"Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors."

-Jonas Salk

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sunspots vs Global Temperature

Note: Googling for a graph of global temperature over time? See here.


More fish in a barrel, and indeed fish that have already been shot up quite thoroughly, but I've been running into Svensmarxists of late.

According to something called the "Daily Tech", which is the sort of news site that credits Anthony Watts with being a "meteorologist" (he was a TV weatherman for some time; I don't know if he has an undergrad degree),
many climatologists now believe solar magnetic activity – which determines the number of sunspots -- is an influencing factor for climate on earth
which, as we used to say in calculus class, is true for sufficiently small values of "many". And apparently the number of sunspots is extraordinarily small of late:
NOAA reversed their previous decision on a tiny speck seen Aug 21, which gives their version of the August data a half-point. Other observation centers such as Mount Wilson Observatory are still reporting a spotless month. So depending on which center you believe, August was a record for either a full century, or only 50 years.
Now, what do those "many" climatologists have to say about sunspots? Apparently (I have trouble keeping this straight) they correlate positively with global mean temperature because...
According to Watts, the effect of sunspots on TSI (total solar irradiance) is negligible, but the reduction in the solar magnetosphere affects cloud formation here on Earth, which in turn modulates climate.

This theory was originally proposed by physicist Henrik Svensmark, who has published a number of scientific papers on the subject. Last year Svensmark's "SKY" experiment claimed to have proven that galactic cosmic rays -- which the sun's magnetic field partially shields the Earth from -- increase the formation of molecular clusters that promote cloud growth.
Now, as an actual meteorology Ph.D. (although it's a well-known met school it also gave a doctorate to Pat Michaels, so make of this credential what you will), I seem to recall that high clouds warm the surface because of something called the "greenhouse effect", but as far as I know these people think that is all mumbo-jumbo. So do the high clouds correlate with high temps or low on the Svensmark theory? Wikipedia says that according to Svensmark:
Fewer cosmic rays meant fewer clouds--and a warmer world.
(ref: Svensmark, Henrik, "The Chilling Stars: A New Theory of Climate Change", Totem Books, 2007 (ISBN 1-840-46815-7)

[Update: Dano helpfully points out in the comments that we have already performed the experiment, and it does look like the main effect of contrails, which are high clouds, is greenhouselike; removing them caused a detectably larger diurnal temperature cycle and detectably decreased temperature.]

Oh well. Have it your way. So according to this, since sunspots cannot be lower than they are now, we should be seeing the coldest summer of the century, right? (Less solar magnetism, more cosmic rays, more clouds, cooler temperatures goes the "argument", I gather.) Well, August data is not in, but July is not looking good for Svensmark.

And while the current year to date is a bit below the trend line (largely owing to a La Nina event), it remains more on the warm side than on the cool. So what on earth could cause these people to confidently assert that sunspots dominate CO2?

Rasmus Benestad has a new article on the Encyclopedia of Earth website examining these claims in a cool, professional style. He finds them wanting, though those not used to reading the primary literature will not immediately grasp how severely wanting. The article is nicely summarized by this image, which compares solar activity (red, pale blue, grey), CO2( green), and observed global temperature (dark blue) over the past 6 solar cycles.

Anyone claiming that sunspots dominate CO2 in the contemporary record has got a whole lot of 'splainin' to do. Of course, with enough knobs on your theory you can explain anything. It is interesting to note how quick the skeptics, er, denialists, er, cosmoclimatologists are to reduce the dimension of the problem (to a global temperature trace). Which is why I prefer to call the problem "global climate change" and not "global warming". If you reduce everything to a scalar it's a lot easier to come up with theories. (All of which leads to my point about the best theory being the one with the fewest knobs; more on that to follow in a later post.)

Even so, as you can see, there's not just a little bit of weaseling needed to actually make a case out of the sunspots as the "culprit" in the global warming that is not happening and is good for you.


Dano said...

