# Top Ten Skeptical Arguments that Don’t Hold Water

(Note: this originally published on Dr. Spencer’s blog on April 25th, and I asked if I could reproduce it here. While I know some readers might argue the finer points of some items in the list, I think it is important to keep sight of these. – Anthony)

by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

There are some very good arguments for being skeptical of global warming predictions. But the proliferation of bad arguments is becoming almost dizzying.

I understand and appreciate that many of the things we think we know in science end up being wrong. I get that. But some of the alternative explanations I’m seeing border on the ludicrous.

So, here’s my Top 10 list of stupid skeptic arguments. I’m sure there are more, and maybe I missed a couple important ones. Oh well.

My obvious goal here is not to change minds that are already made up, which is impossible (by definition), but to reach 1,000+ (mostly nasty) comments in response to this post. So, help me out here!

1. THERE IS NO GREENHOUSE EFFECT. Despite the fact that downwelling IR from the sky can be measured, and amounts to a level (~300 W/m2) that can be scarcely be ignored; the neglect of which would totally screw up weather forecast model runs if it was not included; and would lead to VERY cold nights if it didn’t exist; and can be easily measured directly with a handheld IR thermometer pointed at the sky (because an IR thermometer measures the IR-induced temperature change of the surface of a thermopile, QED)… Please stop the “no greenhouse effect” stuff. It’s making us skeptics look bad. I’ve blogged on this numerous times…maybe start here.

2. THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT VIOLATES THE 2ND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS. The second law can be stated in several ways, but one way is that the net flow of energy must be from higher temperature to lower temperature. This is not violated by the greenhouse effect. The apparent violation of the 2nd Law seems to be traced to the fact that all bodies emit IR radiation…including cooler bodies toward warmer bodies. But the NET flow of thermal radiation is still from the warmer body to the cooler body. Even if you don’t believe there is 2-way flow, and only 1-way flow…the rate of flow depends upon the temperature of both bodies, and changing the cooler body’s temperature will change the cooling rate (and thus the temperature) of the warmer body. So, yes, a cooler body can make a warm body even warmer still…as evidenced by putting your clothes on.

3. CO2 CANT CAUSE WARMING BECAUSE CO2 EMITS IR AS FAST AS IT ABSORBS. No. When a CO2 molecule absorbs an IR photon, the mean free path within the atmosphere is so short that the molecule gives up its energy to surrounding molecules before it can (on average) emit an IR photon in its temporarily excited state. See more here. Also important is the fact that the rate at which a CO2 molecule absorbs IR is mostly independent of temperature, but the rate at which it emits IR increases strongly with temperature. There is no requirement that a layer of air emits as much IR as it absorbs…in fact, in general, the the rates of IR emission and absorption are pretty far from equal.

4. CO2 COOLS, NOT WARMS, THE ATMOSPHERE. This one is a little more subtle because the net effect of greenhouse gases is to cool the upper atmosphere, and warm the lower atmosphere, compared to if no greenhouse gases were present. Since any IR absorber is also an IR emitter, a CO2 molecule can both cool and warm, because it both absorbs and emits IR photons.

5. ADDING CO2 TO THE ATMOSPHERE HAS NO EFFECT BECAUSE THE CO2 ABSORPTION BANDS ARE ALREADY 100% OPAQUE. First, no they are not, and that’s because of pressure broadening. Second, even if the atmosphere was 100% opaque, it doesn’t matter. Here’s why.

6. LOWER ATMOSPHERIC WARMTH IS DUE TO THE LAPSE RATE/ADIABATIC COMPRESSION. No, the lapse rate describes how the temperature of a parcel of air changes from adiabatic compression/expansion of air as it sinks/rises. So, it can explain how the temperature changes during convective overturning, but not what the absolute temperature is. Explaining absolute air temperature is an energy budget question. You cannot write a physics-based equation to obtain the average temperature at any altitude without using the energy budget. If adiabatic compression explains temperature, why is the atmospheric temperature at 100 mb is nearly the same as the temperature at 1 mb, despite 100x as much atmospheric pressure? More about all this here.

7. WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND The rate of rise in atmospheric CO2 is currently 2 ppm/yr, a rate which is 100 times as fast as any time in the 300,000 year Vostok ice core record. And we know our consumption of fossil fuels is emitting CO2 200 times as fast! So, where is the 100x as fast rise in today’s temperature causing this CO2 rise? C’mon people, think. But not to worry…CO2 is the elixir of life…let’s embrace more of it!

8. THE IPCC MODELS ARE FOR A FLAT EARTH I have no explanation where this little tidbit of misinformation comes from. Climate models address a spherical, rotating, Earth with a day-night (diurnal) cycle in solar illumination and atmospheric Coriolis force (due to both Earth curvature and rotation). Yes, you can do a global average of energy flows and show them in a flat-earth cartoon, like the Kiehl-Trenberth energy budget diagram which is a useful learning tool, but I hope most thinking people can distinguish between a handful of global-average average numbers in a conceptual diagram, and a full-blown 3D global climate model.

9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE Really?! Is there an average temperature of your bathtub full of water? Or of a room in your house? Now, we might argue over how to do the averaging (Spatial? Mass-weighted?), but you can compute an average, and you can monitor it over time, and see if it changes. The exercise is only futile if your sampling isn’t good enough to realistically monitor changes over time. Just because we don’t know the average surface temperature of the Earth to better than, say 1 deg. C, doesn’t mean we can’t monitor changes in the average over time. We have never known exactly how many people are in the U.S., but we have useful estimates of how the number has increased in the last 50-100 years. Why is “temperature” so important? Because the thermal IR emission in response to temperature is what stabilizes the climate system….the hotter things get, the more energy is lost to outer space.

10. THE EARTH ISN’T A BLACK BODY. Well, duh. No one said it was. In the broadband IR, though, it’s close to a blackbody, with an average emissivity of around 0.95. But whether a climate model uses 0.95 or 1.0 for surface emissivity isn’t going to change the conclusions we make about the sensitivity of the climate system to increasing carbon dioxide.

I’m sure I could come up with a longer list than this, but these were the main issues that came to mind.

So why am I trying to stir up a hornets nest (again)? Because when skeptics embrace “science” that is worse that the IPCC’s science, we hurt our credibility.

NOTE: Because of the large number of negative comments this post will generate, please excuse me if I don’t respond to every one. Or even very many of them. But if I see a new point being made I haven’t addressed before, I’ll be more likely to respond.

## 693 thoughts on “Top Ten Skeptical Arguments that Don’t Hold Water”

1. Actually, I think it’s a very useful post, and I have no substantial disagreement with any of it.

2. PaulH says:

Re. #9, I have no problem with the idea of calculating a global average temperature. My question is, what is the “correct” average (target) temperature, and who decides?

3. 1. THERE IS NO GREENHOUSE EFFECT.
Greenhouses warm by limiting vertical circulation, not by blocking outgoing IR. This can be verified by opening a small window in the roof of a greenhouse, or building a greenhouse out of material transparent to outgoing IR.

Does CO2 warm the planet by limiting vertical circulation? If not, then how can it be a greenhouse effect?

4. My [Spencer's] obvious goal here is not to change minds that are already made up, which is impossible (by definition), but to reach 1,000+ (mostly nasty) comments in response to this post. So, help me out here!

It’s nice to have achievable goals!

I could quibble with some of the one-liners, but the accompanying text explains the context. Good post, though it does seem to be aimed at people who are certain their thinking is the right thinking. Just like Roy said!

5. Claude Harvey says:

Bravo! It’s often embarrassing to see so many skeptics destroy their own credibility by engaging in the poop-slinging contest originated by AGW theory advocates. (“Sling enough on the wall and some of it will stick.”)

“Truth for its own sake” should be the banner under which we march.

6. James Ard says:

If we ever get that Skeptic organization going, I nominate Dr. Spencer to be Anthony’s Vice President.

7. Raymond says:

I’ll 2nd Paul’s question.

8. Could Dr Spencer complement this valuable article with its analogue
ie Ten Skeptical Arguments that do hold water?

9. Liberal Skeptic says:

Here here. I know you can’t control the comments without getting all draconian but the sort of misinformation debunked above is the worst part of trying to a positive experience out of this website. And what makes it an easy target for alarmists. “Just read the comments, it’s nuts”

10. There’s a lot of ground to cover here, but the point is taken. You shouldn’t resort to fallacies when fighting fallacies.

11. Mark Bofill says:

Excellent post Dr. Spencer. Thank you.

12. Roy Spencer has done us all a service in his clear and forthright style by clearing away some of the thicket of anti-scientific nonsense that emanates from those who have ceased to be truly skeptical – some of whom may perhaps be paid to come out with rubbish in the hope of discrediting all of us.

13. Bruce Cobb says:

This is a pointless exercise, and uses strawman arguments. The quality (or lack thereof) of whatever arguments skeptics make is easily discernible.
The key point is that reality itself is showing that the effect of man’s additional CO2 is minimal. The reason appears to be negative feedbacks. Those pesky clouds have a nasty habit of wrecking climate models.

14. John West says:

Bravo!

This was way overdue IMO.

I’d just like to point out that #7 is most likely true pre-anthropogenic influence.

15. Rich Carman says:

My response is all positive.

16. son of mulder says:

The only bit I disagree with is in No. 9 (but I may have misunderstood your wording).

“Why is “temperature” so important? Because the thermal IR emission in response to temperature is what stabilizes the climate system….the hotter things get, the more energy is lost to outer space.”

As essentially the only source of heat is the sun and at any temperature, with the system in equilibrium the amount of energy leaving the earth will equal the amount arriving from the sun and since the amount arriving is fixed, so is the amount leaving. If more left for outer space the earth would cool. When less leaves the earth warms.

17. What effect does adding CO2 to the atmosphere have on water vapor? All things being equal, doesn’t increasing the partial pressure of CO2 by necessity make it harder for water to evaporate, reducing atmospheric moisture and thus reducing the GHG effect of water in the atmosphere?

Isn’t the reduction in atmospheric moisture consistent with long term observations? As CO2 is increasing, isn’t atmospheric H2O is decreasing? Otherwise, wouldn’t atmospheric pressure need to increase as per partial pressure law? Wouldn’t the increase in atmospheric pressure itself lead to warming?

18. Juergen MIchele says:

Looking at your point 4. :
CO2 in the upper atmosphere blocks outgoing radiation from the earth surface.
But the incoming radiation from the sun in the relevant frequency range is hundredfold compared to the back radiation from earth.
As a consequence more CO2 cools!

19. Bob B says:

Roy, I think your #7 is a strawman argument. I have seen it stated by skeptics that the temperature leads the rise in CO2 in the Vostok ice core records and not the other way around. I believe the data does indeed show that.

20. Mike M says:

“7. WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND The rate of rise in atmospheric CO2 is currently 2 ppm/yr, a rate which is 100 times as fast as any time in the 300,000 year Vostok ice core record. ”

I take issue with comparing proxy data to direct instrument measurements in general but would also suspect that the farther you go back in time in the ice record – the more molecular migration there will have bled over from one time period to another thus damping the actual rate of change that occurred over any narrow segment of time.

Additionally, stomata count of plant leaf fossils show more or less a slightly but consistently higher level of CO2 than what ice core data suggests. More importantly, stomata count shows a dramatic change in CO2 during the Younger Dryas period as would be expected and is absent/muzzled/diluted in the ice core record. http://geocraft.com/WVFossils/stomata.html

So I don’t agree that #7 belongs on the list.

21. Tom Stone says:

Thank you Dr. Spencer. Until today, I was a proponent of fallacy #7. Science is at its best when it challenges itself with observational evidence.

22. kevin kilty says:

I expected to see this one on Spencer’s list: CO2 cannot warm the surface from a colder atmosphere because heat does not flow from a colder place to a hotter one.

Spencer’s number nine is a complex one. Certainly one can always measure an average, but in such a complex situation as the one we speak of it is difficult to ensure that two instances of the “average” are truly equivalent–think surfacestations dot org.

23. Joe Born says:

First, thanks for No. 3. I’d never heard the contention you’re thereby countering, but the discussion if helpful to me.

As to No. 9, though, there are a great many ways in which the global average temperature is misused, so my guess is that many people who make the statement are correct in the context they’re making it in. In other words, we shouldn’t automatically dismiss someone’s criticizing the global-average-temperature concept just because Dr. Spencer says (correctly) that arguments based on its shortcomings are sometimes wrong.

24. Tom Stone says:

Some of the more recent posts indicate that I was not so wrong. Even better.

25. I agree with Bruce Cobb, a pointless exercise. The reality that I see is that warming has stopped. Let the warmists postulate new theories. As a side note: has anyone replicated the numbers from Vostok? Steve Goddard’s exposure of government manipulation of temperature records makes me question any measurement.

26. Mike M says:

Bob B says: May 1, 2014 at 6:31 am “Roy, I think your #7 is a strawman argument. I have seen it stated by skeptics that the temperature leads the rise in CO2 in the Vostok ice core records and not the other way around. I believe the data does indeed show that.”

Yes and I use that all the time while emphasizing the alarmist claim that “CO2 took over to push temperature even higher”. So if CO2 pushed it higher then how in the world did it manage to come back while CO2 remained higher? No one seems to give a palpable answer to that question outside of “natural variability”. So then I’ve got them – if “natural variability” was solely responsible for bringing temperature down when CO2 was at or near its highest concentration – WHY should I believe that “natural variability” could not have been solely responsible for the rise of temperature when CO2 was at a lower concentration ?

27. In science, what happens if you take two different processes and give them the same name? For example, what if you took addition and subtraction and called them both addition. What effect would this have on the mathematics? Wouldn’t this lead to arguments and disagreements over whose answer was correct?

Isn’t this what we see in climate science? Two different physical processes both called “the greenhouse effect”. One involves radiation, the other involves convection. Both using the same name without distinction, yet completely different. Wouldn’t this lead to arguments and disagreements over whose answer was correct?

28. Len says:

i third- fourth, whatever the “average” question. with a CO2 caveat.

what IS the “BEST” average temp for humans/the planet?
what is the “Ideal” PPM for CO2 in the atmosphere for Plants.

where -supposedly- did humans Evolve, would not that general climate be “ideal” for us-after all we evolved there…
so that would be -africa-around kenya to be precise according to Berkeley’s evolution website…average temp in kenya is what.. about 23c or so? or about 8c warmer than the earth’s average temp…hmm…..

ideal ppm for plants. well most commercial greenhouses say the plants grow faster and stronger with more co2 in their greenhouses, and they keep it at around 1000ppm of co2 in the greenhouse…so would it be safe to say that doubling or even tripling the amount of co2 in the atmosphere would be better for the plants?

see that is the issue, all the “experts” are saying “CO2 BAD!”…but is it.

29. dp says:

I can’t tell you how happy I am that none of the things I’ve ever said are covered in the list.

30. Peter Miller says:

I do not have any problem with any of these points

My biggest gripe is some sceptics’ disbelief in AGW – such a belief is total rubbish, what sceptics should be saying is:

1. AGW exists, but its effects are grossly overstated by alarmists, and

2. CAGW is an alarmist myth, without any evidence – especially in the geological record – to support it.

31. Jaakko Kateenkorva says:

Let’s see how long it takes for SkS et al to publish a screenshot on their website and construct straw men around them.

For the number 7, It would be interesting to learn more about the mistakes in the charts where the temperature goes up first and then the CO2 follows.

32. kevin kilty says:

Oops. My pet peeve is on the list, but I missed it.

33. David in Cal says:

Thanks for this, Dr. Spencer.

I have seen it claimed that the climate sensitivity of CO2 (impact of doubling) is something like 1.2 degrees C, in the absence of positive or negative feedback. Three questions:
– Is this correct?
– Does it follow from principles of thermodynamics?
– Has it been experimentally verified?

34. JimS says:

Another bad skeptic argument is stating that just one volcanoe eruption can spew out more CO2 than all the CO2 that mankind has ever produced throughout industrial history. This is simply NOT true and I see it being used much too much.

35. michael hart says:

Re #9
By a quick-and-dirty SB radiative energy calculation, there are multiple possible combinations (of areas and temperatures) of regions of the Earth which can collectively can posess identical aggregate energy balance. That is, there are multiple possible “average earth-temperature”s for the same energy input-output.

So “What does it mean?”, is certainly a valid question.
Another one is: “What is its use?”

36. In response to number 4. “CO2 COOLS, NOT WARMS, THE ATMOSPHERE.” I agree with the doctor but if increased CO2 replaces other more effective greenhouse gases such as water vapor or Methane wouldn’t that cause cooling?

If CO2 is going up something else in the atmosphere has to be going down. You can’t have more than a million parts per million. Also you’d think increased CO2 would also cause oxygen to increase due to more plant growth and more photosynthesis. Is there any institution that tracks the makeup of the entire atmosphere?

37. AlecM says:

My Dear Roy, you are still so wrong despite my efforts to educate you!

1. Downwelling is a Thermal Radiation Field, the potential energy flux of the Atmosphere to a sink at absolute zero. This is basic Radiative Physics: there is no downwards energy transmission for a normal temperature distribution. The IR thermometer measures temperature because it measures the difference of its Thermal Radiation Field and that of the Atmosphere, and the result is calibrated vs a black body.

2. The imaginary ‘Enhanced GHE’ is a Perpetual Motion Machine of the 2nd Kind; the atmosphere using its own heat to cause itself to expand.

3. Oh Dear! The Tyndall experiment has been badly misinterpreted. There can be no ‘thermalisation’ of the GHG-absorbed energy because that would breach The Law of Equipartition of Energy, as basic a physical principle as quantum theory.

4. CO2 does not warm or cool because it lis the working fluid of the Heat Engine that stabilises surface temperature: more later!

5. See 3 and 4.

6. The Trenberth Energy Budget is juvenile physics. MODTRAN, based on replicating real observations, shows there is ~63 W/m^2 net IR energy flux from the surface to the Atmosphere consistent with 238.5 W/m^2 OLR. The rest of the mean 160 W/m^2 leaves as convection and evapo-transpiration!

7. The dissolution of CO2 in ice has smoothed out the real Vostok data.

8. The IPCC models are deeply flawed in many ways so they cheat to get the political result. Leave it at that for the time being.

9. Ditto……

10. A black body radiating to Space can have an operational emissivity near unity. The Earth has an operational emissivity of about a sixth of a black body. We engineers know this for a fact!

My comments are not negative, simply an attempt to correct the false physics you were taught, originating from Sagan!

“Re. #9, I have no problem with the idea of calculating a global average temperature. My question is, what is the “correct” average (target) temperature, and who decides?”

Ditto.

39. Steven Mosher says:

Thanks roy.

40. ThinkingScientist says:

I think Roy’s argument on No7 is very weak. It is clearly the case that using the Vostok ice core there is a lag of approximately 800 years in the peak cross-correlation between the temperature and CO2 data, with temperature leading CO2. Its a simple point to demonstrate using the downloaded data and a spreadsheet. For that reason, Al Gore’s inclusion of it as irrefutable evidence of globbal warming caused by CO2 is entirely without foundation.

The second point about the rate of increase in CO2 is a non-sequitur. Given the resolution of the Vostok ice core data it is unlikely to “see” rapid changes over short periods.

What we can say about the Vostok ice core data is that there is evidence that there may be a long term, low frequency response where CO2 lags temperature.

Its only by looking at a modern, short term response and corresponding lag that we might identifiy cause and effect between CO2 and temperature on the time scalesof AGW. One hypothesis has been proposed by Murry Salby, as yet interesting but needs developing or refuting.

41. more soylent green! says:

5. ADDING CO2 TO THE ATMOSPHERE HAS NO EFFECT BECAUSE THE CO2 ABSORPTION BANDS ARE ALREADY 100% OPAQUE — I have always been curious about this and I appreciate learning why it’s wrong.

9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE — You can average anything if you have the data. However, we really don’t know the global average temperature for the simple reason we don’t have the data — we measure too few data points and interpolate too many data points, extrapolate too many data points and too much of the data is junk because of poor station placement. The global average temperature is an estimate.

42. CaligulaJones says:

Clear, concise, useful, but perhaps futile: the warmists will demand a list of hundreds of points, until every speck of “gray” becomes black, or white depending on your view.

As mentioned above, #9 is perhaps the most important one, and would be a complete post, or even a complete website, all its own.

I work in health data, and whenever I discuss climate with any of my colleagues, and whenever they point out how clear the warmist argument is, I point out the hours, and hours….and hours of meetings, emails and discussions (often bordering on arguments) about how we measure things. All done by competent, experienced people, and often, totally contradicting each other.

43. point 7. And we know our consumption of fossil fuels is emitting CO2 200 times as fast!
===============
I don’t understand this sentence. 200 times as fast as what?

44. Charles Hart says:

“by Ferd:

1. THERE IS NO GREENHOUSE EFFECT.
Greenhouses warm by limiting vertical circulation, not by blocking outgoing IR. This can be verified by opening a small window in the roof of a greenhouse, or building a greenhouse out of material transparent to outgoing IR.

Does CO2 warm the planet by limiting vertical circulation? If not, then how can it be a greenhouse effect?”

I believe the effect is a a) warmer earth surface or b) a warmer inside greenhouse than would otherwise be the case. The physical mechanism may be different but the effect is the same. Thus it is called a “greenhouse” effect.

45. steveta_uk says:

Roy is well short of his 1000 daft responces on his own blog – I assume that the daft responses on WUWT (which oddly haven’t really started yet) can be added to his count.

46. Jimbo says:

I don’t actually DISAGREE with any of Spencer’s points. I think it’s important to note that there are varying degrees of sceptics. From Lukewarmers to Dragon Slayers and everything else between.

Look, even if you disagree strongly with Spencer this is no way to fight the battle. They will simply call you the ‘D’ word if you say: “THERE IS NO GREENHOUSE EFFECT”. The debate gets bogged down. Assume the points given above are correct and fight from there and only there.

Vostok ice cores show co2 follows temperature rise but that doesn’t mean it’s the cause of today’s relatively rapid rise of co2. I get it.

47. Girma says:

WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND

Roy, gere is what the IPCC says, not skeptics:

CO2 is more soluble in colder than in warmer waters; therefore, changes in surface and deep ocean temperature have the potential to alter atmospheric CO2.

https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch6s6-4.html

48. Jimbo says:

Spencer needs to follow his post with
Top Ten Warmist Arguments that Don’t Hold Water

EG
Co2 is the most important greenhouse gas.

IPCC – Climate Change 2007: Working Group I
Water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas, and carbon dioxide (CO2) is the second-most important one. ”

49. Girma says:

WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND

Roy, here is what the IPCC says, not skeptics:

CO2 is more soluble in colder than in warmer waters; therefore, changes in surface and deep ocean temperature have the potential to alter atmospheric CO2.

https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch6s6-4.html

50. Marc77 says:

The only problem that I have is the certainty that the greenhouse effect warms the nights more than the days. A lot of people feel it it is clear, but no one makes a good proof.

51. John West says:

John West says:

” #7 is most likely true pre-anthropogenic influence”

Now that I’m on a real keyboard I can clarify why I think that’s important. Estimates of climate sensitivity based on proxy data are confounded by atmospheric CO2 concentration increase being a feedback to warming from whatever cause. So when Mann et al say something to the effect of low climate sensitivity is precluded by proxy data they’re claiming to be able to separate forcing from feedbacks in the proxy data. I’m skeptical that’s possible. The crux of the whole debate rests on just how sensitive is the climate at current state to a doubling or quadrupling of atmospheric CO2 concentration.

52. Excellent list, and I’m in agreement with almost all of it.

But like other commenters, I have a problem with #7. There is clear empirical evidence that ∆T causes ∆CO2.

Also, I enjoyed the comment that CO2 is the “elixir of life”. Very true. The whole global warming debate revolves around the demonization of “carbon”.

53. Angech says:

Point 3.0 needs some clarity.
Yes the molecule absorbs the IR and moves faster increasing the temp of the CO2 containing air . But it does bump into other particles which might give them the energy to emit IR. This is happening all the time with the other particles as well so the response time is not instantaneous but is very short. The extra momentum given to the particles by the IR before they can generate IR out I s what causes a temperature rise which stabilises when the new temp causes the IR to be emitted at the same rate as the incoming IR. The fact that the rates of emission and absorption can be different would surely not apply to an air sample in a container at a stable temperature with regard to a stable energy (IR) input would it?
Unless there are other forms on energy going out ??
Which would be twisting the gist of your statement somewhat.

54. “7. WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND The rate of rise in atmospheric CO2 is currently 2 ppm/yr, a rate which is 100 times as fast as any time in the 300,000 year Vostok ice core record.”

Or your reading the ice core record 100 times slower than you should. Tree rings are annual rings ice core rings aren’t.

55. I’m sorry the title is really stupid.

Because if they don’t hold water then they are not skeptical arguments.

56. Jimbo says:
57. Julien says:

Thanks for this good article, although there isn’t any surprise there. Sometimes I’ve doubted point #8, but now I think it’s ok. There are still some obscure areas:

- About point #2, when a photon hits a CO2 molecule, it can be as well transformed into cinetic energy (same as heat at the atomic level), and therefore it can generate convection (and therefore winds). Globaly it concludes that energy is either transformed into heat or wind, but that doesn’t really change anything.

The real argument behind the fact that climate models might break the second law of thermodynamics is because the climate models may neglect convection.

58. barry says:

Bravo!

I am what most people here would call a “warmist.” Having duked it out for years with critics, I am well familiar with the flub that propagates the skeptical side of the debate (I’m sure regulars here would say the same of proponents), and the above is all too familiar. This post is way overdue, and congratulations to WUWT for posting it.

Can I make a request? Can the clear-thinking critics correct others on points such as the above, rather than letting them pass because they support the messaging? I know it does happen, but you will strenghten the position of the skeptical movement in general if you self-correct amongst yourselves with vigour, every time. Because the debate is so polarised and hostile, proponents have little traction, even on matters that Spencer sorts out in the article. Let the skeptical movement be truly skeptical.

To obviate the inevitable tit-for-tat, yes, I try to correct my fellows when I think they err (EG, sea level acceleration/deceleration is not certain from 1900, it is not likely that methane release presents a big problem with current understanding, high CS is not certain, the range of future possibilites is broad, the recent hiatus in surface temperatures is not easily explained away and deserves frank and open discussion). Some may disagree with my implied take on these matters, but the point is – I don’t let comments from my kith pass just because they are in roughly the same direction as my own opinions.

While I am not of the milieu posting regularly here – except that we are all passionate about the debate – I hope like hell there are enough of us who put facts over agenda and politics that we can actually converse and make progress on understanding things, including each other. We do not have to agree, but I hope we can at least agree on some basics and improve the signal to noise ratio in these debates. The ubiquitous guff and reflex pugilism that we all wade through does none of us any good, and I, for one, am heartily sick of it. There are alarmists out there who oversell one side of the story, and there are deniers out there who refuse to acknowledge basic facts. They are the extremists. Let’s not be them.

Again, bravo, Dr Spencer.

59. David A says:

There is more then one straw man in Dr. Spencer’s overall OK post. Basically the CAGW enthusiast all agree, so it is natural that skeptics fall into every other possible camp. This means it will be natural for skeptic’s to have disparate views. It would have been best to call those considering a different view wrong because… The use of the word stupid is antagonizing and counter productive.

Just one example for now is number 4. Very few skeptics claim CO2 ONLY causes cooling. However the question of the net affect is debated rationally and constructively, as the radiation of energy from the top of the atmosphere being the earths only effective way to dissipate energy to space. Questions on the interaction of convection, conduction, evaporation and radiation, which all interact in complicated manners, are very legitimate, and the net affect is not known in any kind of engineering style analysis, such as what Steven McIntyre has consistently called for.

60. Gregory says:

I thought it was all about sensitivity

61. Angech says:

Point 4.0 is a very difficult concept. One take on it would be that the greenhouse gases including CO2 increase in concentration and hence absorb and emit some of the IR back to space immediately. Hence less gets down in the first place. Now what is down there is slowed in its passage out all the way back to the top layer which is now cooler because it has less total energy in the system to heat it up(having reflected/emitted that portion of heat earlier).
The lower layers are hotter despite having less total heat because they are trapping the outgoing heat as extra motion energy(temperature) as per point 3.

62. Jeremy Das says:

9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE

Why is “temperature” so important? Because the thermal IR emission in response to temperature is what stabilizes the climate system….the hotter things get, the more energy is lost to outer space.

Please excuse my ignorance, but I’d be grateful if you would explain why taking the global average of temperature measurements at a height of ~2m [or whatever is the right figure] above ground level is useful for this.

63. Jimbo says:
64. kowalk says:

Thanks for that collection of arguments.
There is something I don’t understand. I always wonder, why an IR-photon on its way from sun to earth surface can be caught by CO2, and if, what is the difference according to its energy for atmosphere, if instead of this CO2 the IR-photon hits the ground, changes to warmth and heats the atmosphere, as well. From a simple point of total energy, it should be the same, or? So why is CO2 in atmosphere worse, since otherwise the IR-photon hits the ground and becomes energy as well (and causes probably the same temperature)? This is what I don’t understand.
Also, for me a ‘greenhouse’ hinders convection and cooling from wind, and keeps therefore its surrounding warmer, not because of any special gas inside. But this is probably only a question of naming, not functionality of CO2 in atmosphere.

65. @Thomas Hogg at 6:17 am
Could Dr Spencer complement this valuable article with its analogue
ie Ten Skeptical Arguments that do hold water?

Absolutely necessary and should immediately follow this post.

66. The physical mechanism may be different but the effect is the same. Thus it is called a “greenhouse” effect.
=============
flying and driving both have the same effect. they transport you from one place to another. yet imagine the confusion it would cause if we gave them the same name, the “transport effect”.

good science is about accuracy. it starts with accurate labels. if you call a horse and a dog a dog, pretty soon you can’t tell if what you have is a horse or a dog.

67. Frank K. says:

I’m a big fan of Dr. Roy Spencer, and agree generally with all of his points. Thanks!

68. mpainter says:

Roy,

It looks like you are getting clobbered on #7. Better prop that one up a bit, if you can. My personal understanding is that warmer SST emits higher CO2. Am I wrong?

mpainter

69. Jimbo says:

There are going to be a lot of comments by the Slayers on this thread so this is my last. Good luck if you can stomach the persistence.

Judith Curry
Sent via email:
Here is one comment that I have received via email, that I have permission to post:

“It is exasperating that results easily demonstrable by simple laboratory experiment continue to be challenged by some members of this group. However superficially ingenious their arguments, they fly in the face of experiments that even children can perform with readily-available materials, as well as contradicting proven results in astrophysical theory. I do not propose to contribute further to this group: it is not a sensible deployment of my time. -”
Monckton of Brenchley

70. Leon0112 says:

While I agree with your anaylsis of #9, I believe the measurement of variables used in climate models is a serious one. In particular, useful chaotic, nonlinear systems require a level of accuracy of initial conditions beyond our ability to measure. This makes constructing climate models that accurately forecast the future difficult, if not impossible. Therefore, the usage of these models by politicians such as Mann displays immense hubris or deceit.

71. Paul and Raymond, I would say there is no “correct” temperature. There are different temperature metrics which are imperfect, but still useful to monitor. The temperature sensors in my refrigerator and freezer only sample a tiny portion of the interior, are probably biased warm or cold compared to the average interior temperature, but still are extremely useful metrics to monitor and keep the fridge running at a useful temperature.

72. Resourceguy says:

I see this as confirmation of my addiction to WUWT as a source for climate science information because I don’t recognize any of these items on the list and I certainly am not aware of “proliferation” of them anywhere. Does the author have some agenda here. More information on where the “proliferation” is coming from would be more insightful than the list itself. I suppose if all blogs were counted equally you could come up with a list like this and call it proliferation.

73. kim says:

Re: The elixir of life. Paleontology clearly(heh) shows that warmer and more CO2 sustains greater total life and greater diversity of life. We’ve not seen that phenomenon halted at any level of warmth or of risen CO2. We’ve certainly seen the devastation to the biome when temps and/or CO2 fall.

We carbon based bits of cosmic dust. Salud!
===========

74. Nothing I would particularly disagree with except I would quibble with no 9

9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE

My main disagreement would be is it a useful measure? It disguises the other things going on, whereby parts of the globe warm, cool, or stay static whilst others are going in the opposite direction.. Its more important to know what regions aren’t conforming to ‘global warming’ and to know why. A belief in one global temperature obviates the need to look at the detail

Also, I would agree with several other comments who asked what was the ideal temperature and WHEN was it reached in the past that we are trying so hard to get back to it.

IMHO this would be a useful list to have as one of the permanent sidebar links and also that it would be useful to have the top 10 stupid warmist points. Good stuff Dr spencer

tonyb

75. I submit that climate science is bad science because it labels “greenhouse effect” by its effect, not by its cause. this leads to scientific confusion and ambiguity, because multiple causes can have the same effect.

76. mpainter, Yes, warmer emits more CO2. Even the IPCC admitted that in an earlier report….they showed a plot of how atmospheric CO2 goes up after a warm El Nino, down after a La Nina. But that does not mean that when we pump CO2 into the atmosphere (at 100x the rate we see in the ice core record), that it won’t cause warming. Both directions of causation can happen….it’s not just one or the other.

77. @Scottish Sceptic at 7:11 am
I’m sorry the title is really stupid.
Because if they don’t hold water then they are not skeptical arguments.

A good point. The title sets up a strawman and paints too broad a brush. My I suggest:

Top Ten Skeptical Anti-CAGW Arguments that Don’t Hold Water
That properly separates the ideas from those who hold them.

78. Here’s something I’d like answered: is there such a thing as a ‘global’ climate? Isn’t climate regional by definition? Mind you, Earth is a region in the solar system. But still, this question bugs me.

79. “greenhouse effect” specifically refers to the net temperature-increasing effect on the lower atmosphere of IR absorbing/emitting gases in the atmosphere. If there is a pop culture definition of the term, I’m not referring to that.

80. what is the formal scientific definition of the term “the greenhouse effect”?

81. Resourceguy, my “agenda” is to take over the world. But shhhh…that’s just between you and me.

82. LamontT says:

Very useful article. I think the problem that some skeptics have is that they know there is something wrong with the CO2 is warming the earth argument and don’t have enough knowledge of either the actual CAGW arguement or what is wrong so they try to explain the problem.

They don’t realize that CO2 is a greenhouse gas that warms the earth is a perfectly reasonable thing and it is the magic multiplier they add with no proof of such a thing that is the problem.

83. richardscourtney says:

Roy W. Spencer:

Thankyou for this excellent list. And I applaud your statement saying

when skeptics embrace “science” that is worse that the IPCC’s science, we hurt our credibility.

All such untruths need to be refuted, and the most damaging of such untruths is the blatantly untrue assertion that IPCC ‘science’ is a left-wing political ploy.

As for your list, I agree them all except that two need clarification.

Your point 9 rightly disputes the assertion that
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE.

But the real problem is that THERE IS NO AGREED DEFINITION OF GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE (GAT).
This means that each team (including yours) which determines GAT provides a different datum from the datum provided by each other team. Indeed, individual teams often change the definition they use so they alter their time series of GAT; see e.g. http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/graphs/giss/hansen-giss-1940-1980.gif

An undefined parameter has no accuracy, no precision, and no reliability.
A much more full assessment of this real problem is provided by Appendix B of this item

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/memo/climatedata/uc0102.htm

Also, your point 7 rightly disputes the assertion that
WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND

However, you go on from that to wrongly assert

The rate of rise in atmospheric CO2 is currently 2 ppm/yr, a rate which is 100 times as fast as any time in the 300,000 year Vostok ice core record. And we know our consumption of fossil fuels is emitting CO2 200 times as fast! So, where is the 100x as fast rise in today’s temperature causing this CO2 rise? C’mon people, think. {snip}

I have “thought” and I know your certainty is misplaced.

As Mike M says at May 1, 2014 at 6:31 am, there are reasons to doubt the ice core data and the stomata data refutes the ice core data.

The existing data is such that the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration can be modeled as being entirely natural, entirely anthropogenic, or some combination of the two. And there is no data which resolves the matter.
(ref. Rorsch A, Courtney RS & Thoenes D, ‘The Interaction of Climate Change and the Carbon Dioxide Cycle’ E&E v16no2 (2005) ).

However, with those clarifications, I strongly support your article.

Richard

84. Bryan says:

This is another defence of the greenhouse effect theory.

There have been a number of posts (some very plausible) about why there must be an increase in the Earth near surface temperature with increased atmospheric CO2.

This they say is due to the greenhouse effect.

They all fail to see the enormous elephant in the room!

Atmospheric CO2 has varied widely historically and in the recent past.
Yet apparently there is no link to surface temperatures.
The recent ‘pause’ in the last 17 years is well documented.

Is it not time to move on and reject the greenhouse theory as a failed conjecture without any link to reality?

85. Julien says:

So it’s mostly about the asumption that may be made that CO2 is an ideal gas.. I do have problems with that.

86. Angech says:

Point 7 yes but warming does increase CO2 production from the sea and in turn the seabed puts more CO2 into the water. It must be valid to say that the increased temp over the last 40 years has increased some of the CO2 load.
This makes the argument that humans have put CO2 up at 200 times the rate of the last 300,000 years which should be 4 ppm/year a little specious as you do say that it has only gone up at 100 times the rate (2 ppm/year) Where did the other 100 times (2ppm/year) go and why has it not caused more warming.
300,000 years is very short in the context of CO2 levels in the atmosphere and ice measurements do not go back much further. Other techniques suggest that CO2 may have risen as fast or much faster at other times in the more distant past and of course without human involvement.
A valid point is where did it come from then?

87. Jaakko Kateenkorva says:

Roy Spencer says: May 1, 2014 at 7:26 am
“Yes, warmer emits more CO2.”

Da. Could you please complete assertion no 7 with it’s explanation accordingly.?

88. Jim s says:

re 9, somebody rat’ed me out!

I supposed, in the abstract there might be such a thing as a Global Mean Temperature but I doubt we will ever be able to accurately compute it. My experience with temperature is that it can change in a few seconds (in changing weather conditions) or in a few meters (in stable weather conditions). So one would have to be able to sample every few hundred cubic meters of atmosphere every few seconds to get an accurate measurement of Global Mean Temperature.

I also question it’s value should we one day be able to compute it. If Antarctica warms by 10C then Global Mean Temperatures would go up, indicating a warming Earth. Antarctica would still be frozen and the rest of the Earth largely unaffected. Dido a colder Antarctica, dedicating a cooling Earth but topics and mid latitudes are unaffected. I think a better approach would be to identify crucial climate regions, regions such as the topics, that drive global weather and monitor their temperature by region to determine if we are in danger of falling into some sort of runaway cycle (either warming or cooling).

What we are really interested in, is the Earth warming, cooling or stable? Is not sea level an excellent proxy for that? Would not it make more sense to look at sea level rise fall to determent a temperature delta and long range temperature trends?

89. John Boles says:

I agree with the article, but still, there are plenty of skeptical arguments that DO hold water.

90. Roy Spencer says:
May 1, 2014 at 7:28 am
“greenhouse effect” specifically refers to the net temperature-increasing effect on the lower atmosphere of IR absorbing/emitting gases in the atmosphere
==========
Dr Spencer, thank you for your reply. You anticipated my next question. In science is it normal to label a physical process by its effect? Isn’t it more correct to label it by its cause? For example, I could label addition by the term “sum” or “summation”, but this could well lead to confusion once I introduce negative numbers. Similarly, using “greenhouse effect” for IR warming could lead to confusion when discussing the role of convection in man made greenhouses.

91. Latitude says:

Top warmest argument that doesn’t hold water….

We know what we’re talking about and it is not based on wonky science and wonky measurements.

92. Angech says:

Whoops fell into 3 of the top 10 traps there but agree with all your other points. Does this make me 7/10ths a true skeptic?
Hope some of the regulars here can point out my errors and save Dr Spencer wasting any valuable time.

93. Tom J says:

I do not wish to quibble with Dr. Spencer’s statement in Number 9 where he states that:
‘Why is “temperature” so important? Because the thermal IR emission in response to temperature is what stabilizes the climate system….the hotter things get, the more energy is lost to outer space.’
However, I wonder if the concept of an average temperature presents such an infinite number of ways in which to measure, and interpret that average, that it may be so meaningless that a statement that there is no such thing could be valid. For instance, we all know that a room temperature will go up slightly when it’s full of people, or drop slightly when they leave. This small temperature change is largely irrelevant. But, while they are occupying that room, the individual body temperatures of the people within it are also part of the average temperature that is measured of that room. And, if their body temperatures change, either individually, or en mass, just a few degrees, while it will have an almost unmeasurable difference in the room’s overall temperature it will still be hugely consequential to those people. It will indicate whether they are alive, dead, healthy, or sick. How does one, then, interpret a change in temperature measurement, up or down, of that room?

94. Richard, I like that last quote from your article. The uncertainty you state is similar to what I conclude about climate sensitivity, the cause of recent warming, and other matters.

95. Jeff Alberts says:

Sure you can calculate an average, but it won’t have any physical meaning, only mathematical. It doesn’t represent the energy in the system. It also gives the false impression, to those who don’t know better, that all points on the surface of the planet warm and cool at the same rate. Global Average Temperature (Or anomaly or whatever) is simply a fiction used by both sides to beat each other over the head.

96. Dung says:

Daft response number 1 ^.^

Mr Spencer makes a mistake common to many on both sides of this argument, he assumes that current scientific theories (i.e. theories emanating from qualified scientists) are correct.
Mr Spencer understands the currently accepted science and uses it to back his position.
Scientific knowledge is transient, today it is state of the art but tomorrow it is disproved.
I am sure there will be a time when our knowledge gets close to perfect but right now we are in the foothills of knowledge abut climate.
Logic is a far better guide than science for the foreseeable future.
As someone already pointed out, The ice core records show that over long periods temperature rises before levels of CO2. We do not not know how or why but that is what the ice core records show. The figures are questioned only by the true (it seems to me) need to take into account the period when ice is not totally frozen solid and molecules are still able to move up. However that process takes decades not thousands of years and therefore does not change the basic observations.
The world has done a real experiment and in that experiment CO2 levels rise after temperature; I trust that experimental result far more than any theories.
What we are all getting excited about is a very very short term record of events that we do not fully understand, However the Earth has given you experimental proof of what the relationship is.

97. If there’s one average temperature, then there are at least two of them. Temperature on its own is a meaningless thing to average, you can only do so relative to some standard, so:

1) The temperature that will tell you a body’s total heat content: heat content average, if you like. This is not the same as:

2) The temperature that will tell you the rate at which the body radiates. This differs from (1) because radiation is proportional to T^4.

98. pokerguy says:

One that really annoys me is the “trace gas” argument, as in “how could a trace gas necessary for life etc etc…?” It’s a favorite of Joe Bastardi for one, who should know better.

99. Roy Spencer,

I think your positions do debunk those skeptical positions, but was your use of the unprofessional ‘stupid’ and ‘ludicrous’ words necessary? Oh, yes, I see they were because your goal was to get 1,000+ nasty comments. You could have just used professional scientific words like; contrary to observation,, incorrect, unsupported, etc.

My esteem for you is lowered somewhat today. Personally, Lindzen’s approach of never taunting and always low key polite behavior serves science incomparably better than your approach with this article’s unbecoming unprofessionalism.

John

100. John: No question that Dick’s tolerance for frustration is much higher than mine. I am who I am.

101. mpainter says:

Thanks to Roy Spencer for the airing of these issues. Also thanks to Richard Courtney for a well-considered comment. This is a very worthwhile posting.

102. …actually, the way Dick handles this is to avoid engaging people. My downfall is engaging them, repeatedly, hoping they can at least understand what they are talking about before trying to debunk it. This leads to frustration, and then to bad manners.

103. Ima says:

I was a “true believer” in #5. Thank you for the clarification.

104. JimS says:

I think you wrote an excellent article, Dr. Spencer. We should now be looking for a follow up article, entitled the 10 top valid skeptic arguments against AGW.

105. Dr Spencer,

I still have a problem with #7. There are numerous charts showing that ∆T is the cause of ∆CO2. Can you please post a similar chart, showing that ∆CO2 is the cause of ∆T?

Causation is central to your #7 argument. If there is empirical evidence that the added CO2 causes a rise in temperature, then there should certainly be a chart showing that. I’ve looked, but I can’t find one. It would help my understanding if I could view such a chart. As someone upthread said:

The world has done a real experiment and in that experiment CO2 levels rise after temperature; I trust that experimental result far more than any theories. What we are all getting excited about is a very very short term record of events that we do not fully understand, However the Earth has given you experimental proof of what the relationship is.

CO2 causes global warming. But not much at current concentrations. And there appears to be no evidence that CO2 causes measurable warming. Please correct me if that is wrong. A chart like this would be very helpful.

106. Sparks says:

It’s all driven by the sun and Earths orbital parameters, except for human CO2 production, which is a benefit to the planet.

If human CO2 production was compared to a volcano in terms of CO2 production , What scale would this hypothetical “human volcano” be, would it be equivalent to a large or small active volcano?

107. Dear Dr. Roy and Anthony,

I am a Hero of the Workers Soviet (i.e. Simple Red Neck Union Worker, now retired) and don’t have the education to comment on the technical side. However, I enjoyed your post and think that it is a valuable addition. The only way I have to let you know how I feel is to make a reply although it adds little to the discourse. I would find it a convenience if Anthony re-instated the “Like” button. Besides, it would save your gentle readers the time of reading a reply that adds little.

Regards,
Steamboat Jack (Jon Jewett’s evil twin)

108. Latitude says:

engage us with #7……causation vs correlation

I’m not going to be convinced with a say so….

When you can pump CO2 into a greenhouse, in the thousands ppm, without oceans and everything else, and watch CO2 levels drop to limiting in one day….
When you have to constantly pump CO2 into tanks to grow aquatic plants….or they strip all of the CO2 out in minutes

Both of those simple real life examples….show how fast CO2 levels can drop

…and we are not pumping no where near that much CO2 into the atmosphere

109. SDB says:

“9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE”

Ok, well “there is no such thing” as any average. Taking an average is a statistical tool. Assuming we can caluclate it accurately, the question is: does an average tell us something meaningful or useful?

Does global average temperature tell us any meanginful or useful information?

Maybe, maybe not. I’m not sure. It’s something I’ve been pondering.

110. evanmjones says:

Agree with Mosh.

111. Well
If you don’t want a response
Why post highly contested statements?

112. Phil. says:

Because the thermal IR emission in response to temperature is what stabilizes the climate system….the hotter things get, the more energy is lost to outer space.

Not strictly true, the energy lost to outer state is equal to the energy received from the sun, if that doesn’t increase then the loss doesn’t change. What changes is the temperature distribution in the atmosphere and where the energy is lost from.

113. spen says:

But temperature as a metric on its own is not a measure of heat. Even from a simple basis surely humidity is a vital factor. Unless it is assumed that humidity is constant at each measuring point over the years, the record of temperature does not necessarily mirror changes in heat. The data is incomplete.

114. Dung says:

ups I realise my error

I should have shown respect and used Dr and not Mr when describing Roy Spencer, I do apologise and no disrespect was intended :(

115. Robert W Turner says:

My only problem with this post is that I haven’t considered anyone making these arguments to be a skeptic; I think there are more appropriate terms for them. Good post though, we don’t need people claiming to be skeptical saying these things. Now how about a top 10 list of debated hypotheses that the AGW cultists confuse as facts.

116. Julien says:

If someone on this planet shall see the contradiction in seeing CO2 causing ocean acidification and CO2 being an ideal gas.. Or explain if i’m wrong?

117. G. Karst says:

Picking at scabs only makes the condition worse.

Are there no hypothesis previously considered “ludicrous” which later became mainstream and accepted thought?!

In climate science, I would be careful, at which glass houses… I throw stones at. GK

118. Jaakko Kateenkorva says:

“pokerguy says: May 1, 2014 at 7:49 am
One that really annoys me is the “trace gas” argument, as in “how could a trace gas necessary for life etc etc…?”

Your sentiment on that point is regrettable. Is there a better argument to protect the fundamental rights and democracy in this era of anti-CO2 (=anti-life)? After all, CO2 is not the only thing we (=skeptics and alarmists alike) are blamed for, but it’s the first we can falsify.

119. I’m sorry, but I can’t agree with this list. It “has issues”. Some large, some small.

Largest, IMHO, is the notion that the temperature of a bath tub means an average of 1000 thermometers “has meaning”. It doesn’t. Temperature is an intrinsic property. As such, averaging it loses meaning.

https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/intrinsic-extrinsic-intensive-extensive/

So measuring “a bathtub” is measuring one thing, not an average of 1000 different things. The Global average of thermometers is devoid of meaning. It may still have some (very limited) use, in that there will be some correlations with some other things; but that is not the same as a temperature. Just isn’t.

