Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Is Global Warming Real or a Hoax? Yes.

The fact is, there has been global warming, but the contribution of human-generated carbon dioxide is necessarily so minuscule as to be nearly undetectable. Here's why:
Carbon dioxide, considered the main vector for human-caused global warming, is some 0.038% of the atmosphere[1]- a trace gas. Water vapor varies from 0% to 4%[2], and should easily average 1% or more[3] near the Earth’s surface, where the greenhouse effect would be most important, and is about three times more effective[4] a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. So water vapor is at least 25 times more prevalent and three times more effective; that makes it at least 75 times more important to the greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide[5]. The TOTAL contribution of carbon dioxide to the greenhouse effect is therefore 0.013 or less. The total human contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide since the start of the industrial revolution has been estimated at about 25%[6]. So humans’ carbon dioxide  greenhouse effect is a quarter of 0.013, works out to about 0.00325. Total warming of the Earth by the greenhouse effect is widely accepted as about 33 degrees Centigrade, raising average temperature to 59 degrees Fahrenheit. So the contribution of anthropogenic carbon dioxide is less than 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit, or under 0.1 degree Centigrade. Global warming over the last century is thought by many to be about 0.6 degrees Centigrade.

But that's only the beginning. We've had global warming for more than 10,000 years, since the end of the last Ice Age, and there is evidence temperatures were actually somewhat warmer 9,000 years ago and again 4,500 to 8,000 years ago than they are today[7]. Whatever caused that, it was not human activity. It was not all those power plants and factories and SUVs being operated by Stone Age cavemen while chipping arrowheads out of bits of flint. Whatever the cause was, it melted the glaciers that in North America once extended south to Long Island and parts of New York City[8] into virtually complete disappearance (except for a few mountain remnants). That's one big greenhouse effect! If we are still having global warming - and I suppose we could presume we are, given this 10,000 year history - it seems highly likely that it is still the overwhelmingly primary cause of continued warming, rather than our piddling 0.00325 contribution to the greenhouse effect.

Yet even that trend-continuation today needs to be proved. Evidence is that the Medieval Warm Period centered on the 1200s was somewhat warmer than we are now[9], and the climate was clearly colder in the Little Ice Age in the 1600s than it is now[10]. So we are within the range of normal up-and-down fluctuations without human greenhouse contributions that could be significant, or even measurable.

The principal scientists arguing for human-caused global warming have been demonstrably disingenuous[11], and now you can see why. They have proved they should not be trusted. 

The idea that we should be spending hundreds of billions of dollars and hamstringing the economy of the entire world to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is beyond ludicrous in light of the facts above; it is insane. Furthermore, it sucks attention and resources from seeking the other sources of warming and from coping with climate change and its effects in realistic ways. The true motivation underlying the global warming movement is almost certainly ideological and political in nature, and I predict that Anthropomorphic Global Warming, as currently presented, will go down as the greatest fraud of all time. It makes Ponzi and Madoff look like pikers by comparison.