Dano seems to recall a bunch of denialist hand-fluttering when 9-11 grounded planes and the absence of contrails allowed us to glean information. IDRC there was a flurry of additional comic denialism mendacicization about clouds and nighttime warming and 9-11 sampling bias and limited spatial extent and yada.

Well, here we are again. With the new Mann et al. PNAS paper, we have another chance to glean information (not useful this time, but amusing): how will the credulous and gullible spread the misinformation that will be spread from these incidents?

But I digress from the important topic: how can we predict what sort of national programs that will be put in place from a Democrat being in the White House and a Dem-controlled Congress? How quickly can we make up the delay from 8 years of this clown crew, despite the continued crowing of denial?



Dano said...

[Update: Dano helpfully points out in the comments that we have already performed the experiment, and it does look like the main effect of contrails, which are high clouds, is greenhouselike; removing them caused a detectably larger diurnal temperature cycle and detectably decreased temperature.]

And just to be clear: we already know how the denialists will spin it. And, yes, they are spinning it in the same way yet again.

Which I guess is probably why you tagged it 'ludicrous'.



Horatio Algeranon said...

Some things are timeless: God, The universe, classic songs, AGW denialist arguments...

Sunspots get in your eyes

Aaron said...

Take all the jets out of the sky and the solar magnetosphere *might* affect cloud formation. Take all the jets out of the sky and cosmic rays might affect cloud formation. However, we do not have a chance to detect either effect with all those aircraft generating a great surplus of condensation nuclei.

Mike Powell said...

On the question of whether a sunspot-free month hasn't happened for 50 vs. 100 years, I think it's important to note that while it's been many decades since there were no sunspots in a month it has NOT been all that long since there was a month-long period without sunspots.

For example, no sunspots were observed between 9/13/96 and 10/19/96. That's more than a month... And recall that the record for the hottest annual mean global temperature was set in 1998, just a couple years after this greater-than-a-month-long sunspot-free period.

-Mike Powell

Michael Tobis said...

Just a couple of years! And the mechanism is what, that cosmic rays sit around the upper atmosphere for two years and then create cloud condensation nuclei?

Mike Powell said...

"Just a couple of years!"

I don't think I made my point with sufficient clarity. I do not think there's a connection between the previous sunspot minimum and the record-high temperature of 1998.

I should clarify my previous comment a bit. From what I've seen, a good case hasn't been made for the Svensmark (and others) idea that variations in sunspot numbers has a significant impact on Earth's climate. In fact the opposite seems to be true.

In mentioning the 1998 record temperature, I was clumsily trying to make the point that we didn't see much "global cooling" the last time we went a month without sunspots. As I understand the argument, periods of low sunspot activity should result in cloud-induced cooling.

The article at Dailytech.com discussing this "no sunspots" business argues we might be in for sustained cooling because of the low sunspot counts. My point is that this is almost certainly wrong and as part of the evidence for its wrongness, I point to the last time we had >1 month of no sunspots... we didn't see any sustained cooling then. In fact what we *did* see was a record global temperature less than 2 years later.

-Mike Powell

Michael Tobis said...

Mike, thanks for clarifying. My bad.

I can never keep track of the sign of the Svensmark argument. Both the physical arguments and the correlation are so weak that it seems equally plausible to me either way!

RJ said...

The only significant correlation I seem to find regarding sunspot activity and temperature is the Maunder period. It certainly suggests either a relationship or a big coincidence (or perhaps a reverse relationship - sunspots stop when the earth gets cold - think I can forget that one). We probably have to see years of very low activity before cooling kicks in.

Charles Higley said...

First, I really think a PhD meteorologist would recognize that high level clouds, although they theoretically can act as a greenhouse barrier, also can act to reflect away incoming solar energy (they are ice crystals at that altitude). Additionally, a greenhouse barrier cannot warm the region below and be colder than the region below. Basic 2nd Law of Thermodynamics - cold objects cannot warm hot objects. Call it what you will, but the upper level clouds serve to block incoming energy, not trap it.

