The Picasso Problem

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach [See update at the end.]

Let me start explaining the link from Picasso to climate science by looking at what Dr. Nir Shaviv called “the most boring graph I have ever plotted in my life”.

This is the graph of the changes in the best estimate of the range of what is called “climate sensitivity” over the last forty years or so.

What is climate sensitivity when it’s at home? To explain that, I’ll have to take a slight detour. First, downwelling radiation.

“Downwelling” in climate science means headed down towards the planetary surface. Downwelling radiation is the total radiation going downwards towards the surface. It is composed of sunshine (shortwave) plus thermal radiation from the atmosphere (longwave). In climate science, this quantity, total downwelling radiation, is called “forcing”, abbreviated “F”

The central paradigm of modern climate science is that if you change the amount of downwelling radiation (forcing), that the surface temperature perforce will change. The claim is that everything else averages out, and if the forcing increases, then surface temperature needs to change to maintain the global energy balance. It has to change. It must.

In short, the central paradigm of modern climate science is the following:

In the long run, global temperature change is proportional to global forcing change.

The putatively constant proportion between the two, which is the temperature change divided by forcing change, is called the “climate sensitivity”.

“Climate sensitivity” is often expressed as the assumed change in temperature given a change of 3.7 watts per square metre (W/m2) in downwelling radiation. The determination of this so-called “climate sensitivity” is a central question arising out of the paradigm that temperature change is proportional to temperature change.

Which leads me to the most boring graph below. It shows the changes over time in the estimate of the value of the climate sensitivity.

Figure 1. Changes over time in the estimate of the climate sensitivity parameter “lambda”. “∆T2x(°C)” is the expected temperature change in degrees Celsius resulting from a doubling of atmospheric CO2, which is assumed to increase the forcing by 3.7 watts per square metre. FAR, SAR, TAR, AR4, AR5 are the UN IPCC 1st, second, third, fourth and fifth Assessment Reports giving an assessment of the state of climate science as of the date of each report

It is worth noting that since 1979, entire new scientific fields like DNA analysis have first been envisioned, then have come into being, and now have reached amazing levels of development … and during that same time, what Dr. Shaviv rightly calls “the most important question in climate” has gone nowhere. No progress at all.

Since 1979, the amount of computing power that we have available, both as individuals and large organizations, has skyrocketed. My trusty PowerMac has more computing ability than most universities had available in 1979. The cost has dropped as well, from $100,000 per “MIPS” (million instructions per second) to less than $1 per MIPS today. And the speed has gone through the roof, with supercomputers running climate models at more than a trillion floating point operations (which have the lovely name of “TeraFLOPs”) every second. The number of people investigating the value of climate sensitivity has also grown over time. And billions and billions of dollars have been spent on trying to answer the question.

So … since the Charney report on climate sensitivity in 1979 we’ve had huge, stupendous increases in:

Computing power working on the question

Hours of intensive research applied to the question

Discussion, debate, and interest in the question

Money spent on the question

And despite those huge increases in time, work, discussion, and computer power, the investigation of the question of the value of climate sensitivity has gone exactly nowhere. No progress.

How can we understand this scientific oddity? What is the reason that all of that valuable time, money, and effort has achieved nothing? I mean zero. Nada. No movement at all. The most boring graph.

Let me suggest that climate science is the victim of what I call the “Picasso Problem”. Pablo Picasso once said something that has stuck with me for a long time. He said:


“What good are computers? They can only give you answers.”

Now, I wrote my first computer program in 1963, more than half a century ago. I was sixteen. It ran on a computer the size of a small room. I’ve been programming computers ever since then. I’ve written programs to do everything from designing fabric patterns for huge catenary tents, to calculating next year’s tides from this year’s tide tables, to making the plasma-cutting files to guide the cutting of the steel parts for building 25-metre fishing boats, to analyzing the data and doing the math and creating the graphics for this very post. And over the years I’ve made big bucks with my succession of computers.

So when I read that Picasso was dissing computers with that statement, my initial response was to say “Whaa? Computers are great! What is this mad artist on about? I’ve made lots of money with my computer. How can they be no good?”

But upon more mature reflection, I realized that Picasso was right. Here’s what he meant:

Even the best computer can’t give you the right answer unless you ask it the right question.

To me, this was a crucial insight, one that has guided many of my scientific peregrinations—don’t focus too much on the answers. Put some focus on the questions as well.

So regarding climate science, what is the wrong question, and what is the right question? Once again, please allow me to get side-tractored a bit.

I first got interested in climate science around the turn of the century because of the increase in serial doomcasting regarding some rumored upcoming Thermageddon™. So I started with the basics, by learning how the poorly-named “greenhouse effect” was keeping the earth far warmer than the temperature of the Moon, which is at the same distance from the sun.

However, along the way, I read that the best estimate of the warming over the entire 20th century was on the order of 0.6 degrees Celsius. When I read that, I thought … “Whaa … less than one degree??? All this fuss and the temperature has changed much less than one degree?”

I was surprised because of my experience repairing machinery which had a governor, and my experience with solar energy. I viewed the climate as a giant solar-driven heat engine, wherein the energy of the sun is converted into the ceaseless movement of the atmosphere and the ocean working against the brake of friction against the mountains and shores and the endless turbulent losses.

When one analyzes the efficiency or other characteristics of a heat engine, or when one uses tools like the Stefan-Boltzmann equation to convert temperature into the equivalent amount of thermal radiation, you have to use the Kelvin temperature scale (abbreviated “K”). This is the scale which starts at absolute zero. Temperature is a function of the motion of the molecules or atoms involved. And absolute zero is where molecular motion stops entirely.

You can’t use degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit for these calculations, because °C and °F have arbitrary zero points. You have to use the Kelvin scale, it’s the only one that works. Kelvin has the same size units as Celsius, just a different zero point, which is at minus 273.15°C (minus 459.67°F).

Now, the average surface temperature of the Earth is on the order of 14° Celsius, which is 57° Fahrenheit … or 287 Kelvin. And with that average global temperature of 287 Kelvin, the global temperature variation of 0.6 K over the 20th century is a temperature variation of a fifth of one percent.

This was the oddity that shaped my investigation of the climate … during a hundred year period, the temperature had varied by only about one fifth of one percent. This was amazing to me. I’d had lots of experience with governed systems because of my work with electrical generators. These need to be tightly governed so that their speed remains constant regardless of the changing load on the system. And what I’d found in my work with mechanical governors is that it’s quite hard to regulate a mechanical system to within one percent.

Yet despite droughts and floods, despite huge volcanic eruptions, despite constantly changing global cloud cover, despite all kinds of variations in the forcing, despite the hemispheric temperatures changing by ~ 13°C twice over the course of each and every year, despite the globe being balanced on a greenhouse effect which is holding it on the order of ~ 50°C warmer than the moon … despite all of those variations and changes, the average temperature of the Earth didn’t vary by a quarter of one percent over the entire 20th century.

That is amazingly tight regulation. Here’s a real-world example of why I was surprised by that stability.

I was looking at the speedometer today with my truck on “cruise control”. Cruise control in your car is a governor that keeps the speed of the vehicle the same regardless of changes in load on the truck. I set it for 50 miles per hour. Up and down hills it varied by plus and minus one mile per hour. That’s a computer-controlled engine that is speed-regulated to within ±2%, pretty tight regulation … but the Earth’s temperature is far better regulated than that. It stays within less than plus or minus one tenth of a percent.

To me at the time, that thermal stability was a clear sign of the existence of some unknown of natural thermostatic processes that acted in a very efficient manner to maintain the Earth’s temperature within those narrow bounds. So my own quest in the field of climate science was to find out what the natural phenomena were that explained the tight regulation of century-long planetary surface temperatures.

Which left me in a curious position. All of the established climate scientists were, and still are, trying to find out why the temperature is changing so much. They spend time looking at graphs like this, showing the variations in the Earth’s surface temperature:

Figure 2. HadCRUT global average surface temperature anomaly.

On the other hand, because I’m someone with an interest in heat engines and governors, I was trying to find out why the temperature has been changing so little. I spent my time looking at the exact same data as in Figure 2, but expressed in graphs like this:

Figure 3. HadCRUT global average actual surface temperature (the same data shown in Figure 2) and also the approximate average lunar temperature, in kelvin.

And that brings me back, after plowing that distant field, to the question of climate sensitivity and to Picasso’s prescient question, viz: “What good are computers? They can only give you answers.”.

I say that we have made zero progress in four decades of attempting to measure or calculate climate sensitivity because we are using our awesome computer power to investigate why the global temperature changes so much.

For me, this is entirely the wrong question. The question that we should be asking is the following:

Why does the global temperature change so little?

After much thought and even more research, I say the reason that global average temperature changes so little is that temperature is NOT proportional to forcing as is generally believed. As a result, the so-called “climate sensitivity” is not a constant as is assumed … and since it is not a constant, trying to determine its exact value is a fool’s errand because it has none. That’s why we can’t make even the slightest advance on measuring it … because it’s a chimera based on a misunderstanding of what is happening.

Instead, my hypothesis is that the temperature is maintained within narrow bounds by a variety of emergent phenomena that cool the earth when it gets too hot, and heat it up when it gets too cool. I have found a wide variety of observational evidence that this is actually the case. See the endnotes for some of my posts on my hypothesis.

But hey, that’s just my answer. And I freely agree that my answer may be wrong … but at least it is an answer to the right question. The true mystery of the climate is its amazing thermal stability.

Finally, how did an entire field of science get involved in trying to answer the wrong question? I say that it is the result of the 1988 creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) by the United Nations.

In 1988, the field of climate science was fairly new. Despite that, however, the UN was already convinced that it knew what the problem was. Typical bureaucratic arrogance. As a result, in the UN General Assembly Resolution 43/53 from 1988, the Resolution which set up the IPCC, it says that the UN General Assembly was:


Concerned that certain human activities could change global climate patterns, threatening present and future generations with potentially severe economic and social consequences,

Noting with concern that the emerging evidence indicates that continued growth in atmospheric concentrations of “greenhouse” gases could produce global warming with an eventual rise in sea levels, the effects of which could be disastrous for mankind if timely steps are not taken at all levels,

And in response, it jumped right over asking if whether or not this was scientifically correct, and went straight to taking action on something that of course, the General Assembly knew nothing about. The Resolution says that the General Assembly:


… Determines that necessary and timely action should be taken to deal with climate change within a global framework;

Calls for action always make bureaucrats happy. So the IPCC, an expressly political “Intergovernmental” organization, became the defacto guiding light for an entire field of science … which turned out to be a huge mistake.

Now, up until that time, and since that time as well, every other field of science has managed to make amazing strides in understanding without any global “Intergovernmental” panel to direct their efforts. We’ve had astounding successes with our usual bumbling catch-as-catch-can scientific method, which involves various scientists working fairly independently around the planet on some scientific question, sometimes cooperating, sometimes competing, without needing or wanting anyone to “summarize the science” as the IPCC claims to do.

And given the lack of progress shown by the “Most Boring Graph” at the top of this post, I’d say that the world should never again put a bunch of United Nations pluted bloatocrats in charge of anything to do with science. If we had set up an “Intergovernmental Panel on DNA Analysis” when the field was new, you can be certain that long ago the field would have gone uselessly haring down blind alleys lined by nonsensical claims that “97% of DNA scientists agree” …

Over at Dr. Judith Curry’s excellent blog, someone asked me the other day what I didn’t like about the IPCC. I replied:

Here are some of the major reasons. I have more.

First, it assumes a degree of scientific agreement which simply doesn’t exist. Most people in the field, skeptics included, think the earth is warming and humans may well have an effect on it. But the agreement ends there. How much effect, and how, and for how long, those and many other questions have little agreement.

Second, it is corrupt, as shown inter alia by the Jesus Paper

Third, it generally ignores anything which might differ from climate science revealed wisdom.

Fourth, it is driven by politics, not by science. Certain paragraphs and conclusions have been altered or removed because of political objections.

Fifth, in an attempt to be inclusive of developing countries, it includes a number of very poor scientists.

Sixth, any organization that ends up with Rajendra Pachauri as its leader is very, very sick.

Seventh, they’ve ignored actual uncertainty and replaced it with a totally subjective estimate of uncertainty.

Eighth, it lets in things like the Hockeystick paper and the numerous “Stick-alikes” despite them being laughably bad science.

Ninth, it makes “projections” that have little to no relationship to the real world, like Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 (RCP 8.5).

Tenth, it generally excludes skeptics of all types, either directly or because skeptics know better than to associate with such an organization.

Eleventh, anyone making “projections” that go out to the year 2100 is blowing smoke up your fundamental orifice.

Twelveth, it is far, far too dependent on untested, unverified, unvalidated climate models.

Thirteenth, the IPCC generally thinks without thinking about it that warming is bad, bad, bad … which is the opposite of the actual effects of the warming since the Little Ice Age.

Fourteenth, the IPCC was given the wrong task at its inception. Rather than setting out to find what actually controls the climate, it was given the task of finding out how much CO2 we could emit before it became dangerous. That tasking assumed a whole host of things which have never been established.

Fifteenth … aw, heck, that’s enough. I have more if you are interested.

So … that’s the climate Picasso Problem. The field of climate science is trying to use computers to find an answer to the wrong question, and as a result, the field is going nowhere.


In the comments below, someone brought up the following graphic of recent estimates of climate sensitivity and said that it showed I was wrong about the climate sensitivity.

Here is my answer from below:

Thanks, David. The discrepancy in your first graph is much more apparent than real. Here are the recent ECS estimates overlaid on the Charney/IPCC data:

As you can see, the only ones outside the IPCC uncertainty limits are the estimates at 5 & 6 °C per doubling of CO2.

Here’s a boxplot of the recent estimates

The recent estimates are not at all unusual given the Charney/IPCC estimates.

Finally, you still haven’t grasped the nettle. The surface temperature is NOT a function of the forcing. For example, in large areas of the Pacific, the surface temperature controls the amount of sunshine. Here’s a plot showing that result.

Correlation between the solar radiation at the surface, and the surface temperature. This is calculated on a 1° x 1° gridcell basis.

Now, the areas in green and blue are areas in which, as the temperature goes UP, the amount of sunshine hitting the ground goes DOWN.

So here’s the question. What is the “climate sensitivity” in those areas?

The answer, of course, is that in such a situation the entire concept of climate sensitivity goes out the window. In those areas, the temperature is NOT a function of the forcing, linear or otherwise. Instead, in those areas, the forcing is a function of the temperature.

That’s the point I’ve been trying to make. The fundamental idea underlying modern climate science is incorrect—temperature is NOT a function of forcing.

So yes, people can calculate the putative “climate sensitivity” and get various answers … but it is a meaningless quest, and the results carry no weight at all.

My best to you,


Here, we’re still in haze and smoke from the Camp Fire, and the number of fatalities is over seventy. I’m wearing an N95 mask when I go outside. Here’s the latest smoke map … Anthony Watts is up in Chico, in the bright red spot at the top, over 100 micrograms per cubic metre of smoke. I’m near the coast to the west of Santa Rosa, north of San Francisco, where it’s much better but still bad.

Keep a good thought over the fire victims, it’s hard times for all.

My best wishes to every one,


PS—As usual, I ask that when you comment, please quote the exact words you are discussing, so we can all understand both who and what you are replying to.

FURTHER READING: These are some of my posts explaining my hypothesis regarding why the global temperature is so stable, and providing evidence for the hypothesis

The Thermostat Hypothesis 2009-06-14

Abstract: The Thermostat Hypothesis is that tropical clouds and thunderstorms actively regulate the temperature of the earth. This keeps the earth at a equilibrium temperature.

