Opening Up the Climate Policy Envelope

Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. has penned a Pandora’s box of assertions and questions in an attempt to get some reality-based discussion going in the summer 2018 edition of ISSUES. I quipped to him in an email “If they didn’t hate you before, they will now.”.

He’s kindly shared the document with us at WUWT for your reading pleasure. I’ve made some excepts, and provided a link to the entire article.

Opening Up the Climate Policy Envelope

Fudged assumptions about the future are hampering efforts to deal with climate change in the present. It’s time to get real.

Roger Pielke Jr.

Policy action is required to mitigate and adapt to human-caused climate change, but current efforts to develop a global climate policy cannot fly. What the world’s leaders have been able to agree on will not prevent the steady increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the risks of climate disruption that will result.

For an aircraft to fly it must operate within a flight envelope, the combination of conditions such as air-speed, altitude, and flight angle necessary for successful operation. For a specific approach to climate action to succeed, it must operate within a policy envelope, the combination of policy design and political, economic, technological, and other conditions necessary for the approach to be effective.

If aircraft designers sought to improve the performance of a poorly designed aircraft not by improving its design, but by rejiggering their claims about aerodynamics, or airfoil design, or jet fuel combustion thermodynamics, to match the aircraft performance they desire, it is obvious that the aircraft would still perform badly. In the case of climate change, policy-makers and climate experts are doing something similar. In the face of ongoing failure to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, they are rejiggering the way they define the climate change challenge as if that will somehow allow policies that have been failing for over 25 years to become successful.

Understanding the unexplored dimensions of a policy envelope can be particularly important in situations of policy failure or gridlock. Sometimes new options are needed in order to break a stalemate, enable political
compromise, or create new technological possibilities. The exploration of options can also give confidence that the policies being implemented do not have better alternatives. Thus, an important role for policy analysts, especially in the context of wicked or intractable problems, is to understand the ever-changing dimensions of the policy envelope in a particular context to assess what might be possible in order for progress to be made, perhaps even expanding the scope of available actions.

The failure of global climate policies to date suggests that new policy options should be explored— that we may need a significantly expanded policy envelope to begin to make satisfactory progress. But rather than exploring such options, we have instead been protecting the current policy envelope from critical scrutiny. One mechanism of such protection is via scenarios and assumptions that underlie the authoritative policy assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Climate denial of another kind

Some observers have pointed out the obvious. For instance, in 2012 Robert Socolow warned, “No one appears to be preparing for a time—possibly quite soon—when a consensus develops that a peaking of emissions in the 2020s will not occur and that therefore (at least in this meaning) ‘two degrees’ will not be attained.” Yet rather than open up discussion of climate policy to new possibilities, the main response to such observations has been climate denialism of another sort, manifested in the Paris Agreement’s call for a more stringent target (1.5°C), made seemingly feasible by the incorporation of assumptions about the future that are at best wildly optimistic.

We need to break free of such assumptions in order to recognize that the current policy envelope does not contain the pathways to meaningful progress, but rather is an obstacle to discovering such pathways.

If the IPCC is unable or unwilling to consider a more expansive climate policy envelope, then others in leadership positions might explicitly take on this challenge. It won’t be easy. Business-as-usual climate policy has a large and powerful political, economic, and social constituency. Repeated policy failures, most obviously the Kyoto Protocol, have been insufficient to motivate a change in thinking or direction. Although the Paris Agreement helpfully abandoned pretentions of a top-down fix, it did little to change thinking about how its targets were to be achieved.

And whereas it’s easy to blame the intransigence of the United States for lack of progress, such a tack is just another way to try to protect business-as-usual policy, for the fact is that the rest of the world isn’t making progress either.

The work on the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report looks to be similar in form and function to that of past reports, designed to support the UNFCCC but certainly not to open up new possibilities that might require different institutional arrangements.

An expansion of the boundaries of a climate policy envelope is different from a search for specific solutions to a narrowly defined problem. Rather, it represents a search for circumstances under which alternative, effective policy interventions might be possible. In the best cases such an exploration can result in practical options previously not considered, and in new coalitions of actors coming together in new political arrangements to seek progress.

What might an exploration of a more expansive climate policy envelope look like? Below are some questions that push toward an expanded set of options, but once we set our collective attention to the task, no doubt a dramatic expansion of ideas and possibilities would multiply quickly.

  • What do climate policy options look like if BECCS is not assumed in scenarios and models?
  • What happens if we abandon the 2°C temperature target? Oliver Geden observes: “Worldwide, there has been almost no questioning of the parties’ intention to hold the temperature increase to below 2 or 1.5°C.” What alternative long- or short-term targets might be used to track climate policy progress?
  • One possibility might include a commitment to the expansion of carbon-free energy in national energy mixes, as achieving zero emissions will require that almost all energy consumption come from sources that are carbon neutral. The world currently is at less than 15% carbon-free energy consumption.
  • What might a technology-focused climate policy architecture focused on targets and timetables for the adoption of carbon-free energy sources look like (rather than emissions or temperature targets)?
  • Succeeding in the stabilization of carbon dioxide at low levels in the atmosphere will require a massive reduction in the use of fossil fuels. There has been essentially no serious international policy focus on how this might actually be done. Consider that the world consumes more than 11,000 million metric tons of oil equivalent (MTOE) of fossil fuels each year, according to the multinational energy corporation BP. If this number is to approach zero, then the world would need to retire and replace about 1 MTOE each day until 2050. That is the equivalent of more than a nuclear power plant’s worth of carbon-free energy, every day. How might the world decommission such a magnitude of fossil fuel energy? The UNFCCC policy envelope has been an exercise in avoiding this question. What would it mean to get serious about answering it?
  • The massive scaling of technologies that do not yet exist or do not exist at scale would require a commitment to dramatically enhanced national and international innovation policies. What policy options would support innovation at the scale needed to transform the global energy system? Are there innovation investments or practices that would be amenable to targets and timetables? Above all, what magnitude of investments is likely to be necessary for a massive scale-up in carbon-free technologies?
  • Climate policy discussions have tended to emphasize worst case scenarios of the future. What might climate policy look like if scenarios expected to represent more likely futures are placed at the center of climate policy discussions? How might costs and benefits look under such scenarios? What new policy options might become politically plausible with changes in predicted costs and benefits focused on central tendencies and not extremes?
  • What might climate policy look like if costs and benefits of proposed policies are not calculated over decades and longer (e.g., under assumptions of future spontaneous decarbonization), but instead are examined from a perspective of one or several years, so as to be more consistent with political calendars?

These a just a very few possibilities for the sorts of questions that might be asked that would lead to an expanded climate policy envelope.

Full report here:

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July 2, 2018 5:34 pm

The question I’d like to ask is how does the envelope change when business as usual will still keep us well within any 2C increase caused by CO2 emissions. Macroscopic physics applied to the planet and satellite data all predict an ECS far lower than even the lower limit claimed by the IPCC. Wasn’t that lower limit initially set as the point, below which, no mitigation would be necessary and the IPCC would have no reason to exist?

David Grange
Reply to  co2isnotevil
July 2, 2018 10:00 pm

A Daniel come to judgement! All this wasted effort and cash for what end ? The real scientists must be in despair in South Australia or the UK . CO2 is a scarce and wholly beneficial gas pilloried by charlatans and fools and politicians (who may combine both terms). I did hear of a welder who cleared the air in his workplace with pure oxygen and then struck a match. Must have been a warming theorist. Even his false teeth melted.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  David Grange
July 3, 2018 5:30 am

“All this wasted effort and cash for what end ?”

The effort that is suggested to be made will never happen. It would disrupt everything for billions of people. It’s really unrealistic to think the nations of the Earth could or would make the radical moves suggested to reduce CO2.

And alarmists want to do these crazy things even though there is no evidence CO2 will raise the temperatures as much as they fear (or at all).

Good luck getting China to stop building coal-fired powerplants.

The best bet for those who want to change the approach to reducing CO2 is to promote the building of nuclear powerplants. That should be the focus. Replace current power generation with nuclear. That way humanity has sufficient electricity while reducing CO2 at the same time. That’s simple enough isn’t it?

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Tom Abbott
July 3, 2018 8:41 am

Not only will it disrupt everything for billions of people, it will disrupt mostly the lives of those of us who are fortunate enough to live in the First World. It is one thing to be an energy charlatan and condemn the Third World to ongoing, grinding poverty, it’s quite another to try and pull First Worlders down to join them. When that attempt is made in earnest, that’s when the fecal matter will really hit the rotary air impeller.

July 2, 2018 5:58 pm

One does not need a ‘Policy on Weather’ as the weather will do what it pleases regardless of what one does.

Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
July 3, 2018 12:38 am


Reply to  zazove
July 3, 2018 10:47 am

Why the question mark? All there ever is, is weather. Climate is an abstraction, a mathematical average. Nothing “feels” something mathematical. Only weather is physically “felt”.

Rich Davis
Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
July 3, 2018 3:30 am

Policy on weather: dress accordingly, plan events accordingly, carry an umbrella as deemed prudent. Adapt.

It may get a bit warmer still or it may get colder. Either way, we can only adapt and mitigate.

Wiliam Haas
July 2, 2018 6:02 pm

Based on the paleoclimate record and work with models, one can conclude that the climate change we are experiencing today is caused by the sun and the oceans over which mankind has no control what so ever.

Despite the hype, there is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate and plenty of scientific rational that the climate sensitivity of CO2 is zero. The AGW conjecture is based on only partial science and is so full of holes that it is indefensible. For example, the AGW conjecture depends on a radiant greenhouse effect caused by trace gases in the Earth’s atmosphere with LWIR absorption bands. What is totally neglected is that good absorbers are also good radiators and in the troposphere, heat energy transfer by conduction, convection, and phase change dominate over energy transfer by LWIR absorption band radiation. The radiant greenhouse effect has not been observed in a real greenhouse. in the Earth’s atmosphere or anywhere else in the solar system for that mater. If CO2 really affected climate one would expect that the increase in CO2 over the past 30 years would have caused at least a measurable increase in the dry lapse rate in the troposphere but that has not happened. The radiant greenhouse effect is science fiction so hence the AGW conjecture is science fiction as well. There may be many good reasons to be conserving on the use of fossil fuels but climate change is not one of them. It is all a matter of science.

The AGW conjecture depends upon H2O acting as a positive feedback that amplifies the warming effect of adding more CO2 to the atmosphere. What the AGW conjecture totally ignores is the fact that besides being the primary greenhouse gas according to radiant greenhouse conjecture, H2O is a primary coolant in the Earth’s atmosphere moving heat energy from the Earth’s surface to where clouds form via the heat of vaporization. The over all cooling effect is evidenced by the fact that the wet lapse rate is significantly less than the dry lapse rate in the troposphere. Again this is all a mater of science.

Joe Zeise
Reply to  Wiliam Haas
July 2, 2018 7:11 pm


Percy Jackson
Reply to  Wiliam Haas
July 2, 2018 8:19 pm

Your post is quite simply flat out wrong. If water is a coolant and there is no radiant greenhouse effect then you need to explain why the earth has the temperature it has. There is no other valid explanation for the temperature of the earth than the “greenhouse” effect and for that to be wrong essentially all of modern physics from quantum mechanics to thermodynamics would also be wrong. So I look forward to your explanation.

Wiliam Haas
Reply to  Percy Jackson
July 2, 2018 10:54 pm

H2O is a net coolant in the Earth’s atmosphere as evidenced by the fact that the wet lapse rate is significantly less than the dry lapse rate which makes it easier for heat energy to rise higher in the Earth’s atmosphere.

A real greenhouse does not stay warm because of the action of heat trapping gases. A real greenhouse stays warm because the glass limits cooling by convection. It is a convective greenhouse effect that keeps a greenhouse warm. So too on Earth where gravity limits cooling by convection. As derived from first principals, the Earth’s convective greenhouse effect keeps the surface of the Earth on average 33 degrees warmer than it would be otherwise. 33 degrees is the number derived from first principals and 33 degrees C is what has been measured. An additional radiant greenhouse effect has not been detected. The convective greenhouse effect is a function of the heat capacity of the atmosphere, the height of the troposphere and gravity and has nothing to do with the LWIR absorption properties of trace gases. The convective greenhouse effect has been observed on all planets in the solar system with thick atmospheres. The radiant greenhouse has not been detected anywhere in the solar system.

Percy Jackson
Reply to  Wiliam Haas
July 2, 2018 11:37 pm

What “first principles” – and again you will need to demonstrate why CO2 and H20 don’t absorb and re-radiate 10 micron light and so why quantum mechanics is wrong.
Gravity has nothing to do with the greenhouse effect as any physicist could tell you.

Wiliam Haas
Reply to  Percy Jackson
July 2, 2018 11:54 pm

CO2 and H2O both absorb and reradiate in their LWIR absorption bands. Absorbed energy gets thermalized and and transferred to other molecules via collisions Some of the heat energy transmitted to CO2 and H2O molecules by other molecules gets radiated away. The LWIR absorption bands does not make them heat trapping. If any gases in the Earth’s atmosphere were heat trapping it would be the non-greenhouse gases because they are such poor LWIR radiators to space.

Gravity has everything to do with it. The convective greenhouse has been observed on all planets in the solar system with thick atmospheres. Gravity causes pressure and pressure raises temperature.

Percy Jackson
Reply to  Wiliam Haas
July 3, 2018 12:07 am

If the absorbed energy gets thermalised and transferred to other molecules via collisions then that means that the molecules are trapping heat. You have just stated the principles of the radiative greenhouse while denying that it exists.

Gravity and pressure can’t raise the temperature on a long term basis.
Gravity is a conservative force and so there is no net energy gain in a closed system acting under gravity. Hence it cannot heat the atmosphere.

ferd berple
Reply to  Percy Jackson
July 3, 2018 6:35 am

Gravity cannot change the total energy of the atmosphere but it most certainly change potential energy to kinetic energy and back.

Only kinetic energy affects temperature. Thud gravity can change local temperatures without changing total energy.

Rhoda Klapp
Reply to  Percy Jackson
July 3, 2018 7:31 am

It’s not a closed system.

Sam C Cogar
Reply to  Percy Jackson
July 3, 2018 7:36 am

Percy Jackson – July 3, 2018 12:07 am

If the absorbed energy gets thermalised and transferred to other molecules via collisions then that means that the molecules are trapping heat.

Percy, getta clue, …. and get yourself an education in the General Sciences. Unless your job status and pay grade is dependent upon your refusal to publicly admit knowing any factual science about the natural world you live in.

GETTA CLUE, …… Percy, iffen the different gas molecule in the atmosphere are absorbing “heat” energy via their “collision” with other gas molecules, then they sure as ell are not “trapping” that heat energy iffen that “heat” energy is transferred to the next molecule it makes contact with.

Percy, the only known entity in the universe that is supposedly capable of trapping thermal “heat” energy are the Black Holes that are situate at the centers of galaxies.

Reply to  Sam C Cogar
July 3, 2018 8:47 am

Even black holes can loose heat (energy) by radiating in a black body like manner. It’s called Hawking Radiation.

