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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/13856/must-we-do-something-anything-about-global-warming/

Must We Do Something, Anything, about Global Warming?

September 10, 2010 by

The premise — that something really, really bad might happen — is undoubtedly true: there is a virtually unlimited supply of hypotheses about things that might go wrong. The less evidence required for any particular catastrophe, the longer the list of bad things we can make. FULL ARTICLE by Robert Blumen


Jeff Glassman September 24, 2010 at 10:16 am

Re Michael 9/23/10 5:37 pm:

1. The “it” in Michael’s statement is IPCC, which puts ACO2 (fossil fuel burning plus land use changes) at 8 GtC/yr. AR4, Fig. 7.3, p. 515. It also makes the net uptake of ACO2 as 4.8 GtC/yr. To do this, IPCC calculates that the atmosphere is composed of 165/(165+597) = 21.7% ACO2. At the same time, it calculates that the Land absorbs 2.6/(2.6+0.2+120) = 2.1% ACO2 and the ocean absorbs 22.2/(22.2+70) = 24.1%. Neither measurements nor physics nor math supports these fractionating differences in solubility and respiration. Some such number assignment is necessary for the natural carbon cycle to be in balance while the anthropogenic carbon cycle has CO2 accumulating in the atmosphere. However, this model is arbitrary, lacking any support.

To be sure, IPCC resurrects the failed Revelle Buffer Factor to create an absorption bottleneck, but begs the question by applying it to ACO2 and not to nCO2. When it tried to measure the effect, it wound up just measuring solubility, which it suppressed in its final assessment report. See AR4, ¶, p. 531, and discussion in the Rocket Scientist’s Journal.

2. Solubility analysis is hardly moot. When Earth warms, so does the ocean, causing it to emit more CO2. IPCC observes the rise in CO2, and then claims the CO2 caused the warming. This is the Firemen-Cause-Fires model. When the numbers don’t balance, IPCC rigs up the model above. It has a problem modeling cause and effect, neglecting or discounting the causal prerequisite of cause leading effect. It neglects to use cross correlation functions.

3. Since you raise acidification again, I repeat that its cause is unknown, but IPCC’s argument based on the Bjerrum solution (which it fails to mention specifically) is not appropriate because the requisite conditions are not met in the surface layer.

4. We have a far longer history of solar radiation than you presume. The model favored by IPCC is the almost three century model by Wang, et al. (2005), which is built on several sets of data that you deny exist. That Wang model is part of the data set on which IPCC relies to predict a looming global catastrophe. The Journal shows how IPCC misused its own data and overlooked a far more probable set of causes and effects.

5. Your “obvious fact” erases IPCC’s essential distinction between natural and anthropogenic CO2. Your fact is obvious because IPCC failed to calculate the contemporary rise in nCO2 due to temperature. Also, IPCC canceled the natural and on-going rises in temperature and CO2 at the time of initiation of its models, rises well evidenced in the Vostok record, then IPCC attributed the subsequent rises to man.

6. When you say “the amount of warming we see is consistent with what we would predict”. That is false. IPCC has put forward no prediction except its ultimate catastrophe. What you might be talking about is IPCC’s tuning of its models to fit the data on which it built its model. According to its Assessment Reports, the factors you list have indeed been considered, although they are not likely implemented in the model. IPCC has a super abundance of parameters to adjust, and should have been able to match any temperature record with precision. That is a theorem. IPCC has failed to make the requisite significant prediction (to raise their model from a conjecture to a hypothesis), and then failed to validate that prediction with measurements (to raise their model to a theory, ethical for use for public policy).

Instead, IPCC has omitted parameters, especially cloud albedo, which is, as is readily shown, the most powerful feedback in the climate system. It fails to understand feedback, considering it to be the correlation of parameters instead of a physical transfer of information, material, or energy. It’s failure is in part a consequence of its unfortunate radiative forcing paradigm, which lacks flow variables where feedback occurs. IPCC has omitted Henry’s Law and the Beer-Lambert Law. These are all grave errors of omission within IPCC’s design paradigm which result in the reverse of what IPCC claims: it’s model no longer fits its design data set, so it is invalid. Its model fails to be a scientific model.

What IPCC has done is falsify its modeling to demand maximal political and economic disruptions. Your postings support this criminal activity.

michael September 24, 2010 at 12:23 pm

I see the strategy is to produce a blizzard of words.

Nonetheless (1) man’s activities produce about 8 gigatons of atmospheric carbon each year, as I said. And of this amount, about half ends up remaining airborne, while the other half is retired in the seas. A check on this assumption is to note that the decrease in oceanic alkalinity is what you would expect from this amount, as CO2, being dissolved in seawater.

Neither arbitrary nor lacking in support. Other than in blogs like this, of course.

(2) Nearly everyone agrees that the oceans currently act as a carbon sink, not a source. There is certainly a degree of activity either way. But I’m referring to the net flow.

(3) Name another mechanism that would acidify the oceans in the degree we’re measuring. There is none.