Which way to the feedback? 2010-12-11

There is an interesting new study by Lauer et al. entitled “The Impact of Global Warming on Marine Boundary Layer Clouds over the Eastern Pacific—A Regional Model Study” [hereinafter Lauer10]. Anthony Watts has discussed some early issues with the paper here. The Lauer10 study has been controversial because it found that…

The Details Are In The Devil 2010-12-13

I love thought experiments. They allow us to understand complex systems that don’t fit into the laboratory. They have been an invaluable tool in the scientific inventory for centuries. Here’s my thought experiment for today. Imagine a room. In a room dirt collects, as you might imagine. In my household…

Further Evidence for my Thunderstorm Thermostat Hypothesis 2011-06-07

For some time now I’ve been wondering what kind of new evidence I could come up with to add support to my Thunderstorm Thermostat hypothesis (q.v.). This is the idea that cumulus clouds and thunderstorms combine to cap the rise of tropical temperatures. In particular, thunderstorms are able to drive…

It’s Not About Feedback 2011-08-14

The current climate paradigm believed by most scientists in the field can be likened to the movement of balls on a pool table. Figure 1. Pool balls on a level table. Response is directly proportional to applied force (double the force, double the distance). There are no “preferred” positions—every position…

Estimating Cloud Feedback From Observations 2011-10-08

I had an idea a couple days ago about how to estimate cloud feedback from observations, and it appears to have panned out well. You tell me. Figure 1. Month-to-month change in 5° gridcell actual temperature ∆T, versus gridcell change in net cloud forcing ∆F. Curved green lines are for…

Sun and Clouds are Sufficient 2012-06-04

In my previous post, A Longer Look at Climate Sensitivity, I showed that the match between lagged net sunshine (the solar energy remaining after albedo reflections) and the observational temperature record is quite good. However, there was still a discrepancy between the trends, with the observational trends being slightly larger…

Forcing or Feedback? 2012-06-07

I read a Reviewer’s Comment on one of Richard Lindzen’s papers today, a paper about the tropics from 20°N to 20°S, and I came across this curiosity (emphasis mine): Lastly, the authors go through convoluted arguments between forcing and feed backs. For the authors’ analyses to be valid, clouds should…

A Demonstration of Negative Climate Sensitivity 2012-06-19

Well, after my brief digression to some other topics, I’ve finally been able to get back to the reason that I got the CERES albedo and radiation data in the first place. This was to look at the relationship between the top of atmosphere (TOA) radiation imbalance and the surface…

The Tao of El Nino 2013-01-28

I was wandering through the graphics section of the TAO buoy data this evening. I noted that they have an outstanding animation of the most recent sixty months of tropical sea temperatures and surface heights. Go to their graphics page, click on “Animation”. Then click on “Animate”. When the new…

Emergent Climate Phenomena 2013-02-07

In a recent post, I described how the El Nino/La Nina alteration operates as a giant pump. Whenever the Pacific Ocean gets too warm across its surface, the Nino/Nina pump kicks in and removes the warm water from the Pacific, pumping it first west and thence poleward. I also wrote…

Slow Drift in Thermoregulated Emergent Systems 2013-02-08

In my last post, “Emergent Climate Phenomena“, I gave a different paradigm for the climate. The current paradigm is that climate is a system in which temperature slavishly follows the changes in inputs. Under my paradigm, on the other hand, natural thermoregulatory systems constrain the temperature to vary within a…

Air Conditioning Nairobi, Refrigerating The Planet 2013-03-11

I’ve mentioned before that a thunderstorm functions as a natural refrigeration system. I’d like to explain in a bit more detail what I mean by that. However, let me start by explaining my credentials as regards my knowledge of refrigeration. The simplest explanation of my refrigeration credentials is that I…

Dehumidifying the Tropics 2013-04-21

I once had the good fortune to fly over an amazing spectacle, where I saw all of the various stages of emergent phenomena involving thunderstorms. It happened on a flight over the Coral Sea from the Solomon Islands, which are near the Equator, south to Brisbane. Brisbane is at 27°…

Decadal Oscillations Of The Pacific Kind 2013-06-08

The recent post here on WUWT about the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) has a lot of folks claiming that the PDO is useful for predicting the future of the climate … I don’t think so myself, and this post is about why I don’t think the PDO predicts the climate…

The Magnificent Climate Heat Engine 2013-12-21

I’ve been reflecting over the last few days about how the climate system of the earth functions as a giant natural heat engine. A “heat engine”, whether natural or man-made, is a mechanism that converts heat into mechanical energy of some kind. In the case of the climate system, the…

The Thermostatic Throttle 2013-12-28

I have theorized that the reflective nature of the tropical clouds, in particular those of the inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ) just above the equator, functions as the “throttle” on the global climate engine. We’re all familiar with what a throttle does, because the gas pedal on your car controls the…

On The Stability and Symmetry Of The Climate System 2014-01-06

The CERES data has its problems, because the three datasets (incoming solar, outgoing longwave, and reflected shortwave) don’t add up to anything near zero. So the keepers of the keys adjusted them to an artificial imbalance of +0.85 W/m2 (warming). Despite that lack of accuracy, however, the CERES data is…

Dust In My Eyes 2014-02-13

I was thinking about “dust devils”, the little whirlwinds of dust that you see on a hot day, and they reminded me that we get dulled by familiarity with the wonders of our planet. Suppose, for example, you that “back in the olden days” your family lived for generations in…

The Power Stroke 2014-02-27

I got to thinking about the well-known correlation of El Ninos and global temperature. I knew that the Pacific temperatures lead the global temperatures, and the tropics lead the Pacific, but I’d never looked at the actual physical

Albedic Meanderings 2015-06-03

I’ve been considering the nature of the relationship between the albedo and temperature. I have hypothesized elsewhere that variations in tropical cloud albedo are one of the main mechanisms that maintain the global surface temperature within a fairly narrow range (e.g. within ± 0.3°C during the entire 20th Century). To…

An Inherently Stable System 2015-06-04

At the end of my last post , I said that the climate seems to be an inherently stable system. The graphic below shows ~2,000 climate simulations run by Unlike the other modelers, whose failures end up on the cutting room floor, they’ve shown all of the runs ……

The Daily Albedo Cycle 2015-06-08

I discussed the role of tropical albedo in regulating the temperature in two previous posts entitled Albedic Meanderings and An Inherently Stable System. This post builds on that foundation. I said in the latter post that I would discuss the diurnal changes in tropical cloud albedo. For this I use…

Problems With Analyzing Governed Systems 2015-08-02

I’ve been ruminating on the continuing misunderstanding of my position that a governor is fundamentally different from simple feedback. People say things like “A governor is just a kind of feedback”. Well, yes, that’s true, and it is also true that a human being is “just…

Cooling And Warming Clouds And Thunderstorms 2015-08-18

Following up on a suggestion made to me by one of my long-time scientific heroes, Dr. Fred Singer, I’ve been looking at the rainfall dataset from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite. Here’s s the TRMM average rainfall data for the entire mission to d…

Tropical Evaporative Cooling 2015-11-11

I’ve been looking again into the satellite rainfall measurements from the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM). I discussed my first look at this rainfall data in a post called Cooling and Warming, Clouds and Thunderstorms. There I showed that the cooling from th…

How Thunderstorms Beat The Heat 2016-01-08

I got to thinking again about the thunderstorms, and how much heat they remove from the surface by means of evaporation. We have good data on this from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellites. Here is the distribution and strength of rainfall, and thus …

Where the Temperature Rules The Sun

I’ve held for a long time that there is a regulatory mechanism in the tropics that keeps the earth’s temperature within very narrow bounds on average (e.g. ± 0.3°C over the 20th Century). This mechanism is the timing and amount of the daily emergence of the cumulus cloud field, and the timing and emergence of thunderstorms.

Where the Temperature Rules The Total Surface Absorption

Reflecting upon my previous post, Where The Temperature Rules The Sun, I realized that while it was valid, it was just about temperature controlling downwelling solar energy via cloud variations. However, it didn’t cover total energy input …

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November 18, 2018 12:10 am
Reply to  Chaamjamal
November 18, 2018 12:01 pm

The URL you provided is nothing more
than mathematical mass-turbation
of monthly temperature data
(meaningless data mining
and a waste of time).

The correct answer to
“Is there a climate sensitivity (to CO2)?”
is that a lot of people think so,
based on laboratory experiments,
but the actual effect of CO2
in the real world, is unknown.

Unfortunately, saying the right answer
(“We don’t know”) does not get attention
and science grants.

So scientists publish their guesses
of TCS and ECS.

One could arbitrarily blame
all the warming since 1950 on CO2,
extrapolate that warming rate
into the future, and estimate a
based on actual measurements —
— about +1.0 degrees C. per doubling —
but that would mean CO2
was harmless and boring,
and that simple calculation
is too logical for anyone
with an advanced science degree
(I only have BS degree,
so can’t think like those
pesky PhDs).

There is nothing
in the temperature record
since 1950,
that even suggests
the minor variations
since 1950
were not natural
climate change,
unrelated to CO2.

In fact, the minor temperature change
since 1850 is an unusually stable climate,
compared to what we have reconstructed
about the past, from ice core proxies.

My climate science blog:

Pat Frank
Reply to  Richard Greene
November 18, 2018 12:52 pm

Richard, the 3-sentence paragraphs are good but you need to take the hard returns out of your essays.

Reply to  Pat Frank
November 18, 2018 1:33 pm

I have a serious vision problem
that can’t be corrected,
and have difficulty reading
anything but narrow columns,
like in most newspapers.

I would love to post
narrow justified columns here
if any confuser expert
can tell me
how to do that!

Cutting and pasting
a “proper”
justified column
typed on my laptop
ends up looking
like what you see!

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Richard Greene
November 18, 2018 2:42 pm

I think the moderators should be generous and help Richard in that.

Roger Knights
Reply to  Richard Greene
November 18, 2018 4:25 pm

I once wrote a Word macro the would run through a highlighted paragraph (except the not-highlighted last words) and delete all the Returns.

(It got lost when I upgraded my version of Word—something I’ll avoid doing in the future.)

Steve R.
Reply to  Richard Greene
November 19, 2018 9:19 pm

@Richard Greene
I like it. It reads almost like a poem.

Reply to  Chaamjamal
November 19, 2018 1:57 pm

There most certainly is a climate sensitivity, except that its dimensions are not degrees per W/m^2 which is highly nonlinear owing to the T^4 relationship between temperature and W/m^2. The proper metric is the linear metric of W/m^2 of surface emissions per W/m^2 of forcing and this is what’s incredibly constant across the satellite record and from pole to pole.

The value is 1.62 W/m^2 of surface emissions per W/m^2 of forcing and this value applies to each and every W/m^2 of forcing from the Sun. The IPCC purposefully uses degrees per W/m^2 in order to obfuscate this undeniable fact because to acknowledge it means that they can’t substantiate the 4.3 W/m^2 of surface emissions per W/m^2 of forcing that’s required to support the nominal ECS of 0.8C per W/m^2, much less the higher sensitivities considered in the various junk science scenarios.

BTW, the IPCC doesn’t presume strict linearity between W/m^2 and degrees, they only presume approximate linearity around the average temperature. Considering this from an incremental point of view allows them to ignore the T^4 relationship which makes the actual sensitivity go as 1/T^3 which varies from pole to pole.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 19, 2018 4:57 pm


“The difference between considering that as a linear function of radiation in W/m2 and considering it as an R^1/4 function of radiation is meaninglessly small.”

You’ve fallen into the approximate linearity trap. Yes, over the narrow range of T that the global average has varied, the assumption of approximate linearity seems valid. However; it’s not a valid approximation over the range of T from pole to pole and across seasons from which the average is computed. As I pointed out, it also obfuscates the fact that when the ECS is expressed as degrees per W/m^2, it has a 1/T^3 dependency which means that the sensitivity decreases as the temperature increases and can not possibly be more than 0.3C per W/m^2. This limit is the sensitivity of the Earth’s surface temperature to incident solar energy when the next 1.62 W/m^2 of incremental surface emissions arising from the next W/m^2 of forcing is converted into an incremental change in temperature.

The problem is that the linearity approximation trap allows decoupling the average ECS from the incremental ECS, when in fact, they must be the same. There’s no possible way for the climate system to distinguish the next Joule from the average Joule so that the next one can be so much more powerful at warming the surface than the average and this is a non negotiable requirement for any sensitivity greater than about 0.3C per W/m^2 starting from 288K.

When I say constant from pole to pole, I’m referring to the effect on the averages of constant latitude slices of the planet from pole to pole. The ECS is limited by the path from the surface to space and this scatter diagram shows us what this limit is. Each little dot is 1 month of data covering 3 decades plotting the average output emissions (X) against the average surface temperature (Y) for each 2.5 degree slice of latitude. The green line represents the case of exactly 1 W/m^2 of planet emissions per 1.62 W/m^2 of surface emissions. The larger dots are the averages across all 3 decades of satellite data. Even the monthly averages are within 1% of conformance, varying equally on either side of the mean ECS of 1.62 W/m^2 per W/m^2 of forcing. Note that the slope of this relationship at the current average of about 288K is about 0.3C per W/m^2.

You should note that your plot is reflecting behavior along the input path which varies over a much wider range in order to conform to the limitations set by the output path which is the ultimate limiter on the ECS and this limiter is constant from pole to pole.

If the surface temperature vs. solar forcing is plotted, we can quantify the TCS which becomes 1 W/m^2 of surface emissions per W/m^2 of forcing as seen here, where the red dots compare the input forcing to the surface temperature and the yellow dots representing the ECS limiter are shown for reference. The magenta line is the prediction of 1 W/m^2 of surface emissions per W/m^2 of forcing and once more, the average conforms, albeit with the expected larger variability. Note the relatively narrow range of dots along the output path, relative to the input path. The tight distribution along the output path is why the averages are so stable.

November 18, 2018 12:15 am

The current pattern of the polar vortex in the lower stratosphere is not favorable for California. The vortex will now be divided into two centers compatible with the magnetic field centers in the north.,86.86,296
Very low solar activity.

Reply to  ren
November 18, 2018 12:24 am

The pattern of the polar vortex in the lower stratosphere promotes stratospheric intrusions in the US.
comment image

Reply to  ren
November 18, 2018 12:36 am

When the solar wind is strong, the polar vortex pattern has a more round shape because the wind speed increases in the vortex.

Reply to  ren
November 18, 2018 4:46 am

Ren I am in complete agreement with your assertions. I think all the signs are now in and the climate which has been cooling for the last year or two will continue.

November 18, 2018 12:20 am

Awesome post Willis..but what is side-tractored ? lol

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 18, 2018 9:31 am

I agree with Marcus. It’s a very well written and thought provoking article.

A few typos, “truce” should be “truck” and what is “pluted” in “pluted bloatocrats?”

Reply to  Thomas
November 18, 2018 11:19 am

It is short for “polluted” as in drunk…as in “drunk with power”.

Reply to  Thomas
November 18, 2018 11:45 am

It’s a spoonerism.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Archer
November 18, 2018 12:56 pm

It’s a linguistic jape about bloated plutocrats. 🙂 And well-done, too.

Willis, just a thought, but maybe another point Picasso was making was that joy comes from investigating the question.

Reply to  Archer
November 18, 2018 2:12 pm

Willis, and @Pat Frank November 18, 2018 at 12:56 pm

I think Picasso was just trying to say that computers discourage thinking outside the box. You won’t get any wild and crazy ideas, some of which sometimes occasionally turn out to be brilliant masterpieces, or inventions, or whatever field you’re in, if you only look for what the computer tells you. Even if you can be certain you asked your computer the right question.

John M Ware
Reply to  Archer
November 18, 2018 4:21 pm

Like “Gorge Jershwin’s Blapsody in Rhue” or Mozart’s “Eine neine Klachtmusik” or, in sentences, “Does he have whin-chiskers?” “No, he’s sheen-claven.” An art-form derived from an accident. I do like “pluted bloatocrats” even if Spel-Chek doesn’t.

Jimmy Haigh
Reply to  Thomas
November 18, 2018 5:56 pm

“pluted bloatocrats” – excellent!

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Jimmy Haigh
November 19, 2018 2:23 am

Enjoyed while on a well-boiled icicle. Geoff

Reply to  Marcus
November 19, 2018 8:33 am

Awesome post Willis..but what is side-tractored?

That’s when Farmer Jim sampled too much of the product out of his still just before he plowed his field.

Donald Kasper
November 18, 2018 12:24 am

By 1988 climatology was very well advance and sophisticated. It is based on the statistical study of climate. What we don’t know are the mechanisms of atmospheric physics, which has nothing to do with climatology.

Global Cooling
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 18, 2018 12:52 am

So, there is a lot of good research topics for climate scientist without CAGW. Trump and others does not need to fire them, just redirect the research questions. Politicians can say these things aloud without being ridiculed.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 18, 2018 3:44 am

Yeah. Trying to account for the LIA or the Medieval Warm Period is probably why the MBH98 paper was so popular with the IPCC.
If the answer is “What LIA”?, no problem.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Tom Halla
November 18, 2018 1:01 pm

I remember Jerry North, a climate modeler at Texas A&M, saying how euphoric were the modelers when Mann published his hockey stick, Tom, because their models had all been producing a flat line historical air temperature followed by a steep rise with modern CO2 emissions.

Mann’s HS validated the models. Its widespread acceptance was then a shoe-in.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 18, 2018 10:02 am

Warm and cold periods might just be random, statistical fluctuation. Consider a series of coin tosses. If one flips a coin many times, is not unusual to get a series of five heads or five tails all in a row. In several hundred flips it’s not unusual to see a series of eight in a row. Think of the heads as warm periods and the tails as cold periods. There is no reason other than random fluctuation for there to be extended warm or cold periods. Maybe we will never have a better answer than that.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 18, 2018 12:15 pm

Willis Eschenbach
In my 21 years of climate science reading,
it is rare that an article, or study,
conveys so much wisdom and information
in simple English.

And easy to read too.

However, I have several
for improvement,
from an A, to an A+:
The correct message,
that TCS and ECS are unknown,
is suggested by the huge range
of estimates on the “boring graph”,
but should have been stated directly.

should have been one URL link,
not such a long, self-serving list, and

You should have mentioned Picasso
in the title, and then never mentioned
him again, just to see if people
really take article titles seriously, and

Nothing rhymed
(heh heh)

You’re a pretty smart guy,
for someone who lives
in California.