Nothing in the atmosphere can ‘trap’ heat. If anything, heat is ‘trapped’ at the surface, but even in this case, ‘trap’ is not the proper word. All the atmosphere can do is delay surface heat from leaving the planet by returning (radiating) it back to the surface which has the consequence of making the surface warmer than it would be without GHG’s and clouds ‘reflecting’ this heat back to the surface.

One error is the idea that GHG molecules can transfer their state energy upon collisions. This only happens under rare circumstances. First is when an energized GHG molecule collides with a ground state GHG molecule, in which case the states of the 2 molecules can be swapped. Second is when an energized GHG molecule collides with and is absorbed by a drop of liquid or solid water. In no case will state energy be directly converted into an increase in the linear kinetic energy of the translational motion of gas molecules, which is the mechanical aspect of heat per the kinetic theory of gases.

The first effect is far too weak to measure. The second effect, while small, can be observed in the 12-15u region where the emissions by the planet are a little less than half of what was emitted by the surface in those bands. Without this ‘thermalization’ effect, the energy seen at TOA in these saturated absorption bands will be 1/2 of the energy emitted by the surface in those bands. Note that all of the energy seen at TOA in saturated absorption bands was re-radiated by GHG molecules high in the atmosphere and made it off the planet without being intercepted by another GHG molecule.

The flaw comes from the idea that state energy can be arbitrarily split between rotational states and vibrational states, where the rotational states are considered degrees of freedom, relative to the equipartition theorem. The problem here is that energy is transferred symmetrically between rotational states and vibrational state, hence we observe fine structure on BOTH sides of the primary vibrational resonances. This necessarily means that any NET transfer between vibrational states and rotational states must be zero.

I suspect that the subtle differences between non resonant mechanical rotation and resonant EM rotation are lost in the noise. In other words, the energy transported by photons is being incorrectly and arbitrarily conflated with the energy transported by matter.

Sam C Cogar
Reply to  co2isnotevil
July 4, 2018 4:34 am

co2isnotevil – uly 3, 2018 8:47 am

All the atmosphere can do is delay surface heat from leaving the planet by returning (radiating) it back to the surface which has the consequence of making the surface warmer than it would be without GHG’s and clouds ‘reflecting’ this heat back to the surface.

The GHG molecules in the atmosphere can “delay surface heat from leaving the planet by returning (radiating) (PART OF) it back to the surface” …… but those GHG molecule account for less than 6% of all atmospheric gases.

For the past several days, which will include today (7-04-18), a large portion of the US has been/is experiencing daytime atmospheric temperatures of greater than 90 degrees F, which means that all the gases in the atmosphere are at a >90F temperature, …….. RIGHT?

So, co2isnotevil, tell us how all those zillions of atmospheric gas molecules managed to attain said >90F, then lose part of it at nighttime, then re-attain their daily temps of >90F?

How did a big percentage of the daily >90F temps manage to make its way back into space iffen less than 6% of the total air molecules are capable of doing the “radiating”?

Remember, thermometers measure the temp of all gases, not just the GHG molecules.

Reply to  Sam C Cogar
July 4, 2018 10:06 am


“but those GHG molecule account for less than 6%”

Actually, even less, but it doesn’t take a high concentration for most of the effect that they can cause to be caused.

“which means that all the gases in the atmosphere are at a >90F temperature, …….. RIGHT?”

Where does this come from? The kinetic temperature of the atmosphere, that is, the temperature per the kinetic theory of gases, monotonically decreases from the surface towards space until the atmospheric gases become so diffuse, their kinetic temperature is mostly meaningless. Moreover; the kinetic temperature of atmospheric gases is irrelevant to the radiant balance and the subsequent ECS.

Trenberth’s arbitrary conflation of the energy transported by photons (LWIR) and the energy transported by matter (latent heat, convection, kinetic temperature, etc.) has distorted the analysis by so much, many on both sides are horribly confused and it seems that you are among them. I’m not surprised, as this seems to have been the point of all the obfuscation in the first place.

GHG’s only emit energy in their absorption bands. Most of the remaining energy comes from the emissions of clouds while a significant fraction is emitted directly by the surface. And yes, the tiny fraction of GHG’s in the atmosphere contribute far more significantly to the emissions of the planet then their concentration would suggest. This is because the bulk of the atmosphere (N2 and O2) are passive bystanders to the radiative balance as they are transparent to both the incoming solar energy and the outgoing LWIR.

There’s one thing I mostly agree with Schlesinger about and which he stated in the first sentence of his Quantitative Analysis of Feedbacks paper:

“If the Earth’s atmosphere was composed of only it’s two major constituents, Nitrogen (N2, 78% by volume) and Oxygen (O2, 12%), the Earth’s surface would be closer to the -18C radiative equilibrium value necessary to balance the approximately 240 W/m^2 of solar radiation absorbed by the surface-atmosphere system.”

All that I disagree with is that the incident energy would be closer to 304 W/m^2 and not 240 W/m^2 considering that without GHG’s (i.e. no clouds or ice either) the planets albedo would not be 0.3. but would be the same as the Moon at about 0.11 resulting in an average temperature closer to 0C. The failure to account for this 11C of cooling arising from GHG’s (specifically water) is a serious flaw in the IPCC”s ambiguous definition of radiative forcing.

In this case, the kinetic temperature of the atmosphere would monotonically decrease with altitude, starting from the temperature of the surface. Meanwhile, the temperature of the radiation passing through the atmosphere is constant and subject only to the 1/r^2 attenuation applied to all omnidirectional EM radiation.

Sam C Cogar
Reply to  co2isnotevil
July 5, 2018 7:50 am

co2isnotevil – July 4, 2018 10:06 am

“which means that all the gases in the atmosphere are at a >90F temperature, …….. RIGHT?”
Where does this come from?

I apologize, by first stating that ….. “the US has been/is experiencing daytime atmospheric temperatures of greater than 90 degrees F”, …… I just assumed that you would surely not think that said >90F temperature were inclusive to all 400,000 vertical feet to the TOA.

So to clear things up, lets focus on the first 2K+- vertical feet of the near-surface (lower tropospheric) atmosphere, To wit:

comment image

So mumbleith did: co2isnotevil

[Sam C] ““but those GHG molecule account for less than 6%

Actually, even less, but it doesn’t take ………

co2isnotevil, just how much is …. “even less” than …. less than 6%?
Were you trying to impress the Learning Disabled, or what?

co2isnotevil – July 4, 2018 10:06 am

And yes, the tiny fraction of GHG’s in the atmosphere contribute far more significantly to the emissions of the planet then their concentration would suggest.

And just what is your actual, factual scientific proof/evidence that substantiates you above claim?

co2isnotevil – July 4, 2018 10:06 am

This is because the bulk of the atmosphere (N2 and O2) are passive bystanders to the radiative balance as they are transparent to both the incoming solar energy and the outgoing LWIR.

Shur nuff, ….. co2isnotevil, I can agree that the bulk of the atmospheric contents consists of N2 and O2 and that they are little more than passive bystanders relative to the radiative transfer of thermal (heat) energy within said earth’s atmosphere.

But now tell us, …… co2isnotevil, …… when the near-surface air temperatures are measured to be greater than 90 degrees F, …….. does the aforenoted atmospheric N2 and O2 also play the role of “passive bystanders”, thus contributing no thermal (heat) energy whatsoever to the afore stated atmospheric temperature measurements?

co2isnotevil, ….. are my three (3) outdoor thermometers only measuring the temperature of the “radiative (GHG)” gases in the air close to my abode.

Is the thermostat for my “forced air” heating system only measuring the temperature of the “radiative (GHG)” gases in the air in the room of my home where said thermostat is located?

And during the past few days of 90+F temps, the air temp in the attic of my home has surely been greater than 130-140F, And were those extremely high temps the result of the radiative transfer of thermal (heat) energy between the “radiative (GHG)” gases that are a part of the air entrapped in the attic of my home?

Reply to  Sam C Cogar
July 3, 2018 3:18 pm

Frankly, as far as policy goes, both CO2 and H2O levels are irrelevant. The weather will do what the weather will do. If there was any “tipping point” this old earth would have tipped billions of years ago. We’re here on this old earth to argue about it so there isn’t one. The best “policy” is, QUIT WASTING TAXPAYER’S MONEY!!! Reduce taxes so the people that earned it get to decide how to spend it. And even if I’m totally wrong, the more money people have in their pockets if something goes haywire, the better they’ll be able to adapt to it. End of discussion! Now, can we get on to something useful, like how to get the government out of people’s private lives?

Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
July 3, 2018 3:21 pm

And to Dr Pielke The Younger, I agree with everything you say in the article (thank you for giving us an even-handed level-headed discussion without belittling either side), except for the part about actually needing to worry about it. S***can the whole discussion!

Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
July 5, 2018 6:44 pm

Red: Do you apply the same principle to the government spending money on the military? Or gasoline taxes for building roads? Or taxes for schools? Subsidies to farmers. Medicare. (Do you know any health insurance companies that your would trust to cover a catastrophic illness after you paid premiums high enough to cover that cost for several decades before you became ill?)

Usually most opponents of big government find some programs they want to keep – which means that what constitutes “wasting money” is a topic to be debated in a democracy. Of course, anytime the government gets involved there are going to be inefficiencies, rent-seekers, political favoritism and a host of other maladies. Thus, I would prefer a universal carbon tax that is fully rebated to everyone equally to the abomination of cap and trade.

I’ll salute you are an exceptional individual who want the government to do nothing for you – except perhaps run the court system – and the police – and air traffic control – and perhaps the FDIC (to protect your bank accounts) – etc.

Reply to  Wiliam Haas
July 3, 2018 1:01 pm


You’re not completely off base and your explanation would be applicable for an atmosphere heated from above, such as on Venus, where the pressure and temperature increases as you get further away from the source of heat (the clouds). If the clouds had an albedo of 1 and were at 0K, the surface would be too, independent of the atmosphere between it and the clouds.

On Earth, the atmosphere is heated from below where the pressure and temperature decreases as you get further away from the source of heat (the surface). Without GHG’s in the Earth’s atmosphere, the lapse RATE would be the same, except that the kinetic temperature of atmospheric gases would start at the lower surface temperature. Meanwhile, the emission temperature at TOA is the same as the surface temperature and much warmer than the kinetic temperature of the gases near TOA.

What I think is driving you is trying to understand both Venus and Earth in the same context, just as the alarmists attempt to do. In your case, you’re trying to explain Earth in the context of how Venus works, while the other side tries to explain Venus in the context of how Earth works. This is actually one case where the truth splits the difference and neither is completely right or completely wrong.

This is unlike the conflict about the ECS where there’s little to no overlap with skeptics, only because the consensus needs to be able to justify an nonsensical and nonphysical ECS in order to explain Venus in the context of Earth.

Reply to  co2isnotevil
July 5, 2018 9:16 am

co2isnotevil needs to think more clearly. In a steady-state, heat is not flowing from the bottom up or the top down. The net flux of energy in both directions is the same at all altitudes. On Venus, DLR and OLR are nearly the same in each direction at most altitudes and the difference is provided by the small amount SWR penetrating to lower altitudes. Neither DLR nor OLR travel very far (1? cm on the average) between absorption and emission. (This problem is even more acute in the sun.) On Earth, OLR and DLR are only modestly different (390 and 333 W/m2), and only 1/3 of non-reflected SWR is absorbed on the way to the surface, but 30% is also reflected. The biggest difference is that latent heat (80 W/m2 near the surface dropping to zero at the tropopause) moves energy upward in our atmosphere, but only enough to balance the inability of LWR to carry energy upward at current temperatures as fast as SWR brings it downward.

Reply to  Frank
July 5, 2018 9:02 pm


“The net flux of energy in both directions is the same at all altitudes.”

If you draw a Gaussian surface enclosing the Earth, the NET energy crossing this surface will necessarily be zero, which is definitely the same at all altitudes, but the magnitude of the LWIR energy going up is definitely dependent on the altitude. As you get closer to the surface, the atmosphere is sending LWIR down enhancing the 240 W/m^2 arriving from the Sun.

At TOT, the 240 W/m^2 of non reflected solar input is offset by 240 W/m^2 of LWIR emissions. At the surface, 390 W/m^2 of emissions is offset by 240 W/m^2 of incident energy plus 150 W/m^2 of LWIR coming from the atmosphere (don’t be misdirected by solar absorbed by clouds and sent to the surface). The magnitude of the radiant flux passing up monotonically decreases with altitude from 390 W/m^2 to 240 W/m^2 at a rate modulated by clouds.

In the LWIR, clouds look warm from the surface and space looks cold, while from space, clouds look cold and the surface looks warm. The fraction of the surface covered by clouds modulates between these two states arriving at the steady state average that results in the required steady state equilibrium.

On Venus, there’s hardly any incident solar arriving at the surface, as most has been absorbed by the dense clouds, so it’s the LWIR alone that’s balanced at each altitude. This necessarily decreases with altitude as while each CO2 molecule is similarly energized, there are far fewer of them passing photons back and forth between each other at higher altitudes. Unlike Earth, where the upward LWIR is offset by incident solar input, on Venus, upward LWIR is offset by downward LWIR, all of which originated from CO2 molecules in the atmosphere.

ferd berple
Reply to  Percy Jackson
July 3, 2018 6:28 am

The 33 C surface warming is obtained by cooling the upper troposphere. Otherwise the troposphere would all be the same temperature. If CO2 causes this, why does it not appear in the equation for the lapse rate?

Rather the lapse rate is determined by gravity, water condensation and the work required to compress air.

What the dry lapse rate represents is the conversion of kinetic energy into potential energy, which changes the temperature of 5he atmosphere without any net change in total energy. Adding water to this flattens the lapse rate while CO2 has no effect except to slightly change the work required to compress air.

Reply to  ferd berple
July 3, 2018 12:56 pm

Exactly how, in your opinion, CO2 should appear in the equation for the lapse rate?

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Hugs
July 4, 2018 5:13 am

His point was it doesn’t and shouldn’t

Reply to  Wiliam Haas
July 2, 2018 8:20 pm

In general as well as in this instance one cannot establish the cause of an effect as to establish the cause requjres availability of a sample that was drawn from the statistical population underlying the model that was of infinite size but a sample of infinite size cannot be drawn. In this case, one is prevented from drawing a sample of any size by the fact that this statistical population is not identified.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Terry Oldberg
July 3, 2018 9:41 pm

So we cant convict Harry for knocking you out with a ballpeen hammer! S’truth Terry, worthless eggheadery added to a climate debate is no help at all, but I guess it impresses certain post mod circles.

Reply to  Wiliam Haas
July 3, 2018 2:13 am

Such over-confidenct ignorance. William writes: “H2O is a primary coolant in the Earth’s atmosphere moving heat energy from the Earth’s surface to where clouds form via the heat of vaporization.”

However, the latent heat carried by water vapor can’t remove heat from the atmosphere and move it to space. And convection only moves latent heat vertically when an unstable lapse rate is present – in other words, when radiative cooling to space from the upper troposphere has cooled the upper atmosphere enough to make the lapse rate unstable.

