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Some Thoughts on the Climate Crisis July 3, 2015

Posted by wmmbb in CLIMATE CHANGE.

I posted comments at Catallaxy, to some expected hostility (perhaps understandable since I transgressed into their territory) but mostly in “dialogue” with Bruce of Newcastle. I am re-posting to keep and add links, and to review what I presented.

First Comment:

A tendentious set of opinions, Alan. I am a little sceptical. So what are the “empirically challenged warming numbers?. Other than temperature records, what other sources of evidence might be challenged? Is it the case scientific findings throughout the climate system are incorrect? Given you will probably say this is not so, how else might they be explained? Could it be variation in the Earth’s orbit?

There was an interesting response by another commentator who argued in terms of falsifiability of a hypothesis. I consider this claim to be uninformed. There is widespread agreement among climate research scientists, according to Cook et al based on published research a consensus of 97% that the theory is strong and consilient. Both the deductive empirical science and the observations are consistent.

Bruce, who I am sure will not mind if I mention him personally, and who has the scientific background I lack, responded:

Wmmbb – There is no global warming, at least not in the satellite temperature data for over 18 years (and this data has been cross-checked by radiosonde balloons).

Also the extreme weather is getting less not more: fewer hurricanes, lower accumulated cyclone energy, fewer tornadoes.

Then there is the UK Met Office which over the last few years has acknowledged the influence of the Sun (this was just last week) and the ocean cycles, which together cause both the pause (which they are now acknowledging) and about 5/6ths of the temperature rise last century (which they aren’t acknowledging for the obvious reason that it would kill the CAGW movement stone dead).

At the moment the only thing keeping it all going is the adjustments to the terrestrial temperature record, which are subject to under-estimation of UHIE and confirmation bias since the people in NOAA and NASA GISS are strongly CAGW activists. But they are losing the people steadily, especially when you have brutally cold winters in the US and Europe the last few years.


Also Wmmb, as I’ve mentioned to you before this is all explained by lower empirical climate sensitivity for CO2. The calculated numbers are falling as more and more climate scientists find that the climate data is explained by low ECS and not by high ECS.

Relentlessly shrinking climate sensitivity estimates.

Eventually they will find that ECS is quite close to TCR and that both are well under 1 C/doubling, which is harmless if you do the arithmetic. We don’t have enough extractable carbon on Earth to cause more than 2 C of anthropogenic warming.

I am ordinarily hesitant to comment on technical matters such as the climate sensitivity of CO2, since it presupposes I know what I am talking about and that I fully understand the underlying science. However, I might observe that greenhouse gases generally, and CO2 act in the climate system as feedback for water vapour which is also a greenhouse gas, a larger but more transient actor in the climate and weather drama of the troposphere. The water cycle is more dynamic than the carbon cycle. If water vapour remains in the atmosphere for about ten days, carbon dioxide lasts for about ten years. The long term net effect of the release and storage of carbon is its accumulation in the atmosphere. Without CO2 the Earth would have an atmosphere like the Moon’s, with severe fluctuations of day and night temperatures. Joseph Fourier applying his quantitative theory of heat flow in the second decade of the Nineteenth Century recognized the need for such agency in the atmosphere, and John Tyndall set up the experimental apparatus and carried out the experiments to identify the relative gases, including notably water vapour and carbon dioxide. Climate science is then the application of the empirical science by observation, measurement and data.
Second Comment:

Here is a neat set of graphics, What is really warming the world? (Bloomberg Business). This graphic suggests that the global land temperature records, and more recently ocean temperatures are accepted. The consistent reports of record temperatures are evidence to the theory. Orbital variation does not rate as a major factor, and so a poor option for a skeptic, but one that can on the presented evidence be eliminated. One assumes NASA knows something about something about satellite data, and orbital decay. Thanks again Bruce I will follow up on your references. As for cyclones and hurricanes, my understanding is that while are fewer, those that survive wind shear, are more intense, which in turn is function of rise in sea level.

To which Bruce wrote in response:

Wmmbb – Bloomberg is as green as grass. I had been reading the website for years until I had to give up, the lack of any relation to scientific reality was getting too strong. Confirmation bias is not science, it is scientism.

NASA GISS was run by James Hansen until he retired recently. Dr Hansen was an activist who got himself arrested multiple times. Strange behaviour for a head of an organization supposedly unbiased. When he retired he was replaced by Gavin Schmidt. Gavin has been the prime mover of the RealClimate activist web site. I can usually pull apart anything they write using peer reviewed science papers and data. I gave up on it after a while, it is repetitive and they don’t post much these days. He is also a well known activist. Gavin famously did a strange dance when invited on a TV show only to find Roy Spencer had been invited too. He refused to be on the same stage as Dr Spencer, and behaved amazingly childishly.

On the other hand NASA GSFC is scientific and not so prone to prima donna activism. They acknowledge the effect of the sun via the Svensmark mechanism.

Then there are the 49 ex NASA people who wrote a letter pointing out CAGW isn’t actually happening. They were especially critical of NASA GISS, who is mentioned in the Bloomberg story right at the start and whose temperature record they use. I have reams and reams of citations and data showing how bad GIStemp is.

There are a number of problems here, and they relate to the process of dialogue.I am not really across much, if not most, of the underlying science. For example, issues related to climate sensitivity. As for solar irradiation, you knows anything about it other their is ultra violet, visible light, and the extraordinary long wave infra-red radiation.It is like when I visit my specialist and he describes blood plasma and so forth. While I try to respond in a reasonable way and show interest, I am getting a graduate education which is having the same success Issac Newton had with the students in his classes at Cambridge University.

I could take issue with the fake NASA experts revealing their political bias. I should have made this point, but not to bring the conversation to a dead end.