(4) You’re talking about counting sunspots. Big ones, little ones, tiny ones, medium sized ones… they each get counted as one (1) spot. Very scientific.

Sunspot counts do correlate very loosely with known major cooling and warming periods. But there’s no fine detail in this record. And without the fine detail, the record’s just not usable. We have had accurate measurements of TSI exactly since 1978.

(5) How about showing me a source that establishes that natural CO2 increase from overall warming is nontrivial? That is, that it approaches the same order of magnitude as known and measured anthropogenic sources… say, >1 gigaton.

(6) “When you say “the amount of warming we see is consistent with what we would predict”. That is false.”

No it’s not. What I mean is that back in the 1990s, when there was still some doubt as to whether the effects they were measuring were really from man-made inputs, there was quite a lot of perplexity over the fact that we weren’t seeing as much warming as the models predicted we’d see. Then we began studying the effects of aerosols, with their largely cooling effect. After that the models came very close to mirroring the observed temperature increases.

“What IPCC has done is falsify its modeling to demand maximal political and economic disruptions. Your postings support this criminal activity.”

This is a good summary of the Big Lie. ‘It’s all a plot.’ ‘Certain people in power want you to THINK there’s global warming.’ Etcetera. You should be ashamed of repeating this kind of thing.

Joe September 24, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Good post above. I want to get your feedback on the new Lindzen paper that came out in Feb of 2010. It is on “negative feedbacks.” If what Lindzen and Yong-Sang Choi show is fact then the AGW issue is put to rest.
It shows that models show positive feedback and greater sensitivities but his experiments show a negative feedback.
This is a expansion of the original paper in 2009 and is updated using CERES data from 2000-2008. The earlier paper was using ERBE data from 1985 – 1999.

Jeff Glassman September 24, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Joe 9/24/10:

I’d be happy to oblige, but I don’t think this is the right forum. Discussion like the on-going one between me and Michael is likely to bore most readers, and may rouse administrator defenses.

Would you please post your concern to your paper of choice at http://www.rocketscientistsjournal.com, and I’ll do the followup.


Jeff Glassman September 24, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Re Michael 9/24/10 12:23 pm (different numbering):

1. “Blizzard of words”? So turn off the snow blower.

2. “And of this amount, … “. Not so. What appears to be added to the atmosphere (as estimated from MLO data) is maybe 50:50 new ACO2:natural CO2. You change the parameter involved when you use a net from multiple sources and apply it to a specific source. It is a misattribution. Two pints of black snow is being added to a 10 gallon bucket of once white snow. Stir or not. At the bottom of the bucket, one pint is being withdrawn. Your model is that what is withdrawn is all black. That is called a snow job.

3. Everyone agreed that the solar system was geocentric – until Copernicus. Everyone agreed that forces don’t act a distance – until Newton. Everyone agreed mass and energy were separately conserved – until Einstein. The point is that science is never about agreement, about consensus, about voting. Science is all about models with predictive power.

This is not to imply that an Einstein has appeared on the climate scene. The AGW model, supported by a whole academic/government lab movement, offends science, and is rejected by the observers. The model here is that AGW belongs with Piltdown Man, environmentalism, and cold fusion. Science rejects models that fail the predictive power test.

4. What causes acidification is still unknown. Nothing has changed in the last two days. Whatever causes it, though, is likely to be whatever changed it between now and the dawn of civilization, or back a half dozen major ice ages.

5. Solar activity is far more than sun spots or 11 year cycles. Read Wang, et al., if you are able. It includes, for example, the aa index. It is scientific. It has lots of fine detail.

6. I’m still writing the source you’re asking for re natural CO2. Here’s a sample idea.

Assume that the THC flows at about 30 Sv (10^6 m^3/sec), in at 0ºC (fixed) and out at tropical temperatures. The CO2 concentration at 0ºC is 0.3346 (gCO2/100 gH2O) and at 30ºC, a hot example, is 0.1257. Citations on request. The water flow is 9.5*10^5 PgH2O/yr. For these conditions, the CO2 flow out of the THC is 539 PgC/yr, 6 times IPCC’s estimate. Ample margin exists in that number to account for IPCC’s 90 PgC/yr outgassing by reducing flow or reducing the temperature margin.

Varying the average output temperature, the outgassing runs between about 0.3 and 1.1 PgC/Sv. Ample margin exists again to adjust the effective THC flow rate and the effective outgassing temperature to set the rate of growth of nCO2 to cover reasonable atmospheric growth rates near the 6.4 PgC fossil fuel rate.

7. You repeat yourself about the adjustment of the model. You do not address that the model is being tuned to fit the record of the time. That is not a prediction. The model needs a temperature output for some time not spanned by that record, future or past. That output is a prediction, and IPCC has made that prediction leading to its catastrophe. It has not come true. The IPCC model fails for the last decade.

