The Important Difference between Climatology and Climate Science

Why did the Royal Society need secret meetings?

Guest essay by Dr. Tim Ball

Recent events underscore problems with understanding climate and how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) achieved their deception. Comments about my recent article appreciated it was a synopsis. The problems were central in my presentation to the First Heartland Climate Conference in New York relating to climatology as a generalist discipline in a world that glorifies specialization. The dictum in academia and beyond is specialization is the mark of genius, generalization the mark of a fool. In the real world each specialized piece must fit the larger general picture and most people live and function in a generalized world. The phrase “it is purely academic” means it is irrelevant to the real world.

A secret meeting occurred between Lord Lawson of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) and members of the British Royal Society. Why the secrecy? It is likely because this collective of specialists is scrambling to recover reputations after being misled.

Claiming they were deliberately deceived in the propaganda campaign orchestrated through the British Royal Society is no excuse. The supposed prestige of that Society was used to persuade other national Science Societies that human caused global warming was a serious and proven fact. The only Society that refused to go along was the Russian. It was a deliberately orchestrated campaign that allowed media to use the consensus argument with focus. I was frequently challenged with the interrogative in the form of a consensus argument that you must be wrong because science Societies all agree.

Climate science is the work of specialists working on one small part of climatology. It’s a classic example of not seeing the forest for the trees, amplified when computer modellers are involved. They are specialists trying to be generalists but omit major segments, and often don’t know interrelationships, interactions and feedbacks in the general picture.

Society has deified specialized academics, especially scientists. Consider the phrase You dont have to be a rocket scientist used to indicate intellectual superiority. Substitute a different occupation and prejudices emerge. You dont have to be a farmer. Now consider the range of specialized areas required for success on a modern farm. Then count the specializations included in Figure 1, a very simple systems diagram of weather. (Note that three “boxes” include the word “flux” but the 2007 IPCC Science report says, Unfortunately, the total surface heat and water fluxes are not well observed.)

Ian Plimer said, studies of the Earth’s atmosphere tell us nothing about future climate.

An understanding of climate requires an amalgamation of astronomy, solar physics, geology, geochronology, geochemistry, sedimentology, tectonics, palaeontology, paleoecology, glaciology, climatology, meteorology, oceanography, ecology, archaeology and history.

clip_image002

Figure 1: Source: After; Climate Stabilization: For Better or for Worse? William W. Kellogg and Stephen H. Schneider, Science, Volume 186, December 27, 1974

It’s an interesting observation that underscores the dilemma. Climatology is listed as a subset, but must include all the disciplines and more. You cannot study or understand the pattern of climate over time or in a region without including them all.

A frequent charge is I have no credibility because I only have “a geography degree”. It’s, ignorant on many levels, and usually used as a sign of superiority by specialists in the “hard sciences”. My PhD was through the Geography department at Queen Mary College because climatology was traditionally part of geography. The actual degree was granted in the Faculty of Science.

Climatology, like geography is a generalist discipline studying patterns and relationships. Geography is the original integrative discipline traditionally called Chorology. In the late 1960s when I looked for a school of climatology there were effectively only two, Hubert Lamb’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia and Reid Bryson’s program in Madison Wisconsin. Neither was a viable option, although I was privileged to consult with Professor Lamb about my thesis.

Unlike most students, instead of going through the sausage-maker machine of education I pursued my studies later and with deliberation. Environmentalism was a new paradigm changing the focus from the Darwinian view of humans as a passive to an active agent in the environment. An undergraduate course on Soils taught me the formula for soil-forming factors included parent material (rock), weather, and the letter “O” for Organic. I wondered why this included everything except humans.

Early German geography recognized the impact distinguishing Landschaft, the natural landscape, from Kulturschaft, the human landscape. Others were considering the differences. George Perkins Marsh’s work, Man and Nature (1864) and William L. Thomas’ 1956 publication Mans Role in Changing the Face of the Earth influenced me and provided a central theme – the impact of climate on the human condition.

All three theses were deliberately designed. An Honours thesis titled, Some Philosophical Considerations of Humans as a Source of Change, considered the historical and philosophical context. The Masters thesis titled, The Significance of Grain Size and Heavy Minerals Volume Percentage as Indicators of Environmental Character, Grand Beach, Manitoba provided scientific method especially related to energy inputs in an environment. The doctorate addressed two problems in climatology. Lack of long-term weather records, which Lamb identified, and the challenge of linking historical records with instrumental records. My doctoral thesis title, Climatic Change in Central Canada: A Preliminary Analysis of Weather Information from Hudson’s Bay Company Forts at York Factory and Churchill Factory, 1714-1850 involved creating a long term record from daily journals of the Hudson Bay Company. It blended daily weather observations with instrumental records through a numerical coding for each weather variable. Once the data was digitized, statistical and scientific analysis was possible.

