Jeff Jacoby points out that climate change alarmists have fouled their nest so badly that the majority of the public in general has now concluded their cause is overhyped. Climate change, as a pressing priority, is receding in the public’s eyes. It simply doesn’t consider the warning credible. Why?
Well answer this – if Harold Camping came out today and claimed that the world was going to end on October 21st, after previously claiming it would end on May 21st, how much credence would you give his claim?
About as much as the scaremongers in the AGW game, one supposes, since much of what they warned would happen not only hasn’t happened but doesn’t appear likely to happen. As I noted yesterday, however, that doesn’t keep the scare machine from cranking out new and more horrible predictions.
Jacoby points to one made by Newsweek which is, well, laughable on its face.
“Worldwide, the litany of weather’s extremes has reached biblical proportions,’’ Newsweek intones, pointing to tornadoes in the United States, floods in Australia and Pakistan, and drought in China. “From these and other extreme-weather events, one lesson is sinking in with terrifying certainty. The stable climate of the last 12,000 years is gone.’’ This is what comes of burning fossil fuels for energy, which has increased atmospheric CO2 levels by 40 percent above what they were before the Industrial Revolution. “You haven’t seen anything yet,’’ Newsweek preaches. “Batten down the hatches.’’
Anyone spot the blatant bit of nonsense in there? We’ve never had a “stable climate” for the last 12,000 years. Jacoby quotes William Happer, distinguished Princeton physicist, on the reality of that time period:
“Carbon is the stuff of life,’’ he points out. “Our bodies are made of carbon.’’ Yes, atmospheric CO2 is higher today than it was before the industrial age — 390 parts per million now vs. 270 ppm then — but there was a time when “CO2 levels were several thousand ppm, much higher than now. And life flourished abundantly.’’ Indeed, greenhouse operators artificially boost CO2 concentrations in order to grow better flowers and fruit.
So why recoil from the modest increase in carbon emissions caused by fossil-fuel use? Because more CO2 means more climate change? Happer shoots down that idea. The earth’s climate is always changing, sometimes dramatically. During the medieval warming of a thousand years ago, temperatures were much higher than they are now; during the Little Ice Age six centuries later they were much lower. “Yet there is no evidence for significant increase of CO2 in the medieval warm period, nor for a significant decrease at the time of the subsequent little ice age.’’
It is like history and the climate records that go with it don’t exist for the alarmist crowd. If you can’t explain it, apparently it is now ok to ignore it. Thus the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age – inconvenient facts that refute the claim – seemingly never happened. Not if you want to push the “12,000 years” of “stable climate”.
As I’ve asked any number of times, when did the science that previously saw CO2 as a lagging indicator change it into a leading indicator or cause of warming? It hasn’t. Nor does it have the amplifying effect that the alarmists claim through their flawed models. In fact, none of the predictions they have made over the years have even come close to fruition for the reasons they state. And it is clear, as we actually have real scientists study the atmosphere and climate, that there is still a vast amount they are discovering about the climate. This, for instance:
Scientists at Marine Biological Laboratory say trees in a mini-forest where they simulated future global warming stored more carbon, a bonus offset for expected higher CO2 releases from the faster decay of organic matter in soil as Earth heats up.
Apparently as the atmosphere warms, trees store more carbon as “woody tissue”. Result?
But project leader Jerry Melillo of MBL said this study demonstrates for the first time that global warming would also be likely to increase the carbon storing potential of trees, by speeding up nitrogen cycling in the forest — more matter decomposing frees up more inorganic nitrogen compounds, such as ammonium (also known as garden fertilizer), causing greater tree growth and more tree tissue available to store carbon.
The increased carbon storage capacity of the trees in MBL’s Harvard Forest experiment was enough to outpace atmospheric CO2 gain resulting from the warmer soil, Melillo concluded.
And most likely, any human contribution, as small as it is, would also be absorbed. One could also theorize that other plant life might also store more CO2 than they do now. Of course, if true, that would likely mean that the human contribution (or CO2 for that matter) was not having the effect that alarmists attempt to claim, but instead the warming was due to other causes.
I’m sure, however, since this is a recent discovery, that the models don’t factor that in. Of course, they don’t factor in cloud albedo either – something not only critical to our climate, but fundamental. But hey, that would get in the way of the desired results, wouldn’t it?
