This page was tweaked 2/19/12
So is global warming real? Depends on who you ask and from which point you start the measurements. So here is where I stand on the issue. All of the links to “more info” are either here or in the regular posts.
- For a more scientific viewpoint, from an Atmospheric Physicist, click here.
- Here’s Lindzen with an overview of why there is no call for alarm. Backup is here.
- Dr. Roy Spencer describes how the greenhouse effect works, and does it without spitting at anyone.
- Some of the variables that affect climate.
Fore a more interesting version of my blather: What do Occam’s Razor, Sunspots, Climate, and Ernst Mach have in common?
Update: First, the short version of my view:
- The Catastrophic Global Warming concept is dead, therefore the need for Kyoto or Copenhagen type treaties is dead. (IMO those, and related, treaties were more about power and money than mitigating climate change. You can see quotes supporting this idea on the quotes page. )
- The prognosis for Human Caused Global Warming is in critical condition in the hospital’s ICU. Recovery is possible, but unlikely, and not without major long term issues. (To be clear, I’m talking about a lot of warming. Small amounts might be possible, and regional changes are likely.)
- Has the world warmed at all in the last 100 years? I’m willing to say yes, by something on the order of a few 10th of a degree C. Given the state of the surface temperature record it is arguable that there has been zero warming. This means that Rush Limbaugh is a far superior climate interpreter than Al Gore.
- A few 10th of warming is clearly a good thing (based on historical records, not Gore’s hysteria.)
- A large increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is also, clearly, a good thing. Scientists agree.
The loooong version.
Acronyms used in this site
- CC = Climate Change
- GW = Global Warming
- CGW = Catastrophic GW (aka: Al Gore’s version)
- AGW = Anthropogenic (man made) GW or Alarmists Gone Wild
- IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or Intentionally Prevaricated Climate Change
- Believer - one who believes in AGW
- Skeptic - One who questions AGW. Most skeptics believe there has been some warming, at various times in history, and there’s nothing special about recent times.
- Alarmist - One who strongly believes in AGW, to the point where something must be done, now!
- Denier/denialist – A term that refers to skeptics. It is intended to be insulting (since it also refers to Holocaust denier) and strongly implies a willful ignoring of (alarmist) reality.
- Hysterics - Beyond the Alarmists in their beliefs. Al Gore, for example. The term is intended to be, at least, disrespectful.
Comments on this page may or may not be closed when you see it, therefore the questions may or may not be rhetorical.
Now, when discussing GW with various people I’ve stumbled into the trap of conflicting and changing definitions of GW (by the same person,) so I’ll start with this question:
What do you mean by “Global Warming?”
- Why call it climate change? Is that an admission that GW has stopped or an allowance for the possibility? Is it to prepare for the cooling (predicted by some) over the next few decades?
- You believe Al Gore is right on, because…?
- By GW I mean that the world, according to NOAA, has warmed by about 1.2F since the late 1800s. What do you mean? Keep in mind that NOAA has one group of temp records. there are other and the numbers vary, though not by a lot.
- I don’t consider the observed warming to by anything other than beneficial. Ditto for CO2. Why do you consider it to be otherwise?
- The world has been significant warmer in the lasr 12k years and significantly cooler the last few hundred. Trends in both directions have, at times, been sharper than anything in the last 100 years. Why are you concerned about modern trends? Why do you consider it to be unsual?
- World temps have varied by 10C, each way, over many millions of years. Why are you concerned by the small amount of warming from the 70s thru the 90s?
- Why is warming man-made when the world has been recently cooling and prior periods were more extreme, in both directions, when man could not possibly have had anything to do with it?
- I believe that some computer models are sincere efforts by some scientists to try to understand what’s going on (and some are not. EG – Hockey sticks) I don’t think the models are anywhere near being able to accurately guestimate future climate unless they get lucky. I don’t think they ever can exactly predict climate. Too many poorly understood factors, for one. Chaos for another. Why do you think they can?
- That said, all of the IPCC models assume steady warming with increasing CO2. All the models more than 10 years old have been shown to be wrong. More recent models may be better, but probably need a minimum of 20 years (of matching to real observations) to be considered worthwhile. This makes them useless for policy decisions.
