A climate of scepticism

Guest post by Philip Lloyd, Energy Institute, CPUT

The world is getting a little warmer. Of that there is no doubt. The measurements by which we know that it is warming are poor. The figures are not accessible, and keep on changing[1]. Many points at which temperature is measured are badly sited, and bound to give misleading results[2]. But in spite of this, all agree that the world is warmer than it was 150 years ago.

There are some fairly clear signals of a warmer world. The Arctic ice is less than it was[3]. Many glaciers are retreating[4]. Some glaciers – for instance, those on Kilimanjaro – are shrinking because the long-term precipitation is less than it was 150 years ago, not because it is warmer[5]. Others are shrinking from a warmer climate.

Where the sceptic differs from many other scientists is in ascribing the warming to human activities – specifically, the burning of fossil fuels and the concomitant rise in the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. The hypothesis is that the carbon dioxide traps infra-red radiation that would otherwise escape to space. This means that some of the energy received from the sun is not lost, and the trapped energy leads to a warming of the globe. 

The physics of how carbon dioxide traps infra-red radiation is well known[6]. But there are other molecules in the atmosphere that also trap infra-red radiation. Water vapour is the predominant “greenhouse gas”[7]. What is not so clear is the extent to which the trapping of energy causes heating. There are wonderful mathematical models that claim to show how heating occurs. Unfortunately, all the models suffer from identifiable flaws, a point considered later.

A prime difficulty with the anthropogenic warming thesis is that it is not known how much of the warming is natural and how much might be caused by carbon dioxide. It is simple to illustrate this. Figure 1 shows the global temperature record as kept by the Hadley Centre at the University of East Anglia[8].

image

Figure 1 Global temperatures, relative to 1950-1990 average

The global temperature dropped from 1850 to 1860; rose until 1880; dropped until 1910; rose until 1945; dropped until 1980; rose until 2000; and has dropped slightly since then.

Figure 2 shows the carbon dioxide record. Careful measurements have been made at Mauna Loa on Hawaii since 1958[9]. The pre-industrial level of CO2 in the atmosphere is generally accepted to have been about 280ppm[10]. Figure 2 shows a reasonable extrapolation of the data back to about 280ppm in 1800.

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Figure 2 Atmospheric CO2 concentrations, measured and estimated.

It seems entirely reasonable that the measured rise is the result of fossil fuel consumption. Figure 3 shows annual CO2 emissions over time[11]. In 1900 it was just under 2 billion tons per annum; by 1943 it was at 5 billion tons and then fell back and only exceeded 5 billion tons again in 1947. Thereafter it grew rapidly, passing 10 billion tons in 1963, 15 billion in 1971, 20 billion in 1986 and 30 billion in 2006.

image

Figure 3 Annual CO2 emissions from fossil fuel consumption.

Comparison of Figures 2 and 3 makes it clear that the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide is almost certainly directly related to the emissions from fossil fuels. However, the low levels of emissions up until about 1945 make it clear that the impact of the fossil fuel combustion prior to 1945 must have been very small if not negligible. Therefore the changes in global temperatures prior to 1945, shown in Figure 1, were largely natural. The additional carbon dioxide from human activities cannot have played a significant part in the changes prior to 1945.

If most of the temperature changes prior to 1945 were largely natural, then there is great difficulty in determining how much of the temperature change post-1945 is natural and how much might be driven by increasing carbon dioxide. This raises the question of what the natural variation in temperature might be.

To answer this question, we turn to the Vostok ice core record over the past 9000 years[12]. The core was sampled every metre of depth, which represented ~20 years of accumulation in the upper layers and ~50 years in the lower levels. The temperature was estimated from differences in the oxygen isotope ratios. While a point measurement such as this cannot give a good measure of the average global temperature, it is a reasonable measure of changes in global temperature, and it is primarily temperature changes that are of interest.

The data are shown in Figure 4. There has been a slight cooling over the past 9 millennia, as shown by the least-squares line. The data were therefore detrended before further analysis – the mean temperature at any one date was added to the reported relative temperature. The detrended temperatures were what is known as “normally distributed”, i.e. there was nothing abnormal or skewed about them. Then the rate of change between each detrended temperature and the temperature approximately 100±20 years earlier was calculated and expressed as a rate per century. The results were also normally distributed, with a standard deviation of 0.94oC per century.

image

Figure 4. Relative temperatures over the past 9000 years.

Thus there is about a 2:1 chance that the temperature may vary by up to 1oC per century from natural causes, but only about a 1 in 10 chance that it will vary by more than 1.9oC naturally. Between 1900 and 2000 it varied by about 0.9oC, which is, therefore, within the range of natural variation. And that, in simple terms, is why there is scepticism about the thesis that carbon dioxide is causing global warming – there is no clear signal of any such warming effect.

However, the proponents of the anthropogenic warming thesis claim to have models that show how added carbon dioxide will lead to a warmer world[13]. There are major problems with these models, not least of which is the fact that the proponents claim that doubling the CO2 in the atmosphere will increase the temperature by over 3oC. This is well above any physical reason[14]. It results from arguments about the effect of water vapour in the atmosphere, which is supposed to exacerbate the effect of increased CO2.

