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LifeStyle 74 News From the Papers

Flight cancellations

Swiss grounds A220 fleet for engine checks

SwissInfo - October 15, 2019 6:03 PM

Swiss International Air Lines has grounded its fleet of 29 Airbus A220 jets to make engine checks, after one encountered technical problems on a flight from London to Geneva on Tuesday. The plane was redirected to Paris.

All A220 aircraft will undergo a comprehensive inspection, reported Swiss public television, RTS, quoting Swiss.

“Only after a faultless inspection will the aircraft return to regular flight operations,” Swiss said. This would lead to a noticeable reduction in Swiss flight operations, as numerous flights would have to be cancelled, it added.  All are short to medium haul flights.

According to the Swiss website, by precaution, 67 flights were cancelled to and from Switzerland, on Tuesday, (26 for Geneva, and 41 for Zurich).

At last count, 30 flights to and from Switzerland are grounded for today Wednesday (9 for Geneva, and 21 for Zurich).

Swiss said it was contacting affected passengers, who would be rebooked on the best possible alternative at the airline’s expense. In addition, passengers’ tickets for a cancelled flight could be rebooked or refunded free of charge.

“Swiss takes these incidents very seriously and is in close contact with the responsible authorities, Airbus Canada and the engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney,” it continued.

“The safety of our customers and crews is our top priority. We will do everything in our power to return our [A220] fleet to normal flight operations as quickly as possible and to continue to ensure safe flight operations.”

Pratt & Whitney said on Tuesday it had recommended additional checks on engines powering Airbus A220 and some Embraer E2 passenger jets after recent engine incidents. It added it is working in coordination with the regulatory authorities, have recommended additional inspections of the low-pressure compressor for PW1500G and PW1900G engines to keep the fleet operational,” a spokesman said.

“The engines continue to meet all criteria for ongoing airworthiness.”

Eight technical problems with A220s were reported within one year, according to RTS.

The 29 aircraft come from the Canadian company Bombardier, which has sold its medium-range jets to Airbus, which is why the C series of planes is also called A220.


French Prime Minister says resurgence of Islamic State is inevitable due to Turkish offensive

By RFI Issued on 15-10-2019

The resurgence of the Islamic State armed group is inevitable said French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, while speaking at the National Assembly on Tuesday. He added the Turkish offensive against the Kurds in northern Syria had been “reinforced” and “permitted” by the unilateral withdrawal of American forces.

During questions at the assembly on the consequences of Turkey’s offensive, Philippe went on to say that the week-long ‘Operation Spring Peace’ is “devastating for our collective security, with the inevitable resurgence of Daech [Islamic State] in North-East Syria and likely in North-West Iraq.”

In an effort to gain some protection against Turkish forces, the Kurdish army has now struck a deal with Damascus.

Despite that reinforcement, Turkey said it would pursue its Syria offensive, and called the latest move a “dirty deal” between Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and Kurdish forces.

France to Iraq and US to Turkey

In response to that deal, France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves le Drian told parliament on Tuesday that he would head to Iraq to discuss “security” of the prisons in northern Syria, as more IS fighters continue to escape from Kurdish-run prisons.

Meanwhile, US Vice-President Mike Pence announced he would be going to Ankara to press Turkey for a ceasefire, though he did not give any details on the timing of his trip.

Growing concern

The fear is that thousands more IS fighters may escape, as Turkey escalates its military operation.

Kurdish forces say around 12,000 IS fighters, including 2,500 to 3,000 foreigners are being held in prisons, while an additional 12,000 foreigners, children and women are detained in camps for displaced persons.

US President Donald Trump has tweeted that the Kurds may be deliberately releasing IS extremists in an attempt to bring back American forces to Syria.

A scenario Erdogan has also suggested.

Anti-IS coalition

The Kurds have warned on numerous occasions that once Turkey launched its offensive, they would not be able to continue operating the camps for much longer.