Percy Jackson
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 18, 2018 12:25 pm

All of those temperature changes show that your thermoregulatory engine just doesn’t work. Or at best there is only a minor range of forcings that it can compensate for. The timescales are all wrong — you claim that there is a local and immediate response to a temperature change which keeps the global temperature constant. Yet over a year the average global temperature changes by 3.6 degrees and over a period of a few years the el nino -la nina cycle can change the global temperature by a degree or so. So any feedback mechanism must be slower than those cycles. And over the past century the temperature has increased by about 1 degree so again the feedback mechanism is either not working or is slower than a century.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 18, 2018 3:47 pm

w is correct. And here’s another way of looking at it:
We don’t know how the sun affected climate in the past and we don’t know what the sun will do in future, so we absolutely cannot predict its effect on climate.
We don’t know what clouds will do in future, so we can’t predict their effect on climate.
We don’t even know what the oceans will do in future, so we can’t predict their effect on climate.
We don’t know how Milankovitch cycles operate on climate, so even though we can predict the Milankovitch cycles, we can’t predict their effect on climate.
We haven’t found out why the Antarctic’s climate is so out of phase with the rest of the planet, ie. we obviously don’t know even the basic physics of Earth’s climate, so the idea that we can predict climate at all is preposterous.
… and the list goes on … and on. We cannot predict Earth’s climate. Period.

Dave Burton
Reply to  Mike Jonas
November 18, 2018 4:08 pm

“so we absolutely cannot predict its effect on climate.”

Actually we can precisely predict the effect of the sun on the climate. Milankovitch cycles are extremely accurate, and the variation in insolation from orbital precession is known very accurately. Ice core data shows the effect of the delta-w/ms.

Reply to  Dave Burton
November 18, 2018 10:26 pm

Dave Burton
– “Actually we can precisely predict the effect of the sun on the climate“. I think not. And that’s because we can’t predict what the sun will do. We can’t even predict one sunspot cycle ahead.
– “Milankovitch cycles are extremely accurate, and the variation in insolation from orbital precession is known very accurately“. That’s true. But we don’t yet know how those changes led to the (proxily) observed past climate changes. There seems to be a bit of a correlation with insolation at 65N, but it doesn’t quite work and there isn’t a known mechanism. So we can’t predict what effect future Milankovitch cycles will have on Earth’s climate.

Percy Jackson
Reply to  Mike Jonas
November 18, 2018 4:16 pm

The claim that we cannot predict the climate is the exact opposite of what Willis is
claiming. He believes that there is a thermo-regulatory engine at work that keeps the
climate stable to within +/- 0.6 degrees. Or at least that is what I can gather from his posts.
This is a climate model that makes predications about the future and states that the climate
is predictable and stable.

Reply to  Percy Jackson
November 18, 2018 10:18 pm

I think you will find that Willis is saying that future changes in Earth’s climate will be very much smaller than the IPCC forecasts, because of the stabilising effects that he describes. I don’t think you will find that w is arguing that the climate won’t change at all, but rather that future changes will happen just like past changes happened and for similar reasons.

Percy Jackson
Reply to  Percy Jackson
November 19, 2018 1:46 am

If Willis is claiming that ” future changes in Earth’s climate will be very much
smaller than the IPCC forecast” then he is predicting the Earth’s climate which is
what you are claiming is impossible. A prediction that nothing will change despite
a large change in radiative forcing is just as much a prediction as one that states that
the earth will warm by X degrees.

Reply to  Percy Jackson
November 19, 2018 2:31 pm

Percy Jackson. What major change is that? Going from 3 molecules out of 10000 all the way to 4?

Reply to  Donald Kasper
November 18, 2018 5:25 am

Can anyone venture a guess as to what percentage of climate scientists actually have advanced education/experience in meteorology? I get the impression (false or not, I don’t know) that a good number of them are mathematicians/physicists/programmers who seem to pay more attention to statistics and reductionist science rather than to the vast complexities of the weather system.

Richard M
Reply to  icisil
November 18, 2018 7:02 am

From what I have seen the field of climate science is simply computer modelling. There is no real science. There is little knowledge of real climate factors, such as meteorology, just those embedded in models by the originators of those models.

The “experiments” we see are virtual and have nothing to do with the real world. The field is more akin to gaming than to actual science.

Reply to  Richard M
November 18, 2018 7:20 am

“There is no real science”

That seems to be the prevailing paradigm. Science conforms theory to observations, whereas climate scientists justify doing the opposite (ignore observations that don’t support theory). For example:

Reply to  Richard M
November 18, 2018 11:44 am

Richard M:

Politicians (and religious leaders too)
have USED predictions of a coming disaster
to control people, for many centuries.

The coming disasters” are usually imaginary:
— You will go to hell if you mis-behave, or
— Earth will become hell if we add more CO2 to the air.

It’s all nonsense
with an ulterior motive,
(sorry, I’m an atheist)
whether coming from
religious leaders
or political leaders.

Of course computer “models” are nothing
more than the opinions of the “programmers”,
converted to complex math, to impress laymen.

And the outputs of “models” are not data.

And when the “model” outputs
are wrong predictions,
for over thirty years,
we know for sure that
the “models” are nothing more
than failed prototypes
that are not real models
of the climate on this planet.

Real science and climate model junk science
have almost nothing in common, except
that people with science degrees are
working in both “fields”.

My climate science blog:

Reply to  icisil
November 19, 2018 12:20 am

I would agree. As a Meteorologist I see climate scientists making basic errors in their claims that most atmospheric/weather scientists know is either unlikely or can not happen. It is a bit like scientists claiming that airline turbulence will increase due to a warmer earth, but with the differential warming of the poles warming faster than the equator, the thermal gradient driving these Jet streams weakens as do the Jet streams and as do the storms below the Jet streams. So where do they get this idea from? The tropical hot spot I suspect, but that does not seem to exist in real life either. More droughts with more water vapour in the atmosphere….makes no sense. Obs back this up as well. Weather becoming more extreme when thermal gradients are weakening…obs show less extreme weather….the list goes on.

Global Cooling
November 18, 2018 12:44 am

“the global temperature variation of 0.6 K over the 20th century is a temperature variation of a fifth of one percent.”

Thank you for adding a good talking point. It is essential to explain climate change to a six year old. For you and me IPCC’s reports reveal fundamental flaw. Unfortunately the policy makers don’t read them, can not comprehend them. CAGW is a powerful narrative for lobbyists, cronies exploiting the political power. Antidote for that is down to earth explanation for ordinary people.

Looking out of the window: let’s make Europe warm again.

Phillip Bratby
November 18, 2018 12:56 am

A good post. But, like most of us here, you have been banging your head against the brick wall of corrupt political bureacracy for over 10 years, all to no avail.

We need more Donalds to drain the swamp of corruption. Or we need some serious global cooling.

Richard M
Reply to  Phillip Bratby
November 18, 2018 7:06 am

As far as I’ve seen, Donald has done almost nothing to drain that swamp. While he has pulled back a lot of wasted money, nothing has been done to rid NASA or NOAA of climate corruption.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
November 18, 2018 8:08 am

I don’t think Global Cooling will change much. When I was in high school (’68-’72) the talk was all the coming ice age, and that CO2 was the driver. Now that the term Climate Change has been adopted to express that humans are responsible for whatever weather occurs, it’s still covered. IPCC will still be driving the CO2 is evil narrative.

Reply to  KaliforniaKook
November 18, 2018 7:30 pm

+KaliKook, they were not saying during the global cooling worries of the seventies that CO2 is the driver. Reid “father of climatology” Bryson and George Kukla both said it was part of a natural cycle as our interglacial wound down, and neither ever reversed his position. Now, I admit you had disgraceful scientists (intellectual prostitutes) like Stephen Schneider saying man made pollution would obscure the skies and cause a full blown ice age in only fifty years before he flip-flopped into the new global warming camp about 1976, but I consider Schneider to be more of a political activist than a credible scientist.

November 18, 2018 1:06 am

If you are saying that this is there central belief then they are dead in the water, it’s wrong at science.

In the long run, global temperature change is proportional to global forcing change.

This was dealt with when groups wanted to deploy more and more computer power to try to predict Weather. The naive old answer was that classical chaos theory stopped you but that simply isn’t true as you would be able to model the start conditions. It was finally pointed out to them that the main exchanges occur in Radiative Transfer in the QM domain and no matter what you do there are time limits to any predictions which can be shown.

Anyone who thinks the effect is minor can have a go at doing this experiment

Even two layers that simply polarize it changes everything so much that classical physics breaks down.
There are a myriad of these QM effects at play and it is the lack of coverage of those QM effects that ultimately breaks your predictive ability.

Now we have 4Billion years worth of data so there is a chaotic range the temperature will wobble around within as both the classical and quantum domains obey the conservation of energy laws. However the idea that if you somehow measure a classical forcing and predict the long term outcome is just funny and flies in the face of all known science.

November 18, 2018 1:25 am

THE most banal idea is that natural living flora and fauna are just passengers caught in the wash of climate changes. Life on this planet has means and ways of controlling both weather and climate! To ignore these natural feedbacks and effects, is to regard anything but the sterile mechanistic view as unworthy of research. As natural life has been on this planet for so long it is surely foolish to disregard life as a another governing factor of what affects both weather and climate, and maybe governs much of it.
Life takes solar energy and sequesters it away with chemical activity building new chemical structures. A tree is not just the sum of it’s chemical constituents but also of the solar energy it has gathered over it’s lifetime. The human population has grown dramatically over the past million years with increasing consumption of solar energy stored in our food. So where is any of that in T&K’s daft energy cartoon? With life, solar ‘energy in’ hardly ever equals ‘energy out’.
This planet, through life acquires, stores, redistributes, and releases energy with the timing life commands, it does not follow the notion of ‘energy in’ = ‘energy out’ until life itself expires — when entropy has the final say.

Also of note is that forests, depending on the majority of tree types, can and do bend the prevailing weather/climate patterns with local changes in released VOCs, NOx, H2O, CO2, Ozone levels and more, variably over the seasons for many decades. I dare say that if ever investigated many plants will be found able to do these simple natural tricks.

Tim Ball
Reply to  tom0mason
November 18, 2018 7:17 am

Isn’t what you describe what Lovelock called the Gaia hypothesis?

Reply to  Tim Ball
November 18, 2018 7:43 am

Lovelock can call it what he wishes. I don’t read his drivel.

Reply to  Tim Ball
November 19, 2018 1:07 am

@Tim Ball,

Let me explain better.
I do not rate so called ‘scientist’ who do so little science while playing their computer games. IMO real science is done by those who get off their fat complacency and go and measure, observe and record the real effects of nature. All others are just fantasists, and yes there are some fantasists who can restrain themselves from veer off into the unlike, the unbelievable but their effort are for nought if their suppositions are not backed by measurements and observations.
All to much of science today is done by these fantasist type and not enough by the foot-sloggers measuring and recording the actuality.

Lovelock is such a fantasist and the Gaia hypothesis is a fantasy with so little to back it up. I’m asking that science back-up or falsify the Gaia supposition. Make it real or cast it out!

November 18, 2018 1:27 am

“The claim is that everything else averages out, and if the forcing increases, then surface temperature needs to change to maintain the global energy balance. It has to change. It must.” What I don’t believe is the everything averages out. They don’t have the data to prove this. By claiming this it falsely converts energy to T. Even if you except the noble gas law applies they only use T in their calculations and ignore the other variables.

Reply to  ironargonaut
November 18, 2018 2:28 pm

The claim is that everything else averages out, and if the forcing increases, then surface temperature needs to change to maintain the global energy balance. It has to change. It must.”

I’m beginning to understand, thanks to many of Willis’ postings and my own understanding of Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer and Fluid Flow and Etc. acquired in pursuit of a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (for which I did graduate, BTW), that this quote could only be true if the only thing that could change was the forcing, which would mean that the air molecules of the atmosphere could not move, they were nailed rigidly in place as if they were atoms of a solid. And that simply ain’t true. End of story.

Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
November 18, 2018 7:57 pm

The black body calculation assumes a solid body so I agree

Reply to  ironargonaut
November 19, 2018 3:34 pm

Ideal Gas Laws?

November 18, 2018 1:31 am

Thanks, Willis!
You managed to articulately frame in writing my sentiments about this issue.
I always tell people to look at this from a wider perspective. You added the different angle.
BTW, As soon as one quotes either the IPCC or the Consensus I feel a knot in my belly.
I am going to adopt the comparison you made between DNA and climate science… 🙂

Ben Wouters
November 18, 2018 1:33 am

Yet despite droughts and floods, despite huge volcanic eruptions, despite constantly changing global cloud cover, despite all kinds of variations in the forcing, despite the hemispheric temperatures changing by ~ 13°C twice over the course of each and every year, despite the globe being balanced on a greenhouse effect which is holding it on the order of ~ 50°C warmer than the moon…

Moons average surface temperature has been measured at 197K by Diviner. (Its Effective temperature is ~270K !!!)
So the real question is :
why is the average surface temperature on Earth ~90K higher than that on the moon.
Next question is : why are the deep oceans some 75K warmer than the average surface temperature on the moon.
Realize that whatever mechanism heats the surface of the oceans, its influence is limited to the upper 300-400m.

So no, surface heat does NOT travel down into the deep oceans.
And no, the atmosphere does not increase Earths average surface temperature some 90K above that of the moon.

Harry Passfield
Reply to  Ben Wouters
November 18, 2018 5:16 am

Could it be that the Earth’s core is providing some warmth, whereas the Moon’s core is very much cooler?

Ben Wouters
Reply to  Harry Passfield
November 18, 2018 6:57 am

Harry Passfield November 18, 2018 at 5:16 am

Could it be that the Earth’s core is providing some warmth, whereas the Moon’s core is very much cooler?

The entire crust on Earth is heated from below. Only the upper ~10m or so is heated by the sun.
Typical profile over a year:
comment image
Going down the temperature increases like this:
The same holds true for our oceans. Heat content below ~500m is completely supplied from inside the Earth.
On the moon the sun only warms the upper 50 cm or so of the surface layer. During the day temperatures rise according the incoming radiation (with a little lag). During the night the surface cools down to (far) below 100K.
Some craters near the poles have a constant temperature of ~25K. This is most probably the energy from the internal heat being radiated away to space.

Harry Passfield
Reply to  Ben Wouters
November 18, 2018 8:37 am

Thanks, Ben.

Reply to  Ben Wouters
November 19, 2018 10:15 am

“Next question is : why are the deep oceans some 75K warmer than the average surface temperature on the moon.”

Just guessing but I would think that it has (in part) something to do with the structure of solid versus liquid water that causes ice to float.

John Shotsky
Reply to  RichDo
November 19, 2018 10:35 am

For the same reason the atmosphere is the temperature it is. The sun warms the oceans and the land (and some of the atmosphere as well). That absorbed heat must be released to space from both the oceans and land, but also from the radiative part of the atmosphere. On a daily basis, on the entire earth, all of that absorbed energy is released to space, but not more than was absorbed generally. The oceans and the atmosphere are reservoirs of energy that would only cool down to the black body temperature in the absence of the sun. One can surmise that it would not take awfully long for that to happen, since we know much energy is radiated to space each day. The first day with no sun would be equivalent to the previous day, minus a small amount since the radiation rate would continuously decrease as the cooling happened. I’d suggest a swag of 30 days to get to black body temperature. No, CO2 has nothing to do with keeping the temperature above the black body temperature.

Ben Wouters
Reply to  John Shotsky
November 19, 2018 12:56 pm

John Shotsky November 19, 2018 at 10:35 am

The sun warms the oceans and the land

How does the sun heat the DEEP oceans?

The oceans and the atmosphere are reservoirs of energy that would only cool down to the black body temperature in the absence of the sun.

Without sun the Earth would cool down to the temperature required to radiate away the small geothermal flux.
Would be around 40K or so.

John Shotsky
Reply to  Ben Wouters
November 19, 2018 1:23 pm

I did not suggest that the sun warms the deep 0ceans. It warms the surface, where it strikes the surface, of course. Same as it heats the land. Afteer 8 years riding submarines in the Navy, I know quite a lot about the thermal conditions of oceans, and can tell you that in the absence of warming currents, the base temp at deep ocean depth is just above 0C…and it stays that way.

Ben Wouters
Reply to  Ben Wouters
November 19, 2018 1:43 pm

John Shotsky November 19, 2018 at 1:23 pm

I did not suggest that the sun warms the deep 0ceans. It warms the surface, where it strikes the surface, of course. Same as it heats the land.

Great. One would think this to be totally obvious. Yet the greenhouse believers (must) claim that the atmosphere warms the deep oceans, otherwise their whole house of cards crashes.
We DO need an explanation however how the deep oceans became so warm (~275K).
They are ~20K above the famous 255K and ~80K above the average surface temperature of our moon.

Ben Wouters
Reply to  RichDo
November 19, 2018 12:51 pm

RichDo November 19, 2018 at 10:15 am

Just guessing but I would think that it has (in part) something to do with the structure of solid versus liquid water that causes ice to float.

Don’t see how this would work.
To me its obvious that the oceans are so hot (~275K) for the same reason the crust is hot:
geothermal heat.

November 18, 2018 1:47 am

Thanks Willi for a clear explantation of what has become a very complicated subject. I wonder if that is deliberate, , similar to Doctors playing at being “God”.

As I am now in my 92 nd yeaar a clear explanation is greatly appr iciated.


