Limitations on Anthropogenic Global Warming

by Leonard Weinstein, ScD
March 1, 2009

reposted from The Air Vent
It is not obvious what the ideal temperature and CO2 level should be for mankind. We tend to assume that the average of whatever has occurred in the recent past is the ideal level, since we have adjusted to that level, and changes from that level can cause disruptions in living conditions and activities. Significant temperature and CO2 increases in recent years have raised the issue of whether these were possibly related and were due to human activity, and whether this is a potentially significant problem.

Earth’s temperature has only been directly measured at enough locations to give a reasonably accurate global average for about the last 150 years, with the greatest accuracy (from satellites) only going back about 30 years. The “reliable” CO2 background level has only been directly continuously measured at one location (Mauna Loa) for about 50 years, and at a much larger number of locations for about 30 years. Some other direct and indirect CO2 measurements were made prior to 50 years ago, and the measurements thought to be most reliable were used to extend the CO2 curve back to 1850.

Figure 1 is a commonly used figure to show smoothed global variations of the temperature and CO2 concentration data from 1850 through 2000 AD. This data indicates the Earth’s surface has warmed about 0.7OC (1.3 OF) and the atmospheric CO2 appears to have increased by over 30%. These two pieces of information are the basis for the present “Anthropogenic Global Warming issue”.

Figure 1. Variation of global average temperature and CO2 concentration over last 150 years

(Sources for temperature and CO2: http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/519.htm )

A more recent version of the temperature anomaly for the period 1850 through 2008 is shown in figure 2. The data, from http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadcrut3/diagnostics/global/nh+sh/ is also shown as a smoothed yearly variation, including range of uncertainty.

Figure 2. Yearly anomaly of global temperature variation from 1850 through 2008

This newer data somewhat modifies the conclusion that had been inferred from the more limited temperature curve from figure 1, where the belief (supported by the IPCC) was that the increasing CO2 was the main cause of the increasing temperature. The temperature trend has peaked about 2002 and then rolls over and starts trending downward rather than continuing to rise as predicted. This apparent reversal contradicts the predicted trends in the IPCC models. While the downward trend has occurred only a over a few years, the entire period used to justify the “Anthropogenic Global Warming issue” is not much longer (1970-2000), and the 1970 level is significantly below the 1941 level!

There are several indirect ways to determine temperature variations that extend the record back much further than 150 years. These include (but are not limited to) historical written records, information from tree rings, glacier ice cores, sediment deposits, and borehole temperatures. The accuracy and distribution of these methods for the global average is thought to be fairly good to about 400 years ago. However, the limited number of locations for these records as we go farther back in time tends to decrease the absolute levels of confidence of the indirect records for an average global temperature prior to 400 years ago. The trend can be extended back about another thousand years or so, but with decreasing confidence in the global average the farther back you go. A few local sources showing temporal variations can extend the record back much farther in time, but these are not global averages.

Tree ring data can extend the temperature trend record back several thousand years, but do not give reliable absolute levels due to sensitivity to parameters such as being restricted to land, and having unknown rainfall, Solar insolation, local CO2 level, etc. They also do not show winter or nighttime data, and are thus not truly average temperature indicators. Borehole data is limited in temporal resolution, and only goes back reliably a few hundred years at most. In the end, glacier ice core data at a limited few locations, and sea floor sediment cores, are the most reliable and longest period data sources for temperature. The CO2 variations are also claimed to be obtainable from glacier ice cores, going back hundreds of thousands of years, but a question of the validity of that claim is discussed in more detail later in this paper. A combination of data from several techniques indicate that the average surface temperature was relatively warm about 1,000 years ago, and this period was called the “Medieval Climate Optimum”. This changed about 1,200 AD or so into a prolonged colder period called the “Little Ice Age”, which lasted until about 1850. The temperature variations were not uniformly distributed and it is not clear if the “Little Ice Age” extended to the southern hemisphere. The accurate average level of the temperature that occurred during the “Medieval Climate Optimum” and the speed at which it changed were not able to be reliably determined, due to the limited number of data points, and increased uncertainty in accuracy of many of the sources that far back in time.

The AGW proponents claim that the magnitude and level of the present global temperature, and the speed in which it increased, is unusually extreme and cannot be accounted for by natural variations. They claim the observed temperature increase is being caused by human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and manufacture of cement. The observed recent increase in CO2 (and also Methane) is thought to have increased the greenhouse effect of atmospheric gases to trap more radiated heat and thus raise the surface temperature. In order to examine the AGW claims, temperature data is shown in figure 3 from three widely separated sources. The data covers the last three thousand years for a representative Greenland ice core and Sargasso Sea sediment core, and the last two thousand years for an Antarctic ice core (all data taken from web sources, including NOAA).

The ice core data was taken from locations on glaciers that had minimal lateral substrate movement, and did not melt on the surface in the summer. The yearly snow variation was sufficient to accurately identify the year of the layers in the compacted solid ice core. Oxygen isotope ratios were used to determine the temperature, and the data shows the variation in temperature relative to the year 2000. The Sargasso Sea sediment core temperature data were obtained from the Oxygen isotope ratio of the surface-dwelling planktonic foraminifera, and shows the sea surface temperature for the last 3,000 years. Conclusions from these curves are:

  1. The temperature varied several times over the period by 1.5 OC to 2OC for all three curves
  2. Temperature variations occurred fairly rapidly, with typical time scales of 50 to 200 years
  3. The rise rate over the last 150 years is not unusual compared to other rise rates
  4. The present level of temperature is near the average for the curves shown for both Northern hemisphere cases, and below several previous peaks
  5. The “Little Ice Age” and “Medieval Climate Optimum” show up in both Northern hemisphere cases
  6. The present temperature is not unusually high for the Antarctic

Figure 3. Temperature variations from the Greenland glacier ice core, the Sargasso Sea sediment core, and the Antarctic ice core. All 3 curves have lined up dates, and have the same vertical scale size.

The trend of the temperature for the Greenland and Sargasso Sea curves is also generally decreasing from 3,000 years ago, and the “Little Ice Age” was a cold and long lasting period. There are several other locations with indicated local temperature variation in this time period that generally tend to agree with the extent of the temperature variation during the little ice age and medieval climate optimum, and all show large variations occurring over the entire time period. If the present temperature is not unusual based on the above comparisons, why the AGW claims? In fact, it is based on two observations:

  1. The temperature has been warming over the last century and has increased the most within that period in the last 30 or so years.
  2. The CO2 and Methane levels have increased a lot over the last 30 to 60 years, and ice core records show them to be higher than any other time in the last several hundred thousand years.

It is clear that we get excited at anything different that happens in a time period that spans a large fraction of a lifetime, and even dominates recent history, even if it is not unusual compared to time periods more distant in the past. Also, the claim that increasing CO2 (and Methane), likely with a significant contribution from human activity, can cause some global warming does have some theoretical and computational basis. The problem is that all of the physics governing the Earth’s climate, including ocean currents and cloud feed back, as well as particulate effects are not fully understood, and generally are put into models in artificially selected forms to try to force the models to agree with actual measurements. A discussion of one possible problem with the theories and models is made in: http://www.drroyspencer.com/research-articles/satellite-and-climate-model-evidence/

If we go back even further in time for the present interglacial period than shown in figure 3, even higher temperatures and larger temperature variations are encountered. While we clearly are presently in a period of warming (or at least were up to the last few years), there is no indication that this is an unusual period of warming! If the present were unusual, then all previous times of rapid change and high levels would also have to be unusual, and where is the anthropogenic causes for those times? However, it is not certain that anthropogenic causes are not significant factors in the recent warming, so a “what if” case has to be examined. For the following, the assumption is made that the CO2 increase is dominated by human activity and that this increase is assumed to be the cause of a significant part of the temperature rise. Five questions need to be addressed:

1) Is it likely that the anthropogenic greenhouse gas levels will continue to increase?

2) Has the increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gasses been the dominant contributor to the recent high global average temperature?

  1. Are there other problems (or advantages) from increasing CO2?
  2. Is it likely that the temperature will continue to increase significantly (and if it does, is this necessarily bad)?
  3. Has this temperature rise (whatever the cause) had a significant effect on rising sea level and changes in weather?

The answer to the first question is probably yes. However the rate of increase is less certain, since the present increasing trend may only be a transient lag in the ability of the Earth to come to a new equilibrium from human activity. The level will probably remain higher than previous levels, but when it will eventually level off, slow down, or just keep increasing, is not clear. A CO2 level of between 400 and 500 ppm, or even a bit higher may be possible (but not certain) by 2100 absent heroic efforts to reduce the rise. There is no reasonable basis for increases much beyond this, mainly due to the finite availability of easily obtained carbon based fuels. It should also be noted that the methane level, which had increased considerably from prior to 1850 to the mid 1990’s, has essentially leveled off for the last decade, so is not a factor in additional warming.

Question 2 can be restated as: how much of the temperature increase in the last 150 years is due to the CO2 (and methane) increase, and how much due to a general recovery from the Little Ice Age. I don’t think we can accurately answer that, but it appears almost certain that human activity did not cause much more than about 0.3OC of the increase, based on the net rise from the local peak from about 1940 to the latest trend at the end of 2008. This maximum plausible contribution is much less than the expected increase blamed on human activity for this time period. The larger portion of temperature rise occurred prior to most of the input of CO2, so that rise cannot reasonably be blamed on this cause. In fact, the temperature had already increased somewhat from 1600 to 1850, so the rise from 1940 to 2008 is only about 1/4th the actual total rise (~1.2OC) from the low around 1600. From this we can conclude that anthropogenic increase in the CO2 may have contributed to the recent warming, but at most only a very modest share, and the present temperature trend is down!

This modest increase also brings up the issue of the calculation of expected temperature increase from models. These models directly calculate the expected increase from greenhouse effects, and then add expected positive feedback effects due to increased water vapor caused by the higher temperatures. The models (including positive feedback) anticipated a total rise of ~1.5OC just due to anthropogenic causes from 1850 to the present. It appears they are at least a factor of 5 too high if only 0.3OC of the increase was due to the greenhouse gasses as stated above. In fact, the main part of the temperature increase was clearly a recovery from the little ice age, and occurred prior to the vast majority of CO2 increase! There are also models that anticipate a negative feedback from increased water vapor forming the types of clouds that reduce the heating. It is not yet certain why the temperature is at the present level, but it is clear that the models have not yet been demonstrated as valid!

The temperature drop between 1940 and 1970, along with the underperforming model estimates were recently blamed on “Global Dimming” caused by particulate pollution. In fact the particulate pollution took a large dive when oil and gas rather than coal became major home and business fuels many years earlier (as seen in glacier records). More recently, particulates from growing economies like China, along with aircraft contrails, have added more dimming in recent times. The prediction has been made that once we (and the Chinese?) clean up pollution, this dimming will decrease and warming will be even worse than previously predicted. This presumes that greenhouse gas output is a separate problem from particulate pollution, but it is more likely that they will go up or down together.

A more recent study has concluded that an ocean current (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) not previously included in the “Global Warming Models” will dominate the effect of greenhouse gas temperature increases for about a decade or more (until about 2015 to 2030), and that this is the cause of the unexpected reversal of temperature trends for the last several years. It is curious that this new factor was not found until the temperature trend reversal became clear. It appears new factors will be found as needed to explain any deviations from the present “understanding of the Global Warming Problem”. Since the entire time of temperature rise used to show that there is an unusual period of heating was only about 30 years long (1970 to 2000), it now appears that we are told by global warming modelers that 30 years of a selected time of heating, sandwiched between one 30 year period of cooling, and being followed by another period of cooling (of unknown length, but at least 10 or more years), is proof of their claims – because it is a period of a local maximum temperature over a period of several hundred years. This despite the clear records that show such rapid variations and even maximum levels are common over the last several thousand years, and that the present level is not even as high as several other previous levels in that relatively recent time period.

The answer to the third question may be that there is a generally positive effect if the only change to the atmosphere was a significant increase in CO2 concentration. Most plant growth increases at higher levels of CO2. It also appears that some concerns for negative effects on ocean life from increased ocean acidity from CO2 were exaggerated, or even totally wrong (as will be discussed more later) (also see http://www.seafriends.org.nz/issues/global/acid.htm). A significant change in ocean pH would cause some changes, and there would be some winners and some losers in ocean life, but it appears that for realistic level changes this would not be a major problem. In fact, combining the slightly higher temperature with higher CO2 levels should significantly increase world crop growth if these are the only factors, and this is clearly a generally positive effect.

The fourth question combines the question of whether the natural temperature variation combined with the anthropogenic causes of temperature increase will result in significant continued temperature increase. The warming alarmists models predict a rise of an additional 2OC to 5OC as being likely by 2100, but I do not see that as being justified based on present information. Based on a combination of historical trends over the last several thousand years with the recent trends reasonably attributable to anthropogenic causes of temperature increase, it appears that some small additional increase might be reasonably possible (but not certain) by 2100, but most likely within a range < 0.4OC, which would put it in the range of several warm periods in historical times that were particularly productive times.