For others, my quibbles are smaller. Take “no greenhouse effect”. Two quibbles. A real greenhouse is a convection block, not an IR effect. There is no greenhouse effect from CO2, though there might be an IR effect. Then, in the IR effect, the interactions rapidly have complexity that exceeds the ability to compute. It ends up in philosophical hand waving. So lower CO2 warms, then convection moves the air up and dumps heat at altitude, where CO2 cools. Net? More mass flow not higher temperatures. Hand wave away…

For #2 and #3, your argument depends on that heat transmission to non-CO2 to have no subsequent heat dump. We know convection will move it away rapidly. Other modes? How about water evaporation? Air is NOT a dry medium. So is there NO possibility for CO2 absorbed heat to be removed via some other molecule radiating? In other bands and perhaps at other altitudes? I know, not quite the same as the CO2 itself doing the deed, but your dismissal also dismisses the question of what DOES happen. It doesn’t just heat up and lay there…

BTW, your argument per the 2nd law (clothing) is also confounding convection blocking with IR. Bogus example, IMHO. Instead, stand naked in an Alaskan winter surrounded by IR mirrors 2 meters away. Surely all that reflected IR will keep you warmer… (Maybe a smidge, but it will be hard to measure with all that convection freezing your bottom…) So aside from the example of clothes being bogus, it ignores the magnitude relative to convection / conduction… Looking at the bits in isolation isn’t very useful. So yeah, IR goes both ways, but clothing it isn’t…

On #4 the missing word is net. That’s the whole question. Is it a NET warmer or cooler? IMHO it is a net cooler. In the stratosphere is radiates away heat. Below that point, it just changes the rate of evaporation / convection and the IR behaviour is not relevant. See the graph here:

Note that CO2 is radiating like crazy in the stratosphere but below that, in the troposphere, it is near zero. Notice that water does the deed in the troposphere. The simple fact is that H2O drives tropophere physics, CO2 works in the stratosphere, where it is a NET cooler. (No idea if that net cooling matters in the long run, though…) That graph from this posting that contains the attribution:

https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/tropopause-rules/

For #5, you ignore altitude. A critical flaw. See the diagram just above. At troposphere altitudes, the CO2 IR is not relevant, broadened or not. At stratosphere altitudes, it is not pressure broadened. Another example of using a hypothetical argument based on physics principles instead of looking at the actual activity (see chart…)

In general, my “complaint” about this kind of “put this discussion off limits” mandate is that it hides more than it illuminates. Yes, in many cases folks make a broken form of argument from the points you raised, and things would be better off if they didn’t. But, no, that does not mean those arguments are void and empty of use or interest. Frankly, the Global Average Temperature one is a great example. How many of you really realize / understand the difference between an intrinsic and extrinsic property? How many know that an average of temperatures is devoid of meaning? Yes, you can average them. Yes, it MAY correlate with some things. But a temperature it isn’t… Like the average of phone numbers by State will have an artifact of Area Code that vaguely correlates with geography, but is meaningless as a phone number…

I do agree it would be good to make a “best arguments” list, and even a “weak arguments” list (where the defects in some of the things you listed could be laid out); but calling them off limits is, IMHO, over the top. It’s too easy to substitute one appeal to authority for another and miss things like intrinsic / extrinsic or actual behaviour of CO2 IR with altitude…

120. Don Easterbrook says:

Roy,
I am a big fan of yours—in fact you might say I’m a very big fan of yours. I pore over your regular postings of satellite temperatures and read your blog regularly—all really good stuff. But the logic in your #7 seems to be way off base so I’m hoping you will amend it appropriately. #7 says:

“7. WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. The rate of rise in atmospheric CO2 is currently 2 ppm/yr, a rate which is 100 times as fast as any time in the 300,000 year Vostok ice core record. And we know our consumption of fossil fuels is emitting CO2 200 times as fast! So, where is the 100x as fast rise in today’s temperature causing this CO2 rise? C’mon people, think. “ The logic here seems to be that if warming causes CO2 to rise and CO2 is rising rapidly, we need a 100 times faster rise in temperature to account for the elevated CO2. What’s wrong with this logic? Think about it. No one is saying that today’s elevated CO2 was caused by warming because there is a totally unrelated cause of higher CO2 that has nothing to do with warming as a cause!! IT’S CLEAR THAT THE TODAY’S HIGHER CO2 LEVELS ARE DUE TO INCREASED HUMAN EMISSIONS, NOT GLOBAL WARMING so we don’t need to look for 100 times global warming. Your argument seems to say that warming does NOT cause CO2 to rise and that is clearly not correct. The chemistry of CO2 equilibrium in sea water clearly shows that warming of sea water releases CO2 into the atmosphere and since three fourths of the globe consists of oceans, that means warming causes a lot of oceanic CO2 to be released into the atmosphere. This is confirmed in ice cores where CO2 lags temperature by hundreds of years as interglacial climates warmed from ice ages (see Jo Nova’s post on this). Here is what I wrote in Chap 5 of the NIPCC 2013 report (Easterbrook, Ollier, and Carter, 2013):

“Changes in carbon dioxide content lag their equivalent temperature events by between several hundred and 2,000 years in Antarctic ice cores (see Figures 5.7.1 and 5.7.2). Changes in carbon dioxide level cannot be the proximate cause of the warmings and coolings seen. Fischer et al. (1999) established CO2 lagged temperature by 600 ± 400 years as the climate warmed from an ice age. Monnin et al. (2001) found warming from the last major ice age preceded rise in CO2 by 800 ± 600 years. Caillon et al. (2003) documented that rise in temperature preceded rise in CO2 in the Vostok core by 800 ± 200 years. Mudelsee (2001) recognized temperature over the past 420,000 years preceded changes in CO2 by 1,300 years ± 1,000 in the Vostok core. Petit et al. (1999) analyzed 420,000 years of the Vostok core and found as the climate cooled into an ice age, the CO2 decrease lagged by several thousand years. Measurements of recent and modern temperature and CO2 changes show the same lead-lag effect (Figure 5.7.3).” Humlum, Stordahl, and Solheim, J. (2012) showed that even short warming intervals from 1982-2012 were followed by increased atmospheric CO2.

So, Roy, I hope you will amend your statement #7 to acknowledge that your argument there would be true only if warming was the ONLY cause of elevated CO2 (which is clearly not the case), and to add that both ice core and recent evidence indicates that warming does indeed cause increased atmospheric CO2, but it isn’t the only cause of increased CO2.

With best regards.

121. The other Phil says:

I see pokerguy beat me to it, but can I go all Spinal Tap and suggest a #11?

The claim that because CO2 is a trace gas, comprising only 400 ppm in the atmosphere, so therefore cannot do all the things it is claimed to do, is an argument that drive me bonkers.

If you really believe that, would you mind drinking this water, laced with 400 ppm of arsenic? After all, how can it possibly be enough to do anything to you?

Dr. Spencer has done a great job of stabbing strawmen. I have challenged on points 1, 4 & 10 at his site. I would not expect him to respond. After all his error in point 10 is a 98C error with regard to the oceans totally destroys both the warmist and lukewarmer arguments. Without atmospheric cooling or DWLWIR, our oceans would be at +80C not -18C.

Instead of repeating my full rebuttal of points 1,4 & 10 I will post my top 9 list of games and tricks used by AGW believers and lukewarmers to show CO2 causing warming instead of cooling of the atmosphere -

1. THE TWO LAYER GAME.
The claim – SW heated sphere surrounded by a SW transparent shell of lower emissivity will be driven to a higher temperature by IR exchange between the shells.

The tricks – Conductive coupling between the shells never solved simultaneously. Tmean for the inner shell in absence of the outer always incorrectly calculated.

2. THE EEH / ERL GAME
The claim – Atmospheric OLR can be assumed to be being radiated from an Effective Emission Height or level and the temperature of this can be determined and surface temperature back calculated via lapse rate.

The tricks – EEH is a mathematical fiction with no basis in reality and no supporting empirical measurement. (NO, satellites looking down and ground looking up won’t do.) The atmosphere is provably not radiating 255 w/m2 from a shell or layer. It is radiating in 3D from different altitudes, in differing amounts at different times. Radiative gases present a far greater surface area that vertical dimension only IR opacity assumptions indicate.

3. IR OPACITY ABSORPTION/EMISSION LEVEL GAME.
The claim – Due to IR opacity radiative gases warm at low altitude and cool at high attitude.

The trick – Speed of vertical circulation held constant for increasing concentration of radiative gases to show surface warming.

4. THE FROZEN OCEANS GAME.
The claim – black body calcs show a -18C Tmean for the oceans without DWLWIR to warm them or atmospheric cooling.

The tricks – black body calcs are out by 98C. DWLWIR cannot heat or slow the cooling rate of liquid water that is free to evaporatively cool. Empirical experiment shows SW heated water reaches >80C in the absence of atmospheric cooling or DWLWIR.

The claims – A non-radiative atmosphere would have its temperature set by surface Tmean

The tricks – Diurnal cycle and atmospheric circulation ignored (surface Tmax would drive the temp of such an atmosphere not Tav). Conductive cooling and heating of the atmosphere by the surface held equal despite gravity. Loss of effective conductive cooling ignored in calculating surface temp.

6. THE CLOUDS DON’T COOL GAME.
The claim – clouds reduce incoming solar SW but increase DWLWIR for no net effect.

The trick – DWLWIR has no effect on ocean temps, therefore no effect over 71% of the planet.

7. THE “AVERAGES” GAME
The claim – calculating incoming solar as constant 240 w/m2 is just fine.

The trick – It only works for superconducting materials of zero volume. Incoming solar peaks at ~1000 w/m2 and not using the correct figure or diurnal cycle for the heating of transparent materials with slow internal non-radiative energy transports will always give the wrong answer. That would be 71% of the planets surface.

The claim – Initially radiative gases cause cooling and drive convective circulation, but after a “certain concentration” they start to become less effective radiators. (yes, Pierrehumbert actually tried this one).

The tricks – there is no fixed ERL in the atmosphere. Gases cannot be treated as solid in terms of a radiator re-radiating its own fins.

9. THE TRENBERTHIAN POLE-WISE ENERGY FLOW GAME.
The claim – Atmospheric circulation is primarily driven by equator to pole energy flow, with OLR being just a feedback from adiabatic compression in the descending leg of circulation cells.

The tricks – Massive buoyancy changes due to evaporation ignored. Vertical circulation is the shortest route for energy escape to space from the surface. Empirical evidence shows IR emission from ascending translating and descending air masses in Hadley circulation.

Ultimately it is Dr. Spencers fist-biting mistake in his point 10 that invalidates not just AGW but the entire radiative GHE hypothesis itself. Using IR emissivity alone and treating the oceans as a near blackbody instead of a SW selective coating results in a 98C error for the surface of the oceans in absence of atmospheric cooling and DWLWIR. The physics behind this is old news. Researchers at Texas A&M found that black covers on solar ponds worked far worse than clear covers in 1965. But I suppose the basic physics of selective coatings is just a little too basic to be included in the “settled science” ;-)

123. barry says:

kowalk @ here,

There is something I don’t understand. I always wonder, why an IR-photon on its way from sun to earth surface can be caught by CO2, and if, what is the difference according to its energy for atmosphere, if instead of this CO2 the IR-photon hits the ground, changes to warmth and heats the atmosphere, as well. From a simple point of total energy, it should be the same, or?

CO2 is virtually transparent to short-wave radiation from the sun, but opaque to infrared radiation upwelling from the Earth’s surface. Little incoming solar radiation is “caught” (absorbed) by CO2, the bulk of absorption occurs from the Earth radiating heat it has accumulated from the sun.

124. Gregory says:

A helpful process of debate would not be to refer to them as “Top 10 list of stupid skeptic arguments”

125. HK says:

#9 “Is there an average temperature of your bathtub full of water? Or of a room in your house?”

I agree with others that this could do with a lot more explanation. You might be able to calculate an average temperature for a room, or a bathtub, but what about a bathroom, when the tub is filled with water? And how meaningful is the “average temperature” when a hot dry room would be affected by the introduction of water, which would absorb energy by becoming water vapour, thereby reducing average temperature?

Is it meaningful to average temperatures that have totally different energy contents? For example, sub-freezing air will be much drier, and so have much less energy. Can we just average that with other temperatures?

That is to say nothing about the issues of measurement precision, accuracy and comparability, especially when the records are adjusted, including over many decades.

126. Dung says:

What we are entitled to say about CO2 is “We think that CO2 has a warming effect but we do not know how big or how small”

We are not entitled to say that CO2 causes warming; the last 17 years proves that beyond doubt.

“There is an unknown quantity of factors that affect temperature, we do not even know what they all are but we think CO2 would tend to be a warming factor”.

127. Ralph Kramden says:

A minor point on item 2, the 2nd law of thermodynamics deals with entropy and reversibility. The 0th law of thermodynamics says heat always flows from a higher temperature to a lower temperature. Overall I like the paper it makes some good points.

128. Stephen Rasey says:
May 1, 2014 at 7:19 am

“@Thomas Hogg at 6:17 am
Could Dr Spencer complement this valuable article with its analogue
ie Ten Skeptical Arguments that do hold water?

Absolutely necessary and should immediately follow this post.”

I agree with Stephan and Thomas. I have never used any of these 10 arguments (thankfully), but what are the top 10 best skeptical arguments??
I never read the Skeptics Handbook, but maybe Jo Nova could help on this. I really like her 50 to 1 YouTube interview – there are 4 major points that the warmists cannot answer…

129. Gregory says:

@The other Phil

We all know that 400 ppm of CO2 is different than 400 ppm arsenic. This is a poor analogy.

130. Peter says:

Regarding #5; This is the “CO2 logarithmic’ argument, yes? However, does the pressure broadening effect have any meaningful effect for a trace gas in Earth’s atmosphere? Perhaps if we had CO2 as 10, 20, or 30% of the atmosphere the pressure broadening effect would be meaningful … but would it not be correct to say that “in the context of the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere, the effect of adding more CO2 to the atmosphere is essentially zero since at the current pressure, the absorption bands are saturated.”? Just wondering….

131. [SNIP - DO NOT ASSUME YOU KNOW WHAT WE (ROY AND I) THINK OR KNOW. I DO NOT LIKE HAVING WORDS PUT IN MY MOUTH - ANTHONY]

132. Wyatt says:

Dr Spencer,
Wonderful post.
However, I haven’t heard some of these “arguments” until today and have been unsuccessful in finding articles, posts, or youtube clips for a couple of the items on your list. To put the “melting icing on the cake” would be if the title of each argument was a link to an example of that argument being used in context.

133. barry says:

Resourceguy @ here,

I see this as confirmation of my addiction to WUWT as a source for climate science information because I don’t recognize any of these items on the list and I certainly am not aware of “proliferation” of them anywhere. Does the author have some agenda here. More information on where the “proliferation” is coming from would be more insightful than the list itself. I suppose if all blogs were counted equally you could come up with a list like this and call it proliferation.

Read through the thread. Points 4, 7 and 9 are being contested by plenty of people. This is because those views are proliferated in the climate blogs articles and comments sections.

Eg, a few posts upthread of yours,

It looks like you are getting clobbered on #7. Better prop that one up a bit, if you can. My personal understanding is that warmer SST emits higher CO2. Am I wrong?

Transposing the ice age lead/lag relationship between temperature/CO2 onto the modern age is an extremely prolific trope in the climate blogosphere. I’m genuinely surprised you are not aware of it.

For those “clobbering” number 7, yes, ocean outgassing of CO2 lagged warming transitions from glacial periods in the geologic records. But that is not what is happening now. The evidence is conclusive. Simple arithmetic is all it takes. Human industry has emitted twice as much as the increase in atmospheric concentrations. It can’t be coming from the oceans, because CO2 in the oceans has been increasing at the same time. Oceans are absorbing about half of the CO2 human industry has omitted. These are not the only evidence, by a long shot, but they are hard to refute. Where is all the anthro CO2 going? And how is the system squirreling it away while pumping out the supposedly natural CO2?

This is an argument that sincere critics definitely need to let go of.

134. DirkH says:

“9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE Really?! Is there an average temperature of your bathtub full of water? Or of a room in your house? Now, we might argue over how to do the averaging (Spatial? Mass-weighted?), but you can compute an average, and you can monitor it over time, and see if it changes. The exercise is only futile if your sampling isn’t good enough to realistically monitor changes over time.”

The surface temperature measurement with thermometers is therefore futile. (violates Shannon’s theorem)

135. accordionsrule says:

I’m a little confused by #5.
“THE CO2 ABSORPTION BANDS ARE ALREADY 100% OPAQUE. First, no they are not,”
Makes it sound like absorption bands come in shades of gray. Would it be more accurate to say slayers believe absorption in the CO2 wavelengths is already 100% complete?
“and that’s because of pressure broadening.”
Does a higher percentage of CO2 make the air more dense?
“Second, even if the atmosphere was 100% opaque, it doesn’t matter.”
The slayers don’t say the atmosphere is opaque. Maybe some CAGWs do.

136. barry says:

The article has inspired some excellent questions, even if they seem basic. Like how climate is defined, or how the greenhouse effect is defined. Good critical analysis returns to the basics as understanding evolves, to clarify issues, or to see if the basics require modification. A warmist could not have inspired this kind of genuine inquiry, and I remain admiring of Spencer’s article for promoting such investigation.

137. Brian says:

#9 – Of course there’s a calculable average global temperature. How useful that is to establishing past long term trends in the face of inconsistent instrument records, comparative proxies and varying grids is a a very real question.

138. rgbatduke says:

I actually have a couple of questions generated from the list above — serious ones I hope.

First, pressure broadening. Yes, I understand exactly where pressure broadening comes from — it is associated with the phase interruption brought about by collisions that alter the shape/width of the IIRC Lorentzian associated with any given emission line. The collisions don’t add energy (on average) but the phase interruption ensures that the fourier transform of the emission line gets fatter. No problem.

My problem is that I cannot for the life of me understand why pressure broadening should depend in any way on the partial pressure of CO_2. It should depend on the pressure, to be sure, and the density, without any doubt and the temperature — basically on the mean free time between collisions. Collisions with anything, not just CO_2 – CO_2 collisions.

Now is somebody asserting the increasing atmospheric CO_2 from 300 ppm to 600 ppm is going to increase the absolute pressure of the atmosphere anywhere in any measurable way? Or am I very confused about pressure broadening and does it in fact depend on partial pressure of particular species? Because this is one thing I just don’t get…

A second nit to pick might be the discussion of global average temperature. The problem isn’t that one cannot define a global average temperature — the problem is that global average temperature is a poor, and enormously variable, metric for energy balance. Temperature is useful in e.g. 1st law discussions as it represents internal energy via the equipartion theorem (or more sophisticated stat mech sums). It isn’t a perfect tool even there, as one has various constraints on any “system” that one wishes to assign a temperature (as it is already an average quantity!). One requires some sort of coarse graining — chunks of matter large enough that they have a reasonably uniform average internal energy — and a “quasi-static” approximation where that average internal energy isn’t changing too fast. This becomes apparent when one actually writes down differential equations derived from first law concepts for dynamical evolution — one perforce has to include things like the heat capacity for the materials/objects (possibly the differential specific heats for extended media) in order to discuss how heat flowing into an otherwise closed system changes its temperature, and even elementary treatments quickly lead one to write down things like the heat equation. Generalizing the reasoning associated with the heat equation to include convection, generalizing it still further to include radiation, generalizing it one last time (in the context of the actual planetary climate) to include latent heat — all of which are highly NON-linear phenomena where the initial discussion of “temperature” as a valid context was highly linearized — one ends up with a really, really hard problem, one where “average temperature” isn’t a terribly useful construct. Compare, for example, 1 kilogram of water at 100C in liquid form to 1 kilogram of water at 100C in vapor form. Yeouch! Not exactly the same amount of internal energy…

This is hardly an irrelevant example in climate science. If Trenberth’s “missing heat” has gone into the ocean, it raises the average temperature of the ocean by an amount so small that it is probably not resolvable with current instrumentation (as I am “skeptical” that we can measure the average temperature of the oceans to millidegree resolution). If that same heat goes into the atmosphere, it raises the temperature enormously — or rather, it doesn’t because the atmosphere cools faster as it warms so temperature increases are self-limited (and predictable only by solving a very difficult nonlinear system). If the missing heat goes into latent heat at the ocean’s surface, it is then mobilized for comparatively rapid transport vertically to heights where, as you note, GHGs actively cool. Predicting the nonlinear dynamics again involves solving complex systems of PDEs in a context where “average temperature” is utterly useless as a metric. It isn’t even clear if “average enthalpy” — the quantity average temperature is supposed in some sense to mirror — is useful.

The problem is that “the Earth” can heat at constant average temperature within our ability to resolve it. It can cool (as in lower its total internal energy) as average temperature rises the ways we currently try to measure it. Our ability to precisely measure energy flow in and out even at the TOA is still highly limited. And everything is nonlinear and complex to the point where — in my opinion — it is still basically incomputable as a meaningful solution to a well-posed problem in physics.

So I agree with you that global average temperature is — something. It is what it is, even though it keeps “changing” as people keep changing the algorithms and data sets used to compute it, especially in the remote past where the errors in measurement and method probably exceed the difference in the current metric and the past estimates. It isn’t irrelevant to discussions of climate, but neither is it the single parameter that it has been turned into supposedly reflecting anthropogenic warming. It is also a quantity that has — in my opinion — countless thumbs on the supposedly objective scales. And then we can discuss the problems with kriging the data, especially kriging with highly sparse lat/long grids mapped into the surface of a sphere with its polar divergence in the spherical-polar Jacobean (one of many reasons I don’t take estimates of temperature in 1890 seriously, even given a very sparse land surface record in parts of the world — the oceans at 70% and whole continents like Antarctica are essentiall unrepresented AT ALL).

Honestly, it is one or the reasons I like RSS and UAH LTT. Very nearly global in extent, reasonably consistent in measurement technology, not horribly sparse, and largely resistant to human confirmation bias and influence, it isn’t “the average temperature” of Earth, but it is what it is, and one can reasonably expect climate changes to be reflected in it over sufficient time. It is also a boundary condition, of sorts, on surface temperature estimates and helps keep them honest when they are far more easily manipulated by data selection and adjustement, sparse, heavily kriged, and STILL undersample vast surface areas of the globe while heavily oversampling others.

rgb

139. gnomish says:

i find fallacy here:
” So, where is the 100x as fast rise in today’s temperature causing this CO2 rise?”
who said you need to boil the beer to release the dissolved co2? have a look at al gore’s famous chart while you’re at it. and 100 times almost nothing is still almost nothing.

and global temperature average? puhleeze. you got one testicle and one ovary? i don’t think there’s any point in this sort of numerology.

140. Resourceguy says:

@author
Touchy touchy, and cheery picked comment at that

141. mpainter says:

Your comment makes me wish that I had a better foundation in physics. Some of your points seem very cogent. Your comments on the assumed black-body character of the earth is a revelation and rings true. It seems that a lot of re-thinking is needed on this business of radiation physics. For example, it has always seemed to me that the so-called “effective radiation level” (ERL) is a contrivance that cannot be supported and is well refuted by other considerations.

142. barry says:

Hi Richard S Courtney,

But the real problem is that THERE IS NO AGREED DEFINITION OF GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE (GAT).
This means that each team (including yours) which determines GAT provides a different datum from the datum provided by each other team.

I see the differing approaches as a strength allowing for cross-verification (or not). If everyone was doing exactly the same thing, and making the same errors, how would we know the difference without other methods to check against? The UAH record was improved by having another group (RSS) processing the same data differently.

143. pokerguy says:

. “THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE”

It’s an abstraction, like any average. It exists of course, but ultimately in the mind. The real question it seems to me is, is it useful?

144. Coach Springer says:

I went to the post when it was first referenced and have seen most of Dr. Spencer’s points before that . #7 puzzles me most.

All I can ascertain from #7 (Temperature controls CO2, not the other way) and its explanations is that both are true and neither are true – that neither is the primary controlling factor for the other on this planet and it’s a mistake in approach to think that it’s got to be one thing or the other when it’s very, very likely (99% by my own IPCC-styled deterministic approach) a combination of many, many, many factors known, known to be unknown, and of unknown unknowns.

“Is it CO2 or isn’t it” helps eliminate all other considerations and makes indiscriminant exercise of the precautionary principle in the face of an unproven and totally imagined horrific disaster seem reasonable.

145. Reg Nelson says:

9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE Really?! Is there an average temperature of your bathtub full of water?
—–
Yes, but what is it?

Let’s say you fill the bathtub with hot water and measure the temperature of 100 F. An hour later it is 85 F, another hour it has dropped to room temperature of 72F, where it remains.

So what is the average temperature for the water in the tub that day? If you use Min\Max the answer is 86 F. If you measure the temperature every hour the weighted average is 73.71 F.

Let’s say you repeat the experiment the next day, but take the first measurement an hour after the tub has been filled (Time of observation bias). The Min\Max average then becomes 78.5F.

Years later, after installing a new water heater (Urban Heat Island effect) you repeat the experiment and discover the average bathtub water temp has risen.

You expand the experiment to determine the GABT (Global Average Bathtub Temperature), but two thirds of the households (representing the oceans) don’t have tubs, they have showers, so no data from them. And of the remaining third, in many parts of the world they don’t have thermometers (weather stations), so no data from those areas.

Despite these issues, you massage\extrapolate the data and come up with a GABT number and claim it is rising because of some X factor. And the Bathtub Water Science is settled.

PS Where’s my grant money?

146. Dan W. says:

I also dispute #9 and find Dr. Spencer’s room analogy sorely lacking. The average temperature of a single room might be useful, but would it be useful to take a temperature of all rooms in a house, from basement to attic, and average them? Not only does each room have a different utility but the statistical properties of each room are very different. For example, rooms directly exposed to the sun will show a much wider temperature change then rooms that are not. Put simply, no one would make a decision about how to control the temperature in all the rooms of a house by considering the average temperature of all rooms in the house. Rather one would consider the temperature range in each room of the house.

Another issue with a global average temperature is it promotes ignorance of the complexity of the global climate. For example, what does it mean when the pattern of changes in the global average temperature differ from the pattern of changes in continent average temperatures. Or what does it mean if the long temperature record in a given city shows little evidence of “global warming” but the global average does?

I suggest if one wants to talk about a “global average” then one be careful about presenting all of the regional measurements that make up the average. This way one can have a much better idea of what temperature measurements are contributing most to changes in the average.

147. Steven Burnett says:

To be fair to those whose feathers have been ruffled, Dr. Spencer replied in the comments section of his blog to many of these concerns. Particularly to some of the more nuanced arguments such as 7. For those who are upset I suggest you head over and actually read the responses. I do agree with what many have said better phrasing could have prevented the untimely deaths of many a straw man.

148. Carrick says:

It’s probably worth tweaking the language to address the fact that the atmospheric greenhouse gas effect is different than greenhouse effect seen in an actual greenhouse.

rgbatduke, probably global mean temperature isn’t the most useful metric (anomalized or absolute) for the physical measurement of the impact of anthropogenic activity on the Earth’s climate system. But it is one of the most economically important metrics, which is why there is so much focus on it: We live near the surface of the Earth, the temperature matters for us, so it is discussed. Whether the deep sea increases by 0.01°C matters less than whether the surface air temperature increases by 1°C.

Ironically, Nick Stokes, hardly a climate sciences skeptic, was one of the people making the absurd argument you couldn’t measure the absolute temperature of the Earth.

149. Rob says:

Well, apart from the No.9 (which seems to come down on whether there is any utility on calculating a average global temp), it seems the biggest arguments are about whether warming causes CO2 to rise (No.7). and it seems to me that people are arguing about different issues.

The ice cores show increase in T prior to increase in CO2 (there is no argument about this is there?). As this was used the other way round by Al Gore and many others in the initial scares, refuting it has been an important skeptic argument. However, what Dr Spencer is referring to is the recent increases in CO2 (50-100 years) and pointing out that out-gassing of ocean-dissolved CO2 does not account for the increases in atmospheric CO2, but anthropogenic sources do account for these. As such, his point 7 is addressing the argument that recentwarming is the cause of current CO2 increases and not anthropogenic emissions.

The geological record and the direct measurements of recent (50-100 years) are such different sources of information that I really don’t think we can talk about them in the same breath, let alone use explanations from one to argue causal effects on the other. The resolution of the ice cores is such that we would not even see the current increase in CO2 for another 2-300 years, let alone the temperature change. Using one argument for them both is wrong and I support Dr Spencer in his explanation since he is talking about just the recent changes in CO2.

150. Roy, regarding #9, are you perhaps referring to Essex et al. – and you can call me al)? I don’t know of anyone who’s argued you can’t construct an average from temperature data, and if anyone did then I would add my Duh to yours. But your example shows you haven’t grasped the real point. Your straw man should be phrased: There is no general theory of how to reduce the temperature field of a non-equilibrium thermodynamic system to a scalar in such a way that the laws governing the dynamics of the field also provide a theory governing the dynamics of the scalar. But phrased thus, it’s not a straw man. In fact I’d say it would be pretty hard to dispute. There might be examples where it is true, but it is not generally true.

You refer to bathtubs and freezers, both of which are isolated systems in equilibrium, where a single number works to represent the temperature field of the whole. But to make it relevant to the actual issue, try to define “the” temperature of the [water in your bath + the air in your freezer]? Not the average of the two, “the” one temperature of the items in the brackets. Obviously there isn’t one, there are two (or more). You and I both could write down an infinite number of ways of combining them into a single number. But that one number is not the temperature of your freezer or your bath, and it isn’t necessarily the temperature that would result if you put your bathwater in your freezer or vice versa, or came up with some other mechanism to bring them into equilibrium with each other.

There are valid grounds for saying this issue doesn’t matter much or ad hoc averages seem to do just fine for most purposes. But stock market analysts are also fond of ad hoc averages. They at least bear in mind the rule “it works until it doesn’t.” Don’t confuse an ad hoc averaging rule with a theory that the world is obliged to follow.

151. Well, point 7. has several negative comments. As a big fan of point 7, here my comment:

Warming causes CO2 to rise

Temperature changes cause CO2 changes. That is true over short time and very long periods:

- The seasonal temperature variation of ~1°C global average causes a variation of +/- 5 ppmv global average. The change is much larger in the NH than in the SH and mainly caused by vegetation with a lag of a few months.
- The year by year temperature variations caused by ocean oscillations like ENSO or caused by volcanic eruptions like the Pinatubo cause a change of 4-5 ppmv/°C with a lag of several months.
- The multi-decadal to multi-millennia changes give a quite fixed change of 8 ppmv/°C over the past 800,000 pre-industrial years. The lags varies from ~50 years (MWP-LIA) to 800 +/- 600 years (deglaciations) to several thousands of years (glaciations).

Based on the ice cores, the maximum change from a temperature change is 8 ppmv/°C. The MWP-LIA change of ~0.8°C shows a drop of ~6 ppmv, or ~8 ppmv/°C with ~50 years lag after the drop in temperature:

graph from the Law Dome ice cores, Etheridge e.a. 1996.

Besides that, the equilibrium of seawater only shifts ~17 ppmv/°C. But as vegetation in general takes more CO2 away with higher temperatures, the 8 ppmv/°C is how the equilibium between atmosphere, oceans and the biosphere shifts with temperature.

If we may assume that the increase in temperature since the LIA was maximum 1°C, then the maximum increase of CO2 caused by temperature was 8 ppmv… The rest of the 100+ ppmv increase is from the 200+ ppmv that humans emitted in the recent past.

Not the other way around

There is no physical reason that a modest influence of temperature on CO2 levels (8 ppmv/°C) excludes a modest influence of an excess amount of CO2 on temperature (0.9°C for 2xCO2). All what happens then is that temperature as well as CO2 get somewhat higher with a feedback on each other, no matter if there is a lag or not:

As long as the fortifying factor is modest, there is no runaway effect.

152. Walter says:

As always, I use the Lipid Hypothesis as historical point of reference for government funded philosophy/religion. Unhealthy animal fat causes heart disease, so eat healthy plant food. That is the company line/dogma – easy, to the point and backed up with thousands of peer reviewed papers of confirmation bias. Skeptics, on the other hand, are all over the place (paleo, low carb, very low carb, no carb, no wheat, no grain, no sugar, some starch, resistant starch …). What they all agree on, even those who are “out there”, is that government threw fear into our kitchens in the 1970s when there was no scientific basis for doing so.

It is the same with the Human Carbon Dioxide Hypothesis. Human carbon dioxide causes warming and is bad for the planet – easy, to the point and backed by thousands of papers of peer reviewed confirmation bias. Government has thrown fear into the geology class with no scientific basis for doing so. As with nutrition, skeptics are all over the place, with government backed theologians ignoring all of what they say.

153. Charlie says:

Thank you Dr. Spencer. Very timely, informative post for those of us geologists that are less informed on this topic, and are endeavouring to separate the wheat from the chaff. If there is not one already available, I would gladly buy your future book containing expanded versions of all 10 points.

154. richardscourtney says:

pokerguy:

At May 1, 2014 at 9:15 am you write

“THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE”

It’s an abstraction, like any average. It exists of course, but ultimately in the mind. The real question it seems to me is, is it useful? .

This goes to the heart of the issue as I raised it in my above post here.

As I said to Dr Spencer in that post

But the real problem is that THERE IS NO AGREED DEFINITION OF GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE (GAT).
This means that each team (including yours) which determines GAT provides a different datum from the datum provided by each other team. Indeed, individual teams often change the definition they use so they alter their time series of GAT; see e.g. http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/graphs/giss/hansen-giss-1940-1980.gif

An undefined parameter has no accuracy, no precision, and no reliability.
A much more full assessment of this real problem is provided by Appendix B of this item

A parameter has no usefulness to science when it has no accuracy, no precision, and no reliability but can be altered at will. However, such a mutable parameter can be useful (misused?) for political purposes and politicians use them (e.g. various definitions of GDP).

Hence, I do not entirely agree with rgbatduke when he argues herethat

A second nit to pick might be the discussion of global average temperature. The problem isn’t that one cannot define a global average temperature — the problem is that global average temperature is a poor, and enormously variable, metric for energy balance.

Yes, “global average temperature is a poor, and enormously variable, metric for energy balance” and that is said in the Appendix B which I linked and cited. And average global temperature has no scientific usefulness but much political usefulness because it has no agreed definition, and I think that is very important.

Richard

155. Ivan says:

NO 7 is arguing against prominent scientists who know the problems of CO2 measurements and ice cores much better than Roy Spencer: Zbignev Jaworowski and Tom Segalstad.

156. The other Phil says:

Gregory, mere assertion is not an argument. Note that measured effects of arsenic exist for concentrations 1000 times smaller than that of CO2, so if you are making a picky point about how to measure concentration, adjust the metric and the point holds. If you do not like the example of arsenic, there are many other such examples, where a concentration far below that of CO@ is definitely meaningful.

Phil

157. Henry Galt says:

The other Phil – sure I’ll down it in one, if it’s a thimbleful.

158. Solomon Green says:

Thanks for an informative post. I am happy to go along with all Dr. Spencer’s 10 points.
My questions arise from “Climate models address a spherical, rotating, Earth with a day-night (diurnal) cycle in solar illumination and atmospheric Coriolis force (due to both Earth curvature and rotation)”. So far as I recollect the earth is not perfectly spherical, neither has it a smooth surface. How do the models allow for such imperfections? How many parameters are used in climate models just to cover those points – or are they deemed constant over time or ignored as trivial.
Incidentally, I once reckoned that there were as many as forty factors affecting global temperatures, including at least six greenhouse gases of which, as Jimbo has posted the IPCC statement “Water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide (CO2) is the second-most important one.”
How do the models allow for these other greenhouse gases? How do they allow for all the other thirty or so factors affecting global temperature? Are all these factors independent? And if not how many affect others? And if some do, do they do so to an extent that they would render all linear models mathematically unsound?
There is a lot about which to be sceptical without doubting that CO2 is a greenhouse gas which plays a part in global warming.

159. CG, point taken. Ludicrous was too strong a word.

160. Mark Bofill says:

Er, I meant a top ten good skeptical arguments list.

161. Ivan says:

No. 5 seems to be directed against Ferenc Miskolczi who claims that the greenhouse effect is constant, i.e adding CO2 would not change global temperature at all.

What all those people have in common is the following: if they are right, Roy Spencer’s work on cloud feedback and climate sensitivity would be far less important. Nobody would care. So, basic thrust of his text is to attack the dangerous competition.

162. Eric Anderson says:

Unfortunately, not too impressed.

Although there is value in pushing back on most of these 10 issues, saying that they are all “skeptical” arguments and saying that none of them “hold water,” is much too broad of a brush. Worse, it does the disservice of masking some of the more nuanced issues that are related to — if not always described exactly in the words of — the 10 items listed.

Substantively, several posters have already given good reasons why some of the items (maybe 4, 7 and 9) are issues that deserve careful discussion. It doesn’t serve anybody (and will certainly be trumpeted by the CAGW’ers) to simply dismiss them with the waive of the hand as bad arguments — and, therefore, the natural implication is, issues that aren’t worthy of discussion.

Additionally, there are some terminology clarifications (say, in #1), that are germane to the debate and that are also worthy of discussion, even if the underlying substance is as Dr. Spencer says it is.

So, unfortunately, while this had the opportunity of being a very helpful article, the tenor and approach give it the potential of doing as much harm as good. Not enough acknowledgement of open and reasonable issues. Too much baby thrown out with the bathwater.

163. If you ignore all the quibbles, then everything the good doctor says is true. However, is ignoring the quibbles the right thing to do? I think not. The quibbles are very important and should not be dismissed as irrelevant details.

For example, I long have quibbled over the use of the term “Greenhouse Effect” simply and exactly because the earth has no glass ceiling. The putative effect is supposedly that the earth’s surface is at a higher temperature with an atmosphere than without. This even though such a state has never been measured but only calculated using the (wait….you guessed it) “Greenhouse Effect” theory. This circular reasoning is used as proof that the effect exists. In the words of the SNL Church Lady, “Isn’t that special”.

Assuming what must be proved is invalid reasoning from the get go. The alternative I offered a long time ago is why not call it the “Atmospheric Effect”? At least that would neither be misleading nor counter factual to an actual atmosphere having no glass ceiling. Then we could get on with the process of actually identifying what the effect is and, in particular, measuring it.

I strongly suspect that the motive behind the use of the term “Greenhouse Effect” is less than honest and honorable as all kinds of mischief has and can be had from its use. Not the least of which is that CO2 “traps” heat as if it were a molecular thermos bottle. Yet, at the same time, it is presumed that increased CO2 will cause catastrophic global warming. Apparently, the thermos bottle molecule pops and releases its heat when the level of CO2 gets too high. Thereby facilitating being used to justify global taxes, global regulations, and dictatorial global governance.

The good doctor’s motivation may not be as pernicious as this but I am still skeptical of the honesty and honorableness of his responses to any question of his position. Especially when he insists that there is nothing wrong with using a false to fact term in his discussions.

164. Ivan says:

I was surprised that Lord Mockton supported Spencer, but then I saw that SPPI “disappeared” from their website a paper by Mikols Zagoni, published in 2009 which elaborated Miskolczy’s theory. Sapienti sat.

165. Dr Roy Spencer;
What an excellent list. A couple of turnips showing up trying to prove that 2+2=5, but that was to be expected. I suspect that the majority of the readership will figure out which ones can be safely ignored. Two of them have made appearances upthread already, I’ve debated them so many times I see no use in naming them. On the other hand….

I was about to raise a similar point to rgbatduke and richardscourtney. They not only beat me to it, but did so in eloquent detail, of which I am simply incapable. Bottom line though is that while I think the “average temperature” as calculated by yourself and others has value, I think it obscures the real discussion, which regards both energy balance as a whole, and changes in distribution of the energy fluxes across the globe. If the tropics cool and the temperate zones warm and the over all average is the same, then the average temperature provides us rather little information as to what is happening in the system and why.

166. Warming does cause CO2 to rise, by however much or little, that is evident, beyond reasonable doubt, from the records. It has not been proven that CO2 causes warming – that it does is not evident, beyond reasonable doubt, anywhere. Only in a minimalistic, none (world)complex thought experiment, does the potential ‘greenhouse effect’ from a molecule of CO2 operate – so to speak ‘in theory’ and logically. Application of this to the hugely complex world dynamic, especially with levels of CO2 in parts per million and water vapour parts per thousand, is not consistent with good scientific practice. So what if humans are making CO2 rise faster, the original premise is still valid, just not the reason for the whole increase we are seeing.

167. John West says:

AlecM says:
”3. Oh Dear! The Tyndall experiment has been badly misinterpreted. There can be no ‘thermalisation’ of the GHG-absorbed energy because that would breach The Law of Equipartition of Energy, as basic a physical principle as quantum theory. “

What?!?

So, if a CO2 molecule absorbs IR causing it to vibrate and happens to collide with a nitrogen molecule in just such a way as to impart that vibrational energy into translational motion of the nitrogen molecule that wouldn’t cause the temperature of the volume of gas to be higher? (Of course it would.)

Temperature of a gas is a measure of translational motion ONLY, vibrational energy stored in molecules in a gas (unlike in solids and liquids) has no effect on temperature (as normally measured).

Equipartition of energy means that energy will spread out among all available degrees of freedom. There is no “violation” of equipartition of energy for energy to be converted from vibrational to translational and vice versa so long as on average each degree of freedom has the same amount of energy at equilibrium. The flow of energy is from highly utilized degrees of freedom to lower utilized degrees of freedom; in that way it’s akin to diffusion of matter and could be thought of as diffusion of energy from high energy concentration “areas” (energy storage forms: vibration, rotation, translation, etc.) to low concentration energy storage “areas”.

But really all that is beside the point that an increase in GHG absorption is likely to increase its emission therefore on whole the “backradiation” increases thereby decreasing the net transfer of energy by radiation from the surface to the atmosphere i.e. has an insulating effect. There’s no “thermilization” required for a GHE increase to increase the surface temperature.

168. Rob says:
May 1, 2014 at 9:31 am

The resolution of the ice cores is such that we would not even see the current increase in CO2 for another 2-300 years, let alone the temperature change.

The resolution of the ice cores strongly depends of the snow accumulation rate, which is extremely high near the coast and very small more inland Antarctica. 2 out of 3 Law Dome ice cores have a resolution of a decade, the 3rd of ~2 decades.
There is even a 20-year overlap between the Law Dome ice cores and direct CO2 measurements at the South Pole:

The drawback is that the high resolution cores go only 150 years back in time before rock bottom was hit and the third core, taken more downslope, only 1,000 years. But anyway, one can stack the different ice cores on each other giving a lower resolution back in time. Here for the past 1,000 years:

or 10,000 years:

Anyway, even the worst resolution ice cores like Vostok (~600 years over 420 kyr) or Dome C (~560 years over 800 kyr) would show the current 100+ ppmv rise in 150 years. The repeatability of ice core CO2 measurements is +/- 1.2 ppmv – 1 sigma for the same core, +/- 5 ppmv between different cores.

Temperature is a proxy from dD and d18O changes, the resolution is even better than for CO2, as there is no years of mixing during accumulation, which is the case for air/CO2. For the inland ice cores, that represents the ocean temperatures of most of the SH oceans.

169. milodonharlani says:

Solomon Green says:
May 1, 2014 at 9:51 am

Water vapor concentration of course varies greatly (high in the moist tropics & low over the polar deserts), but averages about 30,000 ppm in the troposphere. Carbon dioxide is currently around 400 ppm. The three next most common GHG levels are measured in parts per billion: methane at around 1800 ppb (or 1.8 ppm), nitrous oxide at ~325 ppb & tropospheric ozone at 337 ppm. The many halocarbons are measured in parts per trillion.

http://cdiac.ornl.gov/pns/current_ghg.html

170. Matthew R Marler says:

That’s a good list, well presented.

I have comments on two of the items:

8. THE IPCC MODELS ARE FOR A FLAT EARTH I have no explanation where this little tidbit of misinformation comes from.

The “flat Earth” models (so-called, hence the quotes), with uniform surface and uniform input, are what underlie the “equilibrium” calculations such as those that appear in the book “Atmosphere, Clouds and Climate” by David Randall, pp 45-49. Raymond T. Pierrehumbert’s book “Principles of Planetary Climate” addresses the inaccuracy of the equilibrium assumption right at the start, and addresses the shape of the Earth fairly late, but basically by stretching/compressing the “flat Earth” model via trig functions. So I think it fair to say that “some” IPCC models are for a “flat Earth”, even though “other” IPCC models are for a spherical, rotating Earth. I can’t tell which models dominate anyone’s thinking.

2. THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT VIOLATES THE 2ND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS.

Besides what you wrote, people need to remember that the temperature of a parcel of mass is proportional to the average kinetic energy of the molecules in the parcel, and the molecules do not all have the same kinetic energy. Thus it is possible for the highest energy molecules in a relatively cool parcel to radiate energy toward the molecules in a relatively warm parcel, wherein some of the molecules have below average energy; even as the net flow of radiant energy is from relatively warm to relatively cool.

171. Ivan, you assume too much. #5 doesn’t contradict Miskolczi’s theory, which was that the increased greenhouse effect from more CO2 was OFFSET by decreasing vapor, keeping a net constant effect. This is entirely possible, although it’s speculative, and does not contradict the point I’m making. Please don’t create a new controversy where none exists.

172. Ivan says:
May 1, 2014 at 9:42 am

NO 7 is arguing against prominent scientists who know the problems of CO2 measurements and ice cores much better than Roy Spencer: Zbignev Jaworowski and Tom Segalstad.

I had a quite heated discussions with Tom Segalstad some time ago as several of his arguments don’t hold water. And sorry to say, the arguments of the late Jaworowski were already refuted in 1996 by the drilling of the 3 ice cores at Law Dome by Etheridge e.a.:

http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/jaworowski.html

173. Good post, Dr. Spencer.

I cringe when I here skeptics say crazy things, because the reputation for “crazy” gets pasted on all of us. One of the nice things about WUWT is that when crazy ideas are put forth there is usually somebody around to squash them.

On your point #7: “Warming causes CO2 to rise, no the other way around.” It is a no-brainer that CO2 increases for the last 150 years are due to burning fossil fuels. But what about the evidence for CO2 leading temperature during the transitions from glacials to interglacials?

174. Rob says:

The ice cores show increase in T prior to increase in CO2… However, what Dr Spencer is referring to is the recent increases in CO2…

That is not the issue. The issue is causation. Does ∆T cause ∆CO2? Or does ∆CO2 cause ∆T? All the available evidence shows that ∆T causes ∆CO2, on time scales from years, to hundreds of millennia.

I am willing to be proven wrong. But I’ve been requesting empirical evidence, and so far, none has been posted showing that CO2 causes global T changes — on any time scale. All the evidence shows that T changes cause CO2 changes.

=========================

barry says:

Points … 7 … are being contested by plenty of people. This is because those views are proliferated in the climate blogs articles and comments sections.

Hand waving. Base your argument on measurable evidence, then we’ll see. Next:

Transposing the ice age lead/lag relationship between temperature/CO2 onto the modern age is an extremely prolific trope in the climate blogosphere. I’m genuinely surprised you are not aware of it.

It is prolific because it is fun to bash the alarmist crowd with verifiable facts that deconstruct their narrative. Next:

For those “clobbering” number 7, yes, ocean outgassing of CO2 lagged warming transitions from glacial periods in the geologic records. But that is not what is happening now.

Yes, it is.

Next:

The evidence is conclusive. Simple arithmetic is all it takes. Human industry has emitted twice as much as the increase in atmospheric concentrations. It can’t be coming from the oceans, because CO2 in the oceans has been increasing at the same time. Oceans are absorbing about half of the CO2 human industry has omitted. These are not the only evidence, by a long shot, but they are hard to refute. Where is all the anthro CO2 going? And how is the system squirreling it away while pumping out the supposedly natural CO2? This is an argument that sincere critics definitely need to let go of.

barry dislikes the causation argument, because it deconstructs his belief in catastrophic AGW. Yes, the rise in CO2 is due to human emissions. But so what? It does not follow that the ≈40% rise has caused any measurable rise in T. That is what Planet Earth is clearly telling us.

Alarmists love to point to the rise in harmless, beneficial CO2 as their “Look! A kitten!” argument. But the real issue is causation: T is the cause of ∆CO2. Prove me wrong, my feelings won’t get hurt. Just post a chart showing that changes in CO2 cause changes in temperature. Make sure it’s based on reliable, empirical measurements. TIA.