November 18, 2018 1:48 am

Hi Willis,

You mentioned the Camp Fire. In Australia we have developed a major problem with bushfires. First the greenies say there can be no back burning in winter because it releases CO2 pollution. Then the fuel load builds up over a few years and we have disastrous fires in Summer. The greenies then say the fires prove global warming is true and we need to stop burning coal.


oebele bruinsma
November 18, 2018 1:49 am

In the word question, there is a clear indication of a quest; a search for a solution. Therefore an excellent question is an excellent start. Is there a relation between a relative weak electro-magnetic output of the sun and a wavery disorganised polar jet stream on the Northern hemisphere? As an active (polar) jet stream is pushing the highs and lows in the atmosphere the residence times of e.g. highs at a specific geographical location is probably smaller than when a weak disorganised polar jet stream is present. View the current cold and stable airmasses in the Eurasia and the North America land masses.

November 18, 2018 1:56 am

“but expressed in graphs like this:” (graph in Kelvin, fig 3)

Physists like to talk of absolute 0. WTF is that? And what has living to do with -273? (or -1,273)
I usually live between -20 and 60 and am most comfortable between 10 and 35 (given some insulation and food and liquid water). I do know ice and steam.
I think that the “fig 3” graph is silly and is not helpful. It is very reasonable to plot between -20 and 60, or to plot anomalies.

As to the point of the article, “The Picasso Problem”, I am struggling to understand. I was no good at art.

Sorry, I got carried away.

A C Osborn
Reply to  robl
November 18, 2018 2:08 am

Because one is Reality and the other is only perception.
Perception does work very well with fundimental Physics.

Reply to  robl
November 18, 2018 3:45 am

Simply put, you can measure around room temperature all you want, but you can’t do calculations on it. You have to convert to degrees K, or else you’re just left with a hopeless mess. Kind of like what happens when you talk to warmists.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Hivemind
November 18, 2018 6:03 am

When you put degrees in front of K you shot yourself in the foot.

Neil Jordan
Reply to  Tom in Florida
November 18, 2018 9:11 am

Re foot-shooting, yes. There was a book about that:
Degrees Kelvin: A Tale of Genius, Invention, and Tragedy Paperback – International Edition, February 10, 2004

Reply to  robl
November 18, 2018 6:11 am

robl, as Willis explained, absolute zero is the point at which everything stops. When molecular activity stops, everything stops. Whether -273.15°C is real or only hypothetical I wouldn’t know; I’m no physicist. What I do understand is that when you are trying to calculate any aspect of the temperature of anything you need to relate it to a zero point and the zero point of the universe is the “absolute” starting point!

This is important if only to challenge the weatherperson who tells us that “this week is going to be twice as hot as the same week last year” which even by their numbers only applies if they are talking Celsius. And as Willis forces us to face is untrue in any case!

The “Picasso Problem” is only a sophisticated version of “garbage in, garbage out”.

Gary Mount
Reply to  Newminster
November 18, 2018 6:25 am

You end up getting the ridiculous statement that 1 degree C is 1000 times hotter than 0.001 degree C and you get a completely different answer if you convert those temps to fahrenheit. Kelvin must be used.

November 18, 2018 2:03 am

The article reviews very well the “utter stagnation” in “climate sensitivity science”, with billions in funds, time and computer power wasted….a dead
end street and additional funds, time and computer power will not better
this situation. Everybody by now should notice that there is a major flaw within this system: The pecularities and perturbations of the Earth orbital move around the Sun are kept static and are not taken into account. The Earth orbit is the true “climate culprit” by varying the climate forcing externally.
This fact was still open at the time of AR3. In preparation of AR4, the IPCC
decided in 2006 to collude to remove all hints pointing to the climatic effects of the Earth orbit, keeping climate internal (atmospherical, tropospherical) and solar.
Earth orbital fundamentals are provided in papers.html
Part 8 (for 1600 – 2050) of this 10,000 year Holocene analysis series explains the orbital climate forcing.
Progress can only be achieved by starting to include Earth orbital pecularities in climate analysis.

Reply to  J. Seifert
November 18, 2018 2:24 pm

I’d like to thank Willis for the teraflops note. Now we can make many more errors and generate useless results much, much faster to make major errors much, much faster.

Regarding the UN- They are totally open with this fiasco. Still on the UN Website are all the details. When some scientists first started looking at why some temperatures were changing a Canadian oil magnate built his fortune and political connections and went to the UN to become the father and first Director of the United Nations Environmental Program. It has many founding statements and has done some very good things(great reductions in the amount of subsistence poverty of about 1.5 billion since ~1995). It also adopted climate and environment positions base on “human caused effects”. CO2 was chosen because it did absorb long wave light, could be theorized to cause heating in the atmosphere, and was difficult if not impossible to substantiate. There is a quote from these first meetings(which I mislaid) to the effect of “….CO2 is something that looks like it should cause warming and affect the climate and it would be relatively easy to set up programs to tax it in various ways to produce money to subsidize financial aid programs in undeveloped countries…..” and implicitly graft and corruption.

That led to the Rio Convention in 1992, the IPCC, and a numerous tax-payer funded meetings to discuss how to start many different tax-payer funded meetings and programs, including the IPCC reports. Actual climate research was never considered including orbital effects and perturbations and lack of any fundamental understanding of the climate.

Reply to  Philo
November 18, 2018 2:39 pm

…United Nations Environmental Program…has done some very good things (great reductions in the amount of subsistence poverty of about 1.5 billion since ~1995).”

I defy you to directly connect the two. I will go so far as to say any reduction in subsistence poverty was accomplished in spite of, not because of, any Programme of the U.N., and may have been achieved only by modifying the definition of “subsistence poverty” over the years.

A C Osborn
November 18, 2018 2:04 am

Mr Eschenbach, can you imagine having to live in that polluted atmosphere you are currently “enjoying” INDOORS every day of every year as the very poor who use open fires for cooking have to do?
That is the catastrophe that the UN/IPCC total waste of money perpetuates.
It is a stain on humanity’s recent history and current morality, exactly the opposite of the reasons for founding the UN in the first place.

Thankyou for an interesting read.

November 18, 2018 2:15 am

“How can we understand this scientific oddity? What is the reason that all of that valuable time, money, and effort has achieved nothing? I mean zero. Nada. ”

The answer is simple. If the range is significantly broadened, they have to admit that they know less today than they did before. If the range is significantly narrowed, they run to high a risk of later observations invalidating the projections. Ergo, the range basically has to stay the same.

Reply to  Kurt
November 18, 2018 7:59 am

Or, they may have gotten it right the first time. (:-))

Steve Reddish
Reply to  Kurt
November 18, 2018 9:04 am

Or, narrowing the range would invalidate most of those model runs. They can’t have the runs projecting disaster eliminated, leaving only runs that project “no problem”.


Reply to  Steve Reddish
November 18, 2018 2:46 pm

Because any research based on reality has only reduced the ECS, which would reveal the whole CO2 charade as the complete non-problem it has always been. So rather than raise the white flag and admit they have been wrong all along, they simply reject all of this research, without even a reason, really, simply refusing to acknowledge it exists, and stick with the original pulled-out-of-their-ether range of climate sensitivities, in order to keep the Subsidies and Mandates Forever™ flowing!

Rob R
November 18, 2018 2:18 am

With regard to the views of Picasso, one should also bear in mind the notable contributions by Douglas Adams on the design of computers, the questions that are asked of computers and on the answers that we receive from computers.

David Jay
Reply to  Rob R
November 19, 2018 11:48 am


bit chilly
November 18, 2018 2:18 am

That deserves a round of applause Willis. This essay should be essential reading for anyone with even a passing interest in the debate.Outstanding effort.

The Cob
Reply to  bit chilly
November 18, 2018 5:03 am

I agree. Corker of a post. Hopefully it gets shared to catastrophist blogs. They could really benefit from a dose of the truth.

Now go inside and put a jumper on.

November 18, 2018 2:36 am

Michael Mann in a talk at MIT:
“I have a reputation out there as some sort of climate alarmist, but I think there is a missing negative feedback.”

Reply to  MikeN
November 18, 2018 2:56 am

Yes Mickey.. its called the clouds and the Sun.

Mickey is wise enough to know there is a cooling trend coming that will make the AGW meme look very silly.

Its called “covering one’s butt”, and we will start to see more and more of it over the next few years.

Reply to  fred250
November 18, 2018 3:33 am

Sure. Just around the corner, it has already started as of 13:30 EET.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Hugs
November 18, 2018 11:29 am

I thought it was at 24:01 GMT

November 18, 2018 2:56 am

“42”, “thanks for all the fish” and “mostly harmless”.

Ha ha!

November 18, 2018 3:00 am

“Finally, how did an entire field of science get involved in trying to answer the wrong question? I say that it is the result of the 1988 creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) by the United Nations.”

I say that it is the result of the 1988 creation of the Supra-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (SPCC) by the United Nations. – there, fixed it for you.

With le Petit, Macron, talking Supra-Govenrmental Empire at the WWI celebration, and Merkel chiming in, it really looks like the last gasp of even CO2 Empire. With Brexit, even Britain is fed up with empire.

Time to move on to the BRI – Belt and Road Initiative with China, India, Russia, and the USA (Pence notwithstanding))

As regards the Nietzsche-enthralled Picasso, see Picasso: Creator and Destroyer by Arianna Stassinopoulos
Huffington Simon and Schuster, New York, 1988 .
He took to his ultimate conclusion the negative vision of the modernist world …
Why was this apotheosis of evil rewarded with tons of money, adulation, to the point of being quoted here?

Bloke down the pub
November 18, 2018 3:11 am

And there’d been me thinking that TeraFlops was the technical name for an Earth science climate model.

Reply to  Bloke down the pub
November 18, 2018 5:05 am

Bloke down the pub for the WIN!

steve case
November 18, 2018 3:21 am

Sixth, any organization that ends up with Rajendra Pachauri as its leader is very, very sick.

First chuckle of the day (-:

But seriously

From above:

Figure 1. Changes over time in the estimate of the climate sensitivity parameter “lambda”. “∆T2x(°C)” is the expected temperature change in degrees Celsius resulting from a doubling of atmospheric CO2,….

I should like to know what the expected temperature change in degrees Celsius resulting from a doubling of atmospheric Methane, CH4,….is.

Knowing what that is, and it certainly must have a value, is central to understanding the IPCC’s Global Warming Potential value for methane of 84 or 86 or some other number at some other time or other concentration of CO2.

And when you get done thinking about that mess, you can add it in as your fifteenth or umpteenth reason to what you don’t like about the IPCC.

Reference: The Global Warming Potential Concept
The Global Warming Potential (GWP) is defined as the time-integrated RF due to a pulse emission of a given component, relative to a pulse emission of an equal mass of CO2

Gary Mount
Reply to  steve case
November 18, 2018 6:30 am
Gary Mount
Reply to  Gary Mount
November 18, 2018 8:57 am

methane times more powerful co2

EPA: 20 times more powerful
EDF: 84 times more powerful
thinkprogress: 34 times more powerful
onegreenplanet: 100 times more powerful
psehealthyenergy: 20 times more powerful
global-warming-forecasts: 72 times more powerful

Gerald Machnee
Reply to  Gary Mount
November 18, 2018 9:58 am

More powerful per unit, but in reality their effect is minor minor.

steve case
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 18, 2018 1:43 pm

Using those, we determine that the forcing from a doubling of atmospheric methane, from 722 to 1444 parts per billion, is 0.14 W/m2 … compared to 3.7 W/m2 from a doubling of CO2.

Thanks for all of that, I appreciate it. But you know what? Ordinary folks and I’m in that group relate to temperature. Watts per square meter? Doesn’t do it but (Yes another but), I know that the sensitivity of CO2 is 1.2°C per doubling of CO2* and 0.14 W/m2 divided by 3.7 W/m2 comes to 0.038 and that times 1.2°C per doubling of CO2 comes to about ~0.045°C. I’d like to know if that’s totally wrong or not.

I’ve asked this question before, and I get a variety of results, (see links from Gary) and my own attempts to work backwards from the 1.2°C per doubling of CO2 results in yet some more numbers.

Someplace I saw a W/m² to temperature conversion – but I didn’t bookmark or copy it – Duh!

* What Explains the Current Spread in Models’ Climate Sensitivity Estimates?
In the idealised situation that the climate response to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 consisted of a uniform temperature change only, with no feedbacks operating (but allowing for the enhanced radiative cooling resulting from the temperature increase), the global warming from GCMs would be around 1.2°C (Hansen et al., 1984; Bony et al., 2006).

Reply to  steve case
November 22, 2018 8:30 pm

Sixth, any organization that ends up with Rajendra Pachauri as its leader is very, very sick.
Courtesy of George W Bush, no sooner was he president than the oil industry approached him to get rid of the IPCC chairman who had been a thorn in their side. Replaced him with Pachauri.

Bloke down the pub
November 18, 2018 3:27 am

You’ve got to be very careful what questions you ask a computer, even a very big computer.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Bloke down the pub
November 18, 2018 9:54 am

“Even the best computer can’t give you the right answer unless you ask it the right question.”

You beat me to it. I was going to say Douglas Adams came to the same conclusion.

Reply to  Bloke down the pub
November 18, 2018 3:11 pm

Interesting… on my iPhone X using Safari with the most recent iOS, and in MS Edge, I see the full-size preview of the Monty Python clip, but in Comodo Dragon, all I see is a big white space, and no amount of clicking in that white space produces a response. Since Edge is an even worse browser than Internet Explorer (IMNSHO), I would like to keep using what I’m using, is there a setting I can change in Comodo Dragon to make it show up?

Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
November 18, 2018 3:48 pm

Hunh… now I see it in Comodo Dragon, also. I don’t think I changed anything.

Reply to  Bloke down the pub
November 18, 2018 10:25 pm

That was the first thing I thought of, but I guessed someone else would have got it in before me.

November 18, 2018 3:44 am

Utter stagnation…

Stands in sharp contrast with this…

And this…

And this…

Supposedly, the IPCC reports are based on the up-to-date peer reviewed work… Yet their climate sensitivity estimates appear to ignore the most recent observation-based sensitivity estimates.

Royer et al., 2004 asserts that CO2 has been a primary climate driver throughout the Phanerozoic Eon. Royer compares a pH-corrected Phanerozoic temperature reconstruction to Berner’s GEOCARB III. The “odd” thing is that they didn’t cross-plot temperature and CO2. The two datasets have the same resolution (~10 million years).

Phanerozoic CO2 vs temperature (unlabeled x-axis is in millions of years before present)…

It yields a climate sensitivity of 1.28 °C.  Royer’s pH corrections were derived from CO2; so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the correlation was so good (R² = 0.6701). If CO2 is a climate driver on a geologic time scale, it’s at 1.28 °C per doubling. Oddly enough, this is very much inline with recent observation-based estimates.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  David Middleton
November 18, 2018 8:35 am

David, I dug into this. The reason AR5 did not give a central ECS estimate (unlike AR4) was because of the growing discrepancy between observational and. Limate model estimates.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 18, 2018 3:46 pm

I wish you had included this in the article, rather than as a comment attached later. I almost missed it. I think you have affirmed what has been wandering around in my noggin for some months now, Trenberth’s “Global Energy Flows Wm-2” is a complete crock, produced only to make his equations work out and completely disconnected from reality. His “Back Radiation” is a quantity not found in heat transfer, but more importantly, he fantasizes “Thermals” as only 17 Wm-2, and “Evapo-transpiration” as 80 Wm-2 (there is a cloud graphic with “Latent Heat 80” in it, which I’m assuming is the same 80?).

Willis has given very convincing arguments that the Earth’s temperature is controlled, at least locally, by what he terms Emergent Phenomenon, i.e., that afternoon thunderstorm and other such events, so besides the imaginary figure “Back Radiation”, the number for Thermals and Evapotranspiration I think are both way wrong. I would like to redo that graphic with the real numbers, but I don’t know how to collect the data. I think someone somewhere has attempted a calculation of the energy transported by a thunderstorm, I know I have (occasionally) seen such numbers for a hurricane, and I also believe I have seen a number purported as the average number of thunderstorms that exist on this planet at any given point in time? So some simple arithmetic can turn those figures into numbers that convey the real picture. I believe that any insulation effect (that’s the correct term to give it, in Heat Transfer terms) provided by “GHG”s is overcome by Emergent Phenomena simply punching a hole in the atmosphere and providing the elevator to space to reject massive amounts of heat as necessary. Can anyone correct the picture?

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 19, 2018 12:34 am

Willis, I have read many articles trying to explain the flaws surrounding the current climate change science. However this article is the best by far that I have read to put the arguments in such a clear and easy to read way. I have been waiting for such an article to be written so I can pass it on to my brainwashed pro climate change family to read so they can understand why I have strong doubts about many of the current widely held beliefs on climate change.

Sadly one just won’t read it. One did and said it still doesn’t show why a warmer planet is not bad for life on this planet. Silence from the others.

I keep saying to myself. Baby steps.

Reply to  David Middleton
November 19, 2018 10:45 am

“If CO2 is a climate driver on a geologic time scale…”

We must suspend disbelief that climate sensitivity would be independent of absolute CO2 concentration.

Also, curious how the ice age preceding the Permian Extinction only rates a -1 Δ C.

