Monday, October 18, 2010

Does CO2 Drive the Earth’s Climate System?

Roy Spencer points out that the latest NASA/GISS emission assumes what it has to prove

There was a very clever paper published in Science this past week by Lacis, Schmidt, Rind, and Ruedy that uses the GISS climate model (ModelE) in an attempt to prove that carbon dioxide is the main driver of the climate system.

This paper admits that its goal is to counter the oft-quoted claim that water vapor is the main greenhouse gas in our atmosphere. (They provide a 1991 Lindzen reference as an example of that claim).

Through a series of computations and arguments, the authors claim that is actually the CO2, not water vapor, that sustains the warmth of our climate system.

I suspect this paper will result in as many opinions in the skeptic community as there are skeptics giving opinions. But unless one is very careful in reading this paper and knows exactly what the authors are talking about, it is easy to get distracted by superfluous details and miss the main point.

For instance, their table comparing the atmospheres of the Earth, Venus, and Mars does nothing to refute the importance of water vapor to the Earth’s average temperature. While they show that the atmosphere of Mars is very thin, they fail to point out the Martian atmosphere actually has more CO2 than our atmosphere does.

I do not have a problem with the authors’ calculations or their climate model experiment per se. There is not much new here, and their model run produces about what I would expect. It is an interesting exercise that has value by itself.

It is instead their line of reasoning I object to — what they claim their model results mean in terms of causation– in their obvious attempt to relegate the role of water vapor in the atmosphere to that of a passive component that merely responds to the warming effect of CO2…the real driver (they claim) of the climate system.


From what I can tell reading the paper, their claim is that, since our primary greenhouse gas water vapor (and clouds, which constitute a portion of the greenhouse effect) respond quickly to temperature change, vapor and clouds should only be considered “feedbacks” upon temperature change — not “forcings” that cause the average surface temperature of the atmosphere to be what it is in the first place.

Though not obvious, this claim is central to the tenet of the paper, and is an example of the cause-versus-effect issue I repeatedly refer to in the past when discussing some of the most fundamental errors made in the scientific ‘consensus’ on climate change.

It is a subtle attempt to remove water vapor from the discussion of “control” over the climate system — by definition. Only those of us who know enough of the details of forcing-feedback theory within the context of climate change theory will likely realize this, through.

Just because water vapor responds quickly to temperature change does not mean that there are no long-term water vapor changes (or cloud changes) — not due to temperature — that cause climate change. Asserting so is a non sequitur, and just leads to circular reasoning.

I am not claiming the authors are being deceptive. I think I understand why so many scientists go down this path of reasoning. They view the climate system as a self-contained, self-controlled complex of physically intertwined processes that would forever remain unchanged until some “external” influence (forcing) enters the picture and alters the rules by which the climate system operates.

Of course, increasing CO2 is the currently fashionable forcing in this climatological worldview.

But I cannot overemphasize the central important of this paradigm (or construct) of climate change theory to the eventual conclusions the climate researcher will inevitably make.

If one assumes from the outset that the climate system can only vary through changes imposed external to the normal operation of the climate system, one then removes natural, internal climate cycles from the list of potential causes of global warming. And natural changes in water vapor (or more likely, clouds) are one potential source of internally-driven change. There are influences on cloud and water vapor other than temperature which in turn help to determine the average temperature state of the climate system.

After assuming clouds and water vapor are no more than feedbacks upon temperature, the Lacis et al. paper then uses a climate model experiment to ‘prove’ their paradigm that CO2 drives climate — by forcing the model with a CO2 change, resulting in a large temperature response!

Well, DUH. If they had forced the model with a water vapor change, it would have done the same thing. Or a cloud change. But they had already assumed water vapor and clouds cannot be climate drivers.

Specifically, they ran a climate model experiment in which they instantaneously removed all of the atmospheric greenhouse gases except water vapor, and they got rapid cooling “plunging the climate into an icebound Earth state”. The result after 7 years of model integration time is shown in the next image.