There is no doubt that latent heat is important in regulating the relative temperature of the surface and the upper troposphere. Unfortunately, the temperature of both locations is determined by radiative cooling to space, the only way heat escapes our planet.

Wiliam Haas
Reply to  Frank
July 4, 2018 6:02 pm

And the more LWIR absorption band radiators there are higher up in the atmosphere, the more efficient the Earth is at radoatomg LWIR absorption band radiation to space. So hence more so called greenhouse gases should have a cooling effect.

Reply to  Wiliam Haas
July 5, 2018 6:16 pm

William: Exactly wrong. The absorption is fairly independent of temperature, so GHGs are equally good absorbers everywhere in the atmosphere. Emission varies roughly with T^4, so GHGs high in the atmosphere emit less because it is colder there.

Richard Lindzen published a paper in E&E called “Taking Greenhouse Warming Seriously” where he explains how the higher GHGs mean the average photon escaping to space must be emitted from a higher and colder altitude when more GHGs are present. That altitude must warm until it emits just as many photons to space as it did before.

The relationship between altitude and temperature is relatively simple in the troposphere, where a moist adiabatic lapse rate controls the local temperature. Things are more complicated elsewhere in the atmosphere, where absorption and emission control temperature, not a lapse rate. Since the temperature rises with altitude in the lower stratosphere, rising CO2 causes more emission and cooling, and sends more OLR to space. However, the very modest decrease in emission from the stratosphere with 2XCO2 is overwhelmed by the decreased emission from the troposphere.

Reply to  Frank
July 5, 2018 9:14 pm


“Emission varies roughly with T^4, so GHGs high in the atmosphere emit less because it is colder there. ”

What? A CO2 molecule energized by a 15u photon has the same state energy at the surface as it does at TOA and both will emit another 15u photon. While the emissions of a collection of CO2 molecules can be properly characterized with an EQUIVALENT temperature, this EQUIVALENT temperature is independent of the kinetic temperature consequential to their translational motion.

Equipartition of energy is being mis-applied. Consider shining a laser through the atmosphere at a frequency that doesn’t interact with any atmospheric gas molecule. Put a thermometer in the beam and it will register a high temperature, but the temperature of the molecules in the vicinity of the beam will remain unchanged owing to the lack of interaction between the beam and those molecules.

Reply to  Wiliam Haas
July 3, 2018 2:43 am

Will correctly tells us: “What is totally neglected is that good absorbers are also good radiators and in the troposphere.”

Will doesn’t explain how molecules that are both good absorbers and emitters reduce the outward flux of thermal IR from 390 W/m2 at the surface to only 240 W/m2 at the top of the atmosphere. The fact that the outward flux is reduced by the atmosphere is undeniable. By definition, GHGs are the only molecules that significantly absorb and emit thermal IR – they must be responsible. It is certainly logical to expect that more GHGs will further slow the outward flux of heat, causing the planet to warm. The only real question is: How much?

To answer that question, Will needs to know the equations that govern the absorption and emission of radiation as it passes through an absorbing/emitting medium. Since some wavelengths of thermal IR are significantly absorbed by CO2 and H20 by a few tens of meters of atmosphere, we need use a differential equation that relates an incrementally short distance traveled outward (dz) to an incremental change in radiation (dI) at a particular wavelength (lambda). That equation is called the Schwarzschild equation for radiative transfer.

dI = emission – absorption
dI = n*o*B(lambda,T)*dz – n*o*I*dz

where n is the density of GHG, o is its absorption cross-section, B(lambda,T) is the Planck function for emission of BB radiation, and I is the intensity of radiation entering the incremental distance dz. When numerically integrated from the surface to space, this equation explains why the outward flux of thermal IR decreases from 390 W/m2 to 240 W/m2 and why an instantaneous doubling of CO2 will reduce that flux by another 3.7 W/m2.

Sam C Cogar
Reply to  Frank
July 3, 2018 9:29 am

Frank – July 3, 2018 2:43 am

Will doesn’t explain how molecules that are both good absorbers and emitters reduce the outward flux of thermal IR from 390 W/m2 at the surface to only 240 W/m2 at the top of the atmosphere (TOA).

Frank, did you know that the top of the atmosphere (TOA) is arbitrarily defined as being located at 400,000 ft elevation (about 120 km) above the SL surface of the earth.

Therefore, if the thermal IR being radiated from the surface is measured to be an average 390 W/m2, ….. then it should not surprise anyone that the aforesaid thermal IR is only being measured to be an average 240 W/m2 at the top of the atmosphere (TOA).

“DUH”, the thermal IR being radiated from the surface is not polarized radiation, therefore a one (1) square meter of surface area that is radiating 390 W of thermal IR ….. will be dispersed over thousands or tens-of-thousands of square meters at the TOA (400K feet elevation) ……. even if none of it is absorbed and re-radiated/conducted by the different gas molecules in the atmosphere.

The aforesaid absorbed and re-radiated/conducted thermal IR can be in damn near any direction, ….. but NEVER totally vertical toward the zenith.

Reply to  Sam C Cogar
July 3, 2018 3:33 pm

Sam: The practical definition for TOA is the altitude above which the intensity of OLR is no longer being significantly changed absorption and emission of thermal IR photons by GHGs.

Planck’s Law and related equations tell us about the radiative flux in all directions. Planck’s function has units of W·sr−1·m−2·Hz−1 or W·sr−1·m−3 and needs to be integrated over all wavelengths of get power rather than spectral intensity. To convert from units of inverse steradians, we integrate the VERTICAL COMPONENT of the flux in all upward directions from a plane surface to get units of W/m2 of vertical outward flux.

Emission in the atmosphere is handled in a somewhat similar manner. The flux is broken up into three components: horizontal, vertical and upward, and vertical and downward. The horizontal components don’t carry any radiation away from or towards the surface. The upward vertical component of dI in the Schwarzschild eqn is added to OLR and it is usually negative (explaining why outward radiation decreases with altitude). The downward component of dI is added to DLR and it is usually negative. Rearranging terms:

dI = n*o*[B(lambda,T)-I]*dz

The term in brackets is negative for upward radiation, because incoming upward radiation (I) comes from below, where it is usually warmer. The term in brackets is positive for DLR because it usually originates at colder altitudes. Increasing the amount of GHG (n) makes the magnitude of the change bigger, but doesn’t change its sign.

If there were no temperature gradient, there would be not enhanced GHE to worry about. The temperature gradient is negligible about Antarctica and there is no enhanced GHE there.

Reply to  Sam C Cogar
July 4, 2018 2:44 am

Sam: According to the website below, most (99%) of the change in OLR is complete by the time you get to about 20 km. The very strongest line at the center of the CO2 band does change slightly from 20 to 50 km. Since it is getting warmer as you go higher at this altitude, slightly more radiation is escaping as you move higher.

The Earth’s radius is 6371 km, so a sphere 20 m higher than the surface has essentially the same surface area as the surface 0.6% difference. The intensity of OLR as it rises 20 km in the atmosphere is reduced only 0.6% by geometric considerations. The other 149.4 W/m2 of reduction on the way to space is due to absorption and emission (from colder altitudes).

ferd berple
Reply to  Wiliam Haas
July 3, 2018 6:15 am

That pesky lapse rate. It raises the surfaces temp 33 C without any back radiation. Nowhere does CO2 appear in the lapse rate equation.

Reply to  ferd berple
July 3, 2018 8:58 am

The lapse rate is relative to the temperature of the matter in DIRECT equilibrium with the Sun. On Earth this is the top few 100 meters of the oceans and bits land that poke through and the lapse rate decreases the kinetic temperature of atmospheric gas molecules as you go up in the atmosphere.

Venus is what confuses people when trying to comprehend its surface temperature in the context of the GHG effect on Earth. The difference though is that on Venus, the matter in direct equilibrium with the Sun are the cloud tops and the lapse rate increases the temperature as you go down towards the surface.

The fundamental difference is that Earth clouds are tightly connected to the oceans through the hydro cycle and in LTE, the clouds and the surface in direct equilibrium with the Sun are a single thermodynamic system. On Venus, the clouds are completely decoupled from the solid surface below and comprise an independent thermodynamic system. This is analogous how the temperature of the solid surface below Earth’s oceans is independent of the surface temperature above.

Reply to  ferd berple
July 3, 2018 6:00 pm

Fred: That pesky lapse rate raises temperature from the surface to the tropopause (about 17 km above the surface) by 100 degC in the tropics. As you move poleward the tropopause gets lower, especially in winter. In the Antarctic winter, the surface is colder than higher altitudes. Calculating the reduction in radiative cooling to space produced by an instantaneous doubling of CO2 (ie before temperature, clouds and other factors change) is a complicated task that has been automated for some situations. See:

Smart Rock
Reply to  Wiliam Haas
July 3, 2018 6:52 am

Here we go again. Lapse rate. Yawn.

Bruce Cobb
July 2, 2018 6:03 pm

We can’t control our climate any more than we can control the tides.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
July 2, 2018 11:28 pm

Well put, I’ll remember that one.
Or maybe instead of tides, dub in ocean oscillations…
Perhaps “the age of aquarius” has come when folks understand that water governs this world in complexity and compassion.
Yet I think more can be done to control UHI, which I believe the general population mistakes as climate change. Man only changes the temperature for the most part where he puts his farms, industry, dwellings and roads. This is not the majority of the planet, for sure, as the oceans forbid such infrastructure.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
July 3, 2018 12:42 am

Keep up Bruce, its way too late for that. The tipping point was probably a decade ago.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  zazove
July 3, 2018 6:49 am

The hyperbolic tipping point, yes. There’s no evidence of actual climatic tipping points ever.

Smart Rock
Reply to  zazove
July 3, 2018 6:56 am

Good point, zazove. If we’re past the tipping point, what’s the point in doing anything?

Reply to  zazove
July 3, 2018 10:58 am

Well, zaggy, might as well party then, right?

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
July 3, 2018 2:52 am

Brilliant Bruce. Unfortunately, tides are controlled by gravity, the mass of the moon and it’s distance from the Earth. If we could control those things, we could control tides.

The Earth’s steady state temperature is one high enough that outward flux of OLR is equal to the inward flux of SWR not reflected back to space. If we can control any of these three parameters, we can control the planet’s climate. Since CO2 is one of the main molecules that emits OLR to space, our climate can be changed by rising CO2. “How much?” is the appropriate question. “Can’t isn’t the right answer.

ferd berple
Reply to  Frank
July 3, 2018 6:39 am

The lapse rate is a function of gravity. Nowhere does CO2 appear in the equation.

Reply to  ferd berple
July 3, 2018 10:29 am

The dry adiabatic lapse rate is a function of atmospheric heat capacity, but the atmosphere has water vapor. The moist adiabatic lapse rate – the relevant lapse rate – depends on the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. However, for a variety of reasons including chaotic mixing of the atmosphere, the lapse rate we actually observe (the environmental lapse rate) varies daily with altitude and location, but averages near a moist adiabatic lapse rate.

The temperature in the upper troposphere where convection of latent and sensible heat ceases depends only on the rate of radiative heating and cooling. The cold temperature at that altitude has reduced water vapor to about 10 ppm, leaving CO2 (formerly 280 ppm, now 400 ppm, millions of years ago much higher) as the most important molecule absorbing and and emitting LWR in the upper troposphere. The adiabatic lapse rate begins here, where radiation alone controls the temperature here. In the long run, surface temperature is determined by the temperature in the upper troposphere and the lapse rate between their and the surface.

Lower in the troposphere and near the surface, the higher density of our atmosphere with GHGs and the high concentration of water vapor make it impossible to remove all of the heat we receive from SWR. Here, convection – is the moist adiabatic lapse rate controls the slope of the temperature vs altitude line. However, you need one point and a slope to determine a line and the y-intercept is in the upper troposphere, not at the surface.

Reply to  Frank
July 3, 2018 9:31 am

Yes, how much is the appropriate question and the unambiguous answer is far less than the IPCC needs to justify its existence and the agenda of the UNFCCC. Unfortunately, the IPCC can never admit to this without planting the seeds of its own destruction and self preservation is the prime directive of any bureaucracy.

As the authority of what is and what is not climate science by what they publish in their reports, the IPCC has maneuvered itself into a position where they can keep the actual science away from their fake science and preserve the illusion of CAGW. Unless and until the IPCC is disbanded, the science will never be corrected.

Reply to  co2isnotevil
July 3, 2018 10:34 am

co2isnotevil is evil should publish his science showing his answer to “how much?” Prominent skeptical scientists do manage to publish their work. But the truth is that even those adamantly opposed to the consensus find co2isnotevil’s science deeply flawed. With patience, perhaps he could remove those flaws and produce something of value for answering the “how much?” question. However, I do appreciate his limited endorsing the accurate science I described.

Reply to  Frank
July 3, 2018 12:14 pm


The answer to “how much?” is something that can be found in any introductory textbook on thermodynamics and does not rise to a level suitable for publication. When has textbook science ever appeared as new science in a journal after it has already appeared in textbooks?

The sensitivity of ANY radiating matter in DIRECT equilibrium with an incident energy source, where T is the temperature of the matter and Pout is its emissions, can be calculated by considering that in the steady state, Pin == Pout, and therefore, the average dT/dPin must bounded by the average dT/dPout.

The equation for Pout is given EXACTLY by Pout = eoT^4, where o is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant, T is the temperature of the matter in degrees K and e is the EQUIVALENT emissivity whose value must be between 0 and 1.

Pout = eoT^4

and it follows that,

dPin/dT <= dPout/Dt = 1/(4eoT^3)

Plugging in the numbers for Earth, T is about 288K, Pout == 240 W/m^2, therefore e must be about 0.62. Plugging in these values to calculate the upper bound on the sensitivity results in a value of about 0.3C per W/m^2 which is less than the lower limit of 0.4C per W/m^2 claimed by the IPCC. At this point it's QED as far as I'm concerned.

In order to claim my analysis isn't true, the only argument anyone has made is that Pout is not equal to eoT^4 and instead is equal to T/y, in which case dT/dPin = y and y is the sensitivity expressed in W/m^2 per degrees K. In other words, the Earth system does not look like a gray body from space, so the T^4 dependency can be ignored. This is absurd, as there's no relevant physics that can override the T^4 dependency. Even at an emissivity of .0000001, the T^4 dependency is still there.

The mistake they make is the assumption of approximate linearity between Pin and T, which isn't even approximately true over the range of T found on the planet. They needed to do this to provide the wiggle room necessary to justify a climate sensitivity far higher than the 0.3C per W/m^2 dictated by the laws of physics.

On top of the linearity error are numerous mis-characterizations and obfuscations designed to put the greatest distance between what they need to claim and the ground truth dictated by the laws of physics. Nobody has ever established physics than can override the T^4 dependence between temperature and emissions and yet this is an absolute requirement in order to support the claimed sensitivity!