175. Jaakko Kateenkorva says:

An idle, naked human being emits CO2 in addition to water vapor. For this reason it doesn’t feel right to look down on anyone voicing their opinions about the AGW-hoax – even if we don’t always agree with them.

176. Bob F says:

Sorry, didn’t find this at all helpful. Most of these points are far too subtle to have such trite explanations/rebuttals. For me in particular #2 makes little sense.

177. John McClure says:

Fun post, I got a chuckle out of several of your comments Dr. Spencer.

“THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE”
My best response, simply because one can do a thing doesn’t make it appropriate or insightful.

Can you give me some examples where Global Average Temp. is useful. The only purpose I can think of is to scare children.

178. Ian says:

Roy,
Great article. Thank you.
If you have time, could you please address Prof Brown’s question “rgbatduke says: May 1, 2014 at 8:58 am” about pressure broadening and partial pressures?

179. bw says:

Some good responses to keep Roy on his toes.
Regarding averages, there is no “average global climate”
Land biology does not average with marine biology.
There are distinct climates, tropical land and water, temperate land and water, polar North and South. You don’t combine “rainforest” with “desert” and get any meaningful average.
You don’t combine trees and termites into an average.

Every day, sunlight is not “dim” for 24 hours, except at the poles. 240 watts per square meter for 24 hours is not the same as the average of 480 watts for 12 hours with 0 watts for 12 hours.
The atmosphere has evolved for the last billion years. In response, the atmosphere has become 100 percent biological, except Argon. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is a response to biological activity, the amount of that global biogeochemical flux due to fossil fuel burning is about 3 percent. This is because CO2 never “accumulates” in the atmosphere. Without biological respiration, CO2 would fall exponentially by about 20 percent per year.
Your number 7 ignores biology, but keep up the good work

180. Resourceguy says:

Before dismissing the trace gas argument of 400 ppm CO2, could you please provide the CO2 concentration numbers associated with recently revived moss occurrence in Antarctica and boreal forest-type occurrence in recent Greenland bore hole analysis? These were ice-free times under those ice sheets. I need to the CO2 numbers now, not comments and claims. Just the facts.

181. Matthew R Marler says:

Richard S. Courtney: The existing data is such that the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration can be modeled as being entirely natural, entirely anthropogenic, or some combination of the two. And there is no data which resolves the matter.

Well said.

I think the same is true of temperature rise since the end of the Little Ice Age: it can be modeled as a function of CO2, and as a function without CO2 in the argument list. It is very difficult to tell how much effect anthropogenic CO2 has had. imo

182. Joe Born says:

ferdberple: “For example, what if you took addition and subtraction and called them both addition.”

This isn’t much to the point, just a fun fact: I’ve been told by people who use that kind of thing that addition and subtraction do end up being the same in some orders of Galois-field arithmetic.

183. This reminds me of reading some screed at Huffington on conservatives. All of their supposed reasoned refutations of conservative beliefs are based on – what they think conservatives believe. They have no idea what conservatives believe or think. No matter how many times they say something, or how convincingly they try to say it – they will never get to determine what I believe. Most of these appear to be refutations of arguments I’ve never made and are rarely – if ever – made here. Though I disagree about the global average temperature mental masturbation. I’ve seen their charts, graphs, and figures calculating temperatures to fractions of a degree fahrenheit when I question if we have measurement accuracy to within a single degree centigrade.

184. The other Phil says:

Henry Galt.

It’s a tall glass.

Are you disagreeing with the fundamental point, or merely my imperfect presentation?

185. Trevor says:

1. Juergen MIchele says:
May 1, 2014 at 6:28 am
Looking at your point 4. :
CO2 in the upper atmosphere blocks outgoing radiation from the earth surface.
But the incoming radiation from the sun in the relevant frequency range is hundredfold compared to the back radiation from earth.
As a consequence more CO2 cools!

You didn’t quite finish your thought here, Juergean, but I THINK you’re trying to say that the solar radiation blocked from entering the atmosphere by CO2 far outweighs the radiation blocked from leaving the atmosphere by CO2. If so, your error here is in assuming that the radiation coming from the sun is identical to the radiation coming from the surface. That assumption is incorrect. The vast majority of the radiation coming from the sun is in the visible light portion of the spectrum. CO2 (and other “greenhouse gasses”) don’t do a very good job of absorbing that radiation, so a large percentage of it reaches the earth, where it is absorbed, and then re-radiated, but mostly in the infrared portion of the spectrum. CO2 (and other greenhouse gasses) DO do a good job of absorbing certain wavelengths within this portion of the spectrum.

If the incoming and outgoing radiation had the same distribution across the spectrum, then there would be no greenhouse effect at all, put instead a “parasol effect” that would reduce our temperature far below even what we would have without the greenhouse effect. Of course, there wouldn’t be anyone around to CALL it a “parasol effect”, because it would be far too cold for life (as we know it) to exist.

Regards,
Trevor

186. kim says:

The nice thing, Richard C. & Matthew M., is that however much AnthroCO2 has warmed us, it is just by that much that we are not colder.
==========================

187. Louis LeBlanc says:

In regard to #9: I agree with Dr. Spencer. I am a CAGW skeptic, in particular of the accuracy and balance of the data supporting the hockey stick, and especially of the high levels of statistical probability published by the IPCC and its acolytes supposedly computed from this data. And it is good to be reminded to stay factual, logical, and reasonable in this truly serious battle not only to counteract the CAGW hypothesis, but to save Science as we have known it. As an engineer with a fair amount of experience in atmospheric sensing and transmitting devices, and interaction with professional scientific and technical people for over 50 years, I have a couple of observations: Without really frequent and technically competent maintenance and calibration, even high quality NIST traceable industrial sensors will quickly become unreliable, giving rise to justifiable doubts about the accuracy of the recorded data. Also, the well-known problems with sensing station location and condition and the lack of geographic balance of data points add to the problems with absolute raw data. However, as inaccurate as the individual readings may be, with ethical recording and a long history of data accumulation, wouldn’t errors be “averaged out,” and general increases or decreases in the averaged temperature over time be valuable for comparative purposes, such as “global warming” and “the pause?”

188. milodonharlani says:

Tom Moriarty says:
May 1, 2014 at 10:12 am

CO2 does not lead T during transitions from glacial to interglacial conditions. It follows.

189. Josik says:

Sad to observe that WUWT has turned it’s back to real science and became more and more a “consensus” and “science is settled” blog, only marginally different from the rest.

190. Bob Kutz says:

Roy,

I’m afraid I don’t know that you’re 100% on all points, in my opinion.

2) How do you account for the fact that an atmosphere, warmed by whatever means (not warmed by itself), would necessarily expand in accordance with the Ideal Gas Law to reach a new equilibrium density at something less than the temperature increase that would occur in a sealed container? I’m not saying there isn’t a greenhouse effect, but it seems that, sans a sealed two liter bottle, it isn’t nearly the boogeyman they make it out to be. But no, the 2nd law of thermodynamics doesn’t actually preclude warming, in and of itself.

#9) If your bath tube were the size of an Olympic swimming pool punctuated with grass islands of varying sized and heights, heated externally via radiative energy from a point source several hundred meters away and with strong fans above, constantly circulating the atmospheric boundary, how many thermometers would you need in order to accurately measure the temperature, not of the water in the pool, but the atmospheric gases immediately above the surface? Could you do so with very few of the thermometers placed above the surface of the water? What if, for the first 50 or 75 years of data, you were only allowed to look at your thermometers once per day and rounded all measurements to the nearest degree?

Just curious. Because that’s what I mean when I point out that our notions of ‘average’ AND our notions of precision are greatly challenged by these issues. Now, go replace 1 square inch of the grassy islands, particularly in the areas where your thermometers are located, with asphalt or concrete every minute. Now, about 2/3 or 3/4 of the way through the expirement start taking thermometers out of your data set, but mostly only on one end of the pool.

Then, at the very end, you get to climb up on a catwalk and install an infrared beam thermometer on a device that methodically scans the surface.

Do you have a data set, or do you have a hodge podge?

Next, go back and recalibrate your early readings, based on TOBS adjustments for metadata you don’t actually have, and do this every 4 or 5 years, but only adjusting the older data down and the more recent data upward.

Finally, explain to me again about the ‘average’ temperature of your ‘bathtub’.

Or, to explain this in yet another way; This would be akin to trying to measure the average velocity of an automobile by taking random snapshots of the speedometer.

Sometimes the car would be moving very fast, sometimes it would move more slowly or not at all. Of course, the tendency would be to take photos when someone was actually driving the car, which would tend to coincide with a moving car, so your calculated ‘average speed’ wouldn’t correlate to the ‘average speed’ of the car very well. As the car gets older it gets handed down to younger drivers with even less propensity to photograph the speedometer when the car isn’t moving and a much higher predilection for fast driving . . . you might start warning everyone about ‘global acceleration’. And then, of course, with GPS, you could finally get an accurate average speed . . . and you might then proclaim that automobiles used to be much faster in past. Such is the nature of your ‘global average’.

In short; a lot of what passes for CAGW may in fact be statistical artifacts of things we did not intend to measure. Increased population, the fall of communism, more accurate measurements today vs. a tendency to not measure the temp in the hottest part of the day in the past.

And no; before satellite records became available we have very little idea what the ‘average’ temperature of this particular bathtub was. We do not have enough data.

191. Paul Westhaver says:

Dr Spenser,

Some of your “10″ are canards. I am a AGW skeptic.

I think your post would have been better if you also included 10 reasons there is no stat sig AGW.
Also:
1) THERE IS NO GREENHOUSE EFFECT
I have not heard any skeptics say that one to me. So?

2) THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT VIOLATES THE 2ND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS.
I have not heard any skeptics say that one to me. So? Also the issue maybe the use of the overused term “greenhouse”, but I am speculating.

3) CO2 CANT CAUSE WARMING BECAUSE CO2 EMITS IR AS FAST AS IT ABSORBS.
Again, I have not heard this specifically. I have heard that CO2 is much less effective a GHG than H2O but not this.

4) CO2 COOLS, NOT WARMS, THE ATMOSPHERE.
This is the first time I heard this.

5) ADDING CO2 TO THE ATMOSPHERE HAS NO EFFECT BECAUSE THE CO2 ABSORPTION BANDS ARE ALREADY 100% OPAQUE.
I have never heard or repeated such a claim. Am I alone?

6. LOWER ATMOSPHERIC WARMTH IS DUE TO THE LAPSE RATE/ADIABATIC COMPRESSION.
I am not in this academic circle so I will pass as ignorant on this one.

7. WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND
Technically Roy, as well you know, CO2 vapor pressure increases with increased temp of the solution. You have chosen a narrow application of the concept to knock down. On the 1,000,000 year time scale CO2 concentration follows warming. Maybe in your narrow application you are correct, but what most people are talking about, you are wrong. CO2 vapor pressure/ solubility is a property one can look up.

8. THE IPCC MODELS ARE FOR A FLAT EARTH

???? What?

9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE
I agree that one can try to arrive at a number but it is a meaningless figure and can’t be compared to anything in the past with any precision that bear relevance to the small changes in modern measurements, especially considering the suggested PRECISION of the IPCC…. So I disagree with you.

10. THE EARTH ISN’T A BLACK BODY.

Well it isn’t black. Snow is white. Water is shiny. Any attempt to pick a number is outside the precision of the claimed global temperature rise is suspect as well.

I don’t know why you made this post because you are a smart guy. Were you drinking? I would, as a skeptic made most of these claims of nuanced the remainders in the way you have.

It will make for a very popular post nevertheless.

192. Paul Westhaver says:

oops,

I don’t know why you made this post because you are a smart guy. Were you drinking? I would, as a skeptic made most of these claims of nuanced the remainders in the way you have.

should be:

I don’t know why you made this post because you are a smart guy. Were you drinking? I would, as a skeptic, NOT have made most of these claims. Of the nuanced remainders, I would not have parsed the ideas in the way you have.

193. David Ramsay Steele says:

Like several other people here, I am puzzled by one thing. Where can I witness this alleged dizzying proliferation of examples of these ten mistakes? How come I almost never encounter them, but on the contrary, routinely encounter cases where Skeptics point out that they do not accept one or another of these ten arguments?

There are hundreds of websites and blogs putting a Skeptical case. Can Dr. Spencer give ten examples of websites or blogs which propagate even one of these ten erroneous arguments? I very much doubt it.

It has become almost a formal ritual for Skeptics arguing their case to point out early on: “No one disputes that there is a greenhouse effect, no one disputes that there has been some warming over the past two hundred years, no one disputes that human CO2 emissions have made some contribution to that, . . .” and so on. I have spoken these words hundreds of times.

After years of uttering this kind of disclaimer, I recently came across a site that does seem to deny that there is a greenhouse effect (It’s run out of Edinburgh, called something like Scottish Skeptic). I actually got in touch with a catastrophist I had been arguing with and said: “You were right after all. There are people who deny the greenhouse effect. But they must be far fewer than 0.1 percent of Skeptics.” I made a note to go back and try to figure out just what argument the
Scottish Skeptics had, but so far haven’t done so.

A few of the ten arguments are sufficiently technical that they rarely crop up. A few of them might just conceivably be defended if parsed in a certain contorted way. But most of the ten are arguments I just never hear (and I hear or read dozens of arguments on global warming every week, if not every day).

In some cases, people may be arguing for something that Dr. Spencer has misunderstood. For example, in response to Al Gore, Skeptics might point out that a past correlation between temperature and CO2 is due to rises in temperature causing increased CO2. This doesn’t mean the current increase in CO2 is due entirely to prior increases in temperature. In my experience, Skeptics nearly always hold that industry is entirely or mainly responsible for current increases, and that the effects of these increases are predominantly benign.

I used to say that “No one has ever denied that the current increase in atmospheric CO2 is due to human industrial activity.” Then I watched Murry Salby’s Hamburg lecture (available at many places online). I was absolutely flabbergasted. Here was an atmospheric physicist who had written a textbook on the subject, apparently saying that current increases in CO2 are entirely due to warming! I was so amazed that, having watched this lecture once, I immediately watched it again, to make sure I had got it right. It still seemed to me that this was what Salby was saying. So now I routinely say, “No one has ever disputed that the current increase in atmospheric CO2 is due to human industrial activity, except Murry Salby. He’s a brilliant man, but generally Skeptics don’t agree with him on this.”

While I have almost never encountered people who propound these ten arguments, I have frequently encountered people who talk as though such people do actually exist. My theory to account for why they do this is that catastrophists like to keep off the real points of disagreement (sensitivity, feedbacks, clouds, cosmic rays, the net welfare repercussions of a few degrees’ warming) while Skeptics sometimes feel embarrassed to appear extreme and think that they can appear more middle-of-the-road by intimating that they take a judiciously moderate position between that of the catastrophists and the silly people who deny there is a greenhouse effect. Me, I’m an extremist by nature and it never embarrasses me.

194. Political Junkie says:

The results are in!!!!

97% of WUWT posters agree with Dr. Roy’s list.

This finding should be cited as frequently as possible.

195. This comment is about #1 and #2 explicitly and also #3 thru #10 implicitly.

Simple things in climate science communications to the public can cause legitimate doubt about the science.

For example; The bizarrely unscientific and seriously misleading term ‘greenhouse effect’ used to represent the theoretical effect (all other things being equal) on the Earth-Atmosphere System (EAS) of the well-known IR absorbing/emitting properties of some gases such as; water vapor (&clouds), methane, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, and a few others.

All laymen see the ‘greenhouse gas effect’ doom extolled in the MSM by some very vocal scientists. All laymen know that an actual greenhouse on a farm or in a garden is a strictly man-made thing. To call what happens in our atmosphere unscientifically and inaccurately after an irrelevant man-made thing is just setting up laymen to think with derision, “That’s professional objective science?”

A way to be more precise scientifically in the terminology would be first the make a concept called the Planetary Atmosphere Effect (PAE) on surface temperature. The PAE can then be identified as a net effect of the individual various effects of each of the ~12 gases (or so) in the EAS. The effect of each gas on the EAS can just be called the affect the gas itself. For example: Atmospheric Oxygen Effect, Atmospheric Nitrogen Effect, Atmospheric Water Vapor Effect, Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Effect, etc. If you need a common name for the effect of gases who have IR absorb/emit properties then just call it scientifically something like the Radiatively Active Gas Effect.

Seriously, climate science needs to get more scientifically clear in its public communications.

John

196. sabretruthtiger says:

7 is wrong, “where is the 100x as fast rise in today’s temperature causing this CO2 rise?”

A causes B. B is true therefore A must be true is a logical fallacy.

Really Mr Spencer, i would expect more from you.

197. JP says:

Hi Roy, great points. However, I think your bullet point concerning the Global Average Surface (or near surface)Temperature is the weakest. A bathtub full of water is homogenous. Global temperatures as measured over a 24 hour period are not. Yes, we can and do measure such a parameter. However, it is more of an abstraction than anything else – a human construct. This is especially true when measuring the average global temperature over long periods of time. It is such an abstraction that we must construct 30 year intervals and measure departures from that interval.

In effect we are using a proxy (global average surface temperatures) to reflect changes across and within the lower 1/3 troposphere.

198. MikeUK says:

With regard to item 6, part of my scepticism is the belief that a Watt of warming in the upper atmosphere will have a much lower effect on surface temperature than a Watt of warming applied at the surface. Heating something always produces a temperature (or effect) gradient, less temperature change as you move away from the place of warming.

Should I be deprived of this part of my scepticism?

199. [snip ]

REPLY: Mr. Wilde we’ve already covered this in a previous essay. I’m not going to start a food fight here again. Take this notion elsewhere. – Anthony

200. phlogiston says:

The thermodynamics 2 and entropy problem for CO2 “greenhouse” warming goes far beyond just cold and hot objects. The Russian-Belgian scientist Ilya Prigogine established the field of nonlinear thermodynamics and “dissipative structures”:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissipative_system

The term “dissipative” is where the fundamental problem lies for CO2 warming since it entails loss of heat. Essentially nonequilibrium dissipative systems acquire emergent structure (thunderstorms, circulation cells, depressions etc. ) or asymmetry. This means a loss of entropy – dissipative systems export entropy. And the atmosphere as a whole can only export entropy by heat loss to space.

CO2 backradiation warming is modest and declines logarithmically. Thus CAGW requires it to be amplified by positive feedbacks. It is in this question of feedback that the biggest problem lies for CO2 catastrophism. Prigogine’ dissipative structures are the underlying principle why the feedbacks to CO2 warming are negative.

201. Mark Bofill says:

Political Junkie says:
May 1, 2014 at 11:17 am

The results are in!!!!

97% of WUWT posters agree with Dr. Roy’s list.

This finding should be cited as frequently as possible.

Waiting for the congratulatory Presidential tweet! Should be up any time now!

202. Ken R. says:

The problem I have with point 9 is that the global average temperature needs to be calculated in a consistent manner for it to used for any meaningful results. Is there a method that all groups/scientists use? Every group seems to use different methods of statistical analysis with different variables “allowed for”.
Watching the consistent reduction of heating in the past and “adjustments” made to current temperature readings I get the feeling that many calculations are modified to best support the worst possible outcome.
My grandfather recorded temperatures at a weather station in southern Oregon. I looked at his log books in 2005 and compared them to what is listed for the the decade of the 30′s in the current official temperature record. His station is now shown to be an average of 2 degrees lower than what he recorded. 20 years ago it was an average of 1 degree different. From the 30′s to the 70′s his records matched. If you told him that scientists today thought his measurements were consistently off by 2 degrees he would have flipped out.

203. Excellent article
It wouldn’t have hurt to make the list a little bit longer, here are my suggestions:

11. “There is no global warming. The increasing temperature records are caused by urban heat island effect”
The urban heat island effect is real, but it cannot explain increased sea temperature, increasing satellite and balloon measurements and melting glaciers.

12. “There is no increase in the sea level. It is not possible to measure sea level to such accuracy from a satellite”
The satellite measurements have been confirmed by lots of buoyancy measurements.

13. “There is no increase in the CO2 level. The Mauna Loa measurements are erroneous and influenced by gas from the volcano.”
There are a lot of measurement stations all over the globe, and all are agreeing on the increase.

14. CO2 has so short lifetime in the atmosphere
It is right that each CO2 molecule has a short lifetime, but that is irrelevant. What’s count is that an elevated level of CO2 has a very long lifetime in the atmosphere.

/Jan

204. Beta Blocker says:

The other Phil says: May 1, 2014 at 8:28 am
The claim that because CO2 is a trace gas, comprising only 400 ppm in the atmosphere, so therefore cannot do all the things it is claimed to do, is an argument that drive me bonkers. …… If you really believe that, would you mind drinking this water, laced with 400 ppm of arsenic? After all, how can it possibly be enough to do anything to you?

Phil’s imperfect analogy does raise a useful point — if you continue to breath air containing 400 ppm CO2, eventually you’ll be dead.

205. justaknitter says:

Dr. Roy,

Thank you!

I especially want to thank you for correcting my thinking on point #5.

Most people (not the ones who hang out here, but normal people :) get hung up on point #1. They will deny the greenhouse effect when they mean to deny catastrophic AGW. They aren’t up to speed on the subject and confuse the terms.

Conversely, the ardent warmist will say that the greenhouse effect was caused by man. They will assert that if we had not invented the combustion engine the CO2 level in the atmosphere would be “pure” at 0 PPM.

Both extremes are ignorant. I would guesstamate that 80+% of Americans would be in one camp or the other.

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” – Winston Churchill

206. sabretruthtiger says:
May 1, 2014 at 11:19 am

7 is wrong, “where is the 100x as fast rise in today’s temperature causing this CO2 rise?”

The historical increase/decrease of CO2 was 8 ppmv/°C. The transition from a glacial periode to an interglacial did take ~5000 years for a temperature change of ~12°C and a change of ~100 ppmv CO2, or 0.0024°C/year and 0.02 ppmv/year. The temperature change over the past 150 years was around 0.8°C or 0.005°C/year and decreasing, but the CO2 change was average 1.5 ppmv/year and still accellerating…
Thus where nature needed 5,000 years for the CO2 buildup, we are doing that in only 150 years…

207. Joe G says:

In my house it is warmest in the rooms that have pellet stoves that are fired up. The rooms farthest away are cold in comparison. I could possibly do an average temp for the entire house but my point is there are hot spots and there are cold spots. And they ain’t changing. Call it regional warming and cooling- pretty much what we have on Earth.

208. milodonharlani says:

Ken R. says:
May 1, 2014 at 11:45 am

Same with T records in NE Oregon. NASA GISS, NOAA, HadCRU & IPCC are shameless, bold-faced liars.

209. Beta Blocker: Now THAT’S funny!!!

210. Trevor says:

1. Len says:
May 1, 2014 at 6:46 am
i third- fourth, whatever the “average” question. with a CO2 caveat.
what IS the “BEST” average temp for humans/the planet?
what is the “Ideal” PPM for CO2 in the atmosphere for Plants.
where -supposedly- did humans Evolve, would not that general climate be “ideal” for us-after all we evolved there…
so that would be -africa-around kenya to be precise according to Berkeley’s evolution website…average temp in kenya is what.. about 23c or so? or about 8c warmer than the earth’s average temp…hmm…..

Just because humans evolved at a particular level of CO2 and a particular temperature does not mean that particular environment is “ideal” for humans. Undoubtedly, evolution works toward making organisms better suited to their particular environment. But it’s a gradual process, taking hundreds of thousands, even millions of years. And temperatures (and CO2 to a lesser extent, at least pre-industrial era) can change a lot, in both directions, during the evolutionary timescale. In fact temperature itself is so variable, at the daily, yearly, multi-decadal, and millenial time scales, it seems to me that natural selection would favor an organism which could better tolerate a WIDE RANGE of temperatures as opposed to an organism that is ideally suited for the exact temperature that existed at any specific point in time, or even an average temperature over say a millenium. Just look at cold-blooded vs warm-blooded species. Warm-blooded vertebrates are considered an evolutionary advancement over cold-blooded veterbrates. Why? Because they can tolerate a wider range of temperatures.

Moreover, I’d be careful about using evolution to prove anything about ideal environments for “life”, for humans or in general. Almost by definition, what is good for “evolution” is NOT good for “life”. Though random mutations happen all the time, the ones that result in true evolution are those that happen at a time when survival is threatened. If there was no environmental crisis, i.e., conditions were “ideal” for life, then an individual with a particular mutation would be, at best, no more likely to survive than the general population. And in fact, the mutated individual would be considerably LESS likely to BREED than other members of the species, because it would probably violate the species’s standards of desirability in a mate (and even if it did find a mate, the mate would most likely be closer to “normal” since the mutated individual would still share its species standards of desirability, and thus the mutated genes would be successively watered down over the generations). And so, in times of favorable environments, evolution occurs slowly, if at all. It is only when the environment becomes harsh and intolerable that evolution really takes off. In these times, mutations occur both ways, making some individuals more likely to survive than their ancestors, and others less likely, but the ones that are more likely to survive are … well, more likely to survive. And it might take a few generations to change hundreds of thousands of years of a species’s “desirability standards” but at some point, eventually the drive to survive in harsh conditions would trump those standards for long enough to rewrite them. And so, during periods of harsh and inhospitable climates, evolution occurs far more rapidly. And that same harsh and inhospitable climate causes the unevolved members of the species to die off. And so any time someone points to a period of time that was “good” for evolution, you can presume, with near certainty, that that period was BAD for “life”, and that it was only through evolution that life managed to survive at all. And to the extent that the evolution of a specific new species can be pinpointed, you can say that, at least for the species that preceded and gave birth to that new species, the conditions at that point in time were intolerable and unsurvivable, and most likely just BARELY tolerable survivable for the new species.

That said, I do believe that warmer temperatures would be better for humankind, and for life in general. History, anthropology, and paleontology all prove that life flourishes more in warmer weather, with no “diminishing returns” on the life/temperature relationship, at least not at any temperature that ever existed on earth. Sure, as one alarmist pointed out a few years ago, we evolved during a cooler climate than what we are experiencing now, and never in the history of the species were temperatures as warm as they will be a century from now. But the impication of that statement is that those cooler conditions were “ideal” for human life, and warmer temperatures would be “less than ideal”, if not completely intolerable, and that’s just not true. We did not evolve into humans because the specific genome that comprises humanity was “ideally suited” for the climate that existed 300,000 years ago. We evolved into humans because our specific genome made us better able to TOLERATE and SURVIVE those HARSH conditions than the Cro Magnons or Neanderthals were. But that does not at all mean that we can’t tolerate a warmer climate than that in which we evolved, nor even that a warmer climate wouldn’t be even MORE tolerable, even IDEAL for the species.

However, I do believe it is safe to say that a warmer climate would be bad for evolution. We are not very likely to advance, as a species, beyond what we are now, because there will be NO NEED to do so.

211. The only one of those I ever heard was number 7, and historically, it’s true.

212. Jimbo says:

JimS says:
May 1, 2014 at 6:55 am

Another bad skeptic argument is stating that just one volcanoe eruption can spew out more CO2 than all the CO2 that mankind has ever produced throughout industrial history. This is simply NOT true and I see it being used much too much.

Agreed. But not just one. All volcanoes including undersea. I don’t know how these ideas spread.

I have often heard that this creature or that creature releases more co2. So what? The total ppm in the atmosphere IS going up and we are causing it. We may argue about Mona Loa et al but it does not change the facts.

WUWT seriously needs to think about creating one page called ‘MYTH BUSTERS’ with the volcano nonsense put to rest. It does not help our position to have people spewing [no pun intended] this garbage.

EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union
Vol. 92, No. 24, 14 June 2011

http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hazards/gas/climate.php

http://www.agu.org/pubs/pdf/2011EO240001.pdf

http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/index.cfm

213. Juraj V. says:

There is 6,000 ppm of CO2 in Martian atmosphere, but its theoretical and practical temperature is the same /see NASA Planetary fact sheets/. How come that 1/120th of that supposedly warms Earth, but does not warm Mars at all?
Is that 300W downwelling coming from GHG only? How is nitrogen and oxygen losing its heat?

214. thegriss says:

The GOSPEL, according to Roy,

BELIEVE !!!

215. [snip sorry Tim, not interested in starting this food fight - Anthony]

216. The other Phil says:

I see some are challenging some of the items, not because they are wrong, but because they haven’t heard them

I hope many of them never get repeated, but some have been used, and do bring disrepute to honest skeptics.

For those who have never seen anyone challenge the very existence of the Greenhouse effect, read:

If you don’t read the whole thing,, read the title “Breaking: U.S. National Academies Find Greenhouse Effect Doesn’t Exist”

217. RE:
milodonharlani says:
May 1, 2014 at 10:57 am

milodonharlani,
Thanks for the correction. I meant to say what you said.

218. The other Phil says:

Those who doubt that anyone is making the second argument (violation of the second law of thermodynamics) out to read

http://www.counterpunch.org/2009/12/18/turning-tricks-cashing-in-on-fear/

This admission edges close to acknowledgement of a huge core problem – that “greenhouse” theory and the vaunted greenhouse models violate the second law of thermodynamics which says that a cooler body cannot warm a hotter body XX. Greenhouse gasses in the cold upper atmosphere, even when warmed a bit by absorbed infrared, cannot possibly transfer heat to the warmer earth, and in fact radiate their absorbed heat into outer space. Readers interested in the science can read mathematical physicist Gerhard Gerlich’s and Ralf Tscheuchner’s detailed paper published in The International Journal of Modern Physics, updated in January , 2009, “Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics”.

219. Don Easterbrook says:

ROY’S #7 STATEMENT IS BADLY FLAWED AND NEEDS FIXING.

Roy says “WHERE IS THE 100X AS FAST RISE IN TODAY’S TEMPERATURE CAUSING THIS CO2 RISE?” His point here seems to be that because we don’t see warming “100 times as fast as any time in the 300,000 year Vostok ice core record” that means warming doesn’t cause CO2 to rise. As I pointed out in an earlier comment, that argument would only apply if warming was the ONLY cause of increased CO2 and that clearly isn’t true. As written, the logic in #7 is badly flawed and violates the basic tenet that Roy is talking about in his 10 issues. So what can we do to fix #7?

First let’s agree that there are at least two causes of rising CO2:
1. ATMOSPHERIC WARMING, as shown in ice cores where CO2 always lags rising temperatures by several hundred years. (I know of no ice cores where CO2 precedes rising temperature) and more recent short warming intervals from 1982-2012 that were followed by increased atmospheric CO2.
2. HUMAN CO2 EMISSIONS.

How can we separate these two causes? One way is to look at times when CO2 rose when one of them couldn’t have been a factor. CO2 emissions began to rise sharply after 1945, so any warming prior to then cannot have been caused by CO2. After 1945, CO2 could have risen by either warming or human emissions. Warming during interglacials in the ice cores falls in the category of non-CO2 caused warming and clearly shows that warming caused rise in CO2 NOT the other way around.

How about post 1945 when both warming and human emissions could have caused rising CO2? How can we separate out these two possible causes? The problem is that we can’t really do that very well quantitatively. We know roughly the amount of CO2 emissions, but separating out how much of the rise in CO2 is due to warming and how much to emissions is difficult. Humlum et al. (2012) showed that short periods of warming from 1982 to 2012 were always followed by spikes in CO2 levels so we know that some of the modern CO2 rise is being caused by warming.

So I propose rewording of Roy’s #7 as follows:

7. Warming AND HUMAN EMISSIONS cause CO2 to rise. The rise of CO2 levels during past interglacials was caused by global warming, not by CO2. Rise in CO2 levels since 1945 could be caused either by global warming or by human emissions.

How about it, Roy? Do you agree?

220. The other Phil says:

221. Tim Folkerts says:

* If you read the thread at Roy’s blog, you will find people arguing against pretty much all 10 of these point.
* If you read the “Steel Greenhouse” thread here at WUWT, you will see many of these arguments. (or in pretty much any other thread here at WUWT that deals with the physics of the GHE).
* If you read pretty much anything at “Principia Scientific International” you will see these. (But I would not suggest it since it will drive more traffic there).
* A blog which will remain nameless just posted a ‘rebuttal’ of all 10 of Roy’s points!

So yes these arguments DO materialize in many climate blogs. It may be a small total number of posters, but they are prolific!

222. Trevor says:

1. elmer says:
May 1, 2014 at 6:58 am
In response to number 4. “CO2 COOLS, NOT WARMS, THE ATMOSPHERE.” I agree with the doctor but if increased CO2 replaces other more effective greenhouse gases such as water vapor or Methane wouldn’t that cause cooling?

Molecule for molecule, water vapor is NOT a more effective greenhouse gas than CO2. In fact, molecule per molecule, CO2 is 30 times as effective a greenhouse gas as H2O. The only reason water vapor carries most of the greenhouse effect is that there’s a whole lot more of it, several hundred times more, than CO2. But if you’re talking about one “replacing” the other in the atmosphere, then you’re talking molecule for molecule (or at least gram for gram or liter per liter, I don’t know which unit you would use, but it wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference either way). You’d be replacing one unit (molecule, gram, liter?) of a gas with a low greenhouse potential with the same unit of a gas with 30 times as much greenhouse potential. So molecule for molecule, 29 times more warming.

Now, methane IS a more effective greenhouse gas (molecule for molecule, gram for gram, liter for liter) than CO2, so if you could specifically replace only the methane with CO2, then yes, more CO2 would cause cooling. But you don’t get to pick and choose; it’s all random. And given that there is several million times as much water vapor in the atmosphere as methane, chances are it’s water vapor you’re replacing.

Futhermore, over 95% of our atmosphere is not greenhouse gasses at all. It’s Nitrogen and Oxygen. If the CO2 replaces anything, it’s more likely to replace Nitrogen than anything else, with Oxygen a close second and water vapor a distant third. Since Nitrogen and Oxygen are not greenhouse gasses at all, 95% of the CO2 molecules would be replacing molecules that didn’t have any greenhouse potential at all, and 4+% would be replacing molecules (water vapor) with a positive but much lower greenhouse potential than the CO2. So, altogether, over 99% of the CO2 would be replacing gasses with LESS greenhouse potential than the CO2 itself (and most of the remaining CO2 molecules would be replacing other CO2 molecules, for no difference). Only a small fraction of a percent of the CO2 would replace gasses (like methane) with more greenhouse potential than the CO2 itself.

Moreover, I’m not entirely sure that CO2 “replaces” other gasses in the atmosphere like that. I mean it’s not like there’s some limit on how many molecules, grams, or liters of gas our atmosphere can contain. Seems to me any additional CO2 just gets ADDED to the gasses already there. Oh sure, burning fossil fuels, while putting CO2 into the atmosphere, removes O2 from the atmosphere (though as shown in the last paragraph, that’s not a good thing). But the total weight of the CO2 produced is more than the weight of the O2 consumed, so without question, burning fossile fuels adds mass to the atmosphere, and I don’t think there’s some built-in process to remove something else to keep the total atmospheric mass constant.

Regards,
Trevor

223. Bart says:

Don Easterbrook says:
May 1, 2014 at 8:27 am

“…but it isn’t the only cause of increased CO2.”

True. It is not temperature alone. But, it is a temperature dependent process. The slope of the rate of change of CO2 curve at that link is fully accounted for by the temperature relationship. However, the rate of emissions also has a slope. There is little to no room for it. The slope is already accounted for by the temperature relationship. Hence, human induced emissions cannot be the controlling factor in atmospheric CO2.

My currently preferred explanation is that it is an elevated concentration of CO2 emerging in upwelling ocean waters, whose outgassing is being modulated by changing temperatures.

224. Phil. says:

rgbatduke says:
May 1, 2014 at 8:58 am
I actually have a couple of questions generated from the list above — serious ones I hope.

First, pressure broadening. Yes, I understand exactly where pressure broadening comes from — it is associated with the phase interruption brought about by collisions that alter the shape/width of the IIRC Lorentzian associated with any given emission line. The collisions don’t add energy (on average) but the phase interruption ensures that the fourier transform of the emission line gets fatter. No problem.

My problem is that I cannot for the life of me understand why pressure broadening should depend in any way on the partial pressure of CO_2. It should depend on the pressure, to be sure, and the density, without any doubt and the temperature — basically on the mean free time between collisions. Collisions with anything, not just CO_2 – CO_2 collisions.

Now is somebody asserting the increasing atmospheric CO_2 from 300 ppm to 600 ppm is going to increase the absolute pressure of the atmosphere anywhere in any measurable way? Or am I very confused about pressure broadening and does it in fact depend on partial pressure of particular species? Because this is one thing I just don’t get…

You are indeed confused about pressure broadening, different gases have different broadening coefficients, in particular the ‘self broadening’, in this case of CO2 by CO2. Check out references on line by line calculations such as HITRAN, Spectracalc covers it I think:

http://www.spectralcalc.com/info/CalculatingSpectra.pdf

225. thegriss says:

ps..

A great effort to ENFORCE CONSENSUS among non CAGWer, of Roy’s opinion s about the issue.

226. It seems to me that the single individual greatest point of contention is number 9 concerning the global average temperature. Several people have made good analogies and inspired by one of them. I have measured all 10 rooms in my house (which can equate to Koppen climate zones). They ranged from 9.2C to 18.5C (fuel is too expensive to heat every room, whilst solar gain has made a difference to a couple of them)

The average was 14.5C although that was not the actual temperature of any of the rooms.

What does that average tell us? Is it useful? Is it meaningful? Can we learn anything from it?
Is it merely hiding the fact that some of the rooms are distinctly chilly whilst others are just about warm enough?

An average global temperature is merely hiding the nuances that would show that some parts of the world are reacting differently to other parts, in as much some are cooling whilst others warm. Why they are reacting differently is not being examined

I’m still not convinced by any of the arguments that, whilst it may be technically possible to come up with a global average (although that seems debatable due to the lack of consistency) it is necessarily meaningful or helpful.

tonyb

227. Amatør1 says:

Show us the empirical data proving that a ‘greenhouse effect’ caused by CO2 exists.

228. Jimbo says:

9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE

Some people are interpreting this as ‘correct temperature’ or ‘ideal temperature.’ That is not the same as ‘average temperature.’ The average temperature today, this year, or the last decade is what it is – average – whether useful or not. During the PETM global temperature rose by 6 °C. Since the end of the Little Ice Age temps have risen by ~0.8C.

229. Joseph Bastardi says:

In the end though , given the magnitude of all the other competing factors around it, what do you estimate c02′s addition to the temp at? If its close to 0, then what are we arguing over. The fact is its part of the far bigger blanket ( I think greenhouse is a non descriptive term.. its a blanket of gasses that are most dense near the earths surface and therefore the interaction is something that is up for constant debate. A lowering of 1C of ocean water at 80 has far more effect on the global mixing ratios than a rise of 10 degrees where air is bone dry and is near 0F) I estimate c02 is effectively boxed into a .4 to .7C “responsibility” if you will compared to the other blanket gasses that make up the estimated 33c of warming that make the planet livable. But my point is that in the circular firing squad this has become, next to everything else, anyone wish to estimate exactly how much of disaster this causing. And given the ideas I spouted when the PDO flipped and are clearly seen in the NCEP recreation of temperatures in the past 10 years, is a point here that without co2 we would be descending into an ice age. Which is my point to Dr Spencer. Over the years, everything you have said IMO is spot on. I have changed ideas based on what you teach. However, YOU HAVE TO TELL ME what the result is. I need you to quantify it. Its like any argument I have, okay make your forecast. Tell me what the contribution is. Are you saying without this increase.. and yes its as fast as its ever been but its still tiny compared to all around it, are you saying without it we would be heading down faster than what we see here since the PDO flip

The point is not to challenge your points Roy, its to say WHATS THE FORECAST! My neanderthal ideas say weigh everything, assign a value, then make the forecast. Given what I know, the role co2 plays is so tiny that we are like theologians arguing over how many angels can be stuck on the head of the needle. My bottom line from 07 remains. that by 2030 we return to the measurements of sea ice and temps we were at in 1978 the start of the satellite era and start of the warm PDO. When the AMO flips that should tell the tale. The wild card of solar activity and stochastic events form the triple crown of climate. But perhaps its because of my limited education, bs PSU, that I cant grasp the idea that this small amount of gas is going to be of any major consequence in the global climate given the magnitude of all around it . I think that is also the screaming message of the Dr Vincent Grays chart

and Dr William Grays Holy Grail (IMO)

http://typhoon.atmos.colostate.edu/Includes/Documents/Publications/gray2012.pdf

All these things you have said, and again I am not as versed as you, look correct to me, But in the realm of the planetary climate and the variance that comes natural to it, does it make a difference and can it be quantified. If not, its effect as close to 0 as it can be, so close that all of us in this fight are just useful tools of an agenda that really couldnt give a hoot about it anyway

[Thank you. Mod]

230. Louis says:

Has anyone calculated a margin of error for global average temperature as currently calculated? I suspect the margin of error is greater than 1C, which would mean that the 0.8C of global warming estimated to have occurred over the past century is within the margin of error or very close to it. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t warmed, just that we can’t say for sure based on the data we have.

231. lb says:

On averages
Last winter (say 29th of december, I don’t remember) I was sitting in the garden on the southeastern side of my house. Eleven o’clock in the morning. The sun is shining. The thermometer hanging there shows friendly 19 degrees celsius.
The other side of the house, in the shade till afternoon, shows -3 degrees celsius.
So, please, what’s the average temperature of my garden?

232. Noonan says:

If the so-called “scientists” of the IPCC could prove their theories, they wouldn’t have to worry about skeptics, would they?

233. thegriss says:

Anthony’s site is now heading the same way of most alarmist sites,

Blocking and deleting dissenting views.

This is how CONSENSUS works.

234. lb says:

On greenhouse effect
I don’t really understand how the greenhouse effect works. But consider the moon. 100 degrees on the dayside. -100 degrees on the nightside.
So our atmosphere (somehow) cools during the day and keeps warm at night. Even more so when cloudy.

235. thegriss says:

This site is now heading the same way of most alarmist sites,

Blocking and deleting dissenting views.

This is how CONSENSUS works.

[?? Mod]

236. Dodgy Geezer says:

… So, where is the 100x as fast rise in today’s temperature causing this CO2 rise? C’mon people, think. But not to worry…CO2 is the elixir of life…let’s embrace more of it!..

I DO like to see this point being made. I have lost count of the number of times someone has said to me: “Even if there’s no Global Warming, cutting CO2 output must surely be good?”

I want to start a “500 PPM” club, dedicated to the improvement of all growing plants…

237. thegriss says:

Its simple lb,

This thing they are calling the greenhouse effect is actually an atmospheric gravity effect.

The atmospheric gradient allows the retention of heat in the lower layers.

Moon has no atmosphere.. very little gravity effect

Earth has a semi-tenuous atmosphere, so a variable gravity effect

Venus has a massive atmospheric gravity effect and basically retains the same temp over its whole surface even on the non-sunwards side.

238. Duster says:

I think that Dr Roy’s post is quite useful, but maybe overly prone to dichotomizing the debate. For instance warming DOES cause CO2 to rise as oceans warm. Gas solubility, specifically CO2, in water is an inverse function of temperature – so warmer water means less gas in solution, and if it isn’t in aqueous solution it is in the atmosphere. That is as much of laboratory fact as the fact that CO2 absorbs LWIR. Both statements are true. The real question is how important each one is in the climatic scheme of things and what aspects of the system moderate what would otherwise be a positive feedback loop.

Also, while I would agree that arguing that is no average global temperature is foolish, since any numerical data can be averaged, still an average is a mathematical artifact that one hopes will relate meaningfully to reality. Presently what we know about temperatures on a global scale is very limited and biased both in time and in spatial distribution. So, perhaps at present there is simply no useful estimate of global temperature at any high degree of precision. There certainly can’t be prior to satellite data acquisition.

239. thegriss says:

@ Dodgy.. “I want to start a “500 PPM” club, dedicated to the improvement of all growing plants…”

nah. just to annoy Weepy McGibben.. Towards 700ppm !! :-)

240. Amatør1 says:

lb says:
May 1, 2014 at 1:03 pm
On greenhouse effect
I don’t really understand how the greenhouse effect works. But consider the moon. 100 degrees on the dayside. -100 degrees on the nightside.

The only significant anthropogenic atmospheric effect happened on the Moon. Apollo doubled the mass of the lunar atmosphere. Six times.

241. Jeff says:

Dodgy Geezer says:
May 1, 2014 at 1:04 pm

I have lost count of the number of times someone has said to me: “Even if there’s no Global Warming, cutting CO2 output must surely be good?” ”

Anymore I just respond to the CO2 syncophants with “100,000 lemmings can’t be wrong”…

All those folks can do is follow, not think. 500 PPM Club…sounds like a great mug/t-shirt/cartoon….
Paging Josh….

242. lb says:

Karim D. Ghantous says:
May 1, 2014 at 7:28 am

Here’s something I’d like answered: is there such a thing as a ‘global’ climate? Isn’t climate regional by definition? Mind you, Earth is a region in the solar system. But still, this question bugs me.

I think yes, there is something like global climate. It’s called ice ages. The global climate seems to have to stable states, either it’s an ice age or an intermediary. The small temperature fluctuations during an intermediary are just ‘weather’, imho.

243. In agreement with Paul Westhaver at 11:05 am on #9.

9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE
I agree that one can try to arrive at a number but it is a meaningless figure and can’t be compared to anything in the past with any precision that bear relevance to the small changes in modern measurements, especially considering the suggested PRECISION of the IPCC…. So I disagree with you.

I think I would restate the argument as: There is no such thing as a global average temperature that HAS BEEN DERIVED FROM TEMPERATURES CONSISTENTLY RECORDED OVER DECADES. There are individual Global Average Temperatures that are only in general agreement, with bands of uncertainty larger than any signal that is attempted to be detected.

We could derive an average elevation of the earth. We could even derive an average elevation of the earth with 80% of the measurements from mountain tops. Year by year we could repeat the exercise again with 80% of the measurements coming from mountain tops, but different mountain tops. Fiinally, decades after the measurements are made, other researchers apply correction factors to account for erosion. We indeed would have an average elevation of the earth record, but it is biased by sample selection, contaminated by inconsistency and poorly justified historical adjustments. It would be A Global Average Elevation of the earth, but no one could believe it was THE average elevation of the earth.

Now, exchange temperatures for elevations, cities and micrositing issues for mountain tops and you have the ground thermometer A Global Average Temperature of the earth. But we do not have THE Global Average Temperature of the Earth.

244. milodonharlani says:

Joseph Bastardi says:
May 1, 2014 at 12:55 pm

A ball park method of quantifying the effect of more CO2 on global average temperature:

1) Ignore all GHGs (or blanket molecules) except for CO2 & H2O, since the others occur in such low concentrations (ie, parts per billion or trillion).

2) Ignore differences in strength of GHG effect between the two gases.

3) Assume little or no increase in H2O concentration from increase in CO2 (at least as justified an estimate as IPCC’s unwarranted assumption of powerful positive feedback effect).

4) Then, using 30,000 parts per million as the average global level of H20 in the air, the increased GHG effect of CO2 gain from ~285 ppm in 1850 to ~400 ppm should be (30,400 / 30,285) = 1.0038, for 0.38% more heating.

5) Given an estimated total heating by the GHE of ~33 degrees C, we can therefore, in this very rough calculation, thank increased CO2 during the past 164 years for ~0.125 degree C of warming. This of course is liable to be a large overestimate, since the GHE is a logarithmic function, with most of the effect occurring at much lower concentrations of GHGs in the atmosphere.

http://ase.tufts.edu/cosmos/view_chapter.asp?id=21&page=1

Please feel free to adjust for the factors which I ignored, if you think adjustments are warranted or supported by theory or better yet observational or experimental data.

245. lb says:

thegriss says:
May 1, 2014 at 1:07 pm
[...]
Venus has a massive atmospheric gravity effect and basically retains the same temp over its whole surface even on the non-sunwards side.

Thanks. I just googled Venus atmosphere. It must be much heaviear than our atmospheredue to it’s composition because Venus and Earth are approx the same size and density. So it’s proven: CO2 is guilty ;-)

246. Steven Mosher says:

Joseph

“The fact is its part of the far bigger blanket ( I think greenhouse is a non descriptive term.. its a blanket of gasses that are most dense near the earths surface and therefore the interaction is something that is up for constant debate. ”

The confusion continues.

The part of the atmosphere where the concentration is most important is much higher, above the ERL.

Next, The interaction is not “up for debate” the interaction is well understood. It’s beyond science. Its functioning engineering.

You cannot view earth from space in a broadband fashion without understanding the interaction.

