A conversation with John Christy, for Association des climato-réalistes

Guest interview by Grégoire Canlorbe

John Raymond Christy is a climate scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) whose chief interests are satellite remote sensing of global climate and global climate change. In February 2019 he was named as a member of the EPA Science Advisory Board.

In May 2019 he was interviewed by Grégoire Canlorbe for Association des climato-réalistes, the only climate-realist association in France. The conversation was first published in the French journal Valeurs Actuelles(in a French edited version), and on Friends of Science(in the original English version).


Grégoire Canlorbe: You have been at pains to show that climate models are over-predicting warming by roughly a factor of two. Could you come back to this alleged falsification?

John Christy: We should be applying the scientific method to claims scientists (and others) are making about the climate. In this case I downloaded the output from 102 climate model simulations used by the IPCC and compared the tropospheric temperature since 1979 between the models and several observational datasets, including the satellite dataset we generate. The models on average were warming the atmosphere at a rate significantly greater than the observations. This is a test result from which we can say the models failed, and thus one shouldn’t depend on model output to characterize the future climate.

Grégoire Canlorbe: You are notably known for your involvement—along with Roy Spencer—in devising the first successful satellite temperature record. It turns out that beforehand you had already built your “first climate datasets” at the age of twelve, “using a mechanical pencil, graph paper, and long-division (no calculators back then.)” Could you tell us more about this life of invention?

John Christy: I was fascinated with the weather conditions around my home in the San Joaquin Valley of California (a desert basically) and the contrast with the climate of the Sierra Nevada Mountains immediately to the East. I was curious as to why some years were wet, others dry… why the Sierras had more precipitation and why the snow levels varied so much. I was the first high school student in California to write a simple program to predict the weather and to calculate the snow level in the mountains. These were very crude, statistical models in 1968, written for computers that were far less sophisticated than today’s cell phone. But, they introduced me to computer coding and to the power that was required to study. That was over 50 years ago.

John Christy (on the left) in the company of Grégoire Canlorbe – Paris, May 2019

Grégoire Canlorbe: It is sometimes alleged that given the impossibility to obtain—from the study of averaged weather patterns over a given period—reliable predictions on the forthcoming atmospheric conditions, climatology is not a full-fledged science. At best, it would be an art mobilizing various scientific fields (such as physical geography, oceanography, and metrology); at worst, it would be a propaganda tool. Do you recognize some relevance to such criticisms?

John Christy: One of the fundamental characteristics of the scientific method is that if we understand a system, then we can predict the behavior of that system. Our work in which we compare “predictions” from climate models against the actual changes of the real world indicate the current understanding of climate change is rather poor. This understanding is certainly not mature enough for regulatory policy. That certain experts and elites refuse to see the level of immaturity of understanding regarding climate, is astonishing.

However, it is understandable since climate is such a complex system, it is easier and more comforting for these elites to simply ignore the complexity and declare they believe CO2 is dangerous and we should believe them because of some status of authority they have garnered for themselves. They claim the “Science is Settled” only because they have not performed the necessary scientific tests which I believe would lead them to the opposite conclusion.

Grégoire Canlorbe: Concerning the climate-realist argument that CO2 is the food for plants, it is commonly answered that any good thing in excess—including CO2—becomes a poison; and that CO2 levels continuing to rise would only be beneficial to those of plants sheltered in highly controlled greenhouses.

While the increase in temperature (following the increase in CO2) engenders an increase in the size of deserts, the larger growth—as well as the greater moisture evaporation—of CO2 enhanced plants heightens their need for water; as a general rule, too high a supply in CO2 leads to a reduced availability of other nutrients—and, in the case of certain plants, can also trigger a reduction of photosynthesis or a greater vulnerability to insects. How do you assess this analysis?

John Christy: The evidence from satellite observations is very clear that the Earth has experienced considerable “greening” over the past 20 years, so this indicates that the extra CO2 we have put back into the atmosphere is having a very positive impact on the biosphere. It should be noted that most of the living things around us developed in an atmosphere millions of years ago that contained four to ten times more CO2 than we have at the present.