Lack of a “science” degree was a focus early. Immediately after a presentation to Forestry graduates at the University of Alberta a professor in the front row asked, “Is it true you were denied funding by the major agencies in Canada?” This referred to two government agencies, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Sciences and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. (SSHRC). I was not denied, I just didn’t qualify, my category of historical climatology was considered Social Science by NSERC and Science by SSHRC. Fortunately, the National Science Museum of Canada, particularly Dick Harington head of the Paleobiology division, understood the problem and provided funding.

I knew as a climatologist I needed to consult with specialists. I obeyed Wegman’s warning in his Report on the Hockey Stick fiasco.

As statisticians, we were struck by the isolation of communities such as the paleoclimate community that rely heavily on statistical methods, yet do not seem to be interacting with the mainstream statistical community. The public policy implications of this debate are financially staggering and yet apparently no independent statistical expertise was sought or used.

Consultation is essential. The challenge is to know enough to ask the right questions and understand the answers. As a climatologist I try to place each piece in the puzzle. If it doesn’t fit I consult specialists for answers.

The claim that the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) didn’t exist is a classic example of a piece that didn’t fit. Many knew it existed and Soon and Baliunas provided evidence in their article Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years; it’s why they were so viciously attacked. Statistician Steve McIntyre showed how the infamous “hockey stick” graph was created. The Wegman Report confirmed his findings and exposed a major misuse of statistics and dendroclimatology. The misuse of tree rings was further confirmed by a forestry expert. Few areas of IPCC climate science bear examination by specialists.

The claim that CO2 is greenhouse gas does not fit. I itemized the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deliberate diversions to demonize CO2 for a political agenda. Years ago at a conference in Calgary I heard a skeptic challenged by a knowledgeable audience member about the claim of CO2 as a greenhouse gas (GHG). The reply was troubling. We (skeptics) would lose all credibility if we suggest CO2 is not a GHG. It is better to say it is, but the effect, especially of the human portion, is minuscule and of no consequence.

I pursued my policy asking physicists about the role of CO2 as a GHG. I thought they would agree. They didn’t. It’s partly reflected in estimates of climate sensitivity. They range from the IPCC high through those who believe it is zero to some who believe it is a negative quantity with CO2 as a cooling agent. The conflict appears to be disagreement in how temperature is modified by the physical processes involved in energy transfer. If the physics was known and agreed presumably weather and climate forecasts would work, but they don’t.

Traditional climatology included a mechanism called continentalism. It measured the modifying influence on temperature range of the distance from the ocean. Here are ranges for three Canadian cities at approximately the same latitude.

Station Maximum Minimum Range

Gander, Nfld 35.6°C -28.8°C 64.2°C

Winnipeg 40.6°C -45°C 85.6°C

Vancouver 33.3°C -17.8°C 51°C

Both Vancouver (west coast) and Gander (east coast) are close to the ocean but they are in the zone of the prevailing Westerlies. Gander experiences continental air more frequently than Vancouver. The different specific heat capacities of land and water explain the difference. Water acts to modify temperature range.

The greatest daily land temperature ranges occur in regions with very low atmospheric moisture (hot and cold deserts). Water vapour acts like the oceans to modify temperature range, as a result desert biomes record the greatest daily temperature ranges. It has nothing to do with CO2. Similarly, lowest daily temperature ranges occur in tropical rain forests where water vapour levels are highest. Total modification of global temperature range is achieved by water in all its phases.

Climatology is a generalist discipline that requires incorporating all specialist disciplines. The modern glorification of specialization allowed climate scientists to dominate by claiming their piece of a vast puzzle was critical. IPCC climate scientists misused specialized areas, especially in climate models, to achieve a predetermined result. It is only exposed when specialists examine what was done or climatologists find a piece of the puzzle that doesn’t fit.

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For the record, I don’t agree with Dr. Ball’s opinions on CO2, not being a greenhouse gas, the science is quite clear on that issue long before global warming being an issue. The only valid question is climate sensitivity – Anthony

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johnmarshall

Good morning Dr Ball,
so the IPCC claims that energy fluxes and water fluxes are not well documented. But we have measured the energy fluxes both at the surface and TOA bith are well above that of the energy diagram in AR4. this graphic, by k&T, is a total misrepresentation of reality to fit with their crackpot theories of AGW and the Greenhouse Effect.
Water fluxes are more difficult but again the K&T graphic guesses the effect of latent heat without any acknowledgement of how much it actually is. (They forget that it takes 7.6 times as much heat to convert 1Kg of water at 100C to vapour as it takes to heat that same mass of water from 0C to 100C). Latent heat use contributes to the cooling of rainforest compared to hot dry deserts at the same latitude. The GHE would have deserts cooler than rainforest during the day which is observably untrue.
Thanks for your post. It is far more realistic than those outpourings from the IPCC.

