HFCs and climate change

July 28, 2009

in Economics, Science, The environment

Little girl at Raw Sugar

A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences updates estimates of the amount of warming that will be caused by hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) between now and 2050, in a scenario where specific policies to address them are not implemented. These gasses were created as replacements for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were used as refrigerants and propellants before they were found to destroy stratospheric ozone. The study estimates that without preventative action, HFCs will cause 9-19% as much warming as carbon dioxide (CO2), by 2050. In a scenario where the concentration of CO2 is kept below 450 parts per million (ppm), unmitigated HFC emissions would be the cause of between 28% and 45% of warming.

While CO2 is the most important gas that needs to be managed to produce a stable climate, other powerful gasses like HFCs need to be dealt with, as well. This is being brought about to some extent through the operation of carbon markets, but care must be taken to avoid designing markets that can be exploited, as well as design systems where both CO2 emissions and emissions of powerful trace gasses are effectively discouraged.

One other element illustrated by all of this is how virtually any new technology that gets widely adopted has some sort of negative environmental consequences. This should be borne in mind when hoping that technological progress alone can produce a sustainable world. The technologies of the past always created problems along with new capabilities and benefits. Those of the future will inevitably do likewise.

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{ 158 comments… read them below or add one }

Dan Pangburn July 28, 2009 at 10:00 am

Important relevant science is not in the curriculum to become a Climate Scientist. Thus they do not recognize the significance of accepted paleo temperature data. With understanding of the missing science and knowledge of the data, it is trivial to conclude that NET feedback from average global temperature is not significantly positive. Being unaware of this constraint Climate Scientists have not calculated feedback correctly and/or all feedbacks have not been accounted for. As a result they calculate an impossible net positive feedback. Without NET positive feedback the Global Climate models predict that Global Warming from doubling atmospheric carbon dioxide will NOT be significant. Without significant Global Warming from increased carbon dioxide, human use of fossil fuels has no significant influence on climate change. See the pdfs linked from http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true for the evidence, to identify the missing science and to see the cause of the temperature run-up in the late 20th century.

Since 2000, atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased 18.4% of the increase from 1800 to 2000. According to the average of the five reporting agencies, the trend of average global temperatures since 1998 shows no increase and from 2002 through 2008 the trend shows a DECREASE of 1.8°C/century. This SEPARATION (there have been many others) corroborates the lack of connection between atmospheric carbon dioxide increase and average global temperature. With no connection between CO2 and temperature there is no connection between CO2 and climate change. As the atmospheric carbon dioxide level continues to increase and the average global temperature doesn’t it is becoming more and more apparent that many Climate Scientists have made an egregious mistake and a whole lot of people have been misled.

I am now CERTAIN that added atmospheric carbon dioxide has no significant influence on average global temperature. For some time I was a skeptic regarding the human contribution to Global Warming. After thousands of hours of research I am no longer a mere skeptic.

Milan July 28, 2009 at 10:31 am

That simply isn’t true. There is a clear link between rising greenhouse gas concentrations (caused by human activity) and increasing temperature.

There are scientific uncertainties about the magnitude of different feedbacks – especially as the climate continues to change – but the statement that “[w]ithout NET positive feedback the Global Climate models predict that Global Warming from doubling atmospheric carbon dioxide will NOT be significant” is without scientific basis.

The Technical Summary of the IPCC AR4 explains this all in detail:

The dominant factor in the radiative forcing of climate in the industrial era is the increasing concentration of various greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Several of the major greenhouse gases occur naturally but increases in their atmospheric concentrations over the last 250 years are due largely to human activities. Other greenhouse gases are entirely the result of human activities.

Current concentrations of atmospheric CO2 and CH4 far exceed pre-industrial values found in polar ice core records of atmospheric composition dating back 650,000 years. Multiple lines of evidence confi rm that the post-industrial rise in these gases does not stem from natural mechanisms

The total radiative forcing of the Earth’s climate due to increases in the concentrations of the LLGHGs CO2, CH4 and N2O, and very likely the rate of increase in the total forcing due to these gases over the period since 1750, are unprecedented in more than 10,000 years

The concentration of atmospheric CO2 has increased from a pre-industrial value of about 280 ppm to 379 ppm in 2005.

Increases in atmospheric CO2 since pre-industrial times are responsible for a radiative forcing of +1.66 ± 0.17 W m–2; a contribution which dominates all other radiative forcing agents considered in this report.

The global average surface temperature has increased, especially since about 1950. The updated 100-year trend (1906–2005) of 0.74°C ± 0.18°C is larger than the 100-year warming trend at the time of the TAR (1901–2000) of 0.6°C ± 0.2°C due to additional warm years. The total temperature increase from 1850-1899 to 2001-2005 is 0.76°C ± 0.19°C. The rate of warming averaged over the last 50 years (0.13°C ± 0.03°C per decade) is nearly twice that for the last 100 years. Three different global estimates all show consistent warming trends. There is also consistency between the data sets in their separate land and ocean domains, and between sea surface temperature (SST) and nighttime marine air temperature

Another good resource for dispelling the faulty arguments of climate change skeptics is the ‘How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic‘ series.

Milan July 28, 2009 at 10:34 am
Dan Pangburn July 28, 2009 at 12:46 pm

“without scientific basis” is interesting since that statement is based on p631 of ch8 of UN IPCC AR4: “In the idealised situation that the climate response to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 consisted of a uniform temperature change only, with no feedbacks operating (but allowing for the enhanced radiative cooling resulting from the temperature increase), the global warming from GCMs would be around 1.2°C (Hansen et al., 1984; Bony et al., 2006).”

The increase in GHG’s, particularly CO2, is not disputed nor is the temperature run-up in the last century. That increased GHGs have no significant influence on average global temperature and thus no significant influence on climate change continues to be revealed by the separation of their trends.

Many others have concluded that added atmospheric carbon dioxide has no significant effect on average global temperature. They include the 31,072 scientists and engineers that signed the Oregon Petition listed at http://www.oism.org/pproject/ . Dr. Roy Spencer, the U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite who has a web site at http://www.drroyspencer.com/ ; Warren Meyer in the form of a video gives an estimate of what the effect on future temperature is for various feedback assumptions at http://www.climate-skeptic.com/ ; Viscount Christopher Monckton, who was science advisor to Margaret Thatcher, argues that “the IPCC’s estimates of climate sensitivity must have been very much exaggerated” at http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/200807/monckton.cfm ; Joanne Nova, who until 2007 believed that greenhouse gases caused global warming, lectures on the subject and has published The Skeptic’s Handbook which can be viewed at http://joannenova.com.au/global-warming/ . Dr. Richard S. Lindzen who is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says “…global warming/climate change has developed so much momentum that it has a life of its own – quite removed from science” at http://motls.blogspot.com/2009/06/richard-lindzen-on-climate-sensitivity.html .

Matt July 28, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Dan, in searching some of your work on google I found an interesting sentence you had written on this webpage:

“Actions to control the amount of non-condensing greenhouse gases that are added to the atmosphere are based on the mistaken assumption that global warming was caused by human activity. These actions put freedom and prosperity at risk. ”

But wouldn’t unabated climate change also put freedom and prosperity at risk as well? Also, climate change aside, why is it undesirable to move away from non-renewable energy sources? Certainly oil and coal are finite resources. Depleted, and with no alternative energy infrastructure in place, we would not prosper.

Milan July 29, 2009 at 10:48 am

It is odd that you would cite a study that clearly and emphatically disagrees with you. The summary for chapter 8 says, among other things:

“Climate models are based on well-established physical principles and have been demonstrated to reproduce observed features of recent climate (see Chapters 8 and 9) and past climate changes (see Chapter 6). There is considerable confi dence that Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Models (AOGCMs) provide credible quantitative estimates of future climate change, particularly at continental and larger scales.”

This supports the contention that rising temperatures are caused by rising greenhouse gas concentration, not your odd assertion that the trends are ‘seperated.’

As for the Oregon Petition, DeSmogBlog has some good information:

“The Oregon Petition has been used by climate change deniers as proof that there is no scientific consensus, however they fail to note the controversy surrounding the petition itself. In April 1998, and individual named Art Robinson and his organization, the “Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, along with the Exxon-backed George C. Marshall Institute, co-published the infamous “Oregon Petition” claiming to have collected 17,000 signatories to a document arguing against the realities of global warming.

The petition and the documents included were all made to look like official papers from the prestigious National Academy of Science. They weren’t, and this attempt to mislead has been well-documented.

Along with the petition there was a cover letter from Dr. Fred Seitz, a notorious climate change denier (and big tobacco scientist), who over 30 years ago was the president of the National Academy of Science. Also attached to the petition was an apparent “research paper” titled: Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. The paper was made to mimic what a research paper would look like in the National Academy’s prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy journal. The authors of the paper were Robinson, Sallie Baliunas, Willie Soon (both oil-backed scientists) and Robinson’s son Zachary. With the signature of a former NAS president and a research paper that appeared to be published in one of the most prestigious science journals in the world, many scientists were duped into signing a petition based on a false impression.

The petition was so misleading that the National Academy issued a news release stating that: “The petition project was a deliberate attempt to mislead scientists and to rally them in an attempt to undermine support for the Kyoto Protocol. The petition was not based on a review of the science of global climate change, nor were its signers experts in the field of climate science.””

Milan July 29, 2009 at 11:01 am

As for Roy Spencer, Viscount Christopher Monckton, Joanne Nova, Richard S. Lindzen, etc – I could spend the time to look up whether their views are being misrepresented, whether they are simply wrong, or whatever. As it happens, I have better uses for my time.

The fact is that the world’s scientific community has long understood that climate change is dangerous and caused by human beings. The continued efforts of climate change deniers are about preventing the action necessary to deal with the problem, or at least delaying it as long as possible. They are not about any kind of real scientific rigour or desire for truth (though some people are probably deluded into thinking so).

Back in 2005, the national science academies of the G8 nations and Brazil, China and India agreed about this:

“There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world’s climate. However there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring. The evidence comes from direct measurements of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes to many physical and biological systems. It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities. This warming has already led to changes in the Earth’s climate.

The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action. It is vital that all nations identify cost-effective steps that they can take now, to contribute to substantial and long-term reduction in net global greenhouse gas emissions.

Action taken now to reduce significantly the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will lessen the magnitude and rate of climate change. As the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognises, a lack of full scientific certainty about some aspects of climate change is not a reason for delaying an immediate response that will, at a reasonable cost, prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.

Combined with the judgment of the IPCC, that carries enormously more weight than the beliefs of a small band of people, many of whom are in the pocket of big oil companies and/or used to argue that tobacco doesn’t cause lung cancer.

R.K. July 29, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Dan Pangburn is busy on Wikipedia, as well.

. July 29, 2009 at 1:20 pm

22 July 09

The 30,000 Global Warming Petition is Easily-Debunked Propaganda

To say that the oft-touted “30,000 Global Warming Petition” project stinks would be an understatement.

I thought it would be timely to once-again breakdown this flawed piece of global warming denier propaganda after it was mentioned last night in Daily Show host Jon Stewart’s interview with US Energy Secretary of Energy, Dr. Stephen Chu.

Dan Pangburn July 29, 2009 at 10:34 pm

Matt, ‘unabated climate change’ has always been the case. It always has and always will present uncertainty. There isn’t much that humanity can do about it except build dams, and otherwise prepare to deal with it. The effect, if any, of added atmospheric carbon dioxide is lost in the natural variability.

As to finite fossil resources I agree completely. Research money would be far better spent to modify the DNA of some algae that are high oil producers to make them more robust and/or other algae that are robust to make them higher oil producers. (There was Government sponsored research to identify high oil-producing algae in the 90s that was not exploited because of cheap oil at that time) Calculations (mine) based on that work show that an open facility (which could be located in the desert) 120 miles on a side using only sunlight, sea water (fresh water doesn’t have the carbon) and genetically engineered algae could produce enough oil to meet all liquid fuel needs in the U.S.A. I am pleased to see ads by Exxon talking about algae. A huge capital investment would be needed. My WAG is $2 billion for a demo after the genetically engineered algae is developed.

Alternatively, known technology using fast breeder nuclear reactors could meet all of humanities needs for energy for millions of years. The country is going to need more electricity fast to feed the coming wave of plug-in hybrids even with off-peak charging. With gas consumption (tax) reduced, do you suppose anyone has thought about how highway maintenance will be paid for.

Dan Pangburn July 30, 2009 at 2:50 am

Milan, I think that 1.2 C is too high for the no feedback case but that is what IPCC claims. IPCC does feedback wrong so their other predictions of AGW will not materialize. It is trivial to show that there is no significant NET positive feedback from average global temperature.

I wonder how large the separation will need to get for you and a lot of others to notice.

As to the petition project (the web site now says 31,478 have signed), the attempts to detract from its validity are getting pretty frantic. Meanwhile the sun has gone quiet, the planet stopped warming and the CO2 keeps going up. The sun has not been this quiet this long since 1913.

There is scientific certainty that added atmospheric carbon dioxide has no significant influence on average global temperature and therefore on climate change. The erroneous conclusion that added CO2 causes global warming results from scientists, particularly Climate Scientists apparently not being knowledgeable in certain relevant science.

Anything that is done to reduce CO2 to reduce global warming/climate change is a mistake. But then a lot of paychecks and political control depend on continuing to ignore that human activity does not cause global warming and therefore does not cause climate change.

Milan July 30, 2009 at 9:01 am

1) It is not “trivial to show that there is no significant NET positive feedback from average global temperature.” The scientific consensus is that climate sensitivity is probably between 2˚C and 4.5˚C. That means if we continue to emit on a business-as-usual course, we will see a really serious amount of warming.

2) If you can provide evidence of a meaningful ‘divergence’ between atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gasses and radiative forcing, please submit it for peer review by a reputable journal. Even such a temporary divergence would not be proof that greenhouse gasses do not cause warming, since there could be a temporary countervailing effect. In any case, simply asserting this – in contradiction to the work of the IPCC and others – with no proof is not convincing.

3) The petition is dubious for the reasons cited above, and the sun is not the cause of the climate change we have been experiencing in recent decades.

4) There is actually considerable scientific certainty that adding CO2 to the atmosphere warms the planet. Knowledge about the nature of greenhouse gasses has existed since John Tyndall published the results of his experiments in 1859; the first calculations of what effect human greenhouse gas emissions would have on the planetary system were conducted by Svante Arrhenius in 1896. You ignore a lot of well-established physics and chemistry when you baldly assert otherwise.

5) Stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations is critical to producing a stable climate, and must be achieved before strong positive feedbacks (such as melting permafrost releasing methane) kick in. This conclusion is based on the best science available, not the self-interest of any particular parties.

Milan July 30, 2009 at 9:03 am

Those wanting a better understanding of the long history of climate science, and the strength of the present consensus, should consider reading:

Spencer Weart’s The Discovery of Global Warming (available free online)

Richard Alley’s The Two Mile Time Machine. Ice Cores, Abrupt Climate Change, and Our Future.

Milan July 30, 2009 at 9:20 am

More on climate sensitivity (the amount of warming projected to result from doubling the concentration of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere):

R.K. July 30, 2009 at 10:08 am

Dan,

Are you saying that CO2 does cause warming, but that feedbacks in the system automatically and perfectly balance it out?

If so, why would that be? The system has not been stable across geological time. Indeed, it has been shown that the feedbacks in the climate system often amplify inputs (of the kind humanity is producing now by burning fossil fuels). If small changes in orbital configurations can be amplified into ice age cycles, just think what the solid kick we are now delivering to the climate system could do.

So far, you have offered no credible evidence for why the IPCC conclusions are incorrect.

Dan Pangburn July 30, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Milan, The demonstration is in the link from my first post. It may require that the science be understood. The ‘concensus’ apparently are not knowledgeable in the relevant science since they did not recognize the evidence.

The divergence was presented in my first post. The average global temperature anomalies averaged for each year for the five agencies are as follows.