Your physical chemistry is weak as you would otherwise recognize that absorption and emission of IR radiation does not warm a gas. It si the hallmark of a cold gas. A statistically small number of collisions while excited will result in some KE changes, but this is on the order of hundredths of a deg C at double the CO2 of today. This is a meaningless temperature change. And water is not a positive forcing factor - it is the core of a huge global heat engine, which your should know all about. It is the water cycle we teach in Middle School; a powerful negative forcing factor.

Furthermore, your temperature graph is skewed and faulty. Comparing it with anything is fallacious. As the IPCC refuses to stay away from urban or suburban monitoring sites, your graph is badly skewed towards warming. An honest graph (avoiding the urban heat island effect) shows that we have been far cooler in the last 50 years then in the first half of the 1900's.

And your CO2 curve is not true either, as CO2 was well above 440 ppm (hitting 550 ppm at times) in the 1940's and almost as high twice in the 1800's. This is not shown in your curve.

The IPCC's unfounded assumption that CO2 was low throughout the 1800's is another piece of conveniently wrong junk science and, when presented as fact, becomes a lie. Mixing indirect data from the Antarctic with volcano data from Mauna Loa, Hawaii is a travesty in itself, but your curve was synthesized by moving the ice core data 83 years into the future to artificially make it overlap with the Mauna Loa data. That is scientific heresy.

Stop comparing one lie with another - it's a waste of time.

As a biochemist and marine biologist, I have never stopped learning and go to the real papers. 54 science courses and thousands of papers and textbooks later and I have a well developed knowledge filter. I do not believe the published detritus cobbled together by politicians and pseudo-scientists with an agenda to blame any change in climate on us.

The planet is cooling. Deal. And it is not the CO2 cooling us. It is the weak, slow starting, solar cycle 24 and a solar wind which is currently just a slight breeze - it might stay this way for quite some time.

One does not have to be a degreed meteorologist to understand climate dynamics, but one does need to be a scientist, have a solid, good science foundation in the major areas, and ask ALL of the questions, not just the ones that suit you.

For instance, they bemoan the fact that some flowers are blooming 2 weeks earlier than they used to and blame this on global warming. As the planet has been cooling for the last 10 years from the 1998 peak (which was well below the 1938 peak) and this is happening, I sought out botanical studies to explore this phenomenon and found that plants are more temperature tolerant (as well as use water and nutrients more efficiently) when CO2 is higher (CO2 is a limiting growth factor and thus a stressor) and can grow at lower temperatures; thus, they bloom earlier due to higher CO2 and NOT due to warmer temperatures, as it is so easy to assume.

I have found real science or human mismanagement behind every global warming claim and none of it involves global warming. Not a surprise as we have not warmed.

Kilimanjaro is the poster-child of global warming. NOT! It is colder at all levels and indeed the glaciers are less. We let's see: they cut down the rain forests for fields and decreased the transpiration of water which formed the clouds which formed the snow which fell on the mountain. The glaciers have not melted, they have evaporated as in some areas it never gets above freezing. Furthermore, the glaciers are melting where dust and dirt has blown up the mountain, landed on the ice, and the tropical sun has heated the dark particles and melted the ice. Meanwhile, the farmers are complaining of a water shortage which they themselves created. Global warming has nothing to do with Mt. Kilimanjaro.

It goes on and on. The Greenland and Antarctic ice shields are healthy and growing. Sea might actually go down or do nothing. Greenland ice cannot collapse as the ice is in a huge geographical bowl. Antarctica has broken records for winter ice extent. Where there is big winter ice, there is big summer melt. The Arctic is cooler, as reported by sites all around the Arctic Rim. The 2007 big melt was not form warm air, but warm water from below - warm water from the NAO and sea floor volcanic and thermal activity - and wind patterns that drove sea ice out of the Arctic to melt elsewhere.

The only graph I have seen with any real veracity is the solar cycle periodicity and the global temperatures. They are in lock step with an impressive correlation. Your CO2 curve is a joke.

