Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dr. Roy Spencer: open to possibility a major error may have been made on CO2 causing warming

In a new highly recommended post today by Dr. Roy Spencer he states, "Adding more [CO2] “should” cause warming, with the magnitude of that warming being the real question. But I’m still open to the possibility that a major error has been made on this fundamental point. Stranger things have happened in science before."  

Might the "possible major errors" be violations of the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics? Also today, see the new posts by Professor of Applied Mathematics Claes Johnson, author of several books on thermodynamics, illustrating the errors of climate science of imaginary "back radiation" and "radiative forcing." Also today, see John O'Sullivan's new post "End of the road for Greenhouse Gas Theory : Bogus Budget Busted"
 
My Global Warming Skepticism, for Dummies
July 17th, 2010 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.


I receive many e-mails, and a recurring complaint is that many of my posts are too technical to understand. This morning’s installment arrived with the subject line, “Please Talk to Us”, and suggested I provide short, concise, easily understood summaries and explanations “for dummies”.

So, here’s a list of basic climate change questions, and brief answers based upon what I know today. I might update them as I receive suggestions and comments. I will also be adding links to other sources, and some visual aids, as appropriate.

Deja vu tells me I might have done this once before, but I’m too lazy to go back and see. So, I’ll start over from scratch. (Insert smiley)

It is important to understand at the outset that those of us who are skeptical of mankind’s influence on climate have a wide variety of views on the subject, and we can’t all be right. In fact, in this business, it is really easy to be wrong. It seems like everyone has a theory of what causes climate change. But it only takes one of us to be right for the IPCC’s anthropogenic global warming (AGW) house of cards to collapse.

As I like to say, taking measurements of the climate system is much easier than figuring out what those measurements mean in terms of cause and effect. Generally speaking, it’s not the warming that is in dispute…it’s the cause of the warming.

If you disagree with my views on something, please don’t flame me. Chances are, I’ve already heard your point of view; very seldom am I provided with new evidence I haven’t already taken into account.

1) Are Global Temperatures Rising Now? There is no way to know, because natural year-to-year variability in global temperature is so large, with warming and cooling occurring all the time. What we can say is that surface and lower atmospheric temperature have risen in the last 30 to 50 years, with most of that warming in the Northern Hemisphere. Also, the magnitude of recent warming is somewhat uncertain, due to problems in making long-term temperature measurements with thermometers without those measurements being corrupted by a variety of non-climate effects. But there is no way to know if temperatures are continuing to rise now…we only see warming (or cooling) in the rearview mirror, when we look back in time.

2) Why Do Some Scientists Say It’s Cooling, while Others Say that Warming is Even Accelerating? Since there is so much year-to-year (and even decade-to-decade) variability in global average temperatures, whether it has warmed or cooled depends upon how far back you look in time. For instance, over the last 100 years, there was an overall warming which was stronger toward the end of the 20th Century. This is why some say “warming is accelerating”. But if we look at a shorter, more recent period of time, say since the record warm year of 1998, one could say that it has cooled in the last 10-12 years. But, as I mentioned above, neither of these can tell us anything about whether warming is happening “now”, or will happen in the future.

3) Haven’t Global Temperatures Risen Before? Yes. In the longer term, say hundreds to thousands of years, there is considerable indirect, proxy evidence (not from thermometers) of both warming and cooling. Since humankind can’t be responsible for these early events, this is evidence that nature can cause warming and cooling. If that is the case, it then opens up the possibility that some (or most) of the warming in the last 50 years has been natural, too. While many geologists like to point to much larger temperature changes are believed to have occurred over millions of years, I am unconvinced that this tells us anything of use for understanding how humans might influence climate on time scales of 10 to 100 years.