YEAR AVG
1998 0.55
1999 0.23
2000 0.22
2001 0.37
2002 0.45
2003 0.44
2004 0.38
2005 0.48
2006 0.41
2007 0.42
2008 0.28

The data can be checked using the following links to the five agencies:
NOAA
ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/anomalies/annual.land_and_ocean.90S.90N.df_1901-2000mean.dat
Hadley
http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/hadcrut3gl.txt
GISS
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt
RSS
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/rss_monthly_msu_amsu_channel_tlt_anomalies_land_and_ocean.txt
UAH
http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/t2lt/uahncdc.lt

The CO2 data is:
1800, 280 ppmv; 2000, 370; Dec 2008, 386.5 The data for 1800 can be obtained from http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/ . The recent data is from Mauna Loa at ftp://ftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/ccg/co2/trends/co2_annmean_mlo.txt .

Certainly the sun is a factor since time integration of sunspots correlates with the run-up of average global temperature in the 20th century. Sunspot changes appear to be a catalyst for cloud changes and therefore have much greater influence on average global temperature than total solar irradiance (TSI). There are indications that other factors may be involved such as cosmic rays, other solar activity, etc.

The warming caused by added CO2 is not significant. That is, it is small compared to natural variation. The Climate Science mistake is including features in their models that result in substantial NET positive feedback which is impossible. With zero feedback they predict 1.2 C which is still high probably because of the faulty parameterization of clouds.

The irrelevance of added atmospheric CO2 was demonstrated during the late Ordovician when the planet plunged into the Andean/Saharan ice age when the CO2 level was over ten times the present. For those who would like to check this there is a composite graph at http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Carboniferous_climate.html which uses data on the carbon dioxide level by R. A. Berner, at http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Reference_Docs/Geocarb_III-Berner.pdf and on temperature by C. R. Scotese, athttp://www.scotese.com/climate.htm .

Discretion is appropriate when reviewing work by people whose paychecks depend on what they say. That is why I did my own research which, thanks to Google, an advanced engineering degree and being retired I could competently do. I would like to see the number of people who have changed from warmer to skeptic on retirement compared to the number of people who have changed from skeptic to warmer.

Dan Pangburn July 30, 2009 at 7:28 pm

R. K., ADDED CO2 causes slight (small compared to natural variation) warming. I have not yet attempted to determine the value of NET feedback (the combination of all factors, known or not) except to discover that it is not significantly positive. Work by others shows it to be strongly negative.

The hundreds of years lag of CO2 change to average global temperature change corroborates that CO2 change does not cause temperature change.

I expect that the continuation of the current downtrend in average global temperature and increase in CO2 is about the only thing that will convince the IPCC and a lot of others that maybe they missed something.

Milan July 31, 2009 at 10:27 am

Dan,

What sort of figures are you quoting in that time series? It isn’t very meaningful as just a list of dates and unexplained numbers.

Certainly the sun is a factor since time integration of sunspots correlates with the run-up of average global temperature in the 20th century.

This isn’t true.

“According to PMOD at the World Radiation Center there has been no increase in solar irradiance since at least 1978 when satellite observations began. This means that for the last thirty years, while the temperature has been rising fastest, the sun has shown no trend.

This chart attributes observed warming with various forcings. As you can see, greenhouse gasses are the dominant factor.

The warming caused by added CO2 is not significant. That is, it is small compared to natural variation.

This is misleading.

“While it is undoubtably true that there are some cycles and natural variations in global climate, anyone who wishes to insist that the current warming is purely natural or even just mostly natural has two challenges. Firstly, they need to identify just what the mechanism is behind this alleged natural cycle, because absent a forcing of some sort, there will be no change in global energy balance. So natural or otherwise, we should be able to find this mysterious cause. Secondly, a “natural cause” proponent needs to come up with some explanation for how a 35% increase in the second most important greenhouse gas does not itself affect the global temperature. Theory predicts that the temperature will rise given an enhanced greenhouse effect, how is it possible this is not happening?

In other words, the mainstream climate science community has provided a well developed, internally consistent theory that predicts the effects we are observing. It provides explanations and makes predictions. Where is the sceptic community’s model, or theory whereby CO2 does not affect the temperature? Where is the evidence of some other natural forcing, like the Milankovich cycles that controlled the ice ages, a fine historical example of a very dramatic and very regular climate cycle that can be read in the ice core records taken both in Greenland and in the Antarctic?”

We have excellent evidence that the planet is warming, greenhouse gas concentrations are rising, people are causing the rise, and the rise is causing warming. Further, we have very good reaosn to believe that further warming would be dangerous.

Milan July 31, 2009 at 10:31 am

You should really consider reading the two books I mentioned above.

Alley’s book provides a very detailed explanation of how we know what we do about how the climate worked across a geological timespan, and what is happening now. Weart’s book provides an excellent explanation of the overall development of climatic science.

If you are devoting your retirement to studying climate change, such things are worth knowing.

Milan July 31, 2009 at 10:40 am

I have not yet attempted to determine the value of NET feedback (the combination of all factors, known or not) except to discover that it is not significantly positive.

How have you been trying to do this? Presumably, you have created your own General Circulation Model? That’s the only way to begin to comprehend the complexity of the climate system, and it is no small undertaking. Models such as those used by the Hadley Centre are highly complex and run on supercomputers.

That being said, the comparatively simple pen-and-paper model used by Svante Arrhenius produced an estimate that climate sensitivity was 5 – 6 °C. That compares decently with the IPCC estimate that it is probably between 2 – 4.5 °C.

The hundreds of years lag of CO2 change to average global temperature change corroborates that CO2 change does not cause temperature change.

This is also misleading.

A close examination of the CH4, CO2 and temperature fluctuations recorded in the Antarctic ice core records does in fact reveal that yes, the temperature moved first in what is, when viewed coarsely, a very tight correlation. But what it is not correct, is to say the temperature rose and then hundreds of years later the CO2 rose. These warming periods lasted for 5,000 to 10,000 years (the cooling periods lasted more like 100,000 years!) so for the majority of that time (90% and more) temperature and CO2 rose together. This means that this remarkably detailed archive of climatological evidence clearly allows for CO2 acting as a cause for rising temperatures while also revealing it can be an effect of them.

The current understanding of those cycles is that changes in orbital parameters (Milankovich and other cycles) caused greater amounts of summer sunlight to fall in the northern hemisphere. This is actually a very small forcing, but it caused ice to retreat in the north which changed the albedo. This change, reducing the amount of white, reflective ice surface, led to increasing the warmth more in a feedback effect. Some number of centuries after that process started, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere began to rise and this also amplified the warming trend even further as an additional feedback mechanism.

You can also go here for a discussion by climate scientists of exactly this question but with greater technical detail and full references to the scientific literature.

So, it is correct that CO2 did not trigger the warmings, but it definitely did contribute to them, and according to climate theory and model experiments, greenhouse gas forcing was the dominant factor in the magnitude of the ultimate change.

One warning that this gives us for the future is that we may well see additional natural CO2 come out of the woodwork as whatever process that took place repeatedly over the last 650K years begins to play out again. The likely candidates are out gassing from warming ocean waters, carbon from warming soils and methane from melting permafrost.”

I expect that the continuation of the current downtrend in average global temperature and increase in CO2 is about the only thing that will convince the IPCC and a lot of others that maybe they missed something.

There is no such downward trend in temperature, nor in related indicators like Arctic sea ice, or the migration of species northward and uphill.

What do you think is happening to the Arctic ice?

Dan Pangburn August 1, 2009 at 6:49 pm

Milan, “…quoting in that time series.” They are simple arithmetic averages of the values from the links. You can check them for yourself.

“This isn’t true.” It certainly is true as is shown by a look at the pdf linked from http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true which also gives the source of the sunspot data.

“…no increase in solar irradiance…” That link is not relevant since my assessment used sunspots not TSI.

“This chart…” Wikipedia is wrong as they often are on anything that is controversial since article content gets controlled by administrators and reflects their bias. The graph is little more than high tech curve fitting. None of the GCMs predicted the current observed separation between CO2 and average global temperature trends.

“…they need to identify just what the mechanism is behind this alleged natural cycle…” No they don’t. The warmers need to prove their case and the data is proving them wrong. A rational explanation (with no curve fitting) for the past warming is presented in a pdf at the above link.

“…absent a forcing of some sort…” The forcing is from outside the planet.

“…climate science community…” They apparently lack understanding of relevant science that, with paleo temperature data, shows that NET feedback from average global temperature is not significantly positive.

Dan Pangburn August 1, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Milan, I have read Weart’s stuff that is on line. It will be interesting to see his rationalization of the continued increase of CO2 and flat to declining temperature that contradicts AGW predictions.

I am not familiar with Alley’s book but the review that you linked to was not very complimentary and his book didn’t appear to present anything that I was not already aware of.

The temperature record does not even need to be correct in absolute terms just reasonably accurate in relative terms to show that NET feedback from average global temperature is not significantly positive. The temperature data from Vostok, EPICA and Dome Fuji all agree reasonably well and all show the trend direction changes that would not be possible if NET feedback from average global temperature was significantly positive. Without net positive feedback, AGW is not significant, and without AGW human activity has no significant effect on climate change.

Dan Pangburn August 2, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Milan, “How have you been trying to do this?” It’s done. It’s described in the link. It is obvious if the relevant science is understood. A GCM is not needed to determine that NET feedback is not significantly positive. With understanding of the relevant science it is so easy that it rises to trivial. All that is needed is to observe that there are temperature trend direction changes. The finding imposes a constraint on GCMs that the NET feedback, which is the combination of all ‘feedbacks’ as determined by Climate Scientists, can not be significantly positive.

“…Arrhenius produced an estimate…” Arrhenius obviously didn’t (Bode’s seminal paper was in 1945) and Climate Scientists and the IPCC apparently don’t understand the relevant science.

“…allows for CO2 acting as a cause for rising temperatures while also revealing it can be an effect of them…” It is amazing that there are people gullible enough to accept this creative rationalization. Some factor other than CO2 level obviously causes the temperature trend direction changes. The direction changes are from downtrend to up-trend as well as vice versa. The influence of carbon dioxide change must be less significant than the factor(s) that cause the trend direction changes.

“…changes in orbital parameters…” The shortest Milankovitch cycle is about 23,000 years. Changes brought about by it can not significantly influence anything that happens with cycles of hundreds or even a few thousands of years. Anyone who is familiar with dynamic systems understands why this is so.

“…CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere began to rise and this also amplified the warming trend…” A valid climate theory would need to also show the decline in temperature from the medieval warm period to the depth of the Little Ice Age during which the atmospheric CO2 level remained nearly constant.

“…according to climate theory…” Climate Scientists could benefit from studying the influence of the 7% decline in ocean surface area from the peak of an interglacial to the low of a glacial period, the effect that this would have on average cloud altitude (and thus the temperature of these radiating entities), and the effect that would have on average global temperature. As to current climate, I have yet to see any reference to the Fresnel equation effect of increased reflection of incident solar radiation from the ocean surface at shallow sun angles.

“…no such downward trend in temperature…” The anomalies and links to the sources that show the current downward trend are given above. By ignoring them and corroborating information a person qualifies as a Natural-Climate-Change Denier.

“What do you think is happening…” The arctic ice area undoubtedly correlates at least roughly with average global temperature. I expect that other factors such as underwater volcano activity, ocean currents, winds, etc. are also involved. It has nothing to do with whether added atmospheric CO2 causes global warming.

To those who have interest, arctic ice area for several years is graphed at http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/seaice/extent/AMSRE_Sea_Ice_Extent.png . As apparent on this graph, arctic ice area appears to vary in response to factors that are not well understood. It was above the maximum of the range of data for over 7 years in May, is now below average but the trajectory points towards a comparative increase. Spot checks of this chart agree with the ‘official’ data at http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/ .

Milan August 2, 2009 at 4:58 pm

You really cannot work out climatic sensitivity without a GCM. There are so many feedbacks to take into account.

For instance, there are changes in cloud cover, the extent of icesheets and glaciers, patterns of air and ocean circulation, changes in biological processes, changes in permafrost, etc, etc, etc. You need to model all (or at least most) of these to appreciate how much warming will result from a particular change in greenhouse gas concentrations.

If your model doesn’t take these into consideration, it isn’t very credible. The models evaluated by the IPCC do take these things into account. They also do a good job of explaining recent climatic history, and they show a strong link between warming and greenhouse gas concentrations.

Milan August 2, 2009 at 5:02 pm

The IPCC has considered the radiative forcing effects of many different phenomena: greenhouse gas concentrations and changes in solar irradiance included.

The scientific community has determined that changes in solar irradiance have a minor impact, compared to greenhouse gasses. In short, the warming we are observing isn’t caused by sunspots, or any other solar phenomenon. For the most part, it is caused by greenhouse gasses being emitted as the result of human activities.

. August 2, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Greenhouse Speculations: Arrhenius and Callendar

The next major scientist to consider the question was another man with broad interests, Svante Arrhenius in Stockholm. He too was attracted by the great riddle of the prehistoric ice ages. In 1896 Arrhenius completed a laborious numerical computation which suggested that cutting the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by half could lower the temperature in Europe some 4-5°C (roughly 7-9°F) — that is, to an ice age level. But this idea could only answer the riddle of the ice ages if such large changes in atmospheric composition really were possible. For that question Arrhenius turned to a colleague, Arvid Högbom. It happened that Högbom had compiled estimates for how carbon dioxide cycles through natural geochemical processes, including emission from volcanoes, uptake by the oceans, and so forth. Along the way he had come up with a strange, almost incredible new idea.

It had occurred to Högbom to calculate the amounts of CO2 emitted by factories and other industrial sources. Surprisingly, he found that human activities were adding CO2 to the atmosphere at a rate roughly comparable to the natural geochemical processes that emitted or absorbed the gas. The added gas was not much compared with the volume of CO2 already in the atmosphere — the CO2 released from the burning of coal in the year 1896 would raise the level by scarcely a thousandth part. But the additions might matter if they continued long enough. (By recent calculations, the total amount of carbon laid up in coal and other fossil deposits that humanity can readily get at and burn is some ten times greater than the total amount in the atmosphere.) So the next CO2 change might not be a cooling decrease, but an increase. Arrhenius made a calculation for doubling the CO2 in the atmosphere, and estimated it would raise the Earth’s temperature some 5-6°C.

. August 2, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Changing Sun, Changing Climate?
Since it is the Sun’s energy that drives the weather system, scientists naturally wondered whether they might connect climate changes with solar variations. Yet the Sun seemed to be stable over the timescale of human lifetimes. Attempts to discover cyclic variations in weather and connect them with the 11-year sunspot cycle, or other possible solar cycles ranging up to a few centuries long, gave results that were ambiguous at best. These attempts got a well-deserved bad reputation. Jack Eddy overcame this with a 1976 study that demonstrated that irregular variations in solar surface activity, a few centuries long, were connected with major climate shifts. The mechanism remained uncertain, but plausible candidates emerged. The next crucial question was whether a rise in the Sun’s activity could explain the global warming seen in the 20th century? By the 1990s, there was a tentative answer: minor solar variations could indeed have been partly responsible for some past fluctuations… but future warming from the rise in greenhouse gases would far outweigh any solar effects.

R.K. August 2, 2009 at 6:45 pm

Dan,

It’s hard to know whether you genuinely believe any of this, or whether you are one of the many people trying to create confusion and thereby delay action on climate change.

The sources and arguments you have deployed are basically not credible, and they are stacked against the conclusions reached by very credible studies and institutions. The scientific community has accepted the fact that human GHG emissions cause warming. As a global society, we now need to begin the process of cutting back, eventually down to zero.

Dan Pangburn August 3, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Milan, “You really cannot work out climatic sensitivity without a GCM” I expect that to be true and I have not attempted to do so. As I said above “A GCM is not needed to determine that NET feedback is not significantly positive.” That means the net of all ‘feedbacks’, all of those you mentioned, all of those that others know about and even all of those that are unknown. Combine them all and the NET can not be significantly positive. Without positive feedback none of the GCMs predict significant global warming.

“…the warming we are observing isn’t caused by sunspots…” The correlation that I did using ‘official’ data is presented in the pdfs linked from http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true indicates that there is a connection between sunspots and the 20th century warming.

Milan August 3, 2009 at 1:06 pm

A GCM is not needed to determine that NET feedback is not significantly positive.

This just isn’t credible. It’s like saying that you can work out the effect of a particular economic policy without modeling how it would play out in the complex financial system. Before you can say greenhouse gasses don’t cause net warming (which they do, in fact), you need to model their effects on the systems I listed above and more.