William Rapanos

well thought out and makes sense

son of mulder

Please add maths and statistics to the list of disciplines needed as an understanding of those helps one to know when specific techniques can be reasonably/justifiably applied.

Twobob

With that list of requirements.
I am sure a try, would be in the making.

Peter Miller

I was intrigued by your statement about physicists’ comments about CO2 and the ‘evil gas’ being a neutral or even a negative influence on temperature.
Can you elaborate on this as it could be a useful way to help beat the BS out of the climatology/global warming/CAGW cult?

gopal panicker

some people use the phrase…climate change science…

thingadonta

In my career in science, I have come across a curious social phenomenon which is relevant to your discussion.
Certain agencies I have worked for are charged with studying a subset of a particular field within science. Within such agencies, some individuals have a strong tendency to promote the particular field or subset which is central to the agency they are associated with, above all other, broader subsets of the scientific field, with which it is a part. They do this almost instinctively. In other words, they make their particular speciality more important, or dominant over, other specialities, but without any real justification to do so. Instead of seeing their particular field or speciality as a subset of datasets within a broader field, sometimes more important sometimes less so, they see their speciality as always DOMINANT over others.
This tendency is entirely psychological, and more to do with a particular personality type, than with science. The individuals who tend to promote their particular speciality above others but without justification, tend to also be careerists who are limited in their scope and understanding of science. They tend to be good social organisers, and technically competent, but lacking in imagination and creativity. They often fail to fully appreciate the significance of natural variation, change, and uncertainty in science. They rely on models, but they are not good modellers. They generally don’t like speculation and uncertainty. They gravitate to areas of uncertainty where they think they can impose their particular field to solve problems, but they usually muddle things up by trying to create more certainty then there actually is. They prefer models that are simple, static, have high levels of certainty, and are generally unchanging. The idea that a model can change significantly with new information, and that there are always inherent uncertainties which make models at times barely even useful, and subject to the modellers bias, is barely understood.
The way they organise science and science research is also relevant. Opinions and conclusions outside the agency’s central field is not given a hearing. Reports at all times must adhere to the agency’s central agenda. Statements and conclusions within such reports that do not fit the agencies agenda are routinely changed without consultation, and research into any area not central to the agencies central field is discouraged. Individuals within such agencies which do not fit into the central field and agenda of the agency are generally excluded and their work denigrated, especially if their conclusions are at variance with the agency’s importance and agenda.
In such cases, ‘the agency’ has replaced science as the arbiter of information about what is true and proper in the real world. I think these concepts are relevant to your above discussion.

4 eyes

Absolutely spot on Mr Ball. People should study climate science, not climate change science. Climate change science pre-supposes an outcome, just like the existence of the IPCC pre-supposes a condition. I have tried to get my local politciian in Oz to get the climate change scientists to sit down with him and the separate specialists such as statisticians and geologists and thermodynamicists and heat transfer specialists and state their case – then he would see just how little the climate scientists know about the bigger picture. Unfortunately my local MP has no clue about anything scientific and obviously can’t ask any probing questions. I’m a mechanical engineer. Nothing is more irritating, and dangerous, than an engineer who thinks he can determine a solution to a complex problem on his own without the input of specialist engineers from the various disciplines involved. I am sure the same applies in all aspects of science including climate science.

Martin A

Dear Dr Ball,
May I ask if you have any regrets about having contributed to the book ” Slaying the Sky Dragon – Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory” ?
Regards
Martin A

Excellent post, Dr. Ball.

Robin Hewitt

“A secret meeting occurred between Lord Lawson of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) and members of the British Royal Society”.
If it was secret, how do we know? Has there been a leak , is this a leak, was there a tactical disclosure or is this speculation or what?

a2videodude

It’s interesting that from the list of specialties give above, the only areas where I don’t have published papers are astronomy, solar physics, paleoecology, meteorology, ecology, and history. One paper did dabble a little in astronomy and history and I’m now moving into an area where meteorology is important. Yet I’m not normally considered “expert” in climate science. I do, however remember how to use a slide rule, which gives one a great sense of the scale of things and definitely improves the workings of one’s own internal BS detector. And ever since I first saw the original Hockey Stick (TM) graph, mine has been ringing very loudly.