The once successful coalition made up primarily of American and French forces, working alongside the Syrian Democratic Force and their Kurdish militias, was able to take back swaths of land in Syria and Iraq once held by IS.

But since the departure of American forces, Turkey has decided to forego its role in the coalition, and target the Kurdish militias that it believes are working directly with the outlawed Kurdish groups in Turkey.

French women "rejoin IS" after fleeing displacement camps in northern Syria

By RFI Issued on 15-10-2019

At least three French women who were being held in a Syrian Kurdish-run camp for families of jihadists, claim they have rejoined the Islamic State armed group, according to messages they sent their lawyers on Tuesday.

Several French women who had travelled to Syria to join Islamic State when the jihadist group was growing in numbers, were captured once main elements of the armed group were defeated.

The women and children had been separated from the fighters and placed in a camp for displaced persons in northeast Syria.

But since Turkey’s week-long incursion into northern Syria to target Kurdish forces, many of the Kurdish-run prisons housing families of jihadists have been abandoned, giving those inside a chance to escape as they did over the weekend.

The Kurdish administration in northern Syria says Turkish bombardments near the camp in the northern town of Ain Issa gave 785 relatives of IS members a chance to be rescued by Islamic State fighters.

In one message sent to a relative, as confirmed by AFP, one of the women said they had been “retrieved” by IS.

One of her relatives told the families’ lawyer, Marie Dose, in a message that the men who took charge of the women said “We are your brothers from the Islamic State, we will take you to safety in the desert.”

Repatriation refused

On Sunday, the same women had sent audio messages to their French families, as heard by AFP, stating they were being forced to leave the camp by their Kurdish jailers, that their tents had been set on fire and they found themselves wandering the desert with their young children, before being offered help by an “armed Syrian”.

Dose says she informed the foreign ministry of the developments.

She has been calling for months for France to allow the women to return home.

However President Emmanuel Macron’s government has categorically refused to take back French jihadists or their wives, adding they must face local justice in Iraq or Syria.

On Monday this week, Dose accused Macron of “handing them [the women] on a platter to IS”.


About 12,000 IS fighters are being held in Kurdish-run prisons across northern Syria, according to Kurdish sources.

They are made up of Syrians, Iraqis and foreigners from some 54 countries.

An additional 12,000 foreigners – 4,000 women and 8,000 children – are being held in camps for displaced persons.

Despite the numbers, and the fact that some IS fighters and now relatives have already escaped the camps, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to prevent IS fighters from leaving northeast Syria.


Two women convicted in failed 2016 Notre Dame car bomb plot

FRANCE 24 - 15 Oct 2019

A French court on Monday sentenced five members of an all-female jihadist cell to between five and 30 years in prison over a failed bid to detonate a car bomb outside Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris.

The case is the first to involve a group of women attempting to stage an attack in France, which has been repeatedly targeted by jihadists since 2015, causing the loss of 255 lives.

The five women, aged between 22 and 42, were arrested after a car packed with gas cylinders was found parked near the bustling esplanade in front of the cathedral in the heart of the capital on November 4, 2016.

The two main defendants, Ines Madani and Ornella Gilligmann, had doused the car with diesel fuel in the middle of the night, and tried but failed to set it alight with a cigarette.

They were sentenced to 30 years and 25 years in prison respectively.

The women are believed to have been acting on the orders of Rachid Kassim, a French Islamic State Group (IS) propagandist, also suspected of ordering the grisly murder of a French police couple at their home in June 2016.

Kassim is believed to have been killed in an air strike near the Iraqi city of Mosul in February 2017.

Madani, age 22, was arrested a few days after the failed attack in a Paris suburb along with two other defendants, Sarah Hervouet and Amel Sakaou, who were each sentenced to 20 years.

The three women burst out of the apartment to which they had been tracked down by police, brandishing knives.

Hervouet stabbed an officer in the shoulder, while Madani was shot in the leg.

Gilligmann was arrested in southern France.

A fifth woman, Samia Chalel, was also tried for allegedly helping hide Madani. She was sentenced to five years in prison.