Another useful observation. The event of decreasing CO2 production significantly has already occurred and nothing happened. When the Great Depression hit, production of CO2 dropped 30% almost overnight. The rate of temperature increase and the rate of CO2 increase did not miss a beat. No effect at all. It is foolish to pursue CO2 reduction when it is good for our food supply, cannot and does not warm the globe, and is not our fault anyhow. We contribute a small fraction of the CO2 increase each year, the half-life of CO2 in the atmosphere is 5-10 years, not the 200 years the IPCC conveniently and arbitrarily determined.

Blaming everything on CO2 is a good way to justify taking money from every citizen of the world and blame it on them at the same time. A carbon economy is a false economy as it is aimed to enrich a few people by allowing them to sell nothing less than indulgences for people who fell guilty for something they did not do.

We should focus on diseases, cancer, water, soil, and air pollution (but not CO2 - it is pant food, not a pollutant), feeding the hungry and bringing the rest of the world into the 21st century so technology can allow us to alter our usage of the world and free it up to be natural. Crippling the world economy is immoral and will do much more harm than good, not ignoring simply kill people.

We will eventually taper off in our us of carbon fuels as we progress. This is a natural progression. Then the 3rd World countries can have their shot at carbon while we taper off. We will also hlep them get beyond carbon more rapidly than we did. In the long run we need to conserve our carbon resources as we will need them for synthesizing plastics and pharmaceuticals.

Jeer all you like at the Svenmark people, but they are right. One only needs to denigrate people when you are losing.

With all due respect,
Charles Higley, Ph.D.

Michael Tobis said...

PhD of what from where, please?

I like this one particularly: "Greenland ice cannot collapse as it is in a huge geographic bowl". I recommend you look into recent work by Schoof; (Ice sheet grounding mechanisms; J Geophys Res 2007) as you seem to have it exactly backwards in this case.

In any case, I believe a lack of support for certain satellite missions has the result that the topography of the subglacial surface of Greenland is not actually well-constrained.

Since I'm basically open-minded, I'd welcome any published or publication quality evidence to the contrary on either point or any of your other claims.


Anonymous said...

Charles Higley gets a spectacular number of things wrong in his long post, and is insulting about how stupid you (mt) are because you don't know what he mistakenly believes to be true. I'll just cover two errors.

1. He believes a cooler object cannot warm a warmer object because this would violate the second law of thermodynamics.

What the second law of thermodynamics says is that NET heat transfer must be from the warmer to cooler object. It does not say no heat transfer can go the other way.

The atmosphere at 250 K warms the ground at 288 K. If the Earth were warmed by sunlight alone, mean global annual surface temperature would be 254 K, and the Earth would be frozen over. It's 288 K because of the greenhouse effect -- the ground gets both sunshine and "atmosphere shine." The atmosphere, since it includes greenhouse gases, radiates thermal infrared light, and it radiates it in all directions -- including down. The ground absorbs the IR. It's warmer that it would be in the absence of that incoming IR.

2. He says a gas can't heat up by absorbing infrared light.

Charles, the first law of thermodynamics is something called "conservation of energy." Where does the energy go when a gas absorbs IR? It can't disappear.

Charles Higley said...

Sorry to say, Barton, but indeed a cool object cannot warm a warm object. You are wrong, in that you know that I did not mean that there was only a one way transfer of energy. It remains that the cold upper atmosphere cannot warm the lower atmosphere. And it remains that the atmosphere and surface trade energy back and forth daily as temperatures created by the solar input warming the surface heats the atmosphere and then the atmosphere and surface radiate energy to space at night.

During solar input, the CO2 in the atmosphere is saturated with IR (as a cold gas, absorbing and re-emitting) and has little effect on the amount of IR reaching the surface.

It's a simple exercise to build two greenhouses, one with an IR opaque roof and one with an IR transparent roof. The two buildings wind up with almost identical temperatures as it is the warm surfaces of the inside of the building which warms the air by conduction much more than any amount of IR.

CO2's ability to absorb IR overlaps water's absorption spectrum such that its effect is diminished by water vapor. The bottom line would be that the only time CO2 might have any effect would be only in very cold air masses, in the driest air, of the winter. The rest of the time water vapor and its heat engine runs the show.