AGW is slowly strangling on its own fouled science. As I pointed out yesterday and Jacoby points out today, that’s only increased the stridency of these cranks. Scaremongering is headed to new heights in the coming months. And, as it turns out, the basis for their “end of the world” scenarios is about as firm as that of Harold Camping and his end of the world claims.
Of course it is not unusual to find someone, somewhere who has swallowed the Al Gore driven AGW mantra whole who wants to tie extreme weather events to man-made global warming.
Bill McKibben, a journalist blogging at the Washington Post, gives it a new twist with a whole bunch of links to weather events that have to be – that’s right, have to be – caused by global warming (although he sarcastically pretends there are no such links in an attempt to shame skeptics by what he seems to consider obvious linkage).
Never mind the mean temperature globally hasn’t risen over the past decade, and the climate models that predicted all this have been proven to be wrong, that the conditions necessary for there to be a greenhouse effect from CO2 don’t exist nor have they ever, the “hockey stick” was broken years ago, that the data has been admittedly fudged or manipulated and that they couldn’t “hide the decline”, this is all because of global warming. Because “warm air holds more moisture than dry air”.
Of course most of his examples are really, honestly laughable on their face. For instance:
It is not advisable to try to connect them in your mind with, say, the fires burning across Texas — fires that have burned more of America at this point this year than any wildfires have in previous years. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they’ve ever been — the drought is worse than that of the Dust Bowl. But do not wonder if they’re somehow connected.
What happened to the moisture laden air? And how about his reference – the 30’s era dust bowl? It couldn’t be natural systems again asserting themselves, could it? No, of course not, because then the cause couldn’t be pinned on AGW, could it? El Nino and La Nina? Forget about them. You need to buy into this simplistic explanation of why bad weather events are happening.
If you did wonder, you see, you would also have to wonder about whether this year’s record snowfalls and rainfalls across the Midwest — resulting in record flooding along the Mississippi — could somehow be related. And then you might find your thoughts wandering to, oh, global warming, and to the fact that climatologists have been predicting for years that as we flood the atmosphere with carbon we will also start both drying and flooding the planet, since warm air holds more water vapor than cold air.
Well they’ve been predicting mega hurricanes for years as well, and we’ve had very mild hurricane seasons. We’re also supposed to be up to our rear ends in water right now, what with melting glaciers and ice pack, but we’ve found out that the data for that has been fudged too. And we had similar floods in – 1927 – well before the era in which we’ve supposedly polluted our planet to the point that it is now “striking back”. And what about the Johnstown flood of 1889? What were their cause?
Propose your own physics; ignore physics altogether. Just don’t start asking yourself whether there might be some relation among last year’s failed grain harvest from the Russian heat wave, and Queensland’s failed grain harvest from its record flood, and France’s and Germany’s current drought-related crop failures, and the death of the winter wheat crop in Texas, and the inability of Midwestern farmers to get corn planted in their sodden fields. Surely the record food prices are just freak outliers, not signs of anything systemic.
You don’t have to propose you own anything, you just have to inform yourself. For instance, the Russian heat wave:
The deadly heat wave that seared Russia last summer was driven primarily by a natural weather phenomenon, not man-made causes, government researchers said in a study Wednesday.
In their report, the scientists concluded that the extreme temperatures were caused by the formation of a blocking pattern, a massive high-pressure ridge that halted the normal movement of cooling storms from the west and allowed warm air to flow north from the tropics. Such anomalies are relatively common and the result of natural actions, though the intensity of the one over Russia was highly unusual.
The role of human-caused warming could not be discerned from the natural weather patterns behind the event, Dr. Dole said.
You see, it is much easier to speculate than to do the research necessary to understand weather and patterns, or to simply hit Google. They are indeed signs of something systemic, just not the system the Alarmists would prefer. But as you can see, that doesn’t stop them from attempting to “connect the dots” as they pretend.
The Alarmists have an agenda. They are clearly on the defensive. Their predictive power has been shown to be essentially worthless. So they’re back to claiming weather events prove their point. The twist is they want to link them all together even when they obviously have nothing to do with their claim – see Russia – because they think the more of these events they can claim, the greater the force of their argument.