The court heard how Madani posed as a male jihadist online to try recruit women for IS and won over Gilligmann in messages exchanged online.

Madani's lawyers described her as a lonely young woman with half-baked attack plans and a death wish -- a far cry from the prosecution's characterization of a determined gang of would-be killers.

Madani told the court on Monday she regretted her actions. "At the time all my plans involved death. Today, my plans are about life," she said.

Gilligmann, a married mother of three, spoke emotionally of the "shame" she had brought on her family and asked for forgiveness from the victims of terrorism. Her lawyers argued she had acted out of love for a fictitious jihadist named Abou Junayd, for whom she left her husband.


France embroiled in new Muslim veil row after mother on school trip told to remove hijab

The Local / AFP This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it 15 October 2019

Yet more women in the news today…

A new row over secularism and the wearing of the Islamic hijab in public buildings has erupted in France, after a far-right politician asked a woman accompanying her son and other children on a school trip to remove her headscarf.

The issue has divided politicians and citizens in a country that often struggles with finding a balance between individual religious freedom and constitutionally-guaranteed secularism in the public sector, including schools.

Julien Odoul, a member of the National Rally (RN) party, caused outrage when he posted a video on Twitter of him confronting a woman who accompanied pupils last Friday, to the regional parliament in Bourgogne-Franche-Comte in eastern France.

Citing "secular principles" in the wake of the killings in Paris this month, of four police staff by a radicalized convert to Islam, he insisted the woman, whose son was among the group, remove her headscarf.

Members of the RN then walked out of the chamber before issuing a press statement denouncing "an Islamist provocation".

But many, including regional parliament speaker Marie-Guite Dufay, criticised Odoul's actions, saying neither the law of the country nor the rules of the chamber prohibited a member of the public wearing a headscarf.

Dufay denounced a "surge of hatred" and what she described as "undignified behavior" on the part of a lawmaker.

The controversy has exposed divisions within the centrist ruling party of President Emmanuel Macron which is keenly aware Marine Le Pen's party is his chief political foe.

Even the country's Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer seemed unable to pick a side, stressing Sunday that "the law does not prohibit women wearing headscarves to accompany children", while saying "the headscarf itself is not desirable in our society" because of "what it says about the status of women, what it says about our values."

Government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye also weighed in, saying it was important to allow space for exchanges between women who wear headscarves, and those who do not, as this promoted "inclusivity".

But Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire came to the defense of secularism, saying "a culture in which religion remains in the intimate, private sphere and does not have a place in (the) public sphere."

And Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin added: "I would prefer that women in the Republic, in France, do not wear a headscarf."

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told parliament he was opposed to any kind of new law specifically targeting what should be worn on school trips.

He reminded MPs on Tuesday that laws set out in France's declaration of the rights of man in 1789, and the 1905 law that separates church and state, protects a citizens' freedoms of belief and expression of religious belief, if it does not provoke public disorder.

"You can wear the veil when accompanying a school trip, but you don't have the right to proselytize (try to convert others)," Philippe said.

The controversy is the latest in France over face and body-covering garments, which many perceive as inappropriate in a secular country, while others argue the garments allow Muslim women to be active participants in French society.

The French state and church were officially separated by law in 1905, to give form to the concept of secularism rooted in the 1789 French Revolution.

In 2004, the government prohibited the wearing of conspicuous religions symbols in public schools, and banned the hijab -- a garment that covers a woman's hair but leaves her face exposed -- from classrooms and government offices.

France, the country with Europe's largest Muslim population, is also deeply divided over the body-concealing "burkini" swimsuit, with opposition to the garment forcing the closure of some swimming pools earlier this year in the midst of a heatwave.

Also this year, French sports retailer Decathlon was forced by public pressure to back down from a plan to sell a runner's hijab in France.