The doubling effect is so far invisible. Other estimates have suggested that doubling the CO2 may increase the global temperatures by less than 1oC[15]. The evidence for this is building. For instance, there has been about a 40% increase in atmospheric CO2 since 1945, which would imply 1.2oC of warming if doubling the CO2 caused a 3oC rise. Figure 1 shows that the actual warming over this period has only been about 0.4oC. Has the globe cooled by 0.8oC while the added CO2 has been warming us? It seems unlikely.

There are further reasons to doubt the models. For instance, Figure 5 reproduces Figure 10.7 from the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report[16].

image

Figure 5. Model predictions of global temperature changes: atmospheric upper, oceanic lower

The sections are from the South Pole on the left to the North Pole on the right. In the atmosphere, altitude is expressed in terms of pressure, with sea level at 1000hPa and 11km being about 200hPa. Stippling on the figures shows regions where all the models agree within narrow limits.

The area of particular interest is the ‘blob’ over the equator and centred at about 200hPa. In 2011-2030 it is just less than 1.5oC above today’s ground level temperatures. By 2046-2065 it is expected to be about 3oC warmer, and by 2080-2099 about 5oC warmer. Thus this region is expected to warm by about 0.6oC per decade, if the models are to be believed.

For about the last 60 years, balloons carrying instruments have been flown into this region to obtain data for weather forecasts. Examination of the temperature records has failed to reveal any heating whatsoever[17]. Satellites have been flown since the late 1970’s, and some of their views through the atmosphere can be interpreted as average temperatures of particular regions[18]. The satellites show very slight warming – but nothing like 0.6oC per decade.

In science, a single experiment can suffice to prove a theory, if the experiment finds an unexpected result as predicted by the theory. Einstein’s 1915 theory of general relativity had to wait until 1919 for experimental proof, and subsequent widespread acceptance of his theory. Equally, any theory whose predictions fail experimental tests should be abandoned without further ado. In the present case, the anthropogenic warming hypothesis has led to theoretical models, but those models have failed experimental proof. Such is the strength of belief in the anthropogenic thesis, however, that the modellers are most reluctant to abandon – or even revise – their models. This is one of the strongest reasons for scepticism.

The anthropogenic thesis has also led to many predictions of the possible conditions in a warmer world. Some, such as the impact on the cryosphere, seem to be borne out. However, the models which, as noted earlier, are highly suspect, suggest such things as dramatic changes in precipitation. The evidence is negligible.

For instance, there is a very long record of rainfall for England and Wales, shown in Figure 6[19]. There is absolutely no sign of any change in the rainfall pattern over the last 60 years. Over the entire period, the annual average over 25 years is 913 ±18mm. The 18mm is the maximum deviation, not the standard deviation!

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Figure 6. A 240-year rainfall record

Similarly, there are repeated suggestions that the sea level will increase rapidly due to the melting of ice and the warming of the oceans (warm water is less dense than cold, so it occupies a larger volume). It is true that the sea level is rising, but you seek in vain for any evidence that it has risen significantly faster since 1945 than before. Figure 7 illustrates this, using the tide gauge data from New York which extends back to 1858 with a gap from 1879 to 1892[20]. The regression line for all the data from 1870 to 2011 has a slope of 2.947mm/a; that from 1945 to 2011 has a slope of 2.948mm/a. There has been no significant increase in the rate of sea level rise at New York for the past 140 years.

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Figure 7. A 150-year sea-level record.

Many of the fears about sea level rise are unfounded. Yes, the sea is rising slowly. Satellite measurements since the early 1990’s confirm a rate of rise of about 3mm/a[21]. However, there are already defences against the sea. It is necessary to allow for tides, storm surges and even tsunamis. The existing defences are measured in metres, not mm. An increase in the average level of 3mm/a can be offset by raising the defences by an additional brick every 30 years or so. The rising sea level is not a threat.

Of course, there are events where the defences prove inadequate. This was the case when Hurricane Katerina struck New Orleans. Several years previously, it had been reported that the levees were likely to fail[22]. They were old, and lacked modern design features. They failed, as anticipated, when the storm surge arrived. Their failure had nothing to do with ongoing rise in sea levels, and everything to do with weak defences.

However, there are repeated references in the literature to the New Orleans levee failure being the result of “climate change.” This illustrates a feature of the debate that reinforces scepticism. Disasters that have nothing to do with a changing climate are ascribed to “climate change” as a means of raising awareness about the supposed threats.

Nothing illustrates this aspect of the debate better than the ongoing accent on “extreme events.” A violent storm, such as the recent Sandy that struck New York, is immediately seized upon as evidence of “climate change.”

However, weather is ever variable. The vigour of every natural phenomenon has a wide range. Many phenomena, for example rainfall, are best described by a distribution which is very strongly skewed. Such distributions are quite counterintuitive when it comes to trying to define what constitutes “extreme”.

The problem is to decide how wide is the ‘normal’ range, a decision essential for describing an event as abnormal or ‘extreme’, that is, lying outside the normal range. A lot of data is necessary to define ‘normal’, which implies that data must be collected over a long period. The long period may exceed a human lifetime. If so, then few living individuals can have experienced the truly “extreme” events – and an event much less than extreme may be seized upon as an example of an extreme event when in fact it is no such thing.