Such a result is not unexpected for the GISS model. But while this is indeed an interesting theoretical exercise, we must be very careful about what we deduce from it about the central question we are ultimately interested in: “How much will the climate system warm from humanity adding carbon dioxide to it?” We can’t lose sight of why we are discussing all of this in the first place.

As I have already pointed out, the authors have predetermined what they would find. They assert water vapor (as well as cloud cover) is a passive follower of a climate system driven by CO2. They run a model experiment that then “proves” what they already assumed at the outset.

But we also need to recognize that their experiment is misleading in other ways, too.

First, the instantaneous removal of 100% of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere except for water vapor causes about 8 times the radiative forcing (over 30 Watts per sq. meter) as does a 100% increase in CO2 (2XCO2, causing less than 4 Watts per sq. meter), something that will not occur until late this century — if ever.

This is the so-called ‘logarithmic effect’…adding more and more CO2 has a progressively weaker radiative forcing response.

Currently, we are about 40% of the way to that doubling. Thus, their experiment involves 20 times (!) the radiative forcing we are now experiencing (theoretically, at least) from over a century of carbon dioxide emissions.

So are we to assume that this dramatic theoretical example should influence our views of the causes and future path of global warming, when their no-CO2 experiment involves ~20 times the radiative forcing of what has occurred to date from adding more CO2 to the atmosphere?

Furthermore, the cloud feedbacks in their climate model are positive, which further amplifies the model’s temperature response to forcing. As readers here are aware, our research suggests that cloud feedbacks in the real climate system might be so strongly negative that they could more than negate any positive water vapor feedback.

In fact, this is where the authors have made a logical stumble. Everyone agrees that the net effect of clouds is to cool the climate system on average. But the climate models suggest that the cloud feedback response to the addition of CO2 to our current climate system will be just the opposite, with cloud changes acting to amplify the warming.

What the authors didn’t realize is that when they decided to relegate the role of clouds in the average state of the climate system to one of “feedback”, their model’s positive cloud feedback actually contradicts the known negative “feedback” effect of clouds on the climate’s normal state. Oops.

(In retrospect, I suppose they could claim that cloud feedbacks switched from negative at the low temperatures of an icebound Earth, to being positive at the higher temperatures of the real climate system. But that might mess up Jim Hansen’s claim of strongly positive feedbacks during the Ice Ages).

Unfortunately, what I present here is just a blog posting. It would take another peer-reviewed paper that follows an alternative path, to effectively counter the Lacis paper, and show that it merely concludes what it assumes at the outset. I am only outlining here what I see as the main issues.

Of course, the chance of editors at Science allowing such a response paper to get published is virtually zero. The editors at Science choose which scientists will be asked to provide peer review, and they already know who they can count on to reject a skeptic’s paper. Many of us have already been there, done that.


The Week That Was (To October 16, 2010)

Excerpts from Ken Haapala

On Tuesday, the Obama administration lifted its controversial ban on deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico while demanding that the oil industry must meet new, complex regulations. Rather than providing relief for businesses that have been idled and those who have been unemployed by the ban, the announcement created further uncertainty. There were no assurances that permits would be granted expeditiously. Rather, there were promises of even more regulations in the future.

The administration seems to be oblivious to the national unemployment rate that is 9.2% and that businesses do not hire in periods of regulatory uncertainty. The only state with strong employment growth is North Dakota where oil drilling is expanding rapidly thanks to the new technologies of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling that is opening up extensive oil reserves previously locked in deep, tight shale formations.


Several thought-provoking articles appeared discussing problems with alternative energy. Tom Fuller, an alternative energy advocate, explains why he thinks wind power is not doing well in 2010 - the buyer market is highly concentrated (basically forced by government). Thus, there is no pressing need on the producers to reduce costs because the eventual users must buy regardless of cost. (Since regulated utilities pass on costs plus a profit calculated on costs to their customers, including government imposed costs, utilities have no incentive to demand lower costs.)

Bjorn Lomborg points out how government officials in Europe have failed to conduct the proper research to discover the tremendous hidden costs of alternative energy sources such as solar and wind. As a result, European countries that invested heavily in these sources are experiencing unexpectedly high utility rates.

