“Trump’s Meeting With Al Gore Gives Environmental Activists Hope” according to the New York Times, reporting on the Global Warming activist and former VP’s visit to Trump Tower last week. Gore is quoted by the Washington Post as saying:
I had a lengthy and very productive session with the president-elect. It was a sincere search for areas of common ground … I had a meeting beforehand with Ivanka Trump. The bulk of the time was with the president-elect, Donald Trump. I found it an extremely interesting conversation, and to be continued, and I’m just going to leave it at that. [Emphasis mine]
What “common ground”?
- Donald Trump has repeatedly called human-caused catastrophic climate change a “hoax”.
- President-Elect Trump, less than a week after meeting with Gore, picked a hard-line climate skeptic (who the New York Times called “a fossil-fuel advocate and climate-change denier”) to head the Environmental Protection Agency!
- Al Gore’s 2006 An Inconvenient Truth movie is largely responsible for alarming the media and the general public on this issue, and he plans to release another alarmist movie next month!
The figure is a frame-grab of the most dramatic moment from the movie, where Gore notes the remarkable correlation between Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Temperatures over the past six Ice Ages. Gore then goes on to misrepresent the meaning of that data (click here to view a short excerpt from his movie). I’ve annotated the image with Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Temperature values, which are hard to see in the movie clip.
ISSUES I HOPE TRUMP RAISED WITH GORE (OR WILL RAISE IN FUTURE MEETINGS)
Issue #1. Correlation between CO2 and Temperature:
Gore correctly notes the fact that both CO2 and Temperatures go up and down together over the 650,000 year record, and says:
The relationship is very complicated. But there is one relationship that is more powerful than all the others and it is this. When there is more carbon dioxide, the temperature gets warmer, because it traps more heat from the sun inside. …[Emphasis mine]
Misrepresentation #1: The the CO2 warming effect is NOT more powerful than the others.
Look at the Ice Core record! Temperatures begin their rise precisely when CO2 levels are at their lowest. Temperatures begin their fall precisely when CO2 is at its highest.
Thus, Gore’s claim that CO2-caused warming is the “one relationship that is more powerful than all the others” is false!
Even when at its highest Ice Core levels, CO2-caused warming is powerless compared to something else that causes Temperatures to drop! We know that something else has nothing to do with Human activities, because virtually all of the Ice Core record is before the advent of Humans on Earth.
Of course climate Skeptics accept the reality of the Atmospheric “Greenhouse” Effect and that CO2 is a “Greenhouse” gas. Along with water vapor (H2O) which is by far the primary “Greenhouse” gas, CO2 is partially responsible for the Earth’s surface being dozens of degrees warmer than it would be if the Atmosphere was pure nitrogen. [See my WUWT series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. By the way, I also accept that the majority of recent CO2 increase is due to human activities, mainly burning of unprecedented quantities of fossil fuels, and that some small fraction of recent global warming is due to human activities. ]
Bottom Line #1: The Ice Core record has NOTHING to do with CO2-induced warming. The Ice Ages prove that CO2-induced warming is weak compared to Natural cycles that determine the ups and downs of Temperature.
Issue #2. Current CO2 levels exceed those in the Ice Core record, and continue to rise:
Gore points to the Ice Core Temperature range, which is about 10⁰C (18⁰F), and correctly says:
In the parts of the United States that contain the modern cities of Cleveland, Detroit, New York in the northern tier. This is the difference between a nice day and having a mile of ice above your head. Keep that in mind when you look at this fact.
He then, again correctly, extends the CO2 graph upwards to show that the CO2 level in 2006 is above the highest levels recorded in the Ice Core data, and says:
Carbon dioxide having never gone above 300 PPM, here is where CO2 is now. We give off where it has never been as far back as this record will measure. If you will bear with me I would like to emphasize this point. It’s already right here. Look how far above the natural cycle this is, and we’ve done that.
Gore then mounts a platform and ascends high above the stage (see my graphic) and further extends the CO2 graph upwards to a projection of the likely level in 50 years, which is nearly 600 ppm. He says:
But ladies and gentleman, in less than 50 years it’s going to continue to go up. When some of these children who are here are my age, here’s where it’s going to be in less than 50 years. You’ve heard of off the chart. Within less than 50 years it’ll be here.
There’s not a single fact or day or number that’s been used to make this up that is in any controversy. The so-called skeptics look at this and say, “So, that looks seems perfectly okay.” On the temperature side: If this much on the cold side is a mile of ice over our heads, what would that much on the warmer side be? [Emphasis mine]
Misrepresentation #2: Even if CO2 does rise to nearly 600 ppm in 50 years, the resultant Temperature increase will be a small fraction of what Gore implies. The CO2-induced warming effect is NOT linear.