- The various hockey sticks have been proven to be based on very poor math and highly cherry picked data. Why do you believe they are interesting?
- First off, everything that comes out of Mr. Gore’s mouth regarding climate change is, well, wild fantasy. The Lord of the Rings might be a more accurate view of the world than Mr. Gore’s ideas. There is nothing in any version of the science which supports Mr. Gore. The same seems to be true of Dr. Hansen, given his wild statements. The crowd making the remarks that predict even wilder catastrophes belongs in the looney bin, as far as I’m concerened.
- There’s a lot of discussion on the web about the meaning of recent temperature trends, as well as less recent trends. Currently, the trend since the 1998 peak is more or less flat. Again, there are various temperature measuring system. Here’s the best article I’ve seen describing just why this is significant: Another Inconvenient Truth For AGW Proponents
The Data Record
- Start from the 1950s and there seems to have been some small amount of warming, not a lot, but detectable, and nothing that says “disaster is coming.” Note that in the 70s there was considerable concern about the upcoming ice age. My prediction is that there will be widespread concern (ok, hysteria) about global cooling in a few (5-15) years.
- Start from the warm peak in the 30s and there’s been close to zero warming, depending on how the reliability of the surface record is viewed and whose guestimate of 30s/40s temps you care to use. Nasa has changed its views of 1934 Vs 1998 at least a half dozen times. There is also a question about their integrity.
- Start from the late 1800s, when good thermometers came into existence, and there seems to have been some warming, on the order of about +0.6 °C ± 0.2 °C (.4 to .8, less than 1 degree C) (reference) at least half of which occured before 1950. NOAA puts the trend at about 1.2F from 1895 to present. There’s also some doubt about that temp change given the Urban Heat Island effect. Statistially, especially given the UHI, it can be argued that the entirety of all measured warming since the late 1800s falls within the real error range and is, therefore, not significant. Given that the historical record shows much larger temp rises and drops, there seems to be little that indicates that this rise is anything unusual.
- Personally, I believe there has been some warming since that’s consistent with the historical record. NASA sats show a small amount of warming from the 70′s to around 1995, then leveling, then a cooling tred the last few years.
- Start from the high point of the medieval warming period and, well, the world has cooled. We’ve not equalled that peak, yet. Maybe we’ll know we’re there when we can start farming Greenland again. BTW – the roman period before that seems to have been warmer still and the prior Minoan period ever warmer. There’s less than zero evidence of climate catastrophe from any of those times.
Sea levels and Weather events
- Sea levels have varied by over 400′. Lower in ice ages, higher in warm times. We’re close to the high point at this time. Remember the land bridge (Bering Strait) was exposed due to lowered sea levels.
- In theory, if the Greenland and Antarctic ice melted then the sea levels would rise by many yards. There is zero evidence that this is actually happening. Some evidence show that both of these areas are thickening (ie: more ice, not less.) Some shows that Greenland is losing a small amount of ice (small comapred to its total valume.) The total melting of Artic sea ice would have zero effect on sea levels.
- The rate of sea level change has been around around 2 mm per year for the last century and seems to be zero for the last few years.
- There is zero evidence of increasing numbers of tornados, hurricanes, droughts, etc. Quite the contrary, the records show that the number of events are either flat or declining.
Variations, Models, and “Unusual Warming”
- All of the modern warming/cooling changes are within the range of natural variation. You want extremes? Take a close look at how the last ice age ended, and how fast. Also look at the mini ice age that followed (Younger Dryas.)
- IPCC models has consistently failed to predict climate reality, though with constant updates they can be made to look like they do represent reality.
- Geologists will also tell you that there is nothing the slightest bit unusual about any current warming or cooling trends.
- There is considerable doubt about the accuracy and reliability of the land based temp record. (here) When the heat island effect is allowed for there seems to have been zero, or close to zero, warming.. 6th graders (with parental help) are demonstrating major inconsistencies in the termperature records and the heat island effect.. (see below)
- There is also evidence that the land based record has been fudged. The raw data for much of that record has also been conveniently lost.
