Climate Models and Climate Catastrophe: A Reality Check
1. Modern warming [08/19]
2. Greenhouse theory
3. Climate models and their failings
4. Past climate change
5. CO2: the elixir of life [10/19]
6. Solar-terrestrial interactions
7. Extreme weather and alarmist hype [01/19]
8. The cost of the climate cult [08/19]
1. Modern warming
The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims that carbon dioxide is now the main driver of climate change, and that the earth will warm by up to 5.4° (relative to 1850-1900) by the end of the 21st century, leading to dangerous and potentially catastrophic consequences.
The graph below shows the HadCRUT4 near-surface temperature record from 1850 to the end of 2017. The dataset is managed by the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the UK. The temperature ‘anomalies’ (red bars) show by how much the average global temperature for each year differs from the average temperature during the reference period (1961-1990). Based on the linear trend, the average global temperature rose by about 0.9°C over that 168-year period.
Fig. 1.1 (metoffice.gov.uk)
According to the IPCC (2013), the warming in the first half of the 20th century was mainly caused by natural factors (including solar variations and ocean oscillations), while the warming in the second half of the 20th century was mainly caused by humans (notably greenhouse gas emissions, but also land-use changes). However, there is no statistically significant difference between the rate and magnitude of warming in the first half and second half of the century. Temperature rose by 0.16°C per decade from 1916 to 1944, and by 0.18°C per decade from 1975 to 2000, and fell by 0.02°C per decade from 1944 to 1975 (HadCRUT4).
Fig. 1.2 CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion did not start increasing substantially until after 1950. (epa.gov)
The modern global warming scare began in the late 1980s and was preceded by a global cooling scare. The cooling was blamed mainly on emissions of man-made aerosols (smoke, dust, industrial pollutants), and there were concerns that the earth might be descending into a new ice age. James Hansen et al. (1981) wrote: ‘the temperature in the Northern Hemisphere decreased by about 0.5°C between 1940 and 1970, a time of rapid CO2 buildup’. Numerous other scientific papers put the cooling over that period at up to 0.5°C (notrickszone.com; realclimatescience.com).
James Hansen – a vocal supporter of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) – was the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) from 1981 to 2013. The latest version of the GISTEMP dataset shows only about 0.13°C of cooling in the northern hemisphere from 1940 to 1970 (climexp.knmi.nl) – far lower than the original figure of 0.5°. Similarly, Hansen & Lebedeff (1987) reported an overall warming of 0.5°C between 1880 and 1950, but the latest version of GISTEMP has halved the value of this natural warming to 0.25°C (ysbl.york.ac.uk).
Fig. 1.3 Graph showing how NASA’s northern hemisphere temperature curves changed between 1981 and 2017. (notrickszone.com)
These changes are due to the ongoing, poorly documented adjustments to the historical temperature record. Scientists armed with complex algorithms and supercomputers think they can determine historical temperatures more accurately than they were known at the time. In the case of the temperature records prepared by GISS and the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) (climate4you.com), the adjustments tend to cool the past and warm the present, thereby increasing the overall warming trend – a sign that strong confirmation bias is at work.
We know from the Climategate emails leaked from the University of East Anglia’s computer system in 2009 that leading climate scientists were concerned about the 1940s temperature spike followed by cooling. Tom Wigley wrote: ‘It would be good to remove at least part of the 1940s blip, but we are still left with “why the blip”’ (di2.nu/foia/1254108338.txt). One way or another, the temperature record has been massaged so that it better fits the global warming narrative.
The following graph compares the GISTEMP versions in 1988 and 2018 with HadCRUT4 in 2018.
Fig. 1.4 The overall trend in the GISTEMP 2018 data is about 40% larger than the trend in the HadCRUT4 data. (wattsupwiththat.com)
Since 1979 satellite-based records of the temperature of the lower troposphere have been produced by the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and by Remote Sensing Systems (RSS), a private research firm. This involves measuring microwave radiation emitted by the lower atmosphere. RSS version 3.3 gave a temperature trend of 0.14°C per decade since 1979. However, in 2016 its chief scientist decided that this was too low and the methodology needed adjusting; version 4.0 shows a trend of 0.19°C per decade – 35.7% higher than the previous rate (McIntyre, 2017).