November 18, 2018 3:51 am

As some may recall, Dr. Svalgaard recently published a preprint paper with reconstruction of 9000 years of solar activity link
covering most of the holocene. Now I’m back at my pc I thought it might be interesting to compare with the temperature record, but since both are based on proxies the accuracy should be taken with a cartload of salt; further we go back in time there is a less agreement between the two.
You can see result here
(IMHO agreement is reasonable one during the last 2000 years except the short period around 700 AD)

(Typo corrected) MOD

Reply to  vukcevic
November 18, 2018 4:14 am

typo last 2000 years

Reply to  vukcevic
November 18, 2018 11:33 am

At the time I made a comment relating to the ’87 years periodicity’ appearing in the Dr. Svalgaard’s spectral analysis. I used a different method to the FFT (as used by Dr. Svalgaard) and found that there is a significant difference regarding the ’87 year periodicity; comparison of two analysis (limited to up to 1000 year periodicities) is here

Reply to  vukcevic
November 18, 2018 2:19 pm

correction: found that there is no significant difference

John Tillman
November 18, 2018 3:56 am

Over geologic time and even just during the lifetime of our species, Earth’s average temperature has fluctuated widely and wildly. Our planet has been covered in an ocean of molten rock and of solid water ice. And every climate state in between. Its average temperature has ranged from an estimated -50 degrees C to 25 and more.

Temperature change can also happen rapidly, as when coming out of long glacial intervals into interglacials, and between stadials and interstadials within glacial phases.

Despite the swing dampening effect of our water world’s oceans, its thermostat can still get rapidly turned up and down.

The Sun’s power increases about one percent per 110 million years. Despite this, the Paleozoic and our present Cenozoic Eras had ice ages but the intervening Mesozoic, not so much. And our current ice age is probably not over, despite the puny effect of humans on global climate.

Enjoy the Holocene interglacial while we can. Too bad we can’t get CO2 back up to its optimum of 1200 ppm from today’s low level of 400 ppm, which so suppresses C3 plant growth.

Reply to  John Tillman
November 18, 2018 8:05 am

The Earth “has been covered in an ocean of molten rock” during the lifetime of man?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Retired_Enginer_Jim
November 18, 2018 9:29 am

That isn’t what John said.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
November 18, 2018 9:57 am

What do you expect from an engineer who can’t spell it? 😉

Retired EnginEEr_Jim
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
November 18, 2018 7:07 pm

Hey, injenurs can’t spell at all – I was at least close.

And, Clyde, you are right – I misinterpreted what John wrote. Apologies.

Reply to  John Tillman
November 18, 2018 4:08 pm

I sometimes wonder about the period called “Snowball Earth”. The evidence for such is not entirely conclusive, and the first article about it that I read included the bizarre assertion,

…the huge quantities of rock ground into dust by the glaciers would take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reducing the greenhouse effect and reinforcing the global refrigeration…”

which recent events relative to atmospheric CO2 levels and GAT as well as this article of Willis’ reveal as completely bogus. But that doesn’t completely disprove the “Snowball Earth” idea, however… I don’t know the resolution of their proxies, but is it possible the data is so coarse that interstadials similar to our current era are completely lost? Could it be that “Snowball Earth” was an Ice Age just like our current Ice Age, where much of the Earth is covered by glaciers most of the time, broken by the occasional periodic interstadial? And does this mean that this current Ice Age is not a new phenomenon at all, but simply returning to a state of Earth that existed for millions of years, millions of years in the past?

November 18, 2018 4:09 am


You say that forcing is proportional to Downwelling Longwave (DLR), which is true.** DLR is indeed the the signature and cause of greenhouse warming, and therefore climate forcing.

You then talk about the sensitivity factor for increased forcing. But is DLR actually changing? From your graph (below) I see no change in DLR. And I have not found a graph or paper that shows increasing DLR. (Except for that famous one that found no DLR rise in the raw data, so they tortured the data until it screamed and ‘found’ some increase.)

But if DLR is not increasing, then surely any warming we have experienced is NOT due to greenhouse warming. Greenhouse warming is DLR, so no DLR increase means no greenhouse increase.

Is there a flaw in my logic…?


** (Proportional to DLR and shortwave insolation. But since shortwave is not changing, DLR is the only variable.)

comment image

David Dibbell
November 18, 2018 4:10 am

Good post Willis. Thank you. I look forward to the day when computers are tasked to answer this question: “How might the addition of non-condensing ‘greenhouse gases’ change the performance of the heat engine?” This analysis, to answer the question properly, would have to simulate such high-power-density small-scale events as thunderstorms. It seems reasonable to me to expect the performance to improve a bit, making one of the governor’s emergent mechanisms more effective.

November 18, 2018 4:24 am

Thanks Willis. This post pulls together results from many of your intriguing queries. It’s a razor-sharp cut to the quick. Occam would be proud.

Peta of Newark
November 18, 2018 4:26 am

It’s OK
Yeah yeah yeah, easy to say BUT, don’t lose any sleep over climate.

The job is in hand, a vast and totally un-assembled task force is working on it and inside probably one generation, certainly two, It Will All Be Over.

Your clue, think about it for a moment or two before reading on:
More nappies (diapers) are now being used on adults than on babies.

While you’re thinking, here’s some background:
1. Visit here:
and *just* look at the 2nd picture (more than 1,000 words etc etc blah blah)
Yes, the one with the dead-beats, tramps, no-goods and losers.
Would it be naughty of me to suggest that they are an actual representation of the folks who legalised the weed? Just as doctors specify a ‘recommended alcohol intake’, they themselves being some of the folks entirely guilty of being ‘functioning alcoholics’

2. Visit the HuffPo here:
Describes how UK Government attempts to reduce poverty and save money have increased poverty while increasing the size and cost of the bureaucracy. I’d venture that Mr Trump is battling that exact same phenomenon.

3. From ‘Business Insider’ somewhere, sorry no direct link:

Brexit is now such a headache that the UK is ‘uninvestable,

Any US parallels? My example would be Apple. Employed 25,000 people in the US designing stuff and 250,000 in China in *just one* (Foxxconn) factory actually making it
IOW, our Government, your Government (and their agencies) has made, is making and are making, A Total Hash of this Brexit thing and The Economy

4. Your biggest, bestest and final clue:
Why did Mrs May (a girl of the female variety in case you didn’t know or were too busy looking into your SUPER computer, driving your Fat Fifty pickup truck, counting your bit-coins or telling The World how big your d1ck is), Mrs May asked *her* minions at the Office of National Statistics to ask us lowly peasants serfs and lowlifes if we were or are in *any* way “Anxious”
(What a small haha world. Citalopram is (in the UK) prescribed for ‘anxiousness’ with the side effect of making your willy big. Ain’t science wonderful. Boy Science that is.)
Geddit now?

Here we are, try to ignore the rising yields of barley and read/digest this:

The girls are putting the brakes on it

They have *tried* to drop hints, with headaches, crabby short tempered behaviour, feminism, short fat ugliness (that’s what eating sugar does, as a poor-woman’s cure for anxiousness) and they have and continue to do in ever greater numbers, call in the lawyers to level charges against The Boys of ‘Unreasonable Behaviour’
Those things I listed above are examples of that.

But The Boys, convinced of their cleverness, in the fields of science, medicine and machines not least, have belligerently blundered on and on and on. They have not and still not, Got The Hint.
Constantly telling themselves that ‘Things Have Never Been Better” and using crazily mendacious mathematics (statistics) to prove it. As we know and see here constantly.

What went wrong? Why are the girls ceasing production?
Unreasonable Behaviour.
And that is:
The boys have trampled the idea of ‘Romance’ and shredded the pieces of paper they signed at their wedding ceremonies. The boys have NOT shared all they have but primarily, they broke the rules of Romance.
That especially being:
Boys give girls quality stuff and girls, in return, give the boys immortality, in the shape/form of ‘babies’

Modern day horrifying as it is, that Romantic Stuff did actually used to be the still-warm live and or brains of a critter that The Boy has spent some considerable time & effort to hunt down and catch.
Fat. Saturated fat
Mention this to any modern girl, that they, in common with all mammalian creatures are, ‘Fat processing entities’ and you will get a (playful) slap. They know it better than anyone, you ‘just don’t mention it’
here is the breakdown of The Romantic Bargain. Boys are now delivering a tasteless, nutrient-free, mind-bending and addictive alternative.
Sugar. Refined or as cooked starch.

They Boys are starving The Girls.
Then boys tell the girls to starve their babies with Formula Baby Milk out of a tin while the girl (mother) is required to go out to work. Then, insult to injury, all the girl’s financial rewards are taken in baby care charges or inflated housing costs – so as to satiate ever growing numbers of Government Cronies in the financial services industry.
Who now tell us that the UK is a Financial Wasteland.
Fan Tas Tic

Hence where we came in with the nappies.
It doesn’t actually matter which end of the body you put the nappy on, wrap around the ar5eor the head, both are full of shyte and sugar is it.
And the fat processors (the girls) know that and are calling a halt.
They would rather not even produce a baby than see it turned into an arrogant tantrum throwing infant up to age 5, a brain dead no-good zombie age 15 to 50 as per Canadia in the BBC link or a complete cabbage requiring a nappy at both ends from age 55+.

Ehrlich’s prediction has come true and is playing out in real time now as we speak. Climate Science is just one tiny little manifestation.
And the boys, seemingly, don’t want to know. They go off and distrat themselves and anyone who will listen with junk science, crap computers, stupid smartphones, fake news, big bombs and myriad other toys and tat, convinced that greater amounts of such junk is sure proof of “Things never better”
How wrong could you possibly be?
Of course, you could ask a girl, but such is the mess we now have, wouldn’t/couldn’t understand the answer
Sad innit

Thus and inside a generation, there will be more bureaucrats, cronies and nappy wearing old-folks than workers, peasants and serfs to support them – the girls’ present-day (in)action will be bringing the house down.
Sections of Government actually know that.
And what do they do?
Create more bureaucrats , more regulations and ever greater taxes.
Simple Flat-out and Outright Insanity.
But that’s what eating sugar does, destroys sanity.
(Just like cannabis. Enjoy that spliff while you still can)

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Peta of Newark
November 18, 2018 4:30 am


I do talk a lot don’t I?
Not all I do, read here and laugh:

A non-chemical and side-effect free source of Dopamine.
Too late for Canadia and most the US by the looks

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Peta of Newark
November 18, 2018 11:33 am

“But that’s what eating sugar does, destroys sanity.”

You must eat a LOT of sugar.

Buck Wheaton
November 18, 2018 4:26 am

Climate science is far more driven, and therefore funded, by ideology than by science. On the topic of sensitivity, the most important sensitivity being researched is that of plausible justification to impose socialistic solutions. Notice the continual parade of downright wacky things we must urgently fret about being run up the flagpole. And notice their half-lives in the media. Any issue that gets traction gets funding and becomes useful to politicians adept at pandering. I was done being played long ago.

November 18, 2018 4:52 am

Could it be that “climate sensitivity” is both a constant AND a variable?

You gave the analogy of a car’s cruise control and how well it governed speed over hill and dale. But the speed value chosen for the cruise control to maintain is a variable — it is moved up or down by a human driver. So does our climate have a similar driver which (who?) occasionally adjusts the target speed?

Bill In Oz
November 18, 2018 5:03 am

Can anyone provide a clear factual evaluation of this web site ?

A family member suggested this in reply y\to WWUWT…
I have already worked out it is another “Humans are Killing the Planet’ propaganda web site..but it is curious how the title is “skeptical science”

M Courtney
Reply to  Bill In Oz
November 18, 2018 8:27 am

That website is not Sceptical and it’s not Science. They are founded by a cartoonist and made their name by fabricating the 97% of scientists believe in something lie. From that they were given free rein at the Guardian Environment blog. Until they were eventually sacked by the Guardian for ruining the Guardian’s reputation for integrity.

Let’s look at some of their opinions:
Climate has changed before. GHG changes have moved in line with temperature changed but GHG changes have followed the temperature. As a non-science blog the concept of causality doesn’t rear its head. But rational people ought to think twice. It’s a circular argument to say “Now it’s man and then it wasn’t because now its man”. Indeed, even that website admits that CO2 change follows temperature change. And they say that causes a positive feedback. Ask why the first natural forest fire didn’t cause a runaway warming?

Is it the Sun? Arguing it isn’t something else doesn’t argue it is man. Why bother doing that? Because they can’t argue that it is man. The reason being that the climate is chaotic. There doesn’t need to be any discernible driver to make the climate change state. All they have is assertion and “look, it’s not a squirrel”.

It’s not bad? Well, is it? Or are we talking about hay might happen in the future?

There is no consensus? There clearly is a consensus that no political action needs to be taken. Every state and corporation has decided to not take the actions required by the IPCC. Is this a global conspiracy? Of course not. It’s just not proven to be required. Note also, consensus is a political argument. Were this a science blog they would put forward scientific arguments.

It’s cooling? Over what time period? It’s warmer than the 70s. Cooler than the Eamian. And what does this have to do with man?

Models are unreliable? Yes. They are. If they were right we would need only one. They are tuned on the past record and then all diverge rapidly. Remember, models are hypotheses written in computer code. They are not observations.

Temperature record is unreliable? That’s what climatologists keep telling us. They keep re-calculating the temperature records. Why would the past need to change if it was reliable?

Will the change be so sudden that evolution can’t occur? That’s the question. So far, the answer is obviously no. But will there be a sudden science-fiction-style change as described by this website and Hollywood? Maybe. No evidence for it yet , though.

But why take my word for it. Discuss these arguments and the others open-mindedly with your family member. Work it out for yourselves. I am confident that this website will not stand up to any scrutiny. It doesn’t.

See also Willis Eschenbach’s last post. He is right about the failure of climate science to make any progress. That ought to be a red flag. He doesn’t even mention that the inputs (thermometer records, satellites, buoys) have all improved too. There is a reason why Ufology, Cryptozoology and Climatology have not made any progress. There is a reason why they are the least respected fields.

Why do you get a large number of Climate Change Sceptics and not Relativity Sceptics? Because Relativity is not junk science.

John W. Garrett
November 18, 2018 5:05 am

Those of us who have knowledge and experience of computers know that von Neumann nailed it.

“With four parameters I can fit an elephant and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.”

Believe nothing out of a computer until you know the variables and the assumptions.

Gary Mount
Reply to  John W. Garrett
November 18, 2018 6:36 am

To me it seems the relevance is to mathematical equations and not computers.

John W. Garrett
Reply to  Gary Mount
November 18, 2018 8:26 am

That’s a fair criticism.

Substitute “computer models” for “computers” and you arrive at the same place.

Joe Born
November 18, 2018 5:12 am

Nice post, but I have one quibble: you may want to consider revisiting your definition of “forcing.”

My understanding of the IPCC definition is that the forcing associated with a given CO2-concentration change is, if we ignore a few complicating details, the initial top-of-the-atmosphere radiation imbalance that that suddenly changing the concentration by that amount at equilibrium would cause. (Okay, it’s actually “the change in net (down minus up) irradiance (solar plus longwave; in W m–2) at the tropopause after allowing for stratospheric temperatures to readjust to radiative equilibrium, but with surface and tropospheric temperatures and state held fixed at the unperturbed values.”)

I’m open to being convinced otherwise, but at first blush that doesn’t seem to equal the change in “total downwelling radiation.”

Gary Mount
Reply to  Joe Born
November 18, 2018 7:26 am

Willis wrote about IPCC forcing definitions here:

Joe Born
Reply to  Gary Mount
November 18, 2018 12:18 pm


At least to the extent that I understand what he’s saying, Mr. Eschenbach’s alternative definition seems problematic. But that’s a tangent (and involves math), so there’s not much point here in going into why.

Steve Keohane
November 18, 2018 5:19 am

Thanks Willis. It seems the IPCC is desperately clinging to Arrhenius’ early work where he proposed a sensitivity of 3-4.5°C per doubling, by later conceded to 1.5°C per doubling, which just isn’t scary enough to warrant the billions pissed away on this nonsense.
The IPCC need be put in Reagan’s frame of reference, ‘We’re from the government, and we’re here to help’.

November 18, 2018 5:24 am

“The central paradigm of modern climate science is that if you change the amount of downwelling radiation (forcing), that the surface temperature perforce will change. The claim is that everything else averages out, and if the forcing increases, then surface temperature needs to change to maintain the global energy balance. It has to change. It must.
In short, the central paradigm of modern climate science is the following:
In the long run, global temperature change is proportional to global forcing change.
The putatively constant proportion between the two, which is the temperature change divided by forcing change, is called the “climate sensitivity”. “

Indeed. How could these people understand when they do not understand the changes brought about by the action of latent heat within clouds, ice, and snow, or the scattering of IR within the atmosphere.

Also why should nature ‘average out’, if man did not use coal then when would the natural process of making coal ‘average out’? Burning peat and coal releases the ancient solar energy restoring the balance, eh? 🙂

Nature does not have to ‘average out’ — ever!

Carlie Coats
November 18, 2018 5:32 am

“…My trusty PowerMac has more computing ability than most universities had available in 1979…”

FWIW, even five years ago, your _cell phone_ had more computing ability than the fastest computer in the world in 1980 (using LinPack as the measure).