In the case of storm Sandy, there has been an assessment of the intensity of all hurricanes and “post-tropical storms” (of which Sandy was one) that made landfall on the continental United States between 1900 and 2012. The data are shown in Figure 8[23].

A person born in 1900 would probably have experienced their most extreme event in 1936. However, that person might have lived to the age of 106, and would have seen two stronger storms. That might have convinced him/her that the world was getting worse. He/she would have been wrong, of course – the random nature of extreme events would have fooled them.

image

Figure 8. Power dissipation index of storms which made landfall on the US, 1900-2012

This illustrates quite nicely how long one must wait before one can determine even the 100-year event – and how just because there has been such an event, another nearly as bad can turn up in less than 100 years after that! The statistics of extreme events are counterintuitive, and very long baselines are needed before it is possible to decide if something is extreme or not.

There has been extensive concern about extreme events, partly because almost every day somewhere on the globe there will be an event that might be describable as ‘extreme’. The IPCC has issued a special report on the subject[24]. It can probably best be described as ‘delphic’ – a series of very cautious pronouncements that can be interpreted in different ways, depending on your viewpoint. Probably the best measure of the extent to which extreme events should be viewed as likely to be caused by climate change comes from a study of deaths caused by severe weather[25]. The results are shown in Figure 9.

It is clear that the absolute number killed each year has dropped since the 1920’s. In relative terms, the drop has been even more dramatic, from a peak of 241 per million to 5 per million. At this low rate, it is clear that extreme weather no longer presents the same risks as faced previous generations.

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Figure 9. Deaths and death rates per million people from extreme weather events

The reasons for this steep decline are several. One is vastly better weather prediction, so that there is now adequate warning about possible extreme weather conditions. Secondly, there is much better communication of impending severe weather. Finally, with improved knowledge of severe conditions, mankind has learned to design structures that protect us from the hazards.

The final scare story that needs to be laid to rest is that of species extinction as a result of climate change. The popular press reports this regularly. “’Climate change now represents at least as great a threat to the number of species surviving on Earth as habitat-destruction and modification,’ said Chris Thomas, a conservation biologist at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. – – the predicted range of climate change by 2050 will place 15 to 35 percent of the 1,103 species studied at risk of extinction. The numbers are expected to hold up when extrapolated globally, potentially dooming more than a million species. ”[26]

However, science prefers predictions that are testable. A recent serious study concluded that “Surprisingly, [there is no] straightforward relationship between local extinction and limited tolerances to high temperature.” [27]. Indeed, this follows from common sense. Figure 10 shows the average monthly conditions for a sub-tropical southern hemisphere city. The boxes show the average daily maxima and minima, the lines show the highest and lowest temperatures ever recorded, and the lower and upper horizontal lines reflect the annual average temperature in 1900 and 2000 respectively.

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Figure 10. Monthly temperatures in a sub-tropical city, and annual averages in 1900 and 2000

It is reasonable to ask how the relatively small average temperature change can be detected by organisms that every year are likely to be exposed to changes some 50 times larger, to which they seem perfectly adapted.

The final reason for ongoing scepticism is the behaviour of some of the proponents of the climate change thesis. It starts with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It has become a political body rather than a technical body. The best illustration of this is the publication of the Panel’s reports. It is preceded by the publication of a summary for policy makers. This summary often differs in material respects from the findings of the main report, and invariably puts a politically correct slant on what is supposed to be a dispassionate review of the scientific literature[28].

The IPCC’s work is not aided by the fact that much of the work reported is not scientific, but reproduced from activist literature. The Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise has documented this problem in detail[29].

For example, she tracks how a relatively unknown professor of epidemiology, Anthony McMichael, who had written a polemic in 1991, became a lead author of the chapter on malaria and the health effects of climate change, even though he had no professional publications about malaria and even though some of his conclusions were rejected by members of the Panel who were world experts on the subject.

Sections of McMichael’s book appeared almost verbatim in the IPCC’s Assessment Report in 1995. This led directly to the thesis that global warming will increase the spread of malaria. There is no evidence that this is likely, because malaria has been known in cold climates for centuries. Moreover, the spread of malaria is known to be almost entirely a function of social conditions and public health.

The fight against malaria is not helped by those who claim that climate change is part of the problem. If they had their way, the accent would be on addressing climate change rather than fighting malaria. This illustrates a danger of accepting a possibly flawed thesis too uncritically – resources may be diverted from essential activities affecting the lives of millions in the hope that there will be a positive impact on putative risks that could affect billions. Before taking such a decision, one needs to be very certain indeed that the putative risks can be avoided by the diverting of resources.

Another reason for scepticism is that the debate about climate change has revealed some major imperfections in the scientists themselves. Some players on the human-induced climate-change playing field have shown themselves to be only too human in the defence of the indefensible. For example, two scientists did what scientists are supposed to do – they peer-reviewed the work of some 200 other scientists[30]. They reported that:

“Across the world, many records reveal that the 20th century is probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last millennium.”

This was totally contrary to the thesis that today’s warming was exceptional. Accordingly the believers in human-induced change forced the editor of the journal that had published the review to resign, and went out of their way to try to destroy the reputations of the two authors. All this (and more) was revealed when a series of emails found its way into the public domain from the Hadley Centre at the University of East Anglia[31].