So, deserts are not increasing, but contracting. This is where the scientific method is so important—when someone makes a claim about a change in the climate or Earth system, others should test that claim with real observations. Unfortunately today, the media often would rather announce the dramatic claim of a terrible change without checking the facts.

Grégoire Canlorbe: In response to showing that climate is barely sensitive to CO2, it is not uncommon to assert that it remains impossible for fossil fuel industry, mechanized agriculture, and mass urbanization not to have disturbed the natural course of climate in one way or another. To what extent do you reject this claim?

John Christy: I think the natural course of the climate has been changed, especially in urban areas where the natural surroundings have been drastically altered. Temperatures are warmer (especially at night) in these urban areas. Globally, the climate impact of the extra CO2, I believe, is actually smaller than the urban warming signal in our big cities. It should be noted that the people of the world are moving toward modernization and that is accomplished by affordable energy—which today comes from the burning of carbon-based fuels. In the future, other sources of energy that are affordable will be deployed and this alleged problem of “climate change” will fade away.

It is important to note that we did not leave the Stone Age because we ran out of stones. We left the Stone Age because something better was discovered by human ingenuity. We will leave the Carbon Age not because we run out of carbon, but because a different and more affordable source of energy will be developed. As of now, the traditional renewables aren’t the answer because they supply such little energy relative to the area they cover, and they are unable to supply energy “on-demand” as is required for a modern economy.

Grégoire Canlorbe: The recent Notre-Dame de Paris fire has been occasionally qualified as a consequence of global warming. In other existing interpretations, the burning is thought to be God’s punishment against the Roman Catholic Church—by reason of its alleged crypto-Paganism which would be culminating into the ecologism of Pope Francis and his endorsing the belief in anthropogenic warming. As a former missionary, how do you react to this demonization of the Catholic Church?

John Christy: I do not think such interpretations are useful. I would only say that, in general, the Christian faith upholds the value of human life so that actions that enhance the length and quality of human life is the moral imperative. At this point in time, the use of carbon-based energy provides exactly what is needed here—the energy needed to lengthen and enhance the quality of human life. Without energy, life is brutal and short as I learned while serving as a teacher/missionary in Africa.

Grégoire Canlorbe: The purported neoconservative turn of Donald Trump’s foreign policy does not fail to arouse controversy. When it comes to assessing retrospectively the neoconservative movement, its positive deeds and its mistakes, do you think figures like George W. Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol, or John Bolton have been fighting against eco-fanaticism as vehemently as they have been combating the threat of Marxism or that of Islam?

John Christy: I do not think about this issue too much. I would say that one should look at the final piece of data—the world is increasing its carbon emissions as it works to eradicate poverty. So, while the world has been scolded for 25 years by elites from scientific, academic and liberal government entities, nothing has really changed. People will pursue what is in their own best interest—long, healthy and fulfilling lives—and affordable energy makes that happen.

Grégoire Canlorbe: It has been hypothesized that changes in incoming solar radiation—over several decades—are the main factor causing or, at least, modulating climatic variations. Could you share your thoughts on this alleged connection between the Sun and climate?

John Christy: I’ve looked at this issue and we do see the impact of solar variability on our stratospheric temperature data. However, in the troposphere (where we live) the evidence is very difficult to draw out because our dataset is only 40 years long and other major perturbations have confused the ability to detect an 11-year cycle (i.e. volcanic eruptions, El Niños etc.) There certainly must be a relationship between solar variability and climate, and I am watching with interest the work of those who study the cosmic-ray connection which is directly related to solar variations. Perhaps even greater evidence will be coming soon in this area.

Grégoire Canlorbe: It is not uncommon—in some Christian circles—to conceive of the Darwinian theory of evolution as a state-sponsored hoax comparable to man-caused global warming. Both would be pseudo-scientific perspectives denying the divine character of man and the presence of Providence in the universe—and leading to idolize the state. As a Protestant scientist, how do you assess this opinion?