Bruce Cobb

As the whole CAGW fiasco unravels, we can probably expect to see a plethora of backpedaling, “I never said such-and-such”, finger-pointing, and other CYA activities, particularly with those in the forefront of the climatist religion, and a dearth of mea culpas. But yes, the primary game will be to place the blame elsewhere. Egos are at stake.

Ed

Ed Davey – The man who can’t say ‘climate’ without saying ‘change’.

Facts count. Great job you get to the matter correct and use your wisdom fine. We here accept you total as one of us. Your words will help many more outside herein
But take care not to get a gig at a Earth First conference say in San Francisco Calif. you just might get a rather hostile reception there for many many years to come. Safety First.

Alberta Slim

Peter Miller………….
Check out Dr Ball’s site;
http://drtimball.com/
There is plenty there to keep you busy.
Also, thanks Dr. Ball for an enlightening article.

Seems a committee will be set up now. They will select the ones who will be labeled with the scarlet letter and thrown over board or allowed to fall on a dull sword in the public square.
Who will be required to mop up the blood on the floor will be settled between the msm and the elected ones.
Fault lines will appear soon.

cd

Dr Balls
I have noticed that people do try to demean your qualifications. I think this is shocking. As far as I am aware climatology, in the traditional sense, was always a major focus of physical geography. Culturally speaking, I think the relative demotion of geography is in part down to how that discipline has changed over the last few decades. It should be a largely descriptive science, charged with finding ever more reliable methods of measuring and describing the Earth’s surface, rather than explaining why we get these changes/features; that should be left to other disciplines such as geology, meteorology etc. I think geography had a bit of an identity crisis in the mid-20th century which distracted it from its key objectives.
I think there is a move now toward its more descriptive roots with the emergence of computational methodologies such as GIS, geostatistics and remote sensing. In short, when other disciplines want to know how to map something or derive some meaningful information from spatial data, they should consult a geographer. This is not the case at the moment because most geography degrees still focus on the processes rather than the descriptive methods.

Leonard Weinstein

I appreciate your comments on specialization vs generalist, and agree CO2 effects are not a dominate factor in warming or heating. However, you are wrong that CO2 BY ITSELF is not a greenhouse gas. It is the water vapor variation and other feedbacks, along with natural variations (long period ocean effects, solar effects, cloud variation, etc.) that dominate what net effect changing the CO2 and Methane concentrations have. If you do not understand that any greenhouse gas (one that absorbs the outgoing IR) does have an effect on average temperature unless feedbacks and natural variation dominate it, you will not be taken seriously. While the people supporting ” Slaying the Sky Dragon – Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory” include some very smart individuals, many in that group simply do not understand the greenhouse effect. I have tried to explain the facts to some and get responses that show lack of understanding. I do not disagree with the possibility that water vapor feedback essentially totally cancels added CO2 effects, but that is not the same as saying CO2, by itself, is not a greenhouse gas.

sherlock1

Thanks for this, Dr Ball. For my part, I refuse to lose sight of the fact that the UN’s quango the IPCC, stands for Intergovernmental Panel for Climate CHANGE – not Intergovernmental Panel for Climate RESEARCH (i.e. – ‘we think mankind is affecting the climate. Prove it for us…’)

This may be next.
The U.N./Governments world wide will claim ownership of all CO2 then sell it to each country as a allocation of plant food (tax the use of CO2). Greed for power will remain notwithstanding the winner of this current struggle.

mkelly

Martin A says:
November 29, 2013 at 4:31 am
Dear Dr Ball,
May I ask if you have any regrets about having contributed to the book ” Slaying the Sky Dragon – Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory” ?
Regards Martin A
===============
Are folks only allowed to speak what they think is the truth in certain places? Preachers sure would be limited in getting the word out if they could speak where the sinners hang out.

cd

Leonard
Yes, I have to say I am bit skeptical about the points raised in the post that relate to expert opinion on the whether CO2 is GHG or not. It seems quite clear, and stated as such by molecular physicists and physical chemists and very often qualified with comprehensive reasoning, that CO2 is a GHG.

mkelly

Should have said “could not speak where”. Tablets!

mkelly

Leonard Weinstein says:
November 29, 2013 at 5:38 am
“…very smart individuals, many in that group simply do not understand the greenhouse effect.”
============
Please feel free to enlighten us.


