as pronounced as climate models suggest. This is again an area of ongoing scientific discovery, yet the genuine disagreement here would not have shown up as dissent in Oreskes’ research as she actually defines the consensus as “that Earth’s climate is heating up and human activities are part of the reason” — in other words, she defines the consensus as points 1 and 2 of Connolley’s definition, which, as we have seen, are not really in question.

 Yet the reason for Orsekes’ principal complaintthat we are not doing anything about global warmingcan only stem from point 4, which as Connolley says does not really form part of the core consensus and in fact lies in many aspects outside the realm of science. Indeed, one of the commentators on Connolley’s post points out that there may well be a fifth, economic component to the consensus, “that global warming may be badbut it is NOT as bad as what it would take to prevent it.” Connolley accepted this as perfectly valid, and it is backed by economic analysis exercises such as the Copenhagen Consensus which found currently proposed mitigation measures like Kyoto to be poor investments of the world’s resources.

Orsekes has therefore cheerfully elided a genuine consensus on points 1 and 2 of Connolly’s definition into an assertion that this mandates policy action. It can do no such thing. Science only alerts us to possible problems and potential solutions; it is the job of economics, within the political process, to determine whether action should be taken and if so, which of the potential solutions science has identified should be chosen (and even then, we may choose not to adopt the whole solution).

 So if Oreskes’ work is based on a false premise, as it seems to be, does it have any other worth? It may be said that it is useful that she has demonstrated a consensus exists. This is made problematic by the fact that Orsekes has since admitted that she looked at only about 1,000 scientific abstracts out of 11,000 relevant articles (and the question of whether analyzing abstracts gives a true reflection of the nuances of the full article remains open).

Yet even if we take her result at face value, it is really only to be expected. We have known since Thomas Kuhn’s masterpiece, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, that at any one time in any science there exists a consensusthe paradigm, as Kuhn termed it. That one should exist even in a relatively new discipline such as climatology is unsurprising. In the end, Oreskes is presenting a truism as evidence against a straw man. That’s no way for scientific debate to advance.

MSU1278-1204.gif (27250 bytes) As determined by NOAA Satellite-mounted MSUs

Information from Global Hydrology and Climate Center, University of Alabama – Huntsville, USA
The data from which the graph is derived can be downloaded here

Global Mean Temperature Variance From Average, Lower Troposphere, December 2004: +0.102 C
(Northern Hemisphere: +0.146 C , Southern Hemisphere: +0.010 C )
Peak recorded: +0.746 C April 1998. Current change relative to peak recorded: -0.644 C

GISS1204.gif (31974 bytes) GISTEMP Anomaly November 2004 +0.58 C .
The data from which the graph is derived can be downloaded here

Peak recorded: +0.97 C February 1998. Current change relative to peak recorded: -0.39 C

Best estimate for absolute global mean for 1951-1980 is 14 C (57.2 F)
Estimated absolute global mean November 2004 14.58 C (58.24 F)

Discrepancy between GHCC MSU & GISTEMP November 2004: 0.569 C

Copyright 2004-2005 – All Rights Reserved.

This article, including graphics, may be reprinted in full or in part with attribution.

Tsunami of the absurd

by William Yeatman on January 9, 2005

Patrick J. Michaels is senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute and author of Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media.

Last Monday, the Voice of America broadcast a story linking tsunamis and global warming. Naomi Oreskes, an associate professor of History at the University of California, said the tsunami that slammed the Asian and African coastlines underscores the need to take action on global warming.

The argument runs, many people live in the path of potential tsunamis. If global warming were to lift the sea level, coastal peoples would be more vulnerable to massive future inundations.

This was environmental demagoguery at its most vile. Riding your issue on the backs of 130,000 dead people goes beyond the pale, even for the global warming crowd.

Mathematics is obviously not Ms. Oreskes’ strong suit, and she’d be a failure as a fact checker. There is plenty of quantitative data on sea-level rise and historical tsunamis and it all paints her argument in a bad light.

Start with the Topex-Poseidon satellite, designed to precisely measure sea levels worldwide. According to a 2001 paper published in Science by Cecile Cabanes, sea levels in the northeastern Indian Ocean — where the tsunami was most devastating — are going down, not up.

The record that she relied upon was very short, beginning in 1993, so Cabanes related temperatures measured by submarines to the satellite-sensed sea levels, and was able to calculate global changes back to 1955. That entire record does yield a sea-level rise for the same region. It’s about half as long as your index finger: 1.75 inches.