- The satellite record show warming to the late 90s, a big (relatively speaking) “el nino” spike in 1998, flat thereafter, and recent cooling. The flat and cooling trrends are not predicted by the IPCC 2001 models. Over geologic time (many millions of years) we are in a cold, co2 impoverished interglacial time.
- CO2 has been FAR higher in the ancient past (one of those periods was an ice age, with co2 at 3-5 times the level it is now.). There is nothing in the historical record (over any period greater than 70 years ) that indicates we are experiencing an unusual warming given that the world has, in fact, been both much warmer and much colder than it is now. In fact, the historical record indicates that were in a pretty boring period of climate change.
- Since the record shows that temps precede CO2 buildup by 800+ years it seems hard to argue that CO2 is the main temp driver, though it may be a minor player.
- The current series of ice ages has only been around for a couple of million years. 5 million years ago, and more, the temperature was consistently warmer, by several degrees.
- There is zero evidence the the oceans are being acidified due to CO2 (and “acidification” is a very poor term, anyway, but it is a lovely alarmist one.)
- The oceans (and oceans life forms) were obviously quite happy when CO2 was 10-20 times higher than it is now.
- The ocean is a highly buffered system and the total CO2 in the atmosphere is inadequate to make a significant difference.
- local systems cause a higher range of Ph variations locally than CO2 does.
- The argument that CO2 is the primary driver of climate is iffy, at best. Most likely it is a minor player, at most, or is a non-player.
- The argument that CO2 is a pollutant is pure fantasy.
- CO2 is an essential part of the entire eco-system of this planet. Increased CO2 will be highly beneficial. NASA data already demonstrates this.
- Aggregate climate feedbacks cannot be strongly positive. The climate history of the planet with it’s vastly higher CO2 levels demonstrates this.
- Given that temps seem to fall in a range of +10C to -10C, compared to today, my estimate is that climate is a pretty well buffered system with zero major positive feedbacks involved. The one exception is whatever causes us to drop into an ice age and then kick us back out. Over the large majority of time, the last few million years, this planet has been in an ice age. It seems to me that an ice age is, therefore, the more stable condition.
- “…high stability in a narrow range” and “dominated by high positive feedback” are not very compatible descriptions of a system. (source here)
- The natural climate will always tend towards equilibrium – open systems always do… That’s why they continue to ‘exist’ (+/-) instead of going into melt-down every time there is an external change or stress on the system…(here, John R. Walker (11:19:57))
Climate Catastrophe (due to warming? )
- This is a completely goofy premise that bears zero resemblance to observed reality or the historical record. An ice age, on the other hand…
- Let’s be honest here: the entire discussion is regarding global warming. “Climate Change” is a CYA policy that let’s the proponents say anything they wish. Climate has been changing for a very long time and the change has, at times, been far more interesting that it is now.
- All of the discussion on mitigating “climate change” is focused on warming, therefor “Global Warming” is a much more accurate term describing the situation that people are hysterical about.
- It’s likely that the scare mongering crowd will be screaming about Global Cooling in a few years, just as they did in the 70s and early 1900s.
- Climate really only has good meaning on a regional scale. Global Climate is, well, meaningless (compare Antarctica to the tropical rain forest.) Still, it’s a wonderful way to pull hundreds of billions of dollars through taxes and various schemes/scams.
(Hysterics = “the Al Gore/Hansen crowd,” not real scientists, though the head of NASA’s GISS is quite the activist. It is used here only since the insulting denier/denialist seems to be popular. Hysterics seems to be, to my mind, equally insulting. )
- Rush Limbaugh is far closer to accuracy on GW than anyone in the hysteric camp. Zero warming is closer to reality than anything out of Al Gores mouth.
- The hysterics claim that warming is bad. They are completely unable to support this claim.
- The hysterics claim that CO2 is a pollutant. They are completely unable to support this claim.
- The hysterics claim all kinds of disasters. They are completely unable to support this claim.
- The politicians/hysterics/socialists/greens/etc.. want to crush our economies based on hysteria that is completely unsupported. Ok, maybe most of the don’t want to crush our economies, but that’s the direction that their policies are taking us.