„An understanding of climate requires an amalgamation of astronomy, solar physics, geology, geochronology, geochemistry, sedimentology, tectonics, palaeontology, paleoecology, glaciology, climatology, meteorology, oceanography, ecology, archaeology and history.”

Yes, see my new comment:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/11/23/the-ipcc-goes-for-video-bling-and-cgi-enhanced-doom/#comment-1487084
Thanx.
V.

Peter Miller says:
November 29, 2013 at 3:57 am
I was intrigued by your statement about physicists’ comments about CO2 and the ‘evil gas’ being a neutral or even a negative influence on temperature.
==========
the atmosphere (troposphere) is colder at altitude than at the surface. this is well known. what is not well known is that the atmosphere is predicted by the kinetic theory of gas to be isothermal. it should be the same temperature at altitude as the surface. and except for GHG it would be.
the effect of adding GHG to the atmosphere is to radiate energy to space from the atmosphere that would otherwise have to radiate from the surface. this is the critical point. adding GHG to the atmosphere cools the atmosphere through increased radiation of energy from the atmosphere. this cooling gives rise to the lapse rate.
yet global warming theory predicts that adding GHG to the atmosphere should warm the atmosphere, which should warm the surface as a result of the lapse rate. So we have a contradiction, adding GHG we know cools the atmosphere, yet AGW predicts that adding GHG should warm the atmosphere.

Ex-expat Colin

The last BBC CountryFile program a few days back found C02 releasing from the soil…in some woods somewhere (UK). CO2 sniffers on the go and researchers (scientists?) wondering why such a thing happened. Something to do with after rain and leaves or ???
The sniffer tool person reckoned ppm released there and then was over 400, larger than in the atmosphere currently.
BBC finding stuff like that….ooo-er.

Ian W

ferdberple says:
November 29, 2013 at 6:08 am
“…..So we have a contradiction, adding GHG we know cools the atmosphere, yet AGW predicts that adding GHG should warm the atmosphere.

The answer of course is that CO2 molecules do both dependent on timing of collisions with N2 or O2 molecules and the occasional IR photon impact. AGW proponents only see the process in one direction as driven by IR photon impact.
Simple experiment: Take a volume of 75% N2 and 25% O2 at a constant temperature there will be no IR radiating from the volume as N2 and O2 are non-radiative gases. Add 400ppm CO2 to the volume and immediately IR will start radiating from the volume as CO2 molecules receive sensible heat from collisions then radiate it as IR. This is the experiment that no AGW proponent wants to see carried out and reported.

My PhD was through the Geography department at Queen Mary College because climatology was traditionally part of geography.
===============
similarly, computer science used to be a branch of mathematics. should we then argue that mathematicians cannot build computer models because they lack a computer science degree?
a more likely argument is that mathematicians should be able to build a more accurate computer models than computer scientists that lack a mathematics degree. and a physicist should be able to build a better computer model than either the computer scientist or the mathematician. and all three should be able to build a more accurate computer model than a climate scientist.
for in the end the physicist should recognize that the future is not deterministic, the mathematician knows that time series forecasting is not reliable, the computer scientists knows that all non trivial programs have at least one undiscovered bug, while the climate scientists knows the serious money is to made by predicting the end of the world.

Jim Cripwell

Tim Ball asks ” Why the secrecy?” Why indeed. It seems to me that the Royal Society has dug itself into a hole of scientific lies and deceit. In the words of Sir Walter Scott “Oh! what a tangle web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”. This is merely the latest black mark against this venerable society, and one wonders how many more such there will be. Maybe there will be a time, hopefully quite soon, when a scientist of sufficient standing can say to Sir Paul Nurse, and be listened to, “Maybe the time has come to stop digging”

Nullius in Verba

“what is not well known is that the atmosphere is predicted by the kinetic theory of gas to be isothermal”
It would only be isothermal if it was evenly illuminated, perfectly transparent and there was no convection (vertical motions driven by temperature differences). Since on any planet illuminated more at the equator than poles, and with a night side, there are going to be temperature differences, there must therefore be convection, and hence a lapse rate. Greenhouse gases as such make no difference. (Humidity makes a difference because it condenses giving up latent heat, not because it is a GHG.)
“the effect of adding GHG to the atmosphere is to radiate energy to space from the atmosphere that would otherwise have to radiate from the surface.”
Correct.
“this is the critical point. adding GHG to the atmosphere cools the atmosphere through increased radiation of energy from the atmosphere.”
The atmosphere radiates the same amount – the same amount that it absorbs from the sun – whether there are GHGs or not. But the amount of radiation to space depends on the temperature of the layer that is emitting it, and that will increase or decrease until it emits just the right amount. So if the surface emits to space, the surface will be at the appropriate temperature (about -18 C) and the atmosphere above it will be even colder because of the lapse rate. If the layer 5 km up emits to space, the layer 5 km up will be at -18 C, the surface 5 km below it will be warmer because of the lapse rate (6.5 C/km * 5 km), just at the atmosphere above 5 km will be cooler.
GHGs don’t change the lapse rate, the gradient of the line. Instead they change the intercept, moving the temperature distribution bodily up or down. The amount of energy emitted to space is the same.
“this cooling gives rise to the lapse rate.”
The lapse rate is caused by the compression and expansion of gases under pressure. Compressing a gas causes its temperature to rise. Allowing it to expand cools it. As pressure changes with altitude, so does the temperature.