There are two issues that have to be considered for the fifth question. The first is the effect of rising oceans. The site: http://sedac.ciesin.columbia.edu/mva/WR1987/WR1987.html models the expected increase in ocean level due to thermal expansion for a 0.6 OC to 1OC global temperature rise over several decades. They conclude that a total rise of only about 4 to 8 cm. would be caused by the temperature rise. In addition, several studies have concluded that the rise in sea level from Greenland and Antarctic ice cap melt water would not exceed 0.5 mm/year (5 cm/100 years), and this would probably drop off soon or even go negative due to the high altitude of the remaining glaciers, and increasing snowfall adding more ice than is removed by melting. Water from other melting glaciers has contributed to an additional level increase of about 0.5 to 1 mm/year for about the last 150 years, over the general warming trend effect on the oceans. However, much of the added source from melting glaciers is now decreasing, and some glaciers are nearly gone (many of these glaciers were actually formed during the little ice age). The total of all of these contributions is probably less than 15 cm, or 6 inches in the next 100 years, and even much less additional rise in following times. The most interesting point of the sea level problem is that only about 2 to 3 inches of the possible rise to 2100 is even plausibly related to anthropogenic causes of temperature increase, and this is the maximum that would be able to be stopped even with a 100% drop in human contribution! A huge but possible effort costing TRILLIONS of dollars and negatively impacting growing economies most would likely only prevent less than 1 inch of the rise!

A second issue of the consequence of temperature rise is possible severe changes in weather. There have been many claims of super storms, tornados, heavy rain, and drought associated with the temperature changes. Keep in mind that the temperature difference between the low and high latitudes is the driver for these storms, and the main predicted effect of AGW is to DECREASE this difference!! It is very likely that there will be slightly fewer hurricanes, but they may tend to be slightly stronger due to the higher absolute humidity possible with higher temperature. The issue of more frequent and stronger tornados is difficult to evaluate, but records going back about 100 years do not show a significant trend of increasing overall activity of the stronger tornados. There are periods of large numbers and strong tornados going back in history that pre-dated the period of recent warming. The recent severe US tornado outbreak may even have been a record for recorded times (keeping in mind that fairly complete records only cover a very short period), but any one-year record may be unusually large or small, and only longer time trends are meaningful. The average rainfall will likely increase in some locations due to higher absolute humidity possible at higher temperatures, and the locations of high and low average rainfall (and drought) would shift somewhat.

There would be winners and losers in any change in climate and weather, but the overall effect of higher CO2 and slightly higher temperature would be a more productive Earth. The real fact to face is that there always is change in climate and weather over periods of several decades to centuries. We should not make heroic efforts to change the climate but concentrate on being able to adapt to the changes. This is especially important when we do not know for sure if our effort may actually worsen the situation,

The possible problems with CO2 data

The CO2 curve of figure 1 was actually made from three separate parts. The data from one location (Mauna Loa in Hawaii) was used from 1958 to the present. Additional locations started making measurements about 1980, and agreed reasonably well with the Mauna Loa results. A few selected land based measurements made in the previous several decades were also spliced to the Mauna Loa results. Glacial ice core data trends with a large offset time correction were then spliced to the previous two sources (with offset selected to make it fit!). This was then the source of the CO2 curve from 1850 to the present. The ice core data was then also used to show the CO2 variation over the last several hundred thousand years. It should be noted that the CO2 level was obtained directly from gas bubbles trapped in the ice cores.

There are numerous potential problems with some of the CO2 data in figure 1. The Mauna Loa and other recent direct measurements are probably basically reliable as a “background level”. However, far bigger uncertainties occur for the other two parts that made the CO2 curve in figure 1, and also in the longer time ice core records. A few selected sets of direct measured CO2 data made before the Mauna Loa measurements started were used to extend the curve to earlier times. A recent paper by Ernst Beck, who reviewed all of the older direct CO2 measurements, concluded that the papers selected to show the CO2 measurements before Mauna Loa were cherry-picked to agree with prior conceptions. All of the earlier measurements were limited in that they were made over land, and could have been biased by industrial activity, the proximity of cities, agriculture, etc. (and these limitations in reliability could also be applied to tree ring data). In fact Beck’s summary paper shows what may be unrealistic high CO2 data levels, especially in the early 1800’s and the period of the 1930’s, but the point is that this was direct measured data at numerous locations, and generally showed that CO2 levels may have been significantly higher in the near past than claimed. There are no clearly reliable direct measurements in this period that prove otherwise. The best approach probably would be to reject all of the direct measured CO2 data collected before the Mauna Loa and other recent stations were established due to the uncertainty of the applicability of these measurements to determine the global average background level.

The questionability of ice core CO2 determination

CO2 determined from glacier ice core gas bubbles has been used to indicate the atmospheric CO2 level at the time the bubbles formed. The frozen core sample is crushed to obtain the trapped gas from the bubbles and directly find the CO2 concentration. There is no direct supporting evidence that this is a valid technique. In order to examine the reasonableness of the process, the following discussion examines three possible issues.

The first issue arises from the porous nature of the compressing ice, which may take from about a hundred years to possibly as long as thousands of years before it seals off completely. This would result in diffusion averaging of composition, and very likely lose resolving even large variations in atmospheric CO2 occurring over shorter periods than the time to seal off. This is probably the cause of the near constant indicated CO2 composition over long periods.

The second issue arises from the comparison of levels and trends of CO2 made by other techniques. In particular, a set of measurements was made using the inverse relation between atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and stomatal frequency in tree leaves to provide a method for detecting and quantifying century-scale carbon dioxide fluctuations (Wagner, F., Bohncke, S.J.P., Dilcher, D.L., Kurschner, W.M., van Geel, B. and Visscher, H. 1999. Century-scale shifts in early Holocene atmospheric CO2 concentration. Science 284: 1971-1973.). The results indicated CO2 levels varied considerably over the last several thousands years, and in some cases came much closer to present high levels than indicated in ice cores (to at least as high as ~348 ppm). In fact, a significant part of the difference between stomatal frequency based data and ice core data may be related to the first issue above.

The third issue relates to the CO2 content of trapped air being selectively reduced by dissolving in either a quasi-liquid or liquid layer. According to an article by John S. Wettlaufer and J. Greg Dashbears at: http://www.bushwalking.org.au/FAQ/FAQ_MeltBelowZero.htm

“Ice has a quasi-liquid film, a natural state of solid ice formed by a process called surface melting, at temperatures down to near –40OC”. This layer has some structural characteristics of the solid below it but has the mobility and solubility of a fluid. This layer can contain dissolved gases such as CO2. In addition, there is the possibility of some liquid water being present in the ice even at temperatures below normal freezing. The rise in summer temperature and prolonged sunlight could even form melt layers (possibly subsurface) during glacier formation. When the melt liquid forms, the high solubility in the liquid could preferentially (compared to O2 and N2) take in a significant quantity of CO2. At release of pressure, when cores are drilled and raised, there could be some preferential CO2 loss from the micro cracks in the cores, or the ice could retain excess CO2 separate from the air bubbles.

Conclusions from the above are:

  1. The process of the formation of glaciers may result in temporal smoothing of results on a time scale long enough to miss large level variations of CO2 lasting possibly hundreds of years.
  2. Some alternate techniques that determine CO2 concentration over time contradict the slow changing ice record, but this may in fact be due to 1). This could mean present levels are not quite so extremely high or unusually fast changing as thought.
  3. Quasi-liquid films and liquid water occurring during glacier formation could be a significant source of CO2 removal from trapped air bubbles, especially near the freezing point. Significant amounts of CO2 may preferentially dissolve even in a small amount of quasi-liquid or liquid. This could result in a preferential reduction of the CO2 concentration in the larger gas bubbles.

The final result is that there is some room for doubt for the reliability of ice core bubble composition to determine older CO2 concentrations in air, and a more reliable method to determine older CO2 atmospheric concentrations is badly needed.

Problems with seawater pH determination, and its effect on AGW predictions

Researchers aboard the Wecoma, an Oregon State University research vessel, discovered that significantly “acidified” seawater (pH = 7.6) from the deeper ocean is being “upwelled” within 20 miles from shore along the Pacific coast (www.physorg.com/news130693309.html). The researchers stated that this water was on the surface about 50 years ago. This despite the assumed fact that the atmospheric CO2 level was no higher than 310 ppm around the time the water would have been on the surface (according to current theories). The present level of 385 ppm of CO2 in the air has made surface pH levels go to 8.1. The CO2 level would have to be >1,000 ppm to come close to the pH value of 7.6 found from the upwelled seawater. The researchers indicated that phytoplankton blooms, caused by the slightly elevated CO2 levels, decayed to raise the CO2 level even higher. Since the blooms took Carbon out of the water to form, and since the blooms could not change the overall Carbon mass balance, the local CO2 concentration would have to be balanced by depletion of CO2 somewhere else. This indicates that measuring local seawater pH levels is not necessarily a valid indicator of average atmospheric CO2 level and its change over time, and thus its effect on sea life.

If you type:

[PDF] SEAWATER pH AND ANTHROPOGENIC CARBON DIOXIDE

in Google, and hit search, then hit the first site with that title shown, this will allow you to download a pdf of a paper by Marsh. That paper relates CO2 concentration to seawater pH more accurately than currently used linear approximations, and concludes the current projected pH levels that are widely used are unrealistic even if the CO2 level rose to over 2 times present levels! It also discusses ocean mixing, and it shows that mixing is likely much faster than simple models show. If surface water can be pushed to a large depth in a relatively short time, the increase in CO2 concentration due to human activity would be reduced by mixing with larger volumes of seawater than just the uppermost mixing layer. There is no logical reason the well-mixed seawater pH would go as low as feared, just based on the maximum amount of new Carbon that is available from anthropogenic causes and the dilution effect that is assured.

We do need to look at “what if” cases to be sure we are not risking catastrophe. Even if the atmospheric CO2 levels increase as much as the AGW predictions, and assuming this resulted in the projected drop in surface ocean pH (using the unrealistic linear extrapolation method), the results would still not be as unfavorable as stated. The following web sites discuss the effect on Earth’s calcifying corals and other marine organisms caused by lowering the calcium carbonate saturation state of seawater due to lowering the pH. The sites also have connections to other related topics including increasing temperature effects. The conclusions at these sites contradict AGW warnings on the problems that may occur in the oceans due to increasing CO2 in the atmosphere.

http://www.co2science.org/articles/V11/N21/EDIT.php

http://www.co2science.org/subject/c/summaries/calcification.php

http://www.co2science.org/subject/c/summaries/calcificationother.php

If AGW and ocean acidification are not problems even with some CO2 increases, why the big issue. In the end, the improved productivity of the biosphere due to higher CO2 would mainly be a blessing. There is no general downside and AGW concerns are misplaced for that time scale. However, the problems of pollution (not greenhouse gasses), and the increasing cost of fossil fuels, are driving efforts to find alternate sources of energy. This will cause the increase of CO2 to slow down and eventually reverse long before CO2 levels get high enough to be a real problem, even if most of the rise is anthropogenic.

The Methane issue and Siberia

It is interesting to note from figure 3 (and also from data from earlier in the present interglacial) that periods of rapid temperature increase and long periods of temperatures higher than present often occurred. It is certain that methane was released from Siberia and other sites (Artic seabed, Alaska, etc.) at those times as well as seems to be happening at the present. Where is the indication of recent (<3,000 years) past catastrophe? The present level of atmospheric Methane may be higher than at those times due to human activity, but lack of significant additional level rise from temperatures that were even higher than the present seems to contradict the claims of temperature induced massive release. We do know the atmospheric Methane level has been nearly flat for the last several years, so where is the rapid rising trend?

Some final points:

We know from many records that significant changes in temperature and climate have frequently occurred through historical as well as Geological time periods, and often result in significant consequences.

Previous interglacial periods tended to last 10,000 to 20,000 years, and in fact most did not have temperatures as slow changing as the present one. Since the present interglacial started about 18,000 years age, and reached the plateau about 11,000 years ago, we probably should be more concerned with a possible impending major ice age than a fraction of a degree or so of warming. In fact, the best possible outcome would be that the (relatively modest) contribution from AGW might help delay the onset of a new ice age.

The magnetic field of the Earth has changed a lot over geological times. There were periods of weakening and then reversal occurring about every 200,000 years until about 780,000 years ago. At the present time, the field is again weakening. If the field weakens too much, the Earth’s magnetosphere would not block cosmic rays and Solar ions as well, and this could greatly affect cloud structure and thus weather. The Solar radiation and magnetic storms could also profoundly affect power transmission and electronics.

Preparing for the possibility of an impending ice age along with the possible consequences of a reduction in Earth’s magnetic field are real concerns. Concern with relatively small effects of possible anthropogenic caused global warming is a misplaced distraction, and will probably lead to the public losing confidence in scientists, and could weaken the support needed when real problems occur.

Decreasing availability of oil and anthropogenic pollution (not greenhouse gasses) are real issues. Acid rain, smog, and dirty water sources do need to be fixed. The problems associated with high fuel prices, and dependence on sources of energy from possibly less than friendly foreign countries are critical. While we can’t solve the problems with a single magic bullet, more nuclear power plants, along with wind and Solar power, could fill much of the gap. There are solutions, but first we have to identify the correct problems.