Indeed, warm and cold objects radiate at each other at their respective temperatures, but the warmer object will radiate more than the cold and more heat leaves the warm object than is lost by the cool object. The atmosphere at 250K does not effectively heat the surface to 288K. The temperature differential determines the temperature gradient and the rate of heat loss to the atmosphere. The greater the differential, the faster the loss and vice versa. Your physics here is sorely lacking.

The IR absorbed by the surface is less than the IR emitted by the surface, if the atmosphere is cooler. Your logic fails, in that you seem to assume that the surface will concentrate the IR and not emit any of its own energy. It will and does.

If you stand under a clear, cold night sky, with you at about 310K and space at 3K, you are 103 times hotter than space and will emit heat towards space 100 to the 4th power more than deep space radiates at you. If you simply move to stand under a tree at 273K, you are now only 1.14 times hotter (and emitting radiation 69% more rapidly) than the tree and lose heat less rapidly as the tree is radiating at you at a much higher rate than was space. Do yourself a favor and find any good college physics text.

And the IR absorbed by CO2 is almost immediately re-emitted at that same wavelength. Its called absorption and emission by a cold gas. As I said above, the two greenhouse end up at almost the same temperature (there is a tiny difference). There is a statistically small number of collisions which can occur while the IR energy is present in the molecule, in which case the energy could become redistributed as another variety of electronic vibration, effectively raising the KE or temperature of the molecule by that much or allowing emission of a different frequency of radiation. But, for CO2, this represents hundredths (or less) of a degree for double the present CO2.

The IPCC, to make this minimal and inconsequential CO2 effect larger, increased the thermodynamic constant (alpha), which determines the above small statistical result, by more than an order of magnitude, bumping CO2's effect to over 0.1 deg C. This, of course, is scientifically dishonest.

To magnify the fabricated 0.1 deg C effect of CO2, the IPCC also ignores the water vapor heat engine, a huge negative forcing factor in our atmosphere, and assumes that water's only effect is to multiply CO2's effect by 30-fold, as a positive forcing factor, and, thus, they predict their 3 deg C global warming from CO2 doubling. This, of course, is not happening in the real world because their prediction is not based on real science.

The systematic ignorance of water vapor's energy transfer role in climate computer models renders all of these models woefully inadequate and designed to tip regardless of the conditions entered.

The icing on the cake is that CO2 has been much higher than it is now many times in the recent past. Oops, no tipping points!

It was only the IPCC's cherry-picking of the data and arbitrarily determining that indirect (necessarily old or ancient) ice core measurements are more reliable than direct chemical measurements that allowed them to maintain that CO2 was steadily low in the past. It was not, by any means, but the IPCC.

It's so much fun as we have global warming as only the mild, steady in the long term, but irregular in the short term warming as we climb out of the last little ice age. I find that all claims of human influences are based on bad or faulty science or human mismanagement using global warming as the whipping-boy excuse.

Being a skeptic (er, scientist, same thing), I have been exploring every claim I can find made by anthropogenic global warmists (AGWs), expecting to find at least some valid worries. It was a bit of an epiphany for me to realize that the reason why I never found any valid worries is that AGW is not happening and, indeed, the planet has been cooling nicely.

So, what are the other errors?

C. Higley

Michael Tobis said...

"the CO2 in the atmosphere is saturated with IR"...

"The systematic ignorance of water vapor's energy transfer role in climate computer models"


Casual readers are encouraged not to take this seriously. It makes very little sense.

Charles Higley said...

I said: "the CO2 in the atmosphere is saturated with IR"...

When something is saturated, it cannot hold any more. The rest of the IR essentially passes through to the surface.

Do not underestimate the readers.

I said: "The systematic ignorance of water vapor's energy transfer role in climate computer models"

"Ignorance" is simply "the state of ignoring" as a noun.