Peter Grover discusses the folly of British experience and the government's current mania to build even more expensive off-shore wind farms.


Another provoking piece appeared on the blog of Roger Pielke, Sr. He describes the requirements of a good scientific model as explained in The Grand Design, a new book by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, and then concludes that the IPCC models fail the Hawking and Mlodinow requirements. A good scientific model:

1) is elegant,
2) contains few arbitrary or adjustable elements;
3) agrees with and explains all existing observations, and
4) makes detailed predictions about future observations that can disprove or falsify the model if they are not borne out.


The issue regarding the resignation of Hal Lewis from the American Physical Society continues to cause controversy. TWTW carried the resignation letter last week. The American Physical Society issued a press release defending its position and Roger Cohen rebutted the press release.

SOURCE (See the original for links and refereces)

Second Hand Smoke [SHS] and Lung Cancer

S Fred Singer

In 1993, the EPA published a report claiming that SHS [sometimes known as Environmental Tobacco Smoke - ETS] causes 3000 deaths from lung cancer every year.

Anyone doubting this result has been subject to attack and depicted as a toady of the tobacco lobby. The attacks have been led by a smear blog called "DesmogBlog," financed by a shady Canadian PR firm of James Hoggan, and have been taken up with great enthusiasm by a self-styled "science historian," Professor Naomi Oreskes.

The ultimate purpose of these attacks, at least in my case, has been to discredit my work and publications on global warming. I'm a nonsmoker, find SHS to be an irritant and unpleasant, and have certainly never been paid by Phillip Morris and the tobacco lobby, and have never joined any of their front organizations, like TASSC [The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition].

So what is the truth about SHS and lung cancer? I'm neither an oncologist nor a chemical toxicologist, but I do know some statistics, which allows me to examine the EPA study without bias [I personally believe that SHS cannot be healthy].

I can demonstrate that the EPA fudged their analysis to reach a predetermined conclusion - using a thoroughly dishonest procedure. They made three major errors:

1) They ignored publication bias, that is, studies that do not produce significant results are seldom published,
2) They shifted the confidence intervals,
3) They drew unjustified conclusions from a risk ratio that was barely greater than 1.0.

My opinions are independently confirmed by the Congressional Research Service [CRS-95-1115], and by a lengthy judicial analysis by Judge William Osteen [all available on the Internet].

1) Since none of the epidemiological studies provided a clear answer, EPA carried out a "meta-analysis". Unfortunately, this approach ignores "publication bias", i.e., the tendency for investigators not to publish their studies if they do not give a positive result.

2) The EPA in order to calculate a risk ratio, moved the confidence intervals from 95% to 90% -- and said so openly.

3) Even so, their risk ratio was just a little above 1.0 - whereas epidemiologists ignore any result unless the RR exceeds 2.0.

To sum up, while we cannot give specific answers for lung cancer cases or other medical issues connected SHS, we can state with some assurance that the EPA analysis is worthless.

SEPP SCIENCE EDITORIAL #31-2010 (Oct. 16, 2010)

Time to get real about climate change

10/10/10 and based on urban legend, not science

"We are very energized and enthusiastic about millions of people coming together and making this the biggest day of climate action ever," said a young German activist wearing a T-shirt at Berlin's 10/10/10 demonstrations on Sunday. Campaigners around her, and indeed, "people at 7,347 events in 188 countries," according to organizers, danced, sang, planted trees and picked up garbage as part of the massive worldwide 10/10/10 Global Work Party.

What's that all about? And what is so special about 350?

Bill McKibben, founder of, explained: "It's the boundary condition for a habitable planet. We're already past it. We're at 390 parts per million [of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere]. That's why the Arctic is melting. That's why Australia is burning up ... . If we put very much more carbon into the atmosphere, we'll pass the kind of tipping points ... that mean we'll never be able to get back there, even if we stopped driving every car and powering every factory. ...We're fighting to keep real collapse at bay."

Mr. McKibben asserts that only misguided "climate change deniers" disagree with the urgent need to reduce humanity's CO2 emissions to avoid climate catastrophe. But he is wrong.