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109 Responses to Limitations on Anthropogenic Global Warming

  1. Experiments conducted in the early 20th Century by scientists including R.W. Wood and Niels Bohr proved that “greenhouse” gases like CO2 cannot increase air temperature by “trapping” infrared radiation. The results of R.W. Wood’s research were published in Philosophical magazine , 1909, vol 17, p319-320 – back when science relied on experiments, not computer models. Four years later Niels Bohr reported his discovery that the absorption of specific wavelengths of light didn’t cause gas atoms/molecules to become hotter. Empirical science proves that CO2 will not warm our atmosphere by trapping IR. The Earth will continue to warm and cool according to the natural cycles of the sun, the oceans, volcanism, orbital variations, and numerous other natural factors. The 0.038 percent concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is a drop in the bucket and totally irrelevant and insignificant
    http://www.giurfa.com/gh_experiments.pdf

  2. George E. Smith says:

    Wow what a lot of stuff to absorb. The first figure intrigues me; CO2 versus temperature ; well ersatz temperature without a scale. Having no temperature scale certainly makes it easier to make the two curves look somewhat the same; well Al Gore is a master at this subterfuge using it on page 66/67 of his “An Inconvenient Truth”.

    Well I’m not against using an arbitrary temperature scale like AlGore did; or no temperature scale like this one does; it does help to have similar visual amplitudes to both curves.

    One of the nice things about either no scale or an arbitrary one, is that you can also have an arbitrary zero point; and that gives you the ability to separate the two curves vertically to make it more difficult for the viewer to compare them. In Al Gore’s case he separated his CO2 and Temperature curves vertically, instead of overlapping them to prevent the viewer from easily spotting the only useful information that was present, which was the fact that the CO2 rising and falling edges come later than the temperature rise and fall; letting slick Al claim that the CO2 caused the temperature; instead of the clearly discernable fact even in Al’s book, that the temperature was the cause and the CO2 was the effect, some 800 years or so later.

    Which by the way could make the mediaeval Warming period a prime suspect in the current CO2 rise situation.

    Now with the present first graph, we also have no temperature scale and hence an arbitrary zero point enabling the cuves to be separated vertically; but to disguise what ?

    Well maybe to disguise the basic shapes of the two curves.

    A different zero on the temperature scale would let you overlap the red on the green around 1854, and that would make it easier to discern basic shape differences.

    And of course the modellers tell us that the temperature goes as the logarithm of the CO2; So why wouldn’t one plot log(CO2) instead of CO2 itself.

    Oh well nothing one can say without the necessary information; it would be nice to have a temperature graph with a temperature scale. or even a proxy for one would be better than nothing.

  3. Geoff says:

    George, the simple answer could be that the right side of the graph was cut off ;-)

  4. Allen63 says:

    Great summary article.

  5. Anaconda says:

    The important thing to remember is that while mathematics is an important “tool”, indeed, indispensible to science, it is not reality, and as any “tool” can be misused, resulting in bad outcomes (outcomes that fail to reflect reality).

    Mathematics is the servant not the master of Science.

    As one of the previous comments states the assumption that CO2 is a “trapping” chemical molecule in the atmosphere is a dubious proposition.

    In too many disciplines of Science, mathematics has become unhinged from observation & measurement.

    Science in all the disciplines must revert back to the empirical method — observation & measurement.

    Mathematical extention by (seemingly endless) abstract equations (computer programs) beyond observation & measurement has led to unwarranted conclusions.

    It is the scientist in the laboratory, not the mathematician at his desk, who will lead Man forward to better understand the world around us.

  6. rickM says:

    Ok, somewhat off topic but germains to this still I think.

    In my Geology course today, the professor stated that if we were to acept the Milankovitch Hyopthesis as more or less fact, and with the combination of precession and obliquity, since we seem to be more near “maximum” in our elliptic orbit, the temps should be going down, instead of going up.

    I’m an old guy, looking at a second career, and I’m tired of gritting my teeth in this course as more anthropogenic CO2 “education” is forced into the minds of me and my fellow students. A little help would be appreciated.

  7. Skeptic Tank says:

    A very comprehensive and fair perspective of AGW issues, at a level intended for reasonably intelligent and educated laypeople.

    Excellent.

  8. Smokey says:

    rickM,

    Here are some resources. You can print out the charts, and use the handbook to line up your position [but don't win the argument with the professor if it means getting a lower grade].

    In fact, the global temperature has been declining recently. Always remember the central point in the CO2=AGW/runaway global warming hypothesis: that it is/will be caused by CO2. It’s hard to defend that hypothesis when temps are going down as
    CO2 rises. The first chart below puts CO2 in perspective:

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/library/pics/50-years-of-co2-0-to-100.gif

    http://junkscience.com/MSU_Temps/NCDCabs.png

    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/uah_global_temperature_anomaly_mar2009.png

    http://www.ianschumacher.com/img/TempsvsIPCCModelsWM.jpg

    http://icecap.us/images/uploads/Temperatures_since_2003.jpg

    http://icecap.us/images/uploads/TEMPSvsCO2.jpg

    http://joannenova.com.au/2009/05/03/shock-global-temperatures-driven-by-us-postal-charges

    http://joannenova.com.au/globalwarming/the_skeptics_handbook_2-22_lq.pdf

  9. Morley says:

    Geoff’s suggestion about the graph being cut off is correct as shown by looking at the original posting at Air vent. The right ordinate scale is temperature anomalies compared to 1979.
    Weinstein’s critique is superb – the most comprehensive and intelligent (as well as intelligible) I have seen.
    Morley

  10. Adam from Kansas says:

    As I said before, CO2 is good, and it also looks like a combination of that and a lot of rain this spring as well will result in larger than normal leaves on a number of trees around our backyard again for the second year in a row.

    Seriously, at the rate the leaves on two young walnuts are growing, it’ll look like they’ve been crossed with a Sony Jumbotron, the two older walnuts have smaller leaves but they got burned pretty bad two years ago by a late freeze and they never leafed out so early since.

    Our mulberry and hackberry trees are growing larger than normal leaves again this year it seems as well.

  11. Hank Hancock says:

    An excellent article! It connected some of the dots for me in a way that the total CO2 picture is making better “rational” sense.

    I started off buying into the AGW concerns some 20 years ago. However, my analytical nature has taught me hysteria and alarmism are the products of overactive imagination – sort of the case of the hysteric seeing monsters in every dark setting because they’ve been told darkness is the condition under which monsters appear.

    I am now a convinced skeptic of the AGW hypothesis because it draws far ranging conclusions that are mostly unsupported by the hard data. Further, having a research background, I am always concerned with the presence of confounding variables, enough to realize that there are far too many of them now for the AGW hypothesis to stand, particularly when the actual data behind the AGW hypothesis has been steadily weakening and calls to authority and circular citations are needed to keep it in play. In my circles, such things indicate the demise of the hypothesis is just a matter of time.

    AGW’ers see global warming in every climate scenario because they’ve been told CO2 is the condition under which warming appears.

  12. Glug says:

    Again, Anthony, your outsourcing to internet loons has lowered the standards of this fine blog. When Leonard states that the most recent temperature trends are inconsistent with the IPCC models he is blatantly ignoring the actual predicted natural variability which present in the IPCC’s model output archive.

  13. Jim Papsdorf says:

    Good News !!!!
    Listening to NPR about an hour ago I learned that the Cap and Trade bill that came out of the Waxman-Markey committee hearings today were so watered down that Greenpeace will not support it. Hopefully, by the time something really destructive comes up in Congress, the real implications of our hibernating sun will deep six Cap and Trade forever !!!!

  14. Wally says:

    “rickM (15:43:12) :
    Ok, somewhat off topic but germains to this still I think.

    In my Geology course today, the professor stated that if we were to acept the Milankovitch Hyopthesis as more or less fact, and with the combination of precession and obliquity, since we seem to be more near “maximum” in our elliptic orbit, the temps should be going down, instead of going up.”

    The orbital cycles would suggest the following changes in insolation between 1950 and the year 2950. The northern hemisphere winter variation from average goes from 0 Langleys per day at 90 degrees north, -2 at the equator to -4 at 90 degrees south. During the northern hemisphere summer -4 at 90 degree north to +3 at the equator to 0 at 90 degrees south. The year 1950 was set to zero. Absolute 1950 values are for the northern hemisphere winter 0 langleys per day at 90 north, 876 at the equator and 712 at 90 degrees south. For northern hemisphere summer the values are 712 at 90 degrees north, 839 at the equator and 0 at 90 degrees south. The largest variation (for all latitudes) was the -4 variation at the north and south poles during their respective summers or a 0.56 percent decrease. Overall the during northern hemisphere summers the Earth should cool a bit and during northern hemisphere winters the Earth should be slightly warmer since the equatorial contribution to heating is much large than the polar ones. Data is from “Long-Period Global Variations of Incoming Solar Radiation by Vernekar (1972)

  15. Pete W says:

    Interesting link from above;
    http://icecap.us/images/uploads/Temperatures_since_2003.jpg

    However we’ll need to wait a few more years to know if this is a trend, or just a natural variance.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Instrumental_Temperature_Record.png

    In other words, we shouldn’t put too much stock in short-term data.

    Pete

  16. Frank K. says:

    Glug (16:40:53) :

    ” When Leonard states that the most recent temperature trends are inconsistent with the IPCC models he is blatantly ignoring the actual

    HINDCASTED

    natural variability which present in the IPCC’s model output archive.”

    …there..fixed it for you…

  17. Ric Werme says:

    George E. Smith (14:43:59) :

    The first figure intrigues me; CO2 versus temperature ; well ersatz temperature without a scale. Having no temperature scale certainly makes it easier to make the two curves look somewhat the same….

    As other have noted, it’s cut off. On Firefox (at least on Linux with a
    three button mouse), if you right-click on the figure, you get various
    options. “Copy link location” gives the odd URL
    http://docs.google.com/File?id=dnc49xz_17kxf56d5_b that resolves to a
    .png file. The “view image” option should take you directly to the image.

  18. Tom in Florida says:

    rickM (15:43:12) : Ok, somewhat off topic but germains to this still I think.
    In my Geology course today, the professor stated that if we were to acept the Milankovitch Hyopthesis as more or less fact, and with the combination of precession and obliquity, since we seem to be more near “maximum” in our elliptic orbit, the temps should be going down, instead of going up.
    I’m an old guy, looking at a second career, and I’m tired of gritting my teeth in this course as more anthropogenic CO2 “education” is forced into the minds of me and my fellow students. A little help would be appreciated.”

    Tell your professor that it is the conjunction of maximum obliquity and NH summer solstice at perihelion that is most important in warming the planet out of an ice age. This happens about every 100,000 years and was the condition about 10,000 years ago. As conditions change from that we will get cooler then colder and eventually be out of this current warm period; however that will take quite a while. The eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit is currently about 0.0167. The eccentricity varies from nearly 0.0034 to almost 0.058 so we are not near maximum.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbital_eccentricity).

  19. rbateman says:

    The IPCC and the AGW’ers have been making predictions of catastrophic overheating, and their proof is nowhere to be found. Instead, the climate is on a 10 year cooldown. Their models are just that, models, with no basis in reality.
    30 years ago much the same people were predicting impending catastrophic freezing.
    Boiling, freezing, melting, drought, flood, monster storms, etc.
    They should just settle for thier Chariots of the Gores book, and make sci-fi movies.

  20. peter_ga says:

    Consider the non-radiative heat loss from the earths surface which is not emitted directly to space. This averages 200W/m2. If the surface/atmosphere had “black-body” character, all the heat would be radiated directly to space, there would be no losses by any other mechanism, and the temperature would be 32K lower. Simply straight-line this for a feedback of 32K/200 = 0.16 degK/Wm-2. While this curve is likely to be non-linear, there is no sound argument as to why non-radiative surface heat loss would saturate.

    So the current greenhouse gas increase induced warming of 1.5W/m2 would result in about a quarter of a degree of warming, the maximal increase of 3W/m2 would result in half a degree. This amount of warming would be quite steady, largely beneficial, and obscured by natural variations.

    I conclude global warming is a non-issue.

  21. Just Want Truth... says:

    Frank K. (17:20:46) :

    Thank you Frank. I was going to write a comment to Glug about the peer-reviewed works that show the flaws in climate models. But since your short comment set the record straight for Glug I won’t be needing to— I don’t want to feed a troll.

  22. Steven Hill says:

    Very good info here, very well done!

    thanks,
    Steve

  23. Steptoe Fan says:

    What is really bothering me is that the politicians who are driving this CO2 madness are all ” past the science ” you can’t get your hands on their schedule to force them to sit down and listen to current science, but if you could, it wouldn’t matter they are all ” past the science ” – the bad science that has been sold to them.

    The perfect example – given by the current governor of my home state, Washington, testifying yesterday before that scham held by the EPA in Seattle. Today, the same person is giving bold and decisive orders to the state agencies to identify sources of CO2 and to begin formulating a plan to cut emissions ! These people are marching to beat of their own drum – they will not stop.

    per the WSJ, it is the coming of the enviro – industrial complex !

  24. nicholas says:

    rickM, Wally, et al,

    I may be stating the obvious, but the failure of orbital cycles to explain temperature fluctuations in no way makes the case for AGW. It is not an either/or proposition.

    The fact of the matter is that the big heat engine in the picture is the sun. The notion that the sun’s energy output is a constant is known not to be the case. There are significant variations in sun spot activity, with resultant variations in energy output, and small changes in the sun’s output will mean a great deal to planetary energy absorption. Also, we know that our own planetary magnetic field has periodically reversed itself, which necessarily will affect the degree of absorption of radiant energy from the sun, plus many, many other factors that make attempting to assign man made CO2 levels as the responsible entity for perceived changes in global temperature a crap shoot.