If you can cite any relevant physics that overrides the T^4 dependence of temperature on emissions, I'd be happy to entertain this as a possibility. Feedback isn't physics, none the less, all it can do is modify e and not the 4 in the exponent of T. What's often misperceived as feedback is responsible for the reduction in the EFFECTIVE emissivity of the planet from 1.0 to the 0.62 it presents as an EQUIVALENT gray body. The equivalence is with a 2-body system comprised of an ideal BB surface in DIRECT equilibrium with the Sun and a semi-transparent layer between that surface and its ultimate emissions contributing to its grayness.

Many on both sides of climate science fail to grasp this due to the obsession with the many complexities within the atmosphere in the hope that by understanding and modeling these, the proper macroscopic behavior emerges. This obsession is an exercise in futility as the proper macroscopic behavior of the planet is more easily determined by applying the required macroscopic physics to the Earth system that's absorbing and emitting energy.

This digression is a consequence of being within the atmosphere and looking out, when we really should be looking in from space where the atmosphere is just a passive, semi-transparent layer between an approximately ideal BB surface and space, where the definition of passive is that there are no internal sources of energy. This is the same basic influence on thinking that led to the confusion about whether the Earth was flat or a sphere.

Reply to  co2isnotevil
July 3, 2018 9:18 pm

0.3C per W/m^2 or its reciprocal 3.3 W/m2/K are certainly correct for a gray model model for the earth. However, the Earth is not a simple gray body. Not all photons escaping to space are emitted by the surface where the average temperature is 288 K. Many originate from where it is much colder. 0.62 is the “effective emissivity” of an object with a range of temperature, not a constant associated with the emission of an object with a homogeneous temperature. Cloud tops have an emissivity near unity. The composition of the atmosphere changes with temperature.

One way address the weaknesses of a gray body model begins with the simple equation below, where W is the radiative imbalance across the TOA

S*(1-a)/4 – eoTs^4 = W

Let’s take the derivative with respect to Ts:

dW/dTs = -4oeT^3 – (eoTs^4)*de/dTs – (S/4)*da/dTs

You are only considering the -4oeT^3 term, which we agree is -3.3 W/m2/K (Planck feedback). You are ignoring the de/dT and da/dT terms that come from simple math and physics.

First you are ignoring the fact that the planet’s albedo may change with surface temperature. There is certainly EVERY REASON to believe that surface albedo due to seasonal snow cover and sea ice decreases as Ts rises, meaning that part of the third term is positive and decreases -3.3 W/m2/K somewhat. We don’t know how reflection of SWR by clouds will change with surface temperature.

You may think it is insane to suggest that emissivity changes with surface temperature – until you remember that water vapor is the one of the main species EMITTING and absorbing thermal IR. Total humidity is almost certainly going to rise with Ts. Other GHGs reduce radiative cooling to space like CO2 does. This is another positive term that makes -3.3 W/m2/K less negative.

The lapse rate connects the increase in Ts with the increase in temperature with in the upper troposphere, where many photons escaping to space are emitted. The lapse rate will fall when absolute humidity increases, meaning the the upper atmosphere is going to warm faster than the surface and that Planck feedback will underestimate will underestimate the increased emission when Ts is the metric. There is little doubt that the emissivity of our planet will change when the lapse rate changes.

More than half of the sky is covered with clouds, whose tops have temperature that depend on the lapse rate and their altitude. The effective emissivity of cloud tops (based on Ts) certainly might change with Ts if their altitude changes with Ts.

Now, climate scientists have made a mess of the terminology normally used by physicist to describe how radiation interacts with our planet. A “forcing” from a GHG is a decrease in the planet’s emissivity, while a “solar forcing” is a change in S. -(eoTs^4)*de/dTs is the sum of all LWR feedbacks except Planck feedback. OBSERVATIONS from space during the seasonal cycle show that this term is about +1.1 W/m2/K (not zero), meaning the sum of the first two terms is about -2.2 W/m2/K. -(S/4)*da/dTs is the sum of all SWR feedbacks. I’m sure you recognize, WV, LR, surface albedo (ice albedo), and cloud LWR and SWR feedbacks too. They are part of de/dTs and da/dTs.

Reply to  Frank
July 6, 2018 9:47 am

Please tell me what law of physics is overriding the FIRST PRINCIPLES requirement that power density is proportional to T^4. This is the most important and most relevant part of the gray body model. The implication of the T^4 dependency is that the ECS has a 1/T^3 dependency that the consensus conveniently ignores.

I’ve never said that the planet IS a gray body and have only stated that an EQUIVALENT gray body models the behavior at the planet with a precision and accuracy far exceeding that from any GCM. The indisputable fact is that the T^4 dependence of emissions on the temperature of emitting matter is independent of what’s between the emitting surface of that matter and where the emissions are measured, including anything that an atmosphere can contain. The only possible change to the absolute relationship between degrees K and W/m^2 is with the linear scaling arising from an effective emissivity.

You should research EQUIVALENT models. This is very a powerful best practices method for understanding unknown black box systems by the behavior at their boundaries. If you can predict the behavior at the boundaries, how the system manifests that behavior is irrelevant to what the result MUST be.

Consider a 3 terminal device containing only resistors. If you measure the resistance between each pair of terminals (the boundaries), you can predict how that black box will behave across all possible conditions even as there are an infinite number of resistor networks that can exhibit the same behavior.

Like so many, you’re obsessing about what’s happening within the atmosphere in the hope that by understanding and modeling it, the proper macroscopic behavior will emerge. The problem is that there are far too many unknowns about how the atmosphere manifests the required balance at its boundaries, yet there are no unknowns relative to calculating this required behavior based on macroscopic first principles physics. Why introduce all the excess complexity that gets in the way of understanding how the system behaves?

It makes absolutely no sense to take a simple problem and make it far more complex then it needs to be only to provide the wiggle room required to support what the physics can not.

Sam C Cogar
Reply to  Frank
July 3, 2018 9:58 am

Frank – July 3, 2018 2:52 am

Since CO2 is one of the main molecules that emits OLR to space, our climate can be changed by rising CO2.

Shur nuff, …… Frank, ….. given the fact that CO2 has the dubious honor of being in a far distant 3rd Place in the GHG standings, ……. its not surprising that you would refer to it as a “main molecule”.

“DUH”, claiming that 410 ppm of CO2 …… “is der main AGW molecules” …….. when they are intermixed with 40,000 ppm of H2O vapor ….. is worthy of two (2), ….. no, make that three (3) Nobel Prizes.

Reply to  Sam C Cogar
July 3, 2018 10:45 am

Sam: You are correct about the importance of water vapor vs CO2 near the surface, but it is also true that CO2 absorbs and emits some wavelengths that water vapor doesn’t. However, in the cold upper troposphere, water vapor is only about 10 ppm (and 3 ppm at the tropopause). At those altitudes, CO2 – not H2O – is the major molecule absorbing and emitting LWR. And at those altitudes, convection is no longer moving latent heat outward from the planet – only radiation cools that part of the atmosphere. And the lapse rate determines the temperature difference between that altitude and the surface.

IMO, the scientists who first realized this (Manabe and Wetherald in the 1960s) are the ones worthy of a Nobel Prize. They said that the troposphere was in “radiative-convective equilibrium” – whatever heat couldn’t escape outward from the surface and lower troposphere by radiation would be transported by convection so that a stable lapse rate would be maintained.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Frank
July 4, 2018 5:26 am

So then you are arguing that CO2 does its warming in the tropopause and stratosphere? However there is no evidence of that in the balloon records. There is no hot spot. N2 and O2 in the atmosphere have 4000 times the heat capacity of CO2. The molecules must bump into each other even that high up. What I dont understand is if O2 and N2 dont accept many photons directly why would they accept a handoff of a photon from CO2 because of collisions?

July 2, 2018 6:23 pm

The theory of CO2 is over 100 years old….that’s over 100 years of failed predictions…
for the past 30 years they have been trying to lower CO2….and no one on the face of this planet is going to do anything about lowering CO2

…end of story

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Latitude
July 3, 2018 12:50 am

Trudeau is trying by raising carbon taxes by $ 36Billion over 4 years. The ridiculous thing is if he actually collects the money; no CO2 reduction happens.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Alan Tomalty
July 3, 2018 12:51 am

Standards, subsidies and taxes. The bane of the free market. Standards should only be used to prevent injuries or bad health effects. Subsidies should only be used to prop up a company that produces a domestic product that is key to national security. Taxes should only be used as a government income source. Too often however the government uses standards to interfere in the life of all its citizens. At the same time governments subsidize almost everything. Taxes are collected for all sorts of reasons. Ex: liquor and tobacco taxes, estate or inheritance taxes, gift taxes, company asset taxes, and carbon taxes.

It is this last one that irks me the most. Carbon taxes are ridiculous. One of 3 things can happen. 1) The company can refuse to pay them and move out of the country or threaten to move out before they are enacted. In this case everybody loses. 2) The company can pay them and then raise their prices so that with business as usual no emission reduction of CO2 occurs. In this case only the company loses if it also exports its product. The consumers don’t lose because the carbon taxes are supposed to be given back to the public at large. However the general price level of all carbon related goods goes up so that inflation goes up. However since no decrease in CO2 emissions occurs, there was no reason to have the tax in the 1st place. 3) The company can change its source of fuel to a lower carbon entity at a higher cost and pass on its necessary price increase to its customers. The customers have no choice because all the competitors have to do the same thing. In that case there is a reduction in CO2 emissions but since the atmosphere needs more CO2 NOT less, everybody loses.

It is this third scenario that factors into my main point. Even if you believe in AGW(human caused global warming/climate change) , here are the stark facts of trying to do anything about it. PM Trudeau in Canada plans on introducing a tax on the emission of CO2 and all greenhouse gases except water vapour, starting January 1, 2019.

Canada puts out 1.5 % of world total of CO2 and its level of CO2 emissions is as low as it was 20 years ago. China puts out 31% of the world total and increased their output 4.1% in 2017 and is on track for an equal 4% increase after the 1st quarter of 2018.

In 1991 Norway was the 1st country along with Sweden to introduce a carbon tax, and they have found that their tax was responsible for reducing their increases of emissions by only 2.32% compared to a 0 rate on carbon. However Norway’s CO2 emissions still went up. To top it all off Norway found that the carbon taxes reduced their GDP by 0.06%.

In the Norwegian scheme there were so many exemptions that the effective coverage of the carbon taxes was only 64% of industrial production. The Norwegian price for carbon is around $25 Can per ton. Trudeau has promised to introduce Canada’s carbon tax or CO2 equivalent tax at $20 per ton in 2019 and increase it $10 per ton every year until $50 per ton by the end of 2022. The government of Canada website says that there are ~ 600 industrial reporting facilities that report their CO2 emissions to the government. However they account for only 37% of all CO2 emissions in Canada. The others dont have to report because they are under the legal requirement of 50000 tons per year.
However the differing prices between Norway and Canada will not have any significant effect on the results because there is very little opportunity for any company in Canada in at least 7 of the provinces, to switch to a non CO2 producing fuel because those 7(except Manitoba,B.C. and Quebec) do not have significant hydro power; so the companies will simply pay the tax to stay in business. Theoretically this should not amount to any significant reduction in CO2 because Canada is different from Norway in a fundamental way. In Norway any firm has access to hydro elecricity.

In this 1st phase which will cover 75% of the planned reductions until 2022 with the remaining 25% being apllied after that until 2030 and beyond. However since only 37% of total greenhouse gas emitters actually are required to report them to the Government of Canada; that is only 37% of 75% = 27.75 % That means that only 27.75% of the emissions will be reduced for the planned reduction of Canada’s contribution to the 2030 target. Ireland achieved a decrease in emissions only after 4 straight years of increased emissions despite a carbon tax. British Columbia despite having a carbon tax since 2008 has not achieved any decrease in CO2 emissions.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said that that the average climate computer model forecasts an increase in temperature of 3C by the end of the century (82 years from now) if the world doesn’t reduce its carbon footprint. The said reduction of temperature goal is 1.5 C by end of century in order to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 C.

Canada has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emmissions per Paris agreement by 2030 of 33%. 33% of 1.5 % = 0.5% of world total

In the 1st phase of reductions which will culminate by 2023, this will reduce our greenhouse gas footprint by 27.75% of 33% = ~ 9% with the other 25% for the 2030 target being 25% of 37%(reporting emmitters) = 9 % * 33% = 3% being part of a revised carbon pricing scheme between 2023 and 2030.
27.75% = 0.2775 and 0.5% = .005
So you have 0.2775 * .005 = 0.0013875 Don’t forget that carbon trading and a carbon price dont actually guarantee that any reductions will ever occur.

But if the promised reductions do occur then you multiply by goal of 1.5C so that you have 0.0013875 * 1.5 = 0.002 C
That is a reduction of a little over 2 thousandths of a degree C at the end of the next 82 years. And the actual reduction in temperature will be less because some emitters will simply pay the tax. It is also a function of how many exemptions and what discount carbon tax %’s are actually determined for each specific industry. Even so since this is the 1st phase only, Canada’s goal in this phase is to cut 75% of a third of its emissions which = 24% . However since only 37% industrial emitters report the real number is 37% * 33% = 12% There is a big difference between Norway’s result of 2.32 % reduction and Canada’s goal of 12%. However Canada’s emissions have been flat since 2007.

Since China’s increase last year as per the above is .3 * .041 = 0.0123 or 1.23% of world total
Canada’s reduction will be .2775 * .005 = 0.0013875 or 1.3875%

That means China’s increase for 1 year is 0.0123/ 0.0013875 = ~ 9 times the amount of Canada’s (total 4 year reduction) for each year if the emissions go lower in Canada to the same degree as the increased price effect after 4 years. Dont forget that Canada’s reduction is only at a maximum effect by 2022 because of the increasing price of $10 per ton per year. In the 1st year 2019 or any other year, the reduction could be the whole amount or any amount depending on how many firms simply pay the tax vs the number that switch to a non carbon or lower carbon fuel source. China has refused to decrease its output and only promised to try to limit their increases by 2030. China is not a developing country because it has 45% of the world’s skyscrapers.

What will all of this cost Canada?

Price of carbon by 2022 will be $50 per ton by 2022 and at 700 million tons * 37% reporting = 259 million tons . So you have 259 million * $50/ton = 12.95 billion $ Can. However since the carbon tax will start in 2019 at $20 per ton, the yearly taxes will be assuming the above 37% reporting for 2019= 259 million * $20 = $5.18 billion ; 2020= 259 million * $30 = $7.77 billion ; 2021 = 259 million * $40 = $10.36 billion; 2022= 259 million * $50 = $12.95 billion So total cost over 4 year period is $36.21 billion and assuming no other increases the yearly cost will remain at $12.95 billion per year until the 2nd phase starts before 2030. Of course all this assumes that there won’t be further exemptions to the 37% of emmissions that are reported as of now. However the amount of tax will certainly be less than that because some emitters will switch fuels.

So we are going to have to either tax $36.21 billion or have the companies spend more to switch to a lower carbon fuel, to save 2 thousandths of 1 degree C of world temperature as of the year 2100. The stupid part is that the higher the actual tax collected the more carbon dioxide emissions occur and the less the temperature gets reduced. So in the end , part of industry will pay the tax because switching to a non carbon fuel is impossible ( Ex: industrial kiln) and the rest will switch to a lower carbon source. Either way it raises inflation on all carbon source industries which then insidiously seeps into the prices of everything else in the country.