French firefighters protest against low pay and difficult working conditions while police fire tear gas

By RFI Issued on 15-10-2019

Thousands of French firefighters hit the streets of Paris on Tuesday to protest low pay and difficult working conditions and to ask for better guarantees of their pension benefits and ultimately greater respect for their profession. In response to their demonstration, police fired tear gas and water cannons.

Coming from all parts of the country, the procession of professional firefighters “in anger”, rather than volunteers, began their protest at Paris’ Place Republique in the afternoon amid a cacophony of sirens, whistles and smoke as they made their way to the southeastern point of place de la Nation.

Their protest comes two weeks after a similar demonstration by police in the streets of the capital.

The firefighters came together to denounce the growing strains of understaffing and the lack of recognition of their profession in the face of the surge of requests for help and assistance.

Wearing their navy uniforms and reflective helmets, many held signs that read “do more with less, welcome to the firefighters” or “stop the political contempt.”


“There has been a drop in the number of people who are concerned when we are overwhelmed by the number of interventions we have to attend to,” explained Mathias Gosse, a 53 year-old firefighter in the southern city of Grasse to AFP. “We are being asked to do everything, including replacing ambulances. At some point we’re just not going to be able to do it anymore.”

He added that on top of those working constraints, the state is trying to push forward the retirement age which normally begins at 57.

Pierre Tenepoude, who has been a firefighter for 10 years in the city of Nimes, told AFP that they feel like they're working at 200 percent without respect or the means to do their jobs properly.

“There is a real anger and the problem is we’re not being listened to,” said 46-year old Eric Brezault speaking to Reuters.

Government response

In response to their grievances, Laurent Nuñez, the secretary of state to Ministry of Interior said the problems expressed by the firefighters were being taken seriously by the government.

He announced an experimental project of a ‘unique number’ for emergencies, 112, which would make it easier to direct calls.

At present, if a person has an emergency, 18 is the number for the firefighters, which is often the first stop for all emergencies, and 15 is the number for urgent medical situations.

Professional fire fighters makeup about 16 percent of the 247,000 fire fighters in France. The rest are volunteers.


France’s oldest man dies at age 111

By RFI, Mike Woods Issued on 15-10-2019

Roger Auvin, who was the oldest known man living in France, passed away peacefully Sunday at his home in Limalonges, a small village in the Deux-Sèvres department in western France, about midway between the cities of La Rochelle, Poitiers and Limoges.

“He did not suffer at all,” his son Rémi Auvin told AFP agency. “Two weeks ago he refused to eat. He decided by himself.”

Auvin was born 20 March 1908 in the nearby Vienne department. He became France’s oldest man on 24 November 2016, when his predecessor, Georges Massard, passed away at the age of 110 in the region of Normandy.

His passing makes Marcel Meys of the Rhone region the country’s oldest man, at 110.

Lucile Randon, France’s oldest woman at 115, lives in the Mediterranean city of Toulon.

Five generations of descendants

Auvin had seven grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, two great-great-grandchildren. The recent arrival of a first great-great-great grandchild meant he lived to see five generations of descendants.

Town officials said Auvin was able to live thanks to constant presence of aides. Annette Machet, mayor of Limalonges, told AFP that Auvin was well known in the community.

“You often saw him sitting in his chair in front of his house with a blanket, and often with a woman taking him for a walk around the town,” she said. “We even saw him walking around at the car boot sale in September.”

Machet said Auvin had “strong character”, enjoyed performing in theatre in his youth, and was also an amateur photographer.

A funeral was to be held in the town today, Wednesday.

France has 31 ‘supercentenarians’

Auvin’s passing means France now counts 212 people aged 107 and older, according to unofficial figures kept on a website dedicated to people of advanced age.

The list includes 31 “supercentenarians”, meaning those at least 110 years old.

According to the list, Auvin’s passing makes Meys the oldest man in France, but he is the 23rd oldest person in a category mostly represented by women.

Lucile Randon is also the oldest person in Europe and second-oldest in the world, after a woman of 116 years in Japan, according to Laurent Toussaint, an amateur statistician cited by AFP.