Here, the IPCC and computer modelers systematically discount and ignore the role of water vapor so thoroughly that they usually do not even list it as a greenhouse gas and leave it with an unspecified forcing factor. They bring it back in like a magic wand positive forcing factor to exaggerate CO2's essentially negligible effect.

Do not forget that the scientists of the IPCC basically concluded that human influences on climate could not be detected amidst natural climate variation, but the Politicians who wrote the Summary for Policy makers altered that to say that most of the recent climate change was due to human activities. The scientists did not agree to this unilateral (one-sided) change and did not sign off on the final altered report.

Recently, one computer model tried to include water vapor in its structure and the programmers quickly decided that there was a detectable influence (increase) in water vapor due to human activities. We live on a dominantly water planet and they inexplicably come to this rapid conclusion while still ignoring the negative forcing factor of the water vapor heat engine. This is an unbelievable conclusion.

A second group tried to model the recent cooling trend and added a feedback loop which led them to decide that warming can cause cooling. They even gave the loop a limited time effect and then said, lo and behold, that the current cooling would be very temporary, as if the program produced a result that they did not expect.

Remember, a programmer can make the world stand still or turn inside out, if wanted. Programs of this kind are self-fulfilling prophecies and not to be taken as valid representations of the real world unless they first include the mechanisms which serve to keep our climate so relatively constant and can replicate the past reliably. (The last I heard, the Indian Ocean high system is almost always made a low system by these models - a very large flaw.)

Only then can perturbations be considered. Today's models are designed to tip, as they always do, for they have none of the stabilizing factors properly described or included.

Again, do not underestimate the reader.

Michael Tobis said...

"Ignorance" is simply "the state of ignoring" as a noun.

Here, the IPCC and computer modelers systematically discount and ignore the role of water vapor so thoroughly that they usually do not even list it as a greenhouse gas and leave it with an unspecified forcing factor.

That's what I thought you meant, and it's wrong. GCMs explicitly include it: see here for an accessible overview of the major modules of a contemporary GCM.

I said: "the CO2 in the atmosphere is saturated with IR"...

When something is saturated, it cannot hold any more. The rest of the IR essentially passes through to the surface.

Ah, that on the other hand is much worse than the confusion I originally suspected.

In the interests of not underestimating my reader, identifying the problems with the above are left as an exercise.

Please consider yourself plonked.

Michael Tobis said...

Mr. Higley, among the things you evidently don't understand is what I mean by "plonked".

Charles Higley said...

Plonk away. It’s your loss.

It still remains that the upper atmosphere has failed warm as predicted and required for the GCMs to be valid, the Arctic has failed to be the sensitive hallmark of global warming, and, particularly, the idea that we are causing it has failed miserably. CO2 continues to rise, albeit slightly more slowly, and warming has failed.

Regardless of the fine points of the thermodynamics, there is just too little CO2, even at twice current levels, do what is claimed by the AGWs. Water vapor dominates, overshadowing (decreasing) CO2's effects. And, in fact, the heat engine of the water vapor cycle is not adequately incorporated into the GCMs. This is evidenced by the magnitude of the warming the IPCC predicts.

Headlines such as “The Earth has Failed to Warm as Predicted” says nothing about the planet and loads about the reliability of the computer models. My students say in unison “Climate models suck!” for good reason. The GCM flaws are legion, not the least of which is their low resolution.

The future will show who is right. You fall into the same category as Gore who claims the science is done and there is no more discussion. Plonking is the haven of the losers.

With all due respect,
Dr. C. Higley

Michael Tobis said...

My students say in unison “Climate models suck!” for good reason.

(eyes roll) How did your tenure committee react to this interesting didactic methodology, then?

Anonymous said...

I think there is reason to believe that sunspots do have an effect on global warming, as evidenced by the Maunder Minimum. Also there is evidence that carbon emissions have an effect. I would be surprised if temperatures were not affected by a whole host of factors. Just think of being in a room. When the heater goes on it gets warmer, but if you cram many people in the room body heat increases the temp. Can't climate change be the same kind of thing? The sun is like the furnace, and CO2 emmissions are like the body heat!