Indeed, a GCM is about the only way you could argue that greenhouse gasses would not cause warming, since their demonstrated direct effect is to absorb infrared energy that would otherwise be lost to space. Only the presence of a strong negative feedback (incorporated into an overall climate model) could negate this known effect.

The correlation that I did using ‘official’ data is presented in the pdfs linked

Whether you consider your sunspot data ‘official’ or not, the theory is discredited.

Models based around changes in solar behaviour cannot account for observed changes in temperature and other phenonema, whereas models based on the effect of greenhouse gasses can. These models are based around long-understood physics and chemistry and have been endorsed by the world’s most credible scientific organizations, including the IPCC and national science academies.

. August 3, 2009 at 1:08 pm

The trouble with sunspots
RealClimate

A new review paper by Foukal et al does a reasonable job summarising the mainstream opinion on the issue. In particular, they outline quite clearly why some ideas related to long term solar variability (such as solar disk radius changes, or the difference between cycling and non-cycling stars) have recently fallen out of favor. Indeed, they assert that there is little evidence for any solar variability in irradiance that is not related to the shielding/enhancements of sunspots and faculae – which implies only a modest decrease in solar flux at the Maunder Minimum for instance. We could quibble with their use of paleo-reconstructions, their climate modeling approach, and the rather cursory treatment of the substantial body of work relating to amplyfying mechanisms due to UV/ozone links, but we’ve gone over this ground before and we refer readers to those earlier discussions.

Dan Pangburn August 3, 2009 at 1:21 pm

.
See my comments above on Weart and Arrhenius. Weart apparently does not understand the relevant science which, with observed temperature trend direction reversals, shows that NET feedback is not significantly positive and Arrhenius was long gone before that science was introduced.

Milan August 3, 2009 at 1:38 pm
Milan August 3, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Another credible discussion of how to attribute observed temperature increases is Chapter 9 of the IPCC AR4: Understanding and Attributing Climate Change.

“Human-induced warming of the climate system is widespread. Anthropogenic warming of the climate system can be detected in temperature observations taken at the surface, in the troposphere and in the oceans. Multi-signal detection and attribution analyses, which quantify the contributions of different natural and anthropogenic forcings to observed changes, show that greenhouse gas forcing alone during the past half century would likely have resulted in greater than the observed warming if there had not been an offsetting cooling effect from aerosol and other forcings.

It is extremely unlikely (<5%) that the global pattern of warming during the past half century can be explained without external forcing, and very unlikely that it is due to known natural external causes alone. The warming occurred in both the ocean and the atmosphere and took place at a time when natural external forcing factors would likely have produced cooling. Greenhouse gas forcing has very likely caused most of the observed global warming over the last 50 years. This conclusion takes into account observational and forcing uncertainty, and the possibility that the response to solar forcing could be underestimated by climate models. It is also robust to the use of different climate models, different methods for estimating the responses to external forcing and variations in the analysis technique.

Further evidence has accumulated of an anthropogenic influence on the temperature of the free atmosphere as measured by radiosondes and satellite-based instruments. The observed pattern of tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling is very likely due to the influence of anthropogenic forcing, particularly greenhouse gases and stratospheric ozone depletion. The combination of a warming troposphere and a cooling stratosphere has likely led to an increase in the height of the tropopause. It is likely that anthropogenic forcing has contributed to the general warming observed in the upper several hundred meters of the ocean during the latter half of the 20th century. Anthropogenic forcing, resulting in thermal expansion from ocean warming and glacier mass loss, has very likely contributed to sea level rise during the latter half of the 20th century. It is difficult to quantify the contribution of anthropogenic forcing to ocean heat content increase and glacier melting with presently available detection and attribution studies.”

You should read the whole chapter, or at least the summary for policymakers.

Milan August 3, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Incidentally, ‘.’ is not a person. Rather, it is a persona that anyone can use to link to relevant news or information.

Dan Pangburn August 3, 2009 at 2:15 pm

RK,
“…whether you genuinely believe…” I don’t need to believe others and am especially suspicious of anything from anyone with an agenda. As I said above, ‘I did my own research’. And I constantly challenge it.

“…sources and arguments you have deployed are basically not credible…” Links to the data sources which are NOAA and ORNL are given. Which of the sources do you consider not credible?

“The scientific community has accepted the fact that human GHG emissions cause warming.” And eventually it will become undeniable that the warming, if any, from added atmospheric CO2 is insignificant compared to natural climate change.

Dan Pangburn August 3, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Milan,

The deadline for input to AR4 was May 2006 which is over 3 years ago. The recent temperature downtrend with continued increase in CO2 contradicts predictions from AR4. An independent examination of the evidence available on the causes and consequences of climate change in the published, peer-reviewed literature – examined without bias and selectivity by NIPCC can be seen at http://www.heartland.org/custom/semod_policybot/pdf/22835.pdf . This 2008 report includes the following statement. “The IPCC is pre-programmed to produce reports to support the hypotheses of anthropogenic warming and the control of greenhouse gases, as envisioned in the Global Climate Treaty. The 1990 IPCC Summary completely ignored satellite data, since they showed no warming. The 1995 IPCC report was notorious for the significant alterations made to the text after it was approved by the scientists – in order to convey the impression of a human influence. The 2001 IPCC report claimed the twentieth century showed ‘unusual warming’ based on the now-discredited hockey-stick graph. The latest IPCC report, published in 2007, completely devaluates the climate contributions from changes in solar activity, which are likely to dominate any human influence.”

It appears that the IPCC prefers theory over observation. I did word searches of AR4 Ch9 and the NIPCC report using word fragments to catch all forms of selected words. Total appearances of the three word fragments simulat, model, and calculat appear 37% more often and the word fragment estimat appears 96% more often in AR4 compared to the NIPCC report. The three word fragments data, measure, and instrument occur 2.25 times more often in the NIPCC report than they do in AR4.

R.K. August 3, 2009 at 9:36 pm

You’re quoting the Heartland Institute now? If so, you can no longer argue that your sources are credible.

. August 3, 2009 at 9:38 pm

DeSmogBlog >> Heartland Institute

tom c August 3, 2009 at 10:40 pm

No peer reviewed back engineered paper proving co2 causes global temperature rise leaves the premise as simple conjecture. Nothing more. It’s as simple as that. I’m amazed by how the simplest of vetting processes have been discounted; a simple fraud.

Dan Pangburn August 3, 2009 at 11:38 pm

R.K.,
Spoken like a typical Natural-Climate-Change Denier.

Heartland was not used as a data source when showing that added atmospheric carbon dioxide has no significant influence on climate change.

Links to the data sources that WERE used which are NOAA and ORNL are given. I am still wondering which of these sources you consider to be not credible.

R.K. August 4, 2009 at 7:14 am

The climate is a system that responds to forcings, and there are many past examples. They include the spread of photosynthetic organisms, consequences of continental drift, and small cyclical changes in orbital configuration.

The dominant forcing now – as demonstrated by overwhelming evidence – is greenhouse gasses emitted by human beings. They are forcing the climate system to shift: with warming, changes in precipitation, and other effects. Taken too far, these shifts are likely to be profoundly harmful to human beings.

Indeed, the fact that small changes in the past sometimes got amplified into big swings is cause for concern. It suggests that the climate system is not self-balancing, as you seem to believe.

Matt August 4, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Tom C, perhaps you’re blind to the fact that there are peer reviewed sources.

This article gives a good explanation of CO2 and Climate Change and lists its peer reviewed sources there at the end for you to see.

2 seconds on Google and you could have proven yourself wrong.

Matt August 4, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Dan, I don’t get your angle, to be honest. According to your online bio you’re educated, and you’ve written coherently. But whether or not you think that climate change is natural or man-made, you’re admitting to climate change. Aren’t you concerned about the consequences and wouldn’t your time be better spent advocating for solutions to the problems that lie ahead rather than advocating that climate scientists are wrong (which accomplishes basically nothing, by the way)?

Dan Pangburn August 4, 2009 at 1:21 pm

R. K.,
Apparently you are unable to do your own research in spite of having links to credible data and even the data itself handed to you. Instead you prefer to believe the stuff put out by people whose pay checks depend on their making dire predictions.

Politicians exploit the dire predictions in their need to control others and the media exploit both to increase their audience and sell advertising. Meanwhile, freedom and prosperity are lost.

Added atmospheric CO2 has no significant influence on climate as has been demonstrated repeatedly over time. In the late Ordovician period the planet plunged into the Andean/Saharan ice age when the CO2 level was over ten times the current level. Multiple times, which are easy to see from widely available graphs, during the last and previous ice ages temperature trends changed from down to up and vice versa which demonstrates (if you understand the relevant science (some engineers do but most, if not all, Climate Scientists don’t)), contrary to the ‘Global Warming Theory’, that there is no significant NET positive feedback from average global temperature. Without feedback the GCMs predict no significant warming. Without warming, there is no significant influence on climate change.

And then there is the recent data. I provided a summary in my July 28 post and the data and links to it later. Here again is the summary: Since 2000, atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased 18.4% of the increase from 1800 to 2000. According to the average of the five reporting agencies, the trend of average global temperatures since 1998 shows no increase and from 2002 through 2008 the trend shows a DECREASE of 1.8°C/century.

As the atmospheric carbon dioxide level continues to increase and the average global temperature doesn’t it is becoming more and more apparent that many climate scientists have made an egregious mistake and a whole lot of people have been misled. The last time the sun has been this quiet this long was in 1913. Think about it.

Matt August 4, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Dan, we’ve already addressed freedom and prosperity. With unabated climate change, both suffer. I don’t think its considered prosperous to have to deal with drought, decreased arable land, failing energy supplies and any of the other things we can look forward to in the future if we stay the present course.

The fact is, we are facing tough decisions. How do we progress civilization so that it is sustainable in the future. It’s not as though those concerned about climate are self-hating emo kids bent on sticking it to society, it’s that we want to have a planet to live on.

I recently heard an analogy that stuck with me (credit to David Suzuki): Imagine a test tube filled with a solution capable of nourishing bacteria. At minute zero you insert 1 bacterium into the tube and at minute one it divides and now you have two. And minute 2, those two divide into four, and so forth every minute. At minute 60, we consider the tube to be full, there’s no more food for the bacteria. When is the tube half full?

Well, in thinking about this, you can see the tube is half full at minute 59. In a way, with our consumption, humans are at the 59th minute. The global population was half of what it is now in the 1960s. We cannot sustain another doubling, and expect to have enough energy and food for everyone. To make things worse, climate change threatens the supply of both. Immediate action is needed to preserve our ability just to feed ourselves. To quote you, “Think about it.”

Dan Pangburn August 4, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Matt,
Climate has always changed and always will. I have never said or even thought otherwise. Added atmospheric carbon dioxide has nothing to do with it. The reason for exposing the mistake of Climate Scientists is to counter the influence that they have on Politicians who come up with things like Cap and Trade that redistribute wealth from the successful to the unsuccessful and stifle prosperity for everyone. A measure of prosperity is what fraction of time is spent to acquire food and comfort. In the developed world that ultimately translates to the cost of energy.

With some thought it is apparent that the retail price of any new product sold retail at a profit is directly proportional to its total energy content (all of the energy, including indirect energy, that was expended to produce it and get it to the checkout counter). The earth does not charge. Increase the cost of energy and you decrease prosperity.

Carbon dioxide is an odorless, tasteless, transparent gas that is absolutely necessary for all visible life on earth. The perception that it is pollution is, at best, technologically challenged.

There is a legitimate reason to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and that is that the supply is finite. Natural gas is used to heat an awful lot of homes and since no practical retrofit is available its depletion is a real concern. Natural gas should not be used to generate electricity. Coal is cheap and there is a lot of it but there is concern for mercury and sulfur pollution of the atmosphere and again, the supply is finite.

Currently the most cost-effective way to generate electricity is by exploiting nuclear fission. The French and others are doing it big time but special interest groups have created so much paranoia about safety in this country that no one has dared to build a nuclear powered electricity generating plant here for over 20 years. Also, our misguided politicians effectively prevented extracting more than about 1% of the available energy from nuclear fuel by outlawing recycling (this was a Carter 1977 Executive Order that was later rescinded by Reagan but fear of politics remains).

With the existing known technology of nuclear fission and breeder reactors, all of the energy needs of humanity can be met for millions of years. Generated electricity could provide light, heat and mechanical power for homes and commercial customers plus 80% of personal transportation energy by using plug-in hybrids. The energy could also be used to synthesize liquid fuel for the other 20% of personal transportation. This will eventually need to happen.

Another potential source for liquid fuel is from algae grown in sea water. There was Government sponsored research (http://www.nrel.gov/docs/legosti/fy98/24190.pdf ) to identify high oil-producing algae in the 90s that was not exploited because of cheap oil at that time. Calculations (mine and others) based on that work show that an open facility (which could be located in the desert or possibly the ocean) 120 miles on a side using only genetically engineered algae, sunlight, and sea water could produce enough oil to meet all liquid fuel needs in the U.S.A. (fresh water doesn’t have the carbon but sea water does. It is not necessary to add CO2 to sea water. There is over 50 times as much carbon in the form of dissolved CO2 and CO2 hydration products in the oceans as there is in the atmosphere). One problem discovered during the program is that local robust low-oil species crowd out less robust high-oil species. Research money would be far better spent to modify the DNA of some algae that are high oil producers to make them more robust and/or other algae that are robust to make them higher oil producers. Exxon/Mobil is actively pursuing this http://e360.yale.edu/content/digest.msp?id=1969 and http://www.commodityonline.com/news/Exxon-Mobil-and-the-future-of-algae-based-biofuel-19706-3-1.html . See also http://www.unh.edu/p2/biodiesel/article_alge.html and http://spg.ucsd.edu/algae/pdf/Mayfield_UCSD%20biofuels%201-29.pdf .

Dan Pangburn August 4, 2009 at 6:19 pm

Matt,

Climate is going to continue to change regardless of what humanity does. The harm that the Climate Science community has done is to deceive many into believing that we can do anything about it. The challenge is to not let the fear of climate change deprive us of freedom and prosperity.

Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide is a good thing (to about 600 ppmv when it may start to seem a bit ‘stuffy’ to some in certain situations) because it increases plant growth which adds to the food supply. The temperature has been dropping lately though which is a little scary what with reports of crop failures and people dying from the cold. The eventual problem is the coming glaciation when half of the population will starve because rice does not grow on ice. We (personally) will be gone long before then.

“…those concerned about climate…” As I posted earlier, there isn’t much that humanity can do about climate except build adequate dams, and otherwise prepare to deal with its extremes. The effect, if any, of added atmospheric carbon dioxide is lost in the natural variability.

I like your story about the bacteria. I got a similar one from Dad when I was a kid. You start working for a penny the first day, two cents the second and so on doubling each day for a month. Then the question: Does the job pay well? The flaw in the analogy is the assumption that the doubling will continue. Developed countries are now below replacement rate. World population is still increasing but at a declining rate. I expect that the human population will ultimately be limited by starvation and disease (or self imposed limitation) just like all other species (prior to human influence).

There are a few litterbugs, smokers, etc. that ‘soil the nest’ but I think most folks are concerned about our environment; I certainly am.

Milan August 4, 2009 at 7:31 pm

Links to the data sources which are NOAA and ORNL are given. Which of the sources do you consider not credible?

NOAA clearly has the official position that greenhouse gasses are causing climate change:

Such trace gases, also called greenhouse gases, allow energy from the sun (known as shortwave radiation) to reach the earth’s surface, but absorb energy emitted from the earth (known as longwave radiation); this affects the surface energy balance of the planet by warming the atmosphere directly above it resulting in long-term changes to global climate. Although a greenhouse also works by trapping energy from the sun, the physics is different. The roof of a greenhouse is a slab of glass that traps radiation emitted from the ground which prevents convection (i.e. rising hot air) from allowing heat to escape. The atmospheric greenhouse is based on certain molecules (e.g. carbon dioxide) absorbing radiation at particular wavelengths (such as that emitted from the ground) and reemitting a portion back to the ground. Although an excess of greenhouse gas results in global warming, naturally occurring greenhouse gases are beneficial in keeping our planet at a comfortable temperature.

NOAA conducts lab and field investigations to discover the properties of greenhouse gas molecules that contribute to heating of the Earth. Some of these, like carbon dioxide, have always been present in the atmosphere, but are increasing due to human activity.