The very weather forecast models you use day in and day out contain this physics. Without this physics they are horribly wrong. Without this physics you couldnt build a stealth airplane, a heat seeking missile, or anything that relies on the theory of EM transmission through the atmosphere.

247. @ Dodgy.. “I want to start a “500 PPM” club, dedicated to the improvement of all growing plants…”

Bumper Sticker:
FREE the Carbon 12

248. Key thing in this thread is that radiation physics is not a good talking point for a sceptic. At the high school level the theory of warming is solid. You can warm 100% CO2 on pressurised container with a CO2 laser. Theory does not fall even though Al Gore failed in warming 400 ppm CO2 with sunlight. Real life with all the complications of the climate system is not a trivial case for university level physicists. Models fail, but why.

Instead we should be talking about the benefits of CO2 and alleged warming. We should look at the measurements and facts instead of ridiculous threats that alarmists talk about.

249. TRG says:

Thank you, Roy. Now, if we could only get the other side to demonstrate a similar degree of open-mindedness.

250. “The only significant anthropogenic atmospheric effect happened on the Moon. Apollo doubled the mass of the lunar atmosphere. Six times.”

Apparently mass is not relevant, only the radiative capability of the material added :)

251. LT says:

The question I cannot get answered is: “Why does CO2 not currently increase by more than 2 PPM per year? When considering it has been rising at this pace roughly unchanged for the last few decades. However the amount of CO2 humanity is generating has increased be several factors over the same time period.

252. milodonharlani says:

lb says:
May 1, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Inconvenient truths ignored by Jim “Venus Express” Hansen:

The atmosphere of Venus has a mass of 4.8×10^20 kg, about 93 times the mass of earth’s total atmosphere. The density of air at its surface is 67 kg/m^3, or about 6.5% that of liquid water on earth.

Basilevsky, Alexandr T.; Head, James W. (2003). “The surface of Venus”. Rep. Prog. Phys. 66 (10): 1699–1734.

Pressure on Venus’ surface is so high that CO2 is technically not a gas there, but a supercritical fluid. This supercritical CO2 forms a “sea” covering the entire surface of Venus. The supercritical CO2 ocean transfers heat very efficiently, buffering temperature changes between night & day (which last 56 terrestrial days).

Fegley, B. et al. (1997). Geochemistry of Surface-Atmosphere Interactions on Venus (Venus II: Geology, Geophysics, Atmosphere, and Solar Wind Environment). University of Arizona Press.

Just a few of the differences between the two planets which render Hansen’s catastrophism ludicrous.

253. Cynical_Scientst says:

Another annoying falsehood for your list.

11. The greenhouse effect can’t heat the oceans because IR doesn’t penetrate into water and so you can’t heat water with IR from above.

254. Latitude says:

LT says:
May 1, 2014 at 1:34 pm

The question I cannot get answered is: “Why does CO2 not currently increase by more than 2 PPM per year?
====
exactly….
The question is not why it increased…..the question should be how was it lowered to where it became limiting…..and why isn’t it doing the exact same thing again

Personally, I find it fascinating that the tiny amount of CO2 that we’ve added to the atmosphere didn’t immediately disappear

/snark

255. Don Easterbrook says:
May 1, 2014 at 12:26 pm

more recent short warming intervals from 1982-2012 that were followed by increased atmospheric CO2.

No, CO2 levels increased all the time thanks to human emissions. Only the sink rate changed with the temperature changes:

The dynamic equilibrium between ocean surface and atmosphere increases with 17 microatm for 1 K temperature increase. Vegetation goes the other way out. Average over decades to multi-millennia: 8 ppmv/K.
Temperature increase since 1945: 0.4 K
CO2 increase due to temperature increase: 3.2 ppmv.
Measured CO2 increase since 1945: ~95 ppmv of which 85 ppmv accurate after 1959.

Short term variations (seasonal to 2-3 years) in CO2: 4-5 ppmv/K
Long term variations (multi-decadal to multi-millennia) in CO2: 8 ppmv/K
Current increase in CO2, if it was caused by temperature: > 100 ppmv/K

Temperature variations cause the variations around the rate of change trend, but temperature has zero contribution to the trend, see Wood for Trees.
The trend in rate of change of CO2 is entirely from the emissions, as these increase slightly quadratic over time, so do the sinks and thus the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. That is what gives the slope in the rate of change:

As there is a pi/2 fase lag of CO2 changes after temperature changes, the derivatives of CO2 changes also lags pi/2 the derivative of temperature changes (and temperature changes exactly time up with the derivative of the CO2 changes, which may lead to false conclusions…).

256. Roy I’m happy to say I believe you’re right on 9 out of ten.

You’re wrong, however on item #7. The ice core record is subject to huge smoothing error by virtue of temporal sampling limitations an enormous attenuation by virtue of CO2 diffusion between ice layers. Everyone’s intuition says what you assert. The correct argument is below.

257. @milodonharlani at 1:20 pm
5) Given an estimated total heating by the GHE of ~33 degrees C,

That is not a given. This is one of the CAGW arguments that I don’t think holds water…. because it was derived WITH water.

33 deg C is built from the assumption of 30% albedo. First, the albedo layer has two sides. If it is used to reflect energy away from the earth, it also must trap it. The albedo should not be used as a one-way mirror and it is to get to 33 deg C. Secondly, 30% albedo is largely due to water vapor condensed in the atmosphere. You cannot use a GHG to increase the albedo and decrease the temperature of the earth “without GHGs”.

If you didn’t have water as a GHG, then you wouldn’t have clouds, albedo would be lower than 33% and average surface temperatures would be higher than 255 deg C, and the implied GHG warming would be lower than 33 deg C.

258. milodonharlani says:

Stephen Rasey says:
May 1, 2014 at 1:47 pm

I agree, but used the US government’s own figure as one of my simplifying assumptions, all of which are subject to challenge without, IMO, materially affecting the general conclusion, ie any CO2 increase since AD 1850 has had negligible effect on average global T (if measurable), which in any case would be beneficial.

Much as I respect Dr. Spencer, I cannot agree with many of his points.

First of all, if the effects of AGW are nugatory, as skeptics generally agree they are, the theory that man causes climate change is essentially wrong, because the effects can’t be separated from the noise in natural factors. While “statistically indistinguishable from zero” is not zero in strict mathematical terms, it is in practical terms.

No one, not even the hardest-line skeptic (and I’m pretty hard-line) claims that climate doesn’t change, or even that man has no effect on climate. Man certainly affects climate locally through the UHI and land use practices, but these effects are immaterial in global terms, and some land use practices (such as planting large areas with trees) probably contribute to cooling rather than warming.. So are the effects of CO2.

The fundamental problems with AGW are first, that is relies on empty assertions (models) and second, assumes a priori that what is actually one of the most minor, most de minimis factors in climate change is the universal driver of climate change. It is like saying a flood is caused when someone spits into a river. (Recalls the old Texas joke about how a flood occurs when three people spit in the street at the same time.)

We also mustn’t lose sight of the agendas of those who are pushing the AGW meme. That it is first and foremost a political, not a scientific, conception is evident in its adherents’ ready departure from the scientific method when evidence falsifying the hypothesis, and their search, often evidencing desperation, for some esoteric, and invariably wrong, explanation of, in effect, why the hypothesis fails (such as heat hidden in the ocean).

Finally, I still believe strongly that skeptics need concede nothing to the alarmists. To the extent that the evidence against AGW amassed by skeptics may not address every possible issue, or that there is disagreement among skeptics as to details, this is not enough to refute the firm conclusion that the AGW hypothesis is falsified and should not under any circumstances be driving public policy. This is the more important because policies driven by AGW are doing enormous harm, not merely economic harm but human suffering and death on a substantial scale.

I would hope that all skeptics explicitly accept responsibility to act to get a stop put to AGW and the policies it engenders.

Finally, from a strictly epistemological point of view, yes, we do know that the fundamental AGW hypothesis, that man’s production of CO2 will cause global catastrophe, is false. That is a hard truth, an absolute truth that will never be undone, regardless of what either we skeptics or the promoters of AGW might believe.

260. I personally don’t like the term “greenhouse effect” as in my greenhouse the heat effect is only in the day time.

My brother inlaw was working for a man in commercial tomato production in greenhouses.
One part of his job was to make sure the CO2 levels were keep high by pumping some into the greenhouses every so often.
This didn’t make the greenhouse hotter but made the tomato grow faster.

And even with all that CO2 in the greenhouse at night they still need to be heated.

261. Latitude says:
May 1, 2014 at 1:42 pm

The increase in the atmosphere varies with temperature and can change by +/- 2 ppmv around the trend (running 12-month average). The trend itself did go up from ~0.7 ppmv/year (1959) to ~2.1 ppmv/year (2013), around 50-55% of the emissions:

262. #7 Is rather poorly written and confusing and should be reworded. For example, change “rise” to “increase” since it took me a while to figure out that you weren’t talking about CO2 “rising” to the upper atmosphere. Also, does it not go without saying that a warming planet will cause CO2 to increase as a result of decreased solubility in the oceans?

For those of you saying that this post is pointless … why are you even here? Why come and read a blog like this, or participate in any related discussion, if you are not interested? Why post a comment when your only comment is “duh?” Pseudoscience is a horrible corrupting influence on arguments such as these, and it’s damn useful to have guys like Spencer periodically make posts such as this to correct things.

263. Rick says:

O2 and N2 which are some 99,7% of the atmospheric gases keeps the nights warm. They don’t absorb nor emit any ir-radiation. Mass of these gases are heated by conduction from sun heated earth, water etc. Atmosphere is very good isolation. I disagree most part of Roys arguments because I have done lot’s of reaserch work and practical testing in the area of thermodynamics. IR-radiation has very little to do in heat exchange systems in atmospheric tempratures. Only in upper part of the atmosphere it is only heat transfer method to radiate energy to space.

264. Latitude says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
May 1, 2014 at 1:59 pm
====
was talking biology Ferd………..

265. Jimbo says:

Now to cut the sceptics some slack here is Dr. James Hansen on the past major causes of the warming of the Earth. Heck if he can get it ‘wrong’ cut us some slack. Or maybe he was right in which case the debate is over!!

Abstract – PNAS – August 15, 2000
James Hansen et. al.
Global warming in the twenty-first century: An alternative scenario
A common view is that the current global warming rate will continue or accelerate. But we argue that rapid warming in recent decades has been driven mainly by non-CO2 greenhouse gases (GHGs), such as chlorofluorocarbons, CH4, and N2O, not by the products of fossil fuel burning, CO2 and aerosols, the positive and negative climate forcings of which are partially offsetting. The growth rate of non-CO2 GHGs has declined in the past decade……

http://www.pnas.org/content/97/18/9875.long

==============

Abstract – PNAS – 4 November 2003
James Hansen et. al.
Soot climate forcing via snow and ice albedos
Plausible estimates for the effect of soot on snow and ice albedos (1.5% in the Arctic and 3% in Northern Hemisphere land areas) yield a climate forcing of +0.3 W/m2 in the Northern Hemisphere. The “efficacy” of this forcing is ~2, i.e., for a given forcing it is twice as effective as CO2 in altering global surface air temperature. This indirect soot forcing may have contributed to global warming of the past century, including the trend toward early springs in the Northern Hemisphere, thinning Arctic sea ice, and melting land ice and permafrost……

http://www.pnas.org/content/101/2/423.abstract

266. lb says:

milodonharlani says:
May 1, 2014 at 1:36 pm
The atmosphere of Venus has a mass of 4.8×10^20 kg, about 93 times the mass of earth’s total atmosphere.
So it’s the mass of the atmosphere that defines the greenhouse effect?
I assume a change from 300ppm CO2 to 400ppm doesn’t affect the mass much.
And I like warm. warmer. I dread the next ice age. With a population of more than 7’000’000’000 humans, earth can’t afford another ice age.

267. richard says:

“Despite the fact that downwelling IR from the sky can be measured”

IF from co2 at what point does the downward IR u-turn back upwards to be potentially re- absorbed by the co2 that first emitted it -

Very odd situation, Perpetual motion, I like it!

268. Arno Arrak says:

269. milodonharlani says:

lb says:
May 1, 2014 at 2:17 pm

There is debate over the effect of mass alone on planetary T, but even considering just the GHE, one extra molecule of CO2 per 10,000 dry air molecules will have little effect, you’re right. And also that warmer is better than colder within the bounds of possible change in T.

That said, the atmosphere of Venus is not a good model for earth’s.

270. Engineer Ron says:
May 1, 2014 at 1:43 pm

You’re wrong, however on item #7. The ice core record is subject to huge smoothing error by virtue of temporal sampling limitations an enormous attenuation by virtue of CO2 diffusion between ice layers.

Ron there is very little diffusion of CO2 between ice layers. In the “warm” coastal cores that gives a broadening of the resolution from 20 years to 22 years at medium depth and from 20 to 40 years at full depth (70 kyears) in the Siple Dome ice core:

http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/3773250

But there is no measurable migration in the “cold” inland ice cores like Vostok or Dome C. If there was the slightest migraiton, the quite fixed ratio between CO2 and temperature (proxy) would fade for each interglacial period 100 kyears back in time.

Even these low resolution ice cores (600 and 560 years resp.) would show the 100+ increase over the past 150 years…

And I have provided lots of comments on the reference you gave…

271. CRS, DrPH says:

Thank you, Dr. Spencer. I see that the supportive comments far outnumber critical comments.

This was a useful exercise, I would enjoy seeing a list of the “top ten” skeptical arguments that are peer-reviewed and unassailable by the CAGW crowd. These could include the lack of warming in the past decade or so; relative insensitivity of climate to carbon dioxide levels; rising temperatures precede rising carbon dioxide levels & not vice-versa, etc.

Another “top ten” could be a list of the most ludicrous CAGW claims, such as Hansen’s “Venus Syndrome” scare-story: http://www.climatevictory.org/venus.html

272. As to #9 – a modest proposal… can you describe a method to measure your bath tub water temperature while filling it with warm water [both taps on] with precision and accuracy sufficient to honestly report its temperature to +/- 0.01 C in 1 minute intervals?

Let me save you some time, your bath tub water doesn’t have a temperature at that level of granularity and its dishonest to pretend it does, and we sure a hell didn’t measure the earth’s atmosphere to a similar granularity – ever – over any period of time. Therefore we don’t have a data pool sufficient to make statements about past states or make predictions about future states in the the realm of 2 significant digits. In fact the actual measurement set you could achieve in your bath tub in the conditions described and honestly report is probably well over 100x less accurate than 0.01 C. For the planet’s atmosphere it is obviously a lot more challenging a task carried out with a lot less care and control than you might exercise in your bath tub, and therefore the data pool is significantly less accurate and less precise than available in that thought experiment.

With that fact in mind when we look at the pool of alarmist global warming models and the claimed granularity of Global Average Temperature [GAT] information from the past and the predictions made going forward, its pretty obvious the exercise is well outside of what was measured and therefore well outside what anyone could rationally claim to be able to predict. And lo and behold – such predictions in fact don’t “hold water”.

Pretending we know that the GAT in 1939 was 0.36 C less than it was in 1998 is pretending. For all we know it was actually hotter in ’39, because the simple truth is we didn’t measure accurately or precisely enough to honestly report a difference that small.

273. David McKeever says:

#7 is still a mystery to me (both the argument and what is wrong with it). Maybe a link?

274. Dr Burns says:

If #9 was as claimed, it should be a T**4 average.
I’m surprised that an average temperature of your home is claimed to make sense, when the refrigerator and gas cooktops are included.

275. I know it is your blog, but I am saddened you snipped my comment identifying Pierre Latour’s response to Spencer. It is not a food fight but a series of legitimate scientific points and questions in a very important debate. My experience continues to be that the more specialists are made aware of the use of their area for climate science, especially IPCC style, the more problems of misuse arise some through ignorance and some deliberate.

276. richardscourtney says:

LT:

At May 1, 2014 at 1:34 pm you write

The question I cannot get answered is: “Why does CO2 not currently increase by more than 2 PPM per year? When considering it has been rising at this pace roughly unchanged for the last few decades. However the amount of CO2 humanity is generating has increased be several factors over the same time period.

As you say, the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration does not match the anthropogenic emission. And this is not supportive of the assumption of “accumulation” of some of the anthropogenic CO2 causing the rise. Indeed, the dynamics of the seasonal rise clearly refute that the rise is caused by saturation of the system inducing accumulation of part of the anthropogenic emission.

Also, the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration does not match the temperature rise. This is clearly seen during this century when there has been no discernible (at 95% confidence) rise in global temperature but the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration has continued unabated.

But these facts do NOT indicate that either the anthropogenic emission or global temperature change is not the cause of the rise in in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

Some effects of the carbon cycle have rate constants of years and decades so the system takes decades to adjust to an altered equilibrium. Indeed, the ice core data indicates a lag of atmospheric CO2 behind global temperature which suggests that achieving the equilibrium can take ~8 centuries.

The existing observations are all consistent with the carbon cycle adjusting to a changed equilibrium to provide the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

And if the equilibrium state of the carbon cycle has changed then the cause of the rise in atmospheric CO2 is whatever caused the alteration to the equilibrium state. Perhaps the anthropogenic emission has altered the equilibrium state. And perhaps the temperature rise from the Little Ice Age (LIA) has altered the equilibrium state. And perhaps … etc..

So, I do not know what has caused the recent rise in in atmospheric CO2. In reality nobody knows the cause because the available data does not indicate the cause, but some people think they know the cause.

I hope this brief answer is sufficient for you and does not deflect the thread.

Richard

277. Julien says:

Jimbo: Indeed, he probably got it wrong, as most of the global warming measured is a side effect of the much underestimated UHI; due to rapid urbanisation since the 50′s (the earth’s population grew from 1 billion to over 7 billions in half a century, and the climate stations didn’t move during that time). There are some human manipulations of the data that seem to come into play eventually. Those 2 factors are still human causes for the warming as seen by the data series released to the public though… While CO2 is a greenhouse gas, to some extent (the molecule has a polarity, like H2O, so electromagnetic interactions at the molecular level are at play too); it is probably not the main contribution to the warming that the earth has seen since a century. But at least tonight i’ve understood that the weight of the molecule of CO2 probably doesn’t matter for the ideal gas approximation, as much as possible electromagnetic interactions.

278. Mike Jonas says:

About #7: IMHO Dr Spencer’s explanation is correct in essence if not detail, and the arguments here suggest it could have been expressed better. Perhaps the pertinent question is by how much would atmospheric CO2 concentrations have risen if there had been no man-made CO2?

Ferdinand Engelbeen (May 1 9:39am) provides the answer: max 8ppmv. Rather more than Dr Spencer suggests, but even allowing for lots of error it’s a small amount nonetheless.

Dr Spencer : Many thanks for the sanity that you have promoted over the years. Please can you refine your 10 points in light of the comments here, and post them in a permanent place for ongoing reference. And of course referenced from, or copied in, WUWT, JoNova, etc.

279. If Co2 were a layer in the atmosphere how thick would it be?.

280. Jordan says:

.“THERE IS NO GREENHOUSE EFFECT”
There is a difference between a “total effect” (e.g. from some zero level), and an “incremental effect” (e.g. from some non-zero reference level). Beer’s Law is relevant here, as I often see worrymongers quoting the ~30K rise in temperature as if this is supposed to be relevant to the assumed enhanced GHE.

Some form of saturating effect in the atmospheric system is all it takes to blow the enhanced GHE argument. We know the climate seems to operate within limits. The “hotspot” is nowhere to be seen. The models (with non-saturated assumptions) are poor predictors. There is plenty of evidence to point to saturating processes, even if we have not presently identified and described them.

If you change to: “there is no ENHANCED greenhouse effect”, you get a fair sceptical question.

“THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT VIOLATES THE 2ND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS”
The crux is whether climate sensitivity is amplified by positive feedback. Can a rise of temperature CAUSE further rise in temperature? Energy added to the system caused by the last rise in energy in the system. It is essential to demonstrate conservation of energy and the physics for accumulation in the atmosphere to run this argument.
And it can be useful to test the same argument is the reverse direction as the same physical processes should still be active. Positive feedback suggests a drop in temperature would cause further drop. Why should we not be in a panic over imminent collapse of temperatures?

If you change to: “POSITIVE FEEDBACK in climate sensitivity violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics”, you get a fair sceptical question.

“THE IPCC MODELS ARE FOR A FLAT EARTH”
Maybe not in general, but the arguments about positive ice albedo feedback come pretty darned close.
Although complicated by seasonal variation, positive ice albedo feedback falls into a trap of assuming each increment of ice retreat will add energy (i.e. the exposed surface will cause net absorption).
This overlooks cos-theta for incoming solar – the next increment of ice retreat must therefore have a lower energy increment compared to the last. But the exposed surface then radiated into the hemisphere above – this is not a function of cos-theta of the incoming solar. It suggests some equilibrium state to be reached (all other things equal).
So it is no coincidence that there is ice at the poles, and it expands in the polar winters.
And like before, the idea can be tested by considering movement in the opposite direction. For an advancing ice sheet, each increment of ice advance would cover a better absorber. In this case, cos-theta would be increasing as the ice advances and therefore the next increment in albedo effect would reject an increasing quantity of incoming solar. It suggests albedo feedback (if it existed) would be more potent in the advancing mode as cos-theta increases. (Panic!)

If you change to: “POSITIVE ICE ALBEDO FEEDBACK is for a flat Earth”, you get a fair sceptical question.

281. Julien says:

JBJ: Just look at this year’s (and other years) sea ice extent for the Antarctic… see anything unusual? ;) This is weather, not climate. What’s interesting about the polar regions is that the duration of day and night has some interesting side effects on the climate of these regions. During the polar night they’re merely heat sinks, and the temperature in antarctic falls so low that CO2 may become liquid and eventually solid. Can’t remenber of any studies that quantifies the quantity of dry ice formed during the polar winters, strangely.

282. Neillusion says:

A few comments say that O2 & N2 dont absorb EM. Hasn’t it been established that, not only ‘they do’, but also that they are actually quite significant in the big picture?

283. Julien says:

markrust: Co2 is not a layer in the atmosphere, but the concentration of heavier gas decreases more rapidly as a function of altitude.

284. lou says:

I didn’t know it was the cold temperature of my clothese that kept me warm!

285. george e. smith says:

“””””…..Jimbo says:

May 1, 2014 at 12:46 pm

9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE …..”””””

Well the earth itself does not do averages; so whenever you read that word, you know it is a number that somebody calculated. Nobody ever observed an average temperature; or an average anything else either.

But the concept of average is quite precisely defined, in statistical mathematics.

But as Dr Roy said; you don’t need to know the average Temperature; you just need to know how the result of your calculation for some specific data set that is updated periodically, changes with those updates; presuming that you retain the same algorithm for all calculations.

Trouble is that we have people constantly changing the values calculated years ago, and trying to assert that they are using the same algorithm.

I don’t get the #6 issue, which is not to say it’s not an issue.

When moisture evaporates and then rise in the atmosphere, it presumably is storing gravitational potential energy. So when the rain drops come crashing down, do we get that PE back as KE, and “heat” when the rain drops collide with the ground ?? Never have thought much about the adiabatic thing.

One thing that seems self evident to me concerns delay effects.

We all see how at sunrise, the lower atmosphere and surface tend to immediately start heating, and after sundown, they will also be cooling.

So the Instantaneous Temperature anywhere in the atmosphere/ weather system, responds essentially instantaneously to what is happening in terms of incoming solar energy, and cloud blocking, Raleigh scattering, et cetera.

So if the CO 2 changes; and it does quite slowly; 2 ppm / yr., or 6-18 ppm in 5 months for the fine print; the effect of that on atmospheric warming, is not going to take any 800 years to manifest itself; it will happen immediately, just as a cloud passing in front of the sun, will cool the shadow zone instantly.

So I’m not into any cross correlations versus delay offset stuff. The effect on temperature of GHGs is rather immediate.

Now the 800 year or so offsets in the ice core records, between CO2 proxies, and temperature proxies. which seems quite evident in the reported data; I just don’t get a mechanism for.

And the band saturation thing is obvious. Beer’s law relates to the absorption of “specific wavelengths” versus optical path or absorbing species abundance. It does NOT apply to the “energy transmission” because it presumes that the captured photons stay dead; they do not stay dead. Einstein in his 1909 papers mentioned the “fluorescence” of the absorbing material, and Stokes had already observed, and alerted Einstein, to the fact that the fluorescence was always at a longer wavelength, lower energy photon emission. The “Stokes shift” is now a standard buzzword of solid state lighting. (white LEDs).

In a fluorescent lamp, a UV emission in the tube containing mercury, produces no visible light; but the UV photons cause fluorescence in the phosphors coating the tube., and the Stokes shift photon energy loss, going from UV, perhaps 4-5 eV photons to 2.5 eV or so visible photons, is the energy loss that appears as “heat” at the tube envelope. The loss in the phosphor, is what makes fluorescent tubes warm.

White LEDs typically use a 460 nm blue LED, perhaps 3.0 eV photon energy, to excite the 2.5 eV phosphor, but the surviving blue photons combined with the broad yellow photons from the phosphor, provide the white light; but the blue component involves no Stokes shift loss, which is why they are more efficient light sources.

So IR photons, also don’t stay dead in the CO2, but get a new life to move on, where they will no doubt, encounter another CO2, or whatever GHG molecule, to catch them.

So all that changes, is how thick (or thin) an air layer it takes to get them all. So yes the opaque already thing is a red herring.

I’m not a fan of the Trenberth “earth energy budget”, and also call his diagram, a “cartoon”. But not in any derogatory sense. My objection to it is that the numbers are actually power density numbers; not energy numbers, and the magnitude of those numbers, is quite different from the real observed rates of energy flow, so it is not a valid depiction of what really happens TSI(0) is still 1366 W/m^2, and not 342., and different things happen for those two numbers as a result.

But anyway, I personally believe Dr Roy has already turned over the Rosetta stone of climate stability. Its the strong negative cloud feedback, that frustrates everything else that is trying to change the thermostat. And Frank Wentz et al (RSS) got the experimental data to prove the mechanism.

286. Julien says:

lou, no, isolation, such as cloth, is a means of suppressing the velocity of air, which means your body can more easily heat a limited quantity of air efficiently.

287. richard says:

“Despite the fact that downwelling IR from the sky can be measured”

co2 at differing heights.

If co2 radiates energy downwards can co2 below absorb this energy. If so and this co2 then re- emits downwards and upwards , can the co2 above absorb this energy to re- emit it to the co2 below again?

Very bizarre situation.

288. Leigh says:

I had read somewhere that if the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere increased the temps wouldn’t, because the amount of CO2 that is already in the atmosphere has already reached it max heat trapping potential. Is that correct? (apologies for the unscientific terminology).

What has caused the temperature to remain flat for a couple of decades despite the increased CO2 in the atmospehere? Are you saying that the “man-made” CO2 must cause global warming in the long term, but that some short term factors are holding the temperatue down for now? What are those factors? When will they change and when they do change, how much do you expect the global average temperature to rise by?

290. rgbatduke says:

You are indeed confused about pressure broadening, different gases have different broadening coefficients, in particular the ‘self broadening’, in this case of CO2 by CO2. Check out references on line by line calculations such as HITRAN, Spectracalc covers it I think:

http://www.spectralcalc.com/info/CalculatingSpectra.pdf

Actually, no it doesn’t. It asserts that same species collisions have a different effect on broadening than collisions between species — no argument there as long as those effects are order unity — and then uses the same formula with no partial pressure indicated to estimate the total broadening, which makes no sense to me at all. The actual cause of pressure/collisional broadening is reviewed in Van Vleck and Weisskopf, Reviews of Modern Physics 17, p 227 (1945). Not so “Modern” any more, but more than adequate. This paper makes it clear that the basic cause of collision broadening is the phase interruption of an otherwise pure frequency train at intervals of the mean free time between collisions. The fourier transform of a pure harmonic signal phase interrupted with delta-correlated noise is Lorentian — end of story. The paper does all for a small effect due to either the details of the quantum interaction in a collision or a medium with inhomogeneous mean times between collisions, but the latter is extremely rare and again, the effects are order unity against the only really important parameter, the mean free time between phase interrupting collisions of any sort.

Now let’s do an interesting estimate. Suppose we are back in 1950, at 300 ppm CO_2. At that point the probability of a molecule being CO_2 is around $3 \times 10^{-4}$ independent of location in a well-mixed atmosphere. The probability of any given collision being CO_2 on CO_2 is then $\sim 10^{-7}$ — one collision in 10 million is CO_2 on CO_2. Even if we track individual CO_2 molecules, the probability of the next collision of a CO_2 molecule being CO_2 on CO_2 is $3 \times 10^{-4}$. That means that one expects the fractional contribution of the total line broadening due to CO_2 on CO_2 to be 0.03%. Even if it produced twice the broadening “per collision”, nobody would care — you couldn’t resolve it from the total with any measurement we are capable of. And note that this is really pretty unlikely — most of the broadening comes from phase interruption, not from resonant energy exchange AFAIK or can estimate.

If one doubles the concentration to 0.06%, nobody still cares. Even if the per-collision broadening of CO_2′s lines were ten times as strong for CO_2 on CO_2 as the per-collision broadening of CO_2 on N_2 or O_2, there just aren’t enough of the latter compared to the number of the former for it to constitute one whole percent of the total absorptivity, and the total absorptivity doesn’t have anything like a linear effect on the total GHE. We’re looking at a log effect based on an increase in $\alpha$ of order of 0.01%. That is the very definition of negligible.

Note well — we’re not talking about increasing CO_2 concentration so that the CO_2 on CO_2 collisions go from 10% of the total CO_2 on anything total to 50% of the total CO_2 on anything total. That would produce a meaningful variation of the total atmospheric absorptivity in the CO_2 band even if the lorentian linewidth of the former doubled compared that of the latter for non-CO_2 collisions for the same mean free time between collisions (holding pressure and mean density approximately constant, in other words). But I simply don’t see any way that even a fairly hefty increase in line width due to CO_2 on CO_2 collisions could ever make their contribution to the total line width anything but negligible for any order unity variations of CO_2 concentration in the absolute range from 0 to 1000 ppm.

Look at it this way. If you had a very dilute gas of pure CO_2 — one at the partial pressure of CO_2 in the atmosphere, that is, $0.0003 \times 10^5 = 30$ Pascals, with an enormously larger MFT between collisions, would you expect any sort of significant Lorentzian line width? Of course not — as the document you linked indicates (as well as Petty’s book which is sitting next to me as I write this) — this is precisely the region that inhomogeneous broadening due to thermal doppler shift dominates. The Lorentzian line width is completely negligible. So why does adding a lot more collisions with nitrogen somehow effect the Lorentzian contribution from CO_2 on CO_2 at this partial pressure?

I don’t think that it does. I’ve had a hard time following this argument since I started looking at Beers-Lambert. It looks like a simple error — collision broadening is dominated by the mean free time ONLY, and only fractionally altered by per-species variations, and you cannot use the mean free time of collisions between CO_2 and either N_2 or O_2 in an estimate of the broadening due to CO_2 on CO_2. You have to use the mean free time between CO_2 on CO_2 collisions, which is many orders of magnitude larger so even if the lines broaden more, they have to broaden orders of magnitude more for it to matter. And they don’t — the basic broadening mechanism is almost exactly the same.

If anybody has measurements of absorptivity variation in O2-N2-Ar mixtures with 0.03% CO_2 in the CO_2 bands, I’m happy to be convinced otherwise, or else feel free to direct me to physics that suggest that the actual total pressure P should in any way be relevant to the MFT between same-species collisions in a mixture rather than the partial pressure. I can easily believe that total pressure is related to the MFT, and that Lorentzian linewidth is dominated by MFT alone, but I’d be very skeptical of any argument that CO_2 the any-species MFT matters much in the per-species Lorentzian as a fraction of the whole.

rgb

291. charles nelson says:

Pretty much as I’ve always understood the science.
The closer we get to establishing a useful Global Average Temperature (i.e. satellites) and not the hilarious guesswork and manipulation that Warmist Scientists used in their reconstructions….the more likely we are to discover its remarkable stability.
This is why politically motivated science organisations relentlessly cool the past. They know that the runaway warming they predicted will not happen.

292. Latitude says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
May 1, 2014 at 2:29 pm
For the whole biosphere, we know the balance within large margins of error, thanks to the oxygen balance:
===
We will have to agree to disagree on that one…..
Because I strongly disagree.

…unless those large margins of error are so large nothing can be derived from them

What would an oxygen balance show you….if most of the processes had nothing to do with oxygen?

293. rgbatduke says:

Show us the empirical data proving that a ‘greenhouse effect’ caused by CO2 exists.

Sure. But you won’t understand it don’t want to believe it so you won’t bother to figure out why this is literally a photograph of the GHE at work:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/10/visualizing-the-greenhouse-effect-emission-spectra/

The figures are all reproduced from Grant Petty’s book. Buy it. Study it. Then come back. Oh, and BTW, Roy pointed out that any idiot can take an IR thermometer and point it up and measure the GHE for themselves. But nobody ever does.

rgb

I think that a lot of the times when people end up making the kind of statements that you point out it is because they are using lax language and not bothering to be precise enough about what exactly they are speaking. For example, “There is no Green House Effect” is often written, but the writer usually means (and you can tell by the context) that “The man-made CO2 is not causing the temperature to rise significantly through the mechanism called the Greenhouse effect”.

Now they may be right or wrong about that, but unfortunately the long sentence gets shortened often to “there is no green house effect”. I do not think that there are any serious people who know what they are talking about who think that the mechanism, called the Greenhouse Effect, does not exist.

I think they are correct because we can see in the temperature data that the temperature has not risen for a couple of decades. So we can conclude that there is no “explanation” for why the temperature has increased, because it has not increased over that time-scale. They are trying to explain why something happened when it did not even happen. It is nonsense.

Now people might want to talk about longer timescales, and that is fine. But let’s not forget that this timescale was good enough for the Goose when the global temperature was rising in the short term, but suddenly when it is not rising, that timescale is not good enough for the Gandar!

295. Julien says:
markrust: Co2 is not a layer in the atmosphere, but the concentration of heavier gas decreases more rapidly as a function of altitude.

That’s right but what I would like to know is how thick it would be if it were.

IE IF the atmosphere WERE 100KM thick im guessing that it would be around 40 metres thick.?

“They are trying to explain why something happened when it did not even happen. It is nonsense.”

What they should be trying to explain is why, given that the green house effect does exist, has the temperature not risen significantly given that we have pumped all of this CO2 ito the atmosphere.

ie. people need to explain what has been observed, not what has not been observed.

Not a criticism, I think this is a fantastic site and you do a great job in running it. I just wonder why you don’t have threaded comments.

298. Latitude says:

Adam…they can’t explain something they don’t understand…
Well put BTW….

299. milodonharlani says:

Neillusion says:
May 1, 2014 at 2:56 pm

N2 & O2 do absorb EM, but not in the visible & infrared parts of the spectrum.

Molecular nitrogen (N2) is largely transparent to IR & visible radiation because it’s a homonuclear molecule & thus has no dipole moment to couple to electromagnetic radiation at these wavelengths. Significant absorption does however occur at extreme ultraviolet wavelengths, beginning around 100 nanometers. This is associated with electronic transitions in the molecule to states in which charge is not distributed evenly between nitrogen atoms. This leads to significant absorption of ultraviolet radiation by nitrogen gas in earth’s upper atmosphere & those of other planets.

Oxygen (O2) presents two spectrophotometric absorption bands peaking at the wavelengths 687 & 760 nm, which is in the near IR (~700 nm to 1 mm) or visible range (variously given as roughly 400 to 700 nm, but broadly as 380 to 800 nm or narrowly 420 to 680 nm).

300. milodonharlani says:

Sorry, meant N2 alone in the first sentence.

301. milodonharlani says:
May 1, 2014 at 1:36 pm

“So it’s the mass of the atmosphere that defines the greenhouse effect?”

I got snipped twice for mentioning that.

302. Lets examine #10, the Earth is not a black body. Nobody said indeed it was, but it’s the mainstay of the elementary quantitive greenhouse misinformation, the difference between earth’s blackbody temperature and the actual average “surface”-temperature. It’s not even close in a totally different setting. The problem here is not so much the emissivity but the conductivity. A theoretical black body is a perfect conductor, dividing thermal energy equally on its surface, whereas the Earth is a near perfect insolator. This makes the theoretical ‘black body temperature’ totally invalid.

Substantiation?, look at the moon, no atmosphere and no greenhouse effect and the average temperature or black body temperature? Well, Willis explained here http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/08/the-moon-is-a-cold-mistress/ that the moon is much colder than you’d expect from the Stefan Boltzman equation. Therefore it’s useless misinformation to use the Earths blackbody model to explain greenhouse effect.

No the Earth is not a black body but it’s assumed on a daily basis in the first amendment paragraph 1, sub A of the holy global warming teaching to get the 33 degrees of greenhouse effect.

303. richardscourtney says:

Mike Jonas:

You begin your post at May 1, 2014 at 2:50 pm saying

About #7: IMHO Dr Spencer’s explanation is correct in essence if not detail, and the arguments here suggest it could have been expressed better.

Sorry, but no.

Dr Spencer’s point 7 is correct but his explanation of it is plain wrong. There are several reasons for this. I point you to the Vostock ice core assertion which is an essential part of his explanation.

The ice takes years to seal from snow which accumulates on top of existing ice. The IPCC says it takes 83 years to seal and it is porous ‘fern’ until it seals. During those years air is pumped in and out of the fern by changes in atmospheric pressure (i.e. weather) which mixes the gas.

Hence, the very best temporal resolution of that data is 83 years. The effect of the ’83 years to seal’ is similar to an 83-year running mean conducted on annual data from ice which sealed in a year. This Vostock ice core data cannot be compared to the Mauna Loa data (i.e. the longest recent time series of atmospheric CO2 concentration) because the Mauna Loa measurements only started to be acquired in 1958 (i.e. less than 83 years ago).

Dr Spencer’s explanation is also supportive of the IPCC assertion that the atmospheric CO2 is an accumulation of excess anthropogenic CO2. That assertion is clearly not true.

This is the CO2 data from Mauna Loa

http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/

The seasonal variation in each year is a slow rise indicating increase to atmospheric CO2 followed by a steep fall as sequestration of CO2 is greater than CO2 emission followed by a rapid reversal. There is no reduction to the rate of sequestration as the sequestering ‘sinks’ fill. Clearly, the sinks do not fill.

The annual rise of any year is the residual of the seasonal variation of that year.
The dynamics of the seasonal change is consistent with the carbon cycle adjusting to a new equilibrium. Adjustment of mechanisms with long rate constants provides the annual rise while adjustment of the mechanisms with very short rate constants provides the seasonal variation.

Richard

304. knr says:

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE
Better to say there is no such thing as an accurate global average temperature , the amount of data available and the problems it has means that if your actual doing science. as opposed to politics, you have to admit that all you can give is a ‘guess’ whose accuracy is questionable.
A problem which gets much worse the further back in time you get.

Its about , is what is really being said , but that does not bring in either confidence nor grant money .

305. 9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE Really?! Is there an average temperature of your bathtub full of water? Or of a room in your house

I can monitor the temperature in my house to within ±5°F. Okay, in one room. Now, how can I accurately calculate the 500 or so houses nearest here with just that one thermometer (which is fixed to my wall)? Should I use spatial or mass weighting? Would it be accurate to ±0.01°C? What if I read my thermometer (still fixed to the wall of my house) 100 times a day? What if I installed a digital thermometer that took (& recorded) 1000 readings a second: how much more closely could I determine the temperature of the neighbours’s houses? ±0.0001°C? Better? Worse?

& more to the point: does the fact that it’s 80° in Texarkana have any effect at all on the temperature in Fiji? Please show your work, Mr. Global Average Temperature Guy.

306. Latitude says:

richardscourtney says:
May 1, 2014 at 3:29 pm

There is no reduction to the rate of sequestration as the sequestering ‘sinks’ fill. Clearly, the sinks do not fill.
====
Thank you for saying that…………..so much better than I tried

307. Repost as I should of said 4 metres.
Julien says:
markrust: Co2 is not a layer in the atmosphere, but the concentration of heavier gas decreases more rapidly as a function of altitude.

That’s right but what I would like to know is how thick it would be if it were.

IE IF the atmosphere WERE 100KM thick im guessing that it would be around 4 metres thick.?

308. rgbatduke says:

In case I wasn’t specific enough, in the “Calculating Line Spectra” paper from spectracalc above, equation 9 contains:

$((1-q)\alpha_{LA} + q\alpha_{LS})$\$

times some stuff that parameterizes the total Lorentzian line width $\alpha_L$ for some particular e.g. CO_2 line. $1-q = 0.9996, q = 0.0004$ at the moment. Note that this formula only effectively creates the fractional average contribution to the line widths given the pressure — it hides a lot of nonlinearity, because in both cases $\alpha_{LA,LS}$ depend predominantly on the mean free time between collisions, which in turn depends on the temperature and the density (and, via the ideal gas law, the pressure). The mean free time between CO_2 on CO_2 collisions is an additional factor of $1/q$ longer than the time between CO_2 on anything else. Hence this formula is basically wrong. It only includes the direct effects of increasing the average linewidth by increasing the concentration of a fixed-absorptivity medium, but the average linewidth is also a function of its concentration. The partial pressure of CO_2 is so low that CO_2 on CO_2 collisions have a smaller effect on the total linewidth than doppler broadening, which is already ignored in this regime.

This means that I’m still waiting for somebody to explain why there is any significant variation to be expected in integrated absorptivity of CO_2 with variations in partial pressure as long as that partial pressure remains utterly negligible compared to the total pressure.

Note well that I am not in any way arguing that CO_2 is not opaque due to Beers-Lambert absorption — the mean free path of IR photons is without any doubt far, far less than the thickness of the atmosphere in the lower atmosphere, the integrated absorptivity in band is in no sense “negligible”. I just don’t see any argument for pressure broadening at a level that is conceivably detectable with same-species absorptivity being a weighted 0.04% contribution to the total Lorentzian per line, and with the same species line width dominated by an ADDITIONAL factor of 1/0.0004 = 2500 in the mean free time between same-species collisions.

I just cannot make a Fermi estimate come CLOSE to working out that this makes any contribution I should not completely, utterly ignore.

rgb

309. more soylent green! says:

Bruce Cobb says:
May 1, 2014 at 6:22 am
This is a pointless exercise, and uses strawman arguments. The quality (or lack thereof) of whatever arguments skeptics make is easily discernible.
The key point is that reality itself is showing that the effect of man’s additional CO2 is minimal. The reason appears to be negative feedbacks. Those pesky clouds have a nasty habit of wrecking climate models.

Au contraire, mon frere — A skeptic does himself or or his cause great harm when using bad arguments. Don’t you believe it’s important to get people to quit using false arguments when discussing why they are skeptical (to anything)?

I think you’re saying these top 10 fallacies don’t matter because global warming isn’t happening and it’s not important why, it’s just enough that the “consensus opinion” (my words) is wrong?

310. rgbatduke says:

To be even clearer, equation 9 from Van Vleck and Weisskopf clearly shows that $\alpha \propto 1/\tau$ where $\tau$ is the mean free time between collisions. None of the rest of the formula depends on the intermolecular force or species — Lorentzian phase interruption doesn’t really depend on the details of the force that causes the interruption as long as the interruption occurs in the impulse approximation (that is, time in contact is “short” compared to the line lifetime, which is without question going to be the case). Even allowing for second order exchange of virtual photons in resonance and so on, there is a factor of 0.0004 between the otherwise similar MFT in same and different species collisions.

Nothing I see in the theory seems likely to prove that same-species alpha contribution will be anywhere near as large as alpha between species once the double whammy of concentration squared is accounted for. One part in 10 to the seventh is anybody’s definition of negligible.

rgb

311. I’m confused. This is, by a wide margin, the largest group of skeptics on the Internet. While lurking, I cannot recall hearing any of the arguments 1-10 with the possible exception of item 9. Did I miss something?

312. Nullius in Verba says:

Roy, Nice effort. :-) I’m amazed to see your persistence – I usually give up arguing with them after a day or two.

As everyone knows, the essential property that makes a ‘greenhouse gas’ is that it is opaque to IR, causing it to absorb and re-emit thermal IR in all directions. And as is easily confirmed in laboratory experiments, liquid water is opaque to thermal IR, absorbing it almost entirely within a few tens of microns. Therefore, liquid water should act as a greenhouse ‘gas’ (despite being liquid – you can call it a ‘greenhouse fluid’ if you like).

It’s a good test of whether somebody knows what they’re talking about to ask them to calculate the magnitude of the greenhouse effect in a shallow pond of water. The simplest way to do this is to split it up into thin horizontal layers each only just thick enough to be totally opaque. Each layer is at a particular temperature T, and emits blackbody radiation equally up and down into the layer immediately above and below. Sunlight enters the pond, and because water is pretty much transparent at visible wavelengths, the heat is absorbed at the bottom of the pond, from which it re-emits as thermal radiation. The topmost layer emits the same amount of energy upwards, partly by radiation, partly by evaporation. The layer immediately below it emits twice that amount, both up and down, since it is the only source of energy for the top layer, and the top layer must absorb from below the same amount it emits below and above. The layer below that emits three times the energy, for a similar reason, and so on. The power emitted increases linearly proportional to depth, it is the external energy flow multiplied by the number of layers down it is, and so the temperature increases with the fourth root of depth. If all the thermal energy is absorbed in 20 microns, or 1/500,000 metres, then there are 50,000 layers in a metre of water. The fourth root of 500,000 is about 15, which means the absolute temperature a metre down must be 15 times the temperature at the surface. If the surface temperature is 300 K, then the temperature at a metre depth must be just a little under 4500 K.

This warming of the lower layers of water is called the greenhouse effect, and it is why all the Earth’s oceans boil in the sunlight.

There can be no doubt that each and every layer of water must absorb and re-emit hundreds of Watts of thermal radiation back downwards, considerably more than you get from a clear sky. If each layer was only emitting 460 W then with 50,000 layers the total power emitted downwards by all the layers must be on the order of 23 MW. If the power increases linearly, it is 575 GW. This is how much backradiation there is in every cubic metre. So the bottom of a pond full of water has to be a bit warmer than if the water wasn’t there. But how much warmer? Can you work it out?

What essential physical property has the atmosphere got that water has not, that explains the correct result?

The best lesson to learn from such arguments, I think, is always not to be too sure of yourself. :-)

313. Given Spencer’s post and many of the comments, there is a begged question that exists:

a) the begged question exists if one holds positions favoring all of Spencer’s 10 positions

b) and the begged question still exists if one holds positions favoring all 10 positions that Spencer maintains are incorrect skeptic positions

c) finally the begged question still exists if one holds any combination of a) or b) even when internal inconsistencies exist by mixing positions in a) or b)

The begged question is, Where are the unambiguously written down and corroborated comprehensive observations of climate which show anything more than a possibility of a small or hardly discernible unnaturalness in climate from geological times until today?

I see no reasonable evidence of anything other than small AGW by CO2, hardly discernible. So, Spencer’s article is excellent in its stimulation of discussion on important points of the science of the Earth-Atmosphere System (EAS), however, it begs that question.

John

314. Kristian says:

rgbatduke says, May 1, 2014 at 3:18 pm:

“(…) this is literally a photograph of the GHE at work:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/10/visualizing-the-greenhouse-effect-emission-spectra/

So what gases are ultimately emitting earth’s IR to space, then, Robert? Since H2O and CO2 are apparently ‘unemitting’ it … Where does all the OLR out from the ToA, the 239 W/m^2, come from? FYI, the atmosphere absorbs [398-20-345.6=] 32.4 W/m^2 worth of radiative heat (you know about ‘heat’, don’t you Robert, that thing which actually ‘heats’ (raises the temperature of) something upon absorption) from the surface, but ultimately emits 219.7 W/m^2 worth of radiative heat to space (numbers from Stephens et al. 2012).

315. jimmi_the_dalek says:

What surprises me most about the comments in this thread, is the number of people who say they have never seen these weak arguments before – if so they have not been paying attention, as all of them are trotted out regularly on this and other sites.

I think you need a point 11.
11. It is all due to the motions of Jupiter and/or Saturn i.e the astrology argument.

316. Matthew R Marler says:

climatereason: What does that average tell us? Is it useful? Is it meaningful? Can we learn anything from it?
Is it merely hiding the fact that some of the rooms are distinctly chilly whilst others are just about warm enough?

Is the average the same in summer as in winter? Do the furnace and air conditioner increase or decrease the average? Those latter are measures of whether the appliances are working in the conditions for which they have been designed.