4) But Didn’t the “Hockey Stick” Show Recent Warming to be Unprecedented? The “hockey Stick” reconstructions of temperature variations over the last 1 to 2 thousand years have been a huge source of controversy. The hockey stick was previously used by the IPCC as a veritable poster child for anthropogenic warming, since it seemed to indicate there have been no substantial temperature changes over the last 1,000 to 2,000 years until humans got involved in the 20th Century. The various versions of the hockey stick were based upon limited amounts of temperature proxy evidence — primarily tree rings — and involved questionable statistical methods. In contrast, I think the bulk of the proxy evidence supports the view that it was at least as warm during the Medieval Warm Period, around 1000 AD. The very fact that recent tree ring data erroneously suggests cooling in the last 50 years, when in fact there has been warming, should be a warning flag about using tree ring data for figuring out how warm it was 1,000 years ago. But without actual thermometer data, we will never know for sure.

5) Isn’t the Melting of Arctic Sea Ice Evidence of Warming? Warming, yes…manmade warming, no. Arctic sea ice naturally melts back every summer, but that meltback was observed to reach a peak in 2007. But we have relatively accurate, satellite-based measurements of Arctic (and Antarctic) sea ice only since 1979. It is entirely possible that late summer Arctic Sea ice cover was just as low in the 1920s or 1930s, a period when Arctic thermometer data suggests it was just as warm. Unfortunately, there is no way to know, because we did not have satellites back then. Interestingly, Antarctic sea ice has been growing nearly as fast as Arctic ice has been melting over the last 30+ years.

6) What about rising sea levels? I must confess, I don’t pay much attention to the sea level issue. I will say that, to the extent that warming occurs, sea levels can be expected to also rise to some extent. The rise is partly due to thermal expansion of the water, and partly due to melting or shedding of land-locked ice (the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, and glaciers). But this says nothing about whether or not humans are the cause of that warming. Since there is evidence that glacier retreat and sea level rise started well before humans can be blamed, causation is — once again — a major source of uncertainty.

7) Is Increasing CO2 Even Capable of Causing Warming? There are some very intelligent people out there who claim that adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere can’t cause warming anyway. They claim things like, “the atmospheric CO2 absorption bands are already saturated”, or something else very technical. [And for those more technically-minded persons, yes, I agree that the effective radiating temperature of the Earth in the infrared is determined by how much sunlight is absorbed by the Earth. But that doesn't mean the lower atmosphere cannot warm from adding more greenhouse gases, because at the same time they also cool the upper atmosphere]. While it is true that most of the CO2-caused warming in the atmosphere was there before humans ever started burning coal and driving SUVs, this is all taken into account by computerized climate models that predict global warming. Adding more “should” cause warming, with the magnitude of that warming being the real question. But I’m still open to the possibility that a major error has been made on this fundamental point. Stranger things have happened in science before.

8 ) Is Atmospheric CO2 Increasing? Yes, and most strongly in the last 50 years…which is why “most” climate researchers think the CO2 rise is the cause of the warming. Our site measurements of CO2 increase from around the world are possibly the most accurate long-term, climate-related, measurements in existence.

9) Are Humans Responsible for the CO2 Rise? While there are short-term (year-to-year) fluctuations in the atmospheric CO2 concentration due to natural causes, especially El Nino and La Nina, I currently believe that most of the long-term increase is probably due to our use of fossil fuels. But from what I can tell, the supposed “proof” of humans being the source of increasing CO2 — a change in the atmospheric concentration of the carbon isotope C13 — would also be consistent with a natural, biological source. The current atmospheric CO2 level is about 390 parts per million by volume, up from a pre-industrial level estimated to be around 270 ppm…maybe less. CO2 levels can be much higher in cities, and in buildings with people in them.

10) But Aren’t Natural CO2 Emissions About 20 Times the Human Emissions? Yes, but nature is believed to absorb CO2 at about the same rate it is produced. You can think of the reservoir of atmospheric CO2 as being like a giant container of water, with nature pumping in a steady stream into the bottom of the container (atmosphere) in some places, sucking out about the same amount in other places, and then humans causing a steady drip-drip-drip into the container. Significantly, about 50% of what we produce is sucked out of the atmosphere by nature, mostly through photosynthesis. Nature loves the stuff. CO2 is the elixir of life on Earth. Imagine the howls of protest there would be if we were destroying atmospheric CO2, rather than creating more of it.