Fig. 1.5 Satellite-based lower troposphere temperature record produced by UAH, version 6.0 (drroyspencer.com; nsstc.uah.edu). The distinct temperature spikes in 1997-98 and 2015-16 were caused by super El Niños – natural, sunlight-fuelled warming events in the tropical Pacific.
From about 1997 to 2013 there was a major slowdown in global warming, sometimes referred to as the ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’, even though atmospheric CO2 increased by 9% during this time. The linear temperature trend over this period was 0.06°C per decade according to HadCRUT4, and -0.02°C/decade according to UAHv6.0 (ysbl.york.ac.uk). The ‘pause’ was brought to an end by the El Niño that began in 2014 and peaked in 2015-16.
The average absolute surface temperature of the earth was reportedly between 13.7°C and 14.0°C for the 1961-1990 period and between 13.9°C and 14.2°C for 1981-2010 (Jones & Harpham, 2013). The ‘global’ temperature is basically an average of lots of local temperatures. At any particular location, temperature commonly varies by 10°C or more in the course of a day and by even more during the course of a year. Across the globe, local temperatures can be anywhere between about +55°C and -90°C. So an average global temperature is rather meaningless.
Fig. 1.6 This graph presents the same data as fig. 1.1 but the temperature axis puts
the changes in average global temperature in better perspective. (debunkhouse.com)
The popular claim that an increase in global temperature of 2°C, or even 1.5°C, would probably have an overall catastrophic impact is unfounded. Most of the warming over the past 150 years has occurred in high northern latitudes, in the winter and at night. There has been less warming in the tropics and in the southern hemisphere, and in maximum temperatures in general; in fact, one-third of the earth’s weather stations report a cooling trend (Wickham et al., 2013). Using the Berkeley Earth surface temperature dataset (climexp.knmi.nl), global maximum temperature (1853-2017) increased at 0.066°C per decade while global minimum temperature increased twice as fast, at 0.121°C per decade. The benefits of warming include milder winters, less cold-related mortality (cold causes nearly 20 times more deaths than heat (Gasparrini et al., 2015)) and longer growing seasons.
When analysing global temperature, temperatures are usually expressed not as absolute values but as ‘anomalies’ relative to a reference period. This focuses attention on the change in average temperature and reduces the problems arising from the fact that weather stations are not spread evenly over the globe, and the number and location of weather stations have changed greatly over time.
One of the many confounding factors to be taken into account in determining a global temperature is the impact of increasing urbanization in the vicinity of weather stations. Urban areas can be up to 12°C warmer than nearby rural areas partly due to waste heat from the energy used for heating and cooling and partly because concrete, brick and asphalt surfaces absorb solar radiation during the daytime and release that heat at night. The IPCC (2013) states:
It is unlikely that any uncorrected urban heat island effects and land use change effects have raised the estimated centennial globally averaged land surface air temperature trends by more than 10% of the reported trend. This is an average value; in some regions that have rapidly developed urban heat island and land use change impacts on regional trends may be substantially larger. (Tech. summary)
However, surveys show that less than 10% of the weather stations in the United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) are free of urban heat island effects and other biases. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) applies a ‘homogenization’ algorithm, which causes data from well-sited (compliant) stations to be adjusted upwards to match the trends of poorly sited (non-compliant) stations. This increases the warming trend for the period 1979 to 2008 by 59%, as the following graph shows (Watts, 2017).
Fig. 1.7 Temperature trends for compliant, non-compliant and adjusted USHCN weather stations. (Watts, 2017)
In Australia, about 0.4°C of the 0.9°C temperature increase since the late 19th century is due to data adjustments by the Bureau of Meteorology (Nova, 2017). As elsewhere, instead of compensating for urban heat contamination, the automated adjustments to the raw data make the problem worse. In the case of the town of Rutherglen, the adjustments managed to turn a cooling trend of 0.3°C per century in the observational data into a warming trend of 1.6°C per century (Marohasy, 2017b).