Others might be new compounds, introduced into the air by new manufacturing processes. For example, a molecule that was designed to be used to replace ozone-eating chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) was closely examined by a NOAA laboratory, revealing it could have significant implications for global warming.

NOAA has developed a worldwide air sampling network that measures trace gases in the atmosphere. By collecting air samples in remote areas, including four baseline observatories at Antarctica, Mauna Loa on Hawaii, American Samoa, and Barrow, Alaska, NOAA researchers are trying to understand where greenhouse gases come from and where they go.

Is it your view that they are publishing data that shows the opposite and do not understand it, but that you and the people at the Heartland Institute do?

Milan August 4, 2009 at 7:39 pm

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) link you provided leads to the Keeling data from Mauna Loa:

Because of the favorable site location, continuous monitoring, and careful selection and scrutiny of the data, the Mauna Loa record is considered to be a precise record and a reliable indicator of the regional trend in the concentrations of atmospheric CO2 in the middle layers of the troposphere. On the basis of flask samples collected at Mauna Loa, and analyzed by SIO, the annual average of the fitted concentrations of CO2 rose from 315.98 ppmv in 1959 to 385.34 ppmv in 2008. This represents an average annual growth rate of 1.4 ppmv per year in the in situ values at Mauna Loa. For a summary of the flask samples at Mauna Loa and other sites, see http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/sio-keel.html

While this doesn’t attribute the increase to human activities, it certainly doesn’t contradict the idea that greenhouse gasses are accumulating in the atmosphere.

Where you quote credible sources, they do not agree with your sunspot hypothesis. In at least the case of NOAA, the explicitly support the theory that greenhouse gasses are causing observed warming.

Matt August 5, 2009 at 3:20 am

The flaw in the analogy is the assumption that the doubling will continue.

Yes, I agree. There will be pressures that cap the human population, and the biggest pressure will likely be lack of food. It’s like asking “How many flies are on Earth?” Well, there are as many flies on Earth as flies the Earth can sustain. The issue with humans is that we have the means to sort of artificially grow our population beyond means that are truly sustainable. The problem I foresee, and you and I differ in that I think that it’s at least potentially preventable, is that climate change will lead to a decrease in arable land that we desperately need to feed the numbers that already exist.

Carbon dioxide is an odorless, tasteless, transparent gas that is absolutely necessary for all visible life on earth.

I dislike this one a lot, because I think the people who say it are smart enough to see it’s BS, but that often their listeners aren’t. I think you know this is BS.

But let me describe Carbon Monoxide by its physical properties: An odourless, tasteless, transparent gas. Which happens to be deadly. So let’s strike those from your description of carbon dioxide seeing as we can now agree they’re completely irrelevant.

So now the next part: Necessary for all life on Earth. This is not disputable, you are right. But it’s faulty logic to assume that because some is necessary that more must be better. If we want to use some more bad logic, let’s crank CO2 up to 100%. How’s life doing now? Right, it doesn’t exist. The fact is, there’s a balance to be had and the pre-industrial revolution era had us at around 290ppm, a place we should aim to be.

Dan Pangburn August 5, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Milan,
NOAA reports DATA, which I compare for consistency with the other reporting agencies. The ‘official position’ reflects Hansen’s influence and bias. I was surprised to read “a slab of glass that traps radiation emitted from the ground which prevents convection” which is changed from nonsense to correct by changing ‘which’ to ‘and’. It was probably just an accident of editing. As an aside, the radiation trapping in a greenhouse is small potatoes compared to preventing convection. Most greenhouses these days use plastic film which is essentially transparent to IR.

At the moment, NOAA seems to be having some trouble with their data. They have two report types for temperature data. One gives land, ocean and weighted combination for the previous month (usually available around the middle of the current month) and the other gives just a combined value for each month since 1880. The first report has been available for several days. The second report briefly reported a new set of data for 2009 through June which differed noticeably from the prior monthly reports. The two reports differed markedly for June. They reverted (the ‘since 1880 report’) back to the previous data set for 2009 through May (which matched their monthly reports). What’s up with that? Interestingly, NOAA reports the highest temperatures of all of the reporting agencies (all normalized for base reference) for 2008 and so far in 2009.

I have no comment on their understanding of recent data. It is apparent that they do not understand the relevant science that would cause them to immediately recognize from the temperature trend direction changes in the paleo temperature data that the NET feedback from average global temperature is not significantly positive.

Dan Pangburn August 5, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Milan,
From my first post above: “Since 2000, atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased 18.4% of the increase from 1800 to 2000.” Sorry about the bad link to the Mauna Loa data and thanks for the ‘heads up’. It should have been ftp://ftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/ccg/co2/trends/co2_mm_gl.txt . I co-plotted a lot of the CO2 data from http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/ which includes data from various locations on the planet and they all agree very closely. With all this there is little doubt that atmospheric CO2 is increasing and I think that burning fossil fuel is the main source.

“…they do not agree with your sunspot hypothesis.” As far as I know, no one else has seriously addressed that analysis let alone expressed an opinion on it. The credible sources are for the DATA used in the analysis.

Dan Pangburn August 5, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Matt,
“…smart enough to see it’s BS.” I always thought that BS meant that it wasn’t true. This is all true. That CO is odorless, tasteless and transparent but deadly does not make CO2 any less odorless, tasteless and transparent.

According to an assessment by Berner that is included on a chart at http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Carboniferous_climate.html in earth’s history, CO2 has usually been many times higher than its present level. Some people perceive that a room feels ‘stuffy’ when the CO2 gets above about 1000 ppmv (thus the desire to keep the atmospheric CO2 below about 600 ppmv as noted above).

Most plants are type C3 and benefit substantially (about 1/3 more growth) from doubling CO2. Greenhouses intentionally increase the CO2 to stimulate plant growth. Type C4 plants were nearly non existent until recently (geologic time scale, 15 million years ago) when CO2 level became low like now. Although C4 plants use CO2 more efficiently and benefit less from added CO2, nothing supports that lower CO2 is more desirable.

Matt August 5, 2009 at 6:02 pm

It’s BS that those physical properties are mentioned as being relevant. Like I said, carbon MONoxide also shares those properties and is poisonous. Being Tasteless, Odourless, Colourless does not indicate harm level, and yet it is mentioned in a way that implies it does. It shouldn’t even be part of the argument.

Some people perceive that a room feels ‘stuffy’ when the CO2 gets above about 1000 ppmv (thus the desire to keep the atmospheric CO2 below about 600 ppmv as noted above).

The room feeling “stuffy” is not the concern, the concern is that there will be no polar ice. That there will be considerably higher sea levels. That some regions will experience desertification. That entire ecosystems will be destroyed.

Although C4 plants use CO2 more efficiently and benefit less from added CO2, nothing supports that lower CO2 is more desirable.

Plant life is not the exclusive concern of CO2 concentrations, and so yes, there is a lot that supports that lower CO2 is more desirable: the fact that increased average global temperatures (a direct cause of anthropogenic CO2 release) are not desirable.

You’ve made a classic straw man argument here by saying “plant life will be okay if CO2 goes up” neglecting the fact that plant life isn’t the issue at hand.

Milan August 5, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Dan,

So you think NOAA generates credible data, but that they are so incompetent they don’t realize that sunspots cause climate change? And that the IPCC has made the same error? And that the national science academies of the G8, India, and China have as well? And yet you cannot get your ideas published in a peer-reviewed journal. Somehow, it seems most likely that the weak point is in your analysis.

As far as I know, no one else has seriously addressed that analysis let alone expressed an opinion on it.

Scientists have definitely considered whether warming is caused by the sun. I even highlighted the important bit of the IPCC AR4 for you, back here.

Dan Pangburn August 6, 2009 at 9:11 am

Matt,
You have made it clear that you do not understand the relevant science and therefore do not recognize the significance of the trend direction changes in the paleo temperature data which show that added atmospheric carbon dioxide has no significant effect on average global temperature and therefore no measureable effect on climate change. I wonder how wide the separation between the rising CO2 level and not-rising temperature trend will need to get for you to begin to suspect that there is something very fishy in IPCCs reports.

It has been 26 days now since the last sunspot. The running data, which checks against NOAAs site at http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/forecast.html , is available at http://www.solen.info/solar/ . A link to monthly numerical tabulation can be acquired by following a link provided previously. The sun has not been this quiet this long since 1913. The real concern is the coming cold, crop failure and spreading starvation.

Dan Pangburn August 6, 2009 at 1:17 pm

Milan,
“…So you think NOAA generates credible data, but that they are so incompetent they don’t realize that sunspots cause climate change?” NOAA (and IPCC) must certainly be aware that there is a connection between sunspots and climate change. In Ch9 of the FAR they note that the Maunder Minimum and Little Ice Age occurred about the same time. However, a word search of Ch 9 for ‘sunspot’ resulted in it being found only three times.

“…most likely that the weak point is in your analysis.” Any reasoned attempt to reveal an error is welcome. The data sources and method are all given.

“Scientists have definitely considered whether warming is caused by the sun.” Apparently they are focused on TSI, however, and have not seriously considered that sunspots (interacting with other factors) could have a catalytic effect on clouds and thus easily produce the observed climate change. A fairly simple calculation shows that an increase in average cloud altitude of about 305 meters would eventually result in an average earth surface temperature increase of 0.75 C. I am not aware of any analysis other than that presented in the pdf linked from http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true that compares the integral under the sunspot vs. time curve to the global warming of the 20th century.

Although scientists in general and Climate Scientists in particular are either not aware of or don’t fully understand certain relevant science, the lack of importance of added atmospheric CO2 on climate is discussed using climate science methodology by some Climate Scientists such as Dr. Roy Spenser in his web site at http://www.drroyspencer.com/ .

Matt August 6, 2009 at 3:35 pm

Dan, condescension isn’t a debate tactic. I haven’t really addressed the scientific aspect of your claims because I’ve felt Milan has been doing that ably. Besides, I think you’re wrong. As Milan pointed out, the sunspot theory is discredited.

Even though I disagreed with you at the outset, I thought you started out okay. By this I mean your arguments weren’t the typical re-hashed often repeated stuff you can see anywhere. There was originality in your post. Then you fell apart with the bad logic used by careless climate changes debaters everywhere: “CO2 must be good, plants need it to live! Also, it’s odourless and colourless and completely inoffensive. The sun is the source of the extra heat!” As well, you use data from peer reviewed sources that have the opinion that there is a clear (albeit not perfectly linear) correlation between CO2 and increased average global temperatures, essentially saying you think their data is good but you reject their conclusion. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

I think you’ve made an error in tactics. I’ve noticed your work elsewhere on the internet, in places where it will be either:

A) Well received by people who have come to the wrong but convenient conclusion that the status quo in carbon emissions is acceptable (I wish this were the case as well, I enjoy motorized transport very much, but see the need for a big shift in ideology)
B) Not in a forum discussion setting, with no chance for those who dissent with your opinions to comment.

Having come to a place where neither exist, you’ve found more resistance than you were planning.

Milan August 6, 2009 at 6:56 pm

The sun has not been this quiet this long since 1913. The real concern is the coming cold, crop failure and spreading starvation.

If so, what explains the current situation with Arctic ice? This year’s trend is closer to the remarkably low summer of 2007 than to the 1979-2000 average. The ice is also thinner and less voluminous. The quantity and extent of multi-year ice is at an all time low.

This animation shows the trend from 1982.

Over the course of that animation, sunspot activity was all over the map. What was rising relentlessly was the concentration of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

Milan August 6, 2009 at 6:59 pm

“…most likely that the weak point is in your analysis.” Any reasoned attempt to reveal an error is welcome. The data sources and method are all given.

You have never revealed your ‘method.’ You have simply said that it is not a General Circulation Model (GCM).

You seem to acknowledge that – all else being equal – CO2 causes warming. But you seem to think there is some secondary effect that nets it out to zero. What is this effect? Why hasn’t it stopped temperatures from rising, the Arctic ice from melting, and species from moving? What confidence can we have that this unobserved effect will continue to counteract rising greenhouse gas concentrations as CO2 goes from 383 ppm to 400 to 500 and higher?

Milan August 6, 2009 at 7:04 pm

More on climate models

It mentions how cases like the Mount Pinatubo explosion, Maunder Minimum, the mid-Holocene, and the Last Glacial Maximum are used to test their accuracy and robustness.

Milan August 6, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Dan,

Since you are keen on figuring things out for yourself, you might find this useful:

Can I use a climate model myself?

Yes! There is a project called EdGCM which has a nice interface and works with Windows and lets you try out a large number of tests. ClimatePrediction.Net has a climate model that runs as a screensaver in a coordinated set of simulations. GISS ModelE is available as a download for Unix-based machines and can be run on a normal desktop. NCAR CCSM is the US community model and is well-documented and freely available.

Dan Pangburn August 7, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Matt,

Those who understand the relevant science (you can find out what is meant by ‘relevant science’ in the pdfs linked from http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true ) recognize the significance of the trend direction changes in the paleo temperature data which show that added atmospheric carbon dioxide has no significant effect on average global temperature and therefore no measureable effect on climate change. Using trends avoids getting misled by being on one side or the other of an oscillation. Any temperature data can be used but the trends are easier to spot in the paleo temperature data.

“…the sunspot theory is discredited.” This (my work) is not the usual ‘sunspot theory’. I have never been able to find where the relation of time integral of sunspot count to the 20th century temperature increase has even been addressed by others, let alone discredited. Where else should I look?

Added atmospheric CO2 has no significant influence on climate. Atmospheric CO2 has been as low as about 190 ppmv so we know that life can exist with it that low. I have read reports of measurements in occupied rooms where the level got to about 1000 ppmv and some people complained that it seemed ‘stuffy’. Thus the conclusion that the atmosphere should not exceed about 600 ppmv to allow rooms to not get ‘stuffy’. Inside of the range 190 to 600 ppmv CO2 is not a problem. Go too far outside of this range and everything dies. Except for the global warming thing, I am not aware of disagreement with this.

Some people refer to CO2 as pollution. That is what gave rise to the statement in my Aug 4 post that “The perception that it is pollution is, at best, technologically challenged.” I was, of course, referring to levels between 190 and 600 ppmv.

“…you think their data is good but you reject their conclusion.” I compare data from independent sources. I accept data as ‘good’ only when it agrees fairly closely with other credible data or that there is a rational basis for any difference. I reject their conclusion because it is rejected by a particular part of science that a few engineers are knowledgeable in and most, if not all, in the Climate Science Community are not. Their conclusion is based primarily (some say completely) on their GCMs which they control. In all GCMs, clouds are simulated with parameterization which is at best uncertain. They calculate individual feedbacks and combine them resulting in strong net positive feedback which is impossible in the feedback loop given the temperature-trend direction changes observed in accepted temperature data. This is adequate to reject their conclusion regarding ‘temperature sensitivity’. There are other things.

Data reported in the last few months provide an example of diverging data with a rational explanation. Satellite measurements show the temperature of the air close to the surface to be declining. That is rational given the quiet sun. Surface measurements, which include ocean water temperatures, are increasing. That is rational based on ocean current factors such as the el Niño oscillation. The over all trend is down, however, consistent with the PDO having begun its thirty year downtrend. Links to all this stuff are given above.

“…made an error in tactics.” Well, I never thought of myself as a tactician. I started researching this stuff a few years ago because there was so much conflicting info that I couldn’t pick out the truth. At first, I thought that added atmospheric CO2 must be bad because, after all, it does absorb IR at a certain wavelength that is strong in earth’s emitting spectrum and one that is not already saturated by water vapor. Then I made my own plot of the Vostok data and noticed the lag of CO2 change to temperature change which I pointed out in http://www.middlebury.net/op-ed/pangburn.html . (I have discovered a few refinements to this since March of 2008. These refinements include that only the temperature needs to be considered to show that there is no significant net positive feedback from temperature and that IPCC gives a prediction for temperature rise of 1.2 C for doubling CO2 if feedback is zero.). Later I discovered the particular area of relevant science that Climate Scientists apparently either are not aware of or don’t really understand that, with the paleo temperature data, shows that NET feedback is not significantly positive. All this is enough to confirm that added atmospheric CO2 has no significant influence on global warming and therefore no significant influence on climate change.

Only recently I hit on the idea of integrating the area under the sunspot vs. time curve and co-plotting it with average global temperature. That fits a rational cause-and-effect scenario but I expect that other factors are involved that still need to be sorted out.