The Earth mean temperature is a result, not a cause, of all the processes that happen. If the mean is increasing across time, especially if it is increasing rapidly, that is important to know. Its value at any single time or any particular region, or globally for a single year is not important. Only in comparisons is it very meaningful.

Whether the mean is accurately measured is a different question: If it is measure accurately enough then it is useful, even if there is estimation error.

317. mike_la_jolla says:
May 1, 2014 at 3:47 pm
I’m confused. This is, by a wide margin, the largest group of skeptics on the Internet. While lurking, I cannot recall hearing any of the arguments 1-10 with the possible exception of item 9. Did I miss something?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>..

Yes. I’ve been active on this blog for years and have seen every last one of those arguments many, many times. I’ve debated proponents of them using real world examples that a ten year old ought to be able to comprehend, to no avail.

The worst one is the whole 2nd Law business which drives me batty. You don’t see it on this blog much anymore because the sl@yers and their acolytes have pretty much been banned. Plus Anth_ny published a couple of experiments that are pretty conclusive and which also served to silence much of that nonsense. I actually had an article mostly written based on an experiment of my own design that absolutely crushed the nonsense and could be performed by a 12 year old. I never submitted it because the issue had been done to death and I didn’t want to wake it up again.

But bottom line, every last one of the issues that Roy raises has been argued incessantly at one point in time or another on this and other blogs. It fascinates me that a guy like Spencer has designed and built instrumentation that has been shot into orbit, which can measure temperatures at various elevations in the atmosphere, has been proven accurate by comparing to balloon and other measurement data, and still gets excoriated by neophytes who are certain he doesn’t understand the physics. As a consequence he most likely feels under attack from both sides of the debate, which is a shame. What he has accomplished is nothing short of brilliant and I consider it both an honour and a miracle of modern technology that I can participate in a forum like this or on his own site and see what he has to say on various topics.

He’s also one of the few recognized scientists working in the climate research field that have had the cahoney’s to stand up to the alarmists and call BS. We should be collectively defending him from the moronic attacks of pseudo skeptics who are no better (worse!) than their alarmist-know-nothing-about-science counterparts, even if there is some minor disagreement on some of the finer points of his article.

318. Jimbo says:

“Top Ten Skeptical Arguments that Don’t Hold Water…….
9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE
Really?!……….”

Yet some of us sceptics are interested in this metric when it comes to the Medieval Warm Period or the Little Ice Age IF we insist it was global and synchronous? No? You can’t have ya cake and eat it.

Again we could ask what is the average temperature during ice ages? I only ask because the usual state of the Earth in the last few million years is…………………………………an ice age. Like I said there it is.

Spencer’s point about comparison and knowing about changes is crystal clear to me.

….Just because we don’t know the average surface temperature of the Earth to better than, say 1 deg. C, doesn’t mean we can’t monitor changes in the average over time……

319. milodonharlani says:

mike_la_jolla says:
May 1, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Good point, but they’re out there. The Slayers, for instance, who deny that CO2 can warm the air, are banned from this pro-science site, which takes some doing, given the inclusiveness of its host, who in the interest of free speech permits creationist comments, despite giving ammo to CACA advocates seeking to disparage this award-winning science blog.

Some on the list could be in effect straw men, since you find them more on SkepticalScience than from real human skeptics, however.

320. Jimbo says:

climatereason: What does that average tell us? Is it useful? Is it meaningful? Can we learn anything from it?
Is it merely hiding the fact that some of the rooms are distinctly chilly whilst others are just about warm enough?

The Earth has experienced a hot house Earth with crocodiles in the Arctic and a snowball Earth and everything in between. I think this is meaningful. If yes, then would a 2C change be meaningful in global average temperatures? We can’t have our cake and eat it. You have to measure it otherwise you would be sitting in one of your ‘rooms’ nice and comfy while there is an ice age and tell us is this is not meaningful? Sorry for using extreme examples to make my point but you have to measure and compare OTHERWISE OUR ATTACKS ON THE IPCC’S TEMPERATURE PROJECTIONS V OBSERVATIONS ARE NOT MEANINGFUL. I hope you get it.

321. Nullius in Verba says: May 1, 2014 at 3:52 pm
“What essential physical property has the atmosphere got that water has not, that explains the correct result?”

Length scale, and, oddly enough, opacity. The limiting relation of your subdivisions is called Rosseland transport. It becomes just a diffusion, with diffusivity inversely proportional to absorptivity. In water it is negligible, and so is thermal radiative transport. It is turbulent diffusion, even in calm water, that is quite adequate to bring solar heat back to the surface.

In the absence of that, there can be an issue. Glass has rather similar optics, but of course no turbulent transport. Here is a glassmaker explaining how glass in sunlight actually gets quite hot in the interior, and it can degrade its properties. There is, of course, no way you can feel that, because as soon as a surface is exposed, the surface temperature rapidly drops.

322. jimmi_the_dalek says:

I just had a look at the original article on Spencer’s site. The comments there contain far more nonsense than the comments here. I am not sure what conclusion to draw from that….

323. Bart says:

rgbatduke says:
May 1, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Yes, the gap is there. However, the weakness in this argument is that it only tells the impedance to IR up to the current atmospheric constitution. What it does not tell us is the incremental sensitivity of IR impedance to increased GHG concentration.

I.e., it is basically the function evaluated at the current abscissa, not the derivative. The slope of a secant line, not a tangent line. For all we know, the actual sensitivity (tangent line) at the current state of the climate may well slope negative, even while the overall sensitivity (secant line) slopes positive.

324. Truthseeker says:

rgbatduke says:
May 1, 2014 at 3:18 pm
—————————————————————–
Having an atmosphere has an temperature effect, the composition of it doesn’t (clouds aside). None of what you present here shows that the temperature is raised by the presence of any particular gas. Pointing an IR thermometer upwards will just give a proxy measurement of the temperature of the atmosphere, it does not tell you what effect the component gases have.

So this point still remains …

Amatør1 says:
May 1, 2014 at 12:44 pm
Show us the empirical data proving that a ‘greenhouse effect’ caused by CO2 exists

325. rogercaiazza says:

Re #7 – My interpretation of CO2 concentrations and ice ages is that during an ice age there is much less vegetation so much less CO2 formation. So when the temperatures go up and ice retreats plants come back causing CO2 to go up. That guess also means that CO2 had nothing to do with recovery form ice ages.

326. Neillusion:
“A few comments say that O2 & N2 dont absorb EM. Hasn’t it been established that, not only ‘they do’, but also that they are actually quite significant in the big picture?”

Symmetric small molecules, including N2, O2, and Ar (the three most abundant gases in the atmosphere) are transparent to infrared.

leftturnandre says:
May 1, 2014 at 3:29 pm
“Lets examine #10”
——————————-
Yes let’s do ;-)

Blackbody calcs were -90C out for the lunar regolith.

For our oceans it’s around +98C.

Without atmospheric cooling or DWLWIR our oceans would become a giant evaporation constrained solar storage pond with temperatures topping 80C.

However climastrologists and lukewarmers alike claim that without atmospheric cooling and DWLWIR our oceans would be at -18C.

They went and treated or deep transparent oceans as a “near blackbody” instead of a SW “selective coating” over 71% of the lithosphere. This error is so big it negates not just AGW but the entire radiative GHE hypothesis itself.

The sun heats the oceans.
The atmosphere cools the oceans.
AGW is a physical impossibility.

It really is that simple ;-)

328. bw says:

For markrust
Standard atmosphere pressure is 10100 kilograms per square meter. If the entire atmosphere had the same density as at sea level at 15C then divide by sea level density of air.
Thats 1.225 kilograms per cubic meter, so 10100/1.225 is 8245 meters. The standard atmosphere would be 8245 meters thick if it had the same density as at sea level.
Since CO2 is .0004 by volume of standard atmosphere, then .0004 times 8245 is about 3.3 meters.
By weight, CO2 is about 6 kilograms of the 10100 kilograms of atmosphere.

329. bw says:

and 400 ppm times your 100000 meters is 40 meters

330. Carrick says: May 1, 2014 at 9:29 am
“Ironically, Nick Stokes, hardly a climate sciences skeptic, was one of the people making the absurd argument you couldn’t measure the absolute temperature of the Earth.”

Yes, I was wryly noting that I could be a proponent of point 9. But I think Roy must have been talking about global average anomaly, which is what UAH publishes. He should have made that clearer. Carrick is referring to a discussion where people said that climate scientists were wrong in talking about an average absolute temperature, and I asked, well do they? If they do, there must be a number you can quote. What is it? 12°? 15°? I never got an answer. Now, that’s absurd :)

In principle there could be an average absolute temperature, but we can’t measure it, because it is too spatially variable, at least on land. It’s effectively a Nyquist issue. No feasible pattern of terrestrial measurement can resolve the spatial variation. We already acknowledge that we can’t usefully resolve the vertical variation in the bottom few metres, and stick to specifying that we measure at 1.5m only.

That’s why only an average anomaly is meaningful. Anomalies are spatially much less variable, over hundreds of km, and that can be matched by station measurement.

331. Jimbo says:

9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE

This has to be the worst ‘sceptical’ argument. Even if GISS, RSS etc can’t measure it, it does not mean it does not exist. To be fair some say it is ‘meaningless.’ I say the temperature difference between a hot house Earth and a snowball Earth is not meaningless. A 0.8C rise in ‘global average temperature’ since LIA is meaningful and very beneficial. The one downside is the end of ice skating on the River Thames. ;-)

332. Tim Folkerts says:

Kristian asks: “So what gases are ultimately emitting earth’s IR to space, then, Robert? Since H2O and CO2 are apparently ‘unemitting’ it …”

That’s simple:
* The warm surface emits “bright” IR across the IR spectrum.
* CO2 & H2O near the surface absorb the “bright” IR within certain bands.
* Cool CO2 & H2O high in the atmosphere emit the ‘dim’ IR to space within those same bands.

Without the GHGs, more of the “bright” IR would escape, increasing the total energy loss to space and hence cooling the earth. With more GHGs. the escaping IR would come from even higher in the atmosphere where it is even cooler leading to even less IR escaping to space, and more warming of the surface.

333. barry says:

David Ramsay Steele @ here

Like several other people here, I am puzzled by one thing. Where can I witness this alleged dizzying proliferation of examples of these ten mistakes?

There is a proliferation of comments on this very thread that attempt to refute the points in Dr Spencer’s article, particularly 4, 7 and 9. By my count, there are 70 direct refutations of various points in the top article in this thread alone, and that does not include the number of posts that express doubt about various points as a query.

For anyone doubting that most of the points Dr Spencer has raised proliferate the web, just do a google search using simple terms. Eg, I just googled “CO2 2nd law thermodynamics,” and plenty of entries came up corroborating Dr Spencer’s point that it is prolific. “no such thing global average temperature” generated 4 million hits on my browser, and while some entries didn’t fit the point, plenty did within the first couple of pages, including articles rebutting the notion (inferring someone had made the claim in the first place).

When googling “WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND”, copying the phrase directly from Spencer’s post, one of the entries pointed me to the most popular science website on the net, with an article trying to demonstrate exactly that.

But if you’re in doubt have a search with a few term permutations for the points above, and see what titles you get in the first 5 pages or so. Included will be articles rebutting those points, which corroborate that the points are being made.

A couple of the points in the article are not so prolific, but Dr Spencer said as much.

334. milodonharlani says:

ZombieSymmetry says:
May 1, 2014 at 4:58 pm

In effect, you are correct, but O2 weakly absorbs in the borderline IR/visible spectrum.

335. tjfolkerts says:

Konrad says “Without atmospheric cooling or DWLWIR our oceans would become a giant evaporation constrained solar storage pond with temperatures topping 80C.”

80 C corresponds to ~ 880 W/m^2. So you would be right if the ocean were heated 24/7 by midday sun in the tropics. :-)

336. DeWitt Payne says:

mark rust,
If the atmosphere were 100km at constant pressure and temperature and segregated into layers by component, then the CO2 layer would indeed by ~40 m thick. 0.0004 * 100,000m = 40. But for the mass/m² of the Earth’s atmosphere, the pressure would be more than an order of magnitude less than the surface pressure we observe. The standard way the composition by thickness as if the components were separated into individual layers is to assume that the total mass/m² is at Standard Temperature and Pressure (STP) which is 0C and 1 atmosphere or 1.0135hPa. Then the column height is about 8 km and the thickness for 400 ppmv CO2 is ~3.2m, The standard way for expressing this value is 3.2 atm m.

Dobson Units, which are used for total column ozone are 10μm atm.

337. DeWitt Payne says:

Nick Stokes,

If you have gridded anomalies, then you also must have gridded temperatures that are used to calculate those anomalies. One can then average those gridded temperatures over one year and the entire surface and come up with an average, even if it doesn’t mean a whole lot. I did that once, but it’s not worth looking up. Where the average temperature might mean something is for climate models. The global annual average temperature for a model spin up can be several degrees C from this calculated value. But you almost never see that because the standard method for reporting is anomalies and their trends.

338. Jerry Haney says:

If CO2 causes temperatures to rise, why haven’t temperatures risen for 17 years?

AGW is a physical impossibility.
It really is that simple ;-)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

On a planet with no radiatively active gasses in the atmosphere, photons radiated from earth surface would zip straight out to space. Inject some radiatively active gasses into the atmosphere, and some portion of those photons get absorbed in the atmosphere instead, and some of those get radiated back toward the surface.

If you want simple there it is. If you wish to continue to mouth off about how the former is warmer than the latter, you can make as big a fool of yourself as you wish.

tjfolkerts says:
May 1, 2014 at 5:26 pm
“80 C corresponds to ~ 880 W/m^2. So you would be right if the ocean were heated 24/7 by midday sun in the tropics. :-)”
———————————-
Only if you incorrectly use blackbody calcs on selective surfaces like climastrologists do ;-)

Empirical experiment shows that liquid water heated by solar alone accumulates energy at depth not at the surface where some is immediately re-radiated. Empirical experiment shows that liquid water will reach 80C or beyond in the absence of atmospheric cooling, regardless of DWLWIR.

Only at the tropics? Solar ponds can reach 80C or beyond even in Canada.

Heated 24/7? When you understand the science of selective coatings, you will know that the slower the speed of internal non-radiative energy transport in transparent materials, the closer the temperature of a material being heated with intermittent diurnal pulses of SW over 1000 w/m2 rises toward the temperature achievable by constant illumination.

Tim, there is no way around it. Without atmospheric cooling the sun would superheat our oceans. Climatrologists have instead claimed that without DWLWIR and atmospheric cooling our oceans would freeze. The claim of “-18C for the “surface” in the absence of atmosphere” is locked in. There can be no escape from the shame.

Nor and there be any excuses. Research into solar ponds at Texas A&M university showed how water acts as a selective coating back in 1965. Black top covers on the ponds didn’t work. Skin temperature ended up 30C higher than the water just below. The black skin just ended up radiating away energy before it could conduct into the water. Clear covers and black base worked best.

Now how do the failed S-B equations of the climastrolgists treat our oceans? Black at the top! Just that one inane mistake invalidates the whole radiative GHE effect claims.

Our atmosphere is provably cooling our oceans not warming them. How do you think the general public are going to react when they find out that all the claims of the global warming propagandists depends on claiming the atmosphere is heating the oceans?

davidmhoffer says:
May 1, 2014 at 6:01 pm
——————————-
Radiative gases are the only effective cooling mechanism for our atmosphere and the atmosphere is the only effective cooling mechanism for our oceans.

In terms of who has a habit of making a fool of themselves, remember when you were asked the very simple question -

“given 1 bar pressure, is the net effect of the atmosphere over the oceans cooling or warming of the oceans”

You tried to avoid giving a clear and direct answer 6 times before finally settling on the incorrect answer that excepting pressure our atmosphere was warming the oceans.

The Internet remembers -

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/04/10/the-great-credibility-gap-yawns-ever-wider/#comment-1610424

342. David Riser says:

I don’t care much for the post, so ill help you hit your 1000. Be more accurate when your setting up baby straw men. Some of the line items are obviously red herrings in that there is as much wrong with your explanation as your wording of the arguments. Being flippant with the facts does not help the cause as it were. Lots of good points made in the previous posts, particularly concerning 1,2,7,9. I will also point out that 10 is just dumb. There has to be a better point than “X is not Y; duh X is not Y but.”
Sorry Roy I usually like your stuff but this post is not up to your usual standards.
v/r,
David Riser

343. Bart says:

davidmhoffer says:
May 1, 2014 at 6:01 pm

“On a planet with no radiatively active gasses in the atmosphere, photons radiated from earth surface would zip straight out to space.”

Yes, but the air in contact with the ground would gain heat from conduction, and transport it higher via convection. With no way to rid itself of the heat acquired, the atmosphere would continue heating all the way up until it was isothermal, at the same temperature as the ground (assuming no day/night cycle, of course).

Now, allow the atmosphere to radiate heat away. What happens?

A lapse rate is going to have to develop. The question is, will the ground heat up while the atmosphere stays the same temperature, or will the atmosphere cool down to less than the ground? Please explain the reasoning behind your answer in detail. Because frankly, I can see arguments for both sides.

It would be nice if we could perform experiments to confirm it for us, but we really can’t. Who, really, has made the measurements? Where is the planet sized laboratory to confirm under controlled conditions all these conjectures the warmists take for granted? On what basis are laboratory experiments under constrained conditions validly extrapolated to the entire planetary atmosphere at large?

Given that the AGW hypothesis is failing so dramatically right now, I think one should be cautious about labeling those who disagree with the failing orthodoxy as fools based on the tenets of that failing orthodoxy.

A lot of this stuff is just unexamined cant. Somewhere, on some level, when applied to the entire dynamic planetary atmosphere, it’s wrong. We’re seeing that play out right before our eyes.

344. Smoking Frog says:

One minor point, two major.

1. The argument that if an argument does not hold water, it is not a skeptical argument is sheer sophistry. It implicitly defines “skeptic” as one who never makes an incorrect argument.

2. Everyone or almost everyone here who has complained about “global average temperature” seems to be ignorant of the fact that it’s just shorthand for an average of temperature differences at numerous locations; the differences are not differences between locations but rather differences between temperatures at the same location. That may have its own problems, but it’s much harder to criticize. Even James Hansen has pointed out that “global average temperature,” literally interpreted, is very problematical, not because it misrepresents the actual calculation, but because we wouldn’t really know how to calculate it with decent accuracy.

3. Contrary to what many seem to believe, the fact that, in paleo-estimates, CO2 increase lags temperature increases does not falsify the claim that increasing the CO2 level increases the temperature. I wish I could think of a very clear and brief argument for this, but I’ll just have to say, think about it!

345. Jimmy Finley says:

Roy Spencer says:
May 1, 2014 at 7:26 am: “… But that does not mean that when we pump CO2 into the atmosphere (at 100x the rate we see in the ice core record), that it won’t cause warming. Both directions of causation can happen….it’s not just one or the other….”

I say, thank God we ARE pumping CO2 into the atmosphere. The last Ice Age nearly brought us to ruin: CO2 at 180 ppm is close to the point that plant life begins to gasp and die. Now, arguably, we are at 400 ppm. This is still at the bottom of the range of Earth’s atmospheric CO2 content over at least half a billion years (the geochemical evidence doesn’t exist for time before that, to my knowledge). Earth eats CO2; it isn’t coming back from the trillions of tons of calcite and aragonite and so on contained in the rocks and sediments that have been deposited. Without CO2, plants die. When plants die, so do we. So get off the “PUMPING” bullshit. We are not harming Gaia or whatever you want to call it. Frankly, Gaia doesn’t give a damn what we do. We, however, do care, and CO2 is a friend in our existential battle.

Otherwise, I have no problem with your list. Now, where’s the list (called for by several above) where we are right. ‘Splain to me, for example, how the 1930s now look like the Little Ice Age, when only a short time ago, Jim Hansen showed a chart where the present was only re-attaining the “global average temperature” that my parents (now passed) recall as hotter than blue blazes – back in the 30s, when they were migrating from Arkansas and Tennessee to the promised land of California (in their Ford Model As).

346. Janice says:

Sorry, but my skepticism has nothing to do with science, and a lot to do with being an older person who has had a lot of sense beaten into them over the years. Since I was a child, I have been inundated with yearly proclamations of something that would harm or kill me or the world. Sad to say, none of those proclamations came true, as both the world and I are still here. However, I did pick up on one thing that was always a common thread in all of these predictions of doom and gloom, and that was that someone made money from it. So everyone can argue the science, or lack thereof, as much as you want. I will simply look at where the money is going, and who it is going to. This is not rocket science, this is smoke and mirrors and extortion, but on a grand scale.

Rather than having a bunch of scientists discuss this, we would be better served to have a bunch of ex-confidence men discuss it. As Nassim Taleb said in one of his books, if you tell a scientist that you have flipped a coin 100 times and had it turn up heads each time, they will say that it is statistically possible. If you tell a con-man that you have flipped a coin 100 times and had it turn up heads each time, they will tell you that you have a coin that has been tampered with.

We’ve been had, led by the nose to argue about nonsense, both in the warmist and the skeptical sides of the house, while certain individuals and organizations have been busy picking our pockets. If after ten minutes at the poker table you do not know who the patsy is . . . you are the patsy. Welcome to the poker table.

347. another Bryan says:

Bryan says:
May 1, 2014 at 7:34 am
“….

Atmospheric CO2 has varied widely historically and in the recent past.
Yet apparently there is no link to surface temperatures.
The recent ‘pause’ in the last 17 years is well documented.

Is it not time to move on and reject the greenhouse theory as a failed conjecture without any link to reality?”
———————————————
“…no link to surface temperatures” is too strong, in my opinion. What we can say is that apparently the climate sensitivity is significantly smaller than alarmists claim.

As for calling the theory a failed conjecture, I would say it is neither failed nor a conjecture. It is not failed, because the theory predicts (ignoring feedback effects) about 1 Celsius degree increase in average global temperature per doubling of CO2 concentration, other things being equal; and warming so far (although admittedly difficult to measure) seems roughly in line with that prediction (with feedbacks being small). And it is not a conjecture, since it is based on principles of physics, not guesses.

If my understanding is correct, assertions of large positive feedbacks might be fairly referred to as conjecture, since they start out as plausible guesses, and then are backed up by models which (if my understanding is correct) simply parameterize the behavior clouds. Unless I am missing something, if you parameterize clouds you can get whatever you want out of a model. And if you can get whatever you want from a model, then it provides no real support for the plausible guesses, leaving only conjecture.

348. another Bryan says:

Bryan says:
May 1, 2014 at 7:34 am
“….

Atmospheric CO2 has varied widely historically and in the recent past.
Yet apparently there is no link to surface temperatures.
The recent ‘pause’ in the last 17 years is well documented.

Is it not time to move on and reject the greenhouse theory as a failed conjecture without any link to reality?”
———————————————
“…no link to surface temperatures” is too strong, in my opinion. What we can say is that apparently the climate sensitivity is significantly smaller than alarmists claim.

As for calling the theory a failed conjecture, I would say it is neither failed nor a conjecture. It is not failed, because the theory predicts (ignoring feedback effects) about 1 Celsius degree increase in average global temperature per doubling of CO2 concentration, other things being equal; and warming so far (although admittedly difficult to measure) seems roughly in line with that prediction (with feedbacks being small). And it is not a conjecture, since it is based on principles of physics, not guesses.

If my understanding is correct, assertions of large positive feedbacks might be fairly referred to as conjecture, since they start out as plausible guesses, and then are backed up by models which (if my understanding is correct) simply parameterize the behavior clouds. Unless I am missing something, if you parameterize clouds you can get whatever you want out of a model. If they get the large feedbacks and thus high climate sensitivity from the models by choosing suitable cloud parameters, then the models provide no real support for the plausible guesses, leaving only conjecture.

349. Kristian says:

Bart says, May 1, 2014 at 4:43 pm:

“Yes, the gap is there. However, the weakness in this argument is that it only tells the impedance to IR up to the current atmospheric constitution. What it does not tell us is the incremental sensitivity of IR impedance to increased GHG concentration.”

Bart, read what rgb writes. He seems to think that since there are ‘bites’ in the spectrum, then that means less W/m^2 escapes the earth system. That for a 255K blackbody the spectrum should be complete and that that is what the spectrum from earth would and should look like and that everything less shows the warming from ‘GHGs’.

350. Bart says:

Bart says:
May 1, 2014 at 6:30 pm

“A lapse rate is going to have to develop. The question is, will the ground heat up while the atmosphere stays the same temperature, or will the atmosphere cool down to less than the ground? Please explain the reasoning behind your answer in detail. Because frankly, I can see arguments for both sides.”

Actually, I will go ahead and tell you what I think is the answer: both. It helps to look at the two reductios. We’ve already examined the non-radiative case. Until challenged, I will assume we all agree that the atmosphere would become isothermal (again, ignoring day/night cycling), and the ground would be at the temperature dictated by the SB relationship. Let us, in fact, assume that the planet under question is a perfect blackbody, just to avoid having to qualify things with emissivities.

Now, we go the other way, and make the atmosphere perfectly radiative. What happens then? Well, then the atmosphere is just an extension of the blackbody, and you end up with the same isothermal condition.

Now, what happens for an in-between point, where the atmosphere is partially radiative, and partially not? At both extremes, the atmosphere is the same temperature as the surface. If the surface is not trivially the same temperature for any atmospheric composition, then mathematically, there must be an extremal point somewhere in-between. Assuming that the surface temperature function is bounded below and non-trivial, it follows that there is at least one local maximum, and beyond that point, the incremental sensitivity to increasing radiativity is negative.

Aha! Here, then, is a technical description of the inchoate thought I have been trying to get through by displaying this plot from time to time. We are dealing with a complex, nonlinear system here. Yet, the analyses in general tend to assume simple constant or linear functions. Assumed forms which work fine in a constrained laboratory setting, or in localized neighborhoods under specific conditions, but may well fail when extended to the entire planet.

May well fail and, I should say, evidently do.

351. Bart says:

Janice says:
May 1, 2014 at 6:49 pm

“Since I was a child, I have been inundated with yearly proclamations of something that would harm or kill me or the world.”

Testify! You said it, sister!

““The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” “
-H. L. Mencken

352. Bart says:

Bart says:
May 1, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Whoops. This plot.

353. Dear Dr Roy,

You had me at: “Stupid arguments” and I wanted to agree with you!
It matters very much, what use a list like this is put to! That is why it is very important to be pedantic about meaning.

In urban connotative parlance, the language used to explicate your items, has a prescribed meaning that made sense (Meaning, I think I know what you meant! ;-)
But in a scientific discussion you must define your terms in order to be transparent and to safeguard against obscurantism.

Your list, had the smack of controlled debate, for me, because it occulted more than it illuminated.

You set up your main argument to debunk myths but fail to appreciate that such an argument is immediately falsified by the least equivocation.

For example, #4: “CO2 Cools, not warms, the atmosphere”.
Your breakdown equivicates and thus rather than negate the position, you confirm that the opposite is also false!
I know what you mean (I think ;-) but this is just the point!

You strike a mortal blow to your own argument when you attempt to reveal equivocation by equivocating!!

You straight out contradict your own #7: “Warming causes CO2 to rise, not the other way around” when you say in comments:
“Yes, warmer emits more CO2. Even the IPCC admitted that in an earlier report…”

And then you add further insult to you own post by equivocating with:  “But that does not mean that when we pump CO2 into the atmosphere (at 100x the rate we see in the ice core record), that it won’t cause warming. Both directions of causation can happen….it’s not just one or the other.”

As an aside to the point I think you are making about causation in #7, semantically, it could be argued that even you would agree that the statement is itself true because even the anthroprogenic contribution is produced by the warmth/heat of internal combustion and coal firing etc!!

I guess this “warmth” may only be a small contribution, but it does make me wonder about all that heat, fixed from the Sun by processes in the past and where it fits into the heat budget today?

I remember actually getting #1: “There is no greenhouse effect” as a true or false, science exam question and the correct answer in that context, was “True”. As discussed by others above, the process is a misnomer!

There are many more points, I wanted to make but I’m on the road which makes writing a challenge!

Here are other stupid ones.

‘Humans are not causing global warming’. ‘C02 is not causing global warming/has no effect’. SUVs are not causing global warming. AGW does not exist. etc

Saying ‘not causing’ opens up ridicule because in all cases the effect is real, but perhaps only small. There is a big difference between none and some, especially in perception and communication.

355. Kristian says:

Kristian says: May 1, 2014 at 6:57 pm:

”Bart, read what rgb writes. He seems to think that since there are ‘bites’ in the spectrum, then that means less W/m^2 escapes the earth system.”

Further, rgb (and anyone else using this argument to ‘prove’ the warming effect from the so-called ‘GHGs’) seems to forget that what the satellites out there in space are actually detecting and measuring is earth’s emitted radiation, not absorbed radiation. Hence my question to him. Does he think that CO2 and H2O ‘unemit’ radiation to space? If there is 200-220 W/m^2 being emitted from the atmosphere to space, what gases emit this radiation spectrally, since pretty much all radiation seems to be emitted at the ‘atmospheric window’ centred (mean temperature specified) wavelengths and ‘unemitted’ in the ‘GHGs’ bands:

356. Bart;
I will assume we all agree that the atmosphere would become isothermal (again, ignoring day/night cycling), and the ground would be at the temperature dictated by the SB relationship.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Well let’s think that assumption through. You’ve created an unreal world by eliminating night/day, but it seems to me that you still don’t get to isothermal on that alone. You’ve got convection to consider, and since the energy fluxes (absorption and emission) will be different over land versus over ocean, you’ve still got all sorts of atmospheric mixing going on. Then you have to assume you’ve got no evaporative or precipitative processes on top of that. There’s probably more that I’m missing, but if you eliminate all of those things, you STILL have earth surface at SB Law temp and the moment you inject radiative gasses into the atmosphere if this artificial construct….

Some of the photons emitted by earth surface in accordance with SB Law no longer zip straight out to space, they get absorbed in the atmosphere instead and some of them get radiated back to earth surface. Same end result. A surface warmer than SB Law and an effective SB Law temperature that occurs at some height above the surface.

357. David Middleton says:

Dr. Spencer is correct about argument #1; however, the real greenhouse “effect” doesn’t work like a real greenhouse. It’s real, but a misnomer. If I remember correctly, Dr. Spencer made this point in one of his books. Greenhouses restrict convective cooling. The greenhouse effect reradiates certain bandwidths of outgoing IR radiation.

I totally agree with 8 of other points; however, I substantially disagree with this one…

7. WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND The rate of rise in atmospheric CO2 is currently 2 ppm/yr, a rate which is 100 times as fast as any time in the 300,000 year Vostok ice core record. And we know our consumption of fossil fuels is emitting CO2 200 times as fast! So, where is the 100x as fast rise in today’s temperature causing this CO2 rise? C’mon people, think. But not to worry…CO2 is the elixir of life…let’s embrace more of it!

The Vostok ice core has an insufficient sampling rate to resolve century-scale CO2 shifts. Plant stomata data, Greenland ice cores and the high resolution reprocessing of the Law Dome DE08 ice core clearly demonstrate that some of the rise in CO2 was driven by the warm up from the Little Ice Age.

About half the rise in CO2 can be pinned on humans with a high degree of certainty. About 1/4 clearly is natural and 1/4 is a tossup.

358. george e. smith says:

“””””……Kristian says:

May 1, 2014 at 4:07 pm

rgbatduke says, May 1, 2014 at 3:18 pm:

“(…) this is literally a photograph of the GHE at work:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/10/visualizing-the-greenhouse-effect-emission-spectra/“……”””””

This reference to Ira Glickstein’s paper I probably saw when it posted; but also probably “missed” much of what was in it.

Of particular note, and a great revelation for me, is the wave number referred Nimbus 4 look from space.

This graph, almost brings tears to my eyes.

My “Infrared handbook” has a slew of graphs, that look EXACTLY like that figure. ( “exactly” is used here in its “climate uniform”, and not in its “measure the value of c ” uniform.

Now the reason it elates me, is that ALL of the similar graphs in my handbook, ARE COMPUTED from modtran or whatever; from a variety of seasons, slant angle views, and locations.

So for years, I had been asking myself; “why the hell doesn’t somebody look out the window of some spacecraft and look down and MEASURE WHAT’S COMING UP” ?

Voila ! there it is in Ira’s paper, and it is an oriental copy of what is in my book, even to the tiny upticks in the middle of the “CO2 hole”, and the “ozone hole”, which are around 15 and 9.6 microns respectively.

So now I know I can trust the computed graphs in the book, or just look up Nimbus 4 again.

And note once again, that the vertical scale is Watts per square meter per cm^-1 (wave number).

And there are a whole lot more wavenumbers up at the SW end than at the LW end, which is why the spectral peak is around 15 microns, instead of around 10, for W / m^2 / micron (of wavelength increment), in the wavelength x scale graphs.

That little glitch in the middle of those two holes, has some well understood quantum mechanical explanation. That is well understood by everybody but me. I know how to spell “E = h nu,” and that’s about the sum total of my QM knowledge..

359. So a Doctor wanders into a lukewarmist bar, slaps his hand on the bar and yells out; “I sick and tired of all you skeptics being so danged ignorant and here are the ten things I hate hearing from you absolute disbelievers. I can lick any one of you on any one of these points…!”

And you are accusing us of having closed minds?

Uh, the absolute skeptic bar is down the internet somewhere; this is a lukewarmist bar and we mostly agree with you.

Mostly agree because your heated wording and topic choices leaves a lot to be desired. I may agree with your statement if it is clearly defined and well stated, but that is not how your ten points are framed.

for example:

“…1. THERE IS NO GREENHOUSE EFFECT. Despite the fact that downwelling IR from the sky can be measured, and amounts to a level…”

What do mean by a ‘greenhouse effect’? And the geek shouting style is not helpful.
My idea of ‘greenhouse effect’ is exactly that; a closed system without open ventilation in all directions. Even a glass roof can make it seem hotter under the glass.

Obviously you are arguing something that I think is entirely different.

“…3. CO2 CANT CAUSE WARMING BECAUSE CO2 EMITS IR AS FAST AS IT ABSORBS…”

Is this another word issue?
Frankly I’ve never heard that CO2 emits IR as fast as it receives it. My limited understanding physics is that when an atom/molecule absorbs a photon/wave it’s excitation level increases. Those molecules either reach an excitation level where a photon is emitted and excitation level decreases or the molecule bumps and grinds it’s way to a lower excitation level through atmospheric molecules…
This latter part is the ‘warming’ process.

Now there are a lot of ‘calculations’ and ‘models’, many with rather specific predictions.

Are any of these predictions proven? Any?

“…1. THERE IS NO GREENHOUSE EFFECT…
…and can be easily measured directly with a handheld IR thermometer pointed at the sky (because an IR thermometer measures the IR-induced temperature change of the surface of a thermopile, QED…”

While we’re speaking about proven. Are you telling us that there is definitive research that has actually measured IR due to CO2 and can explain the residence time before IR escapes to space from Earth’s last atmospheric IR absorbing molecule?

I’ve stood outside when the skies cleared and the Milky Way could be seen clearly; not only that it got cold downright quickly much as any person used to cold clear nights expects.

So how long did CO2 delay that cooling? I can probably look up day, date and location if that’ll help.

“…7. WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND The rate of rise in atmospheric CO2 is currently 2 ppm/yr, a rate which is 100 times as fast as any time in the 300,000 year Vostok ice core record. And we know our consumption of fossil fuels is emitting CO2 200 times as fast!…”

On this complaint of yours, you’ve really lost me. Just what claim are you making?

200 times as fast as what?

2ppm per year which is 100 times as fast as a 300,000 year ice record? Who cares? Or do you mean to tell us that mankind is responsible for every ppm rise?

Your QED, (which is normally the abbreviation for “quod erat demonstrandum”); are you sure it isn’t for ¿Qué es la verdad??

“…NOTE: Because of the large number of negative comments this post will generate, please excuse me if I don’t respond to every one…”

Is my comment negative?
What is the line between negative, constructive and I suppose approval? Or is this about quantity not quality?

Well, here is my negative take; this has to rank as one of the most disappointing articles of your that I’ve read. Where you have the ability very much like ‘Dr. Robert G. Brown’ (rgbatduke) and ‘Ross McKitrick’ to carefully define and delineate cogent arguments; instead you have chosen to paint generalized groups of people with a very broad negative brush of accusations.

360. Leo Smith says:

I have to say this all seems to be a straw man.

Of course an excess of CO2 will have some effect on climate. How could it not?

The question is, how much?

The bare physics alone without ‘amplification’ seems to say ‘almost none’

The ‘amplification’ as I understand it, is not actually of the CO2 directly, but of the rising temperatures themselves. Allegedly.

So it would apply to ANY climate driver that affected temperature. Like orbital variations etc. etc.

And yet as far as I cam tell form moderately perusing the climate models, it is assumed ONLY to amplify CO2 induced temperature rises.

I leave you with that appallingly simple thought.

Anything that might knock the earth’s temperature up or down a few degrees, like a large volcanic eruption will lead to scary and probably irreversible cliamte change, and must have done so hundreds of times in the past. lf the AGW advocates are correct.

361. Kevin K says:

#9 is fine. Let’s say the actual temperature in May 2014 is 55.0F and for the sake of argument, is 100% accurate and precise. The problem is in May 2019 it will be measured the same exact way at 54.6F but the 2014 reading will be adjusted downward to 54.0F and the headline will be “Earth’s average temperature skyrockets 0.6F in 5 years!”. In May 2024 it will come in at 54.2F; the 2014 reading will be adjusted to 53.2F, the 2019 reading to 53.7F, and the headline will be “Earth’s average temperature up a full degree F in 10 years! More funding for climate change desperately needed!” And so on…

362. Richard G says:

The other Phil says:May 1, 2014 at 8:28 am
“If you really believe that, would you mind drinking this water, laced with 400 ppm of arsenic? After all, how can it possibly be enough to do anything to you?”

Would you mind drinking this water, laced with XXXX ppm of carbon dioxide ? (AKA soda water, you know the stuff with little bubbles of CO2?) After all, how can it possibly be enough to do anything to you? **Burp** Laced with C6H12O6 until it is syrupy sweet?
See…I can do argumentum ad absurdum also.

363. milodonharlani says:

Richard G says:
May 1, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Would you mind drinking this quart jar filled 100% with the atmospheric pollutant dihydrogen monoxide?

364. george e. smith says:

“””””…..Kristian says:

May 1, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Bart says, May 1, 2014 at 4:43 pm:

“Yes, the gap is there. However, the weakness in this argument is that it only tells the impedance to IR up to the current atmospheric constitution. What it does not tell us is the incremental sensitivity of IR impedance to increased GHG concentration.”

Bart, read what rgb writes. He seems to think that since there are ‘bites’ in the spectrum, then that means less W/m^2 escapes the earth system. That for a 255K blackbody the spectrum should be complete and that that is what the spectrum from earth would and should look like and that everything less shows the warming from ‘GHGs’.

Kristian, I believe that what the Nimus 4 observation is saying is that earth’s outgoing radiation is a near black body spectrum, at essentially the ocean surface temperature, shooting straight out to space unhindered, except where the CO2, O3 and H2O in the atmosphere are putting holes, due to GHG LWIR absorption bands.

Remember that what the GHG molecules absorb, and subsequently re-emit, (maybe spectrally different), is emitted ISOTROPICALLY so only about half of it escapes (directly to space), the rest returning to the surface, where it has a variety of processes to deal with.

I don’t understand why one would expect the extraterrestrial outgoing radiation to have other than some mean surface temperature (tropical oceans) temperature signature; unless one firmly believes that the normal atmospheric gases are radiating a substantial thermal (temperature signature) spectrum, which would be lower than surface temperature.

I do believe they do radiate a thermal spectrum; but I’m not crazy enough to call it substantial; those gases are very low density compared to solids and liquids, so they are nowhere near total LWIR absorbers, so must be quite low total emissivities .

365. george e. smith says:

May 1, 2014 at 6:03 pm

tjfolkerts says:
May 1, 2014 at 5:26 pm
“80 C corresponds to ~ 880 W/m^2. So you would be right if the ocean were heated 24/7 by midday sun in the tropics. :-)”
———————————-
Only if you incorrectly use blackbody calcs on selective surfaces like climastrologists do ;-)

Empirical experiment shows that liquid water heated by solar alone accumulates energy at depth not at the surface where some is immediately re-radiated. Empirical experiment shows that liquid water will reach 80C or beyond in the absence of atmospheric cooling, regardless of DWLWIR……”””””

Konrad, I think you are completely missing the point.

The deep oceans, and your solar ponds are highly transparent to SOLAR SPECTRUM FREQUENCIES so solar energy propagates hundreds of meters into the deep oceans, and any surface warming from the sun is ascribable to near IR from the sun in the 0.7 to 4 microns or so region where only a few percent of solar energy lies.

But at ocean surface temperatures of 300-310 K, the thermal infrared emission spectrum is centered at around 9-10 microns, and at those LWIR frequencies, sea water is highly opaque, and 50 microns will absorb over 99% of such frequencies.

So that means that at ocean surface temperatures, the ocean, and your solar ponds are very high total emissivity near black body radiators. At 3.0 microns, water has its highest absorption coefficient of 8-10,000 cm^-1, so 5 microns absorbs 99% of the energy.

366. Bart says: May 1, 2014 at 7:05 pm
“Until challenged, I will assume we all agree that the atmosphere would become isothermal…”

OK, I challenge.

367. Matthew R Marler says:

Bart: Until challenged, I will assume we all agree that the atmosphere would become isothermal (again, ignoring day/night cycling),

I don’t see why. How do you dispose of both the ground to upper atmosphere gradient and the pair of Equator to poles gradients, under any atmosphere assumptions?

368. tjfolkerts says:

George, My calculation was specifically for the surface of the oceans. Something like a solar pond can indeed get warmer at the bottom (but that requires a salt gradient to suppress convection). There is no way, however, around the requirement that 80 C at the surface requires ~ 880 W/m^2 entering the surface.

The empirical evidence for the actual oceans shows that they do NOT reach 80 C, even with DWLWIR. They get colder with depth.

369. Bill Parsons says:

Dr. Spencer:

(From the conclusion to your Blog Post):

So why am I trying to stir up a hornets nest (again)? Because when skeptics embrace “science” that is worse that the IPCC’s science, we hurt our credibility.

Forgive me for not being among your regular readers. But when you say “we” and “our”, you clearly number yourself among skeptics. Would it be a terrible inconvenience for you to remind (if such is the word) what it is that you remain “skeptical” of? It seems to me this is embraces pretty much the whole enchilada.

370. Joseph Bastardi says:
May 1, 2014 at 12:55 pm
In the end though, given the magnitude of all the other competing factors around it, what do you estimate c02′s addition to the temp at? If its close to 0, then what are we arguing over.

I agree with Mr. Bastardi. Therefore, Dr. Spencer’s list of his 10 regrets and excuses, right or wrong, is an attempt to put a fig leaf on a member that we should show the alarmists in full vigor.

371. Exactly what is “pressure broadening”? This begins to sound suspiciously like a lapse rate argument. If it is a more abstract “pressure” like Gavin Schmidt’s diagram here:

The bands are nowhere near opaque except almost so at 15. It doesn’t matter if they are opaque or not. Adding more gas between say 13 and 17 microns has no more effect per Beer. Sure, there is residual absorption beyond this range both ways, but I don’t see how this is “broadening”. Those bands were always there absorbing, they are just not saturated. The absorption is significantly diminished in range, and it occurs at a lower intensity.

372. Eric Anderson says:

richardscourtney:

Thanks for keeping the pressure on #7.

The “obviously rising CO2 is caused by humans” claim is much too facile to account for all the observations. At very best, it is incomplete (and therefore a bad statement itself); at worst, it is somewhat misleading. There are important remaining open questions that deserve discussion and a skeptical eye. It is not helpful to assert, as some would recommend, that these issues not be discussed.

Many thoughtful comments from others on #9 as well.

george e. smith says:
May 1, 2014 at 8:24 pm
——————————
Some solar energy does penetrate as far as 200m but very little. When scuba diving you will notice almost all red light is lost at around 10m. Most UV/SW heating of our oceans occurs well above 200m, hence the thermocline.

As my empirical experiments and the work of Texas A&M in 1965 indicate it is heating below the surface that heats our oceans, not SWIR and LWIR heating at the surface.

Empirical experiment shows that for an ocean free to evaporatively cool to the atmosphere, DWLWIR has no effect on the cooling rate. So any claim that DWLWIR is keeping our oceans from freezing is provably false.

The empirical evidence that UV/SW heating below the surface is the primary heating mechanism for the oceans is also available from the diurnal overturning observed above the themocline. If the claims of climastrologists were true and the atmosphere was acting to warm our oceans then little diurnal overturning would occur as surface heating from SWIR/LWIR would almost match the limited sub-surface heating they claim for UV/SW.

374. Bart says:

davidmhoffer says:
May 1, 2014 at 7:32 pm

” You’ve got convection to consider, and since…”

Doesn’t matter. That only affects the rate at which it becomes isothermal, not whether it does. Eventually, it must.

The atmosphere at the surface interface keeps on picking up heat from the surface. It keeps sending it from there to the upper atmosphere, so it keeps taking up more from the surface. It’s got nowhere else to go since it can’t radiate away. eventually, the heat flows stop when it’s all at the same temperature. See also replies below.

Nick Stokes says:
May 1, 2014 at 8:41 pm

In order to create a lapse rate, you must have a heat sink at the low temperature end. No heat sink (molecules which radiate the heat away), no steady state lapse rate. This is actually a standard assumption in texts when they discuss lapse rate. See also reply to davidmhoffer above, and to Matthew below.

Matthew R Marler says:
May 1, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Heat moves from a region of high temperature to low temperature. Always, in the aggregate. (No, I am not arguing that the GHGs cannot heat the surface because they are cooler – that is not how the GHE works. The Sun is always the heat source, and it’s a helluva lot hotter than the Earth’s surface.)

So, heat will always flow to the upper atmosphere if it is cooler than the ground. But, without radiating elements, it has nowhere to go. Eventually, it must become isothermal from top to bottom. See also other replies above.

george e. smith says:
May 1, 2014 at 7:41 pm

The relevant question for the AGW debate, however, is does the gap increase in area with addition of more CO2? Not does the gap get created by CO2 et al?, but does an incremental increase in CO2 concentration create an incremental increase in the area of the gap in the current atmospheric climate state? I.e., not is the slope of the secant line positive? but is the slope of the tangent line positive?

Is this getting through to anyone out there? A nonlinear function can be strictly positive without the instantaneous slope being positive everywhere. Think, e.g., x/(1 + x^2) for x .gte. zero. The GHE can exist, but it can peter out, or even reverse direction, when a particular concentration has been reached.

Maybe, you have had the same experience with older cars which I have. In the days before electronic ignition and fuel injection, there was always a sweet spot to the accelerator. If you pushed the pedal just so far, you got the maximum acceleration. Push it farther, and you created too rich a fuel mixture, and bogged down. You never actually floored the accelerator – that would only burn more gas for a negative return.

The reductio argument above implies that there is a sweet spot for GHGs in the atmosphere. You reach that point, and you get maximum heating of the surface. Go past that point, and you no longer get a bigger bang for your buck, so to speak. You might even start to get cooling.

375. Nick Stokes says: May 1, 2014 at 8:41 pm
“In order to create a lapse rate, you must have a heat sink at the low temperature end.”

Not at all. Air motions pump heat downward at a rate which balances transport along the temperature gradient. No nett heat flux.

The DALR is -g/cp. No heat transport parameters there.

tjfolkerts says:
May 1, 2014 at 9:35 pm
——————————-
“My calculation was specifically for the surface of the oceans. Something like a solar pond can indeed get warmer at the bottom (but that requires a salt gradient to suppress convection). There is no way, however, around the requirement that 80 C at the surface requires ~ 880 W/m^2 entering the surface.”

Firstly there are several types of solar pond. The type most applicable to an ocean without atmospheric cooling is not salt gradient but evaporation constrained convecting freshwater storage ponds.

Secondly if you used standard S-B calcs on transparent materials absorbing and accumulating energy at depth you will always get the wrong answer, just like climatologists. Because water is a selective surface not a blackbody or anywhere close, the UV/SW heating is far greater than climastrologists calculated because there is no instantaneous IR re-radiation from intercepted energy at depth. Did your calculations use CFD? I’m guessing not….

“The empirical evidence for the actual oceans shows that they do NOT reach 80 C, even with DWLWIR. They get colder with depth.”