A French woman, Jeanne Calment, set the record for the oldest person in the world. She died in 1997 at the age of 122.


French people ‘giving up on the suit’ as sales plummet

Connexion - 15 Oct 2019

Sales of men’s suits in France have fallen by 58% in recent years, prompting commentators to suggest that that style of mensware may be “on the decline”.

A report by news source BMFTV said: “After having deserted the street, the suit is in the process of disappearing from business...the garment no longer symbolizes prestige and power.”

The suit is originally thought to date back to the 19th century, with the future king of England, Edward VII, known as one of the first high-profile figures to wear matching pieces of clothing with a shirt underneath.

The outfit would later become known as the modern suit, and would be worn across the West and beyond, well into the 20th century. It was traditionally seen as a proper "male" attire, with some women later choosing to wear it as a sign of power, defiance, or gender fluidity and expression.

By the 1960s, suits had been “democratized”, and were worn by almost all men in public - the report said - regardless of whether they were a manager, director, senior staff, or a general worker.

Journalist Frédéric Bianchi said: “Suits began to disappear from towns at the end of the 1960s to the beginning of the 1970s.

“Now, the ‘second movement’ as suits are now starting to disappear from business too. It used to be the mandatory ‘uniform’, but now it is disappearing, and it’s happening very quickly.

“Since 2011, sales of suits in France have halved, from 3.3 million, to 1.4 million today. French people are giving up on the suit.”

Today, just 6% of French people say they buy one suit per year, compared to a figure of 15% a few years ago, the report said.


That’s LifeStyle 74 News From The Papers on Wednesday, October 16th


Extended news...

‘Show of force’: US jets & helicopters threaten Turkish-backed fighters who came VERY CLOSE to American troops in Syria

RT - 15 Oct, 2019

US fighter jets and gunship helicopters were sent to scare off Turkish-backed militants in northern Syria after they came “very close” to US troops at Ain Issa, the Pentagon said. Washington has also sent a complaint to Ankara.

F-15 fighters and AH-64 Apache gunships were used in the “show of force” on Tuesday, an unnamed US official told reporters, after the militants “violated a standing agreement” not to threaten US troops. A formal complaint was lodged with the Turkish military through diplomatic channels, the official added.

Though US troops have been withdrawing from Syria for the past week, some Special Forces operators were apparently still in the area of Ain Issa, located on the strategic M-4 highway about halfway between the Syrian-Turkish border and the former Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) “capital” of Raqqa.

Last week, Turkey launched ‘Operation Peace Spring’ with the stated purpose of establishing a “safe zone” inside Syria – mainly on territory held by Kurdish militias allied with the US, but which Ankara considers terrorist organizations.

Rather than Turkish regulars, however, the troops used in the operation appear to be jihadist militants, which similarly happened in 2016 during ‘Operation Euphrates Shield’ that targeted the Kurds around Afrin.

While the Western press has previously referred to these militants as “moderate rebels,” a senior US official was quoted on Tuesday calling them “thugs and bandits and pirates that should be wiped off the face of the earth.”

Meanwhile, the Kurds have struck an agreement with the Syrian government troops to move to the border and block the militants. Previously, the US blocked any attempts to return the territories liberated from IS by its Kurdish allies to the government in Damascus, as they contained most of Syria’s oil and agricultural resources.


Turkey holding 50 US nuclear bombs 'hostage' at air base, report says

By Melissa Leon | Fox News 15 Oct 2019

US military uses 'show of force' to disrupt Turkish-backed fighters in Syria

U.S military sends jets, helicopter gunships; national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin reports.

Officials are reviewing plans to evacuate up to 50 U.S. nuclear bombs that have long been stored at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey in the wake of Ankara's military offensive in northern Syria, according to a report.

The weapons are now essentially "hostage" to Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a senior official told The New York Times on Monday.

The Cold War-era B61 nuclear bombs are said to be 100-250 miles from the Syrian border, according to The Guardian. A former U.S. official told the outlet that Turkish diplomats responded to suggestions about moving the bombs by saying Turkey would start to develop its own.