November 18, 2018 5:44 am

“The entire field of United Nations bureaucracy has been trying to conjure a global nuthin-burger since1988.” – UN IPCC.

November 18, 2018 5:51 am

“So regarding climate science, what is the wrong question, and what is the right question? Once again, please allow me to get side-tractored a bit.” ? Is like side tracked ?
Great essay as always Willis.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Marcus
November 18, 2018 10:01 am

Yes Marcus. Willis likes to do his own takes on American idiom. Nothing wrong with that, except for those not so attuned.

November 18, 2018 6:05 am

In point 5 against the IPCC, it is argued that it includes poor scientists because of the intent to include developing countries. This is a mischaracterization that gives the IPCC far too much credit, implying that developed nations are sending quality scientists to honestly look at the issue.

The reality is that voting membership in the IPCC is not a position for scientists at all. They are actually tasked being representatives of their governments, editing the words of scientists to match the desires of of the politicians that assign them. The only requirement for membership a willingness to meet at a resort location roughly twice per year and push for whatever statements will get them assigned to the next trip.

Roger Knights
Reply to  Ted
November 18, 2018 8:47 pm

“They are actually tasked being representatives of their governments”

More precisely, of the environmental departments of their governments. that’s who nominates its IGPOCC representatives and SFP representatives.

November 18, 2018 6:10 am

Both measured changes in air temperature (a few meters above the surface) and water temperature (a few meters below the surface) are not the best measures of energy transfer (between water and air) at the surface of tropical oceans. A better measure is change in dew point because the process of evaporation is endothermic (the surface is cooled) and the energy transfer to evaporate water is much greater than that for heating air. The temperature at the inter-face will tend to be at the dew-point (saturation – 100% humidity). There is a lot of energy transfer in tropical thunder storms (thermodynamic and kinetic). Radiation energy transfer within clouds is a minor factor. Radiation is “line of sight and speed of light”. That radiation occurs between the ocean surface and the bottom of clouds and between the the top of towering thunder clouds and space. There is a big differences between the dew points at these two locations. The processes of evaporation and condensation are your temperature regulating mechanisms.

November 18, 2018 6:11 am

Great Sunday morning read! Thanks, Willis.

It is hard to disagree that the Holocene temperature has shown an amazing degree of stability. Even so, the periods of warmth and cold have had a significant effect on human development.

Given the clear data on the modern warm period, the little ice age, the medieval warm period, etc going back in time, there has to be a forcing mechanism driving the changes. I think Leif’s 9000-year sunspot chart holds part of the answer.

Longer-term, the 2.5 million years of the Pleistocene clearly shows a bi-stable distribution of earth’s climate that is best explained (currently) by planetary dynamics. Over 100s of million years, the earth has experienced even more significant changes in climate as evidenced by the geological data.

Your point about stability, which I agree with, is a short-run feature of the earth’s climate.

We know from their writings the agenda of the UN backers of the IPCC. It has nothing to do with science. Given the likely cooling in the years ahead due to low solar activity, the negative cycle of the AMO, and the steady decline in the earth’s magnetic field, the important question is whether the IPCC movement will be able to continue its march toward power. In my circle of acquaintances, there is no data that you can show them that will change their view that CO2 is destroying the earth. I am shocked at the “climate science” that is being taught in our public schools. No contrary voices are allowed. I have a bad feeling about where this is headed. I’m afraid that skeptics days are numbered. I forget which skeptic gave the presentation where he stated that after giving a talk at a conference that a physicist in the crowd spoke up and said that he was looking forward to the skeptic’s death so society could be rid of voices that doubted that humans were causing catastrophic climate change.

Tom Abbott
November 18, 2018 6:13 am

From the article: “I viewed the climate as a giant solar-driven heat engine, wherein the energy of the sun is converted into the ceaseless movement of the atmosphere and the ocean working against the brake of friction against the mountains and shores and the endless turbulent losses.”

That’s the way it looks to me, too. Until proven otherwise.

The UNIPCC started out with the assumption that humans and their CO2 production were causing the climate to change in ways it wouldn’t otherwise do, and set themselves the goal not of understanding how the climate works, but of proving that humans are somehow involved.

They were biased from the start. And they were biased and subverted science because they have a larger agenda in their minds: The control of human activities on the Earth by United Nations bureaucrats.

Gary Mount
November 18, 2018 6:15 am

The term “forcing” is a carry over from the origins of the methods in use today. Mechanical structures, engineering were the first applications.
The “forcing” or “forcing terms” are “the agents of change” not necessarily a “force”.

Aurora Negra
November 18, 2018 6:23 am

Again Willis have contributed a eminently readable post. So Willis is about my age group and have worked with computers since the 60‘. He should know that the answer is 101010B. But we need a new version of Deep Thought to find the question (in a few MY).

Willis’ thoughts are to a large degree reasonable seen from the standpoint of my geophysics understanding. However, from my EE and signal processing standpoint he fails to come to the only reasonable conclusion. And that is that climate sensitivity (CS) is not a useful concept in the field of climate studies The same applies to the concept of feedback (FB). The main reason is that the equations governing the climate is FAR from linear (it is chaotic). Any attempt to measure CS or FB would almost surely give different values depending on the state of the climate at the time of measurement. The use of these words in climate science is a forlorn hope
of establishing climate science as a mathematically/numerical based endeavor.

Willis also refers to Shaviv who I respect (and when I met him in his office seems to have the same one I had when I was in Jerusalem in 71). But also he fails to draw the obvious conclusion from his boring graph that CS is not a useful concept in the context of the climate.

When will “scientists” stop spending $$$$$$$… on nonsensical words?

Question: If the science is settled and the temperature is related to the log (or ln) of CO2 concentration what will then happen to the earth when CO2 is eliminated from the atmosphere?

And as comment to the situation in California. I traveled to the NW US this late summer and got caught up in some of the fires raging in Origon and NCal. The western suburbs of Redding was quite interesting. Is forest fires a feature of big economies? The closest fire to where I live this year was in the NW part of the EU. I’m glad I’m part of an insignificant political unit. Take care and do as many do in WI and practice controlled reduction of fuel load.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Aurora Negra
November 18, 2018 9:40 am

Aurora Negra,
It may also be that CS is not a constant, but a non-linear variable that is part of the regulating mechanism.

Bob Weber
November 18, 2018 6:39 am

The IPCC promotes three insidious things which stand out as central problems.

1) They believe the effect of warming is the cause of warming, and they don’t acknowledge the cause does not precede the effect for their theory. CO2 can’t logically do what they say as CO2 follows ocean temperature changes, not vice versa.

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2) They utterly fail to understand the dominant solar influence, so when they tell everyone temperatures have risen since 1880, they fail to say the first three solar cycles were very weak, followed by the modern solar maximum. They ignore the glaring solar energy forcing discrepancy over time.

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3) They falsely attribute warming to DWLR, when the OLR tells a different story. OHC drives OLR, and insolation/TSI drives OHC. Central Pacific OLR is a mirror image of equatorial OHC. This all gets to the wrongness of Trenberth’s energy budget scenario.

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Willis’ evaporation hypothesis fits inside my solar work like a glove, which I mentioned here a few times a few years ago, that the evaporation mechanism is a response to solar activity over time.

The unstated implication here is that evaporation and clouds are the main mechanism. Evaporation nor clouds are the driver of climate change; clouds are an effect of solar warming.

I haven’t seen Willis attempt to discern the relative difference in warming/cooling effects between ocean OLR vs evaporation effects. Attributing all ocean cooling to evaporation would be as wrong as pinning it all on OLR.

We know that clouds aren’t being generated everywhere, so OLR dominates in those areas, and in the tropics, clouds clear up or move on, leaving OLR in charge again, which quite dynamically.

As nice as Willis’ work is on this is, it’s not the end-all be-all to climate change, and if people still refuse to see and acknowledge the solar cycle influence over all these factors, I fear the Willis brigade will continue to bound off like happy puppies not knowing where his hypothesis fits in with the bigger picture.

The IPCC is full of self-deluded people hell-bent on not accepting or telling the truth. I recommend the US government work towards disbanding it, cutting all funding.

Don K
November 18, 2018 6:46 am

Excellent article Willis.

Quibble: Re the average temperature of the moon. I looked into that once. Problem is that the moon doesn’t really have an ‘average temperature so much as two temperatures — really hot and really cold with rapid bimonthly transitions at any given spot from one to the other (with a very few exceptions that are always really cold). But for the pretty much equivalent question of “how much do current greenhouse gases warm the Earth?” There is an answer. Or rather there are a bunch of answers since everyone apparently has their own number. But the numbers cluster around 30 to 35 degrees C, not 50. Wikipedia sounds OK on the subject.

“An ideal thermally conductive blackbody at the same distance from the Sun as Earth would have a temperature of about 5.3 °C (41.5 °F). However, because Earth reflects about 30%[11][12] of the incoming sunlight, this idealized planet’s effective temperature (the temperature of a blackbody that would emit the same amount of radiation) would be about −18 °C (0 °F).[13][14] The surface temperature of this hypothetical planet is 33 °C (59 °F) below Earth’s actual surface temperature of approximately 14 °C (57 °F).[15]”

And I’d point out that the “average Temperature of the Earth” itself is a kind of rubbery number that varies constantly, depends way too much on the whims of winds and currents in the Eastern tropical Pacific and is the subject of endless, (IMHO) pointless argument.

Anyway, a somewhat different value wouldn’t seem to have much impact that I can see on your conclusions.

Ben Wouters
Reply to  Don K
November 18, 2018 7:43 am

Don K November 18, 2018 at 6:46 am

I looked into that once. Problem is that the moon doesn’t really have an ‘average temperature so much as two temperatures — really hot and really cold with rapid bimonthly transitions at any given spot from one to the other (with a very few exceptions that are always really cold).

Reason for that is that the moon doesn’t have oceans (at least not the ones made out of liquid water 😉
So there is little energy stored on the day side to be carried over to the night side.

Don K
Reply to  Ben Wouters
November 18, 2018 1:33 pm

Pretty Much. Also, it rotates very slowly. The moon is likely a poor candidate for terraforming. even if we knew how to do that. If we put an atmosphere and water there they’d probably stick around for a few tens of thousands of years. But it’d probably be a really miserable place to be outdoors. Two week long, hot and surely very humid days and two week long frigid nights.

With the low gravity and resulting low vertical pressure gradients, the weather would probably fascinate meteorologists, but think that probably the inhabitants would be less than enthused about the weather.

Nick Schroeder
November 18, 2018 6:52 am

Regarding figure 3, comparing average earth and lunar temperatures. Allow me to ‘splain why using/comparing averages is really^4 dumb.

Suppose illuminated rotating celestial body 1 has a peak temperature of 308 K lit side, 268 K dark side for an average skin temperature of 288 K and a range of 40 C.
Suppose illuminated rotating celestial body 2 has a peak of 388 K lit side, 188 K dark side for an average skin temperature of 288 K and a range of 200 C.
Identical average temperatures, but the moderate range of body 1 allows for the possibility of water, clouds, ice, snow, vegetation & life, the extreme range of body 2 does not.

Suggesting that the airless lunar surface w/ an average of 213 K is colder that the earth’s average of 288 K is disingenuous at best, more likely just simply used car salesman deceitful. Without an atmosphere and the 30 % albedo the earth will receive 20% to 40% more Btu/h from the sun and will be hotter than the “with it” atmosphere not colder.

Hotter not colder w/o atmosphere
RGHE – strike 1
Bogus GHG energy loop
RGHE – strike 2
No upwelling BB LWIR
RGHE – strike 3

John Shotsky
Reply to  Nick Schroeder
November 18, 2018 8:45 am

Very good points, and I’ve always said that earth with a non-radiative atmosphere would be warmer. Why? Because ALL of the sun’s energy would strike the earth’s surface, and that surface would heat and have to increase its radiation rate to compensate. That thermostat, you know.
If earth’s atmosphere were 100% CO2, the whole of earth and its atmosphere would be radiating, so the surface itself would HAVE to be cooler, since the sun provides a fixed amount of thermal energy every day.

Nick Schroeder
Reply to  John Shotsky
November 18, 2018 12:10 pm


Carbon dioxide has about half the thermal conductivity of air, that’s why it is sometimes used between multiple pane insulated glass panels. Krypton and argon are also used for similar reason.

Q = ISR*(1-a) = ASR = OLR = U A dT

If U (1/R) goes down dT goes up same as the insulated walls of a house. If the furnace output is fixed and the insulation is improved from R-3 to R-6, dT will double and the house will become unbearably hot.

So, if the atmosphere were 100 % CO2 the surface temperature would increase, get hotter not colder.

The surface of Venus is hotter than Earth because its CO2 blanket 2.5 times as thick (R=2.5 vs 1.0)and has twice the thermal resistance. GHG LWIR has got exactly zilch to do with it.

Even though Venus is closer to the sun, because of the 70% albedo Venus actually has a lower OLR than earth, 195 W/m^2 & 242 K versus 242 W/m^2 & 255 K.

John Shotsky
Reply to  Nick Schroeder
November 18, 2018 12:49 pm

A point I didn’t mention earlier is the gas laws. Not gas hypotheses, not gas theories, but gas laws.
Gases are related by temperature, pressure and volume.
But NOT by the makeup of the gas! ALL gases, including all greenhouse gases, are controlled by the gas laws, so CO2 cannot be ‘warmer’ or ‘trap’ heat – it will be the same energy as all the other gases in that part of the atmosphere.
It might sound good to a lay person that CO2 can ‘trap’ heat, but that would be a violation of the gas laws, so it simply cannot be.

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Nick Schroeder
November 18, 2018 2:21 pm

Without an atmosphere and without oceans, Earth would have a similar average surface temperature to our Moon. Earth’s ocean surfaces barely cool through the night.

November 18, 2018 6:53 am

If a computer ever gets asked the right question and it provides the answer will it be dismissed and ignored because it isn’t the answer wanted?

A C Osborn
Reply to  KT66
November 18, 2018 8:17 am

What is wrong with 42?

November 18, 2018 7:07 am

Thank you for this great article. Where did you find that smoke map?

November 18, 2018 7:34 am

Why when so much research is going into “Climate Science”is the Met organisations seem unable to forecast the weather more than about three days ahead, and frequently they cannot even do that.

This sort of short term forecasting should be childs play to the giant computers, if they, as claimed, can tell us what will happen in 100 years time.


robert stevenson
November 18, 2018 8:06 am

As a process engineer I worked on heat transfer from non luminous gases (CO2 & water vapour) in furnaces and combustion chambers using manual calculations and then computer spreadsheets. At that time, 1988 , I thought it was ridiculous to blame CO2 emissions entirely for the newly discovered global warming (albeit 0.6 K/century) when there is 60 to a 100 times more water vapour in the atmosphere. If there is a greenhouse effect the contribution of CO2 must pale into insignificance compared with that of water vapour. Your 0.2% variation in a century shows the warming is not significant anyway.

Brooks Hurd
November 18, 2018 8:08 am

Excellent article, Willis!

Where did you get the smoke map?

I searched for one and did not find it.

Thank you

Gordon Lehman
November 18, 2018 8:17 am

” temperature is NOT proportional to forcing ”

Hallelulah, or as Mr. Mosher might say, “duh”.

Of course, this must be qualified to the narrow definition of forcing as LW radiation increase as a result of human atmospheric CO2.

The ultimate definition of forc(ing) is mass times acceleration. Photons are bosons, force carrying particles, and they do accelerate molecules in the atmosphere; but there are many, many accelerations of equal or greater importance.

November 18, 2018 8:22 am

A simple piece of once well known but now ignored science is that the maximum temperature achievable by our oceans is derived from the weight of atmospheric mass pressing down on the water surface so as to fix the amount of energy required to enable the phase change from liquid to vapour. The proof is that the energy required by the phase change is less at the top of Everest than at sea level.

At 1 bar atmospheric pressure the maximum achievable temperature of the ocean surface before convection kicks in and cools it is just under 30C.

The greenhouse effect is a result of atmospheric mass conducting and convecting aided by the fact that water vapour is lighter than air.

It is nothing to do with GHGs at all.

That was once common knowledge until climate science was taken over by astrophysicists with no knowledge of meteorology. To them, all that they know about is radiative energy transfer so they prove the maxim that to a hammer, the solution to every problem is a nail. They are clueless about real world non radiative atmospheric physics.

Radiative heat transfer is important but is already included in the processes that give us average the lapse rate slope as defined in the US Standard Atmosphere. Radiative gases will distort that slope one way within rising air and the equal and opposite way in falling air to give a zero net effect at the surface.

Willis is correct that the system is closely controlled and the reason is that the greenhouse effect is related to atmospheric mass which does not vary on human timescales. All the emergent phenomena that he refers to are simply the visible manifestations of the various internal convective processes adjusting the system as necessary to keep the temperature stable.