Current estimates for the maximum onshore height of the recent tsunami are in the range of 40 feet, but don’t be surprised if they go higher, as scientific crews have yet to measure the most devastated regions.

That sea-level elevation increment caused by global warming is 1/274th of that caused by the tsunami.

Krakatoa island, a volcano in the same region, disappeared beneath the ocean on August 26, 1883. Indonesia took the brunt of the tsunami. According to Simon Winchester’s book, Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, the wave reached between 110 and 120 feet in elevation. The additional increment of inundation that would have been caused by sea-level rise, if Krakatoa blew today, would be 1/788th of the total.

The global warming crowd argues that it is future changes in sea level that we should be concerned about. But the best estimate for the future rate of global warming is that it will be very close to the rate already established. That translates to an increment of about four inches in the next 50 years.

After then, who knows? Our technologies are likely to be very different 100 years from now — much more efficient — and there’s no guarantee that they will even burn fossil fuels that release greenhouse gases.

One has to assume that respectable academics who talk about tsunamis know these numbers, and the nugatory nature of global warming compared to seismic inundations. So, why argue the sky is falling?

In fact, such behavior is predictable. The way we now fund science, issues compete with each other for the monopoly largess of our one research provider, the U.S. government. In order to twist Uncle Sam’s ear, the problems — global warming, AIDS, chemical threats — are cast in the starkest possible terms.

No one ever got large amounts of money out of Washington by saying that his issue might not be a problem. But the level of distortion this time, where a few inches are judged to be an important addition to 40 or 100 feet, has become a tsunami of the absurd.


Last week’s column cited quotes from the British branches of two environmental groups, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, blaming the Indian Ocean tsunami on global warming.   I pulled these quotes from interviews group spokesmen gave to the British newspaper, The Independent.

Both groups have disputed the quotes. In a letter to the Independent, a version that was also sent to, Stephen Tindale, executive director of Greenpeace UK, and Tony Juniper, executive director of Friends of the Earth in London, wrote:

“Sir: On 23 December before the earthquake and tsunami we were asked by The Independent to comment on the dramatic increase in insurance claims resulting from hurricanes, droughts, floods and other early impacts of climate change. Our quotes appeared in an article on 27 December, as part of your coverage of the tsunami. For the record, we would like to make absolutely clear that earthquakes are not a result of climate change and we have never sought to make any link.”

However, it still seems that environmentalists are seeking to exploit the tragedy.

For example, a similar quote from the Indonesian spokesperson for Friends of the Earth has not been disputed. And let’s not forget that Greenpeace is not exactly innocent of trying to link tsunami-like disasters with global warming in the minds of the general public. All you need do is visit Greenpeace’s own Web site promoting the global-warming disaster movie “The Day After Tomorrow,” which features a photo of a giant wave hitting an urban area with the doctored caption, “The Day is Today: What Will You Do?”

Global temperature trend since Nov. 16, 1978: +0.08 C per decade

December temperatures (preliminary):

Global composite temp.: +0.10 C (about 0.18 degrees Fahrenheit) above 20-year average for December.

Northern Hemisphere: +0.08 C (about 0.14 degrees Fahrenheit) above 20-year average for December.

Southern Hemisphere: +0.13 C (about 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit) above 20-year average for December.

November temperatures (revised):

Global Composite:    +0.15 C above 20-year average

Northern Hemisphere:    +0.29 C above 20-year average

Southern Hemisphere:    +0.01 C above 20-year average

(All temperature variations are based on a 20-year average (1979-1998) for the month reported.)

Notes on data released Jan. 6, 2005:

2004 was the ninth warmest year of the past 26, with a global average annual temperature that was 0.108 C (0.19 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the 20-year baseline average, according to Dr. John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Color maps of local temperature anomalies from both 2004 and for December may soon be available on-line at:

The processed temperature data is available on-line at:

As part of an ongoing joint project between UAH and NOAA, Christy and Dr. Roy Spencer, an ESSC principal research scientist, use data gathered by microwave sounding units on NOAA satellites to get accurate temperature readings for almost all regions of the Earth.

This includes remote desert, ocean and rain forest areas for which reliable climate data are not otherwise available.

The satellite-based instruments measure the temperature of the atmosphere from the surface up to an altitude of about eight kilometers above sea level. Once the monthly temperature cdata is collected  and processed, it is placed in a “public” computer file for immediate access by atmospheric scientists in the U.S. and abroad.

Neither Spencer nor Christy receives any research support or funding from oil, coal or industrial companies or organizations, or from any private or special interest groups. All of their climate research funding comes from state and federal grants or contracts.