My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Monday, November 30, 2009

Science behind global warming is not settled...

An opinion piece by Richard Lindzen of MIT...
The IPCC's Scientific Assessments generally consist of about 1,000 pages of text. The Summary for Policymakers is 20 pages. It is, of course, impossible to accurately summarize the 1,000-page assessment in just 20 pages; at the very least, nuances and caveats have to be omitted. However, it has been my experience that even the summary is hardly ever looked at. Rather, the whole report tends to be characterized by a single iconic claim.

The main statement publicized after the last IPCC Scientific Assessment two years ago was that it was likely that most of the warming since 1957 (a point of anomalous cold) was due to man. This claim was based on the weak argument that the current models used by the IPCC couldn't reproduce the warming from about 1978 to 1998 without some forcing, and that the only forcing that they could think of was man. Even this argument assumes that these models adequately deal with natural internal variability—that is, such naturally occurring cycles as El Nino, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, etc.

Yet articles from major modeling centers acknowledged that the failure of these models to anticipate the absence of warming for the past dozen years was due to the failure of these models to account for this natural internal variability. Thus even the basis for the weak IPCC argument for anthropogenic climate change was shown to be false.
The Climate Emails

The Economics of Climate Change
Rigging a Climate 'Consensus'
Global Warming With the Lid Off
Climate Science and Candor

Of course, none of the articles stressed this. Rather they emphasized that according to models modified to account for the natural internal variability, warming would resume—in 2009, 2013 and 2030, respectively.

But even if the IPCC's iconic statement were correct, it still would not be cause for alarm. After all we are still talking about tenths of a degree for over 75% of the climate forcing associated with a doubling of CO2. The potential (and only the potential) for alarm enters with the issue of climate sensitivity—which refers to the change that a doubling of CO2 will produce in GATA. It is generally accepted that a doubling of CO2 will only produce a change of about two degrees Fahrenheit if all else is held constant. This is unlikely to be much to worry about.

Yet current climate models predict much higher sensitivities. They do so because in these models, the main greenhouse substances (water vapor and clouds) act to amplify anything that CO2 does. This is referred to as positive feedback. But as the IPCC notes, clouds continue to be a source of major uncertainty in current models. Since clouds and water vapor are intimately related, the IPCC claim that they are more confident about water vapor is quite implausible.

There is some evidence of a positive feedback effect for water vapor in cloud-free regions, but a major part of any water-vapor feedback would have to acknowledge that cloud-free areas are always changing, and this remains an unknown. At this point, few scientists would argue that the science is settled. In particular, the question remains as to whether water vapor and clouds have positive or negative feedbacks.

The notion that the earth's climate is dominated by positive feedbacks is intuitively implausible, and the history of the earth's climate offers some guidance on this matter. About 2.5 billion years ago, the sun was 20%-30% less bright than now (compare this with the 2% perturbation that a doubling of CO2 would produce), and yet the evidence is that the oceans were unfrozen at the time, and that temperatures might not have been very different from today's. Carl Sagan in the 1970s referred to this as the "Early Faint Sun Paradox."

For more than 30 years there have been attempts to resolve the paradox with greenhouse gases. Some have suggested CO2—but the amount needed was thousands of times greater than present levels and incompatible with geological evidence. Methane also proved unlikely. It turns out that increased thin cirrus cloud coverage in the tropics readily resolves the paradox—but only if the clouds constitute a negative feedback. In present terms this means that they would diminish rather than enhance the impact of CO2.

There are quite a few papers in the literature that also point to the absence of positive feedbacks. The implied low sensitivity is entirely compatible with the small warming that has been observed. So how do models with high sensitivity manage to simulate the currently small response to a forcing that is almost as large as a doubling of CO2? Jeff Kiehl notes in a 2007 article from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the models use another quantity that the IPCC lists as poorly known (namely aerosols) to arbitrarily cancel as much greenhouse warming as needed to match the data, with each model choosing a different degree of cancellation according to the sensitivity of that model.

What does all this have to do with climate catastrophe? The answer brings us to a scandal that is, in my opinion, considerably greater than that implied in the hacked emails from the Climate Research Unit (though perhaps not as bad as their destruction of raw data): namely the suggestion that the very existence of warming or of the greenhouse effect is tantamount to catastrophe. This is the grossest of "bait and switch" scams. It is only such a scam that lends importance to the machinations in the emails designed to nudge temperatures a few tenths of a degree.

The notion that complex climate "catastrophes" are simply a matter of the response of a single number, GATA, to a single forcing, CO2 (or solar forcing for that matter), represents a gigantic step backward in the science of climate. Many disasters associated with warming are simply normal occurrences whose existence is falsely claimed to be evidence of warming. And all these examples involve phenomena that are dependent on the confluence of many factors.


Blogger Lucy said...

Richard Lindzen of all people to make your point about climate change.

5:28 PM  
Blogger GayandRight said...

And, what is wrong with Richard Lindzen???

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Philanthropist said...

If science were ever 'settled' then we would be god.

Is there any area of study where the science is well and truly settled? - Nope.

3:30 AM  
Blogger Lucy said...

Remember the bit previously where i said to check your sources for conflict of interests to avoid your point being invalidated. I'd look up Mr Lindzen if you didn't know about him.

4:43 PM  
Blogger GayandRight said...

Go on Lucy - tell us why Lindzen is not a good scientist.

5:19 PM  
Blogger Lucy said...

I'm not going to do your research for you Fred, look him up yourself or keep using him as a resource and devalue your argument. As you are on the opposite side of the fence to me on this matter, i don't mind if you go on quoting him till your hearts content. Maybe next time you can tell us why wood is better than metal and use quotes from a few lumberjacks as proof.

4:09 PM  
Blogger tao_taier said...

Lucy, just because someone is not considered to be in high esteem or some sort of conflicted of interest doesn't render everything they say useless or a bad source. What matters is context which you refuse to provide.

Perhaps Lucy is referring to his comments on smoking and cancer.

But A person can chain smoke all their lives and not get lung cancer so his argument isn't off base.

What matters is that you offset the negatives.

Willy Nelson is doing fine last I checked.

Smoking tobacco is not gonna give you cancer outright. How many casual smokers does anyone know that have cancer?

Just because some companies may put junk in their cigs for one reason or another doesn't mean that that is what people are smoking.

A person with a high acidic levels is far more likely to get cancer than someone who smokes.

You can throw around what ever statistic you like but the ones most often used don't take everything into account as to what gave that smoker cancer and etc.

Just saying. I'm not a smoking advocate, but I don't think a person will get lung cancer simply from smoking... I think there is a lot more to it than that.
More variables would have to be taken into account.

My brother is a chain smoker and it drives me nuts so don't anyone assume I got some sort of "pro-smoking lobby bias". I did used to casually/sparingly smoke (92% outdoors, socially) and enjoyed it.

I still hate chain smokers though... blech.

2:11 PM  

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