Yeah, not working guys. Again, while everyone knows CO2 is a greenhouse gas, it doesn’t work as the models theorized it works and thus doesn’t have the amplifying effect they claim. Consequently, it isn’t doing what they want to claim it does. Secondly, man’s contribution to the overall amount of CO2 emitted naturally is miniscule and not worth doing anything about and especially, as noted, since CO2 doesn’t do what the Alarmist claim it does.
Finally, climate does change – always has. No one denies that. Most on the skeptical side of AGW simply don’t buy the Alarmist’s claims – because they certainly aren’t proven science – that man has anything to do with it. We write most of those claims off to hubris, not science.
[HT: Chad M]
David Evans is a scientist. He also has worked in the heart of the AGW machine and consulted full-time for the Australian Greenhouse Office (now the Department of Climate Change) from 1999 to 2005, and part-time 2008 to 2010, modeling Australia’s carbon in plants, debris, mulch, soils, and forestry and agricultural products. He has six university degrees, including a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. The other day he said:
The debate about global warming has reached ridiculous proportions and is full of micro-thin half-truths and misunderstandings. I am a scientist who was on the carbon gravy train, understands the evidence, was once an alarmist, but am now a skeptic.
And with that he begins a demolition of the theories and methods by which the AGW scare has been foisted on the public. The politics:
The whole idea that carbon dioxide is the main cause of the recent global warming is based on a guess that was proved false by empirical evidence during the 1990s. But the gravy train was too big, with too many jobs, industries, trading profits, political careers, and the possibility of world government and total control riding on the outcome. So rather than admit they were wrong, the governments, and their tame climate scientists, now outrageously maintain the fiction that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant.
He makes clear he understands that CO2 is indeed a "greenhouse gas", and makes the point that if all else was equal then yes, more CO2 in the air should and would mean a warmer planet. But that’s where the current "science" goes off the tracks.
But the issue is not whether carbon dioxide warms the planet, but how much.
Most scientists, on both sides, also agree on how much a given increase in the level of carbon dioxide raises the planet’s temperature, if just the extra carbon dioxide is considered. These calculations come from laboratory experiments; the basic physics have been well known for a century.
The disagreement comes about what happens next.
The planet reacts to that extra carbon dioxide, which changes everything. Most critically, the extra warmth causes more water to evaporate from the oceans. But does the water hang around and increase the height of moist air in the atmosphere, or does it simply create more clouds and rain? Back in 1980, when the carbon dioxide theory started, no one knew. The alarmists guessed that it would increase the height of moist air around the planet, which would warm the planet even further, because the moist air is also a greenhouse gas. [emphasis mine]
But it didn’t increase the height of the moist air around the planet as subsequent studies have shown since that time. However, that theory or premise became the heart of the modeling that was done by the alarmist crowd:
This is the core idea of every official climate model: For each bit of warming due to carbon dioxide, they claim it ends up causing three bits of warming due to the extra moist air. The climate models amplify the carbon dioxide warming by a factor of three — so two-thirds of their projected warming is due to extra moist air (and other factors); only one-third is due to extra carbon dioxide.
That’s the core of the issue. All the disagreements and misunderstandings spring from this. The alarmist case is based on this guess about moisture in the atmosphere, and there is simply no evidence for the amplification that is at the core of their alarmism.
What did they find when they tried to prove this theory?
Weather balloons had been measuring the atmosphere since the 1960s, many thousands of them every year. The climate models all predict that as the planet warms, a hot spot of moist air will develop over the tropics about 10 kilometres up, as the layer of moist air expands upwards into the cool dry air above. During the warming of the late 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, the weather balloons found no hot spot. None at all. Not even a small one. This evidence proves that the climate models are fundamentally flawed, that they greatly overestimate the temperature increases due to carbon dioxide.
This evidence first became clear around the mid-1990s.
Evans is not the first to come to these conclusions. Earlier this year, in a post I highlighted, Richard Lindzen said the very same thing.