sailboarder

ferdberple says: “what is not well known is that the atmosphere is predicted by the kinetic theory of gas to be isothermal. it should be the same temperature at altitude as the surface. and except for GHG it would be”
Woow.. I thought the lapse rate was a function of gravity and atmospheric density. Water vapour distorts the lapse rate, whereas the effects of CO2 is still debated.

Ron Richey

@ ferdberple
“for in the end the physicist should recognize that the future is not deterministic, the mathematician knows that time series forecasting is not reliable, the computer scientists knows that all non trivial programs have at least one undiscovered bug, while the climate scientists knows the serious money is to made by predicting the end of the world.”
Highlight… Copy … Save to: Top Ten Best Quotes file.

cba


Peter Miller says:
November 29, 2013 at 3:57 am
I was intrigued by your statement about physicists’ comments about CO2 and the ‘evil gas’ being a neutral or even a negative influence on temperature.

A multi atom gas like co2 has rotational and vibrational excitation modes which have energy states below the visible light range – ie infrared and even radio frequency. That means they can absorb and emit radiation at specific energies (or wavelengths or frequencies) in these ranges. For a solid body surface at a specific temperature, a continuum of energy is emitted and has a planck black body curve – which is a description of how much energy is radiated at (for example) each wavelength. The warmer the body, the shorter the wavelengths are emitted as well as the more energy per surface area is emitted.
If one uses a geometry of large spherical shells for conceptual purposes – a small thickness of atmosphere will have a top and bottom radiating energy away from the shell. That means the shell, if a solid would radiate from twice the surface area of a solid sphere. If the shell were merely a slice of material inside a solid sphere (or an inner and outer sphere surrounding the shell) at a uniform temperature, what is radiated out of the shell would be exactly equal to what is radiated into and absorbed by the surrounding material – temperature would remain unchanged. Take off or cool off the outer sphere or shell and there will be a net flow of heat from our shell to outer shell because it is no longer radiating the same amount of energy back as our shell is radiating outward.
Switching over to a gas from a solid, one winds up with energy states determined by the planck bb curve (otherwise called the Boltzman distribution) for a given temperature. Temperature determines how much of each energy state is filled which then can be used to determine how much each spectral line will be radiating per second. This is very temperature dependent. How much energy is absorbed from below is related to this same line spectrum of the gas and on how much energy is coming in at each wavelength so that it can possibly be absorbed. If the gas can be maintained at the temperature of the inner sphere, then the radiation leaving that shell – which consists of what came from below and went through unaffected + what was emitted by the gas – what was absorbed by the gas will have the absorption = emisssion of the gas so the net result is nothing.
The problem though is there must be energy balance in the shell and it is also emitting energy downward. Consequently, without additional sources of energy, the temperature of the shell must drop until the total incoming energy = total outgoing energy. This means radiation + convection + conduction + anything else that might be providing or removing thermal energy. With lower temperature, the shell does not have the energy to radiate as much in its spectrum and anyone looking at this will detect absoprtion lines or energy ‘blocked’. If there is a situation where more energy is entering this shell than is being radiated away (up and down) then one will see an emission line spectra of greater intensity than the continuum being emitted by the solid surface below.
Also at play here is the pressure at the shell. Higher pressures broaden and squash down the lines That means more wavelengths are absorbed and emitted at lower intensities than at lower pressures where the lines are sharper and the liklihood of absorption over a given distance is greater over a narrower range of wavelengths.
Shifting things again, let’s look at Stefan’s law which shows the power per unit area as being a constant times T^4 times an engineering kludge value called epsilon, the emissivity. One can use a really small value for epsilon to get a result for emissivity that is only due to the line spectra rather than the continuum spectra of a solid black body. Of course when the gas concentration increases, that emissivity value will increase which means that more radiation will be emitted for a given shell temperature outward and inward. The conservation of energy requires that the shell temperature must drop a bit for the same amount of total emission to occur as the newly increased absorption is equal to half the newly increased emissions (up + down).
Ultimately, adding additional co2 will decrease the amount of IR in the clear sky radiation leaving the atmosphere. However 62% of the sky at any one time has clouds. These also have an effect on outgoing IR and on incoming solar that is absorbed by the Earth. It is an unfounded presumption that this will require the Earth’s surface to heat up by some specific amount.
We can look at the Earth system and the simplest of models of where it is today and get a very good idea of things. Earth gets about 1365 w/m^2 in its average orbital position and that turns out to be 341 w/m^2 averaged over the whole surface. The Earth’s average T is or was around 288.2K back in 1976 as a best estimate. Albedo of Earth reflects about 30% of the Sun’s energy back to space which leaves about 239 w/m^2 power absorbed. surface T emissions are about 391 W/m^2 average. That means the atmosphere must block 391-239 = 152w/m^2 or else we would have to cool off. If Earth were a simple black body emitting 239 W/m^2, it’s average T could only be 255K (assuming albedo value unchanged). That means we have 152 w/m^2 causing a rise of 33 K or around 0.2 K rise per W/m^2 sensitivity (to atmospheric blocking). Around 2/3 of that is due to the gases, and that is mostly water vapor.
Considering that while the solar TSI varies little, the makeup of the shorter wavelengths varies substantially. The amount received by Earth depends upon its orbit location, the amount of cloud cover – the major part of the albeldo. All of these vary substantially.
That means co2 is a very minor component of an extremely complex interacting and varying system – as Dr. Ball was pointing out in his article. It is also a very stable low sensitivity system as evidenced by its stability over some seriously varying factors.