I don't have a PhD by the way, only common sense.

Michael Tobis said...

Will, I don't think anyone claims that there is only one thing that can affect the earth's temperature. Obviously, major changes in the sun would affect us!

However, there isn't really any evidence of a sunspot correlation in the observational record, and the hypothesis chain is not very well supported. Regardless of what you may hear elsewhere, the evidence for CO2 induced warming is there, and it agrees with scientific understanding of how the temperature happens.

RJ said...

Will - I have to agree - the correlation between the maunder period and lack of sunspot activity is too strong to be coincidence.

Of course, there's huge numbers of factors that effect climate. There are known long and short term cycles, who knows how many unknown cycles, and who knows what else.

I'm getting concerned about the failure of solar cycle 24 to get started. It's a couple of years late, and showing little sign of activity yet.

So far, I can't find any hard evidence that the CO2 thing is any more than an interesting hypothesis, but there seems to be more and more evidence against it. For example, if CO2 is as important is the media makes out, why has there been no warming in the past 10 years, despite a 5% increase in CO2?

Michael Tobis said...

RJ, It is interesting that you find the evidence of low sunspot activity very roughly coinciding with a cool few centuries compelling and yet the vast array of evidence about CO2 (see the IPCC reports) e.g., the Vostok record otherwise. Interesting and very discouraging, since you really are going up essentially against the entire scientific community.

Interannual "unforced" variability is larger than the CO2 forcing on a ten year time period, so ten year trends aren't very meaningful, as is explained in various places around the net. We will need a very severe cooling or a rather prolonged one to even count as a little bit of evidence against the established picture of how climate physics works.

Why don't you guys actually look at the graphs that go with this article and please explain why we should take the sunspot theory seriously?

RJ said...


I haven't seen any convincing correlation of short term sunspot activity with climate. However, when sunspots stop for a period longer than a few years, history indicates that cooling is on the cards.

I note that the graph used here uses temperature data from GISS. I must admit that ever since their data mess-up in October last year, I tend to rely more on Hadcrut which shows no warming for the past 10 years.

I also have problems with IPCC. They had to drop Mann's Hockey stick graph, when it was proven to be false. Their climate models failed to predict the last 10 years of temperature stability (or possible cooling). When they change their summary after scientists have signed off on it, and their own scientists are speaking openly against their methods, it doesn't create confidence. I prefer to listen to the scientists who have nothing to gain or lose by their statements.

CO2 is all about the dominance of negative and positive feedback - so far we have no evidence of which one is dominant. I'm not ready to change the world without some evidence to back it up. Even IPCC admits that they can't be sure of anthropogenic warming.

As I see it, CO2 is less than 200ppm above the limit to sustain life on Earth. I'm not sure that a bit more wouldn't be a good thing.

The media feeds us with nonsense. I read about global warming causing drought in Australia. When I investigate the Bureau of Meteorology, I find that in the past 100 years, there's no change in the rain patterns - just more cotton and irrigation from the rivers.

I read about huge sea level rise. I check the data at my nearest station (Fort Denison) and find that it's increased 8mm in the past 25 years, and zero in the past 2 years. Yet we're told it going to increase 400mm in the next 40 years. Also, wea levels have been rising for the past 20,000 years.

Overall, we're a long way from understanding enough complexities of long term climate.

Regarding the Vostok ice core data, even if CO2 and temperature correlate, that doesn't mean one causes the other. Simple ocean solubility would predict that CO2 would follow temperature. What the corresponding temperature data does tell me is that unless there's a change to the established cycles over the past 450,000 yeras, we better start getting ready for some significant cooling in the next few hundred years.

Long term, (2,000 years plus) Earth's climate doesn't seem to be doing anything unusual. Without some clear evidence of a problem, we seem to be overdoing it a bit.

Michael Tobis said...

RJ, thank you for your points. I am afraid I don't find many of them correct, nor do I find your whole argument coherent.

"Hadcrut which shows no warming for the past 10 years."