“…you’ve found more resistance than you were planning.” Not really. There is an entire industry that has been built on the mistaken belief that added atmospheric CO2 causes global warming. World politics has exploited this mistake as an opportunity to control others. As CO2 continues to increase and average global temperature doesn’t all that will gradually go away. Hopefully the good things such as cost-effective increase in efficiency and transition to reduce the use of petroleum as a fuel will continue.

Tristan August 7, 2009 at 5:03 pm

“Those who understand the relevant science”

which is obviously the same as

“Being a climate realist”

everyone loves being “realistic” eh? The “real world”, pragmatism, science and so forth. So obviously all scientists should be “realists”, right? Well, since

“temperatures peaked in 1998, and have been in general decline ever since”

and since that assertion isn’t controversial at all, obviously all “realistic” scientists “have started to become sceptical concerning the dynamics of so called man made climate change” (rather than taking the time to learn how to spell “skeptical”, but that isn’t realistically very important).

(Citations from “Are you a Climate realist”, found at: http://climaterealists.com/about.php

Milan August 7, 2009 at 5:09 pm

Sarcasm doesn’t work well in blog comments. It is almost never convincing. It may amuse people who already agree with you, but it is quite unlikely to make those who disagree re-think their positions.

Dan Pangburn August 7, 2009 at 7:26 pm

Milan,

Arctic ice area fluctuates. In May it was the highest that it has been in seven years. Now it is fairly low again compared to this time in prior years. I would expect it to be lower than the 1979 to 2000 average because it has been warmer than it was then. I expect the average area and volume to increase over the years as the planet continues to cool.

Added atmospheric CO2 has little if anything to do with arctic ice area but I already said that in my Aug 2 post.

The animation is fascinating. Thanks for that link. The writhing shows far more influence of currents and winds than I would have guessed given the consistency of area.

“…sunspot activity was all over the map.” No it wasn’t. Sunspot data was addressed in my Aug 1 post which has a link to a graph. The numerical data came from ftp://ftp.ngdc.noaa.gov/STP/SOLAR_DATA/SUNSPOT_NUMBERS/MONTHLY.PLT

“You have never revealed your ‘method.’ ” Both the analysis showing that atmospheric CO2 has no significant influence on average global temperature and the analysis showing the integral of the sunspot vs. time curve co-plotted with a curve constructed using slightly smoothed NOAA average global temperature data are shown at http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true . Note that in the pdf about sunspots, where I should have said TSI I had a mental eclipse or something and said SOI. Also, I just noticed that a meaningless space crept into the word true in earlier listings of this link although it appears that they work anyway. Sorry if that gave you any difficulty.

“You seem to acknowledge…” The warming, if any, from added CO2 is small compared to natural climate variation as shown by the paleo temperature trend direction reversals. Temperatures have stopped rising while the CO2 level continues to increase as stated in my July 28 post. The planet warming, etc. coincides with the Solar Grand Maximum which appears to have ended. Partly because of the logarithmic decline effect of added increments of CO2 the influence on climate of future increases in CO2 will not be measurable.

“…to test their accuracy and robustness.” But they remain miserable at predicting.

“Since you…” Thanks but no thanks. That’s not what I do. I am about done looking at the issue except to follow the data which I expect will continue to show a temperature downtrend. Although it does not affect my conclusions, I am curious about the fraction of thermalization (fraction of absorbed radiant energy that gets shared by conduction with adjacent nitrogen and oxygen molecules). Most if not all GCMs assume that it is zero but I currently calculate that it is about 13%.

Dan Pangburn August 7, 2009 at 8:24 pm

Tristan,

Thanks for the link. I had not seen that.

After reading it I can assure you that ‘Those who understand the relevant science” has little to do with “Being a climate realist”. You can find out what the ‘relevant science’ is at the link to my Aug 7 post that was addressed to Matt. Climate Scientists don’t understand it because they don’t get in to the engineering use of it.

. August 13, 2009 at 3:40 pm

August 4, 2009
Arctic ice melts quickly through July

Arctic sea ice extent for the month of July was the third lowest for that month in the satellite record, after 2007 and 2006. The average rate of melt in July 2009 was nearly identical to that of July 2007. A strong high-pressure system, similar to the atmospheric pattern that dominated the summer of 2007, brought warm winds and clear skies to the western Arctic, promoting ice melt.

R.K August 14, 2009 at 9:41 am

Apparently you are unable to do your own research in spite of having links to credible data and even the data itself handed to you.

I find it absurd that you think NOAA, the IPCC and others have the wrong data but have completely misattributed the cause of climate change. Your own statements have been inconsistent, vague, misleading, and sometimes entirely incorrect.

Scientists are not concerned about climate change because their “pay checks depend on their making dire predictions.” Indeed, it is easy for scientists who want to prostitute their integrity for money to spin lies for people like the Heartland Institute. Increasingly, I fear that you are one of these people, who would have been denying that smoking causes cancer twenty years ago.

Without feedback the GCMs predict no significant warming.

This sentence doesn’t even make sense. The whole point of GCMs is to account for how the various parts of the climate system interact (feedbacks). Your position remains strange and inconsistent. Sometimes, you seem to argue that CO2 causes warming, but that there is some magical negative feedback that counteracts it, producing no net effect. Sometimes, you argue that feedback effects are not important. Sometimes, you argue that all the change we see is caused by sunspots.

Since 2000, atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased 18.4% of the increase from 1800 to 2000. According to the average of the five reporting agencies, the trend of average global temperatures since 1998 shows no increase and from 2002 through 2008 the trend shows a DECREASE of 1.8°C/century.

This is just wrong, as the quotes from the IPCC above show. Both GHG concentrations and global temperatures continue to rise. As the Hadley Centre explains:

“The rise in global surface temperature has averaged more than 0.15 °C per decade since the mid-1970s. Warming has been unprecedented in at least the last 50 years, and the 17 warmest years have all occurred in the last 20 years. This does not mean that next year will necessarily be warmer than last year, but the long-term trend is for rising temperatures.

A simple mathematical calculation of the temperature change over the latest decade (1998-2007) alone shows a continued warming of 0.1 °C per decade. The warming trend can be seen in the graph of observed global temperatures. The red bars show the global annual surface temperature, which exhibit year-to-year variability. The blue line clearly shows the upward trend, far greater than the uncertainties, which are shown as thin black bars. The recent slight slowing of the warming is due to a shift towards more-frequent La Niña conditions in the Pacific since 1998. These bring cool water up from the depths of the Pacific Ocean, cooling global temperatures.”

They also explain how recent warming cannot be explained by the Sun or natural factors alone.

I think you are trying to spread confusion as part of a last-ditch effort to avoid effective climate change mitigation policies. Future generations had better hope that such efforts fail.

R.K August 14, 2009 at 9:42 am

* NOAA, the IPCC and others have the wrong right data but have completely misattributed the cause of climate change

. August 14, 2009 at 11:38 am

Antarctic glacier ‘thinning fast’

By David Shukman
Science and environment correspondent, BBC News

One of the largest glaciers in Antarctica is thinning four times faster than it was 10 years ago, according to research seen by the BBC.
A study of satellite measurements of Pine Island glacier in west Antarctica reveals the surface of the ice is now dropping at a rate of up to 16m a year.

Dan Pangburn August 15, 2009 at 6:25 pm

R.K
“…absurd…” The people who collect the data have a different agenda from the people doing ‘predicting’. The collector’s future pay checks depend on getting the data right. The predictor’s future pay checks depend on declaring ominous concerns of looming catastrophe to get politicians to fund continued climate studies.

“…inconsistent, vague, misleading, and sometimes entirely incorrect.” My comments are consistent and correct. How well they are grasped depends on the reader.

“…scientists who want to prostitute their integrity for money to spin lies…” Their were a few millions spent in years past to discover the truth compared to the tens of billions spent and still being spent in a failed attempt to prove that added atmospheric carbon dioxide is a significant cause of global warming. I have campaigned against smoking for a lot longer than twenty years.

“…doesn’t even make sense.” That is, it doesn’t agree with your present belief. It is discussed further in my July 28 and 30 posts and the IPCC FAR where they also give results of their GCMs for no feedback. Their predictions of 2 degrees C or more climate sensitivity require NET feedback to be substantially positive. See the pdfs linked from http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true to learn why NET feedback can not be significantly positive and to see the cause of the temperature run-up in the late 20th century.

“Sometimes, you argue that all the change we see is caused by sunspots.” The sunspot pdf in the link reveals that your statement is not true.

“This is just wrong.” My statement is correct. The data and sources are given in my July 30 post so you can check it. Note that the Hadley statement only used data through 2007. When the large drop in 2008 is included, the average trend since 1998 becomes flat. I monitor all of the reporting agencies so I know.

“…the 17 warmest years have all occurred in the last 20…” That the warmest years come at the end of a warming trend is pretty obvious. The significant observation of recent data is the separation between the CO2 level and average global temperature which was not predicted by any of the 20 or so GCMs that IPCC uses and corroborates that added CO2 has no significant effect on average global temperature and therefore no significant effect on climate change.

“They also explain…” They explain using the science that they understand. Their problem is that they do not understand other significant science (it’s not in there curriculum) that shows that there is no NET positive feedback from increased average global temperature.

As I said in my July 28 post “As the atmospheric carbon dioxide level continues to increase and the average global temperature doesn’t it is becoming more and more apparent that many Climate Scientists have made an egregious mistake and a whole lot of people have been misled.”

“…trying to spread confusion…” My actions are quite the contrary. I give links to all data that I use so anyone who actually wants to check my findings can do it.

Dan Pangburn August 15, 2009 at 6:29 pm

.
“One of the largest glaciers…” That has to set a record low in cherry picking.

Milan August 16, 2009 at 4:47 pm

I mentioned the Global Glacier Index before.

“The cumulative loss of the last 30 years is the equivalent of cutting a thick slice off of the average glacier. The trend is remarkably consistent from region to region. The figure on the right is the annual glacier mass balance index from the WGMS (if this was business it would be bankrupt by now). The cumulative mass balance index, based on 30 glaciers with 30 years of record and for all glaciers is not appreciably different

That glaciers are shrinking in terms of volume (mass balance) and length (terminus behavior) is not news. What is news is the development of a robust global index of glacier behavior. As a submitter of data to WGMS, I can report that the scrutiny and level of detail requested of the submitted of data is increasing. The degree of participation by glaciologic programs is also increasing. Both are important and will lead to an even better glacier index in the future, with more even representation from around the globe.”

. August 17, 2009 at 11:00 am

August 14, 2009
New July Record for Global Ocean Temperatures

Global ocean surface temperatures for July 2009 were the warmest on record for all the months of July going back to 1880, according to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).

For the record, El Nino conditions (warming of the equatorial Pacific surface waters) were starting during the month of July, but it was still a weak El Nino.
According to the NCDC, global ocean temperatures ran 0.59 C or 1.06 F above the 20th century average and broke the old record, which was set back in 1998.

The plot of July global temperature anomalies for land/ocean, ocean and land.

. August 17, 2009 at 11:01 am

August 7, 2009
Changing Climate Taking Toll on Three U.S. Glaciers, USGS

Three glaciers, that are located in three different climatic regions of the United States, have experienced a sharper decline in their cumulative net mass balance over the past 15 to 20 years.

. August 17, 2009 at 11:10 am

Pine Island glacier may disappear within 100 years
14 August 2009

One of Antarctica’s greatest glaciers is thinning so quickly it could disappear within 100 years. This is 500 years sooner than previously estimated and jeopardises a volume of ice that could raise global sea levels by around 25cm.

Researchers reported just eight years ago that Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica could be lost within 600 years, but now they say satellite data covering a longer period of time means they are able to make a more accurate estimate.

. August 17, 2009 at 11:13 am

China signals long-term plans to curb greenhouse gases
Thu Aug 13, 2009 2:26am EDT

BEIJING (Reuters) – China will make “controlling greenhouse gas emissions” an important part of its development plans, the government said, as pressure on the world’s top emitter grows ahead of global talks on tackling climate change.

China’s climate change ambassador, Yu Qingtai, said recently that his country wanted to see output of carbon dioxide peak as soon as possible, a shift away from China’s right to pollute as it develops.

The cabinet warned baldly of dire consequences from warming.

“The large amount of greenhouse gases emitted through human activities is the main reason for global warming leading to extreme weather events,” the report on the meeting said. This, it said, was also “threatening the security of water supplies.”

R.K. August 17, 2009 at 11:38 am

The predictor’s future pay checks depend on declaring ominous concerns of looming catastrophe to get politicians to fund continued climate studies.

I maintain that this is a faulty bit of reasoning. The idea that the entire world scientific community would misrepresent their findings for decades, in order to receive comparatively tiny grants for climate change research is basically absurd. If there was serious doubt about the link between greenhouse gasses and climate change, the world’s scientific academies would not have issued that joint statement.

My comments are consistent and correct.

They are really neither. You go on and on about net feedback, but won’t explain what mechanism counteracts the warming caused by greenhouse gasses. The whole concept of the difference between a gross change and a net change is that there is some counterbalancing effect. For instance, a person’s net income might rise by less than their gross income because they get into a higher tax bracket. Net changes can even be negative when gross changes are positive, provided the counterbalancing effect is strong. You haven’t explained what effect you think negates the warming caused by greenhouse gasses. Furthermore, to be a credible, you would need to show how that counterbalancing effect integrates into a global climate model which incorporates other feedbacks, such as those associated with albedo and changes in evaporation rates.

At the same time, you cling to the discredited notion that sunspots cause climate change. As several prominent sources above note, scientists have looked into the role played by the sun and found it to be small compared to the effects of greenhouse gasses.

I give links to all data that I use so anyone who actually wants to check my findings can do it.

You do link to real data, but you misrepresent what it means, either out of your own ignorance or out of a desire to confuse others. Your sunspot theory holds no water, and persistent efforts to detract from the real issue of reducing greenhouse gas emissions increase the chances that we will warm the planet by a lot more than 2°C before we get our emissions under control.

Milan August 17, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Regarding the Arctic and projected future trends:

As apparent on this graph, arctic ice area appears to vary in response to factors that are not well understood.

The sun has not been this quiet this long since 1913. The real concern is the coming cold, crop failure and spreading starvation.

The scientists involved in the International Polar Year disagree:

Our main conclusions so far indicate that there is a very low probability that Arctic sea ice will ever recover. As predicted by all IPCC models, Arctic sea ice is more likely to disappear in summer in the near future. However it seems like this is going to happen much sooner than models predicted, as pointed out by recent observations and data reanalysis undertaken during IPY and the Damocles Integrated Project.

I suppose you will respond by arguing that these scientists are also either terribly deluded in their thinking or part of a conspiracy to hide the truth?

R.K. August 18, 2009 at 8:21 am

I hesitate to divert from the main track of this conversation – about the cause of climate change – but there is a secondary issue to consider. Given that coal, oil, and gas are finite and non-renewable resources, we are eventually going to have to stop using them anyhow. Even without concern about climate change, it could make sense to start that process early, and before most other states, since it gives you a better chance to avoid the crush of high prices as too many bidders seek too little fossil fuel.

As such, you could justify a carbon tax or cap-and-trade policy even without believing that climate change is a serious threat (which, of course, it is).

Matt August 18, 2009 at 12:20 pm

R.K., This was addressed earlier:

http://www.sindark.com/2009/07/28/hfcs-and-climate-change/#comment-80301

There was mention of algae based biofuels, the concept of which many people find interesting. Unfortunately most people don’t seem to consider the volume of oil we consume and just how unfeasible it is to duplicate that volume with bio-fuel.

Dan Pangburn August 19, 2009 at 12:11 am

Milan,

Observing that ice has melted provides no clue as to what caused the planet to warm.

“…either terribly deluded in their thinking or part of a conspiracy…” Neither, apparently they are not knowledgeable in certain relevant science that shows that there is no significant NET positive feedback from average global temperature.

Dan Pangburn August 19, 2009 at 12:23 am

.
China would do well to apply known technology to stop the real pollution of putting huge amounts of soot into the atmosphere.

Dan Pangburn August 19, 2009 at 2:49 am

R.K
“…entire world scientific community…” This is not even close to true. There are tens of thousands of scientists who disagree with AGW.