The actual oceans are evaporatively cooled by a radiatively cooled atmosphere. So of course they won’t reach 80C. Remove DWLWIR and atmospheric cooling and they will hit 80C or beyond, just like evaporation constrained convecting solar ponds. And yes, they still will get colder with depth, as SW is almost all absorbed in the first 10′s of meters and this will convect to the surface.

Tim, there truly is no way around it, climastrologists claimed that our oceans would freeze without DWLWIR and evaporative cooling. Empirical experiment proves this false. I can drive all manner of transparent materials prevented from atmospheric cooling that can only cool by IR emission to 80C and beyond just by setting a SW absorption layer below the surface and exposing them to surface standard solar radiation.

Climastrologists stuffed up. They treated the oceans as a near blackbody. You can’t just use IR emissivity to calculate temperature for SW translucent selective coatings exposed to SW. That would be pseudo science. The “-18 for the “surface” in absence of an atmosphere” claim is locked in. It is too late for climastrologists to change it now. There is no escape.

377. KL says:

“The rate of rise in atmospheric CO2 is currently 2 ppm/yr, a rate which is 100 times as fast as any time in the 300,000 year Vostok ice core record. And we know our consumption of fossil fuels is emitting CO2 200 times as fast! So, where is the 100x as fast rise in today’s temperature causing this CO2 rise? C’mon people, think.”

Dr. Spencer, it’s you who needs to think. Proving B precedes A precludes “A caused B” (ONLY). It does not require the reverse. Knowing Babe Ruth did not break Alex Rodriquez’ career home run record does not require A-Rod to surpass Ruth’s total.
Apparently, PhD s aren’t required to take Logic 101 anymore?

Bart says:
May 1, 2014 at 11:06 pm
———————————
The funny thing here is that most of the lukewarmers arguing against you seem unaware that Dr. Spencer wrote a post supporting your position in 2009. Go figure….

You are of course correct, radiative subsidence is required for continued vertical circulation in the Hadley, Ferrel and Polar tropospheric convective circulation cells.

Without this circulation the lapse rate would trend toward isothermal and the atmosphere (excepting a near surface layer) would begin to heat.

What Dr. Spencer got wrong in his 2009 post was that -
A. Surface Tav would not be -18C under a non-radiative atmosphere.
B. The temperature of a non-radiative atmosphere would be set by surface Tmax not Tav.

379. Bart says:

Nick Stokes says:
May 1, 2014 at 11:21 pm

There is nothing to keep the “pump” going. Heat engines require a temperature differential to perform work. Claiming that the heat engine creates the temperature differential which powers it is perpetual motion.

380. #7 “WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND”

There is strong evidence that warming causes CO2 to rise historically and that CO2 is not a climate driver.

http://www.populartechnology.net/2009/10/peer-reviewed-papers-supporting.html#CO2Lags

Coherence established between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature
(Nature, Volume 343, Number 6260, pp. 709-714, February 1990)
- Cynthia Kuo et al.

“Temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide are significantly correlated over the past thirty years. Changes in carbon dioxide content lag those in temperature by five months.”

Ice core records of atmospheric CO2 around the last three glacial terminations
(Science, Volume 283, Number 5408, pp. 1712-1714, March 1999)
- Hubertus Fischer et al.

“High-resolution records from Antarctic ice cores show that carbon dioxide concentrations increased by 80 to 100 parts per million by volume 600 ± 400 years after the warming of the last three deglaciations.”

Atmospheric CO2 Concentration from 60 to 20 kyr BP from the Taylor Dome ice core, Antarctica
(Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 27, Number 5, March 2000)
- Andreas Indermuhle et al.

“The lag was calculated for which the correlation coefficient of the CO2 record and the corresponding temperatures values reached a maximum. The simulation yields a lag of (1200 ± 700) yr.”

Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations over the Last Glacial Termination
(Science, Volume 291. Number 5501, January 2001)
- Eric Monnin et al.

“The start of the CO2 increase thus lagged the start of the [temperature] increase by 800 ± 600 years.”

The phase relations among atmospheric CO2 content, temperature and global ice volume over the past 420 ka
(Quaternary Science Reviews, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp. 583-589, February 2001)
- Manfred Mudelsee

“Over the full 420 ka of the Vostok record, CO2 variations lag behind atmospheric temperature changes in the Southern Hemisphere by 1.3±1.0 ka”

Timing of Atmospheric CO2 and Antarctic Temperature Changes Across Termination III
(Science, Volume 299, Number 5613, March 2003)
- Nicolas Caillon et al.

“The sequence of events during Termination III suggests that the CO2 increase lagged Antarctic deglacial warming by 800 ± 200 years and preceded the Northern Hemisphere deglaciation.”

Southern Hemisphere and Deep-Sea Warming Led Deglacial Atmospheric CO2 Rise and Tropical Warming
(Science, Volume 318, Issue 5849, September 2007)
- Lowell Stott et al.

“Deep sea temperatures warmed by ~2C between 19 and 17 ka B.P. (thousand years before present), leading the rise in atmospheric CO2 and tropical surface ocean warming by ~1000 years.”

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentration Across the Mid-Pleistocene Transition
(Science, Volume 324, Number 5934, pp. 1551-1554, June 2009)
- Bärbel Hönisch et al.

“The lack of a gradual decrease in interglacial PCO2 does not support the suggestion that a long-term drawdown of atmospheric CO2 was the main cause of the climate transition”

The phase relation between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature
(Global and Planetary Change, Volume 100, pp. 51–69, January 2013)
- Ole Humlum et al.

“There exist a clear phase relationship between changes of atmospheric CO2 and the different global temperature records, whether representing sea surface temperature, surface air temperature, or lower troposphere temperature, with changes in the amount of atmospheric CO2 always lagging behind corresponding changes in temperature.”

381. Bart says: May 1, 2014 at 11:29 pm
“There is nothing to keep the “pump” going. Heat engines require a temperature differential to perform work.”

Yes, you need a heat differential somewhere to create the motions. But you need some source of heat, anyway, to stop the air liquefying. Any planet will have insolation differences which will provide a temperature differential.

382. Jaakko Kateenkorva says:

So. How did the cat herding initiative work for you? Did everybody agree on the indisputable truths? Do you think that the clueless average Joe finally keeps Secret his Truly Foolish Understanding?

383. ren says:

As solar activity affects the climate? In periods of minima of solar ionization in the polar regions is increased several times compared with the ionization at the equator. This must lead to changes in pressure and circulation. Solar activity is still low and so can be a period of many years. Changes are already visible. This winter this will show in the southern hemisphere. The following article explains a lot.

http://iopscience.iop.org/1742-6596/409/1/012232/pdf/1742-6596_409_1_012232.pdf

384. richardscourtney says:
May 1, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Dr Spencer’s point 7 is correct but his explanation of it is plain wrong.

Dr. Spencer could have given a better explanation, but is essentially right. Ice cores CO2 indeed is the average of several years, but that highly depends of the accumulation rate. For the high accumulation (coastal) cores the average resolution (smoothing) is only 10 years, increasing to 560 years (Dome C) and 600 years (Vostok) for the inland high altitude cores.

The Law Dome ice cores have an overlap of ~20 years with the direct measurements of the atmosphere at the South Pole:

But even the 600-year resolution of the Vostok ice core would be enough to detect the 100+ increase over 160 years, if one-sided or even if part of an 600-year cycle.

There is no reduction to the rate of sequestration as the sequestering ‘sinks’ fill. Clearly, the sinks do not fill.

The fast removal and release of CO2 by vegetation over the seasons is a different process than the one that stores CO2 more permanently in roots, peat, (brwon)coal),… The seasonal influence on vegetation is ~60 GtC in and out, but the more permanent storage is currently only 1 GtC/year with 200 GtC (100 ppmv) excess CO2 in the atmosphere. The year by year variability of the seasonal variation is not more than +/- 1 GtC/year, mainly temperature/drought induced. Thus the fast (seasonal) sinks are saturated, once the leaves have grown in spring.

We are now 100 ppmv above the historical equilibrium. Despite this huge disequilibrium the sink rate, all sinks combined, is only 2 ppmv/year. Thus the more permanent sinks are too slow to accomodate with the human emissions of 4 ppmv/year…

385. Bart says:

Nick Stokes says:
May 2, 2014 at 12:27 am

You need more than a source of heat. You need a place for it to flow. You need a sink.

Doc Brown had some words on this here.

386. tonyb says:

Matthew Marler and Jimbo

Thanks for your replies but you both missed a word that I was very careful to insert-’consistency’

‘I’m still not convinced by any of the arguments that, whilst it may be technically possible to come up with a global average (although that seems debatable due to the lack of consistency) it is necessarily meaningful or helpful.’

When temperatures can be retrospectively cooled, stations move, observations are made at different times, different instruments are used, an observing station in a field becomes surrounded by buildings etc etc etc, we are not talking about consistency. This is quite without other external factors such as the amount of sunshine or cloudiness. So I perfectly well understand the argument but remain unconvinced that we measure on a historic like for like basis that gives the average that results sufficient scientific rigour, or that it is useful when the nuances of the regional climates are being lost.

tonyb

387. “You need a sink.”
Insolation differences provide a sink. We have Hadley Cells. Heat from the tropics is moved to high latitudes and then radiated. This drives lots of motions.

388. Agricultural Economist says:

There is another very popular, but also VERY stupid argument frequently brought up against model-based long-term climate projections:

“If we can’t forecast the weather two weeks from now, how can we forecast the climate in 100 years?”

This looks very smart, but just reveals that the proponents of this argument have not understood the difference between weather and climate, or, generally, have no idea about the time scales on which you make observations, theory building, statistical analyses, and simulation (finally).

389. Scott Wilmot Bennett says:
May 1, 2014 at 7:12 pm

You straight out contradict your own #7: “Warming causes CO2 to rise, not the other way around” when you say in comments:
“Yes, warmer emits more CO2. Even the IPCC admitted that in an earlier report…”

It is about quantities: a warming of the earth (oceans, land) of 1°C doesn’t give more than 4-5 ppmv (short time) to maximum 8 ppmv (very long term) CO2 extra in the atmosphere. For the period since the Little Ice Age, the maximum thus is 8 ppmv extra (if we may assume that the temeprature increase was not more than 1°C). What is measured is over 100 ppmv increase, while humans have emitted over 200 ppmv CO2 in the same period…

Thus while in all times CO2 changes follows temperature changes, that isn’t true for the past 160 years. If the influence of CO2 on temperature is high or even catastrophical, that is doubtful…

390. richardscourtney says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen:

At May 2, 2014 at 12:32 am you assert

We are now 100 ppmv above the historical equilibrium. Despite this huge disequilibrium the sink rate, all sinks combined, is only 2 ppmv/year. Thus the more permanent sinks are too slow to accomodate with the human emissions of 4 ppmv/year…

NO! You are plain wrong, and you know you are plain wrong because we have repeatedly been here before.

Please see my post at May 1, 2014 at 3:29 pm. It includes

This is the CO2 data from Mauna Loa

http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/

The seasonal variation in each year is a slow rise indicating increase to atmospheric CO2 followed by a steep fall as sequestration of CO2 is greater than CO2 emission followed by a rapid reversal. There is no reduction to the rate of sequestration as the sequestering ‘sinks’ fill. Clearly, the sinks do not fill.

Richard

391. richardscourtney says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen:

At May 2, 2014 at 12:58 am you assert

Thus while in all times CO2 changes follows temperature changes, that isn’t true for the past 160 years.

That is absolutely untrue!

See e.g.
Kuo C, Lindberg C & David J. Thomson DJ, ‘Coherence established between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature’, Nature 343, 709 – 714 (22 February 1990); doi:10.1038/343709a0

Their abstract says

The hypothesis that the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is related to observable changes in the climate is tested using modern methods of time-series analysis. The results confirm that average global temperature is increasing, and that temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide are significantly correlated over the past thirty years. Changes in carbon dioxide content lag those in temperature by five months.

Subsequently several others have determined the same but length of the time the lag in CO2 after temperature varies with latitude.

Richard

392. Julien says:

Nullius in Verba, err, so your modeling and calculation lead to the water being warmer in the bottom of a pool? You sound very high and mighty but i’m sorry, i think i have a problem, because when i swim in a lake, the bottom water feels colder than surface water. Did you ever swim in a lake? I’d be ready to take some thermometers and check that, it’s pretty easy…

393. Julien says: May 2, 2014 at 1:15 am
“i think i have a problem, because when i swim in a lake, the bottom water feels colder than surface water”

Try swimming in winter. You’ll find your toes are relatively warm. The top layer changes seasonally, the bottom less so.

The effect is real – solar ponds. Temperatures up to 90°C.

394. David Middleton says:
May 1, 2014 at 7:32 pm

200 times as fast as what?

The fastest natural rise of CO2 over the past 800 kyears is during the transition between a glacial period and an interglacial: 100 ppmv CO2 increase over a period of 5,000 years. The opposite transition is even slower. Even with the low resolution of 560 years in the Dome C record, that is pretty clear. That gives a rise of 0.02 ppmv CO2/year.

The current rise is 2.1 ppmv/year, while humans emit about 4.5 ppmv/year. Humans increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere in 160 years, where nature needed 5,000 years to do the same with 12°C temperature increase…

Plant stomata data, Greenland ice cores and the high resolution reprocessing of the Law Dome DE08 ice core clearly demonstrate that some of the rise in CO2 was driven by the warm up from the Little Ice Age.

Forget plant stomata data: the absolute values of the past are unreliable, as they are by definition grown on land, where the local bias can change with land changes and plant growth in the main wind direction and even the main wind direction may change with climate.
Greenland ice core CO2 is unreliable due to frequent highly acidic volcanic dust from Icelandic volcanoes, producing in situ CO2 from seasalt dust (carbonates).
And the Law Dome DSS ice core demonstrates that the MWP-LIA difference was not more than 6 ppmv for ~0.8°C temperature drop. Because the MWP is alleged to be as warm or warmer than the current period, the increase due to temperature is maximum 6 ppmv since the LIA. The rest of the 100+ ppmv is from human emissions:

395. thegriss says:

thegriss says:

May 1, 2014 at 1:03 pm

This site is now heading the same way of most alarmist sites,

Blocking and deleting dissenting views.

This is how CONSENSUS works.

[?? Mod]
——————————–
@ [??Mod]

It seems pretty obvious that Roy wants everyone to “agree” with his views, and like any warmist and GHG believer, is going to ridicule those who don’t agree with him.

He is trying to establish a CONSENSUS based in HIS ideas.

This forum has banned differing views from the so-called ‘slayers”,

Earlier in the thread someone cut one of Steven Wilde’s posts.

If it doesn’t cow-tow to “the site’s” TRUTH about the sceptical view.. its GONE. !!

More warmist views are allowed than alternate sceptical view..

396. thegriss says:

oh look, no reason I can see why that post would go into moderation.

but it has.

pic taken.

397. richardscourtney says:
May 2, 2014 at 1:02 am

There is no reduction to the rate of sequestration as the sequestering ‘sinks’ fill. Clearly, the sinks do not fill.

Richard, have a look in detail of the seasonal data, here for Barrow and Mauna Loa:

The CO2 uptake starts in May at Barrow (after thawing or the tundra) and ends in August/September when the tundra starts to freeze over and the decay of fallen leaves of that and previous growing seasons give more CO2 release than the remaining uptake by plants.

The point is: plants can take a lot of CO2 away in the growing season, but loose a lot of carbon in winter. Does that change much year by year? No. Maximum +/- 1 GtC/year for the whole biosphere combined. Does that change over time? Yes, but very modest: the oxygen balance demonstrates that since 1990, the whole biosphere is an increasing sink for CO2, but not more than 1 GtC/year. Despite 100 μatm more CO2 pressure in the atmosphere.

Thus your residual CO2 uptake after a full seasonal cycle is only 1 GtC/year with a lot more CO2 pressure in the atmosphere. Which demonstrates that the biosphere can’t cope with the extra 9 GtC human emissions.

398. In Law Dome ice core we trust (no matter what)…
The current lack of warming is no less a scientific fact than any dubious results of any ice core analysis. If human emissions of CO2 must cause a greenhouse effect, where is it, oh sages?

399. Julien says:

Nick, i think you’re right. There’s a strong seasonal effect to it. Also, i think the incoming angle of solar radiation does affect the result… It only works well if the sun is perpendicular to the water. In all other cases, and at night, the water basicaly transfers its energy to the air, and keeps transfering energy inside the layers of water.

Now, can you explain *why* a smaller pond will warm faster than a larger body of water?

400. thegriss says:

“We are now 100 ppmv above the historical equilibrium.”

You mean the base-line biosphere survival amount !

The “all gone, all dead” amount.

A study of any predator-prey scenario shows that things settle down to where both species JUST survive. !!

That’s where CO2 has been for a long, long time.

401. richardscourtney says:
May 2, 2014 at 1:11 am

Subsequently several others have determined the same but length of the time the lag in CO2 after temperature varies with latitude.

Richard, the short term CO2 variation follows the short term temperature variation, but that is a small variability (+/- 1 ppmv, yearly average) around the trend:

The trend itself can’t be explained by the temperature increase of less that 1°C since the LIA: maximum 8 ppmv, including a negative temperature trend 1945-1975 and curently 17.5 years of no temperature increase with steady increasing CO2 levels at an extremely fixed ratio with human emissions:

402. Alexander Feht says:
May 2, 2014 at 1:49 am

In Law Dome ice core we trust (no matter what)…
The current lack of warming is no less a scientific fact than any dubious results of any ice core analysis

The lack of warming is as good a scientific fact as the CO2 levels analysed in any ice core, with some particularities for every specific core. See:

http://courses.washington.edu/proxies/GHG.pdf

Maybe we can add to the list of Dr. Spencer:

15. Ice core measurements are unreliable.

as one of the top skeptical arguments that don’t hold water…

403. thegriss says:

I have no doubt that humans are releasing sequestered CO2 into the atmosphere and increasing the CO content.

And the biosphere thanks us very much.

Well done China, India, Germany for your continued biosphere support.

Keeping the world ticking over.

Why aren’t the tree-lovers cheering !!!

404. This an excellent and useful post by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D., as usual .It is exactly the sort of thing that the Warmistas would never dream of posting. However, now, Roy, we need a top 10 good arguments that Sceptics use, just to show the colours still flying high.

405. Nullius in Verba says:

“Nullius in Verba, err, so your modeling and calculation lead to the water being warmer in the bottom of a pool? You sound very high and mighty but i’m sorry, i think i have a problem, because when i swim in a lake, the bottom water feels colder than surface water. Did you ever swim in a lake? I’d be ready to take some thermometers and check that, it’s pretty easy…”

My modelling and calculation was offered as a joke. The oceans are 4500 K a metre down?! That’s about 4200 Centigrade! If this mechanism was true, the oceans would boil! My pond argument obviously doesn’t hold water.

But it raises the big question, of course, of what’s wrong with it? Does anyone understand the physics of the greenhouse effect well enough to explain? Is there back radiation in a pond or not?

When Nick suggests you go swimming in winter, you would be well advised to wear something warm! Water is unusual in that below 4 C it gets less dense as it gets colder and floats to the top, which is why water freezes from the top down.

He’s also correct that the limiting cases of the mechanism I described is called Rosseland transport, but that doesn’t really explain why the water isn’t super-hot. His reference to solar ponds (and even ponds freezing over in winter) is closer to the mark. I’m guessing he knows, (I’ve given this argument many times before, after all), but I appreciate him giving other people a chance to think about it. :-)

Nick, thanks for the winter lake example, I hadn’t thought of that one. But it’s good. :-)

406. richardscourtney says:

Ferdinand:

We are in danger of usurping the thread.
1.
You continue to assert that the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration has an anthropogenic cause.
2.
I do not know if that rise has an anthropogenic or a natural cause in whole or in part, but I do know the data indicates the true cause is not the asserted anthropogenic cause which you champion.
3.
We have gone over this repeatedly – including on WUWT – for many years so I see no purpose in usurping this thread to again reprise the matter.

Richard

407. HomeBrewer says:

“Nick Stokes says:
May 2, 2014 at 1:26 am
Julien says: May 2, 2014 at 1:15 am
“i think i have a problem, because when i swim in a lake, the bottom water feels colder than surface water”
Try swimming in winter. You’ll find your toes are relatively warm. The top layer changes seasonally, the bottom less so.”
Since water reaches maximum density att 4C you’re right that it can be warmer at the bottom of the lakes if it’s below 4C above the bottom of the lake.

408. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
May 2, 2014 at 2:13 am

The lack of warming is as good a scientific fact as the CO2 levels analysed [sic] in any ice core, with some particularities for every specific core.

And, of course, a single link you provided proves it unequivocally for all ages. Give me a break.

409. johnmarshall says:

Joe Postma has this Spencer claim well covered on his climateofsophistry web site. You would do well to read this Anthony, but of course you won’t.

410. Sorry to disagree, but #7 is wrong. Warming does cause CO2 to rise (and cooling causes CO2 to fall), plausibly due to the relative temperature-sensitivities of respiration and photosynthesis in the biosphere. .The ice-core records provide evidence of this cause-and-effect. Unprecedented burning of carbonaceous fuels also causes CO2 to rise; if Dr. Spence believes this negates the effect of the biosphere, which seems to be thriving at present, I would be grateful for an explanation.

411. Jaakko Kateenkorva says:

thegriss says: May 2, 2014 at 1:40 am
“It seems pretty obvious that Roy wants everyone to “agree” with his views, and like any warmist and GHG believer, is going to ridicule those who don’t agree with him.”

That was my thought also, but couldn’t spell it out so clearly. How many times has history shown us the point where truth becomes secondary?

Although I agree with the 10 points after Dr Spencer clarified n° 7 in the discussion chain, it’s a mystery to me why should all skeptics wear the same tight cap. While fitting it on, the strongest political anti-cAGW argument, humanity, was lost in my opinion.

412. David A says:

E.M.Smith says:
May 1, 2014 at 8:26 am
==============================================
So good to see you posting here again. You began to detail everything I tried to say in the broadest possible terms in my earlier post here…
…”There is more then one straw man in Dr. Spencer’s overall OK post. Basically the CAGW enthusiast all agree, so it is natural that skeptics fall into every other possible camp. This means it will be natural for skeptic’s to have disparate views. It would have been best to call those considering a different view wrong because… The use of the word stupid is antagonizing and counter productive.

Just one example for now is number 4. Very few skeptics claim CO2 ONLY causes cooling. However the question of the net affect is debated rationally and constructively, as the radiation of energy from the top of the atmosphere being the earths only effective way to dissipate energy to space. Questions on the interaction of convection, conduction, evaporation and radiation, which all interact in complicated manners, are very legitimate, and the net affect is not known in any kind of engineering style analysis, such as what Steven McIntyre has consistently called for.

413. David A says:

Dr. Spencer said he hopes to reach the open minded skeptic, not the died in the wool “slayer” type
IMV he paints with a brush to broad, and so cannot convince any thinking skeptic with his simplified over broad list. (I appreciate much of what Dr. Spencer does.)

I invite any of the truly educated scientific minded commentators here to read E.M.Smith says: May 1, 2014 at 8:26 am, including his links’ I woud follow your discussion with EM on his criticsms of why the list is neither helpful or constructive with full open minded attention.

Jimbo for instance (BTW I learn from, and appreciate most all of your posts), fully supports
Dr. Spencer’s list regarding “average temperature, and wishes no one would make that argument.

In the end I discuss some of the controversial aspects from a purely academic perspective. If I am debating an alarmist, (not Dr. Spencer certainly, as he is no alarmist, but a genuine skeptic of CAGW ) I focus on the lack of any harmful consequences, the failure of the models, and the benefits of CO2, all well supported in the scientific literature and the willful misbehavior of the alarmist.

414. John Finn says:

Anthony

it might be worth providing a permanent link to this post similar to the Sea Ice page and other links.

415. Coldish says:

I haven’t read all the comments but I’m inclined to agree with E.M.Smith. I think Roy’s idea is a good one, but several of his points seem to need clarification and amplification, in particular point 7, where, as several commenters have pointed out, the truth depends on the time-scale. The 100 ppm or so difference between glacial and interglacial atmospheric CO2 levels is mainly attributable to the varying solubility of the gas in warming or cooling oceans, but the 20th century rise in atmospheric CO2 cannot be explained in this way.

416. 7. WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND The rate of rise in atmospheric CO2 is currently 2 ppm/yr, a rate which is 100 times as fast as any time in the 300,000 year Vostok ice core record. And we know our consumption of fossil fuels is emitting CO2 200 times as fast! So, where is the 100x as fast rise in today’s temperature causing this CO2 rise?

Hello Roy,

I suggest that temperature drives CO2 in nature because CO2 lags temperature at all measured time scales and the only significant signal I can detect in the CO2 curve is its ~9 month lag AFTER (LT) temperature.

However, temperature is not the ONLY driver of CO2, and other factors such as fossil fuel combustion and deforestation are probable major drivers of CO2.

I agree that Earth’s atmosphere is currently CO2-deficient and more is better.

Regards, Allan

“No matter how mean, or cruel, or sinful you have been, every time you breathe out, you make a little flower happy.”
- Shelley Berman

417. ren says:

It can be seen that the temperature in the troposphere over the equator falls to -70 ° C in accordance with the a pressure perfectly. So gravity works! The gas is expanded and loses kinetic energy. That is not greenhouse.

418. rgbatduke says:

If you have gridded anomalies, then you also must have gridded temperatures that are used to calculate those anomalies. One can then average those gridded temperatures over one year and the entire surface and come up with an average, even if it doesn’t mean a whole lot. I did that once, but it’s not worth looking up. Where the average temperature might mean something is for climate models. The global annual average temperature for a model spin up can be several degrees C from this calculated value. But you almost never see that because the standard method for reporting is anomalies and their trends.

According to NASA itself, climate models are unable to compute/estimate absolute global average surface temperature to any better than a 2 C range (or if you like, different climate models differ in their estimates of absolute temperature by roughly this range). Since there are so few models, that isn’t really a very good predictor of the uncertainty. One has to use “models” because of the highly dynamic variability Nick referred to, the sparseness and non-randomness of the sampling grid (especially as one goes back in time) — one is always left interpolating (kriging) a sparse grid over vast surface areas with basically no measurements at all. If you go outside into my yard (1/3 acre) and plant a dozen thermometers and measure temperature for a year, you’ll get a variation of at least 1-2 C in my yard — indeed, a thermometer placed near the house at the top of our southwest-facing driveway is probably going to read 5 C higher than one in the shade of the northeast facing side of the house at the same time, as convected heat rolls up the driveway and into the reflector oven of light bouncing off of the house.

Such variation and site dependence is clearly visible from a glance at nearby personal weather stations — two are listed on Weather Underground that are within about a mile of my house (and each other). One is sited right over somebody’s driveway and always reads 1-2 C “hot” in precisely this way. The other is located at a school, in a field, and is actually pretty good as far as I can tell comparing with my own thermometers.

So perhaps Roy should have added the word “anomaly” to his point 9, because in point of fact there is no such thing as a global average surface temperature known to better than a generous 1 C, and nobody would really be surprised if the error was 2 C if somebody planted a km-scale grid of perfectly housed and sited thermometers all over the globe (including all of the ocean and poles and Tibet and everywhere) and was able to compute a pretty good number instead of a terrible, half-modelled one with many assumptions built into the average.

Does this matter? Well, only if one wants one’s GCMs to be accurate. We all agree that the Earth cools by radiation. A 2 K out of ~288 K error in average surface temperature in a theory of radiation proportional to the absolute temperature makes a rather substantial difference in the Earth’s energy balance equation, one has to say. After all, the CO_2-only projected warming (assuming that somebody has a satisfactory answer somewhere to my objections about the partial pressure vs absolute pressure in the variation of the GHE due to “additional pressure broadening” that is widely asserted) is order of 1-1.5 C, but this is definitely a case where models cannot have their cake and eat it to. There is basically no doubt at all about the net TOA insolation — we know it quite accurately. If the surface temperature is actually 2 K absolute warmer than the models are initialized for they will get the wrong answer, badly!

As for measuring the anomaly precisely: There I’m willing to believe that it can be done to some precision, but based on what I’ve seen of the models that compute it I am not impressed either with the computations or their assertions of precision. I especially doubt their ability to be extended backwards in time without errors that grow extremely rapidly. To be blunt, I think comparing the current 30-35 year baseline anomalies, obtained with perhaps “decent” surface coverage and with at least a consistent computation of the baseline and no need to correct much for e.g. UHI systematic bias is fair — they may or may not accurately reflect the global anomaly (and given the lack of good agreement between the many computations, I’d have to say they probably aren’t terribly accurate in that regard) but what they are, they are! A metric whose variation over time has some meaning and relevance to the question of whether or not the Earth’s unknown global average surface temperature is increasing, decreasing, whatever, even if the accuracy of the metric is probably not terribly great.

(Aside — I’m skeptical about accuracy not only because of the sparseness of the grid, but because in some sense anomaly computations on a surface grid are looking at fourth order cumulants of the absolute temperature, and the absolute temperature itself is known to terrible accuracy). The anomaly itself is a first order difference (signed) — but only takes meaning when the running second order variance in the natural data is known, and only takes meaning relative to AGW when the data is corrected for natural trends which it isn’t and cannot be, where the sparse data is kriged all over a lat/long grid on a sphere — surely the dumbest possible choice of coordinate system for any sort of numerical spherical integral. The kriging alone is a second order process as one has to again decide how to interpolate/extrapolate the data across vast numbers of empty cells, hence my assertion of fourth order uncertainty. And IMO the remaining accuracy in the process is probably not too great, even for the anomaly — I doubt that even HADCRUT4′s estimate of 0.15 C in modern times is correct, probably too small by a factor of two or even more.)

The fundamental problem comes when one attempts to go back to (say) 1890 and use thermometric data taken back then to estimate the anomaly relative to the modern baseline! Excuse me? Quite aside from the fact that the instrumentation was different, the training and sampling and purpose of the measurement and the location and the local microclimate and… were all different the numbers are blithely “corrected” by somebody who obviously possess a time machine and oracular powers and fed into the same general code as the modern instrumental data and are expected to produce an “anomaly” that can be accurately compared to the modern baseline. And when the anomaly doesn’t match one’s expectations, one can just go back and alter the “corrections” in the remote past. Who can ever challenge you, whatever you do? One can hardly go back in time and get a do-over of the measurement process with modern instrumentation.

This problem is amplified even further when one attempts to go back past the instrumental record using proxies. Then one adds high frequency to low frequency errors, vast uncertainties due to multiple confounding sources of variation, and Manniacal selection of proxies that conform to one’s prior beliefs about the climate while excluding or downweighting proxies that contradict them. The “anomalies” one obtains then are nearly totally meaningless — the probable errors are starting to be as large as the entire range of holocene variation, degrees C.

Hence I “trust” UAH and RSS — clean, consistent measurements with a modern baseline. I trust HADCRUT4 and GISS etc as far as I can throw them — wait, that is roughly back to the UAH/RSS baseline, say the last quarter of the 20th century on — and trust them with a smoothly increasing probable error at all times before that to where I really don’t trust them much prior to 1950 — solidly post-WWII, modern electronics (radar), significantly improved weather monitoring necessitated by WWII (flying and oceanic movements both demanded it), access via improved planes and the needs of war to much of the world that was essentially terra incognita before WWII. Before that they are more “legend” than history, and back in the 1500s and 800s legend degrades to pure myth with the exception of a few comparatively pristine proxies.

rgb

419. The other Phil says:

Richard G says:
See…I can do argumentum ad absurdum also.

Not very well.

Did you seriously miss the point?

I’m not arguing that CO2 will kill you, or even harm you. I’m not arguing that 400 PPm does or does not affect the climate.

I’m simply trying to illustrate that the argument (which does exist) purporting that 400 PPM is too small to have any measurable effect is a bogus argument, and providing an illustration to demonstrate it.

420. Alexander Feht says:
May 2, 2014 at 3:35 am

And, of course, a single link you provided proves it unequivocally for all ages. Give me a break.

How many links do you need to convince you that Antarctic ice core CO2 levels are an accurate, be it smoothed, direct measurement of ancient atmospheric compositions? With a little search you can find many of them. The link I did provide is a nice summary of what ice cores can show and why.
But I know, some people don’t accept ice core measurements, because they don’t like the data. Which is exactly what Dr. Spencer demonstrates with his 10 points…

421. Roy Spencer says:
May 1, 2014 at 7:26 am

mpainter, Yes, warmer emits more CO2. Even the IPCC admitted that in an earlier report….they showed a plot of how atmospheric CO2 goes up after a warm El Nino, down after a La Nina. But that does not mean that when we pump CO2 into the atmosphere (at 100x the rate we see in the ice core record), that it won’t cause warming. Both directions of causation can happen….it’s not just one or the other.
——————————————
First, let me apologize for the early-morning typo, and for not reading all the comments. But again, I have to disagree: Both directions of causation cannot happen. If warming causes more CO2, and CO2 causes more warming, as long as there is carbon to oxidize from the skin of the earth nothing would stop virtually all the carbon from returning to the atmosphere. There is no evidence of such positive feedback at any time since the advent of photosynthesis.

Unless CO2 is directly sensitive to Milankovitch frequencies, and is able to reach back through hundreds-to-thousands-of-years of ice to change isotope-ratios, CO2 has no apparent influence on temperature,

Since the disturbance of soil-carbon with the agricultural revolution, CO2 has been unnaturally high (by icecore standards), yet isotope ratios suggest the poles have cooled since then. Again, no evidence of CO2 influence on temperature.

Since 1979, accurate measurements of global temperaure (thank you, Dr. Spencer) have shown fluctuations well within Holocene norms, while the ongoing industrial revolution has pushed CO2 to levels not seen for millions-or-years of geological time. Again, no evidence of CO2 influence on temperature.

CO2 is opaque to small portions of the EM spectrum, which theoretically should have a small effect on global temperature that plateaus with increasing concentration. Why is it surprising that this effect is apparently in the noise envelope?

422. R Taylor says:
May 2, 2014 at 4:46 am

Sorry to disagree, but #7 is wrong. Warming does cause CO2 to rise (and cooling causes CO2 to fall), plausibly due to the relative temperature-sensitivities of respiration and photosynthesis in the biosphere.

Dr. Spencer agrees with you that warming increases CO2 in the atmosphere by nature, but there are two aspects on this where he and I and others don’t agree:
- The current increase of 100 ppmv in only 160 years is not natural: the maximum contribution from nature is 8 ppmv from the warming since the LIA.
- That the natural CO2 levels always follow temperature changes doesn’t exclude that an extra increase of CO2 above the temperature dictated equilibrium has some effect on temperature (be it small).

423. R Taylor says:
May 2, 2014 at 7:25 am

But again, I have to disagree: Both directions of causation cannot happen. If warming causes more CO2, and CO2 causes more warming, as long as there is carbon to oxidize from the skin of the earth nothing would stop virtually all the carbon from returning to the atmosphere.

If the influence of temperature on CO2 is modest (8 ppmv/°C) and the influence of CO2 on temperature is modest (0.9°C/2xCO2), there is no chance of a runaway process. All what happens is that both temperature and CO2 level somewhat higher than if there was no feedback on each other:

I don’t think that the influence of CO2 on temperature is high, the problem is how to separate the temperature increase caused by natural influences (ocean currents,…) from the influence of CO2.
There were two periods of warming in the recent past (near equal in strength) and two periods of “pause”: 1945-1975 and 2000-current. There is a slight difference between the two periods: the period 1945-1975 shows a small cooling, the period 2000-current hardly shows any cooling. That may be the influence of the CO2 increase, assuming that the natural cycle which caused the pause has the same strength…

424. richard says:

If someone gave me the average temps of the desert not knowing what and where it was boy would I be in for a surprise.

425. Marc77 says:

Without greenhouse gases, the atmosphere would not be isothermal.

The one molecule atmosphere has a gradient of temperature, this molecule must go faster as it moves toward the ground. When more molecules are present, it might fight this gradient. But we know that conduction and convection can only fight the gradient down to the normal adiabatic lapse rate of around 6.5K/km.

The perpetuum mobile argument does not hold water. It might be possible to make energy from the difference of temperature through this column. But you can also make energy between the warm ground and the cold space. There is already a gradient of temperature there. Based on how our atmosphere “sees” temperature, the ground is warmer than space and a gradient of temperature will appear. If space could warm the top of the atmosphere as efficiently as the ground, no gradient would exist.

426. Juergen Michele says:

Trevor says: May 1, 2014 at 10:41 am
Juergen Michele says:
May 1, 2014 at 6:28 am
Looking at your point 4. :
CO2 in the upper atmosphere blocks outgoing radiation from the earth surface.
But the incoming radiation from the sun in the relevant frequency range is hundredfold compared to the back radiation from earth.
As a consequence more CO2 cools!

You didn’t quite finish your thought here, Juergen, but I THINK you’re trying to say that the solar radiation blocked from entering the atmosphere by CO2 far outweighs the radiation blocked from leaving the atmosphere by CO2. If so, your error here is in assuming that the radiation coming from the sun is identical to the radiation coming from the surface. That assumption is incorrect.

That was not my assumption …
See Fig. 3 in

Normally incident solar spectrum at sea level on a clear day. The dotted curve shows the extrarrestrial spectrum

or Fig. 4 in
Infrared-Absorbing Gases and the Earth’s Surface Temperature
Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D., Physics

http://objectivistindividualist.blogspot.de/2013/02/infrared-absorbing-gases-and-earths.html

The “backradiation” of H2O and CO2 is much more intense compared to radiation from the earth surface.

More CO2 cools!

427. richard says:

Jaakko Kateenkorva says:
May 2, 2014 at 4:47 am
it’s a mystery to me why should all skeptics wear the same tight cap.
—————————————–

IN a normal world this would apply but i believe Mr Spencer is trying to simplify things, if skeptical scientists run all over the place with ideas right or wrong it is hard to get a message across. Best to stick to co2 causes warming but so small as not to be relevant.

What you are up against is a one size fits all from alarmists that has been used for 30 years that is so ingrained with the public that any other ideas would cause confusion.

So Mr Spencer has come down with his Ten commandments and anything else is forbidden for the moment ( Mr TIm Ball’s comment was removed ).

I completely understand.

428. richard says:

“it’s a mystery to me why should all skeptics wear the same tight cap”
should say
in a normal world they shouldn’t have to,

429. Dung says:

I have heard the argument richard uses above and I could not disagree more (that was also by a richard, wonder if it is the same one?) You are encouraged to stick to the politically correct skeptic line and not think and speak for yourself. Think for your self and speak for yourself ^.^

430. Mike Rossander says:

With all due respect to Dr Spencer, I think his # 7 is unproven and probably unprovable. The measurement precision of the Vostok ice cores and of every other non-instrumental record is insufficient to proved that CO2 levels never spiked within their assumed periods.

To take the ice cores as a single example, consider what we would see today if 10,000 years ago there had been an instantaneous spike in CO2 levels. At the time of trapping, there would have been a discontinuity in the CO2 levels within the layers of ice. However, even a small degree of diffusion will cause the trapped CO2 and other gasses to move slightly within the surrounding ice crystals, blurring the line. After thousands of years of blurring, any measurements we could take would be indistinguishable from a much gentler, slower change.

It is possible that the current rate of CO2 increase is truly unprecedented but it has not and I think can not be proven that the current rate of increase has never before occurred.

431. mpainter says:

Congradulations to Roy Spencer for a posting that has led to one of the longest and most stimulating discussions on this blog, ever.
I conclude that the science is NOT settled. ; )

Konrad makes a lot of sense. The only radiative gas that counts is H2O vapor and that is latent heat and thus is the planet cooled. Water moderates temperatures and determines climate and CO2 is of no account, climatically. The data of the last 17 years is conclusive.

432. Dung says:

Reading through this thread makes me wonder if people have forgotten Feynman?
“Each piece, or part, of the whole of nature is always merely an approximation to the complete truth, or the complete truth so far as we know it. In fact, everything we know is only some kind of approximation, because we know that we do not know all the laws as yet. Therefore, things must be learned only to be unlearned again or, more likely, to be corrected. … The test of all knowledge is experiment. Experiment is the sole judge of scientific “truth”.
People seem to think new theories are facts.

Take the ice core records for instance; a long way up thread somebody posted that the ice core records should be discounted because we can can not be sure of the dates that changes occurred. That person then went on to give the latest scientific theory about how long it takes before ice freezes solidly enough to stop molecules of gas moving around.
The ice core records are empirical evidence, they do not lie and all errors are our own. We may be making mistakes in our interpretation of the cores but certain things do not need interpretation; the cores give us a chronology of events even if exact timings are not within our current ability to detect.
Should it be the case that someone can give me evidence to support the idea that it can take 2000 years for ice to completely solidify I will have to have a rethink, until then temperature rises before CO2 levels fact.

433. richard says:

Dung says:
May 2, 2014 at 8:19 am
I have heard the argument richard uses above and I could not disagree more (that was also by a richard, wonder if it is the same one?) You are encouraged to stick to the politically correct skeptic line and not think and speak for yourself. Think for your self and speak for yourself ^.^

I don’t mean it in such harsh terms but Mr Tim Ball was snipped and I imagine Mr Watts is weary of opening up a can of worms where that comment/link was going.

So I sort of rest my case.

434. Dung says:

My apologies richard, I think I misunderstood you ^.^

435. richard says:

wary and weary.

436. David A says:

Coldish says:
May 2, 2014 at 5:33 am
I haven’t read all the comments but I’m inclined to agree with E.M.Smith. I think Roy’s idea is a good one, but several of his points seem to need clarification and amplification, in particular point 7
============================================
Yes his post is very solid. Roy would do well to read it and comment. EM is a very balanced skeptic.

437. Mike Rossander says:
May 2, 2014 at 8:23 am

The measurement precision of the Vostok ice cores and of every other non-instrumental record is insufficient to proved that CO2 levels never spiked within their assumed periods.

The accuracy and repeatability of the CO2 measurements in the same ice core is 1.2 ppmv – 1 sigma. For the same average gas age, the CO2 measurements between different ice cores differ not more than +/- 5 ppmv.

The resolution (averaging) of CO2 levels over the years varies with the accumulation speed and so does the length of the record: it is about a decade over the past 150 years, 2 decades over the past 1,000 years (from different Law Dome ice cores), ~40 years over the past 70,000 years (Taylor Dome) and ~560 years over the past 800,000 years (Dome C). Vostok has less resolution (~600 years) over the past 420,000 years.

Any 20-year spike of 100 ppmv would spread over the 560 years and still be measurable in the ice core record. Thus the current 100 ppmv increase over 160 years anyway would be detected, even if it was part of a 600-year cycle.
And there is no measurable migration of CO2 in the cold inland ice cores. If there was even the slightest migration, the quite constant ratio between temperature changes and CO2 changes would fade for each interglacial 100 kyear back in time.

438. Ferdinand Engelbeen,

Thank you for participating in the carbon cycle discourse introduced by Spencer’s # 7.

In my past enjoyable critical view of your positions, the focus I usually have had is on how well circumscribed is our knowledge of the natural sinks and sources in the: land masses (which include fresh water bodies); in the salt water bodies; and in the polar snow/ice masses.

My position has usually been that the land sinks and sources are inadequately known in carbon cycle analysis of attribution of increases in atmospheric CO2.

In that respect I recall these quotes from Salby:

‘Global emission of carbon dioxide: the contribution of natural sources’ by Murry L. Salby from a
lecture given at the Sydney Institute, Australia, 2 August 2011

“In reality, our knowledge of natural sources is limited. The little we do know is that natural sources are dynamic: they depend intrinsically upon environmental conditions – cloud, moisture, temperature, even on the prevailing ecosystem.

[. . .] The human source is of order 5 gigatonnes per year. By comparison, the ocean emits of order 90 Gte/yr; land emits of order another 60 Gte/yr. Total emission from natural sources is thus of order 150 Gte/yr. It is approximately balanced by natural sinks, which absorb about as much. The key word is “approximately”. Because natural sources and sinks are two orders of magnitude stronger, even a minor imbalance can overshadow the human source. Moreover, if those sources involve carbon-13 leaner than in the atmosphere, as many do, all bets are off.”

[. . .]

[. . .] emission from natural sources is integral to observed changes of CO2. Its contribution has not been recognized: nor is it represented in climate models. Because it involves emission that is not solely human, future atmospheric CO2 is only marginally predictable and, in significant part, not controllable. That means that changes of human emission will not be tracked by changes of atmospheric CO2. They never have been.”

John

439. beng says:

Thanks, Doc. Agree w/everything you point out.

440. Tim Folkerts says:

Marc77 says: May 2, 2014 at 7:55 am
“Without greenhouse gases, the atmosphere would not be isothermal.
The one molecule atmosphere has a gradient of temperature … “

This is a very tempting conclusion, but it is incorrect. The “temperature” at a given altitude will be proportional to the average kinetic energy of the molecule at that altitude (KE = 3/2 kT). To get that average KE, we must look at many flights of this one molecule.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume the surface is 300 K. As the single molecule leaves the surface, sometimes it will be moving faster than average, and sometimes slower (ie the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution). If we look right at ground level, the average will clearly give 300 K for the temperature of teh one molecule in the atmosphere.

What if we go up 1 km? Well, for many of the flights of the molecule, it will never even get that high and hence will not be part of the average KE there. To get that high, the molecule must have had above-average KE to start. And of course, it loses some of that KE on the trip 1 km up. Not coincidentally, the KE lost on the trip up reduces the average KE 1 km to exactly enough to make the few remaining trips STILL average to 300 K!

PS there are OTHER reasons it would not be isothermal (eg day/night swings in temperature), but the true equilibrium temperature gradient is indeed isothermal.

441. Mickey Reno says:

Interesting list Dr. Spencer. I’d be interested in seeing your “10 best arguments against climate catastrophe” list.

On #7, I’m not sure what you’re saying. It seems to say that today’s rates of CO2 emissions overwhelm cause and effect as suggested by ice cores. The argument about ice core is that CO2 follows warming, ergo, CO2 is probably not the causal factor. And if it’s not causal to those earlier warming periods, the higher rate of emissions today is non-sequitur, isn’t it?

On #5, are there any space-based measurements that support Richard Lindzen’s theories about warm periods diminishing cirrus clouds allowing more outbound IR transmissions? Are there any measurements to indicate the Earth’s IR brightness increases during periods of higher near-surface air temperatures?

442. Bart says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
May 2, 2014 at 7:13 am

I have avoided getting into this stuff with you on this thread, because you keep on trotting out the usual proof by assertion you have always used. Your view of nature is not tied to physical and mathematical laws.

For those who are not aware, Ferdinand and I have been arguing about this topic for years on these boards. You will note that he only cites data which supports his narrative, and arbitrarily dismisses that which does not. His narrative relies on data which are open to multiple interpretations, yet he insists with no basis that his interpretation is Truth. His description of short term and long term processes arbitrarily segregated by nature is not physically realizable in a world governed by mathematical laws.

Everything one needs to know about CO2 concentration in the last 56 years is contained in this plot. The rate of change of CO2 in the atmosphere is wholly accounted for by some temperature dependent process. As human inputs are not temperature dependent, they cannot be the major driver of atmospheric CO2 levels.

It’s not even a close question. This particular observation is not subject to multiple interpretations. The laws of mathematics require the conclusion. With the continuing divergence between emissions (which are increasing exponentially) and atmospheric CO2 concentration (which is increasing only linearly), it will soon become undeniable that humans are having little effect on atmospheric concentration.

I’m not going to respond any further, and will let Ferdinand have the last word. He is simply wrong.

Marc77 says:
May 2, 2014 at 7:55 am

“The one molecule atmosphere has a gradient of temperature, this molecule must go faster as it moves toward the ground.”

There is no way for that molecule to make it to the ground. It is going to collide with other molecules, imparting its energy, as it goes. Air molecules are not in free flight, orbiting about the Earth. In fact, the entire atmosphere moves more or less with the Earth up to very high altitudes, with velocity R*omega, where R is the radius and omega is the Earth angular rate, rather than the sqrt(mu/R) of orbital velocity.

Without being flippant, and not wanting to repeat anything already posted here (I am unable to sift through all of the comments), is there ANY possibility that we could get Anthony, Dr. Roy, Dr. David Evans, Ian Plimer, Dr. Lindzen, and any of the other heavy hitters, to put together something like JoNova’s “Skeptic’s Handbook”; something about 20 – 30 pages, maybe even published on-line (like right here, for example) of what the concise skeptic position is, how to maintain that position against warmist arguments, referenced sources, etc etc etc.

One of the best resources I’ve ever seen is Howard Hayden’s “A Primer on CO2 and Climate”. It is possible to read the 70+ pages in one sitting, and it is heavily sourced.