[1] Fundamentals of Physical Geography, 2nd Edition
by Michael Pidwirny
Concentration varies slightly with the growing season in the northern hemisphere.  HYPERLINK "http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7a.html" http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7a.html
[2] ibid.
[3] HALOE v2.0 Upper Tropospheric Water Vapor Climatology Claudette Ojo, Hampton University; et al..  HYPERLINK "http://vsgc.odu.edu/src/Conf09/UnderGrad%20Papers/Ojo%20-%20Paper.pdf" http://vsgc.odu.edu/src/Conf09/UnderGrad%20Papers/Ojo%20-%20Paper.pdf. See p. 4.The 0 - 4% range is widely accepted among most sources. This source is listed for its good discussion of the phenomena determining that range. An examination of a globe will show that tropical oceans (near high end of range) are far more extensive than the sum of the earth’s arctic and antarctic regions and tropical-zone deserts (all near the low end). Temperate zone oceans are far more extensive than temperate-zone desert.  This author’s guess of an average of 2% or more seems plausible. I have used “1% or more” in an effort to err on the side of understatement. 
[4 NIST Chemistry Webbook, Please compare the IR absorption spectra of water and carbon dioxide. ]  HYPERLINK "http://webbook.nist.gov/" http://webbook.nist.gov/
[5] Three quarters of the atmosphere and virtually all water vapor are in the troposphere. Including all the atmosphere would change the ratios to about 20 times more prevalent and 60 times more effective. However, the greenhouse effect of high-altitude carbon dioxide on lower-altitude weather and the earth’s surface seems likely to be small if not nil.
[6] National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.  HYPERLINK "http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/gases.html" http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/gases.html. The estimated 90ppm increase in carbon dioxide, 30% above the base of 280  ppm, to a recent reading of 370 ppm, equates to just under 25% of present concentration, the relevant factor in estimating present contribution to the greenhouse effect.
[7] History of Earth’s Climate. http://www.dandebat.dk/eng-klima7.htm This account was written by someone for whom English was a second language and focuses on Scandinavia, but it draws together evidence from around the world, and provides insight into the challenges of judging temperatures in earlier geological times.
[8] New York Nature - The nature and natural history of the New York City region. Betsy McCully http://www.newyorknature.net/IceAge.html
[9] Global Warming: A Geological Perspective John P. Bluemle  HYPERLINK "https://www.dmr.nd.gov/ndgs/Newsletter/NL99W/PDF/globlwrmw99.pdf" http://www.azgs.az.gov/arizona_geology/archived_issues/Winter_1999.pdf This article, published by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency, is drawn from a paper by the author in Environmental Geosciences, 1999, Volume 6, Number 2, pp. 63-75. Note particularly the chart on p.4.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Wikileaks: Climatic Research Unit emails, data, models, 1996-2009  HYPERLINK "http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Climatic_Research_Unit_emails,_data,_models,_1996-2009" http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Climatic_Research_Unit_emails,_data,_models,_1996-2009
See also  HYPERLINK "http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1246661/New-scandal-Climate-Gate-scientists-accused-hiding-data-global-warming-sceptics.html" http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1246661/New-scandal-Climate-Gate-scientists-accused-hiding-data-global-warming-sceptics.html and
 HYPERLINK "http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704075604575356611173414140.html" http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704075604575356611173414140.html and, more diplomatically:  HYPERLINK "http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/01/science/01tier.html" http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/01/science/01tier.html. Et al.


 What initially troubled me was the aberrant behavior of the climate research unit at East Anglia University, which has been the main data source for AGW arguments. They initially refused (!) to reveal their algorithms and data on the grounds that they were proprietary(!!). They responded to critics with ad hominem attacks and efforts to block their publication in scientific journals. Now, as I am sure you know, this is not how one does honest science, in which you PUBLISH your data and methodology and invite critical comment to ferret out error or oversights. It took the now-famous Wikileaks "Climategate" to pry loose the data and expose their machinations. Yet despite the devastating blow these revelations should have to their credibility, the AGW "cause" has taken on a life of its own. 
Fundamentally, the argument seems to rest on a logical fallacy, post hoc ergo propter hoc - after this, therefore because of this. We see a rise in temperature and a rise in (principally) carbon dioxide, and therefore conclude one must have caused the other. It does not necessarily follow at all. There can be other causes entirely behind both phenomena, and as you see above, almost certainly there are. Beyond that, I have encountered numerous assertions of fact that cannot add up given the physical properties of water vapor and carbon dioxide that go unchallenged. One-sided arguments proliferate and people arguing the other side are frequently denounced as being employed by business interests rather than rebutted on the merits. 
In sum, I have not come lightly to the conclusion that the AGW argument as it applies to carbon dioxide is largely untrue and certainly does not account for more than a very small, nearly negligible part of the phenomena we are seeing. The implications of widespread assertions of and belief in such an untruth are staggering, and potentially enormously destructive. It is unwise indeed to let oneself be stampeded in this matter, and stampede is clearly what many have been and are trying to induce.

I can understand politicians behaving this way; a carbon tax or carbon trading regime would allow enormous revenues to fall into their hands. I can understand "Progressive" ideologues; it logically leads to enormous expansion of government power over industry, the economy, and the daily life of individuals, which they regard as a good thing. I understand the environmentalists; they want to shrink the size and impact on the environment of modern civilization. But responsible citizens need to put aside such considerations.