    The fact of the matter is, we don’t know. We ought to get used to it. A mere hundred years ago we were unaware there were galaxies other than our own. We had no idea those smudgy stars were not stars at all, but rather were collections of stars unbelievably far away. We also were unaware that the galaxies were in motion relative to each other, and that they were uniformly moving away from each other. Those are big changes in our understanding, from going to the idea that the stars were constant and never changing in position, to the notion that they were all moving away from a common center point, or a moment of beginning.

    Addressing the uncertainty, you could simply ask a few questions, like “Could it also be true that the energy output from the sun may play a role?” or “Are we certain what the history of the sun’s energy output is?” or “Might there be other factors that could influence energy absorption from the sun?”, but the boys are right, no one likes being challenged or, heaven forbid, shown up, so you’d have to be able to pull it off and be tough skinned about the attempts to make you feel foolish for seeming to challenge “the settled science of man made global warming”, because he will know where your questions are going. Ultimately, you’re not going to be able to fix what’s wrong with this picture. The AGW people are hoping to make a lucky guess based on political aspirations rather than science. I mean, the leading proponent is a quack named Al Gore, the self-proclaimed inventor of the internet, who assures us there is no reason to question him on the science of his heartfelt convictions. Chicken Little was a better proponent for impending disaster.

    My advise for the professor, if he feels lucky he should head down to Vegas. Best not devise energy policy based on feelings.

  25. C Colenaty says:

    Dr. Weinstein,

    Many thanks for providing such an even-handed exposition of the overall coverage of”climate change” issues. It strikes me (and I hope you will not take offense) that while this essay is not pitched at the level of the reading public, it could serve as a platform for creating a much needed objective version of a “Climat Change for Dummies” book.

  26. kuhnkat says:

    Peter-Ga,

    the fallacy in that computation of the earth’s temperature is in the hypothesis that GHG’s cause that 32K.

  27. kuhnkat says:

    GLUG,

    GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG

    MMMMMM that Kool Aid is excellent huh??

  28. Keith Minto says:

    Wally (17.12.15)
    “Overall the during northern hemisphere summers the Earth should cool a bit and during northern hemisphere winters the Earth should be slightly warmer since the equatorial contribution to heating is much large than the polar ones. Data is from “Long-Period Global Variations of Incoming Solar Radiation by Vernekar (1972)”

    As a southern hemispherian I guess the reverse would apply so I do not look forward to warmer winters and hotter summers.
    Should we all migrate north?

  29. Nasif Nahle says:

    Sorry… Out of Topic, but it is… Hahaha… I never thought I would read something of the kind. Water is toxic also… Oh, Wikipedia!

    http://www.answers.com/topic/water-intoxication

    Now the term “toxic” has been “adjusted” for convenience of some policy-makers… From now on everything in this Universe is toxic. Hah!

    Dear moderator, snip it if you wish… I know it’s fairly out of topic.

  30. septicus says:

    Mr Watt, are you aware of this? Of all the AGW critics I have read this gentleman seems to know most what he is talking about.

    http://www.rocketscientistsjournal.com/2009/03/_internal_modeling_mistakes_by.html#more

  31. Keith Minto says:

    The stability of the Great Barrier Reef is always an emotive issue(bleached coral always provides a good photo op) so I was interested in the conclusion provided in the first of those three latter links on CO2,salt water and acidification.

    “As for the real-world implications of their work, the three researchers note that over the next century the predicted increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration “will result in about a 15% increase in oceanic HCO3-,” and they say that this development “could stimulate photosynthesis and calcification in a wide variety of hermatypic corals.” This well-supported conclusion stands in stark contrast to the outworn contention of the world’s climate alarmists that continued increases in the air’s CO2 content will, as restated by Herfort et al., “cause a reduction in coral growth and planktonic calcification.” This claim, as they and many others have now demonstrated, is about as far from the truth as it could possibly be.

    Sherwood, Keith and Craig Idso”

    Can’t the warmists get anything right?

  32. nicholas says:

    Keith,

    The time period spoken of is over a thousand years long. The time periods for the historical experience is on the order of tens to hundreds of thousands of years. The time periods predicted in Malinkovitch’s cycles were 26,000 years for precession and 70,000 years for inclination. The scale is quite different than what we are used thinking in.

    No need to sell the house based on climate models.

  33. Francis says:

    This long discussion seems like an attempt to muddy-up my simple understanding that came from the 2001 IPCC. Computer models could hindcast the 1850-1970 temperature changes, based on natural causes. But the man-made CO2 effect had to be added to replicate the post 1970 increases.

    Now, to that other graph: the hockey stick.
    …..1…..We can get around the no-MANN problem, by only using those that do not have his name on them.
    …..2…..I choose to not accept the author’s generalizing of these graphs. As temperatures increase (the La Nina is over; April was, cruelly, the fifth warmest) the hockey stick declines in significance. I’ve no dog in this fight. But let it be settled by a preponderance of data points.
    …..3…..So, I am stipulating that the Medieval Climate Optimum, and the Little Ice Age, are regional situations.
    Which, of course, is my point. That you can’t compare regional situations with the global situations that AGW’ers refer to.
    Say The Day After Tomorrow brought back the north american glaciers. The global consequence, from this 2% of its surface, would be small.

    Reuters (May22, 2009) “A rise in concentration of a powerful greenhouse gas ((methane)) over the Arctic after a decade of stability is stirring worries about possible vast stores trapped in permafrost, experts said.”

    Reuters (May22, 2009) “A new study…’the most exhaustive end-to-end analysis of climate change impacts yet performed’… the MIT-based research found a 90% probability that worldwide surface temperatures will rise at least 9 oF by 2100.”

  34. Juraj V. says:

    The first graph is wrong. Actual “unprecedent” global temperature rise in the second half of 20th century has been was less steep than in 1907-1950. Not speaking about the habit of screwing the scale of CO2, putting the baseline at 280ppm.
    http://www.climateaudit.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=356&start=37 – this is worth a separate article.

  35. John F. Hultquist says:

    This is a gem of a post but the comments contain a few nuts. So first to Dr. Weinstein: This is a well thought out and well written piece. I applaud you! The included links are appreciated. And I had no problem with the lack of a temperature scale that my display had – I have now seen this (the red line) line of historic temperatures so often, I could have nearly labeled it.

    Then in the comments I am hit with walnuts, Glug and the IPCC, and Gregoire (Gov. of Washington State). Given the choice I’d prefer dinner with walnuts rather than the others. Along with Gore, Waxman, Peloise, and Obama, Glug and Gregoire will get footnotes in history for their inability to understand simple facts while believing passionately they have all the correct answers.

    And to the person taking the geology class – get the best grade you can without antagonizing the instructor. Geology is noted for some first class jerks who worked diligently from their academic offices to undermine young, insightful, field researchers. Review the history of the Channeled Scablands and the Missoula Floods for an example.

  36. Keith Minto says:

    Correction….’cooler winters and hotter summers’.

  37. John F. Hultquist says:

    It would be helpful if all would stop using the term “greenhouse effect” and use the term “atmospheric effect.” The atmosphere is very large and is mostly nitrogen and oxygen gas with a few other way-smaller components. The world’s oceans are significant. Convection and conduction are the important processes, not trapping radiation by a small fraction of the atmosphere.

  38. Mike Bryant says:

    Speaking of AGW, Record lows in 28 states on May 19:

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/records/index.php?ts=daily&elem=mint&month=5&day=19&year=2009&submitted=Get+Records

    Maybe someone has already commented on this. Imagine the hoopla if this had been record highs in 28 states.

  39. Mike D. says:

    Excellent. Thank you Dr. Weinstein.

    I especially appreciate the discussion regarding whether warming, should it occur, will result in mostly positive or mostly negative effects on the biosphere and humanity. His conclusions match mine: Warmer Is Better, for the various reasons stated.

  40. The Engineer says:

    Sorry off subject – but has anyone attempted to explain the two warming periods (1910-45 and 1975-98) with respect to the vast differences in a) CO2 concentrations or b) Human CO2 emissions during the 2 periods. See figure 1.
    A link perhaps ??
    PS I think Humans CO2 emissions were at least 4 times greater (pr year) during the second warming period than the first.

  41. MalagaView says:

    Wonderful article… plays to all my perceptions and prejudices…

    I think the saddest thing is that we really haven’t come a long way since the 1970s…
    Then we had “rough numbers” and “rough guesses”…
    But somewhere along the line this morphed in the main stream media into “hard numbers” and “settled science”…
    Perhaps that is why I stopped reading newspapers and watching television twenty years ago….

    So much “science” seems to have been corrupted by “money”…
    So much “science” seems to be “economical with the truth”….

    Today every number seems to be “cooked”…
    Extrapolating these numbers we are headed into the “dark ages” yet again…
    My guess is that the “Spanish Inquisition” has already arrived in guise of “peer review”….

    So Anthony, please, KEEP ON TRUCKING…
    You are bringing light and hope into this dark age…

  42. E.M.Smith says:

    Generally a good article. A couple of things bug me a bit though… Mostly these cycle around accepting some of the premises of the AGW crowd for the purpose of showing some flaw in their data or argumentation; yet it implicitly endorses what look to me like broken premises:

    First, the notion of a global average temperature measured in tenths of a degree based on USHCN data measured in Whole Degree F. You just can’t do that. Any computation made from whole F must end up with whole F or you have false precision.

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/03/05/mr-mcguire-would-not-approve/

    That you simply accept the notion of a “global average temperature” and then measure it in tenths is a fundamental flaw. (One I think negates the whole AGW thesis all by itself… but also cuts against some of the counter AGW arguments too. Both sides are just dancing in the error bands of False Precision.) What meaning is there in the “global average gender”? Does the fact that it’s a few percent female mean anything? Would it mean anything else if it changed to slightly male? That’s what you get by averaging high and low temps. The “anomaly” in the global average gender is not very useful, nor is the “global average temperature anomaly”…

    I know everyone does it, but do you really need to have your charts vertical scale be such that the absolute changes are exaggerated? Why not start at zero? Then you can see the percentage changes are really near nothing… Those dramatic 45 degree rising lines become much more nearly a flat line. And more truthful.

    The percentage of the worlds thermometers that actually have any length of history is small, and those are almost entirely stuck in the USA, Europe, and a bit of Japan. That is not a representative sample of the earths surface. You can make no claims about historical “global” anything based on the thermometer distribution in the past:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/02/24/so_many_thermometers_so_little_time/

    Your temperature graph implicitly accepts a time scale starting at the bottom of the little ice age. This is wrong:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/03/02/picking-cherries-in-sweden/

    As you can see, on a longer time scale, there has been no temperature rise.

    The notion of “30 year climate” is just broken. We have 30 year weather, but climate is something that only changes on a geologic time scale. Thousands of years, at least. Until one recognizes that Bond Events are a normal cycle (and I’d assert it’s a weather cycle) looking at anything less than a 2000+ year period is just going to cause erroneous panic over a normal cyclicality:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/04/06/bond-event-zero/

    Again, I appreciate the article, but accepting the errors of the AGW’s as a premise is, er, problematic.

  43. Pierre Gosselin says:

    These posts just keep getting longer.

    There’s been too much focus on the last 150 years.
    It’s been warming since 1700, long before anthroprogenic CO2 emissions.
    Temps fluctuted throughout the Holocene, when CO2 was pretty much constant at 280 ppm.
    And they fluctuated immensely through the ice ages, and throughout the history of the earth.

  44. Robinson says:

    In other news, an ex-BBC Environmental Correspondant has slammed his old bosses at the BBC as being evangelical, shallow and sparse, particularly with respect to the reporting of “climage change” stories.

  45. TonyB says:

    EM Smith

    I think we both share scepticism at the idea of a global temperature, let alone such an acurate one based on so few stations in 1850/1880 with a base line that is ever changing.

    I don’t know if you saw my other post to you suggesting it would be useful if you could summarise on chiefio the background to Global temperatures and the problems with Giss data. It is rather technical at the moment for the laymen I point in your direction.

    TonyB

  46. Lars Kamél says:

    The CO2 measurments at the South Pole has been going on as long as those at Mauna Loa, so there are long data records for two places, not one.

  47. Christopher Hanley says:

    rickM (15:43:12)

    Far be it from me to contradict a geology professor, but it looks to me that the temperature trend in this Milankovic cycle is down.
    http://muller.lbl.gov/pages/IceAgeBook/Image3.gif

  48. Stephen Skinner says:

    There is a interesting book ‘How to Lie with Statistics’ written by Darrell Huff in 1954. In this book Darrell shows how removing the left hand scale in a graph or by only showing a graph reduced to the range of data it is possible to imply something different to what the data has to offer. Having read this I created a graph of the CO2 increase with a Y axis of a million. Is this unreasonable?

  49. mikeathome says:

    It’s good to see discussion still going on, it might be time to choose a new King Canute; and go down to the sea and command it to go back. I will send for my jester and minstrel that we may begin.

  50. Pofarmer says:

    …..2…..I choose to not accept the author’s generalizing of these graphs. As temperatures increase (the La Nina is over; April was, cruelly, the fifth warmest) the hockey stick declines in significance. I’ve no dog in this fight. But let it be settled by a preponderance of data points.