John Christy: This is an interesting question. Please note that a scientist using the scientific method should generate a reproduceable result whether he/she is a Baptist (like me), a Buddhist or a Baha’i. The scientific issues about climate are based on measurements we make to test claims, not on an opinion one might have. When it comes to policy that directly affects people, especially the poor, we now must consider non-scientific issues such as: is it proper to inflict hardship on those who can least afford it by following policies that demonstrably will not impact the climate?

It is not in our best interest to appeal to religious feelings when dealing with issues that are available for scientific testing. As the average person knows, there are a multitude of religious opinions today, but a scientific test should have results to which all rational people, religious or not, should be able to acknowledge.

I also think the average person has considerable experience regarding the claims about a dangerous future from so-called experts which the average person knows are simply exaggerations. And, the average person knows that these experts want to pass rules that take away a part of life that the average person wants and needs. Recent elections around the world demonstrate that the average person recognizes these false claims of calamity and wants to get on with their lives without the burden of higher taxes and fees which, in fact, will not impact the climate anyway (as we have shown with scientific tests). The average person is smarter than the experts and elites suspect.

Grégoire Canlorbe: Thank you for your time. Is there something you would like to add?

John Christy: No. Thank you for interviewing me.

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42 thoughts on “A conversation with John Christy, for Association des climato-réalistes

  1. Bottom line: the atmosphere/albedo reflect away 30% of the incoming solar energy and that makes the earth cooler not warmer. Remove the atmosphere and the earth gets hotter. RGHE theory claims exactly the opposite.

    That the earth w/o an atmosphere would be similar to the moon, blazing hot lit side, deep cold dark, is not just intuitively obvious, but that scenario is supported by UCLA Diviner lunar mission data and studies by Nikolov and Kramm (U of AK).

    This actual and indisputable fact negates, refutes, guts and tosses RGHE theory straight onto the nearest scientific rubbish heap of failed theories together with phlogiston, luminiferous ether, spontaneous generation and cold fusion.

    No RGHE, no CO2 warming, no man caused climate change or global warming.

    • While what you say is true enough, the issue is what is the effect of us humans doubling the CO2 concentration. We seem stuck somewhere between 0.7C and 1.5C, although some think 0.0C, and others 4.5C or higher.

      The words dynamic, chaotic, turbulent, cyclic get combined with feedbacks and tipping points. It may be that we will get to the doubling of CO2 before we can successfully predict to within + – 0.5C. How humbling that will be.

      • All the more reason to demand new taxes and socialist takeover of all energy industries!

      • “what is the effect of us humans doubling the CO2 concentration”
        The assumption that we humans are the active agent in the increase of CO2 was also referred to by Dr. Christy. Harde 2017 and now Harde 2019 refute that assumption and show that most of the increase is natural likely caused by the temperature recovery from the little ice age.
        Not only is Dr. Christy’s analyses of the connection of rising CO2 to temperature and the failure of the models important to policy considerations, the attempt to limit emissions in order to control the atmosphere content is futile.

      • Assuming that the Clausius–Clapeyron relation and its companion formula (August–Roche–Magnus formula) are true, then you cannot have warming without the increase of water vapour. Even all alarmists agree with this. Assuming that all warming is directly and indirectly caused by increasing net CO2 ( a huge assumption that I don’t agree with), then the amount of warming must ultimately be tied to any increase in total precipitable water(TPW). Since the Clausius–Clapeyron relation says that for a 1 C increase , the atmos can hold 7% more water. However the UAH trend has been 1.3 C per century. Since the TPW has increased 0.131 mm/decade and total TPW is 27.12 mm, that would imply an increase over last 40 years of 0.524 mm or 1.932%. Clearly this doesnt come close to the 7% versus 1 C relation of Clausius–Clapeyron . Therefore the supposed temp increase by UAH of a 1.3 C / century is more than triple (3.6x) the actual increase. Theerfore the actual temp increase of last 40 years is ~0.14 C instead of the 0.52 that UAH have found. So either UAH is wrong or the Clausius–Clapeyron is wrong or the GHG theory of all warming being caused by CO2 is wrong. I know which one I am picking to be wrong.