martin m

You know the only catastrophe that happened is IPCC

Chuck Nolan

This whole idea CO2 and heat creates questions from this layman.
Since CO2 is increasing, and it’s the CO2 that gets warm from the new energy bouncing off the earth, and the CO2 is distributed evenly throughout the atmosphere, shouldn’t the air warm throughout the world at an even rate?
How hot does the CO2 get when it gets zapped?
(is it like the center of the earth where it’s sev-rahl milll-yun deegreees?)
How does CO2 get the new found extra heat to specific areas?
(like going mostly to the poles and killing all the cute poley bears)
I’m not a scientist but, even the logic escapes me.

LdB

I am with Martin A …. the moment you couldn’t work out what was wrong with the whole Dragon Slayer garbage you ceased to become a climate scientist of any note. If you can get something that obvious wrong you loose about the same credibility as Mann and his Hockey Stick.
Hell you even got to get credit alongside the perpetual science dropkick Oliver K. Manual that must rate as an all time low point for any scientist.
I rate you and Mike Mann about the same I am sorry Tim be it that you are on opposite sides makes no difference to me … here I made a sign for both your heads …. .

Good article Dr.Ball. It’s ironic that “specialized” climate scientists apparently rely on “generalized” consensus to defend their position.

Bruce Cobb

LdB says:
November 29, 2013 at 7:36 am
I am with Martin A …. the moment you couldn’t work out what was wrong with the whole Dragon Slayer garbage you ceased to become a climate scientist of any note.
Ad hominem much?

Hoser

At the beginning I thought we were going to find out Climatology would be comparable to Astrology, but now it appears Climate Science is more akin to Political Science with the same degree of authentic science content.

LdB

dborth says:
Good article Dr.Ball. It’s ironic that “specialized” climate scientists apparently rely on “generalized” consensus to defend their position.

So your happy he attacked “consensus” but just ignore the fact this guy can’t even get his head around basic physics … really?
I guess with his age I should cut him some slack because QM wasn’t probably taught back then although I notice Roy Spencer has got at least the basics an he is same sort of age from what I know.
Sorry the dragon slayers with all there classic physics garbage does make me laugh I find them amusing they sort of miss the point that this stuff is way beyond their ability to challenge and still they keep going … they are like wind up losers …. LOL

u.k.(us)

Martin A says:
November 29, 2013 at 4:31 am
Dear Dr Ball,
May I ask if you have any regrets about having contributed to the book ” Slaying the Sky Dragon – Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory” ?
Regards
Martin A
========================
You have piqued MY interest, but left me wondering what Dr. Ball might have, to regret.
Care to explain ?
I’m all up for learning new things, as I’m sure he is.

Thanks, Dr. Ball. Very good essay.
The forced confluence of science and politics is a disaster even greater than the IPCC.