The world is a bit warmer. The carbon dioxide levels of the atmosphere are increasing. Plants are doing better than before because of the higher carbon dioxide[32]. The sea is rising in a barely detectable way. Climatic disasters are no worse than previously. The animal kingdom is being squeezed by the growth of a single species, us, but that has nothing to do with global warming.

And that is why there is a climate of scepticism.

References


[1] http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/29/gisstimating-1998/ Accessed January 2013

[2]http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/watts-et-al_2012_discussion_paper_webrelease.pdf Accessed January 2013

[3] http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/seaice/extent/AMSRE_Sea_Ice_Extent_L.png Accessed January 2013

[4] Paul, F., Kääb, A. and Haeberli, W. Recent glacier changes in the Alps observed by satellite: Consequences for future monitoring strategies, Global and Planetary Change, Volume 56, Issues 1–2, March 2007, Pages 111-122, ISSN 0921-8181, 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2006.07.007.

(http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921818106001603) Accessed January 2013

[5] Mölg, T., and D. R. Hardy (2004), Ablation and associated energy balance of a horizontal glacier surface on Kilimanjaro, J. Geophys. Res., 109, D16104, doi:10.1029/2003JD004338.

[6] http://scienceofdoom.com/roadmap/atmospheric-radiation-and-the-greenhouse-effect/ Accessed January 2013

[7] http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/gases.html Accessed January 2013

[8] http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcrut4/ Accessed January 2013

[9] http://co2now.org/Current-CO2/CO2-Now/noaa-mauna-loa-co2-data.html Accessed January 2013

[10] http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2005/s2412.htm Accessed January 2013

[11] http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/emis/glo.html Accessed January 2013

[12] http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/icecore/antarctica/vostok/vostok.html Accessed January 2013

[13] Randall, D.A., R.A. Wood, S. Bony, R. Colman, T. Fichefet, J. Fyfe, V. Kattsov, A. Pitman, J. Shukla, J. Srinivasan, R.J. Stouffer, A. Sumi and K.E. Taylor, 2007: Climate Models and Their Evaluation. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. WG1, Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S. et al, (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

[14] See Randall, D.A. et al, op cit p. 640: “A number of diagnostic tests have been proposed…but few of them have been applied to a majority of the models currently in use. Moreover, it is not yet clear which tests are critical for constraining future projections (of warming). Consequently, a set of model metrics that might be used to narrow the range of plausible climate change feedbacks and climate sensitivity has yet to be developed.

[15] Spencer, R.W. and Braswell, W.D Potential Biases in Feedback Diagnosis from Observational Data: A Simple Model Demonstration, J Climate 21 5624-5627, 2008 DOI: 10.1175/2008JCLI2253.1

[16] Meehl, G.A., T.F. Stocker, W.D. Collins, P. Friedlingstein, A.T. Gaye, J.M. Gregory, A. Kitoh, R. Knutti, J.M. Murphy, A. Noda, S.C.B. Raper, I.G. Watterson, A.J. Weaver and Z.-C. Zhao, 2007: Global Climate Projections. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. WG1, Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., et al (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

[17] Douglass, D. H., Christy, J. R., Pearson, B. D. and Singer, S. F. (2008), A comparison of tropical temperature trends with model predictions. Int. J. Climatol., 28: 1693–1701. doi: 10.1002/joc.1651

[18] Spencer, R.W. and Christy, J.R. 1992: Precision and Radiosonde Validation of Satellite Gridpoint Temperature Anomalies. Part I: MSU Channel 2. J. Climate, 5, 847–857.

doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/1520-0442(1992)005<0847:PARVOS>2.0.CO;2 Accessed January 2013

[19] http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/pHadEWP_monthly_qc.dat Accessed January 2013

[20] http://www.psmsl.org/data/obtaining/rlr.monthly.data/12.rlrdata Accessed January 2013

[21] http://sealevel.colorado.edu/ Accessed January 2013

[22] Fischetti, M. Drowning New Orleans. Scientific American, October 2001, pp34-42

[23] http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2012/11/us-hurricane-intensity-1900-2012.html Accessed January 2013

[24] IPCC, 2012: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. A Special Report of Working Groups I and II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Field, C.B. et al (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

[25] Goklany, I.M. Wealth and Safety: The Amazing Decline in Deaths from Extreme Weather in an Era of Global Warming, 1900–2010. Reason Foundation, Washington DC and Los Angeles, CA, 2011

http://reason.org/files/deaths_from_extreme_weather_1900_2010.pdf Accessed January 2013

[26] http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/01/0107_040107_extinction.html Accessed January 2013

[27] Cahill, A.E, Aiello-Lammens, M.E., Fisher-Reid, M.C., Hua, X., Karanewsky, C.J., Ryu, H.Y., Sbeglia, G.C, Spagnolo, F., Waldron, J.B., Warsi, O. and Wiens, J.J. How does climate change cause extinction? Proc. Royal Soc. B 2012 doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.1890

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2012/10/15/rspb.2012.1890.full Accessed January 2013

[28] http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200506/ldselect/ldeconaf/12/1207.htmAccessed January 2013

[29] Laframboise, Donna The Delinquent Teenager who was mistaken for the world’s top climate expert. Ivy Avenue Press, Toronto 2011. ISBN: 978-1-894984-05-8

[30] Soon, W. and Baliunas, S. Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years. Climate Research Vol. 23, pp89–110, 2003

[31] http://www.assassinationscience.com/climategate/1/climactic-research-unit-foi-leaked-data.zip Accessed January 2013

[32] http://www.co2science.org/data/plant_growth/plantgrowth.php Accessed January 2013

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Latitude

a 1% of 1% increase…….