    Two things. Number one, you would expect it to still be warmer coming off the 1998 peak. It’s not going to fall directly off a cliff.

    Number two. We know that Hansens “adjustments” among others, have LOWERED past temperatures. Anything using GISS numbers is suspect.

    …..3…..So, I am stipulating that the Medieval Climate Optimum, and the Little Ice Age, are regional situations.

    Yeah, so?

    It seems that in the fairly recent past the vegetation zones were much closer to the poles than they are today. The remains of some plant species can be found as far as 1,000km farther north than they are found today. Forests once extended right up to the Barents Coast and the White Sea. The European tundra zones were non-existent. In northern Asia, peat-moss was discovered on Novaya Zemlya. And, this was no short-term aberration in the weather. This warming trend seems to have lasted for quite a while. Consider the following comments from Borisov, a long time meteorology and climatology professor at Leningrad State University:

    From Ancient Ice

    http://naturalselection.0catch.com/Files/ancientice.html#Woolly%20Mammoths

    “During the last 18,000 years, the warming was particularly appreciable during the Middle Holocene. This covered the time period of 9,000 to 2,500 years ago and culminated about 6,000 to 4,000 years ago, i.e., when the first pyramids were already being built in Egypt . . . The most perturbing questions of the stage under consideration are: Was the Arctic Basin iceless during the culmination of the optimum?”8

    Also

    The well preserved “mummified” remains of many mammoths have been found along with those of many other types of warmer weather animals such as the horse, lion, tiger, leopard, bear, antelope, camel, reindeer, giant beaver, musk sheep, musk ox, donkey, ibex, badger, fox, wolverine, voles, squirrels, bison, rabbit and lynx as well as a host of temperate plants are still being found all jumbled together within the Artic Circle – along the same latitudes as Greenland all around the globe.39

    The problem with the popular belief that millions of mammoths lived in very northerly regions around the entire globe, with estimates of up to 5 million living along a 600 mile stretch of Siberian coastline alone,39 is that these mammoths were still living in these regions within the past 10,000 to 20,000 years. Carbon 14 dating of Siberian mammoths has returned dates as early as 9670± 40 years before present (BP).41 So, why is this a problem?

    Contrary to popular imagination, these creatures were not surrounded by the extremely cold, harsh environments that exist in these northerly regions today. Rather, they lived in rather lush steppe-type conditions to include evidence of large fruit bearing trees, abundant grasslands, and the very large numbers and types of grazing animals already mentioned only to be quickly and collectively annihilated over huge areas by rapid weather changes. Clearly, the present is far far different than even the relatively recent past must have been. Sound too far fetched?

    Consider that the last meal of the famous Berezovka mammoth (see picture), found north of the Artic Circle, consisted of “twenty-four pounds of undigested vegetation” 39 to include over 40 types of plants; many no longer found in such northerly regions.43 The enormous quantities of food it takes to feed an elephant of this size (~300kg per day) is, by itself, very good evidence for a much different climate in these regions than exists today.39 Consider the following comment by Zazula et. al. published the June 2003 issue of Nature:

    “This vegetation [Beringia: Includes an area between Siberia and Alaska as well as the Yukon Territory of Canada] was unlike that found in modern Arctic tundra, which can sustain relatively few mammals, but was instead a productive ecosystem of dry grassland that resembled extant subarctic steppe communities . . .

    Abundant sage (Artemisia frigida) leaves, flowers from Artemisia sp., and seeds of bluegrass (Poa), wild-rye grass (Elymus), sedge (Carex) and rushes (Juncus/Luzula) . . . Seeds of cinquefoil (Potentilla), goosefoot (Chenopodium), buttercup (Ranunculus), mustard (Draba), poppy (Papaver), fairy-candelabra (Androsace septentrionalis), chickweed (Cerastium) and campion (Silene) are indicative of diverse forbs growing on dry, open, disturbed ground, possibly among predominantly arid steppe vegetation. Such an assemblage has no modern analogue in Arctic tundra. Local habitat diversity is indicated by sedge and moss peat from deposits that were formed in low-lying wet areas . . .

    [This region] must have been covered with vegetation even during the coldest part of the most recent ice age (some 24,000 years ago) because it supported large populations of woolly mammoth, horses, bison and other mammals during a time of extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciation.” 42

  51. meghan2013 says:

    Your article seems very thorough, but I would like to point out that anthropogenic global warming is also multi-faceted in that humans have done more than burn fossil fuels. A variety of human activities have contributed, including deforestation and raising of cattle, which have been going on a lot longer than humans have been driving cars.

  52. Dave Middleton says:

    Replying to…

    rickM (15:43:12) :
    Ok, somewhat off topic but germains to this still I think.
    In my Geology course today, the professor stated that if we were to acept the Milankovitch Hyopthesis as more or less fact, and with the combination of precession and obliquity, since we seem to be more near “maximum” in our elliptic orbit, the temps should be going down, instead of going up.
    I’m an old guy, looking at a second career, and I’m tired of gritting my teeth in this course as more anthropogenic CO2 “education” is forced into the minds of me and my fellow students. A little help would be appreciated.

    In addition to the other responses to you question…

    It’s important to keep in mind that the Milankovitch Cycles have a strong correlation to the Pleistocene glacial-interglacial cycle. The warming and cooling of Medieval Warm Period-Little Ice Age type cycle has not been attributed to Milankovitch. This roughly 1500-year lower amplitude cycle has been related to a 1470-year convolution of the 87-year and 210-year solar cycle (Bond (1997), Braun (2005)). Within that 1500-year cycle there is a 50-60-year cycle that can be correlated to the phases of the PDO. I think the PDO can also be correlated to the frequency of the Schwabe 11-year sunspot cycle.

    Climate Cycle__Frequency__Amplitude__Probable Cause

    Hothouse/Icehouse__~130 million years__10C__*Unknown
    Glacial/Interglacial__~130,000 years__5C__Milankovitch
    MWP/LIA__~1,500 years___1C to 2C__1,470-year Solar Cycle
    Chicken Little__50-60 years__0.2C to 0.6C__PDO

    * Nir Shaviv has a very compelling theory that the Hothouse/Icehouse cycle is related to our Solar Systems movement into and out of the Milky Way’s spiral arms.

    I call the 55-year cycle the “Chicken Little Cycle” because the last four phases have triggered Chicken Little effects…The most prominent being in ~1975 and again since 1998. The intensity of the Chicken Little effect appears to have a strong correlation to the total number of climatology PhD’s in existence at the time and to the intensity of media coverage.

    If you Google Fire and Ice – by R. Warren Anderson and Dan Gainor you’ll find a very interesting paper on media over-reaction and over-hyping of the climate cycle. Anderson and Gainor detail four periods of Chicken Littling…Global Cooling: 1895-1932, Global Warming: 1929-1969, Global Cooling: 1954-1976 and Global Warming: 1981-Present.

    We are living through the transition from a Warm Chicken Little to a Cold Chicken Little, in the Modern Warm Period, in an Interglacial, in an Icehouse.

  53. old construction worker says:

    Does increase in CO2 led to an increase “temperature”? According to the “CO2 drives the climate” theory the upper troposphere should be warming faster than surface “temperature”. You would have thought that some young weather person back in the mid 50’s or 60’s would have notice that the upper troposphere (weather balloons data) was warming faster than the surface “temperature” and wonder why. Instead, a politician sounded the alarm, started doling out the money to find the “CO2 connection” purely for political reason.
    The end justifies the means.

  54. Steven Hill says:

    “What is really bothering me is that the politicians who are driving this CO2 madness are all ” past the science ” you can’t get your hands on their schedule to force them to sit down and listen to current science, but if you could, it wouldn’t matter they are all ” past the science ” – the bad science that has been sold to them.”

    Smell the coffee, they know the science, it’s about the agenda. Tax and spend with a huge government telling us all what to do and how to think.

  55. vukcevic says:

    The Engineer (01:07:21) :
    Sorry off subject – but has anyone attempted to explain the two warming periods (1910-45 and 1975-98) with respect to the vast differences in a) CO2 concentrations or b) Human CO2 emissions during the 2 periods.

    I have no explanation (I am also an engineer) , but you can take a look at these two charts, one shows N/S asymmetry in the solar activity, the other global temperature gradient during same period.
    http://www.vukcevic.co.uk/MaunderN-S-excess.gif
    http://www.vukcevic.co.uk/mgt.gif
    The curve and the formula describing it is the same in the both charts (only scale is different).
    Is there a link ? Possibly not, but still one could be never certain.

  56. Shawn Whelan says:

    The science has become a joke.

    The Caitlin trio very well exemplify what modern science has become.

    Junk science is now the norm.

  57. John Finn says:

    The Engineer (01:07:21) :

    Sorry off subject – but has anyone attempted to explain the two warming periods (1910-45 and 1975-98) with respect to the vast differences in a) CO2 concentrations or b) Human CO2 emissions during the 2 periods. See figure 1.
    A link perhaps ??
    PS I think Humans CO2 emissions were at least 4 times greater (pr year) during the second warming period than the first.

    I don’t believe there is a satisfactory explanation for 20th cnetury climate, in general. There’s a lot of hand-waving about increasesd solar forcing in the early 20th century, increased aerosols in the mid-20th century and lack of volcanoes to explain other bits. But, as Leif Svalgaard argues, solar activity has been far less variable than previously thought.

    Aerosols are the suggested mechanism for mid century cooling . But how likely is this? In the early ~1940s a ~0.14 deg per decade warming trend suddenly went into reverse. The huge Pinatubo and Krakatoa eruptions had nothing like the cooling effect that began in the 1940s, yet we are supposed to believe that a non-existent increase in short-lived industrial aerosols maintained a far greater coooling effect for more than 30 years. That’s bad enough, but the fact is the arctic dominated both the warming and cooling phases. The arctic warmed almost 2 degrees between 1916 and 1945 – but then cooled by ~1 deg up until the 1970s. Remember most aerosols in the cooling period originated in the NH latitude bands – yet it was the arctic that cooled (and warmed) at around 4 times the rate of an other region, despite the fact that the solar reflection properties of aerosols could not operate between September and March.

    The IPCC uses climate detection and attribution over the past century to justify their belief that it is only by including ghgs can they explain warming over the past ~30 years.

    Too many think they can falsify the AGW case by trying to show that increased CO2 will not cause warming or that the sun is responsible. (1) CO2 is likely to result in warming. (2) The solar effect is specualtive at best. There are, though, holes in the AGW argument and this is one of them.

    In a nutshell: You’re right to raise this issue.

  58. Roger Clague says:

    .

    This post presents the position taken by the owner of the blog, Anthony Watts and AGW moderates in general, including Professor Lindzen of M.I.T. and Roy Spencer of U.A.H.

    That position is that:

    1. The greenhouse effect of increasing CO2 has been and will continue to be small, and not a danger.
    2. This position is supported by looking at past climate data.

    I believe that to oppose AGW alarmism with AGW moderation by using statistics has and will continue to fail.

    Adolfo Giurfa, got it right in the first to reply to the post. AGW alarmism based on the greenhouse gas theory can only be opposed by experimental evidence. It was shown in 1909 that CO2 does not increase air temperatures by trapping IR radiation.

    John Hultquist is also right that the so-called greenhouse effect is an atmosphere effect. It is present on other planets and is caused by the mass of the nitrogen and oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere.

  59. Ed Reid says:

    I sometimes feel like I’m listening to the “Mad Hatter” from Alice (Al Gore?) in Wonderland: “Warmer is climate; colder is weather.”

    Anthony and his “Band of Merry Persons” have now evaluated ~70% of the US temperature measurement sites. They conclude that the sites are prone to average errors exceeding 2 C. Reporting temperatures or even anomalies from these sites to 2 decimal place “accuracy” is more necromancy than science, conjuring an image of Dr. Hansen as “Karnak the Magnificent”.

    I am unable to get too concerned about an anomaly of 0.1 – 0.2 C +/- 2+ C. Maybe it’s time for a trip to a re-education camp.

  60. candacelange says:

    Glacier national park in Montana used to have alot of glaciers more than 100…now only a dozen or so. I am pretty sure that indicates a warm trend. Also the glacier that feeds the large water supply in India is receeding at an alarming rate..threatening the millions of people living there. Finally, the glaciers that surrounded Kilaminjaro are disappearing, leaving the land beneath in danger of a terrible drought. I am thinking this is not a good thing. Better to try to reduce our smoky output in the hope that it will slow the warming trend. Of course if you all are thinking that overpopulation is a big problem, then whhat the hell..drive those big cars and keep your thermostat at 80 durning the winter. Crank out as much pollution as possible…kill all the wildlife and eat up all the fish! It will all work out for the planet..Earth will still be here, but life will definitly be different!

  61. Smokey says:

    candacelange,

    There are over 160,000 glaciers on the planet. Some are growing, and some are receding. The total is roughly static. But some folks pick out receding glaciers and tell you that’s what’s happening everywhere. They’re either lying or they’re ignorant.

    Glaciers don’t grow or shrink as a result of a cooling or warming climate, but rather, due to precipitation changes at higher altitudes. The people who are scaring you with pictures of selected glaciers have an agenda. It is propaganda, not science.

    And some countries do have a “smoky” output from industry. But not the U.S., and not Western Europe or Australia. China, India, Russia, Brazil, and a hundred third world countries do little to control polluting industries.

