Danley Wolfe writes:
The piece below appeared in op-ed pages of many newspapers and online recently, released by by Agence-France-Presse (AFP) one of the largest news agencies in the world. I saw it in the Korean Herald, September 9, 2014 edition, and it appeared in most newspapers all over the world, including and especially developing economies such as Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, etc. This is the latest example of emotional propaganda pieces presenting alarmist one sided messages to push public opinion and policy action.
GENEVA (AFP) — Surging levels of carbon dioxide sent greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to a new record in 2013, while oceans, which absorb the emissions, have become more acidic than ever, the UN said on Tuesday.
“We know without any doubt that our climate is changing and our weather is becoming more extreme due to human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels,” said Michel Jarraud, the head of the World
Meteorological Organization that released a report on the issue on Tuesday. “We must reverse this trend by cutting emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases across the board,” Jarraud said in a statement. “We are running out of time,” he warned. Concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide all broke fresh records in 2013, said the report. Global concentrations of CO2, the main culprit in global warming, soared to 396 parts per million last year, or 142 percent of pre-industrial levels — defined as before 1750.
That marked a hike of 2.9 parts per million between 2012 and 2013 alone — the largest annual increase in 30 years, according to the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. The report also showed that so-called radiative forcing, or the warming effect on our climate attributed to greenhouse gases like CO2, increased 34 percent from 1990 to 2013. A quarter of emissions are absorbed by the oceans, while another quarter are sucked into the biosphere, naturally limiting rates of warming gases in the atmosphere.
But CO2 remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years and in the oceans for even longer. The gases stored in the oceans also have “far-reaching impacts,” WMO warned, since more CO2 in the water leads to increased acidity, altering the ocean ecosystem. Every day, the world’s oceans absorb some four kilos of CO2 per person each day, WMO said, calling current ocean acidification levels “unprecedented at least over the last 300 million years.” And things will only get worse, Jarraud said.
“Past, present and future CO2 emissions will have a cumulative impact on both global warming and ocean acidification,” he said, adding that “the laws of physics are non-negotiable.”
The author is a member of the Climate Change Task Force which has three stated objectives:
· To maximize the opportunities offered by the climate negotiations
· “Re-calibrate” the international response to climate change and outline a framework for Copenhagen follow-up
· Promote active engagement of civil society and the wider public in the search for adequate solutions to the challenges of climate change
This press release like most climate advocacy today focuses on CO2 level increase without acknowledging and avoiding mentioning any hiatus in global temperatures – either current or the one that occurred during mid 1940s to mid 1960s. But the hiatus is so important to understand because this appears totally inconsistent with the IPCC position that today (in the AR5) the probability / likelihood now of human activities causing climate change is much greater than in previously, in past AR assessments. So why is it such a difficult question to understand let alone mention?
In attempting to better understand this myself I took brief look at the data – Mauna Loa CO2 (ppm) data vs. NASA GISS global mean (absolute) land temperatures. The CO2 data starts in 1959 which limits the analysis to 1959 to 2014 to date. Basically – for this data set – all of the increase in temperature has taken place during mid 1970s to late 1980s. IPCC’s “climate sensitivity,” which is the modeled temperature increase for a doubling in CO2 relies heavily on the temperature rise during this period of time.
There is significant loss of fidelity in the data with multi period time averaging. But this is a neat thing to do if one wishes to control the messaging, which we see all the time including recently. Of course another huge issue is cherry picking data/ time periods to include in the analysis.
A better way to look at this is in cross plots of the corresponding CO2-temperature data as shown below. If there is 95% certainty that global warming is predominately caused by manmade activities the relationship should be easily discernible … including by the naked eye. In fact the cross plot below covering over the period mentioned there were two hiatuses totaling 35 years out of the total 56 years (nearly two-thirds of the time), exhibiting no or very little correlation between CO2 and global mean temperature. So how can the IPCC in AR5 increase the probability (to 95%) of manmade causes being the overwhelming predominant and by implication the only important forcing of global warming? (my question).
Focusing on the most recent hiatus below, both visually and in a 1st order linear regression analysis there clearly is effectively zero correlation between CO2 levels and global mean temperature.
In “statistician speak” the correlation between CO2 and temperature is not significantly different than zero. Specifically for the period 1998-2014 (to date) the XY plot has an R squared of 0.0068. The AR5 climate sensitivity is 2-4.5oC for a doubling of CO2, with most like value of 3oC, whereas these data suggest a value more like 0.4 oC for a doubling of CO2 (which is indeed meaningless given the R squared).
Mauna Loa: ftp://aftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/products/trends/co2/co2_mm_mlo.txt
NASA GISS: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata_v3/GLB.Ts.txt