      • EdB
        June 29, 2019 at 7:57 am

        “While what you say is true enough, the issue is what is the effect of us humans doubling the CO2 concentration.”
        ——————————

        EdB.

        The above, is more in the lines of either of a statement, or a rhetorical question.

        But as far as I can tell, the response is still simple and the same, according to the data, and the empirical evidence;
        “That effect is zilch, nada, non existent, mathematically impossible.
        not even a mathematically or otherwise correlation to be consider, in the context of human CO2 emissions versus CO2 concentration trend,
        let alone a causation there to be considered as possible under such as circumstance.”

        Also the most fascinating thing in all this, is that CO2 concentration is not accelerating in its up going trend, even when and where the thermal expansion of the atmosphere has stopped or considerably decelerating, while in the same time human CO2 emissions are increasing and even accelerating.
        A clear nullification of your above statement or otherwise consideration point.

        But simple, very simple;
        no correlation there, definitely no causation to be considered there within the realm of possibility.
        Good luck to all who somehow try to produce a false and a fake correlation there, by unscientific persuasions.
        It is not there, so far, and it will not be there ever, as far as the clause of a scientific method approach considered…

        Already at a very high point of clarity in the data and evidence as it stands, at this time…. technically, at the very least,
        shown as a mathematical impossibility…

        A climatic cooling trend, with a CO2 concentration trend going up, as a considered condition,
        falsifies the anthropogenic CO2 emission forcing there, in the absence of a clear enough acceleration of CO2 concentration trend.

        Oh, well, good luck to you and any one else there who believes in a doubling of CO2 concentration there, either in the context of anthropogenic, or natural forcing consideration.
        Ain’t going a happen.

        Already the natural CO2 emission flux is decelerating, in the same time step and real time, with no delay or lag, same as the thermal flux is, in the consideration and relation to the thermal flux… according to the data and evidence as it stand.

        cheers

    • No Nick. If you start with only N2 and O2 atmosphere, and then add CO2, the C02 will cause the sun to heat the ground a bit warmer thereafter because the sky will have an IR temperature blocking the ground’s view of outer space, while N2 and O2 are transparent, which would cause the ground to radiate directly to -270 C outer space. Same holds true if you assume constant 30% albedo (a bad assumption, BTW, due to clouds). Simple SB calculation.

      • Utter nonsense. But you have , of course, the science behind your statements.

        What is the physics behind CO² being the cause of the sun heating the ground ?

    • Nick Schroeder

      “Remove the atmosphere and the earth gets hotter.”

      No its doesn’t get hotter because all IR radiation emitted by Earth in response to solar input immediately escapes to space, instead of being absorbed by some atmospheric constituents and then only partially reemitted outside.

      The average temperature of the Moon at mid latitudes would be, if it rotated around its axis exactly like Earth, around -40 °C.

    • Yes. It is often the case that integrity of an individual manifests itself in ones outward appearance. Christy appears to be healthy and young for his age.

      David Appell is Spencer and Christy’s self-appointed arch nemesis, an individual who appears old for his years, disheveled and generally unhealthy.

      https://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/david-appell-the-gift-of-totality/

      Good science and integrity should ultimately win out in this battle, if not spiritually as well as physically, and Christy is on the right side.

  2. It was a good interview. But I think Dr. Christy should have added the word “reliable” whenever he mentioned “Affordable energy”. Affordable isn’t very meaningful if it’s only available randomly through the day.

    • Hi Jeff,

      John Christy wrote above:
      “As of now, the traditional renewables aren’t the answer because they supply such little energy relative to the area they cover, and they are unable to supply energy “on-demand” as is required for a modern economy.”

      I suggest that adequately covers the fatal flaw of intermittency in grid-connected wind and solar power.

      • Hi Allan,

        He does mention it that one time, but mentions affordable more than once. The two should should always go hand in hand, IMHO.