“…comparatively tiny grants…” The many billions of dollars that have been spent in the failed attempt to prove that added atmospheric carbon dioxide has a significant effect on average global temperature is a lot more than ‘tiny’. None of the 20 or so GCMs used by the IPCC predicted the observed current global cooling.

“…won’t explain what mechanism counteracts the warming…” That is not necessary. It is instead necessary for AGWers to show that added atmospheric CO2 causes global warming, and they haven’t. What I have shown is that there is no significant NET positive feedback from average global temperature. Given this, the GCMs predict that average global temperature increase is not significant. Others have determined that the IPCC estimate, if no feedback, of 1.2C climate sensitivity is too high.

“…you cling to the discredited notion that sunspots cause climate change.” As I said before, this (my work) is not the usual ‘sunspot theory’. I have never been able to find where the relation of time- integral of sunspot count to the 20th century temperature increase has even been addressed by others, let alone discredited. The link to my stuff is given. It is pretty simple to do and check. Check it and comment here.

“…misrepresent what it means…” With an understanding of feedback control and knowledge of the paleo temperature data it is obvious that there is no NET positive feedback from average global temperature.

I agreed with the need for a replacement for the finite supply of fossil fuels in my July 29, 10:34 post and described a potential way to do it. Exxon has contracted with a genetics company to develop genetically engineered algae to produce bio-fuel profitably. A carbon tax or cap and trade would have a negative influence on this activity.

Dan Pangburn August 19, 2009 at 3:13 am

Matt,
The assessment of the size of facility required to meet all transportation fuel needs for the USA was made with full knowledge of the amount of fuel required and the productive capacity of successfully genetically engineered (for either added robustness of known high oil producers or added oil production of known robust) algae. The ‘gov’ site and a few others in my Aug 4 post are a start. Also, Briggs at UNH has been working this for years and has an informative article at http://www.unh.edu/p2/biodiesel/article_alge.html if you are interested.

R.K. August 19, 2009 at 9:38 am

There are tens of thousands of scientists who disagree with AGW.

Untrue. As pointed out before, the petition is bogus. Furthermore, when Naomi Oreskes went through 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, she concluded that 75 percent of the examined abstracts either explicitly or implicitly backed the consensus view, while none directly dissented from it.

Petroleum geologists and amateurs doubt that human greenhouse gas emissions cause climate change, not serious scientists who study the issue.

R.K. August 19, 2009 at 9:42 am

I don’t know if “many billions of dollars” have been spent on climatic science, but I stilll think it’s absurd to argue that the entire world climatological community is intentionally misleading policymakers to keep grant money flowing.

It’s a lot more plausible that fossil fuel industries with a lot to lose from regulating carbon are sending large amounts of money to scientists who are willing to deceive and confuse the debate on their behalf.

What I have shown is that there is no significant NET positive feedback from average global temperature.

You have shown no such thing, and shied away from all questions about the basis of this statement. Indeed, your statements seem designed to confuse people into thinking you have a scientific argument, when you are really just repeating an empty claim.

I have never been able to find where the relation of time- integral of sunspot count to the 20th century temperature increase has even been addressed by others, let alone discredited.

Try reading the bits of the IPCC reports on the effects of solar activity on climate, or the chapter on attributing climate change.

R.K. August 19, 2009 at 9:44 am

As Milan points out above ‘.’ is just a way of linking related material, not a person who you can argue with.

. August 19, 2009 at 9:58 am
. August 19, 2009 at 10:01 am

Sunspot trouble

So what role, if any, have solar fluctuations had in recent temperature changes? While we can work out how Earth’s orbit has changed going back many millions of years, we have no first-hand record of the changes in solar output associated with sunspots before the 20th century.

It is true that sunspot records go back to the 17th century, but sunspots actually block the Sun’s radiation. It is the smaller bright spots (faculae) that increase the Sun’s output and these were not recorded until more recently. The correlation between sunspots and bright faculae is not perfect, so estimates of solar activity based on sunspot records may be out by as much as 30%.

The other method of working out past solar activity is to measure levels of carbon-14 and beryllium-10 in tree rings and ice cores. These isotopes are formed when cosmic rays hit the atmosphere, and higher sunspot activity is associated with increases in the solar wind that deflect more galactic cosmic rays away from Earth. Yet again, though, the correlation is not perfect. What is more, recent evidence suggests that the deposition of beryllium-10 can be affected by climate changes, making it even less reliable as a measure of past solar activity.

. August 19, 2009 at 10:03 am

But even if solar forcing in the past was more important than this estimate suggests, as some scientists think, there is no correlation between solar activity and the strong warming during the past 40 years. Claims that this is the case have not stood up to scrutiny (pdf document).

Direct measurements of solar output since 1978 show a steady rise and fall over the 11-year sunspot cycle, but no upwards or downward trend.
Similarly, there is no trend in direct measurements of the Sun’s ultraviolet output and in cosmic rays. So for the period for which we have direct, reliable records, the Earth has warmed dramatically even though there has been no corresponding rise in any kind of solar activity.

Matt August 19, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Dan,

Regarding biofuels I read your link. I suggest you scan this thread for other pertinent links: http://www.sindark.com/2009/06/07/algae-for-biofuels/

The link you provided makes quite a large number of assumptions, a big one being that everyone will drive diesel cars. The time it would take to get rid of the current fleet as well as convince everyone to make the switch to biodiesel would be decades.

Beyond that, it doesn’t make sense to use sunny land to photosynthesize liquid fuel much more inefficiently than various existing or theorized solar-electric technologies. Depending upon estimates, the difference can approach 2 orders of magnitude, but is almost certainly over 1.

Milan August 19, 2009 at 3:21 pm

The feasibility of biofuels has been considered here before.

In particular, have a look at problems with corn ethanol, the trade-offs involved with land and energy, the question of cellulosic ethanol, and whether algae is a good feedstock for fuel.

Milan August 19, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Observing that ice has melted provides no clue as to what caused the planet to warm.

True, but you have to look at what is changing and what is not. Greenhouse gas concentrations are rising and so are global temperatures (while the oceans get more acidic, species move north and uphill, glaciers vanish, etc). As explained in several links above, the trends in solar activity (whether sunspot, solar output, etc) have not been rising consistently in line with temperature.

Neither, apparently they are not knowledgeable in certain relevant science that shows that there is no significant NET positive feedback from average global temperature.

You can perform a simple experiment to demonstrate that air with more CO2 absorbs more infrared radiation than air without (for instance, by looking at a burning candle through a column of gas with an infrared camera). You can also easily observe that the Earth radiates infrared energy. As such, there is a clear link between adding greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere and preventing long-wave radiation from being emitted into space.

You keep asserting that there is some phenomenon counteracting this, producing your infinitely repeated situation of “no significant NET positive feedback [do you mean radiative forcing?] from average global temperature.” What specific mechanism counteracts the infrared absorbing effect of greenhouse gasses? If such an effect exists, why has it automatically been getting stronger as concentrations rise? Also, what proof is there that even if there were such an effect, it would protect us from any amount of increased GHG concentrations. For instance, continued business-as-usual emissions could push concentrations to over 1000 ppm of CO2 equivalent by 2100, compared to 280 ppm before the Industrial Revolution and about 383 ppm now. Even if there were negative feedback effects that significantly reduced the total forcing resulting from increased GHG concentrations (that is, lowered climatic sensitivity), it is possible that they would break down when presented with such a significant change.

Milan August 19, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Oh, and on biofuels:

More thinking on energy inputs: 1, 2, 3

And land:

“Apparently, a barrel of oil has about 6.1 gigajoules (GJ) of energy in it. This site says that one gigajoule is akin to 278 kWh. Getting 6.1 gigajoules thus requires something like 1696 kWh of energy – 1,696,000 watt-hours, equivalent to 387 square metres of sun-lit area. That’s 0.000387 square kilometres per barrel per year, with my extremely generous assumptions.

Every year, the United States imports about 4.8 billion barrels of oil (13.15 million barrels per day). Covert that to space (assuming a perfect plant-to-fuel conversion process) and you get a land area of about 1,857,000 square kilometres: about 19.1% of the landmass of the United States. Possible, perhaps, but a massive undertaking. We are also ignoring what I understand to be the two biggest hurdles: the energy requirements of biomass-to-fuel conversion, and the capital costs of the equipment you do it with.”

Dan Pangburn August 21, 2009 at 2:29 am

The numbers and sources for temperature and CO2 were given in my July 28 and July 30 posts. The CO2 is increasing and the temperature isn’t. As the atmospheric carbon dioxide level continues to increase and the average global temperature doesn’t it is becoming more and more apparent that many climate scientists have made an egregious mistake and a whole lot of people have been misled.

Milan,
I can’t tell where you went wrong since you stated that 1696 kWh is ‘equivalent’ to 387 sq meters of sun-lit area. Done correctly using 8760 hours per year and average insolation of 340 W/sq meter results in 1696/.340/8760 = .57 sq meter. Applying an estimated number for energy efficiency results in a square area about 120 miles on a side as stated in my July 29 post.

Milan August 21, 2009 at 8:34 am

Plants don’t convert sunlight into chemical energy with anything near 100% efficiency.

David MacKay estimates that the best energy crops are capable of producing 0.5 watts per square metre in chemical energy. He estimates that algae might be as good as 4 W/m^2. That would still require a lot of land, as well as piped-in CO2 to boost their growth rate.

Bear in mind that additional energy is required to turn biomass (algae, grass, corn, etc) into synthetic fuel.

Milan August 21, 2009 at 8:35 am

Dan,

It would be helpful to all of us if you would answer the question printed in bold back here.

R.K. August 21, 2009 at 10:14 am

I think algae is a plausible feedstock for aviation fuels, but doubt it will ever be able to produce as much fuel as we use now or do so as cheaply. It will be used for aircraft just because there are no better low-carbon alternatives.

Ground vehicles will probably mostly end up being electric.

Matt August 21, 2009 at 2:36 pm

I think algae is a plausible feedstock for aviation fuels, but doubt it will ever be able to produce as much fuel as we use now or do so as cheaply. It will be used for aircraft just because there are no better low-carbon alternatives.

Ground vehicles will probably mostly end up being electric.

Completely agree.

R.K. August 21, 2009 at 5:27 pm

It will be interesting to see what happens to personal ground vehicles in countries with relatively undeveloped electrical grids. They may continue to depend on fossil fuels for a lot longer than rich countries do, particularly since they are unlikely to establish strong carbon prices soon.

Dan Pangburn August 22, 2009 at 12:54 pm

“…best energy crops are capable of producing 0.5 watts per square metre…” The gov sponsored program reported at http://www.nrel.gov/docs/legosti/fy98/24190.pdf projected a potential production rate of 15,000 gal/acre/year from algae. That works out to about 15 W/sq meter and an energy efficiency of about 6%. It also works out to a square about 120 miles on a side being able to produce all of the current transportation fuel needs of the US. They also estimated a total (capitalization and production) cost of $20/barrel in 1997 dollars which was not cost-effective at that time. Recent cost estimates of about $45/barrel in current dollars compared to the much higher spot price for petroleum is probably what motivated Exxon to contract with a genetic engineering company to develop better algae. Given the tremendous advancements in the genetic engineering of plants over the years this is likely to succeed.

The newer quieter diesels and the prospect of 72 mpg in a full sized diesel hybrid would go a long way towards overcoming the bad rep that resulted from the GM diesel-car fiasco many years ago. All large trucks and many other vehicles in the US are now diesel. The characteristic diesel odor, that some find objectionable, does not exist with bio-diesel. About one third of the cars sold in Europe are diesels. Bio-diesel avoids the huge infrastructure investment of alternate approaches.

A plug-in diesel hybrid with a 40 mile or more battery range will provide about 80% of driving on battery only (local travel) and as a hybrid also provides for longer travel avoiding the problem of limited range of electric only. The issues are reduction of fuel tax money for road maintenance and added load on the electric grid.

There is about 50 times as much carbon in the form of dissolved CO2 and hydration products in the oceans as exists in the atmosphere. Using sea water instead of fresh water avoids the need to add CO2 to the water. The facilities could be located on the now-empty desert or possibly right on the ocean (the choice is an economic issue).

The cost of converting vegetable oil to bio-diesel (transesterification) is low. The original diesel engine ran on peanut oil. A useful enterprise, once large supplies of vegetable oil become available would be to refine current diesel designs to run on vegetable oil and avoid the cost and energy loss of converting it to bio-diesel.

Milan August 22, 2009 at 1:45 pm

It would make more sense to discuss algae-based fuels on the appropriate thread, and stick to climate science here.

I am still waiting for an answer to this question.

Dan Pangburn August 23, 2009 at 2:04 am

“What specific mechanism counteracts the infrared absorbing effect of greenhouse gasses?”

Since greenhouse gases are called greenhouse gases because they absorb infrared energy this question as phrased appears to me to be nonsensical. (Most greenhouses are now made using plastic film which is nearly transparent to IR and works by stopping convection but that’s another story).

The current issue is whether ADDED atmospheric CO2 is a significant cause of global warming. To that, there are a couple of known things. One is the logarithmic decline of the effect of added increments of CO2. Another is the increased temperature changes clouds in a way that reduces the warming. Dr. Roy Spencer addresses clouds here http://www.drroyspencer.com/2009/02/what-about-the-clouds-andy/ .

As I stated in my July 30, 7:28 post there is a tiny theoretical increase from doubling CO2 but it’s not detectable in the fluctuations from other factors. What I have determined, as shown in the pdfs at http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true is that there is no significant positive feedback from increased average global temperature. An understanding of how a feedback loop works may be required to recognize this when examining the paleo temperature data. With no feedback, the GCMs show only 1.2 degrees C warming from doubling CO2 level, most of which has already taken place. My assessment and others, some listed in my July 28 12:46 post, is that it will be substantially less than this nuisance value.

robin August 24, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Dan, I do feel it is time to give this mammoth exchange of words between you, Milan and others a rest. After all, this is Milan’s website and in posting comments we should have the courtesy not to hog his platform.

I think the two of you should agree to disagree, move on and perhaps arrange a meeting in 10 years to see who was the more correct. More importantly is to a lay out a platform of where we go from here, rather than to use up more valuable time in a exchange between two opposing talents that seem unable (or unwilling) to meet somewhere in the middle.

Personally, I think both of you may have missed an elephant in the room. It’s not about whether you agree or disagree with the proposition that humans are responsible for global warming, rather its about how are we to put a price on a resource (in this case, use of the atmosphere as a repository for waste) that we currently overlook in the economic models that have generated so much material wealth for us these last few centuries. This waste includes the effluent gases such as carbon dioxide, particulates and the HFC’s (which is what started this correspondence trail off in the first place). If we can work this problem out, then I think both sides to the global warming issue may see things in a fresher perspective.

Milan August 24, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Robin,

The rationalle for putting a price on the emission of greenhouse gasses depends critically on the fact that these emissions cause climate change, and that climate change is potentially dangerous.

If you don’t accept the reality of those consequences, there is no reason to adopt a policy of reducing emissions.

Milan August 24, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Dan,

(1) I agree that greenhouse gasses do not cause warming in the same way as physical greenhouses. That being said, it is possible to determine from experimentation that they absorb the kind of long-wave radiation the Earth emits, preventing some of it from reaching space. The more of these gasses in the atmosphere, the more radiation is blocked, and the more warming occurs.

(2) One is the logarithmic decline of the effect of added increments of CO2

You are going to have to provide some evidence for this dubious claim. As mentioned many times above, the climate system includes positive feedbacks that get stronger as more warming occurs. As such, it is plausible that further increases in GHG concentrations will cause more warming than the same amounts did in an earlier time.

(3) Another is the increased temperature changes clouds in a way that reduces the warming.

Clouds are certainly a significant feedback, sometimes positive and sometimes negative. They have been incorporated into the models examined by the IPCC (albeit imperfectly) and I have never seen it suggested in a serious scientific source that changes in cloud patterns induced by greenhouse gas emissions would completely counteract the warming effect they produce.

As for Roy Spencer, he is a notorious climate change denier and proponent of intelligent design: not exactly a serious scientific source.

(4) As I stated in my July 30, 7:28 post there is a tiny theoretical increase from doubling CO2 but it’s not detectable in the fluctuations from other factors.

Observed warming can already be attributed to anthropogenic GHG emissions. No doubt, warming from current emissions will be observed in the future, and climatic models will continue to improve to the point where feedbacks are more completely understood.