8. You dismiss my lists of categorical errors, misrepresentations, and omissions with the charge of a “Big Lie”, and the tangential implied charge of that I claimed a conspiracy. This discussion began when you were invited to read and comment on that body of published work, including the alternative models that account for IPCC’s data. I see why you don’t identify yourself. You need to come out of the dugout to get credited for an at bat.

michael September 25, 2010 at 4:41 pm

I admire your boundless energy.

1) A silly comment.

2) You’re trying to fit things into my argument that I never said and that don’t make sense. The carbon cycle is a lot of things going on all the time. But the obvious fact is that we can calculate the amount of carbon entering the atmosphere annually from man-made sources. Let’s call that A. And we can calculate the amount of additional carbon in the atmosphere, relative to the year before. Let’s call that B. And we can calculate the amount of additional carbon that would be required to enter the oceans in order to raise their acidity to the level of increase we observe. Let’s call that C.

So far, A = B+C. The conclusion seems suggestive.

3) “Science is all about models with predictive power.”

It’s getting warmer, isn’t it? And the net warming we can calculate is in line with what the models would indicate, considering all climate forcing agents.

4) “What causes acidification is still unknown.”

Blatantly false. Ocean chemistry is not that complicated in its major outline.

5) “Solar activity is far more than sun spots or 11 year cycles. Read Wang, et al., if you are able.”

Oooh, snippy. I’d be able to read the passage you’re thinking of more readily if you could give a citation I can access without subscription. “Wang” seems to have written quite a lot about the sun… but none of it that I’ve seen yet adequately describes (IMO) to how one can establish an accurate record of TSI prior to 1978. So maybe you could find the method he uses to construct his proxy measurements and offer it to me.

This seems to be the most pertinent paper:

He says “Relationships among solar activity, solar irradiance and cosmogenic proxies are not well known on long time scales. Solar activity exhibits 11-year cycles that at times increase monotonically in amplitude, as the sunspot numbers in Figure 1a show between 1922 and 1965. At the same time, 11-year solar-related cycles in 10Be and the aa index shown in Figure 1b are superimposed on a secular increase of the levels at cycle minima [Beer et al., 1988]. Solar irradiance also undergoes 11-year cycles which are reconstructed in Figure 1c from sunspot data. In the alternative reconstructions in Figure 1d, the 11-year irradiance cycles are superimposed on a secular component…” etc.

All of which looks like it depends on counting numbers of sunspots. I don’t see, for instance, adequate definitions of the “aa index” in this paper… although the Beryllium-10 record does seem to be a useful approach. I’ll want to read the Beer paper if I can find it.

But the search for solid data so far has been frustrating. Other than the most recent satellite data we do have the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory data, taken from 1902 through 1954. But that set of measurements is not taken by most as being accurate. For instance:

“The validity of the data prior to 1923 was questioned by many, including the
APO director from 1906 to 1944, Charles Greeley Abbot. Problems ranging from
volcanoes to the invention of the improved measuring devices made this part of
the data set of limited use. The remaining 31 years of data have been the
subject of a controversy of interpretation as mentioned earlier. Abbot and
his APO staff claimed that the data showed a 0.2% increase in solar output
from 1923 to 1954. Others argued that unconventional data manipulation
made such a conclusion erroneous. Notwithstanding all of the short comings
and controversy inherent in the data, this program is the longest and most
carefully conducted solar radiation program made so far this century.”


In short, I’m both interested and ready to consider anything good you can offer. NASA does in fact assess that the data show estimated increases in TSI, with a low degree of reliability. They just assign a value to them considerably less than the value they assign to the demonstrable increase in GHGs.

6) Again, an increase in oceanic carbon is sufficient to explain the increased acidity. And an examination of ocean surface temps over many locations worldwide would give one a rough and ready estimate of how much carbon was being outgassed in some areas relative to how much was being absorbed in others. In the estimation of most, absorption exceeds outgassing by quite a wide margin.

7) “The IPCC model fails for the last decade.”

You mean, the hottest decade we’ve had in many centuries? The hottest decade we’ve ever recorded? I think you are ignoring data you don’t like, while exaggerating data that fits the conclusion you would like to promote.

I’m not a scientist, just an amateur who’s been following the debate for quite a long time (since 1975 or so). But believe me, you’re not ahead on points. Your method seems to be to impugn everyone else’s data and methodology, and offer in their place material that I find disturbingly opaque. Plus, some downright prevarications, like that thing about our not having any way to understand changes on oceanic pH. I only have to find a few big issues like that, that you’ve distorted, to believe that there are more subtle distortions lurking in your fine print.

But I’m always willing to give information the benefit of the doubt, until I can say I’ve digested it all. So the one thing I can take away from today’s clouds of ink is an interest in the beryllium-10 record. I’ll peer a little deeper into it.

Walt D. September 25, 2010 at 6:36 pm

“It’s getting warmer, isn’t it? And the net warming we can calculate is in line with what the models would indicate, considering all climate forcing agents.”
If this were the case we would not be having this blog. The fact is that it has not been getting warmer even though CO2 has increase by 10ppm. If it had actually been getting warmer there would have been no need for the ClimateGate fraud in the first place. The reason they resorted to fraud was that the temperature increases that their model predicted were not occurring.

michael September 26, 2010 at 1:35 pm

“The fact is that it has not been getting warmer even though CO2 has increase by 10ppm.”