John Mason

Excellent summation. AGW never passed the smell test when the global temperature rise out of the LIA has been relatively constant per century having no regard to man’s CO2 contribution.
Clearly the hockey stick graph is the mental image that creates the panic in an alarmists mind. Too bad the more factual graphs with a longer history are not similarly in people’s heads. I cringe when I read alarmists saying the AWG signal is there.
It’s a sad day when ‘science’ resorts to the level of a subjective reading of tea leaves or animal entrails.

Jimbo

Sections of McMichael’s book appeared almost verbatim in the IPCC’s Assessment Report in 1995. This led directly to the thesis that global warming will increase the spread of malaria.

Yet as the world has warmed for over 100 years what is the result?

16 April 2010
Abstract
Climate change and the global malaria recession

………………..Our findings have two key and often ignored implications with respect to climate change and malaria. First, widespread claims that rising mean temperatures have already led to increases in worldwide malaria morbidity and mortality are largely at odds with observed decreasing global trends in both its endemicity and geographic extent. Second, the proposed future effects of rising temperatures on endemicity are at least one order of magnitude smaller than changes observed since about 1900 and up to two orders of magnitude smaller than those that can be achieved by the effective scale-up of key control measures. Predictions of an intensification of malaria in a warmer world, based on extrapolated empirical relationships or biological mechanisms, must be set against a context of a century of warming that has seen marked global declines in the disease and a substantial weakening of the global correlation between malaria endemicity and climate.
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v465/n7296/full/nature09098.html

I extrapolate that global warming reduces malaria. There is a clear correlation. / sarc

Schrodinger's Cat

It is always pleasing to read a well constructed argument based on sound common sense backed up by data.

Simon F

This is the summary I’ve been looking for. Thank you.

Rud Istvan

A well reasoned brief. There is a similar but much more detailed discussion in the climate change chapter of The Arts of Truth. The IPCC AR4 is deconstructed to show how and why meta analysis selection bias was used to justify experimentally erroneous GCMs, and how those (deliberate) biases lead directly to a significant overestimate of equilibrium without which there is little reason for climate concern.

S.Meyer

What a well written, easily understandable, well referenced summary. Bookmarked and saved!

Mark Bofill

Bravo! I enjoy trying to follow the more involved and detailed arguments on WUWT and other sites, mostly because they force me to get off my lazy behind and learn things, but this nicely summarizes my difficulties with AGW without delving into some of the harder to follow details. Well done.

Support for the theory that man is causing global warming is fueled primarily by liberal-driven media hype. We need to sweep away all the secondary issues to concentrate on the two main points:
1. Current temperatures are not unusual. The hockey stick, which was a fabrication by the Berkeley grad Michael Mann to imply that temperatures in the 20th century were skyrocketing and in at record levels, was debunked. Simply put, there is nothing wrong with the climate.
2. Even if temperatures were unusually high, there is no evidence that CO2 has anything to do with it. That’s true, and for a primer on the CO2 topic see (and please help share!!, because the public for the most part does not know this) this video that convincingly exposes Al Gore’s & the IPCC’s glaring deceptions on CO2:

Auto

An excellent summary.
Concise, polite and well-written.
Possibly a little too polite on some of the antics [a few might call those ‘fraud’] of the Provisional Climatistas.
Many thanks.
Auto.

Gail Combs

At this point I don’t think we can tell if it is warming or cooling in the short term because the records are so mucked up. Hansen’s continually changing GISS graphs

But there are indications that it is starting to cool in the short term.
Length of Arctic Melt Season graph
Hudson Bay Ice growth 2008 – 2012 graph
Northern Hemisphere autumn snowfall (Oct) graph
NOAA long term Holocene Snow Accumulation Graph
And we DO KNOW the temperatures are cooling long term graph

John W. Garrett

An excellent summation.
I am not as willing to accept the accuracy of the historic temperature record as you apparently are. There are huge swathes of the earth where I think records may not be reliable.
Do you really believe that Russian temperature records from, say, 1917-1950 are reliable? Do you honestly believe that Chinese temperature records from, say, 1913-1980 are reliable? Do you really believe that Sub-Saharan African temperatures from, say 1850-2012 are accurate?
I don’t.

john robertson

Thanks a very timely summary.
Next; Public hysteria and those who promote it for profit.

Horse

Measured, cogent, deserves a wider audience than it’s likely to get.

AFPhy6

I will be bookmarking and saving a copy of this article to summarize for people my skepticism. It inspires and encourages other questions for which I am well prepared. Very well done. Thanks.

