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  • Jul 14, 2014
  • Updated: 5:39am
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 December, 2012, 3:16am

Whatever happened to global warming for the past 16 years?

BIO

Howard Winn has been with the South China Morning Post for two and half years after previous stints as business editor and deputy editor of The Standard, and business editor of Asia Times. His writing has also been published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. He writes the Lai See column which focuses on the lighter side of business.
 

One of the "inconvenient truths" that is not getting much attention at the UN climate conference in Doha is that for the past 16 years there has been no discernible increase in global temperature. Data from Britain's Met Office Hadley Centre shows that global warming has fallen well short of the predictions in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in 1990 that the world would warm at a rate equivalent to 0.3 degrees Celsius or more than 0.6 degrees Celsius by now. It will be recalled that at the time this report was greeted with near hysteria. However, the reality has been that since 2000 the measured increase was 0.14 degrees Celsius and just 0.3 degrees Celsius in the 22 years since 1990, which is about half what the "consensus" had predicted. A consequence of this, you might think, is to question the models on which these forecasts were made. However, the response of the "consensus" has been that the new data confirms there has been "a pause" in global warming. Climate change and man's contribution have sharply divided the scientific community and despite the voluminous reports from IPCC, the science remains inconclusive as to the extent to which this is caused by man-made activities. If this hiatus in global warming continues for five more years or so, this could prove embarrassing for policymakers who have been setting aside billions of dollars to combat this pause in global warming.

 

Silver Base tarnishing

We see that the stock price of Hong Kong-listed Silver Base continues to languish. The company distributes high-end baijiu - white liquor - on the mainland. Its share price has fallen from HK$3.37 at the beginning of November to HK$2.35 yesterday, a decline of 30 per cent. During this period, the "plasticiser" scandal erupted with high levels of the chemical found in various baijiu brands. But while initially alarming, nobody has knowingly fallen ill from drinking this stuff. People are not sure this scandal is the reason for Silver Base's decline. The more likely reason is the crackdown on corruption, on the cutting back on official entertainment, gift giving and so on, and as a consequence, a decline in baijiu consumption. How long this situation will last is anyone's guess, but the Silver Base share price may prove a useful indicator as to when "normal" practices resume.

 

Combating emperor psychology

The prevalence of raunchy videos on the internet on the mainland featuring corrupt party officials and their mistresses together with the incoming administration has given a new urgency to tackling official corruption. But how? Li Chengyan, a professor at Peking University's Research Centre for Government Integrity, has an idea: involve the mistresses, reports the website Foreign Policy. Li is studying the role of kept women as whistle-blowers, intentionally or otherwise, the website reports in a piece entitled the "Mistress-Industrial complex". "The phenomenon of mistresses is so common in Chinese history, but the scale today is really unprecedented," Li says, adding that about 80 or 90 per cent of them have mistresses. He sees a link between China's modern concubine culture and its runaway graft: the "emperor psychology" of the unrestrained. "When officials have absolute power, they become bold, ignore the law and social norms and do everything they like," he asserts. This ultimately hurts the party: "It's misleading to think that keeping a mistress is not a big problem - that it won't affect the official's main work, records and achievements. Temptation brings temptation." Li's idea is to investigate corrupt officials through their mistresses since they have direct knowledge of the officials' behaviour.

 

Insane banking

Pity the poor German man who was committed to a high-security psychiatric hospital after being accused of fabricating a story of money-laundering activities at a major bank. Gustl Mollath was admitted to the secure unit of a psychiatric hospital seven years ago after court experts diagnosed him with paranoid personality disorder following his claims that staff at the Hypo Vereinsbank - including his wife, then an assets consultant at the bank - had been illegally smuggling large sums of money into Switzerland, the Guardian reports. But his case is to be reviewed following recent evidence that the bank was indeed engaged in wrongdoing.

 

Contact Us Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? E-mail them to howard.winn@scmp.com

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dave.leaton
Howard, a couple of things. First, to claim that there has been "no discernable increase in global temperature," you have to A) use the whole surface, B) use the whole climate system, and C) include energy being used to melt global ice mass. HadCRU does not cover the poles, where the warming is strongest. The surface and lower troposphere represent all of about 4-5% of the thermal capacity of the climate system. The oceans represent about 92-3%. Ocean heat content is, in fact, rising significantly, and it has been doing so over the period of the Hadley "hiatus" period (see Levitus et al. 2012). Global ice mass loss actually accelerated during the "hiatus" period (see the World Glacier Monitoring Service, any number of Arctic monitoring organizations, and the recent Shepherd et al. 2012 on the Antarctic).
We should also take a closer look at the claim. The claim is 16 years of insignificant warming. This is actually the same claim as the tired old "It hasn't warmed since 1998" meme. Both claims have the same problem: they start during the massive 1998 (really early 1997 through 1998) El Nino, an event that caused a huge transfer of energy from oceans to atmosphere and spiked global temps. Yes, if you measure from the top of a mountain, you can't expect the ground to slope up. Even so, temp has been slightly warming from that starting point. In other words, the ground has, in fact, sloped up from the top of the mountain.
 
 
 
 
 

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