11) Is Rising CO2 the Cause of Recent Warming? While this is theoretically possible, I think it is more likely that the warming is mostly natural. At the very least, we have no way of determining what proportion is natural versus human-caused.

12) Why Do Most Scientists Believe CO2 is Responsible for the Warming? Because (as they have told me) they can’t think of anything else that might have caused it. Significantly, it’s not that there is evidence nature can’t be the cause, but a lack of sufficiently accurate measurements to determine if nature is the cause. This is a hugely important distinction, and one the public and policymakers have been misled on by the IPCC.

13) If Not Humans, What could Have Caused Recent Warming? This is one of my areas of research. I believe that natural changes in the amount of sunlight being absorbed by the Earth — due to natural changes in cloud cover — are responsible for most of the warming. Whether that is the specific mechanism or not, I advance the minority view that the climate system can change all by itself. Climate change does not require an “external” source of forcing, such as a change in the sun.

14) So, What Could Cause Natural Cloud Changes? I think small, long-term changes in atmospheric and oceanic flow patterns can cause ~1% changes in how much sunlight is let in by clouds to warm the Earth. This is all that is required to cause global warming or cooling. Unfortunately, we do not have sufficiently accurate cloud measurements to determine whether this is the primary cause of warming in the last 30 to 50 years.

15) How Significant is the Climategate Release of E-Mails? While Climategate does not, by itself, invalidate the IPCC’s case that global warming has happened, or that humans are the primary cause of that warming, it DOES illustrate something I emphasized in my first book, “Climate Confusion”: climate researchers are human, and prone to bias.

16) Why Would Bias in Climate Research be Important? I thought Scientists Just Follow the Data Where It Leads Them When researchers approach a problem, their pre-conceived notions often guide them. It’s not that the IPCC’s claim that humans cause global warming is somehow untenable or impossible, it’s that political and financial pressures have resulted in the IPCC almost totally ignoring alternative explanations for that warming.

17) How Important Is “Scientific Consensus” in Climate Research? In the case of global warming, it is nearly worthless. The climate system is so complex that the vast majority of climate scientists — usually experts in variety of specialized fields — assume there are more knowledgeable scientists, and they are just supporting the opinions of their colleagues. And among that small group of most knowledgeable experts, there is a considerable element of groupthink, herd mentality, peer pressure, political pressure, support of certain energy policies, and desire to Save the Earth — whether it needs to be saved or not.

18) How Important are Computerized Climate Models? I consider climate models as being our best way of exploring cause and effect in the climate system. It is really easy to be wrong in this business, and unless you can demonstrate causation with numbers in equations, you are stuck with scientists trying to persuade one another by waving their hands. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that climate models will ever produce a useful prediction of the future. Nevertheless, we must use them, and we learn a lot from them. My biggest concern is that models have been used almost exclusively for supporting the claim that humans cause global warming, rather than for exploring alternative hypotheses — e.g. natural climate variations — as possible causes of that warming.

19) What Do I Predict for Global Temperature Changes in the Future? I tend to shy away from long-term predictions, because there are still so many uncertainties. When pressed, though, I tend to say that I think cooling in our future is just as real a possibility as warming. Of course, a third possibility is relatively steady temperatures, without significant long-term warming or cooling. Keep in mind that, while you will find out tomorrow whether your favorite weather forecaster is right or wrong, no one will remember 50 years from now a scientist today wrongly predicting we will all die from heat stroke by 2060.

Concluding Remarks

Climate researchers do not know nearly as much about the causes of climate change as they profess. We have a pretty good understanding of how the climate system works on average…but the reasons for small, long-term changes in climate system are still extremely uncertain.

The total amount of CO2 humans have added to the atmosphere in the last 100 years has upset the radiative energy budget of the Earth by only 1%. How the climate system responds to that small “poke” is very uncertain. The IPCC says there will be strong warming, with cloud changes making the warming worse. I claim there will be weak warming, with cloud changes acting to reduce the influence of that 1% change. The difference between these two outcomes is whether cloud feedbacks are positive (the IPCC view), or negative (the view I and a minority of others have).