    I remember in the 1950’s when Pittsburgh was so smoggy from the steel mills that you couldn’t see across the rivers. Now it’s completely cleaned up. Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River caught fire from industrial pollution. Now the EPA says fish from the river are safe for human consumption. Chicago is now one of the cleanest cities on earth.

    The U.S. is now the least polluted country on the planet. The problem is that you’re being told lies. The environmental lobby doesn’t give a damn about anything but political power. If they cared, they would be as upset about birds being killed by windmills as they would be if the birds were being killed by oil derricks. But the tens of thousands of raptors killed by windmills every year simply do not matter to the enviro lobby.

    Young people lack the necessary perspective. Only three or four generations back, almost everyone lacked indoor plumbing. They used outhouses and chamber pots [thunder mugs]. Antibiotics didn’t exist, and it was normal and routine to hear of people dying from a simple sore throat. There was a true crisis over how to dispose of the millions of tons of horse manure accumulating in big cities. English sparrows were imported because they fed on manure. With the advent of the internal combustion engine, that health threat has been completely eliminated.

    It was noteworthy when someone reached sixty. Most people died younger. Much younger. Starvation — in America — happened regularly. Ignaz Semmilweiss had shown that hand washing by doctors assisting mothers giving birth saved lives; amazingly, some doctors still resisted that knowledge.

    Life was incredibly tough and short for most people, even in the early 1900’s. Most people still lived on farms, and farm labor was literally from dawn to dusk. Half the population had never walked on pavement by 1900. Kerosene provided light — for the farmers who could afford it. Try baling hay for just one day. Your attitude toward today’s easy life will be completely transformed.

    People really have no conception of how much technology and fossil fuels have improved the quality of everyone’s life. Little House On The Prairie is mostly fantasy made for TV. Life was hard in America — and it was truly ghastly in countries like China and India, where tens of millions routinely died in the waves of famine that periodically swept the country.

    The environment is now cleaner — much cleaner — than it was even 75 years ago. Where life used to be hard, now life is easy. Where the environment used to be polluted, now it is clean. And the reason is the same: technology and fossil fuel use. Without them we would spend a portion of each day shoveling horse manure. Women would have as many children as possible, in order to have some reach adulthood. It would be much more likely that you would be living on a farm, subsisting at the whim of nature. People wouldn’t complain like they do today because their top priority would be survival.

    But now the modern day eco-Luddites and eco-Malthusians feed the populace their self-serving propaganda. They are lying to you in order to advance their agenda. The runaway global warming scare is being used by outright liars to convince well meaning people that modern technological society and fossil fuel use is bad, and foolish, inefficient and unreliable windmill power is good.

    Don’t believe them. They’re lying to you. Modern technology makes life better and cleaner, and it saves lives and extends everyone’s life span. The enviro lobby’s agenda will do the exact opposite. But they don’t care; power and control over you are all they care about.

  62. Just Want Truth... says:

    “” kuhnkat (20:56:27) :

    GLUG,

    GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG

    MMMMMM that Kool Aid is excellent huh??””

    Funny! My vote for quote of the week!

  63. Pamela Gray says:

    Graphing record high daily max, record low daily max, record high daily low, and record low daily low across time would be an instructive exercise. My hunch is that patterns would emerge that correlate to a similar time series of SST, with a lag. Then graph something similar for CO2 (I would use the AIMS data for this, not surface measures).

  64. jim says:

    Anthony–
    I simply want to call your attention to a rather interesting paper that was recently presented to the Northern Ireland climate cops:
    http://www.tech-know.eu/NISubmission/pdf/UK_Submission.pdf

  65. Sam the Skeptic says:

    And as a follow-up to Smokey, never forget that cleaning up the environment cost money. Clean is better than dirty and India, China, Brazil will follow where the US and Europe led. But it is only because we are rich nations that we have been able to afford to do these things. And only when they are rich that they will be able to follow suit.
    The eco-fascists neither know nor care about any of this; they have an agenda of their own and the useful idiots that they enlist are only too happy to follow the idea that if we got rid of all these nasty polluting things like CO2 and coal and smog and that nasty nuclear stuff and GM crops then Gaia would love us all very much and polar bears would be our friends.
    It sounds all warm and cosy and cuddly so we are tempted to believe it. The US term is b**lsh*t; in the UK “b**ll**ks”. Same result!
    It would be amusing if it wasn’t so dangerous.
    They want to cut the CO2 which means that crop yields will suffer so how do you feed the increased population? GM seems an obvious route, no? Nope, we can’t allow that.
    One way to cut CO2 is to use non-carbon based fuels. Since it is generally understood, except by the real dimwits, that wind power cannot be the answer the solution would seem to be nuclear, no? Nope, we can’t allow that.
    So the only answer is back to the lifestyle which Smokey describes above. One day one of them will tell us why they want us (not them, of course) to live like that. It should be fun watching Monbiot try to explain that.

  66. candacelange (07:38:27) :

    Glacier national park in Montana used to have alot of glaciers more than 100…now only a dozen or so. I am pretty sure that indicates a warm trend.
    Those glaciers decrease was caused by the warming which had a peak in the 97-98 El Nino. Temperatures began to decrease from then on, as it has been shown in many posts here in WUWT, so you will see an increase in those glaciers in the following years.

  67. Pamela Gray says:

    AIRS! I meant AIRS! need…more…coffee

  68. Micky C (MC) says:

    I’ve been looking for an appropriate place to post an interesting idea I had about the effect of CO2 in the atmosphere and this seems to be it. Looking through a lot of model descriptions and even the early Jim Hansen papers there is a common theme in that the atmosphere temperature variation and lapse rate are only possible due to coupled radiative and convective energy transfer. Now a lot of work seems to be on the side of increasing the radiative effect due to increased CO2 without considering how this couples into the conductive process dominated by water vapour.
    I had a look for any papers on modelling of this and there is one from 1964 by Manabe and Strickler (J. Atmos Sciences, Vol 21, p 361 – its available to download for free). In this paper they attempt to produce a model of the lapse rate, tropopause and stratospheric temperature variation using radiative and convective processes driven by the molecules H20, CO2 and O3. They have some success. However in the paper (Fig 4) there is a very interesting digram of how the troposphere temp gradient changes when there is a purely radiative atmosphere and one with convection. They show that for a purely radiative process the surface is a lot warmer and the tropopause is a lot colder than one with coupled convection. What is interesting is that adding more CO2 could be causing the coupling to change to being more radiative hence a warming of the surface and a cooling in the troposhere, something that has been posted on here by Prof Lindzen.
    The important point though is that the couping relationship is the key not the increase in radiative properties alone. So the idea of simple logarithmic forcing does not appear to describe the full picture. And that this is not a new idea.

  69. GaryB says:

    Great post and summary of real science. It is crazy to look at the earth and the balance of the earth’s many contributors to temperature, climate, oceanic pH, etc without stepping back and looking at the world from a much longer span of time than 50 or even 100 years.

    Also, I remember indications that Mars and Venus had temperature variations as well. Has anyone mapped the temperature changes of these planets alongside the variations in the Earth’s temperatures? My guess is that we will see concurrent ups and downs along with the variance of the sun’s activity. This information seems hard to come by, but would be a perfect indication that it is the sun (duh!) that affects the Earth’s temperature the greatest…. regardless of what we flea-like human’s do.

    Thanks again for such an incredible site. I can’t stay away!

  70. Pamela Gray says:

    Two comments about the AIRS data:

    The interesting thing about the AIRS data is that it shows that CO2 is not well mixed and is carried aloft by jet stream patterns in swirling, globby patterns. If one were to reverse the “movie” of this moving gas, much of this CO2 is generated nowhere near human activity. This is probably why many people criticized the initial results of the AIRS data, saying that measurements were taken too far up in the atmosphere and that ground based data is more accurate in terms of source.

    Second, the AIRS CO2 movie makes it look like the atmosphere is entirely made up of CO2. A better display would be layering like in a body book. The first layer would be the most common gas and how it is distributed along with a side bar that shows the % of total. Then you could run the movie again at the next layer, and so on and so on till you get to CO2. By then you would realize that by looking at the % bar next to the movie you are looking at a VERY small percentage of the atmosphere that this trace gas occupies.

  71. Pamela Gray says:

    GaryB, each planet has its own atmosphere (some more, some less) and planet surface structures. These planetary sources of weather variation will play into the overall picture there just like on Earth. However, our planetary sources are, for the most part, much greater than those with other atmospheres. If I desired to determine solar influences on another planet and then extrapolate back to Earth, I would want to choose one with thin to no atmosphere and with planet surface structures that were the same all over the surface. There might be other things I would mathematically change (such as distance from the Sun) to equal the Earth-Sun parameters, and then see what I get.

  72. Gilbert says:

    E.M.Smith (01:31:05) :

    Again, I appreciate the article, but accepting the errors of the AGW’s as a premise is, er, problematic.

    Can I hitch my wagon to your team?

    Methinks that too many people get caught up the AGW web. With no hot spot, and no objective evidence of polar warming, the atmospheric greenhouse effect fails miserably.

  73. Nasif Nahle says:

    @Dave Middleton (05:13:26):

    Replying to…

    rickM (15:43:12) :

    We are living through the transition from a Warm Chicken Little to a Cold Chicken Little, in the Modern Warm Period, in an Interglacial, in an Icehouse.

    Yes, we are in an Icehouse. There have been three odd Chicken Little periods into both Warmhouse and Icehouse periods. One Ice Chicken Little happened during the Cambrian-Devonian Warmhouse period, another Warm Chicken Little occurred during the Carboniferous-Permian Icehouse Period, and the last Ice Chicken Little ran by the Triassic-Eocene Warmhouse period. The three Chicken Little were quite strong. Our Warm Chicken Little, which happened during the 90s decade into our Icehouse period, was weak compared with those ancient big Chicken Little:

    http://biocab.org/Geological_TS_SL_and_CO2.jpg

    Nothing unusual…

  74. Nasif Nahle says:

    Probably we are experiencing a long Icehouse period with several warm chicken little screwing it up from time to time. :)

  75. SSSailor says:

    WUWT
    It is always instructive to back away periodically and survey a larger view of the landscape upon which we search for reality. Dr. Leonard Weinstein has provided such a view (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/05/22/limitations-on-anthropogenic-global-warming/) with cogent descriptions of the scope and the temporal validity of the state of knowledge to date. My apreciation to Dr. Leonard Weinstein

    In the spirit of the larger view, I commend the wide readership of WUWT to digest an offering by
    Michael Crichton regarding the socio/political landscape on which the world of science must navigate. If you find the master of fiction an ironic choice for commentary on the subject of global warming, I invoke the words of my literature prof, “Irony makes life real”. Mr. Chrichton bluntly describes what we are up against.
    Mr. Chrichton can be found here; http://sharpgary.org/ItsAboutTimeToo.htmlhttp://sharpgary.org/

    For all you number crunchers out there,
    Timo Niroma of Finland constructs an exhaustive analysis of our suns behavior over time. It is incredible what a creative mind can do with a 9 month winter. Bravo Timo Niroma. Right or wrong, Mr. Niroma makes (for me) a compelling case for the astrophysical aspects of the larger solar system that we call Home, and the cumulative effects on our sun. I do not find any conflicts vis a vis Niroda-Svalgarrd, only the degree of precision. Ultimately, I suspect, Dr. Svalgaard will be vindicated as will Timo Niroma.
    Timo Niroma can be found here; http://sharpgary.org/ItsAboutTimeToo.html
    Enjoy

  76. SSSailor says:

    WUWT
    As much fun as it has been Digging For H2o on Mars, I would have preferred Seeding The planet and moon/s with a number of elemental enviromental (ground and atmopspheric) sensors such as to record an iindependant planetary record during this solar minimum.

    It is always instructive to back away periodically and survey a larger view of the landscape upon which we search for reality. Dr. Leonard Weinstein has provided such a view (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/05/22/limitations-on-anthropogenic-global-warming/) with cogent descriptions of the scope and the temporal validity of the state of knowledge to date. My apreciation to Dr. Leonard Weinstein

    In the spirit of the larger view, I commend the wide readership of WUWT to digest an offering by
    Michael Crichton regarding the socio/political landscape on which the world of science must navigate. If you find the master of fiction an ironic choice for commentary on the subject of global warming, I invoke the words of my literature prof, “Irony makes life real”. Mr. Chrichton bluntly describes what we are up against.
    Mr. Chrichton can be found here; http://sharpgary.org/ItsAboutTimeToo.htmlhttp://sharpgary.org/

    For all you number crunchers out there,
    Timo Niroma of Finland constructs an exhaustive analysis of our suns behavior over time. It is incredible what a creative mind can do with a 9 month winter. Bravo Timo Niroma. Right or wrong, Mr. Niroma makes (for me) a compelling case for the astrophysical aspects of the larger solar system that we call Home, and the cumulative effects on our sun. I do not find any conflicts vis a vis Niroda-Svalgarrd, only the degree of precision. Ultimately, I suspect, Dr. Svalgaard will be vindicated as will Timo Niroma.
    Timo Niroma can be found here; http://sharpgary.org/ItsAboutTimeToo.html
    Enjoy

  77. Juraj V. says:

    There has been NO significant temperature rise in 1978-2003. Rise between 1907-1950s made 2/3-3/4 of overall temperature rise during the 20th century. Fact: global temperatures are now equal or lower compared to 30ties (USA) or 50ties /Europe). See Armagh observatory temperature record at http://www.junkscience.com/MSU_Temps/Armagh1796-2002.html (2008 has 9.78C average). Do not even consider to use HadCRUT or GISS for any comparing with anything. SSTs are better (no UHI), but still flawed after WWII by wrong accounting for sampling techniques.