Chris @NJ_Snow_Fan

What about the past 12,000 years? Seems no one talks much about that Sea level was some 400 feet lower then. Does any one really know after an ice age will the planet be almost ice free on it’s own if humans were not here in great numbers like today? The planet is due for an ice age to start soon from ice and soil cores? There is nothing then can stop climate cycles caused by the sun. It just really make me mad governments are trying to use climate BS to make hard working people pay more taxes. We need the governments to be regulated.

davyinuk

Comparison of Figures 2 and 3 makes it clear that the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide is almost certainly directly related to the emissions from fossil fuels. However, the low levels of emissions up until about 1945 make it clear that the impact of the fossil fuel combustion prior to 1945 must have been very small if not negligible. Therefore the changes in global temperatures prior to 1945, shown in Figure 1, were largely natural. The additional carbon dioxide from human activities cannot have played a significant part in the changes prior to 1945.
I disagree with this statement and I feel it is incorrect. Figure 2 could show a slow increasing slope reflecting the slight warming of the oceans. The second is the rapid growth in CO2 emissions. We see no similar acceleration in Figure 2.
Wikipedia CO2 in atmosphere is 3.16×1015 kg (about 3,000 gigatonnes). Are emissions pathetic.
You cannot make this link.

Tom g

Pure poetry

pdtillman

Here’s a photo, and brief profile, of Prof. Lloyd, at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in South Africa:
http://www.cput.ac.za/news/76-event/574-shedding-light-on-energy-issues
Thanks, Prof. Loyd, for a nicely-done summary.

Excellent article and a very useful reference.
This raises the question of what the natural variation in temperature might be.
The CET records suggest: the most of it
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CET1690-1960.htm

It’s always a pleasure to read a post like this.

David, UK

Brilliant. Thank you Prof Lloyd.
John W. Garrett says:
January 18, 2013 at 11:43 am
Do you really believe that Russian temperature records from, say, 1917-1950 are reliable? Do you honestly believe that Chinese temperature records from, say, 1913-1980 are reliable? Do you really believe that Sub-Saharan African temperatures from, say 1850-2012 are accurate?
I don’t.

Agreed, but that’s besides the point. The point is, the data we have – reliable or not – does not show that CAGW exists. The CAGW hypothesis is an epic fail.

RHS

John W. Garrett – For what reason(s) are you not willing to accept the records? Equipment, manual process, no automated means, etc? I’m not trying to beat you up over this, rather, I wasn’t there either but in my view, without a good reason (better than Ancient Chinese Secret) those records are the best we have and the propaganda on Al Gore’s Warming certainly didn’t start much before his mockumentary. Also, lots of the people who took those records, took a lot of pride in knowing they could be working on a project which out lived them.
In short, there should be a better reason than the people who did the work aren’t around to question.

Betapug

No problem. The science and observed facts are simply an inconvenience to be dealt with.
Harvard, the Columbia School of Journalism and The Scholars Strategy Network are already on it and developing media countermeasures.
“NAMING THE PROBLEM
What It Will Take to Counter Extremism and
Engage Americans in the Fight against Global Warming”
Piece of cake.
http://www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org/sites/default/files/skocpol_captrade_report_january_2013_0.pdf

harry

The hurricane’s name was Katrina, not Katerina

u.k.(us)

Umm, this line in the post needs a re-write ?
“In science, a single experiment can suffice to prove a theory, if the experiment finds an unexpected result as predicted by the theory. “…………
======
Insert “falsify” for “prove” ?

Werner Brozek

davyinuk says:
January 18, 2013 at 12:03 pm
I disagree with this statement and I feel it is incorrect. Figure 2 could show a slow increasing slope reflecting the slight warming of the oceans.
I agree with the author here.
Sea surface temperatures have not changed since March 1997 or 15 years, 10 months (goes to December). However CO2 has climbed steadily. I know that others may not agree, but if we had an opportunity to debate a person believing in CAGW and we said our emissions are negligible over the last 100 years, I wonder how many in the audience would immediately tune us out.
http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadsst2gl/from:1997.1/plot/hadsst2gl/from:1997.1/trend/plot/esrl-co2/from:1997.1/normalise/plot/esrl-co2/from:1997.1/normalise/trend

Bob

Professor Lloyd, it seems to be of critical importance to mention the lag of CO2 relative to temperture. The data indicate an 800 year lag, which if true is important because of the so-called synergistic effect that CO2 has on the warming effect of water vapor. If the synergism was as powerful as the modellers claim, you would never achieve the periodic cooling that is so evident over the past 650,000 years.