So far, neither side has been able to prove their case. That uncertainty even exists on this core issue is not appreciated by many scientists!

Again I will emphasize, some very smart people who consider themselves skeptics will disagree with some of my views stated above, particularly when it involves explanations for what has caused warming, and what has caused atmospheric CO2 to increase.

Unlike the global marching army of climate researchers the IPCC has enlisted, we do not walk in lockstep. We are willing to admit, “we don’t really know”, rather than mislead people with phrases like, “the warming we see is consistent with an increase in CO2″, and then have the public think that means, “we have determined, through our extensive research into all the possibilities, that the warming cannot be due to anything but CO2″.

Skeptics advancing alternative explanations (hypotheses) for climate variability represent the way the researcher community used to operate, before politics, policy outcomes, and billions of dollars got involved.

12 comments:

  1. The concept of Mann-made global warming is a hoax.In additon to the work of Professor of Applied Mathematics Claes Johnson, author of several books on thermodynamics, illustrating the errors of climate science of imaginary "back radiation" and "radiative forcing." Also today, see John O'Sullivan's new post "End of the road for Greenhouse Gas Theory : Bogus Budget Busted"
    The work of Dr. Charles Anderson (see climate Depot)30 June 2010
    On Some Flaws in Greenhouse Gas Global Warming
    I have just finished reading an excellent article by Alan Siddons called The Hidden Flaw in Greenhouse Theory on American Thinker from way back on 25 February 2010.  The article is a little slow in developing, but finishes with a death blow to the usual theory put forth by catastrophic anthropogenic global warming advocates.  I intend to explain more concisely what Siddons explained and to add comments of my own in this post which make the deathblow much more gory.

    First of all, I am going to enlarge the context of the discussion.  The primary source of heat for the surface of the Earth is the radiant energy of the sun.  The solar wind of the sun, materials dumped into the atmosphere from space, heat from the deep interior of the earth, and the interplay of changes in the Earth's magnetic field and the sun's magnetic field are also contributors of heat, though the sum of these is much less than that from the sun's radiant energy spectrum of ultraviolet (UV), visible, and infra-red (IR) light.  The entire catastrophic greenhouse gas hypothesis ignores effects upon the incident IR portion of this spectrum of light from the sun.  This is foolish.

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  2. continuation:
    UV light is 11% of the radiant energy from the sun. The UV light variance of 0.5 to 0.8% with the solar cycle is much larger than is the visible light variance of 0.22%. UV light is absorbed throughout the atmosphere, but much still reaches the ground and is absorbed there. The amount of UV radiation absorbed in the upper atmosphere is highly dependent upon the amount of ozone there. The amount of ozone is highly dependent upon the solar wind, CFCs, and volcanic activity. When UV light is more absorbed in the stratosphere than the ground, its surface warming effect is diminished. The absorbed energy is re-emitted as IR radiation and much of that energy is quickly lost to space.

    The entire atmosphere is transparent to visible light which is the form of 44% of the radiant energy from the sun, so aside from reflection from clouds and aerosol particles, the visible light reaches the ground or oceans and warms them near their surfaces.

    Finally, the IR radiation is not absorbed by nitrogen, oxygen, and argon gases which make up 99% of the atmosphere, so a large fraction of it directly warms the Earth's surface. Some, is absorbed by the dominant greenhouse gas, water vapor, and small amounts are absorbed by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The incoming IR radiation absorbed in the atmosphere is less effective in warming the Earth's surface than is that which is absorbed by the Earth's surface directly. This is because some this energy absorbed in the atmosphere then is radiated again in the form of IR radiation, but now half or more of that is directed out to space. In other words, more water vapor and CO2 in the atmosphere results in a less effective warming of the surface than does less of these gases with respect to the incoming IR energy from the sun. The greenhouse gases have a cooling effect on the original solar radiance spectrum for the 45% of the solar energy in the form of IR.