"The potential problems have been discussed for over a decade," the former official said. "And now we’ve finally gotten to a point where this is a problem that we can’t ignore anymore."

Erdogan has previously expressed a desire to boost Turkey's nuclear arsenal.

“Some nations have missiles with nuclear warheads -- not just one or two. But [they say] I should not have missiles with nuclear warheads. I don’t accept this," Erdogan said last month, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.

The Pentagon said Friday that U.S. troops near the border town of Kobane in northern Syria came under artillery fire from Turkish positions. No American troops were injured.

In an interview with Fox News, a senior adviser to Erdogan denied that Turkey had fired at U.S. troops.

“I think this is a first -- a country with U.S. nuclear weapons stationed in it literally firing artillery at U.S. forces,” said Jeffrey Lewis, from the California-based James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, The Times reported.

Trump said Monday that U.S. troops in northeastern Syria will be withdrawn from the country as planned and redeployed “in the region to monitor the situation and prevent a repeat of 2014,” when the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS) made major territorial gains.

"After defeating 100% of the ISIS Caliphate, I largely moved our troops out of Syria. Let Syria and [President Bashar al] Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land," the president tweeted Monday. "I said to my Generals, why should we be fighting for Syria [...] and Assad to protect the land of our enemy? Anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds is good with me, whether it is Russia, China, or Napoleon Bonaparte. I hope they all do great, we are 7,000 miles away!"


No more ladies & gentlemen on board! Air Canada courts woke police with gender-neutral welcome that is... EVERYONE?

RT - 15 Oct, 2019

Addressing passengers as ‘ladies and gentlemen’ is discriminatory against those who don’t identify as either, so let’s just call them ‘everybody,’ Air Canada has decided. So no more gentlefolk on board.

Employees of the top Canadian airline were instructed to drop the long-time tradition of calling their passengers “ladies and gentlemen” (or “mesdames et messieurs” when speaking French). Instead, passengers will be addressed as “everybody” and “tout le monde,” local media reported.

The reason, of course, is that some people have more complex attitudes to their gender than the majority of humanity, and presumably feel excluded when they hear the greeting “ladies and gentlemen.” After all, Air Canada was named the nation’s Best Diversity Employers for 2019 and it has to fulfill its reputation as such.

“We work hard to make sure all employees feel like valued members of the Air Canada family, while ensuring our customers are comfortable and respected when they choose to travel with us,” the company said in a statement.

The move follows an earlier decision to allow passengers to put an “X” instead of “M” or “F” when booking tickets. The new rules were introduced “to ensure an inclusive space for everyone, including those who identify with gender X,” Air Canada said.

Well, it’s always good to make people more comfortable and accepted, although some inclusiveness advocates may find it too mild a move. After all, there are supposedly six genders for people to choose from – or 58, or over 100, depending who you ask – and only three possible letters on the form.

Air Canada was definitely sensible in choosing “everybody” instead of extending the binary list of honorifics, as they may have faced a backlash for not being inclusive enough. Hopefully nobody gets offended with the new, less polite address.

Can gender “inclusivity” get any crazier?   The question is how long yet before the pushback begins?   And how far will it go? A moving pendulum usually doesn’t stop in the middle, but swings to the opposite side.


Sweden welcomes its earliest autumn in 40 years

TT/The Local This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it @thelocalsweden 9 October 2019

Autumn officially arrived early this year across all of Sweden, marking the earliest start to the season in 40 years.

Meteorologist Max Lindberg Stoltz at Swedish weather agency SMHI described the autumnal weather as "unusual".

Since October 3rd, all of SMHI's weather stations have measured what's known as meteorological autumn, which is defined by average daytime temperatures staying below an average of 10C for five consecutive days.

And in some parts of the northern mountain ranges, winter temperatures (five consecutive days of average temperatures below 0C) have already arrived, some two weeks earlier than average.