I would ditto the comments that we need a “top ten” skeptic arguments. This is good; there is no downside to Dr. Roy’s comments here, but the flip side of the coin would help all of us.

Just my two cents; thanks to all who have commented here,

Mark H.

444. Further to Richard Courtenay’s comment about an 83 year temporal enclosure time there is also a 70 year smoothing average applied to the graphical ice core displays.

445. Mickey Reno says:

I should have read the whole comment thread before I posted… sigh. lots of discussion on #7.

Dr. Spencer, I applaud you for your reserve in dealing with people who you probably consider to be, er, well, idiots. I’m loathe to use the word, even, because of it’s trolling effects. On the upside, the comments in this thread have been wonderful to read, for the most part. Compare to the comments on many other blogs that deals with climate issues, such as Huffington Post, DeSmog, SkS or WatchingTheDeniers. One of the reasons WUWT is my favorite blog to read.

446. tjfolkerts says:

“What Dr. Spencer got wrong in his 2009 post was that -
A. Surface Tav would not be -18C under a non-radiative atmosphere.
B. The temperature of a non-radiative atmosphere would be set by surface Tmax not Tav.”

For clarification, it seems you are talking about 2 different things:
A) seems to be the surface temperature of the ground/ocean
B) seem to be the temperature throughout the atmosphere
Is that correct?

So two questions:
A) Are you saying the ground/ocean surface would be above -18C? If so where does it get the extra energy, since it will be radiating more power to space as thermal IR than it is receiving as sunlight.

B) Suppose one spot ( say 1 km^2) on earth was 1500 C lava. Are you saying that the entire atmosphere would eventually reach 1500 C for a 100% non-radiative atmosphere?

447. otropogo says:

This article nicely demonstrates the dilemma facing every open-minded person when confronted by any highly technical issue strictly beyond his or her level of training or expertise – SCIENTIFIC CREDIBILITY HAS CEASED TO EXIST.

The two main social mechanisms of destroying scientific credibility have been academia-imposed orthodoxy, of which an early example was the witch-hunt against scientists supporting Immanuel Velikovsky in the 1950s, and legislative determination of “truth”, originally debuting as “holocaust denial” legislation, but increasingly coming into play as a means of suppressing any notion considered by the “public” (or at least its opinion makers) as politically incorrect.

It must be obvious to any reasonable person that one cannot expect a majority of the public to become knowledgeable in every branch of science and technology. How then can they be expected to determine rationally whose advice to follow when there is scientific controversy?

As someone endowed with more native intelligence, formal education, and leisure time than most citizens of the developed world, I can assure this forum with absolute certainty that neither the article above, nor the posts responding to it, nor any conceivable number of like postings, can solve this problem.

And so the most critical long-term decisions humanity faces will continue to be determined by the factions with the most effective marketing/propaganda teams, regardless of the merits of the “science” supporting them.

This is the ultimate cause of humanity’s inability to come to grips with all of its global challenges, from the solar EMP threat, through possible interplanetary impact, pollution, production and distribution of water, fuel, food and medicine, to organized and individual violence. The issue of scientific credibility is the problem we must solve in order for human society to survive and continue to evolve.

The only solution I can imagine is the development and implementation of a regimen for inculcating strict adherence to rational thought, and a screening program for certifying those who are not prone to irrational thinking. This would at last create a cadre of credible scientists whose advice could be trusted.

The question is how such an initiative could be launched in the face of certain opposition from established religious and political groups and institutions, including educational institutions.

448. Allan M.R. MacRae says:

May 2, 2014 at 5:35 am

I suggest that temperature drives CO2 in nature because CO2 lags temperature at all measured time scales and the only significant signal I can detect in the CO2 curve is its ~9 month lag AFTER (LT) temperature.

However, temperature is not the ONLY driver of CO2, and other factors such as fossil fuel combustion and deforestation are probable major drivers of CO2.

Hmmm…

We can say that “temperature change happens before atmosphere CO2 change”, but the correlation doesn’t necessarily mean that “temperature drives CO2″. Perhaps the effect of temperature change on the flora then effects how much or how little CO2 is added/removed from the atmosphere? The lag time would factor in quite well with that possibility, would it not?

In any case, I would hope we all agree that temperature is not the only thing that effects, either directly or indirectly, the level of atmospheric CO2. While there may not be much agreement on exactly how much, it seems clear that fossil fuel combustion is adding CO2 to the atmosphere.

449. John Whitman says:
May 2, 2014 at 9:00 am

It is approximately balanced by natural sinks, which absorb about as much. The key word is “approximately”.

The key word is balance: while the individual and total fluxes of natural sources and sinks are known with large margins of error or not even known, the balance is known with reasonable accuracy: We measure the increase in the atmosphere at a lot of stations and we know the human CO2 emissions with reasonable accuracy, based on sales (taxes!) and burning efficiency of the different fuels. That gives next graph:

Where it is clear that the natural unbalance is negative over the full past 50 years of accurate measurements and that the year by year variability of the unbalance also is quite small: not more than +/- 2% of the estimated carbon cycle…

450. Latitude says:

the balance is known with reasonable accuracy:…….

That is just not possible…..we can’t even describe the nitrification denitrification ammonification cycle properly

451. Bart says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
May 2, 2014 at 10:31 am

I know I said I would let you have the last word, but this needs some response. IOW, I lied. Sue me.

“Where it is clear that the natural unbalance is negative over the full past 50 years of accurate measurements…”

Utterly meaningless in a dynamic system, which responds to increased partial pressure from human emissions to dynamically create more sink capacity.

452. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
May 2, 2014 at 10:31 am

- – - – - – - -

Ferdinand Engelbeen,

I think contrary to you; that is I think land sources and sinks details are not known enough to even approximately demarcate that CO2 increase which belongs to nature and that which belongs to Big Fossil.

So, my thought is that without increasing the detailed knowledge of land sources and sinks, then the current presumptive hand waving that is the basis of attributing to Big Fossil virtually all of the increase in atm CO2 remains just that; just presumptive hand waving.

I think this issue cannot be resolved until more research on land sources and sinks enters the marketplace of scientific ideas. N’est ce pas? I look forward to that research occurring and our discussion advancing.

John

453. Solomon Green says:

milodonharlani has kindly drawn my attention to the relative weightings that can be applied to atmospheric gases.
According to the table to which he has pointed me, taking the “Global Warming Potential – 100 year time horizon” for CO2 as 1, the GWP of CH4 is 28 and that of NO2 is 265. Taking the estimated recent average tropospheric concentrations of CH4 as 1.8 ppm and that of NO2 as 0.335 ppm, in their existing concentrations these two gases together have the potential to warm the globe by about a third of the potential of CO2 in its current concentration. Even ignoring all the other gases and assuming that any effect that they might have on global warming is de minimis, no climate model can hope to approach reality unless it allows for the variability of both CH4 and NO2.
At least these gases are measurable and there are, apparently, historic measurements. Not so H2O, of which the NOAA states “Also, while we have good atmospheric measurements of other key greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, we have poor measurements of global water vapor, so it is not certain by how much atmospheric concentrations have risen in recent decades or centuries…” But any climate model, in order to be realistic, should include the variable H2O for which there are no good historic measurements.
And this assumes that other possible forcings, of which there are at least thirty, can be accurately modelled.
My scepticism as to the validity of any global model as a forecasting tool remains.

454. Bart says:
May 2, 2014 at 9:28 am

I was expecting a much earlier comment from you, but here – again – my main arguments:

- Both the human emissions and the increase in the atmosphere show a steady, slightly quadratic increase in the atmosphere over the full 110+ years. The increase in temperature is with ups and downs, but since 1960 it is more linear with a leveling off in the last 1.5 decade:

Bart takes only the data since 1960 into account.
- We can exclude the biosphere as cause of the increase in the atmosphere as there is no indication of a firmly increased seasonal cycle (based of O2 and d13C measurements) and the biosphere as a whole is a net sink for ~1GtC/year (based on O2 measurements).
- The ocean surface layer can be excluded, as that shows a slight increase in total C in a ratio of 10% of the increase in the atmosphere, its capacity is too small.
- Rests the deep oceans as possible cause. But any increase in temperature of the ocean surface where the deep oceans upwelling shows up and where the downwelling occurs is completely compensated with an increase of 17 ppmv/°C in the atmosphere (at a more or less constant up/downwelling of CO2, see further):

That also shows that the CO2 increase lags the temperature increase.

It can be shown that a relative fast (2-3 years) sinusoïd in temperature change is followed by a CO2 sinusoïd with a lag of pi/2 of the frequency.

In the first graph we have shown that the increase in the atmosphere follows the increase in total emissions both with a slightly quadratic curve. If we plot the derivatives, that does give a linear increase of the rate of change, while the linear increase of temperature gives a flat (even slightly negative) slope in the derivative
Again, we see a pi/2 shift between the rate of change of temperature and the rate of change of CO2, as taking the derivative shifts both pi/2 back.

What Bart does is comparing the variation in temperature with the variation in the rate of change of CO2. Besides that this has no physical meaning, one can fit any linear trendline with any other one by adding an offset and an appropriate factor (there are problems with the amplitudes of the variability, because of that factor, but that is not the main point). His whole theory is based on the fact that the variability in temperature has a perfect fit in timing with the variability of the rate of change in CO2. But that is caused by the fact that CO2 follows temperature with pi/2 and that taking the derivatives shift both pi/2 back in time, which makes that temperature changes and CO2 rate of change changes always match in timing…

Anyway, if the deep oceans should be the cause of the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, that is only possible via an increased deep ocean – atmosphere – deep ocean circulation in exact ratio to human emissions. But there is not the slightest indication of such an increase in circulation, to the contrary. Moreover, that also would influence the 13C/12C ratio of the atmosphere:

the orange line is what is the calculated 13C/12C ratio if Bart’s theory was right…

455. Latitude says:
May 2, 2014 at 10:36 am

That is just not possible…..we can’t even describe the nitrification denitrification ammonification cycle properly

The nitrogen fluxes are very difficult to estimate/calculate, but it would be possible to know the balance in the atmosphere, if there was an analytical method accurate enough to measure a fraction of a ppmv N2 in the near 790,000 ppmv of the atmosphere… For oxygen they succeeded for 0.4 ppmv in about 210,000 ppmv… For CO2: no problem at all to measure 0.2 ppmv in 400 ppmv…

456. Brendy says:

Regarding Global Average Temperature, not sure that 30 gallons of water in the fiberglass tub in the upstairs bathroom is much of an analogy for the almost 200 million square miles of the earth’s sea and land surface and the incredibly complex dynamics it presents in terms of identifying an “average.”

457. Latitude says:

458. Latitude says:

Ferd…not Fred….

459. Bart says:
May 2, 2014 at 10:41 am

Utterly meaningless in a dynamic system, which responds to increased partial pressure from human emissions to dynamically create more sink capacity.

Even in a dynamic system, the natural balance is negative over the past 50 years. That is simply what is measured. If that is caused by more natural circulation, as you think or only by human emissions, that is the point of discussion…

460. David A says:

B) Suppose one spot ( say 1 km^2) on earth was 1500 C lava. Are you saying that the entire atmosphere would eventually reach 1500 C for a 100% non-radiative atmosphere?
==================================================
Interesting question. How does a non GHG atmosphere cool? Does the conducted heat to the atmosphere have to back conduct back to the surface in order to radiate away? Back Conduction?

461. lb says:

Agricultural Economist says:
May 2, 2014 at 12:55 am

There is another very popular, but also VERY stupid argument frequently brought up against model-based long-term climate projections:

“If we can’t forecast the weather two weeks from now, how can we forecast the climate in 100 years?”

Ahh, this is my favorite one. I don’t think it’s stupid, because

1) it’s simple and plausible

2) I believe climate is the sum of all weather, be it micro-, regional- seasonal- or global climate.
So if you can’t predict the parts, how will you predict the whole?
For example, can anyone predict today wether the next winter in northern America will be as
cold as the last one? Agreed, this is still ‘weather’, but also cold winters somewhat define the
climate of northern America. Which leads directly to the next argument:

3) I believe, the climate ‘mechanics’ are not well known. Why does the jetstream what it does?
How and why affect El Nino and La Nina weather or climate? What triggers lead to an ice age
or out of it? The science is far from settled.

4) Regarding the temperature variations of the last few hundred years, I think the uncertainty
is so high I wouldn’t dare predict the average temperature of 2020. It might be 5 degrees lower
or higher than now.

5) And finally, to predict the climate a hundred years in the future, you’ll have to factor in major
events like volcanoes, sunspot activity, earthquakes that change regional climate…

462. Dung says:
May 2, 2014 at 8:36 am
———————————————-
Perhaps the icecore-bubble migrationists also have an explanation why CO2 is directly sensitive to Milankovitch changes in insolation.

463. DD More says:

Couple of strawmen examples.

“2. THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT VIOLATES THE 2ND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS. & So, yes, a cooler body can make a warm body even warmer still…as evidenced by putting your clothes on.”

From a high school presentation 40 years ago on hypothermia. Take 5 sealed metal cans filled with water all at the same temperature. Cover one each with dry wool, wet wool, dry cotton, wet cotton and one bare. Put outside around 50 degrees, in the shade with a light wind (if I remember correctly). 30 minutes later measure the temps. The wet cotton will be lower than the bare can. Your example is not always right, wet cotton will make you colder. Dry clothing stops the evaporative cooling of the skin, not thermal radiation.

“3. CO2 CANT CAUSE WARMING BECAUSE CO2 EMITS IR AS FAST AS IT”

“When a CO2 molecule absorbs an IR photon, the mean free path within the atmosphere is so short that the molecule gives up its energy to surrounding molecules before it can (on average) emit an IR photon in its temporarily excited state.”

So greenhouse gases can catch IR photons, convect to non-greehouse gases and from #2 above “to the fact that all bodies emit IR radiation” they all emit IR but at a changed frequency due to their temperature and Planck’s curves. Does the radiated IR from N2 & O2 get around the CO2 window?

“7. WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND The rate of rise in atmospheric CO2 is currently 2 ppm/yr, a rate which is 100 times as fast as any time in the 300,000 year Vostok ice core record.”

So if we have this 100x rate, how can any recent low temperature record be set. Even your sat. temp. output shows 1998 as a high. Does natural variation still overwhelm CO2?

“9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE”

As stated in #6 – “Explaining absolute air temperature is an energy budget question.”

For the following states: Alabama, Florida, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota & South Dakota; Which two states have recorded the highest temperature and which two have the lowest high temperature?

If you say Alabama / Florida and North Dakota / South Dakota you are right, but did you answer that the Dakota’s were the 2 higher and AL / FL were the 2 lower. Has to do with humidity. You cannot get total energy without humidity, so temperature alone does not tell the whole story.

464. Kristian says:

george e. smith says, May 1, 2014 at 8:03 pm:

“Kristian, I believe that what the Nimus 4 observation is saying is that earth’s outgoing radiation is a near black body spectrum, at essentially the ocean surface temperature, shooting straight out to space unhindered, except where the CO2, O3 and H2O in the atmosphere are putting holes, due to GHG LWIR absorption bands.

Remember that what the GHG molecules absorb, and subsequently re-emit, (maybe spectrally different), is emitted ISOTROPICALLY so only about half of it escapes (directly to space), the rest returning to the surface, where it has a variety of processes to deal with.”

Smith, my point is this: When looking down at the radiation going out from the earth as seen by the satellites from space, wouldn’t we expect to see the OPPOSITE of what that spectrum supposedly shows, namely that ALL radiation was emitted by the radiative gases (the so-called ‘GHGs’), not the other way around, that most if not all the radiation came from outside the ‘GHG’ spectral bands and that it is specifically NOT emitted to any significant extent through the ‘GHG’ spectral bands? That is, IF this kind of spectrum diagram is interpreted correctly …!

But of course it isn’t. This is not about the AMOUNT of radiation being emitted by the earth. Even though some people apparently REALLY want to believe just that. It is about the FREQUENCY BANDS that this radiation is primarily emitted through. It tells us nothing about the total OLR (the flux out through the ToA).

What it tells us is what we all know: H2O and CO2 absorbs IR within certain spectral wavelength bands going out from the surface, but do not emit them again to space in the same wavelengths, because they collide with other air molecules before they can physically reemit. Hence, what we see is to a large extent simply a ‘bulk gas temperature’ emission signal, NOT an individual (molecular) spectral emission signal.

In other words, Robert Brown’s ‘proof’ of a GHE warming effect, simply isn’t what it’s claimed to be. It’s just evidence that H2O, CO2, CH4 et al. absorbs IR. Nobody disputes that. It’s however NOT evidence (not even hinting) that this absorbed IR is therefore somehow ‘trapped’ by the atmosphere, that it cannot ‘escape’. It goes into the greater bulk temperature of the atmosphere.

465. Bart says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
May 2, 2014 at 11:51 am

“(there are problems with the amplitudes of the variability, because of that factor, but that is not the main point)”

It is the main point. We get a fit of both the trend and the variability with the same scaling factor. That confirms the scaling factor. The trend is therefore explained fully by the temperature relationship. Human emissions also have a trend in rate. There is little to no room for it to fit in, because it is already accounted for.

“But that is caused by the fact that CO2 follows temperature with pi/2 and that taking the derivatives shift both pi/2 back in time, which makes that temperature changes and CO2 rate of change changes always match in timing…”

Because it is a derivative relationship. The phase shift of pi/2 across all frequencies occurs if and only if there is a derivative relationship.

“Anyway, if the deep oceans should be the cause of the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, that is only possible via an increased deep ocean – atmosphere – deep ocean circulation in exact ratio to human emissions.”

A trivial matter. Every affine function is affinely similar to any other affine function. All you’re saying is that the rates of change of all relevant quantities are increasing roughly linearly over the timeline of interest. That is not only not remarkable, it is generally expected local behavior for any function, as anyone who has ever performed a Taylor series expansion knows.

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
May 2, 2014 at 12:14 pm

“If that is caused by more natural circulation, as you think or only by human emissions, that is the point of discussion…”

The observation has no bearing on the discussion for a dynamic system. That is the point.

466. Bob Bolder says:

The oceans contain 250 times the mass of the entire atmosphere and a larger ability to absorb radiation from the sun. yet we are to believe that a 100 ppm increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is driving an increase in the temperature of the ocean and the Atmosphere.

The increase in solar radiation is warming the oceans and and releasing CO2. this is why CO2 lags behind temperature in all of the records. the amount of CO2 dumped in the atmosphere through man made sources would easily be absorbed by natural systems without this effect.

467. richardscourtney says:

JohnWho:

At May 2, 2014 at 10:24 am you assert

While there may not be much agreement on exactly how much, it seems clear that fossil fuel combustion is adding CO2 to the atmosphere.

No, it is not “clear” and that is why there is such discussion of the matter as has happened in this thread.

The anthropogenic CO2 emission is a trivial addition to the CO2 circulating in the carbon cycle. It is input to the atmosphere but the exchanges with the atmosphere give very rapid turnover.

Enough has been said on this matter in this thread. There is no data which resolves the matter and the discussion is ‘taking over’ the thread.

Richard

468. Dung says:

Some of my comments have been removed, I did not offend anyone and I am not happy about it therefore with great regret I will leave this great discussion.

469. OK.

Let us begin that conversation:

What Are The “Ten” Most-Common FALSE CAGW “Scientific” Claims and Exaggerations That Are Most Often Thrown in the Faces of Skeptics and Realists?

Now, I know how “I” would answer each challenge – and I “have” answered these same challenges and accusations many different times in probably as many different ways But, I’m not the only one they are accusing, the only one the CAGW religion is attacking because of our skepticism. SO, what “accusations” and “questions” am I missing? How have you ( the readers) responded – or have not been able to respond to each challenge?

Further, I use the term “challenges” deliberately – the CAGW religion requires that you be a “zealot” and be “ready to act” despite real evidence and despite any immediate threat – it is a real part of their fundamental religion that skeptics be not only demonized but thrown assaulted, in jail, and blown in half in a pristine classroom of innocent youth.

1. Why are you denying Climate Change?

2. Don’t you understand that 97% of “real scientists” agree that CO2 is a dangerous/is harming the environment/is affecting the climate/is humanity’s most serious threat to life around the world?

3. But CO2′s harmful effect on the climate is basic physics/has been an established fact since the 1890′s/has been known since Arrhenius first theories 120 years ago?

4. But why are you a part of the well-funded climate-deniers’ process/part of the climate denier’s conspiracy/widespread network of climate deniers? (Alternate: Aren’t you just a well-paid spokesman for a widespread climate denier’s/big oil conspiracy to deny climate change?)

5. But we MUST act NOW to prevent (potential) future harm!
Also: But we MUST act NOW as a precaution against climate change/as insurance against climate change!

6. But we MUST act NOW (against CO2) BECAUSE fossil fuels are running out/peak oil-peak natural gas-peak horse manure …

7. Only pure sustainable/renewable energy/green energy/energy rebates (to selected voters only)/ green energy programs/widespread mandatory reductions/international energy cooperation can save us from imminent disaster/imminent climate change!

8. Immediate higher energy prices/higher energy taxes (er, carbon trading schemes)/e MUST be implements to reduce CO2/to prevent climate change.

9. EVERY change in the weather in ANY direction of ANY type can be blamed on climate change due to (recent) CO2 increases, and EVERY recent weather problem and disaster will ONLY be prevented if we immediately control CO2 to below industrial levels.

10. And, of course, the ever-present-but-not-related-to-climate-change ….

Why do support flat-earth/religious fundamental deniers against true scientists?
Do you believe in evolution?
But real scientists claim… (and it’s neighbor) “All true scientists believe ..”
And would you support the Inquisition against true scientists like Galileo?
When was the earth created?
Why do you oppose teaching evolution in school?
Do you believe in the Big Bang?
No real scientist can deny …
If you believe in God/the Bible/religion you cannot be allowed to …

470. Latitude says:

Great list RA…

It’s hiding in the deep oceans and affecting our weather by telekinesis….

471. Charles Lyon says:

Dr. Spencer –

Thank you for your informative post. There are so many valid arguments against cap and trade and CAGW it is unnecessary and counterproductive to advance flawed ones, and you have provided a valuable contribution. While it might be repetitive, I join those who would enjoy seeing your version of the top ten valid reasons to be skeptical of CAGW.

It seems clear by now that perhaps #7 could be rephrased. It does, however, make a point that I enthusiastically agree with and hear far too seldom: “CO2 is the elixir of life…let’s embrace more of it!” But, I feel it is a valid skeptical argument to point out that, when considering the major changes over several ice age cycles, CO2 clearly primarily follows warming, so it can’t be a dominant cause of warming.

Obviously sea water releases CO2 when warmed, promptly at the surface, but with centuries of delay for the warmth to reach the depths of the ocean. So, major CO2 changes in the ice-age cycle tend to lag major warming changes by about 800 years in the ice core records.

Al Gore’s movie prominently displayed hundreds of thousands of years of clearly correlated graphs of CO2 and temperature changes, deceptively implying that this correlation implied causation (of warming by CO2). Of course, since Aristotle, educated people have known that correlation does not imply causation. Most people accept that CO2 causes at least a little warming and that warming increases CO2. Basic signal processing techniques show that, on average, the major CO2 increases in the ice-age cycle primarily tend to follow major warming periods, so clearly the primary cause of the correlation is that warming causes increased CO2, and warming due to CO2 is not dominant. That makes sense, since CO2 is just a trace gas.

It is important to point out that CO2 follows warming. It not only disproves Al’s point, but it reveals his dishonesty, his contempt for the intelligence of his audience, and his lack of valid evidence. It also helps illustrates the abject failure of the mainstream media and those involved in awarding cinematic and Nobel prizes. It’s important that this is easily understandable by ordinary people with simple common sense.

CO2 levels are, of course, affected by many factors, including human emissions and the amount of warming both recently and up to 800 or more years ago. While some CO2 elevation is probably a delayed reaction to the MWP, your point is well-taken that there’s no point denying humans have emitted lots of CO2. There’s no need, it’s the elixir of life.

472. Bart says:
May 2, 2014 at 1:28 pm

It is the main point. We get a fit of both the trend and the variability with the same scaling factor.

Sorry Bart, that isn’t true. If there is a difference in slopes, between T and dCO2/dt, which is almost always the case, it is just coincidence that you can match the slopes ánd the amplitudes with the same factor. But the factor gets to near zero if there is little slope in dCO2/dt and a slope in T or to infinity for the reverse case. In both cases the amplitude of the variability is affected by the different factors used, while the effect of T changes on dCO2/dt changes should be the same.
In the current case, the amplitude is way too small if you get a real fit of the slopes.

Because it is a derivative relationship. The phase shift of pi/2 across all frequencies occurs if and only if there is a derivative relationship.

Which may be true for the variability, but doesn’t imply that the slope of the derivative is included in the T relationship. The slope can be – and probably is – entirely from human emissions.

A trivial matter. Every affine function is affinely similar to any other affine function.

Except that the “natural circulation” function isn’t found in any observation…

The observation has no bearing on the discussion for a dynamic system. That is the point.

Sorry? If you have a mass balance which shows that only halve the human emissions in quantity remain in the atmosphere, that means that the rest of the dynamic system must be more sink than source. No matter how they vary individually or as group or what the total throughput is.
If the sinks are slow in response, as it looks like, then humans are the main cause of the increase. In the other case, only a huge increase in natural circulation can increase the CO2 level in the atmosphere while dwarfing the human emissions. For which there is not the slightest indication.

473. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
May 2, 2014 at 10:31 am

[. . .]
The key word is balance: while the individual and total fluxes of natural sources and sinks are known with large margins of error or not even known, the balance is known with reasonable accuracy [. . .]

- – - – - – - -

Ferdinand Engelbeen,

Your statement is a self-contradiction. And you appear to start with a premised ‘a priori’ knowledge that atm CO2 increase is form fossil sourced CO2 then make an argument for fossil sourced CO2 being the cause of the increase of atm CO2 by hand waving away lack of knowledge of the details of natural source and sinks which are orders of magnitude greater than the fossil source.

So, from the carbon cycle issue in my comments, connecting this all back to Spencer’s #7 then I would think that Spencer’s oversimplified position needs major augmentations to indicate the broader issues at hand on attributions to total increase in CO2.

John

474. richardscourtney says:
May 2, 2014 at 2:09 pm

There is no data which resolves the matter and the discussion is ‘taking over’ the thread.

I have the impression that some people never will accept any data which resolves the matter…

Meanwhile, point 7 is one of the points which discredits the skeptics most in discussions with luke-warmers: if they don’t (want to) see that it is our emissions which cause the CO2 increase in the atmosphere, what’s then the value of their other arguments?

475. Bob Boder says:

1997

Giant el nino

Heat wave

Lots Ac units on

9 months later biggest increase in CO2 in one year at in Hawaii

Co2 increase caused by humans. Proved

476. John Whitman says:
May 2, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Your statement is a self-contradiction. And you appear to start with a premised ‘a priori’ knowledge that atm CO2 increase is [from] fossil sourced CO2

OK, what do we know:

increase in the atmosphere = human emissions + natural releases – natural sinks
for any give year, the increase in the atmosphere and human emissions are known.
For the year 2012 (approximately):
4.5 GtC = 9 GtC + X (natural releases) – Y (natural sinks)
X – Y = -4.5 GtC
Or the total of all natural sinks was 4.5 GtC larger than the total of all natural sources
In the past 50+ years, the natural sinks were always larger than the natural sources.
That we know without any knowledge of any individual or total flux in or out.

Does it matter that some individual flux doubled or halved since last year? Not at all.
Does it matter that the total of all sources was 100, 200 or 1000 GtC that year? Not at all, because in that case the total of all sinks was 104.5, 204.5 or 1004.5 GtC in the same year.
Does it matter that the total sources and sinks (= [throughput]) doubled from last year? Maybe. That is the discussion I have with Bart. The only possible way that humans are not responsible for the increase in the atmosphere is when the sinks are reacting very fast on any excess CO2 in the atmosphere above equilibrium. In that case, only a firm increase in natural releases will give more sinks (thus more circulation) plus an increase in the atmosphere and human emissions would have little effect and be readily absorbed in the fast sinks.

But there is no indication that the atmospheric throughput increased over the past 50+ years: not in the residence time, not in the 13C/12C ratio decline and not in the atomic bomb 14C spike decline…

477. Bob Boder says:
May 2, 2014 at 3:37 pm

1997
Giant el nino
Heat wave
Lots Ac units on
9 months later biggest increase in CO2 in one year at in Hawaii
Co2 increase caused by humans. Proved

Indeed, even in that year human emissions were -borderline- larger than the increase in the atmosphere:

478. TRM says:

This is one of the best threads on WUWT I’ve ever read. I’ve gone over the comments twice now (at 200 and today to get the next 250+). Originally I disagreed with #7 & #9 but with clarification I’m okay with number 9 now. Still looking at the #7 arguments as it seems Dr Spencer wasn’t clear enough in the original on several fronts. Learning lots on both sides. I hope this thread does make it to 1000 with more informative links in the comments.

I think WUWT is a great vehicle for fleshing out details because the devil is always in the details and lots of good eyes and brains going over it here. WUWT = Open Source Climate Science

PS. Perhaps you could get Dr Ball to write another thread that you snipped here. I would like very much his take on this issue and these statements.

479. Bob Boder says:

Surprising
The ocean is warming and the co2 increase stays a little bit ahead of the sink.

Gee I wonder what happens when the oceans cool

I know co2 will go up even faster because people will turn up the heaters!

480. Bart says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
May 2, 2014 at 3:28 pm

“In the current case, the amplitude is way too small if you get a real fit of the slopes.”

This is noisy data of bulk measurements processed in entirely different ways. The match isn’t going to be perfect. Constraining the result to have a perfectly matched linear trendline is an arbitrary standard for determining goodness of fit.

“Which may be true for the variability, but doesn’t imply that the slope of the derivative is included in the T relationship.”

Yes. It does. You cannot arbitrarily remove the trend and assume it has no effect. Nature has no means of failing to respond to the trend alone when it is responding to everything else.

“Except that the “natural circulation” function isn’t found in any observation…”

I’m not sure what that means.

“If you have a mass balance which shows that only halve the human emissions in quantity remain in the atmosphere, that means that the rest of the dynamic system must be more sink than source.”

But, this means nothing by itself. As you say: “If the sinks are slow in response…” So, you recognize that your statement actually means nothing without qualifying it with an assumption. In fact, it means nothing at all. Only your assumption has meaning. The statement is a necessary consequence of the assumption. But, the assumption is not a necessary consequence of the statement.

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
May 2, 2014 at 3:37 pm

“Meanwhile, point 7 is one of the points which discredits the skeptics most in discussions with luke-warmers…”

But, they are already themselves discredited by the halt in warming, so why should anyone care what they think?

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
May 2, 2014 at 4:07 pm

“But there is no indication that the atmospheric throughput increased over the past 50+ years:”

Sure there is. Right here.

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
May 2, 2014 at 4:12 pm

I think Bob is suggesting the MLO measurements are corrupted by local activity.

481. Bob Boder says:

That’s right I forgot because I have my Ac on the ocean will never cool again because it has to absorb all the heat that should be going into an atmosphere that is 1/250th the mass of the ocean that it is heating that isn’t raising co2 levels that doesn’t heat the atmosphere. I am glad that big orange ball in the sky never changes or we might really have problem.

482. Bob Boder says:

Wait is it possible just maybe that the ocean is the sink at that when its warming it puts out more co2 then it takes in. But wait does that mean it might take in a little more then it puts out when it’s cooling.

Well that’s all hypothetical because the big orange ball is a constant after all so it’s the air temp that is causing the oceans to warm and that won’t stop anytime soon

483. tony says:

Here’s a skeptical argument that probably doesn’t hold water: If CO2 is so good at retaining thermal energy, how come no one has invented a CO2 home insulation system? Quadruple the CO2 in my house to a still-breathable level of 1600 ppm, and save on my heating bill.

484. george e. smith says:

“””””…..rgbatduke says:

May 1, 2014 at 8:58 am

I actually have a couple of questions generated from the list above — serious ones I hope.

First, pressure broadening. Yes, I understand exactly where pressure broadening comes from — it is associated with the phase interruption brought about by collisions that alter the shape/width of the IIRC Lorentzian associated with any given emission line. The collisions don’t add energy (on average) but the phase interruption ensures that the fourier transform of the emission line gets fatter. No problem…….””””””

Robert,

I also did a double take, when I read that.

I have on a number of occasions, seen it posted by “the experts” that the “supposed” logarithmic CO2 abundance relation to the linear Temperature (surface / lower tropo / whatever) was a consequence “of the broadening of the (15 micron) CO2 absorption BAND as a result of the increases in CO2; that broadening (presumably) being slower than a perhaps linear increase in the number of CO2 molecules” And that seemed to me, an iffy way to claim a logarithmic relationship, rather than simply say “non-linear”. Well then I think of Einstein’s 1905 assertion, that a single molecule absorbs a single photon; one at a time. They do not conspire with each other, but act alone (particularly in gases).

Now Temperature broadening, is of course Doppler based, simply due to the increasing relative velocities (on average) of colliding molecules, and of course increases the line width above the intrinsic line width (the individual lines; not the band).

I assumed that pressure broadening (actually density) was due to the shorter mean free path between collisions, which increases the mean collision frequency, and thus shortens the life of the state between collisions, which I guess in QM, translates into your Fourier transform explanation.

But that too depends only on the total gas pressure / density, and is unaffected by the CO2 abundance change. They still act one molecule (of CO2) at a time; don’t even know they are alone. Nearest neighbor is 13 molecular layers away.

Now I have always countered the “saturation question” by simply saying, it takes a thinner layer of air to contain enough CO2 molecules to grab nearly all available (candidate) photons. so the absorption / re-emission / re-absorption cycle just happens in more thinner layers; but the photons never stop escaping eventually, and during the delay, the sun just feeds in more solar spectral energy, hence the increased warming (of the surface) I don’t care a whole lot about the upper air temperature.

I think Dr Roy and Phil might want to talk that one out between them.

mpainter says:
May 2, 2014 at 8:24 am
——————————–
The problem here sadly is more political than scientific.

The empirical evidence that our oceans respond as a SW selective coating rather than a near blackbody to incoming solar radiation is solid. The oceans would heat about 98C beyond the -18C that climastrologists claim in the absence of atmospheric cooling and DWLWIR. This alone is enough to destroy the whole idea of a net radiative GHE. The foundation of the whole inanity is simple -

1. Incorrectly calculate the “surface” temperature in absence of an atmosphere as -18C by mis-applying S-B equations to the oceans.
2. Note that this incorrectly calculated temperature is 33C below current near surface temperatures.
3. Claim radiative gases in the atmosphere are raising this temperature 33C.

Empirical experiment shows the -18C figure in step 1 to be totally wrong for 71% of the planets surface. This totally invalidates AGW. But this answer is not what Lukewarmers want, because it means they made the same embarrassingly simple mistake as the alarmists. The loudest Lukewarmer voices here are desperately trying to find any other “sciencey” sounding excuse as to why “CO2 warms, but far less than we thought”. Not for the sake of science but for ego.

They are now joined and cheered on by all the AGW promoters who are now desperate for the face saving “soft landing” the Lukewarmer position can provide. Look at all the support recently given to the idea of a single voice for sceptics based on the Lukewarmer position. Many of those supporting the idea were AGW believers.

I would argue that just tuning the Lysenko dial from “high” to “low” is no solution. Sceptics must turn the Lysenko dial to “off”. While the resulting explosion will cause some flash burns for lukewarmers, the total destruction of the AGW fellow travellers is worth the pain. If global warming is not totally destroyed, the fellow travellers will just slink off and try again with another manufactured crisis the world cannot afford.

tjfolkerts says:
May 2, 2014 at 9:52 am
————————————-
Tim, unlike other sceptics, I’m not easily sidetracked. You challenged on my empirically based claim that the oceans in the absence of atmospheric cooling and DWLWIR would heat to around 80C and this means the net effect of our radiative atmosphere is cooling of the oceans.

“A) Are you saying the ground/ocean surface would be above -18C? If so where does it get the extra energy, since it will be radiating more power to space as thermal IR than it is receiving as sunlight.”

My claim clearly only related to the oceans. No “extra energy” is required to heat our oceans. UV/SW heats at depth and accumulates due to slow speed of non-radiative return to the surface. Use standard S-B calcs that treat the oceans as an infinitely thin superconducting blackbody and you will get the incorrect -18C answer.

“B) Suppose one spot ( say 1 km^2) on earth was 1500 C lava. Are you saying that the entire atmosphere would eventually reach 1500 C for a 100% non-radiative atmosphere?”

Only if you could stop the atmosphere expanding and being swept into space by solar wind then a non-radiative atmosphere would indeed super heat. Gas conduction within the atmosphere is poor, and empirical experiment proves the surface is far better at heating the atmosphere than it is at cooling it. A non-radiative atmosphere could still be heated by the surface, including contact with magma and addition of volcanic gases, however it would no longer have an effective cooling mechanism. A point to note – there are no planets or moons in our solar system that have managed to retain an atmosphere without strongly radiative gases.

But my main point of contention with Dr. Spencer is his point 10. The oceans cannot be treated as a blackbody or even close. Without a radiatively cooled atmosphere to evaporatively cool our oceans they would become a giant evaporation constrained solar pond with temperatures topping 80C. The foundation dogma of the Church of Radiative Climatology is dependant on the oceans being at -18C in the absence of atmospheric cooling or DWLWIR. Empirical experiment proves this false. AGW is quite simply a physical impossibility.

487. Brian says:
May 1, 2014 at 8:57 am
#9 – Of course there’s a calculable average global temperature. How useful that is to establishing past long term trends in the face of inconsistent instrument records, comparative proxies and varying grids is a a very real question.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
JBJ says:
May 1, 2014 at 2:39 pm
Just look at this year’s (and other years) temp records for the Arctic (80+ degs North) … see anything unusual? http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Your two comments raise an issue that has been discussed on this site and I have observed for years – and downloaded the data from Environment Canada to confirm – the AVERAGE temperatures are increasing. BUT the HIGH temperatures (in general) are NOT increasing; the LOW temperatures are not going as low. I have reviewed many locations, and this phenomenon is present in many locations.

A professional organization I belong to is suggesting that design standards need to be changed to account for the “modelled” regional warming expected in the next 50 years. Trouble is, when you look at places with 50 to 100 years of temperature data in that province, it isn’t getting “hotter” because of high “summer” temperatures, it is getting “hotter” because there are less “Extreme” cold temperatures, the “Extreme” minimum monthly temperatures are trending up, the Mean minimum monthly temperatures are trending up while the Mean maximum temperatures are essentially flat and the “Extreme ” maximum temperatures are trending down.

Sample only:

http://tinypic.com/r/fkyw6h/8

488. Tim Folkerts says:

I understand and agree with many of your arguments — although I think you also are missing some key points. Too bad we can’t actually sit down for an hour or two with a white board and some textbooks.

Let me outline my key concerns…

1) At a practical level, there never will be atmospheres without GHGs and DWLWIR. CO2, H2O, NH3, and CH4 are common throughout the solar system, so every atmosphere which forms will have GHGs and hence will have DWLWIR (or if it makes some people happy, “will have less UWLWIR than they would have had if there were no GHGs”). So any discussion of what might happen with no GHGs is the most academic, implausible sort of scenario.

2) I think you are ignoring the cooling at the poles. Yes, a “solar pond” can warm at the bottom well above typical surface temperatures (and this typically requires unusual salt gradients, so already this 80 C number is not going to be typical of ocean water with relatively uniform salinity). But near the poles, the water gets very little solar energy, cools and sinks. This large-scale convection brings cold water to the depths of the ocean and ultimately back to the “solar ponds” near the equator. And again, this “real experiment” clearly shows that the deep oceans are cooled below the surface temperature, not warmed above it.

3) Whether or not the deep areas get warmed, the surface is STILL governed by its own energy balance. To maintain the SURFACE at 80 C would require the 880 W/m^2 of average input. With an IR-transparent atmosphere, that means 880 W/m^2 of average sunlight, which ain’t gonna happen. Tropical regions will not average much above 500 W/m^2 even in the best of circumstances. Even with GHGs, there is not going to be enough input to warm the surface of the ocean to 80 C. So the SURFACE of the ocean will be similar in temperature to the surface of the land, not similar to the potentially 80C deep waters.

4) You say “The foundation dogma of the Church of Radiative Climatology is dependant on the oceans being at -18C in the absence of atmospheric cooling or DWLWIR. Empirical experiment proves this false.” Where is the empirical experimental proof? Where is such a body of water with no atmospheric warming/cooling and no IR active materials above it? Where is a body of water with 240 W/m^2 of solar input (and no other input) that has a surface temperature of ~ 80 C rather than ~ -18 C? Solar ponds certainly don’t count, since 1) they DO have warm IR active materials above them, 2) they tend to be close to the tropics, with and average of more than 240 W/m^2, and 3) they have surface temperature similar to the surrounding land, not similar to the ~ 80 C bottom.

489. Jinan Cao says:

Dr. Spencer wrote:
“10. THE EARTH ISN’T A BLACK BODY. Well, duh. No one said it was. In the broadband IR, though, it’s close to a blackbody, with an average emissivity of around 0.95. But whether a climate model uses 0.95 or 1.0 for surface emissivity isn’t going to change the conclusions we make about the sensitivity of the climate system to increasing carbon dioxide.”

Confusion of a black body earth surface is one of many collective technical errors made by climate scientists. In defense of this error, some have argued it is an “approximation” of 0.98 to 1.0. It is now a different “approximation” of 0.95 to 1.0. The emissivity of an object is a given physical property of the object that must be determined either by measurements or by valid alternative scientific methods. I wonder where the figure of 0.95 comes from.

70% earth ground surface is covered by water. Omegascope has measured the emissivity of water being 0.67 at 38°C. Note that Wilber in 1999 measured emissivity for a number of materials including water over the wavelength range 4-16 μm; and found water around 0.98 over this wavelength range. Many have misinterpreted Wilber’s results as water’s emissivity being 0.98. The emissivity value we need is the mean value over the wavelength range 2-100 μm, or 4-70 μm as a good approximation.

Many calculations will be significantly altered for every different value of the emissivity. For example, in the IPCC 2007 Earth Energy Budget Diagram,
390 surface radiation would be simply wrong but 370.5 if the emissivity is 0.95;
350 and 40 are therefore at least one of them wrong as their sum must be 370.5;
324 back radiation and 324 absorbed by surface: one of them must be wrong;
… …

Tim Folkerts says:
May 2, 2014 at 8:16 pm
——————————-
I far prefer empirical experiment to whiteboards and I only trust textbooks on atmospheric physics written before 1990 ;-)

The problem facing climastrologists is they have slipped up and based their scam on claims that can be empirically tested. -18C for the oceans in the absence of atmospheric cooling or DWLWIR? We can test that.

We can go to the Atacama desert and pick a spot 6000m above sea level. According to the calcs of climastrologists there would not be enough DWLWIR to keep water from freezing as most radiative gases exist below this level. We dig a pond 25m deep and 50m square. We insulate the sides and base and line it with black plastic. We fill it with fresh water. We float a SW/IR transparent plastic film on the water surface to prevent evaporative cooling. We stretch a second and third SW/IR transparent cover over the surface at 1m spacings to minimise atmospheric cooling.

Now according to the dogma of the Church of Radiative Climastology that pond should become a solid block of ice. Instead it is going to heat. (It won’t reach above 80C because at that point the low atmospheric pressure will allow it to turn to steam and blow the covers off the experiment). But any temperature much above 15C and all of the radiative GHE hypothesis and AGW is instantly disproved.

While an adventure in the Atacama desert might be fun, we could of course test more simply in the lab – http://i42.tinypic.com/315nbdl.jpg

When you understand the science of selective coatings you will be able to answer – why does the water sample respond near to S-B calcs when it is 1mm thick but results rapidly diverge as it gets deeper? How deep are our oceans?

As to supporting empirical proof outside these expensive options, I have all ready run the preliminary versions -

“Shredded lukewarm turkey in boltzmannic vinegar” – which uses clear acrylic blocks with differing levels of SW absorption.

“How black were my oceans?” – which compares temperature response to solar illumination of water free to convect and evaporatively cool between clear water in an insulated black tub and water dyed black.

I am in the process of drawing up the build diagrams for these for a thread at Talkshop so many others can replicate my work.

Of course for engineers much of this is very old news. You could try a get a copy of –
Harris, W. B., Davison, R. R., and Hood, D. W. (1965) ‘Design and operating characteristics of an experimental solar water heater’ Solar Energy – in which researches at Texas A&M discovered why you never make the surface of evaporation constrained convecting solar ponds black. (How did climastrologists treat our oceans?)

Oh and Tim, apparently I have to remind you again that I am nowhere referring to salinity gradient solar ponds. We are talking evaporation constrained solar ponds. You and other readers can build one for yourself – http://i40.tinypic.com/27xhuzr.jpg

There is now way around it. Hand flapping about ocean currents, or false statements about solar ponds only working near the tropics won’t do. The bottom line is climastrologists used blackbody calcs on our deep UV/SW transparent oceans. The claim of “-18C for the “surface” in absence of an atmosphere” is completely false. So too is AGW hypothesis.

Jinan Cao says:
May 2, 2014 at 8:45 pm
——————————-
You raise a very good point about the IR emissivity of water.

This is difficult to quantify as it actually changes with temperature. Further to this water actually reflects some LWIR.

Figures given by IR imaging suppliers vary between 0.67 and 0.98. Many IR detectors such as mine only measure between 8-14 microns. By setting the emissivity setting on the instrument to 0.95, a reasonable reading can be obtained. But assuming 0.95 for the purposes of calculating the ability of water to radiatively cool will lead to errors. These high emissivity numbers are for setting instruments for in situ measurement with ambient IR being reflected from other sources and vapour over the measured surface etc.

492. Robert Clemenzi says:

In #4, you say

greenhouse gases .. cool the upper atmosphere, and warm the lower atmosphere

I fully agree that CO2 absorbs IR radiation and, in general, that that would cause the gas to get warmer. However, if I had a gas at some temperature and added more emitters, wouldn’t it cool off faster? Why do you think that CO2 (or any greenhouse gas) will absorb more radiation than it emits? One of the Kiehl-Trenberth energy budget diagrams shows the “lower” atmosphere absorbing about 544 W/m2 of IR and emitting about 642 W/m2 – the difference being due to evaporation and convection. From just those numbers it follows that increasing the amount of any greenhouse gas should produce more emission than absorption – ie, any increase should cool the lower atmosphere.

Perhaps my problem is with the definition of “lower atmosphere” – 2 feet above the surface? 10 feet? A full kilometer?

493. ren says:

The importance of the southern ocean cooling is enormous. You can see that there begins to the circulation, but also current of superficial is cooled below Africa.

494. richardscourtney says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen:

I suggested that this thread is being usurped by discussion of the cause of recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration, and I said it is time to cease that debate in this thread.

At May 2, 2014 at 3:37 pm you have replied saying

richardscourtney says:
May 2, 2014 at 2:09 pm

There is no data which resolves the matter and the discussion is ‘taking over’ the thread.

I have the impression that some people never will accept any data which resolves the matter…

Meanwhile, point 7 is one of the points which discredits the skeptics most in discussions with luke-warmers: if they don’t (want to) see that it is our emissions which cause the CO2 increase in the atmosphere, what’s then the value of their other arguments?

Indications and interpretations of available data are all that matter scientifically.
What people “want” to see is not important (except politically).
But, as this thread demonstrates, you ignore any and all information which refutes your desire to believe “it is our emissions which cause the CO2 increase in the atmosphere”.

As I said in this thread here

The existing observations are all consistent with the carbon cycle adjusting to a changed equilibrium to provide the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

And if the equilibrium state of the carbon cycle has changed then the cause of the rise in atmospheric CO2 is whatever caused the alteration to the equilibrium state. Perhaps the anthropogenic emission has altered the equilibrium state. And perhaps the temperature rise from the Little Ice Age (LIA) has altered the equilibrium state. And perhaps … etc..

So, I do not know what has caused the recent rise in in atmospheric CO2. In reality nobody knows the cause because the available data does not indicate the cause, but some people think they know the cause.

Richard

495. Bart says:
May 2, 2014 at 4:55 pm

This is noisy data of bulk measurements processed in entirely different ways. The match isn’t going to be perfect. Constraining the result to have a perfectly matched linear trendline is an arbitrary standard for determining goodness of fit.