    • The random type is especially not affordable. If it’s costs were not obfuscated using accounting slight of hand and subsidies, Fed, State, local and using typically only installed subsidized costs and not including mining, smelting, conversion, transportation, line losses and a shorter than advertised life (high maintenance costs) we would be shocked at the true cost.

  3. If this were an interview of Mann, every other sentence would have had the word “deniers” and the phrase “industry shill”, as opposed to talking about science.

    • Mann would never submit to an interview “by Grégoire Canlorbe for Association des climato-réalistes, the only climate-realist association in France.” He is strongly opposed to discussing climate change with and ‘denier’, i.e., give them either type-space or air-time.

  4. Why does the increase in a trace gas cause massive greening of the planet. BUT can have no effect on the greenhouse effect??

    • No one says it can’t, but no one has been able to measure the effect beyond the noise.

    • Why does the increase in a trace gas cause massive greening of the planet. BUT can have no effect on the greenhouse effect??

      non-sequitur:

      Why does an increase in water cause my plants to grow. BUT can have no effect on the amount of insects attacking them??

    • It clearly has some – but the issue is the sensitivity to CO2 of the climate system with regard to global surface mean temperature. THAT appears to be less than 1C per doubling if the only cause for warming was CO2. I personally think the impact of the solar cycle and the thermospheric response to high solar activity in particular have not been adequately studied. During solar cycle minima the thermosphere cools greatly. The atmosphere contracts and the probability of a low wavelength photon making out into space increases. The inverse happens when the sun is in an active period. The 20th century sun was more active than it had been in many thousands of years.

      CO2 certainly absorbs and reemits infrared. It certainly vibrates in resonance with some frequencies. And it certainly is responsible for significant warmth. But the atmospheric response is logarithmic and I think we are in the asymptotic part of that curve with regard to CO2.

      • “certainly is responsible for significant warmth”

        How do you square that with the fact that most of our data about the climate shows CO2 lagging temperature?

    • How can warmistas be certain CO2 is gonna cause the planet to be quick fried a crackly crunch, not change a single thing in their own lives, and then blame it on everyone who disagrees with them…while oh, by the way opposing any actual “solution” to the problem they claim exists?

  5. From the article: “Grégoire Canlorbe: The recent Notre-Dame de Paris fire has been occasionally qualified as a consequence of global warming. In other existing interpretations, the burning is thought to be God’s punishment against the Roman Catholic Church”

    and

    “Grégoire Canlorbe: The purported neoconservative turn of Donald Trump’s foreign policy does not fail to arouse controversy. When it comes to assessing retrospectively the neoconservative movement, its positive deeds and its mistakes, do you think figures like George W. Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol, or John Bolton have been fighting against eco-fanaticism as vehemently as they have been combating the threat of Marxism or that of Islam?”

    end excerpts

    Riciculous questions. I wonder how Christy kept from laughing out loud upon hearing these ridiculous questions. What does John Bolton have to do with CAGW? Answer: Nothing. So why ask such a question? Answer: Your guess is as good as mine. I think some mental cloudiness is involved somewhere.

  6. Great interview!

    I feel certain it put Mann’s panties in a twist! Many others too!

    TPS … Twisted Panties Syndrome. There seems to be a lot of syndromes on the left. CO2 is causing twisted panties! It’s worse than we thought!

  7. I love John Christy’s common sense when he says:

    “I also think the average person has considerable experience regarding the claims about a dangerous future from so-called experts which the average person knows are simply exaggerations. And, the average person knows that these experts want to pass rules that take away a part of life that the average person wants and needs. Recent elections around the world demonstrate that the average person recognizes these false claims of calamity and wants to get on with their lives without the burden of higher taxes and fees which, in fact, will not impact the climate anyway (as we have shown with scientific tests). The average person is smarter than the experts and elites suspect.”

    This just sums up the whole current political situation in a few lines and explains the increasing revolts and resistance at election time. People have common sense. Politicians and Experts have lost theirs.