  78. Thomas J. Arnold. says:

    It appears that not all scientists having worked for NASA sing from the same hymn sheet.

    I thought the article well reasoned and considered. Dr. Weinstein is an engineer and physicist, his qualifications are sound.

    Pity the same cannot be said of some at the IPCC.

    Do you remember that bloke Michael Mann??

    Tom.

  79. Excellent summary above – But how can this level of thoughtful analysis get through the propaganda filter of today’s socialist/anti-capitalist/democrat media?

    Case in point: Retired USAF weatherman at a GA (USA) political meeting two days DEMANDED we keep presenting Al Gore’s movie in science classes because “Moscow has never had higher temperatures in winter ever before (claiming that Moscow this year (2008-2009) never went below 0 degrees for the first time ever.”)

    Pointing out urban heat island effects, loss of hundreds of old Soviet-era measurement stations, the pure political effect of Russia (communist countries) being able to shutdown western economies through AGW fears, Russia’s previouspropaganda efforts … None were considered valid. Only the AP story in the local paper about hot weather in Moscow, China, and North Korea this winter – that was his “evidence” for global warming.

  80. Andrew Parker says:

    @Pofarmer (04:43:16) :

    “[This region] must have been covered with vegetation even during the coldest part of the most recent ice age (some 24,000 years ago) because it supported large populations of woolly mammoth, horses, bison and other mammals during a time of extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciation.” 42″

    Which begs the question, Does widespread glaciation equal global cooling or global warming? I remember the question being asked 30 years ago, but it was never answered.

    To confuse the issue further, I include this reference regarding Lake Lahontan in the Western Great Basin of the US, :

    “Surprisingly, the watershed feeding Lake Lahontan is not thought to
    have been significantly wetter during its highstand than it is
    currently. Rather, its desiccation is thought to be mostly due to
    increase in the evaporation rate as the climate warmed.[citation needed]
    Recent computer simulations (using the DSSAM Model[4] and other
    techniques) indicate that if precipitation and evaporation rates within
    the watershed were maintained at their historical yearly maximum and
    minimum, respectively and if diversions of the Truckee River ceased, the
    Ice Age extent of Lake Lahontan could return.”

    In the Eastern Great Basin, which I a more familiar with, there is evidence of glaciation on peaks above 10,000 ft., is no sign of glaciation on peaks below that altitude and no sign of permanent snow fields on peaks below 9,500 ft. I believe that this would support the conclusion that glaciation is more a matter of precipitation and seasonal temperatures, rather than annual temperature averages. Theoretically, we here in the Great Basin could see the reappearance of glaciers and lakes if precipitation rates increased 30%-50% with a corresponding decrease in evaporation rates, and, a redistributioon of seasonal temperatures that saw short cold winters, short hot summers and wet temperate Springs and Falls (this is what we have been getting recently).

    Is cloud cover the answer?

  81. Francis says:

    Pofarmer (04:43:16)……1998’s singularity was due to the largest El Nino event in a century. You would expect it to cool down almost as much as it had warmed up.
    Also, 1998’s top-status exists only in HadCRUT. In GISS, 1998 is tied for second warmest.
    “…HadCRUT3 displays less warming than NASA GISS and NCDC. This is most likely due to the fact that HadCRUT data doesn’t cover parts of the Arctic where there has been strong warming in recent years.”

    Vukcevic (05:40:05)……For the period 1855-1975 global temperatures closely follow the Total Solar Irradiance (TSI). It is for the period after 1975 that climate models must add the CO2 effect to the natural causes, to replicate the temperature increases.

    Smokey (08:38:43)……I’d heard that the English sparrow was first brought here by someone who thought that we should have all the birds in Shakespeare.

    Candacelange (07:38:27)……The World Glacier Monitoring Service has some information.
    We know that Greenland and Antarctica are receiving more snow because the waters around them are warmer. (There is still a net loss, due to melting.)
    About 20% of the other glaciers (by mass balance) is increasing. I would ask if any of these might be growing only because the waters around them are warmer? (i.e., western Norway or New Zealand)

    When I read how crops might benefit from higher CO2 levels, I (an AGW’er) would ask: where? In the dust bowl that will extend from California to Kansas? Or, in Canada, where our wheat production will move to? In Michigan, that will have the climate of present day north Texas?

    My main point above (22:28:05) didn’t survive the argumentation. I was trying to get to the slope of the line, at the hockey stick blade.
    9 oF is about the glacial-interglacial warming, that has already happened about 39 times.
    But this time it would be, not from glacial cold; but on top of interglacial warmth.
    And the slope? The interglacial warming took several thousand years. We are facing that 9 oF increase in roughly a hundred years.
    How well can we, and the plants, and the animals, adapt…so quickly?

  82. GaryB says:

    hi Pamela,

    yes i understand that the atmospheres differ significantly. But nevertheless, if it is indeed variations in solar activity that drive the bulk of temperature effects on the planets, there should be a correlation of planetary temperature “ups and downs” (although probably to different degrees [no pun intended] depending on the atmospheric makeup). Where can such data be found? I would assume it is known.

  83. OK, so we dismiss the thousands of articles written in peer-reviewed journals and just cherry-pick some data from websites. Hooray, global warming is a hoax! Right.

  84. Smokey says:

    Ricardo Coelho (14:06:02),

    You don’t understand. Here, let me help:

    No one here disputes the fact of global warming. The planet has been warming since the LIA, and the last great Ice Age before that.

    There is a gradual, rising temperature trend line going back to those events. The planet’s temperature fluctuates naturally above and below that trend line. Sometimes the climate is cooler, sometimes it is warmer. But the temperature always reverts to the trend. For several years now the planet has been cooling: click

    There is currently no empirical [real world] evidence proving that human CO2 emissions are the cause of any global warming. Carbon dioxide may have a *very* slight effect on the temperature, but it is so small that it is swamped by other effects, and can be ignored as inconsequential. Furthermore, the fraction of human emitted CO2 is a very small part of what the planet naturally emits; on the order of only a few percent of the earth’s natural CO2 emissions.

    The more we learn, the smaller the effect on temperature that CO2 appears to have. In fact, there is no empirical proof that CO2 has any measurable effect. Climate science is still in its infancy, and although there are educated guesses, there are no specific measurements showing exactly how much, if any, CO2’s effect is. And every subsequent IPCC assessment report has significantly lowered its estimate of CO2’s effect.

    This makes sense. How can a tiny trace gas cause runaway global warming? Please explain how four molecules of CO2 can carry enough energy to drastically raise the temperature of 10,000 molecules of air?

    Your un-cited “thousands of articles” are difficult to deconstruct, since you don’t identify a single one. To get up to speed on this subject, I recommend that you go back through the archives on this site [which won the title of "Best Science site" in the Weblog Awards this past year]. From your comment above, it’s clear you are simply repeating what you hear every day in the media.

    If you like, I and others here can provide you with plenty of material that falsifies the hypothesis that human emissions of CO2 will lead to runaway global warming and climate catastrophe. Just ask.

  85. old construction worker says:

    Ricardo Coelho
    ‘OK, so we dismiss the thousands of articles written in peer-reviewed journals and just cherry-pick some data from websites. Hooray, global warming is a hoax! Right.’

    No. Global warming is real. “CO2 drives the climate is a hoax.
    Big difference .

  86. old construction worker (14:39:53) : No. Global warming is real
    It WAS real until 1998.

  87. Phil. says:

    Pamela Gray (10:40:44) :
    Two comments about the AIRS data:

    The interesting thing about the AIRS data is that it shows that CO2 is not well mixed and is carried aloft by jet stream patterns in swirling, globby patterns.

    Actually it shows it to be ‘well-mixed’ but not perfectly mixed.

    Second, the AIRS CO2 movie makes it look like the atmosphere is entirely made up of CO2. A better display would be layering like in a body book. The first layer would be the most common gas and how it is distributed along with a side bar that shows the % of total. Then you could run the movie again at the next layer, and so on and so on till you get to CO2. By then you would realize that by looking at the % bar next to the movie you are looking at a VERY small percentage of the atmosphere that this trace gas occupies.

    Suppose you did what you suggest but layer it in terms of the gases’ IR absorbance, then you’d find you’d start with CO2 at nearly 100% and the rest nowhere! Then you’d realize by looking at the % bar that you were looking at the dominant GH gas.

  88. What temperature trend are you forecasting – to get your claim of 9 deg F increase?

    The one from 1928 to 2008? (80 years) That’s about a 1/10 of 1 degree rise – over the next two hundred years.

    The one from 1935 to 1970? (35 years) That would be a decrease of some 10 or 15 degrees.

    The one from 1998 through 2009 (11 years) – that would be a decrease of some 4 or 5 degrees.

    The one you WANT to cherry pick from the entire world’s geologic history is the single short little 35 year period from 1973 to 1998 – but that also does NOT yield a 9 degree increase.

    You are exaggerating the assumed and guessed effect of CO2, are thereby lying. The world’s crops (every green plant on the earth!) are growing and living some 12% to 27% faster, stronger, hardier, and more resiliantly due to a fortunate increase in CO2. More food, fuel, fodder, feed, and seeds for all of us.

  89. old construction worker says:

    Adolfo Giurfa (18:14:57)
    ‘It WAS real until 1998.’

    You are right. I stand corrected.

  90. SSSailor says:

    My apolgies for the web site confusion.
    Chritchton is here; http://sharpgary.org/ChrichtonCommonweal.html
    Timo Naroma is here; http://www.tilmari.pp.fi/tilmari6.htm
    Tx for the patience.

  91. Reply to Rick M

    I did an Earth science MS a couple of years ago and was impressed with OIS 11. (Oxygen Isotope Stage around 400,000 years ago) The astonomer A. Berger wrote a paper arguing that the current interglacial is more like OIS 11 than any of those in between and that since OIS11 lasted around 50,000 years, the present interglacial will be around the same length, about 2.5 times longer than usual.

    During OIS 11, sea level rose around 22 meters, whereas the highest level during the Holocene was probably 2 meters, around 5,000 years ago.

    For a project, I searched for and believe I found beach terraces that correspond to these periods. Awesome to stand 6 storeys above sea level and image the land below you was once under the sea.

    If Berger is right, we are already almost a third through this interglacial. And even without any human activity, this interglacial will see much of London and New York under water. It’s just a matter of time.

    My professor, who is a specialist in Quaternary geology, believes we are just recovering from the Little Ice Age and so do I.

  92. Dave Middleton says:

    @Fred Colbourne (04:01:11) :

    The interglacial immediately prior to this one (Sangamon ~130,000 years ago) was also warmer (~4C) than it is today and sea level was ~10-15m higher than it now is.

    If the ice core CO2 data are correct, atmospheric CO2 was in the 290ppm-315ppm range at the warmest part of the Sangamon Interglacial. If you look at any chart of ice core-derived CO2 vs. temperature over the Upper Pleistocene, you’ll see a couple of curves that move in relative unison (with the temp’s leading the CO2 by ~800 years)…If you tack the modern data onto the Pleistocene ice core curves, temperatures behave just like the prior interglacials; but the CO2 *appears* to go asymptotic. If the ice core CO2 is right, our modern atmosphere is not being warmed significantly by anthropogenic CO2. If the ice core CO2 data are wrong (and the plant SI data are right), 80% (or more) anthropogenic CO2 emissions are being taken up by natural carbon sinks. If we go back to the warmest part of the Pliocene (mid-Ploicene Warm Period), CO2 levels were around 500ppm; but average temperatures were only ~5C warmer than they are today.

    There’s just no hard evidence in the geological record of CO2-driven climate change. And there is a fair amount of evidence that atmospheric CO2 levels have at times reacted to climate changes.

  93. Allan M R MacRae says:

    Juraj V. (12:30:05) :

    There has been NO significant temperature rise in 1978-2003. Rise between 1907-1950s made 2/3-3/4 of overall temperature rise during the 20th century. Fact: global temperatures are now equal or lower compared to 30ties (USA) or 50ties /Europe). See Armagh observatory temperature record at http://www.junkscience.com/MSU_Temps/Armagh1796-2002.html (2008 has 9.78C average). Do not even consider to use HadCRUT or GISS for any comparing with anything. SSTs are better (no UHI), but still flawed after WWII by wrong accounting for sampling techniques.

    *************************

    Hi Juraj,

    I can’t confirm all that you have said but agree with much of it.

    There has been NO net global warming (and probably about 0.3C cooling) since ~1940, imo.

    Hadcrut3 ST data appear to exhibit ~0.07C false warming per decade (due to UHI, land use change, etc.), compared to UAH LT data.

    Best, Allan

    ************************

    Moderator:

    Kindly delete the vulgar post from Yo Ma Ma (16:54:59) .

    Perhaps you could replace it with one from Yo-Yo Ma.
    http://www.yo-yoma.com/news/songs-joy-peace

    Play this:
    http://myplay.com/audio_player/myplay/300664/357990/358015?allowBrowsing=1

  94. Mike D. says:

    Moderator, please!!!! The Yo Ma Ma entry has no virtues. I could certainly live without it.