Blogger Cesium said...

http://www.skepticalscience.com/ does a pretty good job of discussing each of your arguments. Since you seem to enjoy the subject and reviewing references, you may want to review their literature.

Your arguments seem to be:

1) CO2 is a trace gas.

So what? Ozone is a trace gas. The stratospheric ozone layer has a concentration of a mere 7 ppm, and yet Ozone is effective at absorbing ~98% of ultraviolet light and preventing it from reaching the surface.

2) Human emitted CO2 has a small effect relative to CO2 that existed before the industrial era and water vapor.

Spectrums of radiation show that CO2 is contributing much of the warming (ozone and methane also contribute). Additionally there are feedback effects. Warmer temperatures increase water vapor and reduce the size of the arctic reflective ice sheet.

3) We've experienced global warming for the past 10,000 years, and it likely had a single cause.

Response: Climate change has a large number of causes. If there were a single cause, we would see very simple graphs of temperature changes over hundreds of millions of years. Climate change is affected by orbit; changes in solar radiation; axial tilt; volcanoes; continental drift changing ocean circulation patterns; weathering of land masses; CO2 levels; ...

As above, spectrums of radiation show that CO2 is the current main contributor to global warming. The sun is currently contributing less radiation than normal.

4) The Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age show the scale of normal global temperature fluctuations.

Response: The Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age were not global. They were regional North Atlantic changes. The fluctuations in temperature seen in the North Atlantic are similar in magnitude to the human induced warming we've seen in the past couple of hundred years. The feedbacks that we've set in motion (increased water vapor, melting ice sheets, co2 release from warmer ocean waters) ensure that we will see more global warming than we've seen as natural regional fluctuations over the past few thousand years at least.

5) Doing anything to mitigate CO2 emissions would be ruinously expensive.

Response: Proposed policies would cost a fraction of a percent of global GDP. Many of the benefits come from improved energy efficiency which benefits the economy. Many of the policies have useful side effects other than slowing down global warming. CO2 acidifies the oceans. Coal burning power plants are the primary cause of air pollution and cause 30,000 deaths per year in the U.S. Spending small amounts of money to diversify our energy sources is a good idea: it gives us more options down the road.

Not doing anything to mitigate CO2 emissions is also ruinously expensive. Continuing along our current path of accelerating CO2 emissions for another 30 years, pretty much guarantees we're going to suddenly have to pay trillions of dollars to move everyone inland from the coasts. Much better to spend small amounts of money every year to reduce the eventual impact and buy us more time to respond.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Rant Master said...

Interesting research in the link below. It seems that Antartic ice core readings of atmospheric CO2 indicate that glogal temperature changes LEAD atmospheric CO2 levels, NOT the other way around.

10:06 AM  
Blogger Russell Cook said...

Just found your blog today, as the result of your comment left at the USAToday hit piece against Dr David Legates. Luv your quote "AGW ... will go down as the greatest fraud of all time. It makes Ponzi and Madoff look like pikers by comparison."

I've been saying the same thing since 2001, first at the end of my WUWT guest post ( http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/25/the-end-is-near-for-faith-in-agw/ ), and more prominently a month later with that as the title of a RedState piece: http://www.redstate.com/diary/russellc/2011/08/17/the-great-global-warming-ponzi-scheme-how-the-mainstream-media-keeps-it-alive/

1:30 PM  
Blogger Kelly Cox said...

So you now just troll around various stories on AGW on various news outlets to promote the nonsense posted here? You're not a journalist, you're a hack. How much does the Heritage Foundation pay you for those posts?

4:00 PM  
Blogger Harold Seneker said...

Ad hominem, baseless insults like Kelly Cox' are not conducive to reasoned discussion.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Anthony Njogu said...

Great article there. Always felt a lot was not being told. My younger sister asked me once- how can food(co2)be poisonous? I'm yet to come up with an answer for her.

6:37 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Harold, at least Kelly Cox has at least tried to answer your questions. Russell Cook shows up in these threads to give us the Heartland Institute's spin on things, which is always fascinating. He says they don't pay him for this work, so either he's a very dedicated anti-science campaigner, or he's doing it for fun. Either way, he comes across as someone with an axe to grind.