John Shotsky
November 18, 2018 8:36 am

There are several points I’d like to mention, but I’ll focus on just one – why earth’s ‘thermostat’ is so good. The explanation is really simple, if you understand radiation law. (Not hypothesis or theory, but law.) First, everything above absolute zero radiates thermal radiation. Ignoring emissivity for a moment, everything radiates at a given RATE, which is determined by it’s inherent temperature. (Planck’s Law) That rate will be constant if the temperature is held constant. The rate will decrease as the object cools. The rate will increase if thermal energy is added. We all understand that simple explanation, but most forget the most important point about it: The rate is increased/decreased by the 4th power of the temperature change. Talk about a perfect thermostat…To that, add that earth’s surface is 70% water and is at sea level, so that 70% of earth’s surface performs the majority of the radiation from the earth’s surface.
You can not change earth’s ‘average’ temperature except by changing the amount of thermal energy entering from space. The thermostat is almost perfect, which is why we don’t see much change over 100 years, regardless of man’s presence.

Robert W. Turner
November 18, 2018 8:43 am

You know what I think is missing from the climate sensitivity debate is good research from quantum mechanics physicists. A lot of details about how exactly the inaptly named greenhouse gas effect operates in a real atmosphere are fudged into the models with gross simplicity of ‘back radiation’ derived from old laboratory experiments.

Rud Istvan
November 18, 2018 8:45 am

Willis, terrific post. I have separately ‘researched’ your hypothesis and mechanisms, and onclude you are correct.
Ler le restate why the models must be wrong about ECS—which doesn’t say what the ‘right’ answer is. The emergent phenomena you correctly invoke emerge on scales that can only be modeled from first physical principles on grid scales of 2-4km. Those are computationally intractible for the worlds best supercomputers by about 7 orders of magnitude. (For CMIP5, the usual grid was ~250km x 250km at the equator, and a single run took about two months time of continuous computation.)
So such phenomena must be parameterized. For CMIP5, these parameters were explicitly tuned to best hindcast from YE2005 back to 1975. Trouble is, the warming from 1975-2000 is indistinguishable rom the warming 1920-1945. Yet AR4 WG1 SPM explicitly said the earlier warming was mostly NOT AGW—not enough change in CO2. So parameterization unavoidably drags in the attribution problem. And the models attribute all trend change to AGW, assuming all natural variability washes out. But it doesn’t.

November 18, 2018 9:13 am

Willis says: “ in load on the truce.”

I think you meant “truck”.

James Clarke
November 18, 2018 9:43 am

“Even the best computer can’t give you the right answer unless you ask it the right question.”

Wonderful post, Willis. I agree 99%. The 1% is more of a question than a disagreement, concerning the quote above.

Can the best computer with the right question give you the correct answer to the future of the Earth’s climate, given the nonlinear complexity of the system?

There does appear to be an amazing climate regulator in action, and understanding that better would advance climate science a great deal. But if we understand that regulator well, will we be able to predict future climate with much skill?

Perhaps we are not just asking the wrong question. Perhaps we are mistaken in believing the answer can be ‘computed’.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  James Clarke
November 18, 2018 11:39 am

The answer certainly can’t be computed unless we know ALL there is to know about ALL the interactions. responses, forcings, etc, and the FUTURE versions of all of the above.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
November 18, 2018 4:47 pm

And even then, I don’t believe the answer can be computed. I was told on the first day of my Fluids Flow class, “We can construct differential equations to model laminar flow. Turbulent (or chaotic) flow can’t be modeled.” And creating a model, even using differential equations, partial differentials or what have you, and claiming that equation “represents” what happens in chaotic flow is… well, the scientist that tries is either trying to fool you, or has fooled himself.

John Robertson
November 18, 2018 10:07 am

Thank you Willis,that is a very readable post.
Good question too.
Politically that “Amazing Stability” is very useful counter phrase to the hysteria over 0.6C.

November 18, 2018 10:30 am

The Earth’s atmosphere cannot heat itself. The amount of radiation escaping to space does vary with increasing concentration of CO2, as more C02 raises the altitude at which the atmosphere can freely radiate to space, thus lowering the temperature at which the atmosphere freely radiated to space, thus lowering the amount of energy lost to space, increasing the amount of energy retained. The magnitude of this effect cannot be calculated.

Any attempt to calculate ECS based on the assumption that all temperature increase since 1850, or 1880, or some year, is due to CO2 is fundamentally unscientific.

So, what IPCC does is not science, it is propaganda. These people hate industry, and in particular the mining industry, as it is messy and interferes with the bugs and bunnies they so dearly love. Do they love their fellow Man? Not so much.

All matter above absolute Zero radiates in all directions all the time. “Downwelling radiation” is a fiction, as the atmosphere at one inch above the surface of the Earth radiates up, down, and sideways all the time.

November 18, 2018 10:48 am

There are wrong questions and there are wrong answers and there are inconvenient truths, and a propaganda machine too. And scientists who aren’t. The future is bleak, but not because of climate change. The climate is far more stable than any good political system.

Robert of Texas
November 18, 2018 11:07 am

I have run into these differences in perspective before…thinkers trained in hard sciences tend to look at the big picture (i.e. use Kelvin) and those trained in biosciences, history, weather, and other more squishy sciences tend to think about smaller differences (i.e. use F or C).

I have made the argument that if you want to discuss how temperature affects mankind then you need to look at the smaller differences, because once everything is below freezing then its kind of just over for life. So when discussing climate, I usually stick to Celsius, and when talking about radiation absorption of a molecule, I go with Kelvin.

You made the comment that “forcing” is not a constant – and I absolutely agree, it would be almost impossible for it to be a constant over its entire range; however if you are just talking about a small part of the range and are not near an inflection point, then treating it as a constant is a good approximation – probably introduces less error then 100 other guesses they introduce in climate science.

I think the real missing understanding of our climate system is how many different and effective mechanisms there are that dump heat into space. If you think of the water cycle and convection for example, it REQUIRES heat to even work…more heat and the better it works dumping heat upwards faster and more efficiently. So it really does not surprise me that our temperature is so stable…we seem to be held right at the level where the heat dumping mechanisms really kick in. That puts a cap on heating… but you can still increase the area where comfortable temperatures are maintained, such as far north and far south, and this will of course cause the magical value for Global Temperature to rise dramatically – its smoke and mirrors. The fact that more of Earth’s landmass is comfortable should not be a scary scenario, but it’s CHANGE, and change is so scary.

So not only are we not asking the right questions, we are obsessing over the wrong measurements.

Schrodinger's Cat
November 18, 2018 11:07 am

Thank you, Willis, for another sample of common sense presented in a well argued, simple manner.

Trying to argue that climate sensitivity is low was never going to be a winning strategy because it starts by accepting that climate sensitivity is meaningful. Observation, as you show, suggests that it is not.

On the other hand, supposing man is causing warming, what changes are we prompting to maintain control? I think that you have answered a similar question in earlier posts for short time scale solar heating in the tropics. Do you think the evidence should exist to show the response to warming over the last few decades? Obviously we could not prove anything but the direction of change is predictable, e.g. more cloud formation.

My real interest in all of this is to argue against irrational climate alarmism. It takes a mental leap to see if your insight can help in this respect but I am always hopeful that the truth can help promote the truth.

Kevin McNeill
November 18, 2018 11:26 am

Twelveth, it is far, far too dependent on untested, unverified, unvalidated climate models.

Substitute “totally” for” far, far too” and you’ve got it

PS twelfth

Schrodinger's Cat
November 18, 2018 11:27 am

I just tried to ask myself the question I sort of posed earlier to Willis.

If we wanted to do an experiment to demonstrate what Willis has been telling us and prove to the alarmists that they were wrong, what would we do? We would take the last 1000 years of climate events and climate data and run it like an old movie.

We would see temperature blips and slopes, volcanoes and maybe other effects. Perturbations in climate would be followed by subtle negative feedbacks. As I think my way into this, problems appear, like the LIA, what caused it and what is warming us up afterwards?

It looks like my idea was a bad one, but before I ditch it, people out there might have more information or thoughts on how to make this idea work.

November 18, 2018 11:44 am

w. ==> “,,,they can only gve you answers,” Not only do they fail to ask the right questions,, but they can not know what data they need or how ti get it,

The stability of the climate system, as you point out,,is a feature rooted in Chaos Theory — stability is a hallmark of Chaos.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
November 18, 2018 4:52 pm

Kip, you posted that from your smartphone, didn’t you?

Wayne Townsend
November 18, 2018 11:49 am

It would be interesting (and helpful in discussing with other laypeople I know) to have a version of your earth vs moon temp variation chart that included at least back to the Eemian interglacial. At least then we would have something to look at.

November 18, 2018 12:21 pm


Superb article! Over 30 years of climate research and billions of dollars spent on faster computers, scientists and programmers didn’t give any progress in answering the most important question in climate “change”. What a fiasco for that part of “science”…

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
November 18, 2018 3:16 pm


I forgot to mention the comparison between models and a simple EBM (energy balance model), which performance was as good as from these multi-million dollar climate models:

From the abstract:

what is the explanatory power of the GCMs compared to a simple alternative time series model, which assumes that temperature is a linear function of radiative forcing. The results indicate that three of the eight experiments considered fail to reconstruct temperature accurately; the GCM errors are either red noise processes or contain a systematic error, and the radiative forcing variable used to simulate the GCM’s have considerable explanatory power relative to GCM simulations of global temperature.

That work is already from 2004, but I don’t have the impression that later models are performing any better…

November 18, 2018 12:25 pm

Dear Willis:
The answer to your question “Why does the global temperature change so little?” is really quite simple.


Water has truly remarkable properties that enable the earth’s temperature to be governed in a very narrow temperature range. These are:
– High heat capacity (4 times that of air)
– High heat of vaporization
– Vapor pressure which increases exponentially with temperature
– As a gas, low density relative to air
– As a liquid, transparent to solar radiation at high frequencies
– As a gas, broad absorption and emission frequencies in the infra-red range
– As a solid, very low emissivity

These properties, combined with water’s abundance on the earth’s surface, enable water to affect, and govern, the earth’s temperature through the following processes:

1. As a green-house gas, water vapor prevents the earth from excessive cooling:

From Monkton ( water vapor was responsible for approx. 75% of the green-house gas effect (in 1850). Because the vapor pressure of water increases exponentially with temperature this is a self reinforcing effect.

2. As an energy accumulator, the oceans buffer the earth from rapid changes to the earth’s energy balance:

The heat capacity of the oceans is 3 orders of magnitude greater than the atmosphere. Due to the transparency of water, much of the sun’s energy goes directly into the deep oceans without being absorbed as heat in the atmosphere. And the time constant for temperature mixing in the oceans is of the order of decades.

Is it any wonder why people, using simple regressions and not taking into account the effects of this buffer, cannot correlate the temperature record to the most active sun in a 1000 years (from the 1950s to the 1990s)?

3. By mass transfer cooling:

The principle mechanism of heat transfer from the earth’s surface is not by radiation, but rather by mass transfer. The very large heat of evaporation of water (2250 kJ/kg) is the principle method of heat transfer from the oceans and terrestrial vegetation to the atmosphere. This water vapor is then transported to the upper atmosphere where it condenses, with much of the heat of condensation being directly radiated into space, bypassing the green-house gases.

If the earth’s temperature increases, the rate of mass transfer cooling increases as a power function of temperature. Not only does the driving force for mass transfer increase exponentially with temperature, in proportion to the exponential increase in the vapor pressure of water, but the mass transfer coefficient also increases, driven by the density difference between water vapor and the rest of the air.

Thus if the earth’s temperature increases, mass transfer cooling increases exponentially, transferring the surface heat, not only from the earth’s surface to the upper atmosphere, but also from the tropics to the higher latitudes.

4. As an insulator:

Snow is a near perfect insulator, and not only that, it has a very low emissivity. Thus there is little heat loss to space from both the arctic and the ant-arctic When the earth cools, the snow cover increases, reducing the earth’s radiative heat transfer to space.

In conclusion, water, due to both its abundance and its unique properties, is responsible for governing the earth’s temperature.

If the heat balance becomes energy deficient, water reduces outgoing radiation by the green-house gas effect and the insulating effect of snow.

If heat balance has excess energy, water increases outgoing radiation by mass transfer cooling, which increases exponentially with temperature.

And finally, both of these variants are buffered by the energy storage capacity of the oceans with a time constant of the order of decades.

How could a simple linear constant called “climate sensitivity” possibly describe the multi-mechanism, time-lagged, highly non-linear climate phenomena driven by water?

Percy Jackson
November 18, 2018 12:39 pm

Willis claims without evidence that the “central paradigm of modern climate science is”
“In the long run, global temperature change is proportional to global forcing change.

No as far as I know no-one thinks this is correct since it just plain wrong. The global temperature
is an approximate measure for the amount of energy stored in the climate while the forcing
is the instantaneous difference between the energy absorbed and the energy emitted by the earth.
Hence the temperature change depends on the integral of the forcing. And the earth responds
slowly — the oceans store most of the heat and it takes about 5000 years for the water in the
oceans to reach equilibrium. What climate scientists actually want to know is how much additional energy
will be stored in the earth’s climate system if we continue to add CO2 to the atmosphere.

And if you wanted to get more precise the Stefan-Boltzmann law says that the energy radiated by a
black body goes as the temperature to the fourth power. Hence any change in forcing will result in a
temperature change going as the 4th root of the change.

November 18, 2018 12:40 pm

Wonderfully Wicked Willis. If only our politicians and “scientists” could comprehend the stupidity of their single-minded stubbornness.
Keep asking that key question: Why does the global temperature change so little?

Percy Jackson
Reply to  Robber
November 18, 2018 1:21 pm

That is not the key question. The key question is whether or not a small temperature change of
2 degrees (less than a 1% temperature change) will have serious consequences for human society.

Reply to  Percy Jackson
November 18, 2018 1:32 pm

The past tells us that an increase of 2 degrees and triple the amount of co2 is optimal for all life on Earth.

Percy Jackson
Reply to  Marcus
November 18, 2018 3:23 pm

It is not optimal for those living within 10 metres of the current high tide mark. But it
would benefit those living in Northern Canada or Siberia. And you don’t have to be a genius
to work out which of those two groups is larger.

November 18, 2018 1:26 pm

–For me, this is entirely the wrong question. The question that we should be asking is the following:

Why does the global temperature change so little?–

The main reason global temperature changes so little is because global temperature is directly related
to the entire ocean’s temperature.
You change global average temperature by changing average ocean temperature and average ocean temperature
is about 3.5 C
But what is global average temperature is the average ocean surface temperature, which is currently about 17 C. This surface of ocean is moving and changing: it has patterns of circulation and are interrupted or evolving into other patterns. Or the surface ocean temperature have a lot to do global weather and regional weather/climate. But surface ocean temperature is controlled or restrained by the average ocean temperature which currently about 3.5 C.

Another reason for constant temperature is the constant surface temperature of the tropical ocean- which normally is not restrained by the average ocean temperature- due to a thick warm ocean surface temperature- though it does have upwelling of colder water, but in terms all of tropical ocean, it’s a minor effect upon surface temperatures. Or tropical ocean surface temperatures are fairly constant despite the periodic upwelling of a significant amount of colder water.
Or if the ocean average temperature was 10 C rather than 3.5 C, this not have much effect upon the surface temperature of tropical waters, but has huge effect upon the average global temperature. Or if average ocean temperature was 1 to 2 C, this would little effect upon tropical surface temperature, but it would huge effect upon global average temperatures.
And in our icebox climate the average ocean temperature has been in a range of 1 to 5 C. And last time Earth had a high average global temperature was during the last interglacial period which the average ocean temperature was about 5 C and sea levels were at least 5 meter higher than today. And there were hippos and alligators in Germany.

November 18, 2018 1:52 pm

Another well-written and interesting article, Willis. Thank you.
Some great comments, too

For what it is worth, here is my obsessive proofreader’s micro-correction:

“First, it assumes a degree of scientific agreement which simply doesn’t exist. Most people in the field, skeptics included, think the earth is warming AN humans may well have an effect on it.” (emphasis added)
AN —-> AND

November 18, 2018 2:01 pm

Excellent post, Willis! Allow me to pick some nits, if you will… Seventh paragraph (or thereabouts, depending upon whether or not I count the bold as a header for the next paragraph, or as simply a highlighted statement within a paragraph):

…temperature change is proportional to temperature change…

While this master of circular reasoning is a feat I would not put past the IPCC, I just want to make sure it’s what you meant to say?

The paragraph after you introduce Kelvin degrees (BTW, whatever happened to Rankine degrees?), then you say the Earth’s temperature varies by…

…a fifth of one percent…

…which I understand to translate to approximately 0.2%. Then just a few paragraphs later, when you talk about the cruise control on your truck (BTW, yours does better than mine, upon a hillclimb I get as much as -3 mph before it will downshift to pick it back up again, and when going downhill it will allow +5 mph before it will downshift to slow it down), you say…

…less than plus or minus one tenth of a percent…

…which doesn’t equal… Oh, wait, you’re saying that the absolute value of plus one-tenth of a percent, plus the absolute value of minus one-tenth of a percent, is equal to a total variation of two tenths of one percent. OK, I’ll give you that. “Never mind!” (in my best Emily Litella impersonation, which isn’t very good).

Stay safe!

Sun Spot
November 18, 2018 3:21 pm

Pynchon’s Proverbs for Paranoids

Rule number 3. If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.