This will still leave Canada short 178 million tons of its Paris commitment to cut by 2030 and Trudeau has said that Canada will meet its commitment by 2030.

What will this cost each household in Canada?
Minimum of $1100 Can and maximum of $2500 Can depending on whether they live in a hydro province or not. Also most provinces have promised to rebate all the money back to consumers. Well what is wrong if we get all our money back anyway, you ask? Well, 5 things are wrong. 1) You have created a federal carbon tax bureaucracy which will never go away. 2) the carbon part of the economy will have been price inflated, thus inflating the whole economy 3) you have given free money to those people that were not using carbon based sources of energy because when you give the money back you have to give it to everybody. 4) extra costs for each company affected in accounting for the taxes or in switching to a new fuel. 5) If the company is an exporter the export price will either have to be raised or a new government subsidy created to cover the company’s extra export price. The other huge consideration is that since the global warming/climate change subject is a big hoax anyway, the whole exercise will have been a worse than useless activity.


Reply to  Alan Tomalty
July 3, 2018 11:42 am

Alan; What would happen if the carbon tax were rebated in full – say that every citizen received an equal share of the total carbon tax revenue? (The air being used as a dumping ground for CO2 belongs to everyone and the impacts effect everyone.) Then a carbon-tax wouldn’t cost the average carbon-emitter anything.

To protect exporter and domestic jobs, rebate the tax on exports and tax imports. Use a an average rate for small businesses, but allow large businesses to account for the full cost of the carbon tax in their exports.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Frank
July 3, 2018 9:21 pm

That is what the government promised. There are 2 things wrong. 1) either way the companies’ costs will go up by either paying the tax or switching to a more expensive fuel to produce the item. Then they have to pass the extra costs on to the consumer which inflates the prices of the carbon part of the economy. 2) Since the money will be doled out(given back) on a per capita basis those people like me that buy and use more carbon based production items will have ended up paying more on the carbon based production price hiked items than the people who dont buy as many of these items and instead spend their money on non carbon based things. Because I believe CO2 to be a good thing and not a bogeymen that hurts me in the wallet.

Reply to  Alan Tomalty
July 5, 2018 8:55 am

Alan: Great answers. Thanks for the reply. When people pay the carbon tax (in the early years), the average person and business gets those taxes rebated. Later on, if higher-cost low-carbon energy is substituted, the amount of tax to be rebated does go down, while the higher non-tax cost remains. When expensive low-carbon energy dominates, it could be bad news for bad news for those exporting to countries with cheaper high-carbon energy. Just like local high-cost labor is a problem for those exporting to countries with low-cost labor. We already deal with that problem. At least market forces would control what happens. And if every citizen were being taxed and receiving rebates, it would be much harder for legislators exempt certain sectors of the economy. The cost and requirement of emissions permits associated with cap-and-trade proved a tremendous opportunity for manipulation of the system by the politically powerful.

Of course, such a tax and rebate would re-distributive, but the affluent do cause more emission of CO2. The affluent have the resources to adapt to reduce their carbon footprint. The less affluent would receive more rebate than they pay in taxes and could (but likely won’t) use that money to adapt.

ferd berple
Reply to  Alan Tomalty
July 3, 2018 6:40 am

We will get a reduction in our pocketbooks.

Reply to  Latitude
July 3, 2018 11:31 am

A proper “theory of CO2” is about a half century old. First, no one could be sure CO2 was actually accumulating in the atmosphere until Keeling measured that increase. Second, no one understood the temperature profile of our atmosphere (vs altitude) until Manabe and Wetherald in the 1960’s. Before Manabe and Wetherald, climate scientist were trying to determine how a change in CO2 would effect the energy balance at the surface – something that is impossible to determine, because there was no way to calculate how convection would change. Once M&W taught us that temperature in the lower atmosphere was controlled by the lapse rate (the convective part of “radiative-convective equilibrium”), attention shifted to the effect of CO2 on the radiative balance above convection (at the TOA or the tropopause). That lead to the concept of “forcing”.

The idea that CAGW has been established for more than a century is purely alarmist propaganda. Soon after M&W and Keeling’s work, alarmists were promoting a coming ice-age. But, after a little more than a decade of rising temperature, they switched sides and jumped on the CAGW bandwagon. So far, it isn’t clear that AGW (which is real) will be more catastrophic than doing without fossil fuels.

A number of countries have begun to obtain more energy from low-carbon sources and reduced their emissions of CO2 and they expect to do more. However, the bulk of the developing world intends to become as wealthy as the developed world. They are unlikely to delay their development by forgoing fossil fuels when they expect their descendants to become much richer and capable of dealing with climate change (and pollution). China illustrates the problem. Despite a quarter century of knowing CO2 can impact climate, China now emits double the CO2 of the US (and rising) and the same per capita as the EU. Only the WEALTHY – who are worried that their descendants will be WORSE OFF more than 50 years from now are likely to be willing to spend enough to significantly reduce their emissions. Revision: only the wealthy who trust central governments and international organizations to address such problems are likely to be willing to spend. If ECS (the answer to “How much?”) is high, that won’t be enough. Perhaps technology can make renewables are cheap and practical as fossil fuels and change the situation.

Reply to  Frank
July 3, 2018 3:22 pm

Some well-written, informative comments Frank, thankyou.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  zazove
July 3, 2018 9:33 pm

Yes but Dr Frank is really saying that if we have no idea which is worse, why would we do anything? And he is really admitting that if we believe that getting rid of 80% of fossil fuels is at least partly catastrophic then we would be fools to do something because of the high uncertainty in CAGW. AGW by itself is nothing to worry about.

Reply to  Alan Tomalty
July 5, 2018 5:53 pm

Alan: I tried to avoid the controversial question about what is more costly mitigation or adaptation, which depends on another controversial topic ECS. I was trying to suggest that different people could LOGICALLY come to different conclusions about what to do – even if they started in full agreement about ECS and the costs of mitigation and adaptation. That is because the discount rate applied to the cost of future damage is a critical element of the equation. Economic theory tells us the optimal discount rate in such situation depends on your expected economic growth rate. In words, the mathematics says that if you are poor and planning with the expectations your descendants to become much richer, you apply a high discount rate and let your richer descendant pay for adaptation. If you are rich (and fear that resource depletion, environmental degradation, and other liberal bugaboos) will make your descendants poorer, you apply a low discount rate and invest like mad in mitigation.

Understanding the basis for your adversaries seemingly irrational motivations sometimes helps. It also suggests that international mitigation efforts are going to disappoint liberals.

Reply to  Frank
July 4, 2018 3:03 am

“…AGW (which is real)…”

You are the first to have detected, measured and documented this impact. Please tell us how you did it, publish your research and data with names of peer reviewers and give your exact figure for the A part of the c.1C/century warming trend or is it 100% A?

Enquiring minds await full details of this amazing discovery.

Lawrence Ayres
July 2, 2018 6:24 pm

While ever CO2 is considered the major contributor to warming whether it is or not we will suffer from speculation posing as fact and the crazy and ridiculous policies that flow from it. The West, particularly Australia, is being crucified in the quest for lower emissions when there is no evidence that those emissions are having any effect whatsoever. We are governed by idiots advised by charlatans.

NW Sage
July 2, 2018 6:34 pm

Holy Cow! How dare Dr Pielke ask such pertinent questions! Almost as important as how much does all this cost (as a percentage of national and world wealth) and, even if it is possible to achieve any particular goal, is it worth the effort (cost/benefit ratio)?

July 2, 2018 6:43 pm

Policy, policy, policy, …
Who decides the policies? The policymakers.
How do they know if they are right or wrong? A centralized approach is always right, according to policymakers.
We don’t even know if adding CO2 to the atmosphere is, on balance, good, bad, or neutral.

Reply to  Bsl
July 3, 2018 3:11 am

BsI wrote: “We don’t even know if adding CO2 to the atmosphere is, on balance, good, bad, or neutral.”

Excellent point. However, human society and nature have both been optimized to do well in current climate. So change is likely to have some cost. And we know from the ice ages, that a 5 degC increase in temperature has caused a 120 m increase in sea level, so there is likely to be a significant and costly change there. For technical reasons*, the increasing in precipitation over land is not likely to keep up with the increase in evaporation and transevaporation.

On the other hand, increasing CO2 is likely to improve plant growth.

*If the evaporation (about 80 W/m2) increased as fast as saturation vapor pressure (7%/K), then an addition 5.6 W/m2/K would leave the surface of the planet for space. Unfortunately, the heat flux through the TOA only increases by 1 or 2 or 3 W.m2/K if ECS is 3.6 or 1.8 (energy balance models) or 1.2 K/doubling (no feedbacks). So the overturning of the atmosphere is predicted to slow with warming to slow the rate of transport of latent heat to match the rate heat escapes across the TOA.

ferd berple
Reply to  Frank
July 3, 2018 6:49 am

Change creates both costs and benefits. Nothing says warming Canada for example will be a net cost. It would more likely be a net benefit.

Gavin’s argument that we are optimized for the current climate is nonsense. It ignores the energy we use to cope with climate and the cost of this energy. If you live in a cold climate you struggle to stay warm. A warming climate eases this struggle. It doesn’t make it more expensive.

Reply to  Frank
July 3, 2018 8:21 am

Frank says: “And we know from the ice ages, that a 5 degC increase in temperature…”

What caused the 5C increase?

We also know that past interglacials were higher in temperature than this one. So what caused that?

Also, Anthony’s jar experiment showed that given the same input the CO2 jar had a lower temperature even with 100% CO2. The CO2 jar had an extra 75 W available given the forcing equation. If you are correct why did not the CO2 jar have a higher temperature?

Reply to  mkelly
July 3, 2018 7:37 pm

mkelly: A partial explanation is that major ice caps in the Northern Hemisphere tend to grow when the Arctic receives irradiation during the summer (and more in the winter). Once permanent ice sheets begin to grow, more SWR is reflected to space. Slow changes in orbital mechanics also deliver less radiation to the SH during its summer, but there is little land on which ice caps can grow.

Looking at a projection from the North Pole, the Greenland Ice Sheet certainly looks like a relic from the last ice age surviving only because it is so high in the middle (2 km above sea level is 13 degC below sea level temperature) and because the local weather includes vastly more snowfall than Antarctica. The GIS survived the Holocene Climate Optimum, but newer reports appear to claim a large loss of mass. 20th-century warming alone (if it were to persist unchanged) might have already doomed part of the GIS to loss as in the last interglacial (when trees grew in southern Greenland).

About 4-6 millennia ago as orbital mechanics were ending the Holocene Climate Optimum, summer monsoon in North Africa stopped traveling as far North as they had in the past, drying up massive lakes, killing off grassland and creating the Sahara desert. Our climate models can’t explain why this “climate change catastrophe” happened. Our models aren’t good enough to explain why this happened or why the last interglacial was somewhat different from today. But the forcing produced by a doubling of CO2 is unmistakable, even if we are uncertain about ECS.

I’m not familiar with Anthony’s jar experiment, but it is worth noting that CO2 both absorbs and emits thermal IR and that doubling it doubles absorption and emission. On our planet, the 1.5% reduction reduction in outgoing OLR produced by a doubling of CO2 depends on the existence of a temperature gradient. For more information, search for “Schwarzschild” equation in this post.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Frank
July 3, 2018 10:12 pm

Frank: Weve more than doubled harvests with considerable help from CO2 rise. The earth has “greened” about 18% in 35 years, particularly in arid regions. This is considerable sequestration of both CO2 and energy (endothermic and exponential.) Indeed the only climate change we are sure about with more CO2 is very positive and exciting, notwithstanding a ceteris paribus LWIR absorption in a test tube. A better bet than Thermogeddon is “Garden of Eden Earth”^тм G Pearse in the latter half of the 21st Century.

Frank if you timidly suggest that CO2 may be beneficial to plants with what has already been documented, how can you be so bullish on warming with ‘evidence’ thats so highly suspect? And how much warming will a doubling of CO2 cause? So far you are the only one Ive heard of that has the answer.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
July 5, 2018 9:54 am

Gary: I’m bullish on the law of conservation of energy, so I know that rising GHGs that reduce the rate of radiative cooling to space will cause some warming. And I know that GHGs already reduce upward thermal IR from 390 W/m2 at the surface to 240 W/m2 at5 the TOA. Laboratory measurements and QM allow us to accurately calculate the observed 150 W/m2 drop in radiative cooling to space with altitude, so I’m confident if their ability to conclude that doubling CO2 will reduce this about 4 W/m2 more. I have little confidence in our ability to calculate how much warming a such a change in radiation will cause. (Likewise the 33K GHE is an artificial and dubious value.)

I have little confidence in my ability to understand how much rising CO2 will help crops. How often is the availability of CO2 the limiting factor in crop growth? Plants can’t let CO2 in without letting water vapor out, so they open and close their stomata to conserve water at the expense of utilizing CO2 to grow. Furthermore, the green revolution has also be driven by fertilizer, meaning that these nutrients, not CO2 can be the rate limiting step in crop growth. For reasons too complicated to go into, it is very likely that precipitation will only rise 1-3%/K while saturation vapor pressure rises 7%/K, so the availability of moisture in the soil is likely to be a more limiting factor without irrigation in drier areas. Hopefully, genetical modifications can minimize this problem.

John F. Hultquist
July 2, 2018 6:47 pm

Geoffrey West has a book called “Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies

I suggest his book for summer reading.

Consider this statement by Prof. Pielke:
. . .the world would need to retire and replace about 1 MTOE each day until 2050. That is the equivalent of more than a nuclear power plant’s worth of carbon-free energy, every day.

Number of years X 365 = ?

Scale up. Let’s get busy.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
July 3, 2018 12:53 am

11680 days

ferd berple
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
July 3, 2018 7:13 am

The scale of the problem is the issue. The scale of the problem is such that it cannot be solved.

12000 new nuclear plants in 30 years is so far beyond the realm of possibility that the only way CO2 levels will stabilize is the entire collapse of industrial society with the loss of billions of lives.

What makes sense to me is we quit spending money trying a half assed approach to solving the impossible. Rather admit the problem is outside our control and instead shift our priorities to dealing with reality.

Change our building codes. By the time warming occurs most of our buildings will be ready simply due to normal aging and replacement.

Reply to  ferd berple
July 3, 2018 9:56 am

“By the time warming occurs”

Nearly all the warming that our CO2 emissions can cause has already been caused. There is no ‘hidden heat’ to result in a far future increase in the temperature of the surface.

The planet responds far faster to change then the consensus can accept. If the system responded as slow as the alarmists would have us believe, we wouldn’t even see seasonal variability, much less diurnal variability in the surface temperature.

The N hemisphere average temperature varies by more than 12C between summer and winter and even the average ocean surface temperatures varies by several degrees C, yet there’s no where near enough energy exchanged with the S hemisphere to warrant this much change. The only explanation is a much faster response to change than is generally considered.