    In each case, whether UV, visible light, or IR, not all of the radiation of that form striking the Earth's surface is absorbed. Some fraction is reflected and the fraction is very dependent on whether the ground is covered with snow, plowed earth, grasses, forests, crops, black top, or water. There are two real ways that man does have some effect on the Earth's temperature. He changes the surface of the earth over a fraction of the 30% of its surface which is land. He also converts fossil and biomass fuels into heat. Compared to the overall natural effects, these man-made effects are small, yet they are probably large compared to the effect of his adding CO2 and methane to the atmosphere.

    The remainer of this is linked through climate depot.

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  3. In addition to two previous post here is a List of references:
    The paper "Falsification of the Atmospheric CO2 greenhouse effect within the frame of physics" by Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner is an in-depth examination of the subject. Version 4 2009
    Electronic version of an article published as International Journal of Modern Physics
    B, Vol. 23, No. 3 (2009) 275{364 , DOI No: 10.1142/S021797920904984X, c World
    Scientific Publishing Company, http://www.worldscinet.com/ijmpb.
    Report of Alan Carlin of US-EPA March, 2009 that shows that CO2 does not cause global warming.

    Greenhouse Gas Hypothesis Violates Fundamentals of Physics” by Dipl-Ing Heinz Thieme This work has about 10 or 12 link
    that support the truth that the greenhouse gas effect is a hoax.
    R.W.Wood
    from the London, Edinborough and Dublin Philosophical Magazine , 1909, vol 17, p319-320. Cambridge UL shelf mark p340.1.c.95, i
    The Hidden Flaw in Greenhouse Theory
    By Alan Siddons
    from:http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/02/the_hidden_flaw_in_greenhouse.html at March 01, 2010 - 09:10:34 AM CST

    The below information was a foot note in the IPCC 4 edition. It is obvious that there was no evidence to prove that the ghg effect exists.

    “In the 1860s, physicist John Tyndall recognized the Earth's natural greenhouse effect and suggested that slight changes in the atmospheric composition could bring about climatic variations. In 1896, a seminal paper by Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius first speculated that changes in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could substantially alter the surface temperature through the greenhouse effect.”

    After 1909 when R.W.Wood proved that the understanding of the greenhouse effect was in error and the ghg effect does not exist. After Niels Bohr published his work and receive a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. The fantasy of the greenhouse gas effect should have died in 1909 and 1922. Since then it has been shown by several physicists that the concept is a Violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    Obviously the politicians don’t give a dam that they are lying. It fits in with what they do every hour of every day .Especially the current pretend president.
    Paraphrasing Albert Einstein after the Publishing of “The Theory of Relativity” –one fact out does 1 million “scientist, 10 billion politicians and 20 billion environmental whachos-that don’t know what” The Second Law of thermodynamics” is.

    University of Pennsylvania Law School
    ILE
    INSTITUTE FOR LAW AND ECONOMICS
    A Joint Research Center of the Law School, the Wharton School,
    and the Department of Economics in the School of Arts and Sciences
    at the University of Pennsylvania
    RESEARCH PAPER NO. 10-08
    Global Warming Advocacy Science: a Cross Examination
    Jason Scott Johnston
    UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
    May 2010
    This paper can be downloaded without charge from the
    Social Science Research Network Electronic Paper Collection:
    http://ssrn.
    Web- site references:
    www.americanthinker.com Ponder the Maunder
    wwwclimatedepot.com
    icecap.us
    www.stratus-sphere.com
    SPPI
    many others are available.
    The bottom line is that the facts show that the greenhouse gas effect is a fairy-tale and that Man-made global warming is the World larges Scam!!!The IPCC and Al Gore should be charged under the US Anti-racketeering act and when convicted - they should spend the rest of their lives in jail for the Crimes they have committed against Humanity.
    The only thing more dangerous than ignorance is arrogance."
    —Albert Einstein

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  4. I have followed Dr Spencer's analysis since he became the Official EIB Meteorologist at Rush Limbaugh's Institute.