Anthony Njogu, things can do more than one thing. For example, CO2 can be frozen into little blocks of dry ice, which can burn your fingers. It can be both plant food, AND it can be a greenhouse gas! CO2, like water, is pretty amazing stuff.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Drewski said...

Just a couple of points for Cesium: According to the American Lung Association, 200,000 (not 30,000) premature deaths are caused by coal pollution in the US alone. According to the WHO, that number is 3.5 MILLION people per year globally.
In a decade or two, and based on decade -long trends, both wind and solar PV will be cheaper than all forms of fossil fuel power generation by 2030. This is without considering the hidden costs of fossil fuel pollution and contamination. Plus there are many new forms of power generation like tidal, solar thermal, thorium reactors and improved nuclear, improved batteries for both home and travel (and other things) plus the most important of all, a smart grid, which will likely cause the implosion of fossil fuel industries within a generation. These industries know all too well that they are being threatened with extinction and are fighting as hard as possible to create disinformation in order to keep themselves on life support.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Stewart Denenberg said...

Cesium's comments make sense to me.
To which I would add:

1. Does it make sense to use up all of the energy that it took 300 million years to create in 300 years?

2. Who you gonna believe: an overwhelming world-wide majority of upper middle class government scientists or humongous corporations whose life depends on our use of fossil fuels?

11:15 AM  
Blogger David Appell said...

Your comparison of CO2 and water vapor misses a vital aspect -- the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere can change at any time, but the average amount of water vapor changes only AFTER the temperature first changes. And then it's a positive feedback on climate change.

The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is indeed small: now 405 ppm. But CO2 has a HUGE cross section for absorption of infrared radiation -- as high at 10,000 sq-meters per kg.

BOTH these factors matter for climate change, not just the gas concentration.

1:57 PM  
Blogger David Appell said...

Anthony Njogu said...
"My younger sister asked me once- how can food(co2)be poisonous?"

CO2 is food for plants, not people.

In large enough quantities, CO2 is deadly for people. At about 10,000 parts per million animals, including humans, start to get sleepy. Seven times higher and they start dying. It's called "hypercapnia."


2:00 PM  
Blogger David Appell said...

The blogger wrote:
"I predict that Anthropomorphic Global Warming...."

It's Anthropogenic Global Warming, not Anthropomorphic.

Not tempertures have gone higher in the 4+ years since you wrote this post, to record highs.

6:28 PM  
Blogger George M said...

Take 'em from the most recent on down, Cesium, you should be embarrassed to quote Skeptical Science. 7ppm of ozone is concentrated in ~1/30 of the atmosphere, so to compare it to CO2, multiply by 30= 210ppm equivalent.

Warmer temps do not affect absorption of IR by CO2. Temperature can drastically change the behavior of water. Notably, the heat of fusion(freezing, melting) is about 334 Joules, the heat of vaporization/condensation is about 2230 Joules. Both occur without a change in temperature, so they can have drastic effect on the climate without changing the temperature of the atmosphere at all, or it can have major effect as when water condenses into a cloud all those Joules are released causing the cloud to expand and rise, moving most of the heat to higher altitudes where it may eventually be radiated away into space. Depends on which direction it changes.

Water vapor absorbs about 70% of all the incident light from the sun. CO2 absorbs much less.

In regards to "feedback effects" the increase of H2O in the atmosphere is very small in terms of absolute concentration(grams H2O/grams dry air) below freezing. Increases above about 5degC and increases rapidly up to about 32degC where the temperature ceases to change because the clouds from rapid evaporation and heating form condensation reach the stratosphere releasing the energy to space and the condensed water falls to earth as cold rain, along with cold air. Cloud processes are very poorly understood though, although in general stratospheric(cirrus) clouds do warm the stratosphere some and lower level clouds tend to cool the lower levels.

The graphs of temperature vs time from the ice core records are pretty simple. 80-90% of the time it is very cold with brief spikes of warming. As a glacial period in the current ice age ends the average temperature generally rises vary rapidly(in glacial terms) by 8-10degC. An average of 800 years later CO2 starts to rise, presumably from the oceans starting to warm. About the same time the temperature gradually starts to fall in fits and starts until the glaciers return. It's a very simple climate that current climate models tell us nothing about.