Bart, the scale factor is at least a factor 2 too small for the amplitude. The factor heavily depends on the difference in T and dCO2/dt slopes, but the amplitude of the temperature effect doesn’t, that is a straightforward temperature dependence. If – as is now the case – there is near zero slope in temperature over the past 17.5 years, you need a huge factor to match the slopes, which increases the amplitudes. Opposite, if there is a huge increase in temperature and a small slope in dCO2/dt – as it was in previous decades – then you need a small factor. In both cases the amplitude of the variability is affected, which is counter the physical T-CO2 relationship, which is between 4 and 8 ppmv/K.
It is quite simple: the short term variability and the long term slope are completely independent of each other.

Yes. It does. You cannot arbitrarily remove the trend and assume it has no effect. Nature has no means of failing to respond to the trend alone when it is responding to everything else.

Empirical and measured evidence shows that the CO2 reaction on temperature changes is between 4 and 8 ppmv/K very short term (seasons) to multi-millennia. The real effect seen in the short term (2-3 years) variability is 4-5 ppmv/K.
There are two variables at work which influence the slope of dCO2/dt: a straightforward, caused by the slightly quadratic human emissions and a slightly negative from the temperature increase, which only may give a positive slope if another unknown temperature affected process is at work.
Thus there is no reason to suppose that the whole slope is due to the temperature increase of 0.4 K since 1960.

I’m not sure what that means.

The only way that nature can dwarf the human contribution is if the sinks are reacting very fast on increased CO2 ánd the natural circulation increased tremendously. But the latter will affect the residence time, the 13C/12C ratio, the 14C bomb spike decay,… For which is not the slightest indication… To the contrary: the residence time seems to grow over time.

That the response of the sinks is too slow to accomodate for human emissions can be seen in the observations: we are currently over 100 ppmv over the historical equilibrium for the current temperature, but the sink rate is not more than 2 ppmv/year, while there is no indication of a firmly increased carbon cycle.

Sure there is. Right here.

Sorry Bart, an increase in rate of change of CO2 is no proof for an increased circulation if there are several possible causes, including human emissions, which have double that slope:

496. Re: #7

Given that CO2 lags temperature by 800 yrs (+/- 200) in the geological record.
Even without mankind, a peak in CO2 resulting from the MWP would be expected to appear smack dab in the middle of the late 20th century; right around now, in fact!

No wonder warmists hate the Medieval Warm Period!

497. david(swuk) says:

What ALL the above sadly proves is that it doesnt take anywhere near 400 closet warmists per 1,000,000 deniers to screw their deeply educated up the junction heads into pronouncing a warmist clap-trap message of the most unscientific kind possible and thus giving their opponents little more than a good sucking! Well you just give them little more than a nice bit of well paid over-time in pouring the gravy back and forth.
You just want to argue without making waves such as those which, ok JS, prevent us from suffering near cryospheric cold over-night and thus dramatically influence the stupidly useless “average” global temperature kalculashun but have little effect during the real` heat of day.
Quite how some of you have the patience(paid effort?) to keep reminding all of the real science involved in maintaining habitable conditions on most of the globe I just do not know………………
“What?!”

498. Oracle says:

@Ferdinand Engelbeen, “Ron there is very little diffusion of CO2 between ice layers. In the “warm” coastal cores that gives a broadening of the resolution from 20 years to 22 years at medium depth and from 20 to 40 years at full depth (70 kyears) in the Siple Dome ice core”

The inaccuracy of ice cores is far worse than you believe.

The firn zone: Transforming snow to ice
The age of the gas in an occluded air bubble is less than the age of the surrounding ice. This age difference (the so-called Δage) depends on temperature and the amount of snowfall. The value of Δage can range from a few hundred years to several thousand years.

499. david(swuk) says:

Scott Wilmot Bennett says:
May 3, 2014 at 1:53 am
Re: #7

Given that CO2 lags temperature by 800 yrs (+/- 200) in the geological record.
Even without mankind, a peak in CO2 resulting from the MWP would be expected to appear smack dab in the middle of the late 20th century; right around now, in fact!

No wonder warmists hate the Medieval Warm Period!

Goosebumps!

500. JohnWho says: May 2, 2014 at 10:24 am

Regards, Allan

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

The “mainstream” global warming debate centres on the magnitude of Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (“ECS”) to atmospheric CO2, which is the primary subject of contention between global warming alarmists (aka “warmists”) and climate skeptics (aka “skeptics”).

Warmists typically say ECS is high, greater than ~~3 degrees C [3C/(2xCO2)] and therefore DANGEROUS global warming will result, whereas skeptics say ECS is 1C or less and any resulting global warming will NOT be dangerous.

The scientific evidence to date (increasing atmospheric CO2, but no net warming for ~17 years) strongly suggests that if one had to pick a side, the skeptics are more likely to be correct.

However, BOTH sides of this factious debate are in all probability technically WRONG. In January 2008 I demonstrated that CO2 LAGS temperature at all measured time scales*, so the mainstream debate requires that “the future is causing the past”, which I suggest is demonstrably false.

In climate science we do not even agree on what drives what, and it is probable that the majority, who reside on BOTH sides of the ECS mainstream debate, are both technically WRONG.

Hypothesis:
Based on the preponderance of evidence, temperature drives CO2 much more than CO2 drives temperature, so ECS may not exist at all at the “macro” scale, and may be utterly irrelevant to climate science except at the “micro” (and materially insignificant) scale.
There may be other significant sources of CO2 that contribute to its increase in the atmosphere, but increasing CO2 just does not have a significant or measureable impact on global warming (or cooling), which is almost entirely natural in origin.

I therefore suggest that the oft-fractious “mainstream debate” between warmists and skeptics about the magnitude of ECS is materially irrelevant. ECS, if it exists at all, is so small that it just does not matter.

Wait 5 to 10 more years – I suggest that by then most serious climate scientists will accept the above hypo. Many will claim they knew it all along… :-)
________

* If ECS (which assumes CO2 drives temperature) actually exists in the Earth system, it is so small that it is overwhelmed by the reality that temperature drives CO2.

Proof:
In this enormous CO2 equation, the only signal that is apparent is that dCO2/dt varies ~contemporaneously with temperature, and CO2 lags global Lower Troposphere temperatures by about 9 months.

http://icecap.us/index.php/go/joes-blog/carbon_dioxide_in_not_the_primary_cause_of_global_warming_the_future_can_no/

CO2 also lags temperature by about 800 years in the ice core record on a longer time scale.

To suggest that ECS is larger that 1C is not credible. I suggest that if ECS exists at all, it is much smaller than 1C, so small as to be essentially insignificant.

Regards, Allan

________

My January 2008 hypo is gaining notice with the recent work of several researchers. We don’t always agree on the fine details, but there is clear agreement in the primary hypothesis.

Here is Murry Salby’s address to the Sydney Institute in 2011:

Here is Salby’s address in Hamburg 2013:

The Phase Relation between Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Global Temperature
Global and Planetary Change
Volume 100, January 2013, Pages 51–69
by Ole Humluma, Kjell Stordahlc, Jan-Erik Solheimd

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921818112001658

Highlights
- Changes in global atmospheric CO2 are lagging 11–12 months behind changes in global sea surface temperature.
- Changes in global atmospheric CO2 are lagging 9.5–10 months behind changes in global air surface temperature.
- Changes in global atmospheric CO2 are lagging about 9 months behind changes in global lower troposphere temperature.
- Changes in ocean temperatures explain a substantial part of the observed changes in atmospheric CO2 since January 1980.
- Changes in atmospheric CO2 are not tracking changes in human emissions.

501. harkin says:

Dr Spencer, THANK YOU so much for providing a post that I can save in my Science/GlobalWarming/Bad Science folder of favorites. Up until now they had all been posts by the alarmists.

502. Henrik Sørensen says:

I agree it’s strawman argumentation here, and an offending one. I disagree with #7, and the horrible way the argument is being shot down by Spencer, as he simply brushes off that there could be a greater lag between raise in temperatures and raise in CO2 than he obviously thinks is reasonable.

I note Spencer is greeted with warmth by self proclaimed warmists here, and I can fully understand why, as Spencer makes their case minus only how seriously one should take the issue of rising CO2. Hereby the whole sceptic argument(s) can be shot down with “precautionary principle” – something that works wonders with the public in general. A warmist couldn’t ask for a nicer ‘sceptic’.

Worst of all is how well this straw man argumentation is promoted and is being received in general on this site. It reeks of an attitude to become accepted and respected by the warmism pushing ruling elite – so that they, oh the horror, don’t point and laugh at you because of others comments. This is exactly how political self censorship works, by making the individual feel ashamed of what others says or does and then do their utmost to distance themselves from these misguided individuals. Well, I’m most probably one of those a conformed sceptic wouldn’t like to be associated with, and I can assure you that Spencer and the common reaction here has done a good job at scaring me away form speaking my mind here again. A job well done, I must say. Bye.

503. Jaakko Kateenkorva says:

richard says: May 2, 2014 at 8:15 am and May 2, 2014 at 8:05 am
“Best to stick to co2 causes warming but so small as not to be relevant.”

Fully understanding the temptation and the basic idea sounds to me about right, but also submitted. Makes me wonder how did the free-thinking Columbus convince Isabella I of Castile, the devoted Roman catholic monarch who contributed to the institutionalization of the Spanish Inquisition. Did he say ‘Earth can be illustrated flat, but the edges are so far as not to be relevant’?

My understanding is that AGW was lifted into the mainstream by a worthy cause and irrespective of methods. But now, when the AGW prognostications have fallen flat, the ugly methods and inevitable conclusion become evident. The skeptics depicted here as ‘slayers’ are nothing compared to the misanthropist extremes of the alarmists.

The politicians will soon be looking for a new cause. How about fundamental rights of those struggling with the food/energy bills? Including the average Joe and those having expertise otherwise missing from here? Why not? Even if it means accepting some odd individuals to join here, like fruitcakes, loonies etc by Cameron’s standards. So what?

Narrowing the blog down to puritanism in a specific discipline is another solution, but risks turning it into the People’s Front of Judea parody. But, of course, the blog’s future remains in the hands of it’s creator.

504. Oracle says:
May 3, 2014 at 2:16 am

The value of Δage can range from a few hundred years to several thousand years.

Δage and resolution are different items: as long as the pores in the snow/firn are open, there is exchange between the air contained in the snow/firn and the atmosphere. Meanwhile snow layers will pile up. In the Law Dome ice cores, at bubble closing depth, the ice is already 40 years old at 72 m depth, but the average air composition is only 7 years older than in the atmosphere, which makes that the Δage is ~33 years. The gas composition (=resolution) is largely from about 10 years around the average, with a small, long tail up to 40 years…
See: http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/law_dome_overlap.jpg

505. Latitude says:

Scott Wilmot Bennett says:
May 3, 2014 at 1:53 am

Re: #7

Given that CO2 lags temperature by 800 yrs (+/- 200) in the geological record.
Even without mankind, a peak in CO2 resulting from the MWP would be expected to appear smack dab in the middle of the late 20th century; right around now, in fact!

No wonder warmists hate the Medieval Warm Period!
=======
Excellent point Scott…..
and trying to make people believe that an extra 4pmm CO2 is overwhelming the system….
…and causing 2ppm to accumulate
Now that is really stupid…………

506. david(swuk) says:
May 3, 2014 at 2:57 am

Even without mankind, a peak in CO2 resulting from the MWP would be expected to appear smack dab in the middle of the late 20th century;

The MWP-LIA difference is not more than 6 ppmv for 0.8°C drop in temperature. As many skeptics think (I do) that the MWP was warmer than the MWP was warmer than the current period, the increase of CO2 since the LIA caused by temperature is less than 6 ppmv. Warmer seawater temperatures during the MWP mean less absorption of CO2 in the deep ocean waters which return today, not that the difference will be measurable, I suppose…

507. richardscourtney says:
May 3, 2014 at 12:45 am

Richard, we have been there many times before…

The data simply show that nature can’t cope with human emissions, no matter the huge carbon cycle with its huge fluxes in and out over the seasons.
That is no matter of a changed setpoint, which is quite closely connected to temperature over the past 800 kyear and which for the current temperature is ~300 ppmv, not 400 ppmv.

Any other theoretical explanation beyond the human contribution violates one or more observations. That includes several of the explanations you and others have put forward and that includes the theory from Bart and Salby. Thus, indeed for me it is clear: the human emissions fit all observations, the alternatives don’t.

508. Phil. says:

Jaakko Kateenkorva says:
May 3, 2014 at 5:58 am

Fully understanding the temptation and the basic idea sounds to me about right, but also submitted. Makes me wonder how did the free-thinking Columbus convince Isabella I of Castile, the devoted Roman catholic monarch who contributed to the institutionalization of the Spanish Inquisition. Did he say ‘Earth can be illustrated flat, but the edges are so far as not to be relevant’?

No, he said the earth is round as everyone knows, however using the value for the radius I conclude that the Indies were about 4,000 miles west of us, which is consistent with the observations I have made in Madiera, so I should be able to get there by sailing west. The monarchs’ scientific advisors said that he was wrong and the value for the radius was too small and the Indies were therefore too far away to be reached by sailing west (they were right, they used Eraratosthenes’ value). At no time did anyone argue that the world was flat!

509. I have a radiator that has the power of 880 W and an area of one square meter. I try to warm my room but it does not seem to work. Thermometer at the middle of room that should measure the average temperature of the room, has not risen at all for a long while though I changed its setting to 1320 W.

Previously I had my radiator at 440 W and temperature was 0.8 C lower. So, I could say that the sensitivity of doubling the radiative power was 0.8 C – very low indeed.

I called the seller of the radiator to complain and he told me that this model has a thermostat. In addition to that I have a lot of water and plants in my room. I am not able to measure the changes of the humidity and growth of the vegetation in my room but how can I be sure that radiator is OK, if the thermostat is stealing my precious warming.

The seller told also that the heat escapes through my window. Am I a fool? I bought an expensive radiator that could not possibly work. Could I measure the escaped energy to convince myself that my radiator works as the seller says?

510. Big Don says:

Its interesting that it takes a “skeptical” climate scientist to be willing to communicate the basics of climate physics to us lay people. The alarmists don’t think it is important for us to understand it at all — we’re apparently not smart enough to be able to grasp the deep, secret concepts. We’re supposed to just shut up and take their word for it. This post answered many questions I’ve had on my mind for years. Thanks Dr. Roy!

511. Phil. says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
May 3, 2014 at 6:33 am
richardscourtney says:
May 3, 2014 at 12:45 am

Richard, we have been there many times before…

The data simply show that nature can’t cope with human emissions, no matter the huge carbon cycle with its huge fluxes in and out over the seasons.
That is no matter of a changed setpoint, which is quite closely connected to temperature over the past 800 kyear and which for the current temperature is ~300 ppmv, not 400 ppmv.

Any other theoretical explanation beyond the human contribution violates one or more observations. That includes several of the explanations you and others have put forward and that includes the theory from Bart and Salby. Thus, indeed for me it is clear: the human emissions fit all observations, the alternatives don’t.

As usual Ferdinand Bart and Richard come back with their flawed beliefs! That the noise in the CO2 record correlates with the surface temperature fluctuations is expected from Henry’s Law, as you ( and I) have pointed out many times before the growth in CO2 (about 2ppm/year) can not be explained by temperature change. It’s rather inconsistent with the view that the temperature hasn’t risen for 17 years whereas during the same time the CO2 has increased by about 40ppm!

512. richardscourtney says:

May 2, 2014 at 2:09 pm

JohnWho:

At May 2, 2014 at 10:24 am you assert

While there may not be much agreement on exactly how much, it seems clear that fossil fuel combustion is adding CO2 to the atmosphere.

No, it is not “clear” and that is why there is such discussion of the matter as has happened in this thread.

The anthropogenic CO2 emission is a trivial addition to the CO2 circulating in the carbon cycle.

Wow, I see I’ve come in in the middle of a somewhat heated disagreement.

But, not so much with me: (bold mine) I did not say that the entire increase in CO2, or even most of the increase, since the end of the LIA is anthropogenic. All I’m saying is that we skeptics should accept that there is an anthropogenic CO2 emission contribution to atmospheric CO2. From what I understand, it is indeed minor or trivial.

513. Tim Folkerts says:

The main problem is that your actual experiment is VERY different from the Atacama desert experiment you describe — which in turn is rather different from the calculations you are comparing to. Your experiment IS interesting; it just doesn’t show quite as much as you want to claim.

1) In your picture, there is probably 200-400 W/m^2 of DWLWIR helping to warm the system (depending greatly on local air temp, clouds, nearby warm walls, etc). Even in the high (6000 m) desert, there is still on the order of 100 W/m^2 of DWLWIR (http://climatemodels.uchicago.edu/modtran/) (which, with 240 W/m^2 of average sunlight is already enough to keep the water from freezing solid). In space there is no DWLWIR– and THIS is what is required to get the -18 C number.

2) Your measurement in the picture is being made during the day (and relatively close to mid-day from the shadows) (and not when it is cloudy) (and with a very black surface). The -18 C number is a 24 hr average, and includes cloud cover and reflection from the surface. The high mountains in the Atacama desert — being relatively cloud-free and relatively near the equator — will get considerably more than the global average of 240 W/m^2 of average sunlight. Even with NO DWLWIR, water in your experiment there would stay above freezing on average (certainly thawed the summer; probably frozen in the winter).

3) Even if you ran your pictured experiment 24/7, the ambient ~ 20 C temperatures would keep your experiment from cooling much overnight — even in your insulated container. The desert experiment would be much better.

In the end, your little experiment is not going to be good for predicting the results of your big thought experiment high in the desert, and the results high in the desert will only be moderately good at predicting the results for a world with no DWLWIR.

514. joeldshore says:

Big Don says:

Its interesting that it takes a “skeptical” climate scientist to be willing to communicate the basics of climate physics to us lay people. The alarmists don’t think it is important for us to understand it at all — we’re apparently not smart enough to be able to grasp the deep, secret concepts.

There are plenty of climate scientists who are willing to communicate the basics of climate physics to you. The real problem is that you are unwilling to listen to them.

REPLY: My goodness what condescension Joel. How is it that you know what is inside this man’s head, and that you can speak with such certainty for him? Are you psychic? If not you need an ego check, stat. – Anthony

515. Allan M.R. MacRae says:

May 3, 2014 at 3:24 am

JohnWho says: May 2, 2014 at 10:24 am

Regards, Allan

Thank you Allan.

As they said in “Pirates of the Carribean”:

We have an accord.

Oh, you seem to have me confused with my famous cousin who lords over me much of the time.

:)

516. Ferdinand Engelbeen,

A simple question, are you maintaining that the increase in atm CO2 seen in the Mona Loa CO2 dataset for the past ~54 years (since its first data was taken) could have been seen in the resolution achievable in CO2 proxy dataset of Antarctic ice cores?

John

517. gnomish says:

Henrik Sørensen @ May 3, 2014 at 5:57 am
I noticed that too. It gives me a creepy sensation anytime somebody is telling others what to think, speak or do. I recognize the type of person who does this with no second thought.
Using his ‘personal embarassment’ as the rationale is just too typical. this man is not a friend of mine and is welcome to find a real job off the trough. his mannliness is just as ugly as mikey’s.

518. Latitude says:

It’s rather inconsistent with the view that the temperature hasn’t risen for 17 years whereas during the same time the CO2 has increased by about 40ppm!
====
But Phil, it is consistent with the heat hiding in the deep oceans

519. John Whitman says:
May 3, 2014 at 8:04 am

A simple question, are you maintaining that the increase in atm CO2 seen in the Mona Loa CO2 dataset for the past ~54 years (since its first data was taken) could have been seen in the resolution achievable in CO2 proxy dataset of Antarctic ice cores?

The increase since 1959 is about 90 ppmv CO2, or average 45 ppmv over a period of 54 years. Even in de Dome C record with a resolution of 560 years, that would be measurable if it was a one-time peak: If spread over the full 560 years, that still is 4.4 ppmv, more than the accuracy of the ice core CO2 measurements (1.2 ppmv CO2 – 1 sigma).

If it is a part of a cycle – at least one quarter of a cycle, as the increase seems to be decreasing – then it wouldn’t be visible in ice cores with a resolution of over 216 years, but still visible in the Taylor Dome ice core which goes some 130,000 years back in time with a resolution of ~40 years.

Even so, the most recent data are at high resolution and show that the CO2 levels were increasing already since ~1850. That means that, if the current increase is caused by a cycle, the full cycle is over 600 years and the -smoothed- variability would be visible in all ice cores, even those with the lowest resolution.

520. Latitude says:
May 3, 2014 at 8:09 am

But Phil, it is consistent with the heat hiding in the deep oceans

The heat, or temperature in the (deep) oceans doesn’t change CO2 levels in the atmosphere, only the temperature of the surface does. Which did increase with 0.7°C since ~1850. Good for 12 ppmv increase in the atmosphere according to Henry’s Law (oceans only) or 6 ppmv, according to the land-ocean equilibrium over the past 800,000 years…

521. Latitude says:

Ferd….I meant it’s equally as ludicrous

522. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
May 2, 2014 at 4:07 pm

- – - – - – - -

Ferdinand Engelbeen,

Whenever I see you in a carbon cycle discourse, I always tune in and listen. I seldom achieve an agreement with you, but the understanding that I come away with due to the comments of yours and of your critics always increases my knowledge of the carbon cycle. And I must say again as I have said to you many times in the past, your even toned and civil approach impresses me very much.

As to your last comment to me, I see that we have an impasse between us. You use numbers representing land sources and sinks to show your position that fossil CO2 is the dominate signal seen in Mauna Loa data, whereas I maintain those numbers are simply inadequately representative of the land sources and sinks because the knowledge of them is too limited to reasonably use them is such a calculation as you have done.

I continue to value highly your presence on carbon cycle discussions because your stimulation of vigorously healthy dialogs does help to create a wonderful climate academe here. : )

John

523. Bart says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
May 3, 2014 at 1:02 am

“Bart, the scale factor is at least a factor 2 too small for the amplitude.”

No, it isn’t. Your constraint of fitting the linear least squares slope over a finite time interval is arbitrary. A more general fit, such as I have shown, is quite good, and enough to satisfy Occam’s razor in concluding that this is the driving force.

There is no constraint you can force on this which would be reasonable. These are bulk measurements. Teasing out the true relationship would require using gridded data, and determining the proper weightings to be applied to each region. But, if you were going to force a constraint on it, it would have to be that the amplitude of variation has to match. But, you have a problem there – the temperature effect should have created more CO2, not less. Before, under my interpretation, there was little to no room for human forcing. Now, you have to find a source which is actually removing CO2 from the atmosphere with a linear trend in rate.

This is foolish. With the data available to us, we cannot arrive at your conclusion. But, as I said before, Occam’s razor guides us to accept that a temperature dependent, natural process is responsible for essentially all of the atmospheric CO2.

“Empirical and measured evidence shows that the CO2 reaction on temperature changes is between 4 and 8 ppmv/K very short term (seasons) to multi-millennia. “

No, it does not. The Empirical evidence shows us that the sensitivity is in ppmv per K per unit-of-time. It is an integral relationship. You are trying to force a square peg into a round hole. You are trying to dictate how nature handles CO2, rather than looking at the evidence to see how it actually does handle it.

“But the latter will affect the residence time, the 13C/12C ratio…”

Merely an assertion, not a proven outcome.

“…, the 14C bomb spike decay,…”

The bomb spike decay does, in fact, imply that the sinks are very active.

“For which is not the slightest indication…”

Yes, there is. That is what this indicates.

“Sorry Bart, an increase in rate of change of CO2 is no proof for an increased circulation if there are several possible causes…”

The dependence on temperature is confirmed by it. Once you have the slope and the variation accounted for, there is nothing left for the other possible causes to contribute.

This is how feedback systems work. They track a reference, while suppressing disturbances which would tend to cause deviations from that reference. This is how nature works. Balances on the edge of a knife do not spontaneously appear, and persist for centuries at a time without significant feedback effects enforcing that balance. There are no knife edges. Balance appears because it is created by opposing forces which respond to one another by the one pushing back more powerfully when the system gets displaced in its direction from the equilibrium.

It’s a slam dunk. Humans are not responsible for the observed rise in atmospheric CO2. Nature is.

Phil. says:
May 3, 2014 at 7:46 am

” It’s rather inconsistent with the view that the temperature hasn’t risen for 17 years whereas during the same time the CO2 has increased by about 40ppm!”

It is perfectly consistent with it. The rate of change of CO2 has perfectly tracked the temperature. What it is NOT tracking is human emissions, and the disparity is rapidly increasing.

524. Bart says:

My reply to Ferdinand is being held up in moderation due to multiple links. So, in the meantime, I am going to repost the part of the reply to Phil above.

Phil. says:
May 3, 2014 at 7:46 am

” It’s rather inconsistent with the view that the temperature hasn’t risen for 17 years whereas during the same time the CO2 has increased by about 40ppm!”

It is perfectly consistent with it. The rate of change of CO2 has perfectly tracked the temperature. What it is NOT tracking is human emissions, and the disparity is rapidly increasing.

525. Bob Boder says:

The argument seems to be that the co2 in the air trapping ir energy reflected from the ocean and redirecting the heat back into the ocean. This co2 is man made.
I still don,t see how energy absorb in the atmosphere and barely heating it can some how then heat an ocean that is 250 times its mass.

I say again the sun is heating the ocean and has been since the end of the little ice age. The oceans are emitting more co2 then they are sinking. Which explains the lag and the apparent jump in co2 during el ninos. The warming ocean is heating the atmosphere. Which explains why temps aren’t track co2 rise.

As the sun enters a more dormate state the oceans will start to stabiles and eventually cool. Then we will see what happens to co2 in the atmosphere like we have already seen in tempatures. This process will be much slower in the sinking phase as it has been through out historical record but it will happen. Co2 is an effect not the cause of this process and its influence on the tempatures is way over stated and in know way is it going to create any feed back loop. All of the arguments beyond that are purely scientific and of interest to us all but it is not a issue for public policy or a concern for the general public. But scaring people makes some rich and some powerful. It’s our job to stop this feed back loop and tell the truth.

526. Bart says:

Bob Boder says:
May 3, 2014 at 10:12 am

“I say again the sun is heating the ocean and has been since the end of the little ice age. The oceans are emitting more co2 then they are sinking.”

This is true, but not likely the whole story. Atmospheric CO2 is going to be driven by the partial pressure of CO2 at the oceanic boundary

CO2_atm(boundary) = Kh*CO2_Oceans(boundary)

The Kh factor will increase proportionately with temperature and that, as you say, will cause CO2_atm to increase with temperature if CO2_Oceans is constant. But, the observation has been that CO2_atm is increasing quadratically, not linearly, in time while temperatures have also been increasing linearly (with other cyclical components) with time. That requires that CO2_Oceans has been increasing, too. But, this is perfectly reasonable if the transport of CO2 through the THC varies over time, and in the last century, we have simply been experiencing the effects of increased concentration in upwelling waters.

527. Bob Boder says:

The point being that atmospheric co2 is not driving the oceans to warm it is the warming of the ocean that drives co2 in the atmosphere. Co2 in the upper layers of the ocean is most defiantly not constant and there is certainly an upswell from deeper regimes causing a rise in acidification of the ocean an co2 increase in the atmosphere but it is the sun driving this process not greenhouse gases.

528. richardscourtney says:

JohnWho:

re your post at May 3, 2014 at 7:50 am.

You have completely misunderstood perhaps because you are so certain of your opinion that you are unwilling to consider that the data does not support your view.

It is precisely this problem of assumed but mistaken ‘knowledge’ that Roy Spencer’s article attempts to address.

Richard

529. Bart says:

Bob Boder says:
May 3, 2014 at 10:42 am

Well, warming and THC transport, is my belief. Essentially, we have something like

CO2_atm = (k0 + k1*t) * (C0 + C1*t) = k0*C0 + (k0*C1+k1*C0)*t + k1*C1*t^2 = a + b*t + c*t^2

over a finite timeline, such as recent history. Eventually, temperatures will cease the upward trend, and the THC bubble will recede, and atmospheric CO2 will decline again.

530. Bob Boder says:

And this is evidenced in historical record by rapid decrease in temperatures followed by a much slower decrease in atmospheric co2 during cooling phases. Thanks Bart

531. John Whitman says:
May 3, 2014 at 9:10 am

I was hardened by a lot of discussions in the past on a different subject (dioxins…) on an activist blog (dioxin-l) against chlorine, PVC,… when I was working in a chlorine/PVC factory. Even the most heated discussion on WUWT pales against the “normal” insults on that blog. Thus no problem to maintain my manners…

About the carbon cycle: more and more details are researched in the field by an increasing amount of measurements: tall towers over land which register the in-out fluxes over large areas, more and more buoys and commercial seaships which measure pCO2 and other itmes from the ocean surface vs. CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Satellites which monitor CO2 levels and derived fluxes,…

So in the next years more knowledge will emerge and make a better understanding of what happens in the carbon cycle…

532. richardscourtney says:

Phil.:

I take severe exception to your untrue propaganda at May 3, 2014 at 7:46 am which says

As usual Ferdinand Bart and Richard come back with their flawed beliefs! That the noise in the CO2 record correlates with the surface temperature fluctuations is expected from Henry’s Law, as you ( and I) have pointed out many times before the growth in CO2 (about 2ppm/year) can not be explained by temperature change. It’s rather inconsistent with the view that the temperature hasn’t risen for 17 years whereas during the same time the CO2 has increased by about 40ppm!

In this thread I have repeatedly refuted belief and asserted the limitations of the data, first at May 1, 2014 at 7:33 am where I wrote

The existing data is such that the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration can be modeled as being entirely natural, entirely anthropogenic, or some combination of the two. And there is no data which resolves the matter.
(ref. Rorsch A, Courtney RS & Thoenes D, ‘The Interaction of Climate Change and the Carbon Dioxide Cycle’ E&E v16no2 (2005) ).

That is NOT “belief”: it is report of published analysis.

And I addressed your specific points at May 1, 2014 at 2:37 pm where I wrote

As you say, the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration does not match the anthropogenic emission. And this is not supportive of the assumption of “accumulation” of some of the anthropogenic CO2 causing the rise. Indeed, the dynamics of the seasonal rise clearly refute that the rise is caused by saturation of the system inducing accumulation of part of the anthropogenic emission.

Also, the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration does not match the temperature rise. This is clearly seen during this century when there has been no discernible (at 95% confidence) rise in global temperature but the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration has continued unabated.

But these facts do NOT indicate that either the anthropogenic emission or global temperature change is not the cause of the rise in in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

Some effects of the carbon cycle have rate constants of years and decades so the system takes decades to adjust to an altered equilibrium. Indeed, the ice core data indicates a lag of atmospheric CO2 behind global temperature which suggests that achieving the equilibrium can take ~8 centuries.

The existing observations are all consistent with the carbon cycle adjusting to a changed equilibrium to provide the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

And if the equilibrium state of the carbon cycle has changed then the cause of the rise in atmospheric CO2 is whatever caused the alteration to the equilibrium state. Perhaps the anthropogenic emission has altered the equilibrium state. And perhaps the temperature rise from the Little Ice Age (LIA) has altered the equilibrium state. And perhaps … etc..

So, I do not know what has caused the recent rise in in atmospheric CO2. In reality nobody knows the cause because the available data does not indicate the cause, but some people think they know the cause.

Your misrepresentations do not change the fact that nobody (i.e. not you and not anybody else) knows the cause of the recent rise in in atmospheric CO2 because the available data does not indicate the cause.

Your type of misrepresentation is precisely why articles such as that of Roy Spencer (above) are needed.

Richard

533. Bob Boder says:

Richard

The point is it doesn’t matter why co2 is rising. The issue is temperatures not co2. Temps in the ocean are not rising because of co2 so something else is driving the process and that something else is driving atmospheric temp increase as well. There is no feed back loop and our consumption of fossil fuels is not the cause. This makes it purely a discussion of mechanics which is fun but not a political or public issue. This is why these articles are at issue because people in this community who know better are driving people through fear to achieve profit and power and they don’t have the guts or integrity to say there is no major environmental issue they want feel important and powerful instead of enjoying honest scientific pursuit for its own sake.

534. richardscourtney says:

Bob Boder:

At May 3, 2014 at 11:25 am you say (I think to me)

The point is it doesn’t matter why co2 is rising. The issue is temperatures not co2.

I disagree on three grounds.

Firstly, on the pedantic point of the article being discussed in this thread, “why co2 is rising” goes to the heart of point 7 from Roy Spencer. However, it is a relatively trivial point and – as I have repeatedly said – the matter has been adequately discussed in the thread and is now usurping the thread.

Secondly, the AGW-hypothesis has three parts; viz.
1.
Anthropogenic CO2 is inducing significant rise of atmospheric CO2 concentration.
2.
The rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration will induce significant rise in global temperature.
3.
The rise in global temperature will be net harmful.

If any one of those 3 parts were known to be wrong then the entire AGW-hypothesis would be known to be wrong. Part 1 is about “why co2 is rising”.

Thirdly, the carbon cycle is an interesting and complex field of study whether or not the AGW-hypothesis is right.

Richard

535. Phil. says:

Bart says:
May 3, 2014 at 10:30 am
Bob Boder says:
May 3, 2014 at 10:12 am

“I say again the sun is heating the ocean and has been since the end of the little ice age. The oceans are emitting more co2 then they are sinking.”

This is true, but not likely the whole story.

Actually it’s not true, the oceans are a net sink.

Atmospheric CO2 is going to be driven by the partial pressure of CO2 at the oceanic boundary

Or vice versa when the equivalent of 4ppm/yr is being input to the atmosphere.

CO2_atm(boundary) = Kh*CO2_Oceans(boundary)

The Kh factor will increase proportionately with temperature and that, as you say, will cause CO2_atm to increase with temperature if CO2_Oceans is constant.

Follows the Van’t Hoff equation:

Kh(T) = Kh(To)*exp(-C(1/T-1/To))

So not proportional.

536. Bob Boder says:
May 3, 2014 at 10:12 am

The oceans are emitting more co2 then they are sinking. Which explains the lag and the apparent jump in co2 during el ninos.

Sorry, simply impossible and not as is measured.

- The sink rate in vegetation is calculated from the oxygen balance and is about 1 GtC/year nowadays.
- The sink rate in the ocean surface is measured on different places and shows a 3% rise in total carbon (DIC) compared to a 30% rise in the atmosphere, due to the buffer/Revelle factor. Or about 0.5 GtC/year.
- Human emissions are currently ~9 GtC/year, the increase in the atmosphere is ~4.5 GtC/year
- The difference of ~3 GtC/year must go somewhere, which is in the deep oceans, as other possible sinks are either too small or too slow.

Thus the deep oceans are sinking ~3 GtC/year more than they emit, no matter how much they emit.

Further, the temporal decrease in sink rate during an El Niño is mainly due to less uptake bij land and sea vegetation in the tropics and more forest fires, because there is less upwelling of the oceans – which implies less nutritients – and warmer/dryer conditions in parts of the tropical forests (which is reflected in a change of the 13C/12C rate of change).

See further:

http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/feel2331/maps.shtml

http://www.bowdoin.edu/~mbattle/papers_posters_and_talks/BenderGBC2005.pdf

http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/ElNINO_FIRES.html

537. William Yarber says:

N0 7: I fully agree with your closing statement – CO2 is plant food and vital to all mammals on earth since it is critical to all plant life on earth. However, I disagree with your postulate that it has to be man’s growing consumption of fossil fuels that has had the dominant impact.

72% of the world is covered by oceans and oceans outgas CO2 as they warm. Historical ice core data indicates that CO2 concentrations always rises and falls AFTER the Earth’s temperature (from proxies) rises or falls. That CO2 came from the oceans prior to humanities rise to dominance. CO2 concentrations have chanced rapidly in the past, and not by just 1% of recent changes but far closer to 90+% of recent changes.

Finally, show me the proof that the CO2 concentration in ice cores 1,000 to 100,000 years old are the same as the CO2 concentrations in the air that was initially trapped as the snow fell. That is a critical piece of science that no one talks about. Are there processes occurring during those 1,000′s of year that causes CO2 concentrations to decline? I think there are, but I have not found any discussion or proof that what we measure when the ice is finally melted in the labs is actually what the air contained when the entrapment occurred.

Finally, CO2 concentration measurements using the wet method have been as high as 430 during the 19th and early 20th centuries. That fact is being ignored with out proof that the wet method data is flawed.

It is the warming of the oceans that has contributed most of the CO2 concentration increase the past 130 years. Remember, the Earth and the oceans were up to 2C colder during the LIA. A 2C rise in ocean temperatures would release massive volumes of CO2. Man’s combustion of fossil fuels has been going on for centuries. The primary fuel has changes, as well as the annual usage, but man has been putting CO2 into the air for 50 centuries – from wood to peat to coal to petroleum and natural gas. As the efficiency of combustion has improved, the quantity of CO2 released into the atmosphere has declined per BTU. Our goal must be to maximize the efficiency of combustion of fossil fuels, not elimination of their use.

Bill

538. Bob Boder says:

The point of the article is to marginalize people who threaten a money making machine it has little or nothing to do with science if it did it would be discussion of the points a not a summery dismissal.

I value your discussion on the subject and I agree it is fascinating. But the facts remain that atmospheric co2 can not raise the tempature of the ocean without a catastrophic increase in atmospheric temperatures first. But the ocean temp have risen so it is obvious that something else is the cause. But co2 control is a money maker and power accumulater so we must prop that up until when? Untill we all look stupid or greedy or evil. You already know the answer to AGW as do the rest of us it is minor issue and quite possibly a benefit not a problem.

539. @ Richardscourtney

You said:

“The anthropogenic CO2 emission is a trivial addition to the CO2 circulating in the carbon cycle.”

and I replied with:

“All I’m saying is that we skeptics should accept that there is an anthropogenic CO2 emission contribution to atmospheric CO2. From what I understand, it is indeed minor or trivial.”

“You have completely misunderstood perhaps because you are so certain of your opinion that you are unwilling to consider that the data does not support your view.”

Huh?

How is it that our views are the same, but the data does not support my view?

540. engineer says:

Are you there yet?….1000+? Took me 3 1/2 hrs to read through just this thread. Now I’m confused on what to say or not to say (well, not really). Was that the goal? Great comments by some very developed brains. btw, on non-scientific blogs, once one is identified as a skeptic, it really doesn’t matter what one says. Thanks Anthony, I always enjoy visiting from time to time.

541. Are we causing CO2 to go up?

I would like to start with this analogy. Suppose we had 100 men who are 30 years old and who have maintained a weight of 200 pounds for the last 10 years. Then on their 30th birthday, they decide to change nothing except eat an additional chocolate bar each day. Slowly but surely all gain weight over the next decade. However the gain was not steady. They weighed 2 pounds more after supper than before breakfast next morning. They even lost weight when they had the flu for a week. They gained more weight over Christmas when they ate more and worked less. Some said their kidneys were not as efficient so they retained more water. Others said they developed a digestive problem so the food was not digested properly. Others said humans are too complex to be able to figure out why they gained weight. And in the cases of 1 or 2, there could be some truth to these other reasons. But for 98 or 99 of the men, it was the extra chocolate bar that was at fault.

Applying this to CO2, air planes really started to add CO2 to the air in the 1940s. Slowly but surely, the CO2 concentration in the air went up. But it was not uniform. There were step wise changes during the year. As well, there were El Ninos and La Ninas that either doubled the CO2 concentration increase for a year or two or they may have made the increase come to a stop and briefly even reverse for a year or two. And we certainly are no where close to understanding all sources and sinks. But in my opinion, we should not discount the human contribution without proof.

I think we should apply Occam’s razor here:
“It states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_razor

542. All -

on Dr. Spencer’s blog he posted in a reply to Salvatore on April 25, 2014 at 12:32 PM :

Salvatore, I am not claiming CO2 will necessarily cause a significant rise in temperature…I’m saying the 10 arguments I listed above are bad arguments.

(Bold mine)

The lack of agreement regarding some of them here in “replies” seems to show that Dr. Spencer is correct: they are bad arguments.

Meanwhile, he did post some good arguments on his site, here (for those who didn’t see them):

http://www.drroyspencer.com/category/blogarticle/

543. Bart says:
May 3, 2014 at 9:55 am

Bart, you can fit any linear slope with another linear slope by a factor and an offset. In this case, if you choose a factor that more or less fits the amplitudes of the variations, the slopes don’t fit.

Further, the largest part of the increase in the atmosphere is from a slightly quadratic increase over time, while the temperature was linearly increasing and even not increasing in the last part. Its derivative is even negative. Therefore you invoked an increase in CO2 upwelling from the deep oceans, for which is not the slightest indication, to give the necessary increase in increase rate. Not only that, but such an increase in upwelling must be enormous ánd the sinks must be very fast to acommodate the increase in sources to dwarf human emissions which are already twice the observed rate of change in the atmosphere, including its slope.

Simply said: you invent proof for a theory which is based on an arbitrary factor and offset which doesn’t fit the slope of the derivative and violates a lot of observations, while the alternative does more than fit the slope and fits all observations…
Temperature indeed is the cause of the fast 2-3 years variations. It is not the cause of the increase in the atmosphere.

No, it does not. The Empirical evidence shows us that the sensitivity is in ppmv per K per unit-of-time.

Over the past 800,000 years the empirical evidence is that the sensitivity is in ppmv/K NOT per unit of time. It is a dynamic equilibrium where temperature changes incoming and outgoing fluxes until a new equilibrium is reached. The ppmv/K/ didn’t change beyond 4-5 ppmv/K (seasons to 2-3 years) and 8 ppmv/K (multi decennia to multi-millennia). The 5 ppmv/K is 10 ppmv/K/year over the seasons, 2 ppmv/K/year over Pinatubo and El Niño and the 8 ppmv/K is 0.0016 ppmv/K/year over a glacial-interglacial transition and 0.0008 ppmv/K/year for the opposite transition.

Merely an assertion, not a proven outcome.

Bart, if you add increasing amounts of CO2 from the oceans, the 13C/12C ratio in the atmosphere MUST increase, as the ratio in the oceans is higher than of the atmosphere. The same for an increasing addition of 14C depleted ocean CO2: the decay rate of the bomb spike should accellerate, not stay even…

What it is NOT tracking is human emissions, and the disparity is rapidly increasing.

Not at all:

544. Latitude says:

Werner Brozek says:
May 3, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Are we causing CO2 to go up?……
…..And we certainly are no where close to understanding all sources and sinks. But in my opinion, we should not discount the human contribution without proof.
=========
No one seems to want to look that way…..why are the sinks not sequestering a mere 2ppm

Science says 2ppm is not even a drop in the bucket…..unless something is making the sinks give off CO2

Crops, forests, aquaculture, greenhouses, nitrification, ….growing pot in a closet…etc etc

…all common sense..and all say 2ppm would be gone so fast you couldn’t even find it

My opinion is…an additional outside source of 2ppm will never overwhelm this system……can not be accumulative…ratios be damned

545. William Yarber says:
May 3, 2014 at 11:55 am

William, there are a lot of points which were responded to in earlier comments. Here a summary:

- The oceans are currently net sinks for CO2, not sources. Any increase of temperature gives not more than 8 ppmv/K, that is the maximum for the warming of the oceans since the LIA. The rest of the 100 ppmv increase is from the 200 ppmv emissions by humans.
- The 100 ppmv change over the ice ages was in 5,000-10,000 years, humans did that in 160 years.
- As long as there are no chemical or biological reactions which remove or create CO2 in the ice cores, they are reliable. Therefore Greenland ice cores are not reliable for CO2: it is extra produced by highly acidic volcanic dust from Iceland. There is no relevant migration, removal or creation of CO2 in the cold inland Antarctic ice cores.
- Historical measurements were reasonable accurate for that time, but a lot of them were taken at the wrong places: midst of towns, forests, under, inbetween and over leaves of growing crops. Not suitable at all for “background” CO2 levels, but these makes the 1942 “peak” which doesn’t exist in any other proxy, including stomata index data…
- The release of CO2 from the oceans warming since the LIA is maximum 8 ppmv. It is an equilibrium reaction between oceans (+), vegetation (-) and atmosphere (+), which increases and decreases fluxes until a new equilibrium is reached.

546. Bob Boder says:

Ferd

Why are the oceans warming?
Do you believe it because of an increase in co2 in atmosphere?
If so explain how a small increase of co2 in the atmosphere can increase the temp of an ocean that has a mass 250 times that of the atmosphere when it is debatable whether it is even increasing the temperature in the atmosphere it self.
If its not co2 in the atmosphere what is it and why wouldn’t that also cause the atmosphere temperature to increase as well?

547. Bob Boder says:
May 3, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Why are the oceans warming?

I do address that from time to time, but I think that this is less contradictory between the skeptics than the cause of the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere… Therefore the latter is a bad argument in any discussion with moderate opposants.

My take is that ocean currents are the main cause of the temperature variations on earth. For some of them it is obvious: ENSO, PDO, NAO,… all have a clear influence on earth’s temperatures. But there are slower swings at work: 1000-1200 years oscillations which did give the warmer Roman and warm MWP periods. And the cold LIA in between. Even longer cycles that caused the ice ages and interglacials.

What caused all these cycles? Some are partly proven, the sun-earth connections, others still are deep question marks. Solar activity? Clouds? Volcanic eruptions? Still a lot to research…

What role does CO2 play? In my informed opinion: a small role. The physical influence, based on absorption measurements and calculations shows ~0.9°C warming for 2xCO2. Without feedbacks. There is little evidence that the feedbacks are positive (as all climate models imply), some are even negative (clouds). Anyway, the current “pause” shows less and less sensitivity of the climate for the increase of CO2, the longer it gets…

548. Robert of Texas says:

A global average temperature is as meaningful as the number of testicles in the average human (the average human has somewhere near 1 testicle). Anyone can misuse statistics. THINK before you complain.

The entire argument surrounding a global average temperature based on land temperature stations is entirely meaningless. It is completely open to adjustment and bias. There is simply too many variables and adjustments involved. You seem to think a thermometer can tell the difference in heat from natural processes or air conditioners sitting next to it. You seem to think you can measure 20% of the earth and guess at the rest (land surface measurements). Even satellite measurements need constant tweaking to adjust for orbital and equipment changes – who is to say what adjustments are accurate (to within +/- 0.5 C).

You could argue a measurement taken from a distant point in space has meaning where the entire planet is measured as it revolves. But that isn’t the Global Average Temperature being bantered about.

There is no existing GOOD methodology for computing a Global Average Temperature that has scientific merit. PERIOD.

You can look at regional temperature averages, and changes, where good (well situated) measurement stations exist. The rest is speculation, not science.

549. George Steiner says:

I have been wondering since this post appeared why would Spencer post it at all. Is he not a busy man? Is he not a mainstream scientist in the climatology business? Nothing else to do?.
This coupled with the hurried loosely worded imprecise explanations. Is he not himself considered something of a skeptic?
I suspect his motives are not all that pure. Either somebody talked to him or he has decided to put some distance between himself and the body of skeptics. To reorient his position so to speak.

550. Phil says:

A lot of comments in this thread continue to be based on the argument that Henry’s Law governs CO2 solution/dissolution. According to climate science, that is not correct. Henry’s Law is only one term in the formula used to calculate CO2 dissolution (and, hence, ocean acidification) as shown in my comment here and related comments.

The money quote (Takahashi et al. 2009):

The Schmidt number (Sc) and the solubility of CO2 in seawater [α] depend sensitively on the temperature: from 0° to 30°C, Sc for CO2 decreases by a factor of 5 and α also decreases by a factor of 2.5. Accordingly, the product α x (Sc)^-½ is nearly constant and changes by less than 10% over the temperature range of global surface ocean waters. Hence, the transfer rate coefficient, Tr, is primarily a function of wind speed.

The alpha (α) parameter I believe incorporates Henry’s Law.

Since CO2 dissolution is primarily a function of wind speed (which itself is not measured but modeled), it is unclear to me how, according to AGW, CO2 affects/does not affect wind speed. This is not a skeptical question. It is one of understanding. I can agree or disagree with an argument I understand, but it is difficult to agree or disagree with an argument one does not understand.

As I stated before, there is very little actual data on CO2 dissolution in ocean waters and there is incomplete global coverage. Yet, it is taken as fact that the oceans are a major sink for anthropogenic CO2. I am not questioning that oceans can be a sink for CO2. I am merely pointing out that there is very little actual data and the two papers referred to in AR5, Takahashi et al. 2009 and Gruber et al. 2009 are heavily dependent on models and modeling assumptions, because of the lack of data. Furthermore, as I alluded to before, claims in AR5 that these papers are “independent” are questionable.

References:
Gruber et al. 2009: http://www.up.ethz.ch/publications/documents/Gruber_et_al._2009