Two problems, Walt. The first is that atmospheric CO2 has not increased by 10ppm. This displays an unfamiliarity with the actual data, not to mention the things the data measures. 10 ppm per what? Per year? Per decade? Per century?

Carbon emissions continue to go up. Take a look at the Mauna Loa dataset:

The normal value for an interglacial period over the past two million years has been 280 ppm. This began to rise after 1750, due to coal burning in Europe. By 1959 the first accurate readings taken at Mauna Loa gave a value of 316. By 2008 that was up to 385. So it rose by 13% during the first two centuries of industrial development, and by 22% over the last fifty years. That is, the rate of increase is increasing.

The second problem is that the surface climate has indeed been getting warmer. Here’s the chart Jeff offered to us, supposedly to prove that “Global surface temperatures have been on the decline since about 1995″:

Notice that since 1995 surface temps have gone sharply up. I have no idea why he chose this chart to make his case. The years 1998-present, with the exceptions of 1999 and 2000, have been the hottest years on record. (Look at the red bars; the blue line is just a smeared average.)

Here’s another line of evidence: Arctic ice mass volumes.

The three hottest summers on record in the northern hemisphere (where most industrial emissions take place) have been (drum roll)… 2007, 2009 and 2010.

So to your final comment: “The reason they resorted to fraud was that the temperature increases that their model predicted were not occurring.”

Forget the models. We’re now looking at the actual data… which shows that we’ve been warming rapidly.

michael September 25, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Jeff: I did uncover an interesting paper in my search for beryllium-10. See what you think:

“There is an ongoing debate on the role of the sun in recent observed warming. Century-scale solar irradiance variations have been proposed as cause for past climatic changes (e.g., refs. 18 and 19). The latest summaries of the various uncertainties can be found in two recent reviews (20, 21). Satellite data since 1979 quantify the irradiance variations associated with the 11-year Schwabe sunspot cycle to ≈0.08–0.1% of the ≈1,367 Wm−2 solar radiation reaching the top of our atmosphere (21). This variation translates into a radiative forcing of ≈0.2–0.3 W m−2,

*roughly a factor of 10 smaller than the radiative forcing by well mixed greenhouse gases

(2.4 W m−2 in 2000 AD relative to 1750 AD). Although direct measurements of solar irradiance are limited to the satellite period (21), tentative correlations with records of sunspots (22, 23), aurora histories, geomagnetic indices, or the production rates of cosmogenic nuclei such as 10-Beryllium (10Be) and radiocarbon (14C) (3, 24) in conjunction with magnetic behavior of solar-like stars (25, 26) have been used to estimate solar irradiance in the past. The phase relationship between the isotopic records indicative of the sun’s open magnetic field, sunspot numbers, and the sun’s closed magnetic field or its total energy output is not fully understood (27). Nevertheless, the temporal evolution of the different proxy series, particularly in certain well defined frequencies (≈11-year Schwabe Cycle, ≈80- to 85-year Gleissberg Cycle, and ≈207-year deVries Cycle), is in reasonable agreement across most solar proxies (20, 28), and comparisons between proxies suggest significant modulation consistent with deduced solar cycles (20). However,

*the scaling required to translate a proxy record of sunspot number, or production rate of 10Be, into actual solar irradiance anomalies is highly uncertain, and published estimates of multidecadal solar irradiance changes vary by more than a factor of five (3, 21).


There’s more:

“We used a coupled climate system model to determine whether proxy-based irradiance series are capable of inducing climatic variations that resemble variations found in climate reconstructions, and if part of the previously estimated large range of past solar irradiance changes could be excluded. Transient simulations, covering the published range of solar irradiance estimates, were integrated from 850 AD to the present. Solar forcing as well as volcanic and anthropogenic forcing are detectable in the model results despite internal variability. The resulting climates are generally consistent with temperature reconstructions. Smaller, rather than larger, long-term trends in solar irradiance appear more plausible and produced modeled climates in better agreement with the range of Northern Hemisphere temperature proxy records both with respect to phase and magnitude. Despite the direct response of the model to solar forcing, even large solar irradiance change combined with realistic volcanic forcing over past centuries could not explain the late 20th century warming without inclusion of greenhouse gas forcing. Although solar and volcanic effects appear to dominate most of the slow climate variations within the past thousand years, the impacts of greenhouse gases have dominated since the second half of the last century.”

These findings are in line with my earlier understanding.

Jeff Glassman September 25, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Re Michael 9/25/10 4:41 pm & 5:33 pm:

Re Wang, et al. (2005), you’ll find the full citation in SGW. The title ends with “Since 1713″. Google for that and you’ll hit the Astrophysical Journal article near the top with a free pdf link.