Records of temperature changes similar to the medieval warm period and the little ice age have been found all over the world both in histories and in proxies, although they aren't strictly contemporaneous. Similar changes are in the ice cores. The temperature never drops in a smooth curve, but in fits and starts with periods of warming and more rapid cooling that average out.

Current policies being tried to reduce CO2, not Global Warming, Are ruinously expensive. The problem that technologies as productive as fossil fuels have not even been theorized yet, much less tested. The only successful test has been the introduction of high pressure fracturing to produce primarily natural gas and oil. Substituting natural gas for coal has helped the US exceed it's rate of attaining CO2 reduction goals even while supporting the intermittent generation from solar panels and windmills. Fracturing was not a development, but an invention in directional drilling by companies, not government policies.

Now, Henry- can you do something about that awful dark blue on black home page? It causes serious eyestrain.

4:18 PM  
Blogger George M said...

Re David Appell 1:57pm Not only that, but ice ages have occurred when CO2 was 2000-3000 ppm. At this point we do not understand the earth's climate well enough to make useful predictions("all models are wrong, some are useful- George Box, noted statistician and statistical modeler).

Note also water in the atmosphere only increases when it evaporates(major) or sublimes(miniscule). Virtually all the water that evaporates also condenses, usually within a day or two, and mostly at very high altitudes, releasing all its energy as heat.

4:36 PM  
Blogger David Appell said...

Harold: Those ice ages occurred when the Sun was weaker. Its irradiance is increasing by 1% every 110 million years, so 440 M yrs ago, during the Ordovician-Silurian ice age, the Sun was about 4% less radiant than today. That's huge -- 55 Watts per sq meter. Dana Royer of Univ of Connecticut finds that moves the glaciation threshold up to about 3,000 ppm CO2.

Plus the continents were in different positions then, meaning the Earth's albedo was significantly different.

Finally, we do not have good data on those periods -- CO2 data points are about 10 Myrs apart, a problem if the O-S ice age lasted only ~0.5 Myrs.

I wrote more about this here (which includes a link to Royer's paper):


8:07 AM  
Blogger David Appell said...

"Note also water in the atmosphere only increases when it evaporates(major) or sublimes(miniscule). Virtually all the water that evaporates also condenses, usually within a day or two, and mostly at very high altitudes, releasing all its energy as heat."

Of course, climate scientists have been aware of this for decades, and include it in all their models. (It's called "latent heat.")

8:08 AM  
Blogger David Appell said...

"Water vapor absorbs about 70% of all the incident light from the sun. CO2 absorbs much less."

But the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere doesn't change*, while the amount of CO2 does.

* The saturation vapor pressure of water vapor changes only changes when the temperature firsts changes -- see the Clausius-Claperyon equation. That makes water vapor a positive feedback on CO2's warming, and it's an exponential one. Hence the experssion "Water vapor is a feedback (on AGW), not a forcing."

8:11 AM  
Blogger David Appell said...

George wrote:
"It's a very simple climate that current climate models tell us nothing about."

Are you kidding? These is tons of work done on the ice age.

They're mostly due to Milankovitch factors -- changes in Earth's orbital configuration -- plus a positive feedback from the CO2 created by warming temperatures. (That feedback is responsible for about 1/3rd of the 8-10 C temperature difference between glacial and interglacial periods.)

Milankovitch cycles are slow -- the fastest is ~40,000 years, I think -- and hence not a factor in the rapid AGW taking place now. So climate models don't need to include them.

9:42 AM  
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11:00 PM  
Blogger catsncats said...

I am not a scientist by any stretch but I have remembered learning about photosynthesis in science class way back in the days when children actually learned things.
Trees and all manner of plants turn CO2 into...oxygen. Animals and humans need to breathe oxygen and we exhale CO2. A sort of scientific circle of life, if you will.
I am not against new forms of energy, but until it is proven to be a cost-effective, safe and worthwhile alternative, leave the coal alone. Clean coal technology is largely ignored by the climate fraudsters, much as some of the more well known of them fly in private jets and live in huge mansions that create footprints much larger than the places the rest of us call "home". Al Gore for example.

8:33 PM  
Blogger David Appell said...

cats: There is no such thing as "clean coal technology."

It is a myth, a public relations creation meant to fool people exactly like you.

Clearly it worked.

Which is sad.

8:37 PM  

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