Dr Ball-
With respect to the RSA I believe it is important to appreciate the societal transformation and radical political projects being pushed there now when evaluating their view of acceptable “science.” I have read and written about the troubling documents coming out of their Social Brain Project and pushing alternative stages of consciousness. (Like the Robert Kegan lecture). Likewise they are actively pushing alternative views of spirituality with a heavy empahsis on sensory experience. The 2nd lecture in the series was last week.
RSA recently hosted Roberto Mangabiera Unger who proclaims a need to use education to “overthrow the dictatorship of the dead over the living and turn our minds more freely and fully toward the people and phenomena around us.” That’s not hard science it is behavioral science and social engineering. Also the goal of so much of climate change “science’ modelling.
When RSA is actively promoting speakers trumpeting the need “to reimagine and to remake the social order,” that transformative interest should be used to evaluate every instance of its policies and practices that are determined to ignore factual reality. Of course if RSA is committed to transforming that reality using CAGW and the presence of poverty and inequities globally as the excuses.

The problem is that, for example in Vancouver, atmospheric pressure is dropping at an average annual rate of about 12 mbars per annum since 1995, exactly as I expected this to happen. The dust bowl drought will come back in 7 years, although Vancouver won’t be affected, seeing as that it is on the ocean.
http://blogs.24.com/henryp/2013/04/29/the-climate-is-changing/

Dr. Ball, good article. You write:
“”Ian Plimer said, studies of the Earth’s atmosphere tell us nothing about future climate.”””
This is correct, because astronomy has been kept out of the climate analysis and the
variations of the Earth´s orbit were set to have zero effect on a millenial time scale.,
Before AR4 in 20007, there was a major meeting of their WG1 participants in 2006,
where those people present colluded “with an outbreak of great joy” {a participant´s info]
that they will regard the Earth orbit´influence as an irrelevant “boundary condition”, thus
out of climate analysis, focussing entirely on atmospheric physics….
An this is the smelling dog and therefore do all their CMIP 3/5 models smell and cannot
predict the present temp. plateau and cooling….
The accurate model instead is available: http://www.knowledgeminer.eu/eoo_paper.html

RayG

@thingadonta What a great description of the way in which the EPA and the California Air Resources Board function. Thank you.

William C. Rostron

Dr. Ball, your comments regarding specialists vs generalists is spot on. I have been on many root cause investigations in my work, and one of the worse things you can have on your team is someone that “already knows the answer” before data gathering even begins. One training course in root cause analysis at my company was conducted by Dr. Chong Chiu (founder, Performance Improvement International). One of his main points was that the specialist is usually ill equipped to deal with interdisciplinary problems, often missing important details because, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Electrical specialists find electrical problems. Mechanical engineers find mechanical problems, etc. People are only capable of keeping a finite amount of information in their heads, even if their exposure and training is vast. Certainly if one does not think in terms of first principles on every level, constantly challenging assumptions, finding root cause is happenstance.
I was not well trained in statistics, but as a process controls specialist some things about dealing with non-linear functions are clear. Any process that deals with non-linear energy transfer cannot be properly rendered if linear averaging is done on raw data. The average of the function is NOT the same as the function of the average. This is a sophomoric error.
Models that don’t possess enough spacial and temporal resolution cannot render low level non-linear details that actually give rise to the dynamic behavior under study. For this reason, models are always approximations of first principles, based on empirical relations. (Disclosure: I write models for a nuclear power plant simulator for a living.) To even get in the ball park, one must incorporate all known laws of physics (mass, energy, and momentum conservation), all known physical properties of fluids (steam tables, etc.), all known physical dimensions, all known energy conversions, and all known control laws, and still the model can only render gross behavior. The power plant simulator is designed for operator training, and it exhibits no realistic chaotic behavior; the relevant process displays are much quieter than the real plant. The real world on which the model is based is at first principles chaotic. The chaos is confined to pipes, pumps, valves, and fluid interfaces, and for that reason it can be (must be) rendered by the display of average behavior at the boundary. But the boundaries of the climate system are not sharp like a pipe; its chaotic behavior is open and obvious to everyone. The climate models do exhibit chaotic behavior, but the scales are all wrong because the spacial and temporal resolution is inadequate, and important heat engine details like thunderstorm development are not rendered correctly if at all.
I am baffled by people’s declarations of “consensus” and “certainty” on the basis of a few puny models. And at the current state of affairs it really doesn’t matter how much supercomputing power is thrown at it, it’s still a puny model. The problem, in principle, should yield to more detailed models, but we are a long way from that utopia.

Kip Hansen

Please supply a link to the story of the “secret meeting” at the Royal Society….big fanfare….no story!