Let us look at the numbers. The range of CO2 in the Ice Core record is roughly 200 to 300 ppm, a difference of 100 ppm. The corresponding Temperature range, from -8⁰C to +2⁰C, is a difference of 10⁰C. Gore implies that CO2-induced warming is in that fixed proportion, i.e., a 100 ppm CO2 rise CAUSES a 10⁰C Temperature rise. This is a total falsehood, and his scientific advisers knew it, which is why Gore never specifically makes the claim. Instead, he subtly implies that relationship and guides his audience to come to that wrong conclusion on their own.
Gore points out that CO2 levels 50 years in the future will approach 600 ppm, and asks:
If this much on the cold side is a mile of ice over our heads, what would that much on the warmer side be?
He knows that his audience will assume, incorrectly, that Temperatures will rise in proportion, by about 25⁰C (45⁰F).
Again, his scientific advisers did not allow him to project the implied future Temperature rise (the White dashed line in my graphic), because they knew it is a total falsehood.
Bottom Line #2: So, how much might temperatures rise if CO2 doubles in 50 years, from 300 ppm to 600 ppm? Temperature rise due to a doubling of CO2 is called “Climate Sensitivity” and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates it is between 1.5⁰C to 4.5⁰C. Thus, Temperatures would rise far, far less than the 25⁰C implied by Gore. (Based on the failure of the IPCC’s Climate Model projections to match the Temperature record during the current, roughly 20-year, statistical “pause”, I personally think the actual value is closer to 1⁰C than the center of the IPCC’s estimated range.)
Issue #3: Proper interpretation of the Ice Core data. CO2 rise and fall LAGS behind Temperature rise and fall by HUNDREDS of years.
The graphic expands a 50,000-year portion of the Vostok Ice Core record to reveal a simple fact about what Gore called the “very complicated” relationship between Temperature and CO2.
Temperatures rise and fall BEFORE the rise and fall of CO2! This occurs for each and every Ice Age. (Thanks to Joannenova.com.au for the expanded graph.)
Even the Warmist website, RealClimate, run by scientists from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, agree on this quite obvious fact. They try to explain it away:
…At least three careful ice core studies have shown that CO2 starts to rise about 800 years (600-1000 years) after Antarctic temperature during glacial terminations. These terminations are pronounced warming periods that mark the ends of the ice ages that happen every 100,000 years or so.
Does this prove that CO2 doesn’t cause global warming? The answer is no.
The reason has to do with the fact that the warmings take about 5000 years to be complete. The lag is only 800 years. All that the lag shows is that CO2 did not cause the first 800 years of warming, out of the 5000 year trend.
The other 4200 years of warming could in fact have been caused by CO2, as far as we can tell from this ice core data.
The 4200 years of warming make up about 5/6 of the total warming. So CO2 could have caused the last 5/6 of the warming, but could not have caused the first 1/6 of the warming.
OK, at least RealClimate recognizes that “CO2 … could not have caused the first 1/6 of the warming.”
So, what happened after that first 1/6th of the warming in each cycle? Did the Laws of Nature suddenly change and make CO2-induced warming more powerful than the Natural cycles that initiated the warming?
If so, how to explain the fact that the Ice Core record shows that CO2 is at its highest levels when the cooling cycle is initiated! So, CO2 suddenly loses its power when there is too much of it?
They also say “The lag is only 800 years.” Don’t they recognize that CAUSE must come before EFFECT (unless they have some magical view of science)? Any lag at all disqualifies the second item from being the CAUSE.
In 2013, Scientific American reported a paper, Published in Science [Abstract only, paper is pay-walled], [ADDED 18 Dec 2016 – A version of this paper is available free without need to register: http://epic.awi.de/32547/1/parrenin2013s_accepted_all.pdf ] where a French team “show CO2 lagged temperature by less than 200 years, drastically decreasing the amount of uncertainty in previous estimates.” OK, perhaps if analysts torture the data with sufficient vigor they can reduce the lag to less than 200 years, and perhaps they may even be correct. However, repeating myself, don’t they recognize that CAUSE must come before EFFECT (unless they have some magical view of science)? Any lag at all disqualifies the second item from being the CAUSE.
Bottom Line #3: CAUSE must come before EFFECT. Al Gore’s misuse of the Ice Core data to push his activist, catastrophic human-caused global warming arguments have no basis in Science.