The only thing that varies slowly is the ebb and flow of surface ice. We’re already at historically low average surface ice coverage and even if all the remaining ice on the planet were to disappear permanently, the decrease in albedo wouldn’t even add enough energy to the system to manifest the difference between the actual effect of doubling CO2 and the 3C increase claimed by the IPCC.

Winter snow in the N hemisphere mimics the albedo effect of ice ages and we can measure the effect of this change in reflection which has a nearly immediate impact on the temperature and contributes significantly to the 12C seasonal variability.

Reply to  co2isnotevil
July 3, 2018 3:37 pm

“Nearly all the warming that our CO2 emissions can cause has already been caused. There is no ‘hidden heat’ to result in a far future increase in the temperature of the surface.”

Mmm, no. Keeling curve is still rising exponentially with plenty of BAU momentum behind it…plus:

“as CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere, the full warming effect of an emission may not be felt for several decades, if not centuries.”

Despite your arm-waving this Titanic is still accelerating.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  zazove
July 3, 2018 9:36 pm

Only 1C per century. What are you worried about?

Reply to  zazove
July 5, 2018 9:22 pm

“as CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere, the full warming effect of an emission may not be felt for several decades, if not centuries.”

I call BS on this. If the climate responded this slowly to changing conditions, whether that’s changing CO2 concentrations or varying solar input, we wouldn’t see seasonal temperature variability, much less diurnal variability. The absolute longest the time constant can be is on months to a year, where after one time constant, 63% of whatever effect will happen will have happened (1-1/e), based on an exponential decay going as e^-(t/tau), where tau is the time constant.

July 2, 2018 6:58 pm

Even if rising CO2 levels were harmful (for which there’s scant evidence), there still would be no need for fossil fuel consumption to “approach zero.”

AR5 estimates that a little over half of all CO2 mankind emits in a year is removed in that year by negative feedbacks, such as greening and absorption in the oceans. AR5 estimates that the terrestrial biosphere removes about (2.5/9.2) = 27% [p. 6-3] or 29% [Fig. 6.1] of anthropogenic CO2 emissions from the atmosphere, each year, and that the oceans remove another 26% [Fig 6.1]. (There are wide error bars on those numbers, but the 53%-55% sum has narrower error bars than the two addends.)

The rate of removal by those mechanisms is determined by the ambient CO2 level, not by the rate of emissions. So, if we believe the IPCC’s numbers, if anthropogenic CO2 emissions were merely halved, CO2 levels would already be falling (slightly).

If climate sensitivity is at or below the low end of the IPCC’s range of estimates, as growing evidence strongly suggests, there’s no need to try to reduce CO2 emissions, because the “social cost of carbon” is clearly negative, the hypothetical harms being minimal, and the well-proven benefits large.

July 2, 2018 7:01 pm

Glad to see R.P. Jr. back in the mix after his hiatus! I would hope to see him comment on some of the items brought forth here. I don’t think there is much dispute on the logarithmic relationship with CO2 and temperature. There seems to be very little science put forth with respect to the purported forcings that are behind the anticipated temperature increases. Where is our, in depth, Albedo science? Where is our science on managing water vapor and cloud cover with respect to temperature change? Where is our soot pollution on arctic ice action plan? Just to state a few….

It is convenient to point at CO2 for everything, but the future answers to the proposed problems are not there.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  ossqss
July 3, 2018 12:08 am

ossqss asked

“Where is our science on managing water vapor and cloud cover with respect to temperature change? ”

See my post below for this

July 2, 2018 7:18 pm

“Policy action is required to mitigate and adapt to human-caused climate change, but current efforts to develop a global climate policy cannot fly.”
I cannot get past the fact that this opening statement assumes human caused, dangerous climate change is a proven fact. Any climate policy envelope considered should focus on protection from the ever present natural climate hazards until there is clear evidence of some human caused problem. There is no good reason to believe that human emissions are the main cause of the rising CO2 in the atmosphere. There is no good reason to believe that rising CO2 has a measurable effect on temperatures. There is very little evidence that mild warming is a problem. There is ample evidence that energy poverty is deadly and limiting choice and competition in the energy market leads to energy poverty. Any climate policy envelope should only be considered in light of these facts.

July 2, 2018 7:22 pm

Still putting the cart before the horse. Pielke still assumes that CO2 needs to be curtailed and reduced. You don’t start replacing a cheap, reliable and abundant energy source that clearly has significant benefits but as of yet no proven negative effects. Absolutely NO at this point to Pielke’s suggestions as far as I am concerned. Until you prove there is a problem with CO2, you don’t worry about replacing it unless you come up with something cheaper, more abundant and reliable than coal, nuclear and gas.

David L. Hagen
Reply to  Alcheson
July 3, 2018 8:21 am

Alcheson Carefully read Pielke’s statement:
“adapt to human-caused climate change, but current efforts to
develop a global climate policy cannot fly. What the world’s leaders have been able to agree on will not prevent the steady increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the risks of climate disruption that will result.”
He did NOT say what climate disruption would happen. He logically stated that not achieving the proposed mitigation would raise the risks of not doing so.
Those risks of “climate disruption” and the consequent costs and benefits need to be quantified. Pielke did NOT detail them.

Reply to  David L. Hagen
July 3, 2018 5:00 pm

Sorry Dave… I did carefully read his statement. Here is what it SHOULD have said…
– Policy action may be required to adapt to climate change, but current efforts to develop a global climate policy addressing CO2 emissions is not it. –

Scrap mitigate and human caused! Pielke is arguing for the exact same things the CAGW types are arguing for… massive reductions in CO2 to mitigate human caused climate change. This risks are tiny at this point, and the costs are enormous and so far the benefits appear to be net positive.

July 2, 2018 7:35 pm

“I’ve made some excepts, and provided a link to the entire article.”

Slight typo, should this read excerpts

And we, at least I, do appreciate the excerpts and Pielke Jr.’s sharing!

Greg Cavanagh
July 2, 2018 7:36 pm

“What the world’s leaders have been able to agree on will not prevent the steady increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the risks of climate disruption that will result.”

This is a mangled sentence:
Is it the risk that will result?
Is it the climate disruption that will result?
Is it the risk that climate disruption that ‘could’ result?

I just don’t get the panic over what could happen, or increased risk or what could happen. Everything that’s possible is already possible, without destroying our economy for it.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
July 2, 2018 9:20 pm

Its not a mangled sentence.
It is the risk (of climate disruption) that will result.
Don’t they each English grammar and how to parse a sentence any more?

Don’t answer that…

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Leo Smith
July 2, 2018 10:07 pm

So everything we’ve been spending trillions of dollars on the last 30 years, is to reduce the risk of climate disruption?

What was the risk before, and what has it been reduced to now?

Do answer that.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
July 3, 2018 12:06 am

Zero and Zero

honest liberty
Reply to  Leo Smith
July 3, 2018 10:37 am

Leo, why are the parents of atheists not teaching them the quality of humility?
Why is it that most atheists are smug know-it-alls?

DO answer that

David L. Hagen
Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
July 3, 2018 8:22 am

Now to quantify the “risks” and the related benefits and costs.

July 2, 2018 7:37 pm

It bothers me that even in this forum people discuss reducing man’s CO2 output when it is of no consequence. We’ve allowed ourselves to be deceived by the narrative. Just my .02, I get sucked into that discussion as well.

Reply to  markl
July 3, 2018 2:29 pm

Mark1: It bothers me that readers of a science blog do not understand the basic scientific rational explain why rising CO2 will be of SOME consequence. Even the harshest SCIENTIFIC critics of the IPCC – like both Dr. Pielke’s and even the HOST OF THIS BLOG recognize why their will be some consequences from a doubling atmospheric CO2. As this post rightly points out, the appropriate questions are: “How big will the consequences be?” and “Realistically, what should we do about it?”

BOTH the alarmists and those who disclaim any consequences have allowed themselves to be deceived by political narratives. The idiocy of the political opposition doesn’t automatically make everything your side says right. (Mr. Obama almost certainly was born in Hawaii.)

Reply to  Frank
July 3, 2018 4:45 pm

Agreed…. rising CO2 will likely be of SOME consequence. However, so far those consequences appear to be mostly beneficial. There is no evidence to date that they will ever be catastrophic so we absolutely do NOT need to decrease CO2 emissions as of yet. If they could be decreased WITHOUT any negative effects on the economy or energy price/reliability/availability… well then okay by me…. just add them to the mix and let the market decide which one is best. The more competition we have, the cheaper it stays.
Dr. Pielke is hardly IPCC harshest critic… he still contends that rising CO2 is a major threat that NEEDS to be addressed. Sorry… that does NOT fly.

Reply to  Alcheson
July 3, 2018 6:44 pm

All perfectly sensible. All IPCC economists agree that 20th-centruy warming was net beneficial, but most think we are near optimum now and that future warming will produce net losses. The market doesn’t include those negative externalities when deciding which source of energy is best. (Calculations based on the levelized cost of electricity generation ignores the role of supply and demand in determining a price difference between dispatchable and non-dispatchable generation.)

You are correct; Pielke Jr. is not the IPCC’s harshest critic. He accepts most of WG1 and tries to focus on sensible policies for dealing with their projections, not the scaremongering being used to drive policymaking. Try as I might, I can’t find any rational for ECS being much less than about 1.8 degC (energy balance models and some other rationals). Not clearly catastrophic, but worthy of thoughtful planning like Pielke does, especially since there is no guarantee ECS won’t be higher.

July 2, 2018 8:01 pm

Humans have adapted to climate change before, since the ice age ended. That was a huge change. It makes the promised catastrophic global warming look like child’s play. And it’s a slow change, so what’s the problem? Sell Florida, buy Denver, if you’re worried about it.

Build nuclear power stations, starting now. One a day might be a bit much, but if that’s what it takes, better get started right away.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Toto
July 3, 2018 12:03 am

Why haven’t you pulled back the curtain yet? The script clearly has instructions for you to do this? Do we have to provide dog cookies?

Reply to  Alan Tomalty
July 3, 2018 2:15 pm

There’s no curtain this time, it’s all CGI. Cookies always appreciated though.

Rex, Wellington
July 2, 2018 9:35 pm

The target of 2C reduction is ‘meaningless’ anyway, because, given that
it is a reduction in the MEAN temperature, it does not describe or proscribe
how this increase is constituted. For example: if the increase is caused by
the fact that winters are less cold than before, then that, as they say, is one
thing. If the increase is caused by the fact that maximum temps rise, and we
are all perpetually bathed in sweat or sun-baked, then that is another.
If the target was a < 2C increase in the mean of all the maximum temperatures
(over, say, 15C) then this would be a meaningful desideratum. At the moment
the stated target is just noise.

michael hart
Reply to  Rex, Wellington
July 3, 2018 12:06 am

Indeed, Rex. But most of them really are that clueless. And the general media are wholly incapable of asking such questions as might lead them to a better understanding of their “problem” they are so avowedly determined to fix. They don’t even know what the disease is. but are convinced they have the cure.

July 2, 2018 9:38 pm

Its about dominating The World with their idea of Nature. The problems are created not to be solved but to promote their politicized solutions., we have to change. A radical change of society is the goal. It’s just critical theory applied to Nature. It’s not meant to fly it’s meant to tear down the Western World and radically change it to something they don’t know.

July 2, 2018 9:48 pm

What if the entire dangerous global warming hypothesis is false, as is the scary conjecture about wilder weather, etc.? What if increasing atmospheric CO2 is largely or entirely beneficial?

Based on all the evidence, climate is relatively insensitive to increasing atmospheric CO2, which at most might result in minor global warming that would not be harmful and probably would be beneficial, and has already resulted in huge increases in crop and plant yields that greatly benefit humanity and the environment.

That is the highly-probable correct conclusion. Every scary scenario imagined by the climate alarmists has failed to materialize, and is increasingly improbable.

Finally, green energy schemes are not green and produce little useful (dispatchable) energy. Tens of trillions of dollars have been wasted on green energy nonsense.

My co-authors and I wrote all these conclusions in 2002. Dr. Richard Lindzen wrote some of these same conclusions in 2001. Next time, good people, listen to us – we’ll save you tens of trillions of dollars and millions of lives.

Next time, good people, don’t be so damned gullible – it was not all that difficult to call this one correctly, even ‘way back then.

Alan Tomalty
July 3, 2018 12:01 am

Allan Can you give us the most important parts of your resume since you brought up the fact that you coauthored a scientific paper?

David Murray
Reply to  Alan Tomalty
July 3, 2018 3:18 am

Yes please if you have the time. Somewhere the nonsense about CO2 is categorically refuted in terms that a non scientist would understand.

Reply to  Alan Tomalty
July 3, 2018 4:56 am

Alan and David, I’ve authored and co-authored a number of papers – this one from 2002 is most pertinent to this discussion:

Here are the two key points of our predictive track record, from the Rebuttal that Dr. Sallie Baliunas, Dr. Tim Patterson and I published in 2002 in our debate with the Pembina Institute on the now-defunct Kyoto Accord.

“Climate science does not support the theory of catastrophic human-made global warming – the alleged warming crisis does not exist.”

“The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”

The above two conclusions, published 16 years ago, still stand strong today, and refute the two most important falsehoods of the fractious global warming/green energy debacle.

In summary, any warming that might result from increasing atmospheric CO2 will be minor and beneficial, and intermittent green energy schemes have proven to be a costly failure. The only measurable impact of increasing atmospheric CO2 is greatly increased crop and plant yields, which are highly beneficial to humanity and the environment.

In comparison, not one of the very-scary predictions of the IPCC and its minions have materialized – the IPCC and its minions have a perfectly negative predictive track record.


By Joseph D’Aleo and Allan MacRae, September 4, 2015

Joe d’Aleo and I rewrote our paper to include the landmark Lancet study on Excess Winter Mortality.
Excess Winter Deaths total approximately 2 million souls per year and especially target the elderly and the poor.
Winter Mortality Rates are much higher in countries with higher energy costs and poorly-designed housing.

By Allan MacRae, January 2008

This is the discovery paper that proved that dCO2/dt changes ~contemporaneously with global temperature,
and thus CO2 tends lag temperature trends by ~9 months in the modern data record. This figure is the proof:

A similar lag of CO2 trends after temperature trends was observed by Humlum et al in their 2013 paper.
– Changes in global atmospheric CO2 are lagging 11–12 months behind changes in global sea surface temperature.
– Changes in global atmospheric CO2 are lagging 9.5–10 months behind changes in global air surface temperature.
– Changes in global atmospheric CO2 are lagging about 9 months behind changes in global lower troposphere temperature.
– Changes in ocean temperatures explain a substantial part of the observed changes in atmospheric CO2 since January 1980.
– Changes in atmospheric CO2 are not tracking changes in human emissions.”

This figure summarized their conclusions:

Ole Humlum, Kjell Stordahl, Jan-Erik Solheim
Global and Planetary Change, Volume 100, January 2013, Pages 51-69

The climate science community still does not want to acknowledge this lag of CO2 trends after temperature trends because:
– even if temperature drives CO2 AND CO2 drives temperature, the former clearly exceeds the latter and TCS must be very low.
– since temperature primarily leads CO2 rather than lags CO2, the future (CO2) cannot primarily drive the past (temperature).
– this observation should effectively end the scientific debate about the multi-trillion-dollar global warming/green energy scam.