    However, I think Dr Spencer is being too cute by half.

    To ignore the documented fact that NOAA, NASA, and East Anglia have all been caught cooking the climate books red handed for years, (stretching back decades and centuries,) gives Dr Spencer the rotted limb to stand on "who knows?"

    To ignore Henrick Svenmark's cutting edge reserch into the sun's relationship to cloud cover goes begging.

    Dr Spencer should not assume the weak kneed stance taken by RINO Republicans like Lindsey Lohan Grahm.

    To agree to half a lie is to give half credence to it.

    It used to be that scientists spent their entire lives researching and recording evidence to FALSIFY proposed hypothesis.

    In this respect, I am afraid Dr Spencer has fallen flat on his nose.

    Does he suppose he will be honored for being a "moderate" scientist? Do "middle of the road" scientists who will not point out the obvious be hailed?

    Or will they become roadkill when obvious facts come to light.

    Mega-non Dittos Dr Spencer.

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  5. I would point out that an aspect of empirical fact seems to be often ignored in both AGW and skeptic discussions is that the Vostok and other important ice core data sets show a significant lag between apparent warming events and increase in atmospheric CO2 levels.

    CO2 levels increase gradually as much as 800 years after warming events. It follows that the current increase may well be the result of the Medieval Warm Period. The apparent lag period is about right for this to be the case.

    Also, since we do not know nearly as much about the environmental uptake of CO2 as we would like, it seems reasonably cautious that we should consider the possibility that human effects on atmospheric CO2 might be limited to alterations in isotope mix. Fossil fuels are strictly composed of the more stable isotopes. Thus our use of fossil fuels might change isotope concentrations (is known to have done so, changing the balance between C-14 and the stable isotopes over the last two centuries - see the Suess Effect). However, because a change in the equilibrium between isotopes has occured, it does not necessarily follow that a change in the balance between atmospheric CO2 and other gases also will take place.

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  6. Since clouds reflect sunlight before it ever reaches the Earth's surface, preventing it from being acted on by CO2, they may be the single most important determiner of warming and cooling.
    I believe that Spencer said that a 1% change in cloud cover can explain most of the warming and cooling of 20th century.

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  7. What a pity it is that all scientists do not display the same attitude to climate change and global warming as Dr Roy Spencer. I do believe that the science of climate is highly complex, and that what scientists do not know about climate change dwarfs what scientists actually do know. So it is disappointing to see so many scientists, who should know better, simply sticking to the IPCC mantra that CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels over the last 20 years is the primary cause of global warming and the key driver of climate change, rather than keeping an open mind like Dr Spencer.

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  8. Charles S. RebertJuly 20, 2010 at 8:31 PM

    [An unanswered enquiry to Dr. S . . .]

    While browsing the web I ran across your article on Climate [Science and Engineering Ethics]. You referred to warming and CO2 phase relations in a 450,000 yr. graph. I believe the graph is the same one used in Al Gore’s movie. My career [now retired] involved the study of electrical events in the brain on which we often ran cross correlation analyses, so I was familiar with waveform phase relations. While watching Gore’s film several years ago it struck me immediately that the temp and CO2 oscillations were quite variable in their phases. To study that more precisely, I paused the CD several times and copied onto large paper from my TV screen the waveforms and confirmed the variable phase relations. This same phenomenon also seemed apparent in other sets of data. It seemed almost criminal, as you seem to imply, for Gore to look at that data and proclaim something like: “ . . . they are certainly highly correlated.” While he used the right word, his implication and promotions were that the relationship was a causal one. I see now in searching the phrase “temperature precedes CO2” that it is clear to a whole lot of people that the causal relationship, if not exactly the opposite, is contrary to the CO2-warming hypothesis.