"Mann's Hockey stick graph ... was proven to be false."

Not exactly. Admittedly some statisticians have some nits to pick, but it probably really did happen that way. Nobody really has a record that shows otherwise.

"Their climate models failed to predict the last 10 years of temperature stability (or possible cooling)."

Current conditions are well within the predicted range. Year-to-year variability is normal. Careful selection of year ranges is an old trick. The year 1940 used to be popular, especially around 1990 when it could be tossed about as "the last 50 years". Now we are exactly a decade past an especially warm year. So here comes the trick again.

"When they change their summary after scientists have signed off on it, and their own scientists are speaking openly against their methods, it doesn't create confidence. I prefer to listen to the scientists who have nothing to gain or lose by their statements."

The IPCC employs no scientists.

A process with thousands of participants isn't likely to satisfy every person, especially when there is much to be gained by complaining. Whether the complainers have represented the process fairly is debatable.

No scientist has "nothing to gain or lose" by their statements, and the pressures go in both directions in different places and times. Nevertheless the scientific community is essentially unanimous at the level of your doubts.

"CO2 is all about the dominance of negative and positive feedback - so far we have no evidence of which one is dominant. I'm not ready to change the world without some evidence to back it up."

Just because you don't know the evidence is not sufficient to prove it doesn't exist. This one is quite silly. The IPCC report itself has references to numerous careful research publications on this subject.

"Even IPCC admits that they can't be sure of anthropogenic warming."

A couple of the participating nations insisted on moving some of the stronger statements out of the "nearly certain" category, yes. Scientists rarely spend much time on things they are completely certain of.

A case can be made that IPCC systematically understates risks.

"As I see it, CO2 is less than 200ppm above the limit to sustain life on Earth. I'm not sure that a bit more wouldn't be a good thing."

Fine. I don't think your feelings about this are especially important, frankly.

1000 ppm starts to be directly toxic, though. You may at least want to keep that limit in mind.

"Sea level has gone up zero in 2 years"


"Sea levels have been rising for the past 20,000 years."

Not recently, though. It's not clear to me how this affects your position, though.

"Yet we're told it going to increase 400mm in the next 40 years."

I don't know where you got that in detail but it doesn't seem out of line to me. Of course it gets much worse after that. Is there some reason you don;t believe it, or is it simply a matter of intuition or faith?

"Regarding the Vostok ice core data, even if CO2 and temperature correlate, that doesn't mean one causes the other."

No, it's the physics that does that. The correlation just confirms it.

"Without some clear evidence of a problem, we seem to be overdoing it a bit."

The climate is behaving very close now to how 15 years ago we said it would be acting about now. Does that help?

I am not interested in following up, but so long as you are polite you can have the last word.

Anonymous said...

All I have to say about it is... Its colder than a well diggers ass in Wisconsin!

Anonymous said...

Did Higgins reply to your last post
(threat)? or did you just decide to censor?

Michael Tobis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Tobis said...

Oh, you mean "Doctor" Higley? Yeah he made a feeble attempt to convince me he is a professor, he even took the bait and claimed he had tenure, someplace, but I really think he is too cute to be a minute over seventeen.

My students say in unison “Climate models suck!” for good reason.


He hasn't even been to a very good high school from all appearances. I actually did poke around for evidence of a Dr. Charles Higley, but unsurprisingly found none.

Do you think I should encourage this sort of trolling? If so, why?

Michael Tobis said...

Someone claiming to be Higley who is likely the same as the current anonymous and quite possibly the same as the original "Higley" has written in with a different ID at great length in a very confrontational way. Nestled in among a great swath of "you, sir"s etc. is the following:

"I am just finishing a survey of the IPCC stand on CO2. I'll forward you the site when it is up."

I assure my readers that I will spare them the sort of noise I just saw, and I assure our anonymous correspondent or correspondents that if they actually have some new science we haven't already seen effectively addressed by the front line, I'll discuss it regardless of how rude they are.

Else plonked is plonked. This thread is closed.