In developing some background in climate, you need to be aware that the most pertinent papers are the IPCC Third and Fourth Assessment Reports (TAR (Climate Change 2001) and AR4 (Climate Change 2007), respectively). IPCC owns the AGW model, and no political or environmental threat would exist but for IPCC and those two reports. Everything that might support the AGW model is in those reports, or cited in them, and other papers are irrelevant to the threat. You may rely on material to disprove AGW if and only if it appears or is cited in IPCC reports. Models based on other studies or data sets is argumentative and subject to expert contradiction. You will find the aa index, for example, in context at TAR ¶, p. 381 ff. You should also see my paper Solar Wind in the Journal for additional discussion in context.

Global surface temperatures have been on the decline since about 1995. NOAA publishes a good record at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cmb-faq/anomalies.html . It’s smoothed estimator has been declining for the past 6 years. IPCC relies on this source.

Since you are, admittedly, an amateur and not even a scientist, who is scoring the points for you? You haven’t read the material and have proved yourself unfamiliar with some of the common terms of science and climate. Nevertheless, you have repeated IPCC’s invalid claims and pretended to be a critic of science and climate writings.

The article you reference, Ammann, et al. (2006), is contemporaneous with AR4. The lead author was a contributing author to the IPCC Reports, and the next three writers were all Lead Author in those reports. Their work, like IPCC’s, is based on the radiative forcing paradigm, and on the NCAR CSM, a model whose results IPCC included in its reports. Those models do not simulate dynamic cloud albedo, and albedo is never mentioned in Ammann, et al. That paper adds nothing material to AR4, and repeats some of IPCC’s fatal errors. My complete response is in my paper, SGW. For more, see IPCC’s Fatal Errors, also at http://www.rocketscientistsjournal.com.

michael September 26, 2010 at 11:24 am

Thanks for the ref, Jeff. It’s here:


2. You leave me puzzled at this formulation:

“IPCC owns the AGW model, and no political or environmental threat would exist but for IPCC and those two reports. Everything that might support the AGW model is in those reports, or cited in them, and other papers are irrelevant to the threat. You may rely on material to disprove AGW if and only if it appears or is cited in IPCC reports. Models based on other studies or data sets is argumentative and subject to expert contradiction.”

Threat? I think we’re on a different page here. I’m not threatened but curious as to the actual findings. Are you telling me I should only look at IPCC reports? Those are just summaries.

3. “Since you are, admittedly, an amateur and not even a scientist, who is scoring the points for you? You haven’t read the material and have proved yourself unfamiliar with some of the common terms of science and climate. Nevertheless, you have repeated IPCC’s invalid claims and pretended to be a critic of science and climate writings.”

One doesn’t have to have worked in the field to understand what’s being said. I’ve been following the science for many years and have a good layman’s grasp of it. I don’t always follow the pseudoscience, so I guess I’ve missed a few things.

Nor have I taken much coursework. So yes, there are terms and concepts that are new to me still. When I find one, I look into it until I understand it.

Nor have I read everything there is in print. And I very much doubt you have. There’s quite a large mass of material to be digested on climatology, even before one gets to the controversy.

4. “Global surface temperatures have been on the decline since about 1995. NOAA publishes a good record at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cmb-faq/anomalies.html . It’s smoothed estimator has been declining for the past 6 years.”

I’m at a loss to explain how you can say things like this. The page you reference shows a clear trend upward since about 1976, to a plateau of the hottest temps on record (since 1998). To repeat, we have leveled off at the highest temps on record (that is, since around 1880). Maybe you should take a second look at the chart:


This has also been the very hottest summer on record in the northern hemisphere. By quite a wide margin. Here in NC we’ve been enduring temps twenty degrees greater than average for the past several days. Moscow’s been enduring record heat, as has Europe. Old records have been falling everywhere.

And probably the best indicator of warming or cooling is the Arctic ice pack. This story has it as being the third lowest since record keeping began:

This one has it edging out 2007 for second lowest level on record:

Note that it’s not just the extent of ice at September minimum, it’s the thickness of the pack (a much better indicator). This thinning has been a sudden and unprecedented development, only noted in the past few years.

So I find your comment “Global surface temperatures have been on the decline since about 1995″ to be deceptively phrased. We are now at our all-time high.

It’s as bad as those economists who’re currently assuring us that “the recession is over”, when what they mean is that we have been on the bottom for some time now… but have yet to begin climbing out. It’s you, not me, who has the agenda to keep.

michael September 26, 2010 at 12:36 pm

My first, more detailed, response to this is “awaiting moderation”. So it may be that you have the final word.

I will at least try to register a reply to this jab in the eye: “Since you are, admittedly, an amateur and not even a scientist, who is scoring the points for you?”

Here’s a point, entirely my own. You say that “Global surface temperatures have been on the decline since about 1995.” Yet the reference you provide shows no such thing. The table shows that since 1998 surface temps have plateaued, and that with the exception of two low years (1999 and 2000) we are at the top of the chart for surface temperatures. Take another look:


Who’s scoring my points? I’m just grading your comments.

