Monday, February 15, 2010

Paul Sheehan, the hell's kitchen heat sink effect, and commentariat blather the likely cause of ocean acidification ...

(Above: a graph showing New York alarmingly red in the day and quite calm at night. Could this be another clue to the urban heat sink effect? Or just a silly chart that proves absolutely nothing at all except the migratory work pattern of rats?)

(Above: by way of contrast, a thermal image of Sydney which conclusively proves Sydney gets hot and humid in the summer because of the urban heat sink effect, which in turn is causing global warming, if it were happening, except of course it isn't ...)

It's impossible to approach Mondays with anything but a heavy heart.

Monday is Paul Sheehan day, and dealing with a standard dose his grumpiness must be like a schoolteacher approaching school day equipped with a My Schools data chart, or perhaps a nurse doing ward duty armed with Chairman Rudd's magic funding wand.

Because you see the poor possum got baked last Friday, and that's too much for any curmudgeonly possum to bear, as he explains in piteous tones in Life's a bitumen nightmare as cities get hotter than hell.

Now if you were the average climate change sceptic or denialist, you might have come to understand that the recent snow apocalypse in America was cogent proof that the planet is cooling. Never mind the climate, feel the weather.

Clearly you don't live in Sydney, as the suffering Sheehan does, where the debilitating oppressive heat can fry a possum's brain:

We cooked on Friday. In between the deluges. Walking to the office across the breezeway at Darling Harbour - except there was no breeze - I overheard a young women say to her friend, ''It's supposed to be 29 but it feels like 40.'' She was right, the forecast was wrong. It hit 38 degrees in the Sydney CBD. Even that figure is misleading. On the streets it was worse - oppressive, debilitating.

Well actually the Bureau of Meterology shows that the mercury peaked at 37.8, but no doubt as part of their ongoing conspiracy to cook the figures, they relied on Sydney Airport to cheat us out of that vital .2 of a degree. Or Observatory Hill, where the greenery induces tranquility and lower temperatures. Yes, when you want to argue about micro climates, let's get right down to the nit picking micro. How many nits would you like before you call it macro?

Because you see the city is an oven and eastern suburbs types are baking like so many gingerbread men:

That is why, contrary to the weather reports we see each day, it is not the outer suburbs, furthest from the moderating coolness of the sea, that are the hottest, it is the areas with the highest concentrations of roads, traffic and high-rise towers. Their stored heat leads to more air-conditioning at night, and so the heat-sink cycle goes.

Yes indeed and the peaks for Friday clearly show the truth of this keen insight:

Penrith peaked at 37.1, Bankstown at 37.1, Parramatta 37.6, Richmond 37.5 and Liverpool 38.0

Hang on. What's that Liverpool figure doing in there? Damn you, damn you all to hell you Bureau of Meteorology figure stackers, trying to ruin a perfectly good thesis.

And here was I thinking that weather wasn't quite the same thing as climate. So little I knew:

One year ago, the City of Sydney council, keenly aware we are cooking ourselves in our cities, commissioned a thermal-image map of the CBD. The mapping flight took place in the early morning of February 6 last year. The maximum temperature that day was 29 degrees and the minimum 22 degrees. The thermal map, however, showed something else.

The streets, glowing red in the image taken, recorded a maximum temperature of 33 degrees. The bitumen surrounded by concrete were fully 4 degrees hotter than the maximum temperature recorded at Observatory Hill that day. The most conspicuous red zone on the map was the huge rectangle of concrete at the Hungry Mile, west of the Harbour Bridge. (The Hungry Mile is officially known as Barangaroo, a ridiculous name for a major new precinct.)

Oh dear that sounds terribly alarming, and such a silly name for a major new precinct. For the life of me I can't work out why they didn't call it Woolloomooloo west. Or perhaps Goonoo Goonoo south. Sensible names.

But moving right along, back to that Hell's Kitchen pressure cooker known as Sydney where the micro climate surely makes us swelter like glazed pigs with apples in our mouths:

What is proposed for the Hungry Mile/Barangaroo? A new forest of office towers with barely a fig leaf of trees. What is proposed for the expansion of Sydney? More density, more tower clusters, more hot spots built along major transport arteries.

Why lordy soon enough we'll end up like New York City and I understand the last inhabitants of that once proud city have now abandoned the town as a result of pressure cooker over-heating (except when over-snowing is involved), and the eight million plus souls are now being spread around the rural areas of Arkansas. So that's the final outcome for a city double the size of Sydney, despite their fake central park as the supposed lungs of the city!

Indeed it's a world wide phenomenon, and I understand Melbourne, where the rail lines buckle in the heat, is preparing an extensive summer evacuation campaign, whereby people can camp on the Murray, and Adelaide is preparing to set up all the functions of government in Mount Gambier, because of the heat produced by the the brown grass and soil heat sink in the extensive park system established by Wakefield.