First, no rational scientist denies that climate changes. As professor Tim Patterson of the Department of Earth Sciences at Carleton University in Ottawa testified before a parliamentary committee, "Based on the paleoclimatic data I and others have collected, it's obvious that climate is and always has been variable. In fact, the only constant about climate is change; it changes continually."

Scientists such as Mr. Patterson obviously would deny that they deny climate change - they are denial deniers. If anyone could rationally be labeled a climate-change denier, it would be one of those who hold the absurd view that our climate was tranquil until we started to emit significant amounts of CO2.

The "denier" label is simply an attempt to equate those of us who question political correctness on climate change to Holocaust deniers. It is trying to discredit a message by discrediting the messenger, a logical fallacy referred to as ad hominem - against the man. It's also irrational to put the questioning of forecasts of future events on a par with denying what has happened already.

Climate activists claim there is a consensus among experts that humanity's CO2 emissions are causing a climate crisis. In reality, there has never been a reputable worldwide poll of the thousands of experts who study the causes of climate change. Assertions that the multitude of scientists who worked on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports agree that our CO2 emissions are taking us to a planetary crisis are unfounded. Climate data analyst John McLean of Melbourne, Australia, has demonstrated repeatedly that only a few dozen scientist participants in the IPCC process even commented on the issue.

Most climate statements by national science academies are quite meaningless, as well. They are simply proclamations from academy executives or select panels, not their scientist members, because no national science body that has spoken in support of schemes to "stop climate change" have demonstrated that a majority of their members agree with the academy statements.

We cannot forecast climate decades from now any better than we can predict the weather two weeks ahead. The system is simply too complex and our understanding of the science too primitive. Chris Essex, professor of applied mathematics at the University of Western Ontario, explains, "Climate is one of the most challenging open problems in modern science. Some knowledgeable scientists believe that the climate problem can never be solved." Not only are today's computerized climate models (the primary basis of the alarm) not known to properly represent the climate system, they cannot be programmed to do so, because we do not know the underlying science well enough to know what to program the computers to compute.

Many scientists who work with the IPCC know this. They even stated in their Third Assessment Report: "In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled nonlinear chaotic system, and therefore that long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible."

International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) chief science adviser Bob Carter of James Cook University in Australia writes in his new book, "Climate: The Counter Consensus" (Stacey International, 2010) that "science provides no unambiguous evidence that dangerous global warming or even measurable human-caused global warming is occurring ... despite the expenditure since 1990 of many tens of billions of dollars searching for it."

It is no secret that many experts in the field agree with Mr. Essex, Mr. Carter and Mr. Patterson. ICSC's recently launched Climate Scientists' Register already has attracted the endorsement of 139 leading climate experts from 21 countries. The register states, "We, the undersigned, having assessed the relevant scientific evidence, do not find convincing support for the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing, or will in the foreseeable future cause, dangerous global warming."

Sadly for the environmental movement, which has committed vast resources to this activism, 10/10/10, and similar campaigns are dangerously off-track. When the public finally comes to realize how it has been so seriously misled on what has become a central theme of modern environmentalism, efforts to address real environmental problems may very well be set back decades.

In the meantime, billions of dollars are wasted and thousands of jobs threatened, all for an unproven hypothesis that never made any sense in the first place.


The climate is changing. But it always has

By Dr. David Whitehouse, Astronomer and Author

The global climate is changing. It always has. Fifteen thousand years ago the place where I am writing this (Hampshire, England) was Arctic tundra on which almost nothing could live. The glaciers reached not far north of here, and places that were to become Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow were under a kilometer of ice. When the ice receded Britain was completely covered in trees. That the trees are fewer was due to early man. That the ice is no longer here was due to natural climatic cycles.

Few doubt that the world has warmed in the past thirty years. We have reasonably good global temperature records for the past 150 years and, in general, they show a gradual warming, possibly from the cold spell in the 17th century some call the ‘Little Ice Age.’