Here’s another question for you, as we leave the absolute hottest summer in the northern hemisphere since we’ve been recording temps. What are the three hottest years on record, from measurements of September minimum Arctic pack ice?

Give up? 2007, 2009 and 2010.


james b. longacre September 26, 2010 at 3:47 pm

here the period between ca. AD 1032 and 1262), the chironomid-inferred mean July air temperatures were 1°C warmer than the climate reference period (1961-1990),” which would also make them warmer than most subsequent temperatures as well. And in looking at their graphs of 20- and 50-year running means, it can be seen that the peak mean warmth of the Medieval Warm Period exceeded that of the Current Warm Period by approximately 0.5°C in the case of 20-year averages and 1.2°C in the case of 50-year averages.

i dont know if the above is true or not. if aperiod of 200 years or so roughly 700+ years ago was as warm as it is now would that not indicate that the earth can heat and cool on it own when very little human interference was occurring??? by rather significant levels even???? in perghaps unknown or as yet unexplained ways???

Joe September 26, 2010 at 6:34 pm

@James, If I may be so bold as recommending a great paper on all this climate change and global warming debate. After reading this paper see if it makes things more clear. Let me get the email address and I will send it on a separate comment.

Joe September 26, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Try to address to load the paper I mentioned above. I hope it loads for you.


michael September 27, 2010 at 4:50 pm

James, it can’t have escaped your notice that I mentioned the qualifier “since we’ve been recording temps”. The reason for that is that nearly every proxy that presumes to be able to quantify temps in the distant past is an order of magnitude fuzzier than our current use of accurate thermometers. Thus our best temperature record dates from the 1880s to the present moment. It can not be calibrated to earlier periods other than in a rough, general sense.

But if you were to hazard a guess as to the impact of the Little Ice Age you’d find that in fact it worked tremendous hardships on the populations of Europe, Russia and other northern climes. So it shows the importance of being able to adapt creatively to climate change no matter whether its origin is natural or man-made. And that means there’s a utility in being able, to the best of our abilities, to predict climate change with some degree of accuracy.

The reason science is focused predominantly on the man-made portion of climate change now is because it has predictive value: that is, if we add a positive influence on top of whatever the natural influence is already, we find that the climate of the near future is going to be hotter than whatever it would otherwise be.

But I think it’s also useful to focus on the natural determinants of climate. And a suggestive case, although something short of a convincing one, can be made for the notion that since around 1910 the sun’s radiance (TSI) has been increasing as well. So if you add the effect of the sun against the demonstrable effects of man’s activities, I would say we had a problem. One we ignore at our peril.

And if, later on in the current solar cycle, we should find that the sun’s radiance is starting to wane that would still be no cause for complacency. Here on earth, most things have changed greatly in the last couple of lifetimes. It’s a new climate ball game, on an overpopulated earth being made to perform as a resource base for a population that could really use a whole new planet.

So to your question “if aperiod of 200 years or so roughly 700+ years ago was as warm as it is now would that not indicate that the earth can heat and cool on it own when very little human interference was occurring???” any climatologist would assure you the answer was YES.

The fact that one forcing agent can affect climate constitutes no proof that THEREFORE no other agent can ever affect climate. In fact our net climate is the result of interactions between at least a half dozen major environmental and celestial determinants. Anthropogenic CO2 and methane additions constitute but one of these determinants, albeit in the opinions of most, the greatest current one. It’s the straw that’s breaking the camel’s back.

Walt D. September 25, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Thanks for all the good comments and references you have posted.
I have a question about ocean temperatures and how they are measured.
I live in the LA area and I frequently dive along the California Coast. There are huge variations in surface temperatures . For instance, San Clemente can be warm 68F, Santa Cruz Island is much colder in the 50-60F. San Miguel is cold 50F and a cold day at Monastery Beach in Carmel can be 48F. Once you get down to depth it gets cold. I can give you the same story in the Caribbean or the Great Barrier. How can you you calculate the temperature of the ocean when there is so much variability, both in the surface temperature and the temperature at depth?
One thing I do notice is that underwater life thrives regardless of how hot or cold it is. The best coral reef I have seen is in Dominica where to ocean temperature is in the 80′s.
The only evidence of destruction I have seen can be attributed to careless divers and spear fishers.

michael September 26, 2010 at 10:49 am

“The only evidence of destruction I have seen can be attributed to careless divers and spear fishers.”

Hi Walt. The picture looks a little different to researchers who know what they’re looking for. The greatest damage to Dominica’s reefs comes from overdevelopment, with its consequent siltation and runoff problems, waste disposal into the waters and heavy fishing pressures. Nonetheless Dominica’s reefs are healthier than those in most parts of the world. Worldwide we’re seeing coral bleaching on a gigantic scale.

If interested, you could scroll down to “Study II: Coral Disease and Coral Bleaching along the North and West Coasts of Dominica, West Indies”:

“I have a question about ocean temperatures and how they are measured.”