Modern culture is built around creating urban heat sinks, yet governments obsess less about this real-world, everyday problem than the more abstract problem of carbon pollution. Fixing the first problem would help ameliorate the second.

Oh yes, because you see, there's a real world, in which urban heating is real, and then there's an abstract world where carbon pollution and global warming is simply unreal. But if you do things in the real world, it might help things in the abstract bizarro other unreal world. For the feeble greenies and global warming hysterics who care about such abstract nonsense.

I keed, I keed. Ain't it grand to think that Paul Sheehan is a wonderful environmentalist and greenie, with his heart in the right place so that old curmudgeons will no longer have to experience the heat and humidity of Sydney on a summer's day in February. Not only will he fix up the Dubai ambitions of Barangaroo, such a funny name, he'll fix up the entire city, and make it so green Bob Brown will move up from Tasmania:

... are there any grand plans for turning the web of our major city's blacktops into pale-surfaced roads? No. Any master plan for increasing the vegetation on footpaths and common areas? No. Any plans for retrofitting the kerb guttering and stormwater system so more water can soak into roadside green areas? No.

All this is fantasy stuff for our engineers and planning departments. Instead, we build desalination plants, install more air-conditioners, and cram in more office and apartment towers, while the Rudd government runs a gangbusters immigration program, with an extra 300,000 people a year coming through legal immigration and backdoor immigration via the student visa program - the plan they chose not to tell voters about before the last election.

Sydney will absorb more of this than anywhere else. The heat sinks in Sydney and Melbourne will just get hotter. Multiply this by thousands, and you have a defining global trend.

Oh yes, just try Shanghai or Hong Kong or Beijing or Kuala Lumpur or Singapore in the summer, and you'll get a defining global trend.

But what are we to make of all this? Well you see this urban heat island effect is what's really causing global warming, except of course there is no human induced global warming, but if there was, it would be the cities to blame, not carbon. And the migrants of course. Let's not forget the migrants. It's all their fault:

So the impact of climate warming caused by the urban heat sink effect is real for the majority of the world's population. Beyond that, the story becomes more complex. In December, 2007, professors Ross McKitrick and Patrick Michaels argued in a paper (published in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres) that half the global warming trend recorded from 1980 to 2002 could be attributed to the urban heat island effect.

But what are we then to make of the remarks of James Hansen, as noted by a reader, back on Lateline last year in Climate scientist discusses Copenhagen summit?

TONY JONES: Okay, can you tell us how the Goddard Institute takes and adjusts these global temperatures because sceptics claim that urban heat centres make a huge difference; that they distort global temperatures and they make it appear hotter that it really is.

So do you adjust, in your figures, for the urban heat zone effects?

JAMES HANSEN: We get data from three different sources and we now, in order to avoid criticisms from contrarians, we no longer make an adjustment. Even if we see there are eight stations in Alaska and seven of them have temperatures in the minus 30s and one of them says plus 35, which pretty obvious what happens, someone didn't put the minus sign there, we just, we don't correct that.

Instead we send an email or letter or a letter to the organisation that produces the data and say, you'd better check the Alaska temperatures, because we don't want to be blamed for changing anything. But as far as adjusting for urban effects, we have a very simple procedure.

We exclude urban locations, use rural locations to establish a trend, and that does eliminate - though urban stations do have more warming than the rural stations, and so we eliminate that effect simply by eliminating those stations, but it's very clear that the warming that we see is not urban, it's largest in Siberia, and in the Arctic and the Antarctic, and there aren't any cities there, and there's warming over the oceans, there are no cities there. So it's not urban warming, that's just nonsense.

Just nonsense? Well not if you're Paul Sheehan, expert global warming denialist. Surely having established that cities are the cause of the problem, and a little tree planting and white roads and green roofs will fix what ails the world, it's time for a little global warming bashing. Not to mention the migrants. Never forget the migrants, after all, it's all their fault for coming here:

More provocatively, McKitrick commented that the most widely published graph showing a dramatic global temperature rise was ''an exaggeration'', adding, ''I have also found that the UN agency promoting the global temperature graph has made false claims about the quality of their data.''

This was a direct affront to the UN's scientific consensus, which argues urban areas had made little impact on global warming trends. Some of the bedrock research for this position was done by Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

Ah yes, Phil Jones. Well I know the name doesn't sound quite the same as James Hansen, but you must understand that when you want a baddie, one baddie will do to undermine a scientific consensus or considered opinion.