george e. smith

Well that is a rather nice collection of data, and well presented.
Personally, I have never doubted, that some places had warmed a bit, so glaciers retreated (for whatever reason). I also have no quarrel with the claim that CO2 absorbs some of the outgoing LWIR and helps warm the atmosphere, as do H2O and O3. All three of those also absorb some of the incoming solar radiation, which thus never arrives at the surface to contribute to earths solar energy storage. That too also warms the atmosphere, and a warmer atmosphere rises to where it can radiate LWIR energy back to space. It is less apaprent to me, that a warmer atmosphere can warm the surface. All of the heat transport mechanisms, are biassed in the upwards direction, and not in the downward direction. The sole downward process, of LWIR emissions both molecular resonances, and ordinary thermal continuum emissions, do not seem to contribute much to surface warming, since they mostly result in enhanced evaporation from the ocean surfaces, rather than storage in the deep oceans.
And I’m not at all impressed by hundreds of years of statistical prestigitation, of highly questionable samples purported to be real earth Temperature measurements. Prior to about 1980, ocean water Temperatures were proxies for oceanic air Temperatures, and in 2001, John Christie et al showed they aren’t the same and they aren’t correlated; so they aren’t correctible. Ergo Junque in; junque out. HadCrut and GISSTemp, maybe good accounts of Hadcrut and GISSTemp. but they aren’t credible records of Temperatures over the earth surface. Statistics doesn’t trump Nyquist.
But the bottom line is that on any ordinary northern midsummer day, it is possible to find simultaneous earth surface Temperatures covering a range of over 120 deg C, and possibly as much as 150 deg C, and therefore every possible Temperature within that range can be found at a near infinity of points. So Why do we even pay any attention to a p[ssible one deg F change in some purported measure of earth Temperature, occurring over 150 years.
Lloyd’s fig 2 has 50+ years of ML data and 60 years of WAG extrapolation, yet we know that CO2 in the Arctic varies over three times the range, that is has at ML, yet we are told that CO2 is well mixed in the atmosphere; it clearly isn’t having almost no cylic change over Antarctica.
Regardless of the merits of any science represented here; the whole thing is a mere storm in a teacup.
And speaking of storms, such as NO’s Katrina/Katerina/whatever, hurricanes, specially category five ones, are known to transport gigatons of water up into the atmosphere; many thousands of metres high.
So it is of no consequence whatever how high NO’s levees were or how robust they were. If you fill a swimming pool with water; it gets wet on the bottom. And if you make the walls higher, the water gets deeper. Having the levees collapse, was the best way to let the hurricane water escape from the NO swimming pool; no walls are ever going to keep it out.
But Phillip has given us a nice readable summary of some of where our tax dollars are being wasted on fluff; it’s a paper well worth keeping.

Don B

Excellent, Philip Lloyd.
Is there a pdf available?
The IPCC has not become a political body rather than a scientific body; it began as a political body with the assumption that mankind’s activities had caused warming which would be a problem.
http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/ipcc-principles/ipcc-principles.pdf

There is a link error.
“The physics of how carbon dioxide traps infra-red radiation is well known[6]. But there . . . ”
That link [6] takes you to this WUWT article:

Temperature reconstruction of Greenland shows ups and downs in climate happened over 5600 years

John

Greg House

Guest post by Philip Lloyd, Energy Institute, CPUT: “The world is getting a little warmer. Of that there is no doubt. The measurements by which we know that it is warming are poor. The figures are not accessible, and keep on changing[1]. Many points at which temperature is measured are badly sited, and bound to give misleading results[2]. But in spite of this, all agree that the world is warmer than it was 150 years ago.”
=============================================================
Sounds like a piece of satire to me.
The problem is that it is no satire. Mr. Lloyd does mean it seriously. Unbelievable.

Greg Goodman

” Figure 1 shows the global temperature record as kept by the Hadley Centre at the University of East Anglia[8].”
Article would look more credible if the author knew the difference between Met. Office Hadley and UEA. Also the linked ref. [8] seems to go to another WUWT article which seems to be nothing to do with either, presumably a typo in making the link.

Stephen Richards

John W. Garrett says:
January 18, 2013 at 11:43 am
An excellent summation.
I am not as willing to accept the accuracy of the historic temperature record as you apparently are. There are huge swathes of the earth where I think records may not be reliable.
Do you really believe that Russian temperature records from, say, 1917-1950 are reliable? Do you honestly believe that Chinese temperature records from, say, 1913-1980 are reliable? Do you really believe that Sub-Saharan African temperatures from, say 1850-2012 are accurate?
I don’t.
And I don’t think our author does either but if you are trying to establish the validity of a theory which of itself is based on their less than accurate data what other choice would you have.

David, UK
Bennett In Vermont (@BennettVermont)

Allow me to add my thanks for a well written essay. It was a pleasure to read and will be useful in the years ahead.
Bookmarked for future reference!

analyticalsciencesblog

While I agree with much of the above, I’m not comfortable with the claim that skeptics don’t believe in the A of AGW. The truth is more complicated, and I for one believe that there is an anthropogenic component, if not one as pronounced as the IPCC projects. I think belief vs non-belief in AGW is the same false dichotomy that brands skeptics as “deniers”. By its very nature, skepticism is…complicated.

Very very good. prove def. to test

Greg Goodman

“All this (and more) was revealed when a series of emails found its way into the public domain from the Hadley Centre at the University of East Anglia[31].”
Now you really need to know who you are talking about!
The UK Meteorological Office , Hadley Centre is part of the Ministry of Defence. The Climate Research Unit (CRU) is part of the University of East Angial.

Auto

u.k.(us) says:
January 18, 2013 at 12:40 pm
Umm, this line in the post needs a re-write ?
“In science, a single experiment can suffice to prove a theory, if the experiment finds an unexpected result as predicted by the theory. “…………
======
Insert “falsify” for “prove” ?
================
‘Prove’ as in Test.
Proof load for lifting gear.
Indeed – proofs in publishing.
Surely.
Auto.