Once again, the sunspot theory is not credible and there is very clear and consistent evidence that increased atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gasses causes warming of the climate system.

. August 24, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Spencer’s Folly

July 28, 2008 · 125 Comments
Part 1: a Very Simple Model of Temperature Variability around an Equilibrium State

A reader recently linked to a presentation by Roy Spencer called Feedback vs. Chaotic Radiative Forcing: “Smoking Gun” Evidence for an Insensitive Climate System? As time goes by, I have less and less inclination to debunk claims that global warming is “no problem,” especially as most of them are so amateurish that there’s little or no insight about the real climate system to be gained from their demolition, and many of them smack of deliberate deception, i.e., not only are they misleading they’re intentionally so. But this presentation strikes me as different. First, we can learn some things about climate change from studying this dissertation, and second, I get the impression that Spencer really believes what he’s saying.

Spencer’s Folly 2

Spencer’s Folly 3

. August 24, 2009 at 2:30 pm

How to cook a graph in three easy lessons

These days, when global warming inactivists need to trot out somebody with some semblance of scientific credentials (from the dwindling supply who have made themselves available for such purposes), it seems that they increasingly turn to Roy Spencer, a Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama. Roy does have a handful of peer-reviewed publications, some of which have quite decent and interesting results in them. However, the thing you have to understand is that what he gets through peer-review is far less threatening to the mainstream picture of anthropogenic global warming than you’d think from the spin he puts on it in press releases, presentations and the blogosphere. His recent guest article on Pielke Sr’s site is a case in point, and provides the fodder for our discussion today.

Actually, Roy has been pretty busy dishing out the confusion recently. Future posts will take a look at his mass market book on climate change, entitled Climate Confusion, published last month, and his article in National Review. We’ll also dig into some of his peer reviewed work, notably the recent paper by Spencer and Braswell on climate sensitivity, and his paper on tropical clouds which is widely misquoted as supporting Lindzen’s IRIS conjecture regarding stabilizing cloud feedback. But on to today’s cooking lesson.

. August 24, 2009 at 2:34 pm
robin August 24, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Milan,

Personally I think global warming may well be a fact, but it worries me to see good people waste so much effort arguing the case. We are drowning in a mass of web correspondence and we need to move the conversation on.

As well as the potential for global warming, there are other reasons for assigning a price to emissions – these include the value of being able to breath clean air, protecting the ozone layer, preventing acid rain and passing the value of the asset on to future generations (so-called inter generational equity). These are discussed in the book that probably had a major influence on the whole Kyoto process: Professor Pearce’s and his team’s book: Blueprint for a Green Economy.

Milan August 24, 2009 at 3:19 pm

If this discussion bores you, there are plenty of other websites to look at.

The fact is that its role in causing climate change is the only reason to restrict emissions of CO2. Air with 1000 ppm of CO2 is no ‘dirtier’ than air with 280 ppm. It has no effect on the ozone layer, and only harms the value of an asset for future generations insofar as it is destabilizing the climate system. Adding CO2 to the atmosphere does make the ocean more acidic, but I have never seen anyone claim that it causes acid rain in the way NO2 and SO2 emissions do.

Cutting off debate between others because it bores you strikes me as pretty inappropriate. The fact that you aren’t confident that CO2 causes climate change, but think its emission should be restricted anyhow, is rather perplexing.

robin August 24, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Milan,

I wrote that I was worried about how much effort good people are expending on arguing the case for and against climate change, not that I was bored.

Milan August 24, 2009 at 4:36 pm

The energy spent debating the cause of climate change is necessary, given how many people are spreading false of misleading information. A limp-wristed call to act without knowing why isn’t really a solution.

A lot of people are putting a lot of effort into spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the scientific consensus. That effort must be matched if we are to move forward with effective policy-making.

I would prefer to live in a world where the science was accepted and climate change deniers didn’t repeat tired and discredited arguments, but that just isn’t where we are in North America yet.

. August 24, 2009 at 4:51 pm

What is climateprediction.net?

Climateprediction.net is a distributed computing project to produce predictions of the Earth’s climate up to 2080 and to test the accuracy of climate models. To do this, we need people around the world to give us time on their computers – time when they have their computers switched on, but are not using them to their full capacity.

Read more about the experiments.

R.K. August 26, 2009 at 11:38 am

I agree that climate change deniers must be countered, where possible. That said, it may be a better use of time to do so in more prominent places than here, such as in newspapers.

robin August 26, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Milan,

I learnt some years back that there are 3 sides to any discussion. Two belong to the protagonists (who sometimes loose the plot) and a third to the observers (who may wonder what all the fuss is about). As an observer (who does appreciate your blog), I keep coming back to the feeling that the current exchange of words about whether global warming is man made or not has used up a great deal of valuable effort and may have only served to harden attitudes.

Rather than being on a mission to counter the deniers, could the site see a role for itself as a moderator? Could the opposing parties not agree to disagree and then spend some of the time freed up to work out where we go from here?

I am not a sceptic, but I do feel sympathy for those who do not see a reason for putting a price on the emission of a greenhouse gas. Nor do I see this as a conspiracy by the far right or big business – they have concerns about the impact on jobs and energy security, etc. which need thinking through and discussing.

Milan August 27, 2009 at 2:56 am

Deciding what the cause is really must be prior to acting.

Imagine we are trying to make medical policy regarding diabetes. One group thinks the cause has to do with blood sugar, the liver, insulin, etc. Another group thinks that the cause is bad spells being cast by witches.

The latter group isn’t going to agree to a public program of providing insulin at the same time as they continue to believe that diabetes is the work of witches. This isn’t a debate that can be simply bracketed, as long as the witches group remains politically influential.

I don’t want this site to play a ‘moderator’ role between climate scientists and climate deniers any more than I would want to moderate between doctors and witch-theorists. One side simply has the strength of evidence on their side. The other does not.

Really, it will only be once all major political parties in states with significant GHG emissions have accepted the need to reduce (eventually to zero) that we will really be able to solve the problem of climate change.

As for wasting energy, I always have plenty of energy for debating points of fact.

Finally, I agree that the details of climate policies definitely deserve discussion. This includes how they will impact jobs, energy security, and so forth. But we can only really have meaningful discussions on those subjects once the reality of climate change is appreciated, and the human causes properly attributed.

Milan August 28, 2009 at 4:43 pm

This climate policy flowchart has some relevance here.

It is from this post.

. September 2, 2009 at 12:11 pm

To summarize, the biofuel pretenders fall into several broad categories. The big ones are:

* Hydrogen

* Most would-be cellulosic ethanol producers

* Most would-be algal biofuel producers

* Most first generation biodiesel producers

This isn’t to say that none of these will work in any circumstances. I will get into that when I talk about niches. But I will say that I am confident that none of these are scalable solutions to our fossil fuel dependence. The problem is that political leaders have been, or are still convinced that there is great potential for some of these and we waste billions of dollars chasing fantasies. This is a great distraction, causing a loss of precious time and public goodwill as taxpayer money is squandered chasing schemes that ultimately will not pan out.

. October 6, 2009 at 11:14 am

Dangerously Dishonest Climate “Expert” at Large in Canada

Christopher Walter, the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley is gamboling his way across Canada, acting like a character recently escaped from a Monty Python skit and inflaming the passions of climate change deniers and their favourite newspaper editors (at the National Post and the Calgary Herald).

Monckton is being urged on and abetted by the Friends of Science, an oily front group, long derided for trying to conceal its connections to the Calgary oil and gas community. Right wing think tanks the Fraser Institute and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy are also sponsoring the tour. (Although the Fraser Institute has been a recipient of Exxon Mobil funding in the past, neither organization is acknowledging who is paying Monckton to suggest that we all have “the courage to do nothing” about climate change.)

There are two problems with Monckton. First, he claims to be a science expert, regardless that his paper-thin educational background lies in the Classics and his single academic credit is a diploma in journalism (no sin, but surely not a climatology PhD). The second problem is that despite his track record for apparently intentional inaccuracies, people continue to take him seriously.

Dan Pangburn October 30, 2009 at 12:09 pm

All of the global average temperatures for the entire 20th century and on into the 21st century are accurately calculated with no consideration whatsoever needed of changes to the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide or any other greenhouse gas. See how in a new paper at http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true . There is no Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) (and therefore no human caused climate change) from added atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Milan October 30, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Are you still at this?

While you’re here, would you like to deny that smoking causes lung cancer, argue that people never landed on the moon, dispute whether living things evolve, or argue that the sun orbits around the Earth?

The sunspot theory is thoroughly debunked, and there is every reason to believe that human greenhouse gas emissions are causing the climate system to warm. All the world’s serious scientific bodies have been acknowledging this for years.

Milan October 30, 2009 at 2:19 pm

It’s worth noting that the paper you linked on climaterealists.com isn’t a peer-reviewed article printed in a reputable journal. It is two pages of text with no footnotes.

If you think it could stand up to scientific scrutiny, please submit it to a journal.

Milan October 30, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Your self-published article has as much credibility as a blog post. By contrast, the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC has been subjected to a massive amount of scientific scrutiny – including consideration of whether observed changes in temperature can be attributed to sunspots.

When their climate models are run using only natural forcings (including solar factors), they fail to explain observed temperature changes in all continents and the global ocean. When anthropogenic forcings are incorporated, the model output is consistent with observations.

This chart is from p. 6 of the Summary for Policymakers from the 4AR Synthesis Report (PDF).

Dan Pangburn October 31, 2009 at 3:37 pm

Milan,
The method and data sources (NOAA) are described in detail so anyone can do the assessment. If they do they will discover the same thing that I did. Climate Change is natural.

How wide will the separation need to get between the increasing CO2 and not-increasing temperature before you recognize that the IPCC got it wrong and you and a lot of others have been misled?

R.K. October 31, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Are you planning to submit your work to an academic journal?

. October 31, 2009 at 9:12 pm

After the Warming” (1989)

. November 1, 2009 at 11:41 pm

“Some contrarian commentators have recently fallen into the habit of mass mailing any new solar-related abstracts and implying that the existence of solar forcing in the past negates any possible recent anthropogenic impact on climate. Since these studies do not have any implication for the radiative impact of CO2, and don’t change the fact that there has been no effective change in any solar indices since about 1950, it is hard to see a substantial basis for this (implied) argument.

In summary, although solar forcing is real, the implications of that are often rather overstated. Since there has been a clear history of people fooling themselves about the importance of solar-climate links, any new studies in the field need to be considered very carefully before conclusions are drawn, especially with respect the warming over recent decades, which despite all of this discussion about solar activity, is almost all related to anthropogenic greenhouse gases.”

Milan November 1, 2009 at 11:45 pm

Dan,

As stated many times before, scientists have considered and rejected the hypothesis that sunspots are the cause of the changes we are observing in the climate.

How wide will the separation need to get between the increasing CO2 and not-increasing temperature before you recognize that the IPCC got it wrong and you and a lot of others have been misled?

CO2 and temperature trends are linked, and both upwards:

Surface and satellite temperatures

Global temperatures

CO2 concentrations

I have to wonder how many more decades of increasing temperatures and CO2 emissions it will take before climate change deniers no longer have so many people confused about the relationship of greenhouse gas concentrations and global temperatures.

. November 1, 2009 at 11:47 pm

The best way to detect changes in the actual output of the sun versus changes in the radiation reaching the earth’s surface because of clouds, smoke, dust or pollution is by taking readings from space.

This is a job for satellites. According to PMOD at the World Radiation Center there has been no increase in solar irradiance since at least 1978 when satellite observations began. This means that for the last thirty years, while the temperature has been rising fastest, the sun has shown no trend.

Milan November 1, 2009 at 11:53 pm

For the sake of those following this discussion, here are the paragraphs from Dan’s paper describing his methodology:

The influence of the sunspots is determined by an energy balance on the planet. The energy gained by the planet is assumed to be proportional to the time-integral of sunspot count. The energy radiated from the planet is proportional to the time-integral of the fourth power of the average global temperature. The proportionality constant, 6.36E-9, was adjusted to get a fairly constant net energy from 1700 to about 1940 as described in the pdf file titled SUNSPOTS; THE CAUSE OF THE 20TH CENTURY TEMPERATURE RUN-UP at http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true. The sunspot data set used here was copied from ftp://ftp.ngdc.noaa.gov/STP/SOLAR_DATA/SUNSPOT_NUMBERS/YEARLY.PLT . The energy difference is divided by a constant, 4000, to get a value close to the temperature anomalies and an offset, 0.4, is subtracted to move the plot to overlay the measured anomalies.

The up trend or down trend periods ascribed to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) are taken as 32 years long for all periods. The temperature range for the PDOs alone was taken to be 0.45 K for all of the PDOs. Thus, for a PDO uptrend the value added to the above sunspot calculation is 0.45 multiplied by the fraction of the PDO time period that has taken place. For a PDO downtrend, the value added to the above sunspot calculation is 0.45 minus 0.45 multiplied by the fraction of the PDO time period that has taken place.

The graph in the paper shows a temperature projection (allegedly based on past and projected sunspot numbers) where temperature peaks around 2005 and then falls in a straight line until about 2030 – at which point the anomaly is projected at -0.2˚C, compared with +0.6˚C now.

Milan November 2, 2009 at 12:08 am

By contrast, here are a range of projections from the IPCC. Each line represents an emissions scenario.

Note that they project that there would be slight warming even if emissions were kept constant at 2000 levels. With strong emission growth, projected warming is around 3.5% by 2100.

Since we don’t know how emissions will change between now and 2100, there is a fair bit of variability in the amount of warming projected. Note that this is precisely because greenhouse gasses are the major driver of climate change.

Dan Pangburn November 2, 2009 at 9:53 am

To clarify the description of the extension beyond the present of the graph in the link, the following quote is from the paper: “The extension of this line beyond the present assumes that future sunspot count is zero. Future temperature anomalies depend on future sunspot counts and future PDO behavior neither of which can be confidently predicted.”

Milan November 2, 2009 at 10:46 am

1) You haven’t presented any reason for which the disappearance of sunspots is to be expected. Indeed, given the data you have, it is odd to assert that in the future the activity you are looking at will drop off to zero. As such – and by your own admission – your projection is meaningless.

2) What mechanism do you think links sunspots and the Earth’s climate? It isn’t their effect on solar output, since models that incorporate solar forcings cannot account for observed climatic data. Only those that incorporate anthropogenic greenhouse gas can.

3) It seems as though your methodology is to play around with two datasets until you get a line that resembles that of a third data set. Unless you have some theory to account of the linkage, this is just arbitrary line-fitting. It certainly isn’t a form of modeling that takes into account the complex feedbacks that exist in the climate system.

4) How do you account for the fact that the world’s serious climate science organizations have considered solar forcings as an explanation for observed warming, but not been able to support that conclusion with evidence or theory?

5) As asked above, are you planning to submit your work to a peer-reviewed climatological journal? If not, why not?

6) As asked above: “You keep asserting that there is some phenomenon counteracting [the increased absorption of infrared radiation by an atmosphere with a higher concentration of GHGs], producing your infinitely repeated situation of “no significant NET positive feedback [do you mean radiative forcing?] from average global temperature.” What specific mechanism counteracts the infrared absorbing effect of greenhouse gasses?” (the earlier comment elaborates upon the question)

I will wait for specific responses to these six questions.

Dan Pangburn November 3, 2009 at 3:05 am

1. Is there a question in there? ‘Assert’ is not the same as ‘assume’. Since a future of no sunspots was assumed, the projection is a lower limit. This projection which is based on the time-integral of sunspot count and ocean turnover oscillation makes a good match so far. IPCCs projection based on ghgs doesn’t. Since average global temperature depends on sunspots and no one has reliably predicted sunspot count, no one can project average global temperature. The downtrend of ocean turnover and quiet sun point toward a cool down.
2. The close temperature match for over a century indicates that there is a link. I suspect that sunspots influence cloud area and/or average cloud altitude. A change in cloud average altitude of only about 300 meters (which correlates with a cloud average temperature change of about 2 C degrees) would result in a change to average global temperature of 0.74 C degrees.
3. I don’t see a question here either. The analysis applies the first law of thermodynamics (called “energy balance”). The close temperature match indicates that any influence of ghgs on average global temperature is insignificant.
4. Apparently they didn’t happen to think of looking at the time-integral of sunspot count. Send them a link to my paper.
5. Biased peer review is de facto censorship. Lindzen’s paper (slides at http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/cooler_heads_lindzen-talk-pdf.pdf) should soften them up. My work is published on line where anyone can review it. I welcome competent technical challenge.
6. As a result of the logarithmic decline in effect, the ADDED CO2 has only a minuscule contribution that is insignificant compared to natural changes.