It's the scientific way. Hiss boo, Phil Jones:

One of his papers was published in Nature in 1990, co-authored by Wei-Chyung Wang, who studied data from Chinese weather stations. Their paper concluded that urban heat caused a negligible effect on rising recorded temperatures. After Jones became a figure of controversy, he was asked for the location of the weather stations used in the study. Only after intense pressure were details released, but the locations of the rural weather stations were not included. When Wang was asked about the omissions he said he could no longer find the records.

Last October, McKitrick wrote in the National Post: ''I have been probing the arguments for global warming for well over a decade. In collaboration with a lot of excellent co-authors I have consistently found that when the layers get peeled back, what lies at the core is either flawed, misleading or simply non-existent. The surface temperature data is a contaminated mess.''

So there you have it, a lay down misere. Urban heating is the cause of it all. Now all we have to do is roll out a few trees, and keep migrants out of the bigger cities, and all will be well. Yes, those bloody migrants. Never forget those heat sink swelling migrants. Off back of Bourke with the lot of yah:

Last Thursday the University of East Anglia announced an ''independent external reappraisal'' of the research produced by the Climatic Research Unit. Jones, already suspended, will remain stood down during the inquiry.

So should the argument that the world's urban population exploding from 900 million to 3.4 billion in little more than 50 years has had a negligible impact on the earth's temperature and the world's weather stations. That, too, is due for a reappraisal.

You see, the impact on earth's temperature is all due to urban growth. Stop it and we won't go blind.

What a relief to know that - if the planet was warming, except of course, it isn't - we'd have an explanation for the warming, except we don't need one, to explain what's happening, except it isn't, so we don't, so how about just a rant which starts off with that quaint folk observation 'bah gum, 'twere hot today', quickly moves on to troublesome migrants, and then blathers on about the world's weather stations. Why if you could conflate that in an inflationary way the amount of hot air per cubic litre ...

Yep, it seems as if the temperatures in the centres of cities are going up on a daily basis, and so as a result are temperatures around the world, except somehow strangely they aren't, or so Lord Monckton tells me ... but if world were to be heating, what a grand explanation it would be.

One clever dick reader tried to impugn Sheehan:

As usual, a dog's breakfast lacking logic or substantiation to push the global warming denial barrow. Yes, heat sinks arising from poor urban development is a problem. But that fact doesn't detract from the broader issue of global warming. The irony is that the mindset behind this article is the same mindset that gives rise to development creating urban heat sinks.

Another clever dick marvelled at the deep science behind Sheehan's thinking, all precipitated by a hot humid day:

Whats amazing is how the heat sink effect is slowly turning the ocean into carbonic acid.......

Well you'll always get clever dick experts who rabbit on about carbonic acid and carbon and such like (here) when confronted by real deep science, but if that ironist had only paused for a moment he would have been able to produce a very simple formula:

CO2(dissolved) + H2O ⇌ H2CO3

where the CO2 dissolved is the amount of blather around office water coolers in Sydney offices following a Paul Sheehan column, plus the amount of hot air and water vapour emitted by Paul Sheehan in his column, which results in a gigantic amount of tree destruction to produce hard copies of Paul Sheehan's hot air, which in turn results in an increase in carbonic acid in the world's oceans!

You see, that's how to conflate in an inflationary hot air balloon way. Is loon pond the only genuine source of exemplary science in the land?

And now after that quod erat demonstrandum, the simple solution to fixing up the Hell's Kitchen oven heat sink effect and thereby fix up global warming? Stop Paul Sheehan's emissions ...

So much better than doing a Pol Pot and sending city folk out into the countryside.

Argue with this gut wrenchingly real and deep scientific thinking if you can ...

But how could you? Because global warming isn't happening, except it is, except it isn't, except it is ...

Repeat ad nauseam, until you feel the need of a couple of aspros, a cup of tea and a good lie down.

'Ere, it ain't half hot mum. Bah goom that it ain't ...

(Below: a convincing graph showing how the sulphurous emissions of commentariat columnists has led to changes in ocean pH balance. It's interesting to note that the changes in ocean pH balance have corresponded with the rise of cities, and the associated "read all about it" increase in hot air blather in tabloids and broadsheets right up to the nineteen nineties, long before the intertubes began to generate further rich sources of hot air).


  1. What's worse is the SMH inflicted a double dose of Sheehan on us this morning - bagging the Education Revolution and the Government's stimulus package. Just extraordinary they are using such a partisan hack and doubling the dose.

    They seem determined to drive their core readership away.

  2. Ah yes, I see School billions miss their target in rush to spend Rudd stimulus money. When they could have been making the inner streets of Sydney safe for Paul Sheehan during a hot summer!

    As good an argument for not buying the tree killer version of the SMH as you could find.

    A double dose of Sheehan is too much, like eating a gallon of vanilla icecream in a sitting ...


Comments older than two days are moderated and there will be a delay in publishing them.