Summer hasn't ended this early since 1979, when autumn officially began on September 3rd.

And the autumn is off to a blustery start, with damp and windy weather, known as höstrusk in Swedish, forecast for the coming days.


How Global Warming works… the science explained

Roy W. Spencer received his Ph.D. in meteorology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1981.

Before becoming a Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 2001, he was a Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, where he and Dr. John Christy received NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for their global temperature monitoring work with satellites.

Dr. Spencer’s work with NASA continues as the U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite.

He has provided congressional testimony several times on the subject of global warming.

Dr. Spencer’s research has been entirely supported by U.S. government agencies: NASA, NOAA, and DOE. He has never been asked by any oil company to perform any kind of service. Not even Exxon-Mobil.

Dr. Spencer’s first popular book on global warming, “Climate Confusion (Encounter Books), is available at Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com.


Global Warming Theory in a Nutshell

(Updated June 3, 2019)

Every scientific theory involves assumptions. Global warming theory starts with the assumption that the Earth naturally maintains a constant average temperature, which is the result of a balance between (1) the amount of sunlight the Earth absorbs, and (2) the amount of emitted infrared (“IR”) radiation that the Earth continuously emits to outer space.

In other words, energy in equals energy out. This is the same concept that governs the temperature of anything; if energy is gained faster than it is lost, warming occurs… but if energy is lost faster than it is gained, cooling occurs.

Averaged over the whole planet for 1 year, the energy flows in and out of the climate system are estimated to be around 235 to 240 watts per square meter. We don’t really know for sure because our global observations from space borne satellite instruments are not accurate enough to measure those flows of radiant energy.

“Greenhouse” components in the atmosphere (mostly water vapor, clouds, carbon dioxide, and methane) exert strong controls over how fast the Earth loses IR energy to outer space. Mankind’s burning of fossil fuels creates more atmospheric carbon dioxide. As we add more CO2, slightly less infrared energy is lost to outer space, strengthening the Earth’s greenhouse effect. This causes a warming tendency in the lower atmosphere and at the surface, and at the same time causes the upper atmosphere (especially the stratosphere) to cool. From an energy standpoint, it’s similar to adding insulation to the walls of a heated house in the winter; for the same rate of energy input (no thermostat), the result will be that the walls are warmer on the inside, and colder on the outside. This is analogous to the greenhouse effect of our atmosphere insulating the Earth’s surface from the “cold” depths of outer space.

It is believed (based upon theoretical calculations) that our global emissions of carbon dioxide have enhanced the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect by about 1%, thus reducing the rate at which IR energy is lost to outer space. Global warming theory (through conservation of energy) says that the lower atmosphere must then respond to this energy imbalance (less IR radiation being lost than solar energy being absorbed) by causing an increase in temperature. This warming then increases the IR escaping to space until the emitted IR radiation once again reaches a balance with absorbed sunlight, and the temperature stops rising. This is the basic explanation of global warming theory.

Manabe and Strickler (1964) calculated the global-average strength of the “greenhouse effect” on surface temperatures assuming all energy transfers were radiative (no weather processes), based upon the theory of how infrared energy courses through the atmosphere. They found that the surface of the Earth would average a whopping 75 deg. C warmer than if there was no greenhouse effect. But in reality, the surface of the Earth averages about 33 deg. C warmer, not 75 deg. C warmer than a no-greenhouse Earth. That’s because convective air currents (which create weather) carry excess heat away from the surface, cooling it well below its full greenhouse effect value represented by their imagined “pure radiative energy equilibrium” assumption.

Now, you might be surprised to learn that the amount of warming directly caused by us adding extra CO2 to the atmosphere is, by itself, relatively weak. It has been calculated theoretically that, if there are no other changes in the climate system, a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration would cause about 1 deg C of surface warming. This is NOT a controversial statement…it is well understood by climate scientists. As of early 2019, we were about 50% of the way toward a doubling of atmospheric CO2.