Milan November 3, 2009 at 10:54 am

These answers are not satisfying.

1) It is awfully misleading to put a declining line like that on your graph without explanation or justification. If you have no ability to project the future, you shouldn’t be suggesting you can. Given that part of your agenda seems to be convincing people not to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is especially misleading to suggest that observed warming will just go away on its own.

Also, you cannot simultaneously claim that sunspots are totally unpredictable and that “[t]he downtrend of ocean turnover and quiet sun point toward a cool down.”

2) Where did you get these cloud statistics?

Do you have any historical evidence linking cloud behaviour to sunspot count?

3) The close temperature match indicates that any influence of ghgs on average global temperature is insignificant.

The close temperature match between what and what? Between the line you say indicates observed mean global temperature change and the line that you say represents the influence of sunspots? The fact that the lines look similar doesn’t mean anything unless you have a strong rationale for the shape of both. When it comes to the shape of your sunspot line, so far you haven’t given us any reason to believe that you didn’t just fit it to your observed temperature anomaly line.

With enough mathematical rejigging, you can make any two lines look similar. So far, you haven’t provided evidence that this isn’t what you’ve done here.

4) This assertion strikes me as ludicrous. Of course they looked at solar factors. The IPCC reports are very clear on this, as are other sources linked above. You still haven’t responded to the data above indicating that “there has been no effective change in any solar indices since about 1950.”

5) Biased peer review is de facto censorship.

Actually, it is a way of weeding out nonsense and errors. Only by having competent climatologists examine your work can you have any credibility. If the mathematical relationship is as clear as you suggest, you shouldn’t have any trouble convincing the experts of it.

6) Why is there a “logarithmic decline in effect?” This is not the result you would see if you tried shining infrared light through a column of air with an ever-increasing concentration of CO2.

While there are negative feedbacks in the climate system, there is no reason to believe there is some automatic correction that always and perfectly offsets the warming caused by greenhouse gasses. Given that we know GHGs will prevent infrared radiation from leaving the atmosphere – thus warming the planet – you cannot simply claim that the contribution is “minuscule” when both observations and peer-reviewed theorizing and modeling show otherwise.

All told, this discussion seems indicative of how easily someone with no scientific credibility can confuse discussion about the issue of climate. That said, if you are able to submit your work to the scrutiny of those really qualified to evaluate it, your level of credibility will change.

. November 3, 2009 at 10:57 am

We are forever being bombarded with apparently incredible correlations of various solar indices and climate. A number of them came up in the excoriable TGGWS mockumentary last month where they were mysteriously ‘improved’ in a number of underhand ways. But even without those improvements (which variously involved changing the axes, drawing in non-existent data, taking out data that would contradict the point etc.), the as-published correlations were superficially quite impressive. Why then are we not impressed?

. November 3, 2009 at 11:00 am

Study: Sun’s contribution to recent warming is “negligible”
September 30, 2008

The Naval Research Laboratory and NASA report that, “if anything,” the sun contributed “a very slight overall cooling in the past 25 years.”

None of the natural processes can account for the overall warming trend in global surface temperatures. In the 100 years from 1905 to 2005, the temperature trends produce by all three natural influences are at least an order of magnitude smaller than the observed surface temperature trend reported by IPCC [2007]. According to this analysis, solar forcing contributed negligible long-term warming in the past 25 years and 10% of the warming in the past 100 years.

Here we show that over the past 20 years, all the trends in the Sun that could have had an influence on the Earth’s climate have been in the opposite direction to that required to explain the observed rise in global mean temperatures.

. November 3, 2009 at 11:17 am

Climate science is a very important and topical field, and hence has been receiving a lot of attention and scrutiny. There is a vast amount of information about climate science available, especially on the internet. However, this information is of varying quality and reliability. The best available method to identify the highest quality science is called peer review. This consists of having independent experts (peers) reading the work critically to determine whether it is credible science and should be published or not. This process is not infallible, and very rarely fraud and mistakes do occur. Published papers are open to public scrutiny so if the paper is not of sufficient quality it is quickly exposed as such. This is the best method available to establish scientific quality and it allows science to progress in a timely fashion.

. November 3, 2009 at 5:11 pm
. November 4, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Arctic sediments show that 20th century warming is unlike natural variation
Published: Saturday, October 24, 2009 – 23:24 in Earth & Climate

Working with Briner and colleagues at UB who retrieved and analyzed the sediments, the paper’s co-authors at the University of Colorado and Queens University, experts in analyzing fossils of bugs and algae, have pooled their expertise to develop the most comprehensive picture to date of how warming variations throughout the past 200,000 years have altered the lake’s ecology.

“There are periods of time reflected in this sediment core that demonstrate that the climate was as warm as today,” said Briner, “but that was due to natural causes, having to do with well-understood patterns of the Earth’s orbit around the sun. The whole ecosystem has now shifted and the ecosystem we see during just the last few decades is different from those seen during any of the past warm intervals.”

Yarrow Axford, a research associate at the University of Colorado, and the paper’s lead author, noted: “The 20th century is the only period during the past 200 millennia in which aquatic indicators reflect increased warming, despite the declining effect of slow changes in the tilt of the Earth’s axis which, under natural conditions, would lead to climatic cooling.”

Anon November 5, 2009 at 8:18 pm

This discussion certainly demonstrates how much you can waste the time of intelligent people just by repeating yourself over and over.

Dan Pangburn November 10, 2009 at 6:45 pm

If papers and the GCMs that had been peer reviewed had even roughly predicted recent average global temperature there would not be the present observed SEPARATION between the rapidly rising atmospheric carbon dioxide level and the not-rising temperature (see my July 30, 6:52 PM post). A least squares line fit to the separation data reveals that this separation has been growing at an average rate of about 2% per year since 2000.

Previous attempts to relate sunspot data to climate used either amplitude (Wolf number, SESC number, etc.) or a time factor (e.g. time elapsed between low points) and failed. To get to the truth, you must get beyond the perception that the previous work meant an end to the consideration of the effect that sunspots might have on earth’s climate. I really don’t know why it is that apparently no one considered the time-integral of sunspots before. Perhaps the scientists that did that work (and the peer reviewers) were not as familiar with the first law of thermodynamics and the difference between power and the time-integral of power (which is energy) as engineers are. The time-integral of sunspots is proportional to energy and allows the use of the first law of thermodynamics. I have been unable to find anywhere else that this has been done.

A time-integral of the PDO Index, properly scaled and offset, produces an excellent match of the 32 year, 0.45 year amplitude up and down trends that were discovered during the research described at http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true . This research used the sunspot time-integral.

Tens of billions of dollars have been spent in futile efforts to prove that added CO2 caused Global Warming while an unpaid engineer has discovered what really caused the temperature run-up in the 20th century. This year, 2009, appears to be the year of the Verification of Natural Climate Change.

It is unfortunate that so many bloggers have little ability and may even lack the interest to do their own research on the planet’s climate. As a result they have no technological basis to challenge highly politicized (and sometimes pay check driven) claims by some of looming catastrophe.

I wonder how the perception that a simple time-integral is “mathematical rejigging” should be interpreted.

Milan November 16, 2009 at 10:36 am

Did you see the article above about election results and sunspots? It shows how you can make curves look similar by fiddling with them mathematically, In the absence of a causal explanation, the fact that two lines can be made to look like one another is not proof of a hypothesis.

To reiterate some relevant facts:

1) The divergence you allege between rising GHG concentrations and temperatures is not supported by the data. Yes, there is random variation. That being said, the temperature trend is clearly upwards, as evidenced by instrument data and things like glaciers melting, species migrating north and uphill, flowers blooming earlier in spring, etc.

2) If you think your mathematics would stand up to expert scrutiny, submit them to a competent journal. I am not personally qualified to evaluate your approach, but there are certainly people who are. If you refuse to make such a submission, it seems like you are admitting that your approach cannot stand up to scrutiny.

3) You can talk all you like about the laws of thermodynamics. As described above, observations of solar output changes are not sufficient to explain observed warming.

4) You are simply incorrect to say that the detection and attribution studies done on climate change have been “futile.” As described endlessly above, there is a strong scientific consensus backed by much evidence that human GHG emissions are causing climate change.

5) This discussion has become endlessly circular, with you asserting that sunspots are somehow the cause and me citing sources that show that not to be the case. If you think your argument can stand up to scrunity, submit it to a journal. If not, you are free to wait around and watch temperatures continue to rise as we continue to emit gasses that make the atmosphere over more opaque to longwave radiation. You still haven’t adequately responded to the well-known scientific fact that this absorption effect produces warming in the climate system.

S2 November 18, 2009 at 6:13 pm

A least squares line fit to the separation data reveals that this separation has been growing at an average rate of about 2% per year since 2000.

Would you like to post your data, or at least quote your sources so that I can check them? Could you please also include your standard deviation estimates?

Matt November 18, 2009 at 7:17 pm

…The energy difference is divided by a constant, 4000, to get a value close to the temperature anomalies and an offset, 0.4, is subtracted to move the plot to overlay the measured anomalies…

Are you just scaling and shifting functions arbitrarily so that random data fits some sort of average temperature graph?

If so, how have you come to the conclusion that this is mathematically appropriate? What are the units of your coefficients (and what do they imply)?

What has the first law of thermodynamics got to do with anything? It’s not as though the Earth and its atmosphere are closed systems from an energy standpoint (which would nullify your argument that we should consider the first law of thermodynamics [essentially the conservation of energy]).

Finally, you keep mentioning a time-integral of sunspots. What specifically are you integrating with respect to time? Number of sunspots? What are the final units? Why would we expect sunspots to have a cumulative effect on the Earth’s atmosphere? (The effect would have to cumulative if you’re integrating over time).

This engineer thinks you don’t know what you’re on about.

Tens of billions of dollars have been spent in futile efforts to prove that added CO2 caused Global Warming while an unpaid [crackpot] engineer has discovered what really caused the temperature run-up in the 20th century.

This right here sums it up. Organizations with infinitely more resources than yourself have considered sunspots and have found no scientifically rigorous correlation. Microsoft Excel is a powerful tool with some really great graphing functions which apparently you’ve put to good [figuratively] use. It just helps to know what the heck you’re graphing with it.

. November 24, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Can solar activity or other natural processes explain global warming? (p.16)

No. The incoming solar radiation has been almost constant over the past 50 years, apart from the well-known 11-year solar cycle (Figure 5). In fact it has slightly decreased over this period. In addition, over the past three years the brightness of the sun has reached an all-time low since the beginning of satellite measurements in the 1970s (Lockwood and Fröhlich 2007, 2008). But this natural cooling effect was more than a factor of ten smaller than the effect of increasing greenhouse gases, so it has not noticeably slowed down global warming. Also, winters are warming more rapidly than summers, and overnight minimum temperatures have warmed more rapidly than the daytime maxima – exactly the opposite of what would be the case if the sun were causing the warming. Other natural factors, like volcanic eruptions or El Niño events, have only caused short-term temperature variations over time spans of a few years, but cannot explain any longer-term climatic trends (e.g., Lean and Rind 2008).

Figure 5. (below) Time-series of solar irradiance alongside the net effect of greenhouse gas emissions (the latter relative to the year 1880; using Meehl et al. 2004) calculated in terms of total estimated impact on global air temperatures; observed from 1970-2008; and projected from 2009-2030 (adapted from Lean and Rind 2009).

Milan November 24, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Here is a clean version of the figure mentioned above:

Time-series of solar irradiance alongside the net effect of greenhouse gas emissions

I think this discussion has now reached its point of exhaustion. Dan is unwilling to explain why he made the mathematical choices he did and unwilling to submit his work for review by scientists. Peer-reviewed and published data and analysis on climate change take into account solar factors, and does not conclude that observed temperature increases can be explained by that means.

. November 25, 2009 at 11:31 am

“It’s therefore interesting to note that the LeMouel paper, on the one hand, demonstrates that there essentially is no relationship between several indicators for European climate and the aa-index or the monthly sunspot number, and on the other, argues in the introduction and discussion that these are important for the state of our climate…”

. December 8, 2009 at 4:43 pm

RECENT WARMING IS MOSTLY DUE TO AN INCREASE IN THE AMOUNT OF RADIATION COMING FROM THE SUN.

Rubbish.

No credible scientific data support this claim. When solar output is at its highest in the 11-year sunspot cycle, as it was about half a dozen years ago, the sun warms the planet’s surface about a third of a watt per square metre more than it does when solar output is at its minimum, as it is right now. This tiny shift in the solar flux is swamped by the extra three watts per square metre produced by the greenhouse gases humans have already emitted. In fact, since the late 1970s, when direct satellite measurement of solar radiation became available, these small changes in solar output have been cooling Earth at precisely the time when global warming has been accelerating.

. December 9, 2009 at 12:20 pm

“And again, we’re putting 90 million tons of it into the air today and we’ll put a little more of that up there tomorrow. The physical relationship between CO2 molecules and the atmosphere and the trapping of heat is as well-established as gravity, for God’s sakes. It’s not some mystery. One hundred and fifty years ago this year, John Tyndall discovered CO2 traps heat, and that was the same year the first oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania. The oil industry has outpaced the building of a public consensus of the implications of climate science.

But the basic facts are incontrovertible. What do they think happens when we put 90 million tons up there every day? Is there some magic wand they can wave on it and presto!—physics is overturned and carbon dioxide doesn’t trap heat anymore? And when we see all these things happening on the Earth itself, what in the hell do they think is causing it? The scientists have long held that the evidence in their considered word is “unequivocal,” which has been endorsed by every national academy of science in every major country in the entire world.

If the people that believed the moon landing was staged on a movie lot had access to unlimited money from large carbon polluters or some other special interest who wanted to confuse people into thinking that the moon landing didn’t take place, I’m sure we’d have a robust debate about it right now.”

. December 9, 2009 at 5:24 pm

“Even if you were to exclude every line of evidence which could possibly be disputed – the proxy records, the computer models, the complex science of clouds and ocean currents – the evidence for manmade global warming would still be unequivocal. You can see it in the measured temperature record, which goes back to 1850; in the shrinkage of glaciers and the thinning of sea ice; in the responses of wild animals and plants and the rapidly changing crop zones.

No other explanation for these shifts makes sense. Solar cycles have been out of synch with the temperature record for 40 years. The Milankovic cycle, which describes variations in the earth’s orbit, doesn’t explain it either. But the warming trend is closely correlated with the accumulation of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. The impact of these gases can be demonstrated in the laboratory. To assert that they do not have the same effect in the atmosphere, a novel and radical theory would be required. No such theory exists. The science is not fixed – no science ever is – but it is as firm as science can be. The evidence for manmade global warming remains as strong as the evidence linking smoking to lung cancer or HIV to AIDS. “

Milan December 9, 2009 at 5:26 pm

While it isn’t really related to HFCs (the ostensible topic of this post), I am using this thread to list various rebuttals to the solar theories brought forward by some delayers and deniers, as Dan Pangburn has done above.

If someone thinks they have evidence that demonstrates how observed warming could have been induced by solar phenomena, I encourage them to submit it to an appropriate journal for peer-review.

Milan December 10, 2009 at 2:25 pm

As for Viscount Christopher Monckton, who is mentioned above, George Monbiot has an interesting piece revealing that he is a complete kook.

He falsely claims to be a Nobel laureate (and has also falsely claimed to be a member of the UK House of Lords). He “contends that he won the Falklands war for Britain by persuading the British government to use biological warfare.” He also claims to be “responsible for invention and development of a broad-spectrum cure for infectious diseases. Patents have now been filed. Patients have been cured of various infectious diseases, including Graves’ disease, multiple sclerosis, influenza, food poisoning, and HIV.”

Monbiot has a number of other examples of why this isn’t a man we should be taking seriously on any matter of importance, much less something as technical and important as climate change.

Milan February 3, 2010 at 10:56 am

This post is relevant here: Climate change: the solar hypothesis

It describes paleoclimatic evidence that shows why the sun hasn’t been the dominant climate forcing in the recent past, or across the last 65 million years.

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