Bart

“Comparison of Figures 2 and 3 makes it clear that the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide is almost certainly directly related to the emissions from fossil fuels.”
Almost certainly not. It is very clear that CO2 is temperature dependent, as this graph shows. The relationship for the great majority of CO2 in the atmosphere can be modeled by the differential equation
dCO2/dt = k*(T – To)
where k and To are affine parameters chosen to fit the data, and T is the global temperature anomaly. Human inputs are necessarily rapidly sequestered, and have small impact.

Greg Goodman

” The evidence for this is building. For instance, there has been about a 40% increase in atmospheric CO2 since 1945, which would imply 1.2oC of warming if doubling the CO2 caused a 3oC rise. Figure 1 shows that the actual warming over this period has only been about 0.4oC.”
This assumes a linear relationship between CO2 and temp. It is generally considered to be logarithmic.
” The detrended temperatures were what is known as “normally distributed”, i.e. there was nothing abnormal or skewed about them. ”
No, that is not what a normal distribution means.
“The data were therefore detrended before further analysis ”
Why detrend ? Wasn’t the downward trend of the last 9000y “natural”?
Sorry, the gist of the article seems to be making a reasonable argument. but don’t try to be scientific if you are not. Get someone who understands science to at least proof read it for you.
There is more than enough crap science going around on AGW side. Countering with even more misinformed pseudo science is not exactly fighting fire with fire. More a messy food fight.
Expect something like to attract enemy fire. Don’t make the target too easy for them !

Steven Hales

“These are not the summations you are looking for. Move along.” — Michael Mann

mpainter

Quoting from the post:
For example, she tracks how a relatively unknown professor of epidemiology, Anthony McMichael, who had written a polemic in 1991, became a lead author of the chapter on malaria and the health effects of climate change, even though he had no professional publications about malaria and even though some of his conclusions were rejected by members of the Panel who were world experts on the subject.
Sections of McMichael’s book appeared almost verbatim in the IPCC’s Assessment Report in 1995. This led directly to the thesis that global warming will increase the spread of malaria. There is no evidence that this is likely, because malaria has been known in cold climates for centuries. Moreover, the spread of malaria is known to be almost entirely a function of social conditions and public health.
==================================
Nothing better documents the propagandistic intent of the IPCC authors (and reports). Effective measures against malaria were devised over a century ago, and malaria is no longer a problem where such measures are applied. There is no truth in the panic-mongering concerning tropical disease.
For, example, during work on the Panama Canal, Dr. William Gorgas applied these measures and eliminated malaria as a disease in the Canal Zone. His work of one hundred years ago is an achievement famous in the annals of epidemiological control and McMichaels cannot have been ignorant of the fact that malaria constitutes no threat to modern populations.

mavis emberson

We seem to be in an interglacial period and the loss of the heavy ice has presumably caused land to rise. or tilt. Is this taken into consideration in the theory of sea level rise among those who tell us to move back from the coastline.? This is a genuine question by someone who studied Physical Geography 101 years ago in Britain. Of course plate movements are taken into consideration , I presume.

Greg House

Guest post by Philip Lloyd, Energy Institute, CPUT: “But in spite of this, all agree that the world is warmer than it was 150 years ago.”
========================================================
“All agree”? Sorry, but this an example of typical warmists propaganda via consensus argument .
The opposite is true. The silent majority does not agree, neither on warming nor on “greenhouse effect”: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/04/30/consensus-argument-proves-climate-science-is-political/#comment-972119 .

son of mulder

I agree with the article and I shall remain a Lukewarmer ie CO2 will cause a small change which is nothing to worry about.

Mark Bofill

analyticalsciencesblog says:
January 18, 2013 at 1:31 pm
While I agree with much of the above, I’m not comfortable with the claim that skeptics don’t believe in the A of AGW. The truth is more complicated, and I for one believe that there is an anthropogenic component, if not one as pronounced as the IPCC projects. I think belief vs non-belief in AGW is the same false dichotomy that brands skeptics as “deniers”. By its very nature, skepticism is…complicated.
———————————————————–
Good point, and you’re right, it’s complicated. My simplistic view holds that CO2 should produce some warming if we set aside the question of the sign of the sum total of positive and negative feedbacks. I think the jury is still out on that one. But that’s just my view.

Anthony:
The article is good but, as others have also noted, it requires some corrections of matters of fact.
1.
Scientists draw conclusions which confirm or disprove but they do not “prove”.
2.
The Hadley Center is part of UK Met. Office.
Richard

RCon

It’s nice that you included references but I don’t think they help strengthen your point. You almost equal reference blogs/internet sites, data sets and scientific papers. The data sets are nice to see, makes your work traceable, and so are the scientific papers, they add some validity. However, the crux of your argument tends to point to the weakest of the sets of references, blogs/websites. Most of your points are structured like this:
1) Pro-AGW side (side in agreement with CAGW theory, I’ll use this as a short form) says this –> usually reference peer reviewed paper
2) The data is this –> usually reference data set
3) in truth, the data should be interpreted like this –> usually reference blog/website or not referenced at all
This points to a problem a lot of people have on the other side of the debate, that the claims by skeptics of CAGW are largely non-vetted interpretations of the data which are contrary to the interpretation of the organization that collected/calculated the data. I’m not really commenting on the accuracy of anything, it’s a nice summary of points and the tone is civil and to the point. However, I am highlighting the issue of supporting the claims with references that aren’t all that strong.