    I posted at several sites essentially the following:

    It has been said that "No climate skeptic has produced a temperature record that didn't agree . . ." Gabriel Hannah. Yet, Mr. Gore, certainly not a climate skeptic, in his movie "An Inconvenient Truth" shows a 450,000-year [NOAA?] graph of oscillations of earth temperature and CO2 concentrations, in which temperature changes, more often than not, precede changes in CO2. It is a truism that causes precede their effects, so it cannot be claimed from those data [as has been done] that changes in CO2 cause changes in temperature. The opposite conclusion is the more likely, but it is even more likely, given that the temporal [phase] relationship of the two variables is not absolutely fixed one way or the other, that some more general factor/factors is/are driving the temperature and CO2 variables - - i.e., those two are not significantly related causally, only correlated in association with other, more fundamental, causal factors, which, to complicate matters, no doubt interact in non-linear ways. Such would be consistent with the fact that weather, at least, and so possibly climate, are chaotic systems and not readily predictable.

    What really seems strange to me is that no one has, apparently, done, or reported, a cross-correlation analysis of those data, nor, in fact, a determination if even the mean oscillations can be shown to be significantly different from the lows - to - highs given the enormous variability that is, rarely, but sometimes shown. Has there been any such analyses? If so, with what outcome? If not, would you have access to the data to run such analyses? I think, as above, the fact that the variables are not in a consistent phase relationship, one way or the other, implies that both are influenced by other variables, but not in a way that sets their phases, but does coherently affect their “amplitudes.” That is tricky. Might it be possible to make some guesses about influencing variables that would have that kind of differential effect? Is the science of non-linearity applicable to “climate” as it is for “weather?”

    Charles S. Rebert

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  9. Charles,
    The Vostok data is here if you want to analyze it:

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/icecore/antarctica/taylor/taylor_data.html

    It is well known that CO2 follows temperature on the upside as well as the downside with ~700 year lag in both Antarctica and Greenland ice cores. Al Gore didn't want to tell this inconvenient truth so he said in his movie "the relationship is complex". The warmists now claim this relationship in the ice core data doesn't matter because CO2 levels are supposedly higher now so CO2 is now in control. AGW is a religion outside the boundaries of logic.

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  10. On average world temperature is +15⁰C. This is sustained by the atmospheric Greenhouse Effect 33⁰C. Without the Greenhouse Effect the planet would be un-inhabitable at -18⁰C. The World and Mankind need the Greenhouse Effect.

    So just running the numbers:
    • Greenhouse Effect = 33.00⁰C
    • Water Vapour accounts for about 95% of the Greenhouse Effect = + 31.35⁰C
    • Other Greenhouse Gasses GHGs account for 5% = ~1.65⁰C
    • CO2 is 75% of the effect of all GHGs = 1.24⁰C
    • Most CO2 in the atmosphere is natural: Man-made CO2 is less than 7% of total atmospheric CO2 = 0.087⁰C: so closing the whole world carbon economy could only ever achieve a virtually undetectable <1/10 ⁰C.

    As the temperature reduction that could be achieved by closing the whole of the World’s Carbon economies is less than 1/10 ⁰C, how can the Green movement and their supporting politicians think that their actions can limit warming to only + 2.00 ⁰C?

    See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wy0_SNSM8kg

    However in the light of the state of the current solar cycle it seems that there is a real prospect of damaging cooling occurring in the near future for several decades.

    Nonetheless, this is not to say that the world should not be seeking more efficient ways of generating its energy, conserving its energy use and stopping damaging its environments. And there is a real need to wean the world off the continued use of fossil fuels simply on the grounds of:
    • security of supply
    • increasing scarcity
    • rising costs
    • their use as the feedstock for industry rather than simply burning them.
    The French long-term energy strategy with its massive commitment to nuclear power is impressive, (85% of electricity generation).
    Even if one is concerned about CO2, it seems to pay off, French CO2 emissions / head are the lowest in the developed world. So a wholehearted commitment to nuclear power, is the only thing to make good common sense.