    • The virtual experiences and emotional roller-coaster rides that the media feeds to the public often defy common sense, yet the public eats them up.

      Perhaps Dr C is a bit too optimistic about the ability of Joe Average to use critical thought to avoid indoctrination through religious precepts. Time will tell, I guess.

  8. This post is OT, it is related to what seems to be a fraud from Météo France with respect to the max temperature recorded on the 28th of June at Gallargues-le-Montueux.

    Météo claims that the new absolute record in France has been measured on this weather station and is 45,9°C :
    https://www.infoclimat.fr/observations-meteo/archives/28/juin/2019/gallargues-le-montueux/000OZ.html

    (I made a screen copy of the data, if needed).

    The max temperature actually recorded on this station is 44.1°C at 17h and 17h30 the 28th of June, and not 45.9°C at 17h, which is a “felt temperature” (“biométéo” column) and not a measured temperature.

    Furthermore, there are some pictures of this weather station on the web site :
    – it is placed directly on a tiled roof …

    I wonder what Anthony Watts thinks about this mess …

  9. You can quickly recognize a wise man by his carefully chosen and succinctly delivered answers to tough, trick-laden questions.
    I see a rare mix of intellect and wisdom tempered by humility in John Christy. I hope history will regard him so.

  10. Dr. Christy says:
    “However, in the troposphere (where we live) the evidence is very difficult to draw out because our dataset is only 40 years long and other major perturbations have confused the ability to detect an 11-year cycle.”

    As far as I can find out, there is no much of a point in looking for the 11 year cycle, since the GCRs have smallish influence on the global temperatures, and only at their strongest, when there is a noticeable 22 year periodicity in the duration due to the changes in the solar magnetic polarity – Hale cycle.
    However, the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field is the greatest obstacle to the GCR atmospheric penetration.
    For anyone interested, as well as Dr. Christy, I have assembled some facts here
    http://www.vukcevic.co.uk/GCR-ClimateChange.htm
    in a way of further information.
    Do I have hypothesis ? Yes, with consistency of Swiss cheese.

  11. All this and no mention of the increase in water vapor. Water vapor has been increasing about twice as fast as it should be based on the temperature increase of the surface liquid water. In about 2002 both the temperature and the water vapor stopped increasing (interrupted by the 2015-2016 el Nino which is still sorting out).

    There are at least 7 compelling observations that CO2 has little or no effect on average global temperature. http://diyclimateanalysis.blogspot.com

    Perhaps this explains why.

    Well above the tropopause, radiation to space is primarily from CO2 molecules. If you assume there has been no increase in water vapor (big mistake), WV averages about 10,000 ppmv. The increase in absorbers at ground level since 1900 is then about 10,410/10,295 = ~ 1%. WV above the tropopause is limited to about 32 ppmv because of the low temperature (~ -50 °C) while the CO2 fraction remains essentially constant with altitude at 410 ppmv up from about 295 ppmv in 1900. The increase in emitters to space at high altitude (~> 30 km) accounting for the lower atmospheric pressure is 442/(295 + 32) * 0.012 = ~ 1.4%. This easily explains why CO2 increase does not cause significant warming and might even cause cooling.

  12. The congregation at the Model Fellowship of Mann church will probably attack Dr Christy over this just like they did Dr Curry for testifying truthfully before legislators.
    Come to think of it, Mann is the visage of the Anti-Christy. 🙄(not as bad as Bastardi’s one-liners, but stinky none-the-less)

  13. Anti government policy groups are very rare in france. I’ve had many conversations with people in my town both as their councilor? and friends. The depth of believe in what the government tells them is frightening. However, it is changing. We have an anti ball trappe ( clay shoot ?) group here and an anit éolienne ( wind turbine) group. Both have been created very recently and have been fighting their case through the courts. The ball trappe appears to be a mafia inspired business entreprise.

    Also, Associations, collectives etc have a unique position in law.

    I absolutely admire these young french people for their tenacity and drive.

    Just look at the gilets jaunes again this weekend.

    Nothing on the french, british, german or any other MSM

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