For warming since 1979, there is a further problem. The dominant role of cumulus convection in the tropics requires that temperature approximately follow what is called a moist adiabatic profile. This requires that warming in the tropical upper troposphere be 2-3 times greater than at the surface. Indeed, all models do show this, but the data doesn’t and this means that something is wrong with the data. It is well known that above about 2 km altitude, the tropical temperatures are pretty homogeneous in the horizontal so that sampling is not a problem. Below two km (roughly the height of what is referred to as the trade wind inversion), there is much more horizontal variability, and, therefore, there is a profound sampling problem. Under the circumstances, it is reasonable to conclude that the problem resides in the surface data, and that the actual trend at the surface is about 60% too large. Even the claimed trend is larger than what models would have projected but for the inclusion of an arbitrary fudge factor due to aerosol cooling. The discrepancy was reported by Lindzen (2007) and by Douglass et al (2007). Inevitably in climate science, when data conflicts with models, a small coterie of scientists can be counted upon to modify the data.
Evans reaches the natural conclusion – the same conclusion Lindzen reached:
At this point, official “climate science” stopped being a science. In science, empirical evidence always trumps theory, no matter how much you are in love with the theory. If theory and evidence disagree, real scientists scrap the theory. But official climate science ignored the crucial weather balloon evidence, and other subsequent evidence that backs it up, and instead clung to their carbon dioxide theory — that just happens to keep them in well-paying jobs with lavish research grants, and gives great political power to their government masters.
And why will it continue? Again, follow the money:
We are now at an extraordinary juncture. Official climate science, which is funded and directed entirely by government, promotes a theory that is based on a guess about moist air that is now a known falsehood. Governments gleefully accept their advice, because the only ways to curb emissions are to impose taxes and extend government control over all energy use. And to curb emissions on a world scale might even lead to world government — how exciting for the political class!
Indeed. How extraordinarily unexciting for the proletariat who will be the ones stuck with the bill if these governments ever succeed in finding a way to pass the taxes they hope to impose and extend even more government’s control over energy.
While you’re listening to the CEOs of American oil companies being grilled by Congress today, remember all of this. They’re going to try to punish an industry that is vital to our economy and national security, and much of the desire to do that is based on this false “science” that has been ginned up by government itself as an excuse to control more of our energy sector and to pick winners and losers. All based on something which is now demonstrably false.
Science is about discovery, the expansion of knowledge, how things work and what that means. What it is not, or shouldn’t be, is an accessory to politics. Politics isn’t about any of those things. Politics is about the application of power to move things in a particular direction. So when pure science teams up with politics to become advocacy “science” bad things are most likely to happen.
The IPCC report specifically, and climate science in general, are learning that the hard way. James Taylor, who seems open to the AGW arguments, asks the salient questions generated by the last IPCC report and subsequent findings. Using Godfather II as an analogy, he sets up the point:
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Assessment Report was as straightforward as Frank Pentangeli’s earlier confession that he had killed on behalf of Michael Corleone. “Milder winter temperatures will decrease heavy snowstorms,” IPCC reported.
That was in 2001. Now, however, with an unprecedented number of major winter snowstorms hitting the northeastern U.S. during the past two winters, the alarmists are clamming up and changing their tune faster than Tom Hagen can fly in Vincenzo Pentangeli from Italy to aid his brother in his time of trouble.
He’s absolutely right – there was no equivocation in the report. A leads to B. They said the same thing about hurricanes – warming would lead to many more and much more powerful storms. Instead they’re at a historically lower level. Glaciers, snowcaps, all sorts of predictions have been found to be false.
When James confronted the IPCC on this, he got the sort of mushy answer you might expect:
During the question and answer portion of the UCS press conference, I quoted the IPCC Third Assessment Report and asked Masters and Serreze if they were saying IPCC was wrong on the science.
“I would say that we always learn,” replied Serreze. “Have we learned a great deal since the IPCC 2001 report? I would say yes, we have. Climate science, like any other field, is a constantly evolving field and we are always learning.”
Really? What happened to “the debate is over” and “the science is settled”?
For years, alarmists have claimed “the science is settled” and “the debate is over.” Well, when was the science settled? When global warming would allegedly cause Himalayan glaciers to melt by 2035, or now that it won’t? When global warming would allegedly cause fewer heavy snow events, or now that it will allegedly cause more frequent heavy snow events?
You can’t have it both ways and have it be called “science” can you?