Third Comment: Some things we can agree on – and let’s just open a can of worms:

“Confirmation bias is not science”, but the costs of extreme events, eg Cyclone Sandy are staggering, with implications for insurance rates. Time, at leas t a columnist got into the act. The improvement in energy efficiency will reduce business fixed costs.

Bruce, I intend to read your reference carefully. The same applies to the Pope’s message on dialogue, climate science and poverty, along with the mandatory theology.

To which Bruce responds:

Normalized insurance costs have not risen. People however like to build in places that flood, and governments have been letting them. Its not the climate, its stupidity. (And population increase, I admit: there’s only so much room in the Sydney basin for example, so councils find excuses to allow development on land they previously didn’t.)

If you cite the Munich Re study be warned. Heh!

Seriously, Wmmbb, the data just isn’t supporting anything like a serious consequence for warming, if indeed there will be any in our lifetimes. Even the UK Met Office which was in the forefront of the CAGW movement in the time of Copenhagen is now rapidly backing off with this new study that cooling is expected for decades. That is exactly what sceptics (who like me receive no money from government or anyone, but who love science) have been saying for years.

The two lessons I draw from this exchange are: have your links ready and when necessary ask for clarification. The latter avoid tangential digressions and unnecessary misunderstanding. I had seen somewhere that an Insurance person had assessed that an extra inch or centimeter in sea level had resulted in an addition $30 million in damages. How can that be calculated, and if it can reliably be assessed insurance companies are going to act to recover costs ahead of time.

Dot made some comments. I expect these things to be said. To which I responded:

Either way is not a problem Dot. The problem that climate change the argument, at least here, is not an argument about evidence or about what is now a well-established and robust scientific theory. It is about philosophy, or worldview, and I guess it is true across the ideological board when people perceive they are attacked they will dig in and reinforce their position. Antagonism, perhaps always, reflects alienation in some form or other. Anyway, Bruce we might expect cooling, which is not now immediately apparent and would not be for some time to come. In the meantime, it is wise to heed the warnings of increased flooding and bushfires.

Then there was some very interesting historical comments made in relation to Cyclone Sandy and to previous examples of extreme weather in Australia. I take it in relation to the latter that the Bureau of Meteorology would be fully appraised. I respect another person’s interest about events that I was unaware of.

So I respond:

Thank you “mosomoso” for your sharing historical information, both in your last post and your preceding one. Your last observation is of course correct. The future is notoriously difficult to predict based on the assumption that the future will be a extension of what happened in the past, which is particularly the case under conditions of climate change. We tend to get carried away by rhetoric.

Despite what is claimed, given that there are over 10,000 land-based weather stations across, with some notable blank spots, such as parts of Africa, Antarctica and the Arctic, does indicate global warming. There are more recorded observations from Argo Buoys and Satellites. I cannot add anything to observations you mention, but take the implication that natural variation might well have played a significant role.

Then Bruce notes:

Here is the current satellite temperature anomaly data.

Flat as the Nullarbor. No global warming for 18 years and 6 months.

For the reasons why see my first comment upthread. I can provide plenty of other data too, including about the odd approaches that NOAA, NCDC, Hadley and BoM use for adjusting the terrestrial temperature records. Cooling the past.

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

– George Orwell

That sounds like Big Brother giving Winston Smith the low down. So it is not an issue. The data that Bruce has chosen to represent is problematic. There is a question of identifying signal among the noise, which is not helped by choosing 1998 as the starting year. If almost every succeeding month or six monthly period is been described as the hottest ever, the conclusions are at odds. Furthermore, by far the greatest amount of extra heating is absorbed by the oceans. As has been suggested, it might make more sense to measure sea level rise, which apparently be done with extraordinary accuracy from satellites, as the primary indicator of climate change.

So if you persist, sometimes you may get the last word:

OTOH just looking at the data presented by Roy Spender/John Christy from satellite microwave thermal emissions, I would say there is a warming trend indicated.

Bruce, to shock perhaps a reference to Wikipedia article in which I find the following:

Satellite datasets show that over the past four decades the troposphere has warmed and the stratosphere has cooled. Both of these trends are consistent with the influence of increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.

As is said this one of the fingerprints that are said by astrophysicists to indicates relates the carbon cycle to human causality. Whatever the shortcoming of land-based temperature records they a pattern of both day and night time increase in temperature. For Australia, I have seen this bar graph and the US I have only daily temperatures.

While the GISS data might be pages from 1984, it remains an interesting summation.

Conspiracy theories I find problematic because they tend to attributions and not evidence based. I tend to rely on the consilience of the scientific claims. The big news when somebody undertakes a scientific study and finds the evidence contradicting or calling into question the assumptions of the prevailing theory.

I am not sure if any progress was made in our “dialogue”. Like the Pope does, we should recognize that the climate science debate is scientific and political. The Pope is acting as a global politician, but I suppose you don’t get to be Pope if you are not a politician. The Pope would take the considerations further to examine what a human being is, and our being in the material world – he argues for a spiritual dimension.I find the Encyclical a very interesting document. If, as seems to me reasonable, to raise at a later stage the issue of global boundaries, echoing the Club of Rome, dialogue should encompass disagreement as well as common action.

Did you realize that it was issued on the first day of Ramadan, and that Francis of Assisi living during the Crusades was committed to a process of reconciliation or ecumenism between Islam and Christianity. Rabbi Waskow and other American rabbis approved the Pope’s outreach as did the Dalai Lama. The Pope points to the tragedy of the Commons and to the disproportional burden of the poor.It is disappointing that the Australian Government and political leadership have not the vision and leadership to fully commit to a successful outcome of the 21st Conference of Parties to the UNCCC to be held in December.

The problems of dialogue, as might be expected have been addressed. Here is one example:


This may need some editing. I was trying to put all the links in one place, and to add others.



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