  95. Francis says:

    Robert A Cook PE (19:55:20)

    I mentioned 9 deg F. The first time it was just something from the day’s news doubling the projected 2100 temperature rise. “…the MIT-based research found a 90% probability that worldwide surface temperatures will rise at least 9 degrees ((F)) by 2100.”

    I wholeheartedly agree that the to date temperatures increase by much less…roughly 1 deg F. But, that’s apparently enough to start damaging our western forests. The warmth allows the pine beetles to survive the winter. In Arizona;, and the U.S. and Canadian Rockies: the pine beetle damage exceeds the fire damage.
    The authors of these accounts are the ones who suggest that the warmth and the reduced precipitation, may be early signs of global warming.

    The second mention was the 9 deg F increase it takes to get from glacial cold up to Interglacial warmth. The third mention was to the projected 9 deg F increase that would be on top of the present day’s interglacial warmth. This could be either from the MIT study, or from smaller projections that (arbitrarily) act over a longer period of time.

    I will cncede that I have a certain fondness for “9 deg F”…because it equals “5 deg C”. So it provides the only opportunity to go back and forth ( OK, besides the freezing and boiling points of water) without approximations.

  96. Fluffy Clouds (Tim L) says:

    this maybe dead on topic/or not, mods please see that A.W. sees this!

    convection, and instability that offers negative feedback to climate warming
    NASA researcher Sirpa Hakkinen of Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and colleagues from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Mass., and the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081006180815.htm

    Thank You!

  97. Roger Carr says:

    mikeathome (04:38:08) wrote: “It’s good to see discussion still going on, it might be time to choose a new King Canute…”

    Problem here, Mike, is that King Canute actually went down to the shore to prove he was NOT all-powerful by showing his silly subjects that he could not control the sea as they boasted he could.

    Silly subjects. Although there do seem to be a lot of the same still infesting the enlightened even today, so we probably do need a new King Canute to restore balance. A Man of Wisdom.

  98. Roger Carr says:

    Moderator: Would you close that bold tag for me?
    It follows “not” in the firsr paragraph. Line #3.

  99. Dr Weinstein,

    Thanks for the full article, which makes a nice overview of the problems with AGW. I only have comments on the parts of CO2 data and ice core CO2 reliability (my favorite hobbies…):

    About Beck’s paper: see my comments here:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/beck_data.html

    Callendar excluded “suspect” historical CO2 data which were intended for agricultural purposes (Giessen, Poona, the latter in the midst of rice and soy fields) with a priory criteria. That his data are smoothless in line with ice core (50 years later!) and MLO CO2 trends only proves that he was right.

    Further, several series were taken over/near the oceans and these series have averages and ranges around the ice core data. Even the minima (at high wind speed) of the land based data are below the ice core data, which shows that the ice core data are not far off the real background CO2 level of that time:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/beck_1930_1950.jpg

    About ice cores:
    The first issue is right, there is smoothing of the oce core CO2 record, which is the reciproke of the amount of snow falling each year. For the fastest accumulation ice cores (2 of the Law Dome ice cores: 1.2 m ice equivalent per year), the smoothing is about 8 years, increasing to several hundreds of years for the Vostok ice core with a few mm ice equivalent. But that means that the Law Dome ice cores should see any peak of CO2 lasting a decade or so, including Beck’s historical 1935-1950 peak of +80 ppmv CO2. That is completely absent in the Law Dome records (neither visible in the stomata record).

    About the second issue:
    One need to be cautious with stomata (index) data: stomata are formed in leaves and leaves, by definition, grow on land (sea plants are a different story). But near ground over land CO2 levels have a positive bias compared to background. That can be compensated for by calibrating the stomata data with ice core CO2 data (!), but that is no guarantee that historical changes in landscape/vegetation and local temperature/humidity over time have not more influence on local CO2 levels, thus stomata response, than background CO2 changes over time…

    The third issue is practically a non-problem at Antarctic conditions:
    Any liquid layer at the surface of some enclosed air bubbles is about 5-10 atoms thick. The amount of CO2 dissolving into this is negligible. Moreover, measurements of CO2 in ice cores are taken under vacuum, leaving virtually no CO2 in any liquid layer. Remelted layers are only present in some cases at near coast ice cores and are avoided as much as possible.

    Cracks in the ice should (and does) in general increase measured CO2 levels, as the current outside air is at 385 ppmv, while the inside air bubbles are at 180-300 ppmv… There is no liquid water at all in ice cores like Vostok at average -40°C, but these show the same CO2 levels for the same gas age as other, more coastal ice cores:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/antarctic_cores_001kyr_large.jpg

    As an extra, compare the timing of the increase in CO2 with the decrease of d13C in the same ice cores/firn/atmosphere and with the completely independent decrease of d13C in the upper oceans as measured in coralline sponges:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/sponges.gif

    Many of the objections against ice core CO2 data (mostly from Segalstad/Jaworowski, 1992), including the non-existent offset between ice cores CO2 dating and atmospheric measurements, were resolved by the 1996 (!) work of Etheridge on three Law Dome ice cores. These show that the ice core CO2 measurements are a reliable, but smoothed, reflection of ancient CO2 levels. See:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/jaworowski.html

  100. lweinstein says:

    Ferdinand,

    I do not disagree on the unreliability of Beck’s data for global averages. However, it is still not valid to select some sets as being much more likely to be GLOBAL averages, as all were still over land. The fit of one set to another is not a sufficient justification to accept it, as that plays to a bias. I suggested to just not use any of the early chemical data and that is the only fair way to bypass that problem. Also it appears to me how the same arguments can result in tree ring reliability as questionable. Trees grow in forests and are surrounded by probably changing local conditions. Regarding the technique for gas samples, I understand that a vacuum is applied before the ice is crushed, so the CO2 in cracks could escape. The fast sealing firn to ice also probably gets some local melting during summer, so that is suspect. The slow sealing ice, which probably does not melt at all, has the problems I stated (the large firn porous area can absorb the CO2 selectively at large depth before the large surface area compresses completely). Also I read that other ways of getting the gas composition gave other results. It seems a method was selected that agreed with preconceptions. I would like to know details of these other methods. My suggestion would be to gas displace (Argon) any surrounding gas or gas in cracks, then melt and evaporate all of a sample, then freeze out the water vapor to a thin solid sheet (to keep gas out). The remaining could be examined for total gas details, and would satisfy me much more as accurate composition. Any trapped CO2 would be released this way and give total gas trapped up to any lost in the cracks and displaced.

  101. Dr. Weinstein,

    I agree that it is better to use no historical land data at all, but I would make an exception for the data obtained at sea and coastal data, as far as the measuring method is reliable (not always that obvious…), as these are normally (in current times) providing background levels.

    If there are cracks in the ice, that doesn’t make a difference if it are mechanical cracks (from drilling or transport): the full air will escape through cracks, not only CO2, and from diffusion one would expect too high CO2 levels, not too low.

    If the cracks are caused by “exploding” clathrates (as Segalstad/Jaworowski say), then O2/N2 will escape first, leaving CO2 clathrates which decompose at higher temperatures and lower pressure, at 0.03% of the original volume, thus probably also measuring too high levels…

    The Etheridge work showed that at closing depth there was no difference between CO2 levels ( http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/1996/95JD03410.shtml ) in the firn from the still open bubbles and CO2 in the ice of already closed bubbles, taken via different ways but measured both with the same GC equipment. Two cores had at maximum five remelt layers, the third core even less.

    I am aware of two methods used for ice core CO2 measurements: the older method melted everything under vacuum over a cold trap, freezing out any water vapor, the other is what still is in use: crushing the ice under vacuum and a cold trap. The difference between the two methods was a few ppmv less CO2 for the total melt. I fear that the method you propose will give too low values… and a few other problems: the water/refreezing volume is quite a lot larger than the air volume to be measured…

  102. lweinstein says:

    Ferdinand,

    Melting under vacuum would only be valid if all of the ice were evaporated. Cold liquid water has high solubility for CO2, so the extent of degassing is critical before the ice refreezes by evaporation cooling. It freezes at the surface, so could trap the CO2. However, even if the CO2 issue is resolved at levels presently claimed, and the present level is higher than previous, the feedback amplification for heating has not only not been falsified in its claims on effect, but I think it has had critical flaws in its logic. The CO2 issue was only a secondary issue, and my write-up only stated that I was not convinced there were no problems, but did not state that even if it were being correctly described, that it would affect my conclusions.

  103. Pamela Gray says:

    Phil, I think you mean water vapor. According to the AGW theory, the increase in CO2 will cause an increase in water vapor, which then causes runaway global warming. In said theory, and in all other GH theories, water vapor is by FAR the most important GHG in Earth’s atmosphere.

  104. Dr. Weinstein,

    I don’t think that we differ in opinion about the (lack of measurable) feedback of CO2 on temperature… That is the case at the end of the Eemian, where the lag of CO2 is several thousands of years, starting to decrease when temperatures are already at minimum and ice sheets at maximum. The subsequent drop of 40 ppmv CO2 has no measurable effect on temperature:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/eemian.html

  105. George E. Smith says:

    “”” Pamela Gray (18:59:36) :

    Phil, I think you mean water vapor. According to the AGW theory, the increase in CO2 will cause an increase in water vapor, which then causes runaway global warming. In said theory, and in all other GH theories, water vapor is by FAR the most important GHG in Earth’s atmosphere. “””

    And the thing that grabs me Pamela, is for some reason the AGW theorists can’t seem to explain WHY do you need man made CO2 to get this water vapor feedback started. My car puts out water vapor, and that by itself could start anything that the CO2 can start; so the CO2 is totally superfluous to any argument based on water vapor feedback.

    And if their runaway warming is based on water vapor, then they surely are barking up the wrong tree.

    Consider the following mental experiment. We turn off the laws of physics (on out playstation climate modeller); then we crank up the surface temperature of the entire earth to say 99 degrees C (I said just the surface, no more than afew microns deep, so I don’t melt all the ice), and we evaporate enough water into the atmosphere to form a solid cloud layer from the ground to 20 km or so, all over the earth; total cloud cover worldwide at 99 deg C.

    So now we turn the laws of physics back on, and watch what happens.

    Well of course, if this runaway warming Venus scenario really exists, I would expect the earth’s surface temperature would continue to rise, to put even more water vapor into the atmosphere and eventually boil way the whole of the earth’s water supplies.

    But remember; only the top few microns are at 99 degrees, so there isn’t any energy source except the sun to keep on raising the surface temperature and supply latent heat to any more water.

    Guess how much sunlight reaches the surface after passing through 20 km of totally water saturated clouds; go and ask somebody in St Louis Mo if you don’t know the answer.

    Well some of that cooler material under the hot skin, is going to cool the bottom of the atmosphere and clouds, and it is going to start to rain; for 40 days and 40 nights it will rain; and maybe longer; but the top of the cloud layer is going to cool since the sun cannot maintain it at 99 deg C.

    Well you can continue this experiment on your own desert island sandy beach. You’ll get cooling and precipitation till eventually some breaks in the clouds will let sunlight through to slow down the cooling process; and you’ll end up right back where we are now.

    Unlike Venus, with its higher solar constant and denser atmosphere and lack of water; the earth does not have a stable hot state, that can be maintained by our 1367 W/m^2 solar constant.
    Even if you force it to some extreme condition; it won’t stay there, and in practice; starting from where we are, with the laws of physics opperating all the time; there is no way to reach the condition that I set up above.

    So talk of runaway heating are simple nonsense; from people who just don’t have much problem solving skills.

    George

  106. oms says:

    George E. Smith (11:31:05) :

    …for some reason the AGW theorists can’t seem to explain WHY do you need man made CO2 to get this water vapor feedback started. My car puts out water vapor, and that by itself could start anything that the CO2 can start; so the CO2 is totally superfluous to any argument based on water vapor feedback.

    Two differences between CO2 and water vapor:
    1. CO2 is a well mixed gas. Water vapor is demonstrably not. Hence the “G” in AGW.
    2. When there is an “excess” of water it is sometimes observed to precipitate back out of the atmosphere, occasionally at prodigious rates.

    …total cloud cover worldwide at 99 deg C.
    So now we turn the laws of physics back on, and watch what happens.

    So talk of runaway heating are simple nonsense; from people who just don’t have much problem solving skills.
    George

    An initial column full of water droplets at 99 deg C from 0 to 20 km? That would be an interesting experiment. I don’t think the models could handle 6 cm of boiling water distributed over the entire surface area of the earth.

  107. lweinstein says:

    The basic argument for CO2 causing large temperature gain is based on the idea that the CO2 causes a small temperature increase, then the temperature increase causes an increase in atmospheric water vapor content, which then goes into a feedback loop until it self limits with clouds and condensation. The typical temperature gain needed to agree with the typical models is about 2.5 times the CO2 effect alone. It should then follow that anything that causes a direct temperature increase (over a slow enough time scale for proper response) should also cause this gain factor. Seasonal changes due to changing Sun angle satisfies the slow average pace of heating, and results in significant average heating. The question to ask yourself is why the temperature swing season to season is not more than can simply be accounted for by change in average Solar insolation absorbed minus radiated and convected energy from the surface.

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