The GISS studies only observe surface temps. But Argo data go down to the first two km of depth. Here:

It’s also worthy of note that the ocean is the planet’s largest heat sink, by far. An estimated 90% of our increase in warming gets wicked off into the oceans. Here:

Walt D. September 26, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Thanks for the references. You will not get any disagreement with me over the negative affects of human activity on marine ecology. In fact it is one of my pet peeves. It irritates me when I see fishing boats cutting off shark fins and throwing the sharks back into the ocean or catching whole shoals of tuna fish, or overfishing of cod in New England. Enough of my rant. However, in order to correct, or attempt to correct the problems, we need to know the exact cause. Unfortunately, this can be difficult. For instance, coral death in the Bahamas was eventually attributed to bacteria in wind born dust from Africa! Other causes are invasive species. (This also applies to brown snakes, snake head fish, barnacles, and algae).
Here is IHMO a good site with good references.

michael September 26, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Thanks for the ref, Walt. But that’s just a list of grants being given out for research. It’s not a list of the causes of coral die-off.

There are a half dozen major reasons why corals die off, most of them very local in nature (siltation, overfishing, damage from waste discharges or from marine traffic, etc.). But there is one very grave problem that’s killing them off worldwide: bleaching. And rather than have me lead you, I would only suggest you enter “coral bleaching” into your search engine and read the first five or six articles that come up.

It’s a stress reaction, with environmental triggers. It can be triggered by any of the following:
* increased (most commonly), or reduced water temperatures[5][6]
* increased solar irradiance (photosynthetically active radiation and ultraviolet band light)[7]
* changes in water chemistry (in particular acidification)[8][9]
* starvation caused by a decline in zooplankton[10]
* increased sedimentation (due to silt runoff)
* pathogen infections
* changes in salinity
* wind[6]
* low tide air exposure[6]
* cyanide fishing

Most commonly the precipitating factor is changes in water temps, and up to 60% of global coral reefs have been affected in some degree. That’s a very big problem.

This paper is an especially good overview:

Jeff Glassman September 26, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Michael 9/26/10 12:36 pm

The temperature data used by IPCC is HADCRUT3. See AR4, ¶ and Figure 3.6, p. 249. At that time, 1995 had the highest annual global average surface temperature of all time. That is still true in its latest report that goes through August, 2010. The temperature anomaly was 0.548ºC, 0.6ºC higher than the next highest. Compared to 1995, the current temperature is lower, i.e., in decline. http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/hadcrut3gl.txt

I cited the NOAA report not to establish that maximum. I only said it was a good record, not that it was either great or reliable. I cited it, as I said, for the NOAA smoothed estimator that is lower than its previous, and slightly in decline for the last 6 years. That recent decline is a major change from AR4. My solar model predicted it, but was at odds with the smoothed projection showing a rise in recent years. The data and smoothing have now been revised, validating the prediction from the Sun. See SGW Figure 1, http://www.rocketscientistsjournal.com .

Having a prediction prove more accurate than the smoothed data is all but unprecedented in science.

I never concern myself with the hottest, coldest, wettest, or driest periods on record. These need to be quantified with probabilities, but never are. The significance of these events is unknown except to promote hysteria. What counts are statistics – averages of various types, and their trends, used to establish cause and effect models. I have never seen a cause and effect established from the Guinness book of World Records, or extreme events.

Walt 9/25/10 11:48 pm:

IPCC had been reckoning the coming catastrophe from global temperatures, whatever they might mean. People do calculate the thermal energy stored in the ocean, an interesting parameter that requires the integral temperature at depth. But in the end, IPCC relies primarily on GAST, which is nicely measured by satellite. For the purposes of debunking IPCC, I rely on the same thing because (a) I can’t be legitimately criticized for using IPCC as an authority and (b) any other parameter or model is merely argumentative. The key parameter to IPCC is the climate sensitivity parameter, which it unfortunately defines two different ways (TAR, Appendix 9.1, p. 577 v. AR4, ¶2.2, p. 133). Whether the denominator and independent variable is a unit of radiative forcing or a doubling of CO2, the dependent variable is the surface temperature. Either way, IPCC always determines climate sensitivity incorrectly — open loop with respect to cloud albedo.

mpolzkill September 26, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Anyone have any thoughts on why it is that this super-genius won’t go to Glassman’s forum?

michael September 27, 2010 at 5:01 pm

You should unsmooth your projections, Jeff. It’s commonly known that when data get jiggered in this way they can prove anything you want to prove. Depending on where you want to start and where you want to stop, for example, the average American is FAR, far richer than he was in 1930. Yet since 1975 his income measured in constant dollars has eroded. It depends on where you want to frame your argument.