Some of my background is here:

I have two engineering degrees from Queen’s and University of Alberta and a management diploma and some other stuff.

Regards, Allan

July 4, 2018 3:14 am

Correction of typo:

This is the discovery paper that proved that dCO2/dt changes ~contemporaneously with global temperature,
and thus CO2 trends lag temperature trends by ~9 months in the modern data record. This figure is the proof:

July 3, 2018 3:02 pm

Allen claims: “Based on all the evidence, climate is relatively insensitive to increasing atmospheric CO2.”

But he doesn’t cite any numbers! Every global temperature index shows at least 0.8 degC of warming over the last half century while CO2 has risen from 335 to 405 ppm. (Temperature change calculated by multiplying the best estimate for the trend divided by 50 years.) That is from slightly more than 1/4 of a doubling (1.21^4 = 2.14). UAH v6 does show less warming, 0.64 degC, but far from zero.

Confirmation bias makes it difficult for us to remember information that disagrees with our deeply held beliefs. Several dozen posts by a politician, Lord Monckton prompted us to instinctively remember that there was no [statistically significant] warming during the Pause that ended several years ago. Well, the 95% confidence intervals on the above values are +/- 0.15 degC, meaning that the warming over the last 50 years is statistically significant and that UAH and surface temperature records are mutually consistent.

Reply to  Frank
July 3, 2018 6:02 pm

Temperature change calculated by multiplying the best estimate for the trend by 50 years.)

Reply to  Frank
July 3, 2018 7:15 pm

Frank – Read the papers that I cited above – there are plenty of numbers in there, if you care to look.

I said “Based on all the evidence, climate is relatively insensitive to increasing atmospheric CO2.” That does not mean climate sensitivity is zero – rather that it is small so any resulting warming will NOT be dangerous.

The CAGW hypo is also falsified as follows:
The upper-bound estimate of Transient Climate Sensitivity of ~1C/(2xCO2) by Christy and McNider (2017) is highly credible for the satellite era from ~1979 to mid-2017. This upper bound was calculated assuming (conservatively, for the sake of simplicity and clarity) that ALL the observed warming in the satellite era was due to increasing atmospheric CO2. This maximum climate sensitivity is so low that there is NO credible global warming crisis.

Earth cooled from ~1945 to ~1977, even as atmospheric CO2 accelerated, so the CAGW hypo was already falsified by a full-Earth-scale test. Incidentally, using the same assumptions as Christy and McNider, the TCS for the period ~1945 to ~1977 is approx. MINUS 1C/(2xCO2).

The “Pause” in global temperatures since ~1997, even as atmospheric CO2 accelerated, also proves that TCS is very low – near-zero.

So even as atmospheric CO2 has steadily accelerated, there have been multi-decadal periods when global temperature has gone down, up and sideways. Again, there is NO evidence of a global warming crisis, but ample evidence of a natural and irregularly cyclical global temperature phenomenon.

Furthermore, I proved in 2008 that the velocity dCO2/dt changes contemporaneously with global temperature, and its integral the atmospheric CO2 trend changes ~9 months later. This clear signal can only exist if climate sensitivity to increasing atmospheric CO2 (“TCS”) is very small.

See also Humlum et al (2013) for a similar observation.

Practically speaking, if TCS exists at all in significance, it must be very low, probably a positive number less than 0.5C/(2xCO2), or even lower.

I have studied this subject since 1985 and found NO credible evidence that catastrophic human-made global warming exists in reality. None! I have seen much exaggeration, fraud, falsification of data and other academic misconduct practiced by those who are promoting the false CAGW mantra.

The global warming alarmists have a perfectly NEGATIVE predictive track record. Every one of their very-scary predictions of runaway warming and wilder weather has FAILED to materialize.

In summary, the catastrophic human-made global warming crisis has already been disproved – the catastrophic global warming crisis exists only in the fevered minds of its proponents.

July 4, 2018 12:33 pm

Alan: Thank you for the reply and Christy (2017)

I’m somewhat skeptical of the non-transparent adjustments (far beyond just ENSO) Christy has made in this paper, but am willing to admit that the current UAH trend has been tipped upward by El Chichon and the 15/16 El Nino.

We both know that the adjusted trend in Christy 2017 is almost half the global trend obtained from thermometers on land and in the ocean, and nearly 1/3 that from thermometers on land. BEST has decent evidence that the land record is not contaminated by UHI. So we have a dilemma you failed to discuss: What record to believe?

The long-term trend of the combined satellite record depends on the trends of each successive satellite and some satellites have drifted so that they don’t record the temperature in the same place at the same time every day. A massive problem. The latest attempt to correct for this problem tied the UAH6 record to the radiosonde record. I think we can measure changes in surface temperature more accurately than tropospheric temperature with radiosondes (which are challenging measurements.)

If all records are correct, obviously the land record is most relevant. If it is really warming more slowly at higher altitudes than at the surface, then lapse rate feedback will be positive, not negative. If the reason for the discrepancy is that the upper atmosphere has been drying as the planet warms, WV feedback will be less positive. No one has yet demonstrated to me how WV+LR feedback can be near zero instead of the roughly 1 W/m2/K that can be clearly observed through clear skies during seasonal warming every year. Tsushima and Manabe, PNAS (2013). (AOGCMs produce the same answer, but they grossly and mutually-inconsistently fail to reproduce seasonal changes in reflected SWR and LWR from cloudy skies.)

There was twice as much warming in the upper atmosphere than near the surface during the 97/98 El Nino, but I haven’t seen data for the 15/16 El Nino. There is some evidence that short-term variability in the UAH record is larger than at the surface, which is somewhat inconsistent with the idea that the long-term trend is lower in the upper atmosphere. Is drying of the upper atmosphere only occurring on the decadal time scale, while the expected moistening is follows a change in SSTs? The average water molecule remains in the atmosphere in the tropics for about 5 days, between evaporation and precipitation. Deep convection occurs in a day (or days), not over decades. These responses should be fast.

The outgassing of CO2 that follows rising SST is probably real, but fairly negligible. The annual 2 ppm rise in CO2 was 3 ppm during the 97/98 El Nino and only 1 ppm during the following year when temperature returned to the previous baseline. Using that measuring stick, perhaps 5 ppm/K outgasses from the mixed layer (the only thing that shows rapid changes in temperature and is mixing with the surface). 5 ppm/K is negligible compared with anthropogenic sources. Outgassing during glacial terminations was about 20 ppm/K, but that occured on the millennial time scale.

I’m fully aware of the complications of unforced variability and the fact that climate models can produce a wide range of climate sensitivities by adjusting their parameters without significant deterioration in their ability to reproduce current climate. They don’t provide a useful answer. I have been following global warming for half as long as you, but am enough of a scientist to acknowledge that not all of the evidence points towards extraordinarily low climate sensitivity you cite. Picking the lowest estimate without citing contradictory evidence is merely propaganda, equivalent to Schneider’s “telling scary stories, making dramatic over-simplified statements and hiding your doubts” – “to make the world a better place” through continued use of fossil fuels. IMO, Schneider describe ethical science correctly, “the whole truth, with all of the ifs, ands, buts and caveats.” But that is hard to do at a blog.

July 2, 2018 9:54 pm

You lost me at ‘climate disruptions.’

July 2, 2018 9:54 pm

I heartily endorse any incremental program that reduces emissions, based on proven, cost-effective means. Did someone say “natural gas?” That said, the US emissions reductions which have resulted, do not deliver the political leverage that the policy-makers desire, and is rarely considered.

Reply to  Roaddog
July 3, 2018 5:10 am

One observation:

Atmospheric CO2 is not alarmingly high – in fact it is alarmingly low for the continued survival of terrestrial carbon-based life on Earth.




1. Atmospheric CO2 is not alarmingly high; in fact, it is dangerously low for the survival of terrestrial carbon-based life on Earth. Most plants evolved with up to 4000 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere, or about 10 times current CO2 concentrations.

2. In one of the next global Ice Ages, atmospheric CO2 will approach about 150ppm, a concentration at which terrestrial photosynthesis will slow and cease – and that will be the extinction event for much or all of the terrestrial carbon-based life on this planet.

3. More atmospheric CO2 is highly beneficial to all carbon-based life on Earth. Therefore, CO2 abatement and sequestration schemes are nonsense.

4. As a devoted fan of carbon-based life on this planet, I feel the duty to advocate on our behalf. I should point out that I am not prejudiced against non-carbon-based life forms. They might be very nice, but I do not know any of them well enough to form an opinion. 🙂


The global cooling period from ~1940 to 1975 (during a time of increasing atmospheric CO2) demonstrates that climate sensitivity to increased atmospheric CO2 is near-zero – so close to zero as to be insignificant.

This and other evidence strongly supports the conclusion that there is NO global warming crisis, except in the fevered minds of warmist propagandists.

There is overwhelming evidence that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and the oceans is not dangerously high – it is dangerously low, too low for the continued survival of life on Earth.

I have written about the vital issue of “CO2 starvation” since 2009 or earlier, and others including Dr. Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, have also written on this subject:

July 3, 2018 5:13 am

Here is Happer, Konin and Lindzen on CO2 starvation (p, 19&20 of an excellent paper – READ IT):

“By geological standards, the Earth is currently starved for atmospheric CO2. Past CO2 levels estimated from various proxies are shown in the adjacent figure. The horizontal scale is geological time since the Cambrian, at about 550 million years ago. The vertical axis is the ratio, RCO2, of past atmospheric CO2 concentrations to average values (about 300 ppm) during the past few million years, This particular proxy record comes from analyzing the fraction of the rare stable isotope 13C to the dominant isotope 12C in carbonate sediments and paleosols. Other proxies give qualitatively similar results.

Only once in the geological past, the Permian period about 300 million years ago, have atmospheric CO2 levels been as low as now. Life flourished abundantly during the geological past when CO2 levels were five or ten times higher than those today.”

B.P. P.L.C., et al., Defendants.
Case No. C 17-06011 WHA
Case No. C 17-06012 WHA
Hearing Date: March 21, 2018 at 8:00 a.m.

The Honorable William H. Alsup

July 3, 2018 5:21 am

Atmospheric CO2 is inexorably declining as it is being sequestered in carbonate rocks. In the last Continental Last Ice Age, atmospheric CO2 declined to about 180 ppm – in the next Ice Age it could drop lower, even closer to the extinction point of C3 plants at about 150-160 ppm. ”

Virtually ALL food plants use the C3 photosynthetic pathway, so a drop of atmospheric CO2 to 150-160 ppm will be an extinction event for ~all advanced terrestrial life on Earth.

A few food plants (less than 1%) use the C4 photosynthetic pathway, including corn and sugar cane – but I doubt terrestrial life could survive for long on Sugar Frosted Flakes – notwithstanding the persistent rumour that “They’re Great!” 🙂

There are also CAM photosynthetic pathway plants, so we can look forward to having pineapple with our Sugar Frosted Flakes.

Regards, Allan

steve case
July 2, 2018 11:06 pm

BECCS stands for Bio-Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (greenhouse gas mitigation)

Pop Piasa
July 2, 2018 11:12 pm

Perhaps mitigation should be considered impractical from a standpoint that reflects Dr Curry’s observations of a chaotic system of overlapping cycles and random events.

July 2, 2018 11:29 pm

“Opening Up the Climate Policy Envelope”

How about closing the envelope and filing it in the bin ?

July 2, 2018 11:37 pm

The first question I think he should have asked is “How do we know there is a problem at all?”

michael hart
July 2, 2018 11:43 pm

Environmentalists aen’t the first people to think that a problem is best fixed by passing a law making something illegal. Not the first, but they may be the worst. Some of them probably also think that you can cure cancer by banning it.

ferd berple
Reply to  michael hart
July 3, 2018 7:33 am

A carbon tax is similar to solving poverty by taxing the poor. If the tax is painful enough no one will want to be poor and instead will switch to being rich.

The same with the carbon tax. As the tax increases and becomes painful we will switch to carbon free gasoline. I hear Petrol Canada will be introducing Carbon Free fuels in the near future. Regular, Premium and Carbon Free. Just like fat free and gluten free foods. Look for Carbon Free fuels next time you fill up.

Alan Tomalty
July 2, 2018 11:49 pm

RSS Total Precipitable Water Vapour measuring project

if you read the web site carefully enough you will see that the satellites have a number of issues with coverage. Since they they seem to use many different systems and then combine the data, I suspect big error factors.

“We have merged the water vapor measurements from the many radiometers in operation since 1987, including SSM/I, SSMIS, AMSR-E, WindSat, and AMSR2. These data were all processed in a consistent manner using our radiative transfer model and careful instrument intercalibration. The water vapor from these instruments are used to create a Total Precipitable Water (atmospheric water vapor) product that is best for use in climate study. This 1-degree, monthly gridded product is further described in the document Merged Monthly 1-degree Total Precipitable Water – TPW.”

If you go to the document mentioned in the last sentence you will find more smoking guns.

“a time-latitude plot (a minimum of 10% of latitude cells is required for valid data”
“For this reason, we only excluded data from grid points with very heavy rain, so high that our microwave instrument processing does not derive an accurate vapor value. ”
“There are no data values in regions of land, persistent ice, and coastal areas.”
“and combine TPW values from all instruments using simple averaging.”
“The quality of the vapor product produced is dependent on the number of data that are averaged into each grid cell. Land and ice proximity affects this number. Radiometers suffer from side lobe interference that prevents obtaining vapor values near land. Due to variations in instrument resolution, look angle, geographic conditions and spatial footprints, some pixels have more observations than others. This results in varying numbers of observations for a given grid cell and poorer quality averages near coastlines and along ice edges. We tested a variety of minimum observation requirements. The figure below shows the count of water vapor data in each one degree grid cell during the time 1990 to 2005. As you can see the number of data falling in any given cell is usually much more than 300. It is only along the coastlines and ice that this number drops and poor quality data can enter the data product. We experimented to see how different thresholds affected resulting trends. We found little difference once a minimum threshold of 160 counts per cell was met.”
“This product is constructed by merging all valid TPW (water vapor) data from SSM/I, SSMIS, AMSR-E, WindSat, and AMSR2 instruments.”

So as you can see this is a very imprecise science. I hope models weren’t used to patch up the data. The jury is still out whether we can trust this data. From the graph it seems to have a correlation with the satellite temperature data sets.

If this project turns out to be fairly accurate and if you can then logically assume that the land water vapour is not more important than the oceans in proportion to their sizes (70% oceans- 30% land) then you can argue that evaporation from water in the oceans is the key to temperature changes. The small increases in the amount of CO2 in last 20 years does not correlate to the large swings in H2O vapour See the graph provided by Dan Pangburn

comment image

The whole question is how much of the latent heat is released downward upon condensation. If the chart can be considered correct and it is established that temperature follows/correlates well with H2O vapour then obviously some of that latent heat release is causing temperature rise. Dan argues that the H2O vapour increase precedes temperature rise. The alarmists will argue the reverse. I tend to side with us skeptics because the little amount of CO2 increase does not correlate with the huge swings of H2O vapour.