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  11. Dave Courard-HauriJuly 22, 2010 at 9:12 AM

    By the way, Ed, the two problems with your calculations are that 1) you claim that 7% of atmospheric carbon is anthropogenic. That's just not true. Let's say that you had a bank account. For 20 years you have spent exactly $1000 and earned exactly $1000. Your account balance over those past 20 years has been $270, year after year. Now, your daughter decided to open a lemonade stand. She makes $20 per year and deposits them into your account. You see the extra money and decide to spend a little more, using up $1010 per year. In ten years, your balance is now $370. Why is it higher? Well, it's higher only because your daughter started putting in money. I mean, sure, if you stopped earning money then things would change a lot, but that's not going to happen. In fact, if she stopped adding money all of a sudden, then your account balance would go down, because you are now spending more than you were before. Well, that's the way it is with greenhouse gases. *All* of the increase in GHGs since the industrial revolution is due to human inputs. In fact, the natural world now removes more CO2 than it adds, because the system is out of balance. That's how nonlinear systems tend to work. Thus, only half of what we emit goes into the atmosphere. But if we stopped adding CO2 today, then atmospheric CO2 levels would drop for a time, until the system returned to balance.

    Oh, and the other problem is that you ignore water vapor feedbacks. I know those are controversial, and folks who don't understand feedback like to claim that they would lead to a runaway GHG (they don't--do a calculation where every temperature increase leads to a feedback increasing the temperature another third, and then a third of that third, and then a third of that third of the third, and so on, and you will see what I mean), but these feedbacks are where some of the extra warming is expected to come from.

    I hope that helps.

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  12. Roughly a -18C equivalent black body has to be radiated to space for earth's energy input and output to be balanced. If the atmosphere were not opaque to IR radiation then this -18C equivalent black body would appear on the earth's surface and it would be 33C colder at about 17,000 feet altitude. The 33C colder at 17K feet is caused on the average by everything that goes into the lapse rate but what rises the -18C appearance of the earth to a 17,000 foot altitude. That must be IR absorption and emission properties of so called green house gasses. The primary green house gas that causes this is H2O. We live in a water world. The question of concern is what happens when we increase the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    The amount of CO2 that we re talking about is not enough to change some of the atmosphere's fundamental properties, like heat capacity, thermal conductivity, and pressure profile. There is no significant change to the lapse rate.

    Apparently the IPCC models include a positive feedback for water vapor that occurs in the lower atmosphere but not the negative water vapor feedback that occurs in the upper atmosphere. This positive feedback is modeled as an amplification of global warming caused by increases in CO2. In the lower atmosphere the feedback does not mean much because water is near saturation. and much of the heat transport is through means other than radiation. But that is not so in the upper atmosphere and it is the upper atmosphere where the earth radiates energy out to space. If the apparent temperature is warmer than the balance point temperature then the earth will lose energy and will cool. If the temperature is below the balance point then the earth will gain energy and warm.

    The theory is that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will further retard the passage of IR radiation through the atmosphere that will cause warming. The warming in turn will raise the capacity of the atmosphere to hold H2O, which in turn will cause H2O to be added to the atmosphere, which further retards the passage of IR radiation, which will cause more warming. So the H2O additional warming effect is modeled as a positive feedback to adding CO2 to the atmosphere. This is what appears to have some possible validity in the lower atmosphere. But in the upper atmosphere the opposite occurs. The retarding of CO2 that warms the lower atmosphere acts to cool the upper atmosphere. It is in the upper atmosphere where IR radiation is radiated to space. Assuming a constant solar radiance and constant value of earth albedo, for the earth to gain energy the black body appearance of the earth has to drop which means temperatures in the upper atmosphere decreases. A decrease in temperature in the upper atmosphere causes H20 capacity in the upper atmosphere to decrease which causes H2O levels to decrease. H2O is a green house gas. H2O decreasing will have the opposite effect of increasing CO2 in the atmosphere. Decreasing H2O will allow more IR radiation to leak through cooling the lower atmosphere and warming the upper atmosphere. As the upper atmosphere warms back up again the net flow of energy into the earth is decreased. So in the upper atmosphere H2O acts as a negative feedback to added CO2. Negative feedback systems are inherently stable. The earth's climate has been stable enough in terms of how it has reacted to changes in green house gasses for life to evolve over at least the past billion years.

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