Surface temps constitute only a tiny manifestation of the global heat regimen. “[S]ince 1950, the planet released about 20 percent of the warming influence of heat-trapping greenhouse gases to outer space as infrared energy. Volcanic emissions lingering in the stratosphere offset about 20 percent of the heating by bouncing solar radiation back to space before it reached the surface. Cooling from the lower-atmosphere aerosols produced by humans balanced 50 percent of the heating. Only the remaining 10 percent of greenhouse-gas warming actually went into heating the Earth, and almost all of it went into the ocean.” So if you want to determine whether we’ve been adding trapped heat into the system you have to go to ocean temps. Upper ocean temps are very variable; land temps even more so. But deep ocean temps don’t lie.

There’s also the polar ice pack shrinkage to consider. We have a number of lines of evidence that tell us the earth is storing increasing amounts of heat relative to the levels we’ve become used to.

So your closing comment, “Whether the denominator and independent variable is a unit of radiative forcing or a doubling of CO2, the dependent variable is the surface temperature. Either way, IPCC always determines climate sensitivity incorrectly — open loop with respect to cloud albedo”, is beside the point. The great heat sink is the deep ocean.

Jeff Glassman September 28, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Re michael 9/27/10 5:01 pm

What projections of mine did I smooth? Are you perchance reading my Journal now?

You contrasted wealth since 1930 with an income decline since 1975. How are these related?

You failed to give the source for your citation about “heat-trapping greenhouse gases”. Let’s reveal that it’s from a blog called Climate Progress, owned by Joseph Romm, PhD, physics, MIT, ~1987, a Democrat appointed by Clinton. His blog is “dedicated to providing the progressive perspective on climate science”. I would object equally to the conservative view of science. Science is strictly objective.

Romm refers to “heat-trapping”. What are they teaching at MIT now? Heat cannot be trapped. It is energy in transit from a warm body to a colder one. If it were somehow trapped, it would be gone. Here’s a quotation from IPCC’s Fatal Errors in the Journal, which you seem determined to criticize without bothering to read:

>>Saying the greenhouse effect traps heat is quite objectionable because it butchers the science of thermodynamics, misled modelers, and misleads the public. Here is the annotated definition of heat from the classic work by Zemansky that also illustrates the fallacy in heat trapping:

>>>>4.5. Concept of Heat. Heat is energy in transit. ["Heat flow" is redundant.] It flows from one point to another. [Second Law of Thermodynamics.] When the flow has ceased, there is no longer any occasion to use the word heat. [If it's trapped, it's gone.] It would be just as incorrect to refer to the “heat in a body” [where is trapped heat supposed to reside?] as it would be to speak about the “work in a body.” [Heat and work are interchangeable as given by the First Law of Thermodynamics, the law of conservation of energy.] The performance of work and the flow of heat are methods whereby the internal energy of a system is changed. It is impossible to separate or divide the internal energy into a mechanical and a thermal part. ["Thermal energy" is meaningless.] Zemansky, M.W., Heat and Thermodynamics, Fourth Ed., McGraw-Hill, 1957, p. 62.

You say, “deep ocean temps don’t lie”, and “The great heat sink is the deep ocean”. What you are trying to say is that the ocean has a heat capacity, and a large one, and that it has to be taken into account in modeling climate. A steady state model need not represent heat capacities. However, science does not dictate what must or must not be in a scientific model. The criterion is solely whether the model makes significant predictions that can be tested.

You quote from my post and claim that it “is beside the point”. It may be beside your point, but it’s on target for mine, which you have failed to grasp. It is your observation that is pointless. IPCC uses GAST for its primary criterion, and IPCC is the source and owner now of the AGW threat. Therefore, the AGW threat relies on the global average surface temperature.

Contrary to your opinion, IPCC was under no obligation to include the heat capacity of the deep, or for that matter any other part of the ocean in its model. In fact, IPCC doesn’t use heat capacity at all. It doesn’t model heat as a flow variable at all, so it has no energy flowing in its model to charge heat capacities. It employs radiative forcing models, not heat flow models.

You need to get your information from other than left wing propaganda, but in this case, admonitions seem pointless. Earlier you demonstrated your reliance on left-wing tracts instead of either science or source documents. You can read IPCC’s Third and Fourth assessment reports on line, fully searchable with Google. I suggest you read about radiative forcing there, and especially IPCC’s staunch defense of its choice, presumably against criticism by its own climatologists, in TAR, ¶6.2.2 Strengths and Limitations of the Forcing Concept, p. 355.

Joe October 2, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Your a good man. Most people would not have put up with Michael for all this time. I appreciate your comments and I can say I have learned a little about this AGW debate. Keep up the good work.

steve October 20, 2010 at 12:24 pm

I am right and you are all wrong … hahaha
oops … forgot what I was going to write about … no matter, my brain just released a series of feel good biochemicals that reinforced my opinion … because that is what the brain does … reinforces opinions no matter what they are … hmmmm … the beat goes on and on …

It is really interesting to me that the Solar Radiation graphs that people include in blogs to demonstrate SR as a causative factor don’t correlate … wierd how people cling to that model … am I missing something or is the world blind when it comes to graph reading?

It is quite probable that centrists are the only people qualified to decide this mess. Opinions being what they are … self reinforcing.

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