But everything else in the climate system probably won’t stay the same. For instance, clouds, water vapor, and precipitation systems can all be expected to respond to the warming tendency in some way, which could either amplify or reduce the manmade warming. These other temperature-dependent changes are called “feedbacks,” and the sum of all the feedbacks in the climate system determines what is called ‘climate sensitivity’. Negative feedbacks (low climate sensitivity) would mean that manmade global warming might not even be measurable, lost in the noise of natural climate variability. But if feedbacks are sufficiently positive (high climate sensitivity), then manmade global warming could be catastrophic.

Obviously, knowing the strength of feedbacks in the climate system is critical, and is the subject of much of my research. Here you can read about some of my work on the subject, in which I show that feedbacks previously estimated from satellite observations of natural climate variability have potentially large errors. A confusion between forcing and feedback (loosely speaking, cause and effect) when observing cloud behavior has led to the illusion of a sensitive climate system, when in fact our best satellite observations (when carefully and properly interpreted) suggest an IN-sensitive climate system.

Finally, if the climate system is insensitive, this means that the extra carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosphere is not enough to cause the observed warming over the last 100 years — some natural mechanism must be involved. Here you can read about one candidate: the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which reflects whether we are in a multi-decadal period of stronger El Ninos (which produce global warmth) or La Nina (which produces global coolness). Other possibilities for natural changes in the climate system also exist.

The most important thing to remember about climate models which are used to project future global warming is that they were “tuned” with the assumption I started this article with: that the climate system is in a natural state of energy balance, and that there is no long-term climate change unless humans cause it.

This is an arbitrary and illogical assumption. The climate system is an example of a “nonlinear dynamical system”, which means it can change all by itself. For example, slow changes in the rate of vertical overturning of the world’s oceans can cause global warming (or global cooling) with no “external forcing” of the climate system whatsoever.

Instead, the climate models are “tuned” to not produce natural climate change. If a 100-year run of the model produces change, the model is adjusted to removed the “drift”. The models do not produce global energy balance from “first physical principles”, because none of the processes controlling that balance are known to sufficient accuracy. Instead, the models are “fudged” to produce energy balance, based upon the modelers’ assumption of no natural climate change. Then, the models are used as “proof” that only increasing CO2 has caused recent warming.

This is circular reasoning.

I am not against modeling; models are necessary to understand complex processes in the climate system. But, while the models are useful and necessary tools for studying climate change, I do not think they can yet be relied upon for major changes in energy policy.


By Roy W. Spencer, Ph.D


LifeStyle 74 weather…

A pause in the wet weather today and tomorrow, but the weekend promises to be wet.

Quite sunny today, despite some high clouds, mainly along the Jura. Max Temp 17 on the plain. 0 at 2200 meters, rising to 3000 meters. Weak SW winds on the plain, moderate W winds in the mountains.

Mostly Sunny on the Plateau and in the PreAlps, Partly Sunny along the Jura.
Clouds arriving by late evening. Maybe some rain overnight along the Jura. Max Temp 17 C. 0 at 3000 meters. Weak SW winds on the plain. Moderate to strong SW winds in the mountains.

Cloudy north of the Alps, and along the southerly slopes of the Valaisanne Alps. Rain during the morning. The snow line lowering from 2500 to 2100 meters. Max Temps 15 to 18 C.

Mostly Cloudy. Intermittent to Frequent rain, sometime abundant rain in the West of the country. The snow line between 1800 and 2000 meters. High 15 C.

Sunday, Monday & Tuesday.
Variable weather conditions, alternating periods of rain and shine. Rain more likely in the West and along the S slopes of the Valaisanne Alps. The snow line between 1800 and 2000 meters. Highs 14 to 17 C.


LifeStyle 74 is a community service radio network heard on DAB+ radios in the area of Geneva, Lausanne, Zurich and Sion, in Switzerland. In France, we broadcast on FM at Geneva, Annecy and at 5 other cities in Haute Savoie and Ain.

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We fell behind during the summer when most listeners were away on holidays.


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