Facts in a nutshell:
We have an observed COOLING for the past decade. Let us never lose sight of this and the few other unanswerable facts. There has been no warming for 15 years and steady state/cooling for 9; the ocean temperature probes record no sea surface temp increase; polar ice MASS is on the increase; polar bear populations are NOT declining; sea level estimates indicate a stabilizing trend. (source Tom G(ologist) (08:10:31) ) This says nothing about what the temps for next year or the next 50 years will be.
In my opinion statements along the lines of, “The debate is over… the facts are in…” completely discredit the speaker, since those statements are completely contrary to how science is supposed to be done. Especially since CGW is based entirely on noise and models, not science. Also note , historically, the “scientific consensus” has often been very wrong.
So what is climate: It’s the average of all weather over a region, or the planet, over a long period of time. It is influenced, to some degree, by all of the following:
- Solar viariation
- Other external factors, such as cosmic rays influencing cloud formation.
- Variations in planetary tilt and orbital distance from sun (Milankovitch cycles – noaa, emp., bio)
- The Greenhouse Effect, primarily water vapor driven.
- Various greenhouse gases, of which CO2 seems be the least important and water vapor is, by far, the most important.
- Cyclical variations of winds and currents
- Heat content of the oceans
- Ice albedo from poles and glaciers.
- Light absorbtion and reflection as land areas change color due to climate change and land use.
- Clouds & precipitation
- CO2 scrubbing by forests & heavily vegetated areas, only if CO2 is a player.
- Volcanoes and other geothermal activity
- Heat added to the ocean from underwater geo activity
- Geology (which changes over the millions of years.)
- Land use leading to regional changes (eg: the heat island effect, Mt. Kilomanjaro.)
- The moon? Gravitational effect stirring things around.
- And a few other things (from WUWT)
The point, of course, is that climate is vastly more complicated than Mr. Gore’s simple fantasy makes it out to be. It’s probably impossible to model exactly and probably requires major model improvements to model generally.
So do I have a conclusion? (updated 1/28)
- Warming and CO2 are not pollution. Pollution is an entirely separate issue.
- Warming has happened, and is entirely consistent with observed natural climate variation. Human contribution is probably insignificant on a global scale. See update above.
- Here’s an NOAA temp trend of ~1F per 100 yrs, .11F per decade. (Trends run from .33/dec to .05/dec., depending on the month) Again, see the update at the top of this page.
- This is probably consistent with IPCC projections once the political/gore effect is removed.
- CO2 is a bit player in climate, at best.
- We have an insignificant effect on global warming, but have observable, testable real-world local effects. EG: Urban heat islands, pollution clouds over China, etc.
- The idea that CO2 is a pollutant is… Well, it would be hilarious if the loons weren’t so deadly serious about it.
- A couple of degrees of warming would most likely be a very good thing as would a significant increase in CO2. Keep in mind that much of the world’s history has been 5-10C higher than today.
- CO2 mitigation is insanely expensive and destructive. Adaptation (if any is ever needed) will be orders of magnitude more cost effective and will be vastly more beneficial to our economies.
- Carbon trading is a scam to benefit Government and traders and to screw the citizen who pays for it all.
- And yes, Climategate was a huge hit to the credibility of the alarmist crowd, as were the various hockey sticks. Their only way out of the argument is to say that all other science is equally bad (since all the emails show is Standard Operating Procedure among scientists.)
- Long term predictions regarding groups of people, climate, or any other chaotic system, are kind of like climbing out on that tree limb and then sawing it off (who predicted Scott Brown winning Mass???) but what the heck:
- My opinion is that the world might continue to warm, over 2000-2100 at about the same rate as the last hundred years, which will be approx <= 1C. At most. I think it’s far more likely to see less warming (or even cooling) than to see more (>1C) warming.
- Put another way… Take the trend since 1998 (which is pretty close to zero) and extend it to 2100. Make it actually zero. My guess is that climate will stay within +- 1C of that trend until such time as we drop into another ice age or have a nuclear war (which might trigger that ice age.) By the way, if warming continues pretty much as it has for the last 100 years then the year 2100 climate will be within this prediction.
- Within the next 100 years we will also see two major media hysterical events (driven by Al Gore types, much like the last 20 years) regarding cooling and one more regarding warming (I’m being serious here, believe it or not.)