Modeling multiple non-linear closely coupled complex chaotic systems accurately like climate is not possible, as weather models show after a short period of time the result is unreliable.

Loren Wilson
November 18, 2018 4:05 pm

Willis, as usual, I liked your post. One of the nice things about your hypothesis is that it is testable. More satellite data and at a finer scale will help quantify the effect of the emergent phenomena. Just one other comment – molecules still vibrate at absolute zero, just in their ground state. If they stopped entirely, then we could determine both their position and momentum with higher precision than is allowed by Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. Not that quantum mechanics forces this, rather the reverse – quantum mechanics describes the real world. The world is what it is regardless of whether we have a mathematical description of it.
P. S. I have family in Ukiah, which is probably not far from where you are.

Reasonable Skeptic
November 18, 2018 4:08 pm

The lack of progress on refining ECS has been my principal argument for ages. It gets even better when you point out that the unknown portion of 1.1 leaves with an unknown portion of 0.4 to 3.4 deg C per doubling.

How confident are they when your maximum unknown is 8.5 times higher than your minimum, and this has persisted for almost 40 years?

What this single concept reveals is the level of complexity we are dealing with.

November 18, 2018 4:18 pm

Stagnating “Climate Scientists” have the same problem that Black Rhinos and other herd animals have, aging, dominant bulls, beyond useful fertility, who injure and kill the younger more vigorous animals.
As the physicist Max Planck observed, “Science advances one funeral at a time.”
Eisenhower in his farewell address stressed the need for “an alert and knowledgeable citizenry” to ensure that the “free university, historically the fountainhead of new ideas and scientific discovery” not become places where, because of the “great costs involved, a government contract becomes, virtually, a substitute for intellectual curiosity.” and the “equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

Robert Bissett
November 18, 2018 4:21 pm

My first computer course was in 1964. The computer was in a large climate controled room we were not allowed to enter. Just turn in your stack of punch cards at the window. Go back the next day to pick up the endless loop print out and start finding the errors.

Computers are like roller skates; you’re going to the same place, but faster.

Any list of problems with the IPCC should start with the inacting language. The role of the IPCC is defined in item 2 of its document “Principles Governing IPCC Work”, (online at

“The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.” (Heads I win; tails you loose.)

Shouldn’t we also have an IPCU? Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Uniformity?

“The role of the IPCU is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis for the amazing climate uniformity on planet Earth during the present Holocene Interglacial Period.”

And another one: The IPIA…Intergovernmental Panel on the Ice Age.

“The role of the IPIC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis for the initial cause and continued existence for 2.6 million years of the current Ice Age and to predict the onset of the next glacial period and it’s potential impacts on civilization and options for adaptation and mitigation.”

November 18, 2018 4:33 pm

Very nice post W.
Has the fact that the fossil record….
shows that at least somewhere on the planet life has continued basically uninterrupted (meaning stable temps between say above freezing and 40C) been included into the computer modelling? That despite the proxy co2 data showing huge swings it did not affect the entire planet? That runaway warming is not possible on this planet?
My belief is that Earth definitely has a ”thermostat” and this is the one and only reason life has continued for hundreds of millions of years. It would seem to me that the Earth’s sensitivity to current pitifully low co2
concentrations is basically 0.0, certainly as far as the biosphere is concerned and given observations probably the temp as well.

Reply to  Mike
November 18, 2018 5:02 pm

Right. If this old Earth had a tipping point, it would have tipped already. We are here to discuss it, so it doesn’t.

Steve Reynolds
November 18, 2018 5:12 pm

Willis: “…my hypothesis is that the temperature is maintained within narrow bounds by a variety of emergent phenomena that cool the earth when it gets too hot, and heat it up when it gets too cool.”

Previously you have shown fairly convincing data that this is true in the tropics. Have you considered that it is only partially true in temperate regions, and may not the case at all in northern polar regions? Then in some cases a regional climate sensitivity might make sense.

Dave Burton
Reply to  Steve Reynolds
November 18, 2018 5:25 pm

The “emergent phenomena” fail to maintain narrow bounds of temperatures during the periodic glaciations that have occurred as recorded in the ice core data.

Dave Burton
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 18, 2018 5:39 pm

Thermal inertia is a much better explanation than “emergent phenomena” for the stability we see in global temperatures. Not only are your “emergent phenomena” local, and not global, but they fail to explain why the earth undergoes periodic glaciations.

Ben Wouters
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 19, 2018 4:45 am

Willis Eschenbach November 18, 2018 at 9:01 pm

each entire hemisphere goes up on average by ~ 13°C and then down by ~ 13°C every year … and given that the temperature can change that fast, I’m afraid that the claim that “thermal inertia” can hold the temperature to a change of 0.6°C over a century simply won’t hold water.

Thermal inertia is perfectly capable to explain why the temperature of the deep oceans is ~80K above the average surface temperature of the moon, and why the deep oceans have cooled some 10-15C over the last ~85 million years.
That the sun only increases the temperature of the mixed surface layer of the oceans some 13C in half a year is another example of the effect of thermal inertia. Each day the sun adds some 20 MJ/m^2 energy to the mixed surface layer of the oceans, slowly increasing its temperature during spring and summer. That energy is released again at the surface during autumn and winter.
Diurnal variation also is very small, in spite of the solar input in the tropics going from 0 to maybe 1000 W/m^2 and back to 0 within ~12 hours.
Looking for mechanisms that may explain how the surface can lose energy to space is pretty useless when we actually need to explain why the average surface temperature is ~90K above that of our moon, which is at the same distance of the sun and reflects less solar radiation than Earth does.

Ben Wouters
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 19, 2018 12:48 pm

Willis Eschenbach November 19, 2018 at 9:12 am

That one is well understood. It is the very poorly-named “greenhouse effect”.
Well, that plus the fact that the moon rotates very slowly, so the dark side can get very cold

Seems you believe that increasing the rotation rate of the moon to that of the Earth plus adding an Earth like atmosphere will increase the average surface temperature some 90K.
Assuming this to be the case, we still need a mechanism that transports surface heated water down to the ocean floor.
Whatever heats the surface in this example, its influence doesn’t reach below ~400m and is seasonal. So conduction and mixing doesn’t warm the deep oceans.
The only water that sinks all the way to the ocean floor is Antarctic Bottom Water. The coldest, densest water of the oceans that actually cools the oceans.
Very interested to hear how in your opinion the deep oceans became so hot (~275K).

So two options imo:
– the atmosphere heats the surface PLUS the deep oceans above what the sun is capable of.
– the sun heats the surface layer of the geothermally heated oceans to our pleasant surface temperatures and the surface heats the atmosphere, that only slows down the energy loss to space.
Obviously the second option is the one that makes sense imo.

Ben Wouters
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 19, 2018 1:00 pm

Willis Eschenbach November 19, 2018 at 9:12 am

That one is well understood. It is the very poorly-named “greenhouse effect”.
Well, that plus the fact that the moon rotates very slowly, so the dark side can get very cold

Seems you believe that increasing the rotation rate of the moon to that of the Earth plus adding an Earth like atmosphere will increase the average surface temperature some 90K.
Assuming this to be the case, we still need a mechanism that transports surface heated water down to the ocean floor.
Whatever heats the surface in this example, its influence doesn’t reach below ~400m and is seasonal. So conduction and mixing doesn’t warm the deep oceans.
The only water that sinks all the way to the ocean floor is Antarctic Bottom Water. The coldest, densest water of the oceans that actually cools the oceans.
Very interested to hear how in your opinion the deep oceans became so hot (~275K).

So two options imo:
– the atmosphere heats the surface PLUS the deep oceans above what the sun is capable of.
– the sun heats the surface layer of the geothermally heated oceans to our pleasant surface temperatures and the surface heats the atmosphere, that only slows down the energy loss to space.
Obviously the second option is the one that makes sense imo.

Ben Wouters
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 19, 2018 2:53 pm

Willis Eschenbach November 19, 2018 at 1:53 pm

Well, let’s start by looking at what the temperature of the moon would be if it were rotating and tumbling say once per minute so it was evenly heated everywhere.

Better to start from a physically realistic situation, one side of the moon continuously facing the sun. (1 rotation / orbit)
The average radiation on the sunny side is 0,88 * 680 W/m^2 = ~598 W/m^2.
Radiative balance temperature would be ~320K. (actually a bit lower, since the radiation is not evenly distributed). Dark side would be close to 0K.
So average temperature ~160K.
When introducing rotation we need to specify how much heat storage takes place at a given rotation rate.
The faster the rotation, the higher the temperature, but even at eg 1 rotation/second the temperature will not reach the Effective temperature of ~270K, since the radiation will still be unevenly distributed. The poles still receive no radiation at all.
I’ve seen some modelling where the average surface temperature of the moon rotating at the same rate as Earth would be around 220K. if I remember correctly.

Ben Wouters
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 20, 2018 6:19 am

Willis Eschenbach November 19, 2018 at 3:12 pm

In other words, you have no answers to the issues that I raised, so you want to talk about something completely different.

Obviously. The moon rotating AND tumbling once a minute would be torn apart by the incredible forces involved in this process.
I’m afraid you’ll have to come to terms with the simple fact that not one planet or one moon in our solar system is heated evenly by the single sun we have available.
All spherical bodies will have only one half of their surface exposed to the sun at any one time. So assuming radiative balance for an entire planet / moon is nonsense.
Our moon is a prime example of this basic physical principle.

Ben Wouters
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 20, 2018 1:10 pm

Willis Eschenbach November 20, 2018 at 9:16 am

If the heating of the moon were evenly distributed over its entire surface, the temperature of the moon would be ~ -4°C.

Yes, this is the Effective temperature for the moon (~270K). For Earth this number is ~255K.
These numbers have no relevance in the real world.
On the moon solar only heats the upper 50 cm or so of the surface, no superconducting.
And the rotation speed is low enough to let the daytime temperatures be in radiative balance with incoming solar (although with some delay).
Night side average temperature is around 80K, well above the ~3K radiative balance would give. Explanation is 25-40K due to geothermal flux. The rest is some carry over energy from the dayside.
So starting from the non-rotating radiative balance blackbody temperature of ~160K, it is pretty straightforward to explain the actual average surface temperature of ~197K for our moon.
This makes the non-rotating radiative balance blackbody temperature the relevant starting point for explaining the surface temperature of a planet / moon.
For Earth the number is ~150K.
To explain the ~288K average temperature we need the oceans, the atmosphere and the rotation rate we have.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 19, 2018 10:34 am

Surface heat is all relative. This image from polar oceans shows ocean heat triggering cumulus clouds showing transfer from surface to the atmosphere.

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old construction worker
November 18, 2018 5:31 pm

“Why does the global temperature change so little?” That one item that has always amazed me even when I was in 7th grade larning about earth science. The heating and cooling system in your house isn’t that tight.

November 19, 2018 12:31 am

The stratospheric polar vortex pattern is now compatible with the geomagnetic field in the north.
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D Cage
November 19, 2018 12:51 am

Surely it is as important to give it the right data to base those answers on as to give it the right question. It was only the race relations laws that stopped scientists referring to engineers as grease monkeys for fear of offending the coloured section of the community. That contempt for practical skills and the need to both do that part as diligently as any academic work and to have proper quality control procedures to ensure that the standards are maintained has continued quite openly even if not so publicly expressed.
It is this failure that is at the heart of the failures of climate science. The practical side of collecting not just CO2 man made emissions and temperature but natural emissions has received a tiny fraction of the total budgets and has always been at the heart of any budgetary skimping.
Why do we not see the matching man made and natural CO2 emissions alongside the temperatures in all public airing of the life threatening climate change argument? It is relatively easy to find files like AMSRE_SSTAn_M but try to find the equivalent man made and natural explanation for providing correlation let alone proof of cause and effect and it is at best a challenge. Clearly there are huge and vastly profligate barbecues being held by Eskimos off the Alaska coast. Or are there and natural sources are actually at work here?
Sadly asking questions like this puts you on a par with Nazi supporters and denier is justified as a label according to the BBC from a reply they sent to a complaint about the use of that label for legitimately rejecting climate science predictions.

November 19, 2018 1:36 am

Some basic meteorology.
All those emergent phenomena referred to by Willis are simply local irregularities within the bulk movement of the atmosphere.
The average surface pressure is close to 1000 millibars.
All low pressure cells are at lower pressure than that and are comprised of rotating air spiralling upward around the centre.
All high pressure cells are at higher pressure than that and are comprised of rotating air spiralling downwards from the centre.
At any given moment half the atmosphere is rising and half is falling.
The surface heat taken upwards in a low pressure cell does not remain as heat as it rises. Due to the gas laws it becomes potential energy which does not register as heat, hence the lapse rate slope.
That potential energy then appears as heat again as the air descends within a high pressure cell.
It is that reversible process that causes the greenhouse effect because the ground beneath a high pressure cell is warmed both by fresh incoming sunlight AND reappearing heat from the descent phase of convective overturning.
The extra heat beneath the high pressure cell then flows across the surface to the base of nearest low pressure cell where it then feeds the next uplift.
Once the bulk atmospheric turnover is in place there is a net zero energy gain/loss within convective overturning but the surface is then warmer than it otherwise would have been from external insolation alone.
A contributor above correctly pointed out that the weather systems require a reservoir of energy to keep them moving and it is the energy comprising the greenhouse effect that is utilised for that purpose.
Willis’s emergent phenomena are the system in action on a local, visible scale.
More radiative gases within an atmosphere simply facilitates radiative energy transfers at the expense of non radiative energy transfers such that bulk convective overturning would become less vigorous to a miniscule extent with a net zero effect on surface temperature.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 19, 2018 9:19 am

The problem is that in the period of very low solar activity El Niño does not work.

Reply to  ren
November 19, 2018 9:22 am

comment image

Reply to  ren
November 19, 2018 9:35 am

Very low solar activity will last at least until the end of 2019.
After the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 2020, the solar cycle will be weak.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
November 19, 2018 9:22 am

In terms of the planet as a whole with its bulk convective processes of uplift and descent both those features are indeed local irregularities though being at the larger end of the scale one could perhaps term them ‘regional’ instead.
You really should try to understand rather than picking out a perverse interpretation in order to try to score an invalid and misleading point.

November 19, 2018 2:32 am

The field of climate science is trying to use computers to find an answer to the wrong question.


John Shotsky
November 19, 2018 9:11 am

To answer the question of why earth’s temperature is above the expected black body temperature:
We have a heated atmosphere. It is heated every single day, 24 hours per day. If it were to remain dark long enough, the overall temperature would drop, as when massive volcanoes obliterate part of the sun.
The point is that the air temperature where we walk around increases nearly every day, and drops nearly every night. Why doesn’t it drop lower? Because the sun returns before it can cool all the way down. You can see this on a daily basis and a yearly basis. Everyone knows heat rises via convection, but there is no opposite force bringing that thermal energy back down to the surface. (Yes, I understand sinking air, but that is not the return of the thermal energy.) Air heats quickly, but cools slowly, which is why it is coolest just before dawn. The atmosphere is cooled at night by surface radiation – via conduction. The air is coolest right at the surface, and is warmer just above the surface at night. That is because the surface radiation drops the temperature of the air in contact with it, then warmer air above that mixes, etc, and that continues until the sun returns. On clear, windless nights, the surface temperature can be several degrees below the air temperature at the standard thermometer height of about 2 meters.
So, it is simply the presence of an atmosphere that does it, not the makeup of the atmosphere. CO2 has nothing to do with air temperature, since it CANNOT be a different temperature than the molecules around it. The ideal gas laws stipulate that all gases behave the same way, and that is based on the volume/temperature/pressure relationship only.

Reply to  John Shotsky
November 19, 2018 9:18 am

John Shotsky

The only way your proposition can work is if there is indeed an ‘opposite’ force (I prefer the word ‘process’ bringing that thermal energy back to the surface).
Every high pressure cell (in total constituting half the atmosphere) is indeed constantly bringing that thermal energy back to the surface by converting non thermal potential energy to thermal kinetic energy during the descent.
How else do you suppose the volume/temperature/pressure relationship could possibly work ?

Reply to  John Shotsky
November 19, 2018 11:00 pm

“So, it is simply the presence of an atmosphere that does it, not the makeup of the atmosphere. CO2 has nothing to do with air temperature, since it CANNOT be a different temperature than the molecules around it. The ideal gas laws stipulate that all gases behave the same way, and that is based on the volume/temperature/pressure relationship only.”

I think the ocean has a lot to do with “it”.
Obviously, the ocean warms Europe.
And it’s well known or mentioned often, that tropical ocean is the heat engine of the world.
And would say if a tropical ocean was isolated so that warmed water could not flow poleward- as in case with Gulf stream. A tropical ocean would still warm the rest of the world.
Other than warming the rest of the world, the tropical ocean is warm in terms of average night and day temperature, and if covers 40% of total surface area of planet- it’s like smart kids in a class, it bring up the class average score. Or if remove the smart kids from the class, the class average score lowers.
Or earth has average temperature of 15 C, because 40% of planet has average temperature of about 26 C.
So ocean warms rest of world, it has higher average surface temperature of about 17 C [global land average is 10 C]. So it increases average global to 15 C just because it’s 70% of surface area of planet AND it warms the land area.

Okanagan Town Criero