This seems to be another nail in the coffin to AGW. I am wondering when Roger Pielke will switch sides. Do we have to wait until his retirement until we see that happen?

Reply to  Alan Tomalty
July 3, 2018 4:25 pm


Here is a relationship between Equatorial Atmospheric Water Vapour and UAH LT Global Temperature, which typically lags Water Vapour by about 1 month– this may prove helpful.

I first plotted this relationship about 2 years ago, but the idea came from Bill Illis.

Best, Allan


UAH Lower Troposphere: Anomalies

NOAA Precipitable Water Monolevel +/-20 N, 0-360W

The correct mechanism is described as follows (approx.):

Equatorial Pacific Sea Surface Temperature up –> Equatorial Atmospheric Water Vapor up 3 months later –> Equatorial Temperature up -> Global Temperature up one month later -> Global Atmospheric dCO2/dt up (contemporaneous with Global Temperature) -> Atmospheric CO2 trends up 9 months later

What drives Equatorial Pacific Sea Surface Temperature? In sub-decadal timeframes, El Nino and La Nina (ENSO); longer term, probably the Integral of Solar Activity.

The base CO2 increase of ~2ppm/year could have many causes, including fossil fuel combustion, deforestation, etc, but it has a minor or insignificant impact on global temperatures.

Reply to  Alan Tomalty
July 3, 2018 4:40 pm

Alan – this my help re sequence of events: UAH LT Global Temperature typically follows Equatorial Atmospheric Water Vapor by about 1 month.

The correct mechanism is described as follows (approx.):
Equatorial Pacific Sea Surface Temperature up –> EQUATORIAL ATMOSPHERIC WATER VAPOR UP 3 months later –> Equatorial Temperature up -> GLOBAL TEMPERATURE UP ONE MONTH LATER -> Global Atmospheric dCO2/dt up (contemporaneous with Global Temperature) -> Atmospheric CO2 trends up 9 months later

Regards, Allan

Dr. Tim Ball wrote in this article:
“It is likely that every year annual variance in the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere exceeds the warming effects of human CO2. I can’t prove it, but…”

Hello Tim, (Cc via email)

Here is a relationship between UAH LT Global Temperatures and Equatorial Atmospheric Water Concentrations – this may provide the proof you need.

Best, Allan

UAH Lower Troposphere: Anomalies
NOAA Precipitable Water Monolevel +/-20 N, 0-360W

The correct mechanism is described as follows (approx.):

Equatorial Pacific Sea Surface Temperature up –> Equatorial Atmospheric Water Vapor up 3 months later –> Equatorial Temperature up -> Global Temperature up one month later -> Global Atmospheric dCO2/dt up (contemporaneous with Global Temperature) -> Atmospheric CO2 trends up 9 months later

What drives Equatorial Pacific Sea Surface Temperature? In sub-decadal timeframes, El Nino and La Nina (ENSO); longer term, probably the Integral of Solar Activity.

The base CO2 increase of ~2ppm/year could have many causes, including fossil fuel combustion, deforestation, etc, but it has a minor or insignificant impact on global temperatures.

July 3, 2018 9:16 pm

Moderator – please delete this duplicate post – thank you.

July 2, 2018 11:52 pm

BECCS. (Biomass energy carbon capture?).

We have been using this for thousands of years. Grow crops, feed it to horses and oxon and extract the energy. Worked well; but not very efficient and quite expensive; but it did have the advantage that the waste product was returned to the earth to enable the crops to continue growing. A factor that BECCS fails to do which is a major disadvantage.
Just wonder how the policy makers will deal with that.

Incidentally the other energy source utilised in days of yore was of course slavery which, again was a biomass source. Still used today albeit under different terminology.

July 3, 2018 12:38 am

“It won’t be easy. Business-as-usual climate policy has a large and powerful political, economic, and social constituency.”

There’s the rub.

Steve Borodin
July 3, 2018 1:24 am

“If the IPCC is unable or unwilling to consider a more expansive climate policy envelope”

May I remind you that “The IPCC’s objectives have nothing to do with climate!”

July 3, 2018 1:45 am

It is good that some people are starting to reconsider things, but this article is not “Opening Up the Climate Policy Envelope” anything like enough.

Even if one believes that CO2 has a major effect on climate, it is clear that the cost of eliminating man made CO2 is huge and the costs of climate change are small, possibly negative.

So the sensible policy is to reduce our vulnerability to possible harmful effects of climate change and to exploit benefits of climate change. That is a good policy regardless of the causes of climate change and regardless of what the rest of the world does.

July 3, 2018 3:28 am

Great list of questions. But there is an elephant or two in the room.

One elephant is asking why America is declared as intransigent when we appear to be one of the few large CO2 producers to be reducing, not increasing emissions?
Afterall action, not words are required if the Earth is in the balance.

A nother rather large assumption to be scrutinized is whether or not increasing CO2 is in fact a problem that is worth the resources being expended on it.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  hunter
July 3, 2018 6:00 am

“But there is an elephant or two in the room.

One elephant is asking why America is declared as intransigent when we appear to be one of the few large CO2 producers to be reducing, not increasing emissions?”

Great question. I wondered that myself.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
July 3, 2018 10:15 am

Because you are not giving billions to corrupt third world dictators, the way Obama promised.

July 3, 2018 3:45 am

Sorry, but I missed the “edit” time limit.
Please also consider:
Your call to reduce time horizons to years could be a loaded gun in the hand of extremists.
The climate extremists may use your call to apply “realistic time frames” as an excuse to impose ridiculous policies even more quickly. Look at Canada’s latest “climate policy” for an example.

It is clear the main effects of “climate policy” in the West is to raise costs to rate payers and consumers, while supporting an ever growing class of climate parasites who produce nothing but climate hype.
All with no positive impact on climate, resilience, or CO2.

“Climate policy” in the developing world is basically climate imperialism, designed to keep poor people poor by denying them access to cheap and plentiful power. This assures that their mineral resources are cheap for the West and their agriculture does not compete with the West.

ferd berple
Reply to  hunter
July 3, 2018 7:50 am

Climate Imperialism. Spot on. Obama speech in SA. The world cannot afford Africa to become rich. It will burn up.

Greg Woods
July 3, 2018 4:13 am

Doing nothing seems like the best policy until something actually happens…

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Greg Woods
July 3, 2018 4:40 am

Doing nothing while still taking the money is always the best policy, for the money takers.

Tom in Florida
July 3, 2018 4:52 am

The analogy with improvements in aircraft design points out the reasons for not changing the current efforts to develop a global climate policy. Addressing the performance of a poorly designed aircraft would be initiated by the immediately observable results from the poor design. It will hurt the designers, the manufacturers and the users of that aircraft. The economic losses suffered would require a new approach.
That is not true of global climate change policy. The pushers of current policy have no incentive to change it. In fact, they have every incentive to stay the course and remain on the gravy train of cash they receive as a result of those policies. Cut off the cash and the charlatans will disappear. Perhaps then real progress, either way, can be made.

July 3, 2018 6:59 am

A logical, common sense climate policy
based on real science,
(not wild guesses of the future climate,
that have been very wrong
for the past 30 years):

An annual celebration
of the good news from global warming:
(1) Greening of the Earth, and
(2) Warmer nights in the northern half
of the Northern Hemisphere.

The bad news from global warming:
(1) None, and
(2) Having to listen to hysterical leftists,
instead of just enjoying the wonderful climate.

We don’t need a climate policy
because there is no problem to address.

We do need a pollution policy,
because all the manufacturing in Asia
is causing a lot of pollution — real pollution,
not the beneficial CO2 gas
falsely demonized by leftists
as carbon pollution!

I know that criticizing Roger Pielke Jr.,
who seems to be a friend of Mr. Watts,
is not going to win me “like” votes here,
but the climate change scam is too important
for me to worry about a popularity contest:

Roger Pielke Jr. is poor writer,
based on the summary here —
sentences are way too long,
and thoughts are convoluted.

Roger Pielke Jr. is also l-o-s-e-r
because he is debating
CO2 policy ‘solutions”
when there is no CO2 problem
that needs a solution!

Putting more CO2 in the air was,
inadvertently, the best thing
humans have ever done to
improve our planet,
for the same reason that
smart greenhouse owners
enrich their inside air
with carbon dioxide.

This planet can only benefit
from an optimum (higher) CO2 level,
in the 800 to 1,200 ppm range,
based on thousands of experiments,
to accelerate the growth of plants
that humans and animals use for food.

Patrick Moore has done some
excellent writing on the subject.
I’m not sure if Roger Pielke Jr.
is qualified to carry his briefcase.
(PS: I’m in a good mood today,
in case you wondered!)

My climate change blog:

David L. Hagen
Reply to  Richard Greene
July 3, 2018 8:33 am

Richard Green Address Pielke’s arguments and logic. Do NOT resort to illogical rhetorical fallacies of attack the man (ad hominem)
Study carefully Pielke’s logical arguments. When recognized and addressed, they transform the discussion into focusing on how to develop inexpensive sustainable energy that is essential to sustain our economies for 1000 years, and to enable developing countries to rise out of poverty.

Reply to  David L. Hagen
July 3, 2018 10:56 am

My name is spelled “Greene”.
My comments are logical.
If I use character attacks, it is because
they are the language of climate change
“debate”, often used by leftists, so are always
acceptable for this subject!

I have a few choice words for your comment,
but I’ll save them for another day.

I criticized Pielke because he fell into
the global warmunist trap — he is discussing
what to do about global warming — far too many
steps up the CO2 assumption ladder.

Pielke’s piece starts with:
“Policy action is required to mitigate
and adapt to human-caused climate change … ”

That statement is WRONG !

There is NO need for action — in fact, the action
so far has been counterproductive, making
fossil fuel energy too expensive.

Climate change in the past few hundred years
has been GOOD NEWS for our planet,
as anyone with common sense
can see — Pielke apparently does not
have common sense,
so on the subject of climate change,
he is yet another lame “lukewarmer”
trying to make everyone happy
on ‘both sides’.

There is no scientific proof CO2 caused any of the
warming since 1950.

If CO2 caused ALL the warming since 1950,
which is just a worst case assumption,
then the TCS is about 1, and CO2 is harmless.

Any claim that CO2 is dangerous is based
on wild guesses of the future climate, and
one CO2 assumption on top of another —
predictions that apparently can never be falsified
even after 30 years of grossly inaccurate
computer game average temperature predictions!

If we skeptics focus on discussions of “policy actions”,
then we have LOST the battle
for real climate science,
and the climate change junk science wins,
and the coming climate change catastrophe
fairy tale stands, and we can all go home
because there is no need for
a CAGW skeptics website anymore

Mumbles McGuirck
July 3, 2018 7:11 am

Business-as-usual climate policy has a large and powerful political, economic, and social constituency. Repeated policy failures, most obviously the Kyoto Protocol, have been insufficient to motivate a change in thinking or direction.

I fear Dr. Pielke fails to recognize that Kyoto, Paris, etc were NOT failures as far as participants were concerned. The whole point of the IPCC is not to solve the supposed human-induce climate change. It is to attend endless rounds of conferences in fancy joints with free shrimp cocktails and A Ceaseless Wind of chatter. It is about feeling important and holier than everyone else. Why should they do anything to end their gravy train?

David L. Hagen
Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
July 3, 2018 8:34 am

They failed to achieve the stated objectives.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
July 3, 2018 12:58 pm

Please note that the IPCC is a UN agency/bureaucracy. As such, it is dominated by: Socialists, social justice warriors, Third World kleptocrats, and religious nuts. You will see the hands of each group in writing any and all of the various IPCC reports/documents.

Christopher Chantrill
July 3, 2018 7:48 am

When you start asking questions like this, eventually you get to the Big One:

Is the bureaucratic, administrative, regulatory, subsidy model appropriate? Or does it merely empower what Charles Dickens calls Barnacles and Stiltstockings in the various bureaucracies to mess around texting each other?

My prejudice is that the bureaucratic model can win a World War (although it really helps to undo all the New Deal economic policy as you go). But it is pretty useless at everything else, from teaching little children in government child-custodial facilities to old-age entitlements that won’t go broke.

My theory is that the only warrant for government is to identify and fight an existential peril. If you can’t find one you just make it up.

July 3, 2018 7:55 am

Policy, Policy, Policy… The Free Market is the only thing with the power that could ever solve the decarbonization issue for energy worldwide. But the marketplace is hampered by government regulation and control, so low CO2 energy like nuclear is not attractive to investors even though it is potentially a good solution for these problems. Remove those political barriers to nuclear and natural gas energy and there will be a fast movement away from coal. If government wants to play its part its “policy” should be 1) removing barriers to nuclear and natural gas, 2) support basic research into trying to find technical solutions to the weaknesses in unreliable renewable energy (energy storage). Maybe someone clever will invent a new approach to renewables and if so the marketplace will can with it on its own. All of these things can be done whether or not you are a believer in the AGW theory.

David L. Hagen
Reply to  TDBraun
July 3, 2018 8:35 am

Your proposal is a POLICY – among those that Pielke argues need to be discussed and addressed.

July 3, 2018 12:01 pm

If one truly looks at the data then it has not been “easy to blame the intransigence of the United States for lack of progress.” Since the 1980s, when China changed its attitude towards economic development, they have been the elephant (giant panda) in the room which most of the AGW crowd in the West and associated with the UN-IPCC have basically given a pass if not ignored. In fact that crowd recently makes out that some how China is a world leader in reducing emissions when just the opposite is true. The USA is the only country to have actually reduced CO2 emissions. Now India is trying to get on the same economic path as China. Neither China nor India can reach their economic goals without cheap and plentiful energy, which means fossil fuels. I will bet there are Chinese and Indian leaders that laugh at the west’s seeming obsession with AGW.

Justin McCarthy
July 3, 2018 7:32 pm

What’s the big deal? It they get what they want won’t they just create computer models or adjust data to demonstrate that they are curing the illness of climate change. Who would be the wiser?

Gary Pearse
July 3, 2018 9:28 pm

The most urgent need for the envelope Pielke Jr. left out. If the situation re climate is a serious problem, then:

1)Why are the scientists who raise the alarm loathe to share with us the data and code to convince us they actually have a case to consider. Damned right we only want it to see if their is something wrong with it!
2) Why can’t they lay the case out for dangerous climate change that the scientifically literate can see. Why wont they debate if the case is so obvious “Trust us” is a joke. Handwaving, obfuscation, ad hominem, destroying data, playing fast and loose with the scientifuc method, abusing statistics, pal review, blocking alternative evaluations from publication… This is enough to reject the thesis and alarm out of hand as a Bertrand Russell orbiting tiny teapot.

I like Roger, but Im frustrated that he bends so far backwards to accommodate such undergraduate work, vipers who have worked harder at deligitimizing him than in doing real science. When you corner them all they have for game is “Tyndall showed CO2 to absorb and re-emit LWIR in the laboratory.” This isnt good enough!

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