Temperatures at a plateau

From 1850 to about 1910, the temperature did not change very much at a time when the world was somewhat colder than it is today. Between 1910 and 1940 there was a sustained warming, 0.4 deg C in 30 years. Then there was a period of 40 years when again the temperature did not change much. Just before1980 it started rising again, 0.4 deg C in 25 years, but this rise ceased in 2000. We live in the warmest decade for at least 150 years, probably longer, but in the last decade the global average annual temperature has remained at a plateau.

On the face of it, today’s warm spell isn’t anything unusual. There is growing evidence that there was a so-called Medieval Warm Period about 800 years ago. In a recent research paper, Professor Michael Mann of Penn State University – of now discredited ‘hockey stick’ graph fame – admitted that the temperatures then could well be higher than today. It used to be thought that the Medieval Warm Period was confined to Europe, but there is now evidence it was more global.

There is also some evidence that a thousand years before the Medieval Warm Period, the so-called Roman Warm Period was just as warm, possibly warmer, as was possibly the Minoan Warm Period a 1,000 years before that. So, in absolute terms the recent warm spell is not historically extraordinary.

Some argue that the rate of increase of global temperature in the past 30 years has been more rapid than in the past. This is not so. The IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) says that the year when mankind’s influence on the global climate was first apparent was 1960. Before that time, it maintains, all changes can be explained as natural. It is curious, then, that the rate of temperature increase seen before that date (1910 to 1940) is statistically identical to the recent rate of temperature increase (1980 to 2000).

So neither the warmth of the past few years, nor the temperature increase leading up to it is unusual.


German Parliamentarian Under Massive Fire – For Skepticism

It was bound to happen sooner than later. A high level German politician speaking out against dubious climate science. Marie-Luise Dött, German Parliamentarian and a central figure on Angela Merkel’s environmental committee, expressed scepticism on climate change, the Financial Times Deutschland reports here in an article titled: The Climate Revisionists.

Now she is at the receiving end of brimstone and hellfire from all sides, including the media. Here in Germany, climate skeptics face a level of intolerance not seen here in 65 years.

Last Wednesday, she made comments at a parliamentary forum discussion on the economic impacts of climate protection held by the FDP Free Democrats, the junior coalition partner of Angela Merkel’s CDU/FDP coalition government. Fred Singer - ”a tobacco lobbyist” - was a guest speaker.

Dött’s comments not only left environmentalists and climate protection activists speechless and gasping for air, but exposed Dött as a climate skeptic. She is reported to have called climate protection a "…replacement religion, and that anyone who dared to express doubt could be branded an outlaw, forced to confess sins, sent to purgatory, or even cast into hell, if being really bad. Free scientific thinking is a myth here".

Well, the vicious intolerant reactions she is now reaping confirm that her views are accurate, more than ever imagined. Even colleagues from within her own CDU Party piled on: "The next days are going to be very uncomfortable for her".

The intolerance from the opposition came swiftly. Hermann Ott, a spokesman for the German Green Party, blasted Dött and her CDU Party: "The CDU and the FDP Free Democrats are moving outside of the common community when they provide a forum in the German Parliament for the blind theories of climate change deniers".

(Note: denying the Holocaust in Germany is a crime. Ott is de facto calling Dött a criminal of the worst kind).

A member of the SPD was said to be in “shock” and demanded Dött be fired. He added it all confirmed the “real intentions of the coalition government.”

I’m not even going to get into what the media snobs are saying. Noses could not be higher.

Frau Dött not only has revealed herself to be skeptical of climate science, but has exposed Germany’s return to last century’s intolerance.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


1 comment:

John A said...

Is some sense finally reaching politicians? Maybe, in the UK. Large projects using tides for energy production are being junked as not ready for prime time, and new/replacement nuclear plants are on the way to approval -


He said: 'I'm fed up with the stand-off between advocates of renewables and of nuclear which means we have neither.

'We urgently need investment in new and diverse energy sources to power the UK.

'We'll need renewables, new nuclear, fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage, and the cables to hook them all up to the Grid as a large slice of our current generating capacity shuts down.

Will he be ale to do what he proposes?