It has been proposed that the recent period of the current Holocene interglacial should be named the Anthropocene (anthropos = human being) to reflect humans’ impact on climate etc. Another suggestion is: the Adjustocene ... (therightinsight.org)
Since the earth’s surface has seen overall warming for some 300 years, whereas thermometer measurements usually go back no further than about 150 years, countless temperature records have been set over the past century and a half. The uncertainty in temperature anomalies is optimistically said to be 0.1°C for recent measurements, and at least 0.2°C for older measurements. 2005, 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016 were all loudly proclaimed to be ‘the warmest year ever’ but, with the exception of the El Niño year 2015, the claims were meaningless because the differences with the previous record were at most a few hundredths of a degree – smaller than the margin of error (HadCRUT4, GISTEMP).
It takes far less energy to raise the temperature of cold, dry air (such as in the polar regions) by 1° than it does to raise the temperature of warm, moist air (such as in the tropics) by 1°. That is why there is growing recognition that the heat content of the oceans (covering about 71% of the earth’s surface) is a better metric of warming than average global temperature. The heat content of the oceans is about 1000 times greater than the heat content of the atmosphere. The graph below shows the estimated change in the global heat content in the top 2000 metres of the oceans from 1955 to 2017, expressed as a temperature anomaly.
Fig. 1.7 (nodc.noaa.gov)
2. Greenhouse theory
For the earth to maintain a constant average temperature, the amount of solar energy it absorbs has to match the amount of energy lost to space (other things being equal). Atmospheric greenhouse gases – mainly water vapour, carbon dioxide and methane – absorb infrared (IR) radiation emitted or reflected by the earth’s surface and then reemit it in all directions (including back towards the surface). This delays the loss of IR energy to space, causing the earth’s lower atmosphere and surface to be warmer than they would otherwise be, while the upper atmosphere becomes cooler. This, in turn, is said to cause the amount of IR radiation escaping to space to increase, until the planetary energy balance is restored – though perfect equilibrium is never attained.
Fig. 2.1 Earth’s energy budget describes the balance between the radiant energy reaching earth from the sun and the energy flowing from earth back to space (climate.nasa.gov). There is said to be a net imbalance of 0.6 watts per square metre (W/m2) warming the planet – a figure far smaller than the measurement error.
The potency of a greenhouse gas depends on its atmospheric concentration and on what wavelengths of infrared radiation it absorbs. Water vapour is the most powerful greenhouse gas: its concentration ranges from 0.01% (at -32°C) to 4.24% (at 30°C) whereas the current concentration of CO2 is just over 0.04% (400 parts per million); and water vapour absorbs IR radiation over a far broader range of wavelengths than CO2 does (fig. 2.3). Water vapour accounts for 70 to 90% of the natural greenhouse effect, which helps to keep the earth habitable. Most of the greenhouse effect takes place in the lowest two kilometres of the atmosphere (the lower troposphere). According to the IPCC (2013, Summary for Policymakers), the extra greenhouse gases emitted by burning fossil fuels have produced an additional climate ‘forcing’ of 2.3 W/m2, which is less than 1% of the total energy flows in the climate system.
Theoretically, a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration is expected to produce a temperature rise of about 1°C. However, the actual amount of warming depends on feedbacks, i.e. secondary effects such as changes in cloudiness, water vapour, precipitation or ice extent, which may increase an initial warming (positive feedback) or reduce it (negative feedback). The IPCC assumes that a CO2-induced temperature rise causes an increase in atmospheric water vapour and a reduction in cloud cover, producing a positive feedback that triples the amount of warming. Other scientists argue that a related increase in low-level clouds and reduction in upper-level cirrus clouds, together with changes in precipitation systems, provide a strong negative feedback (Lindzen, 2015; Spencer, 2008, ch. 4).
The earth’s albedo is a measure of its reflectivity: the higher the albedo, the greater the amount of sunlight reflected back into space. Clouds reflect about 30% of the incoming solar radiation. A 1% change in cloud albedo has a radiative effect of 3.4 W/m2 (Farmer & Cook, 2013), only slightly less than the direct forcing of 3.7 W/m2 expected from a doubling of CO2.
Fig. 2.2 Average cloud cover between July 2002 and April 2015.
About 67% of the earth’s surface is typically covered by clouds. (earthobservatory.nasa.gov)
The earth has various mechanisms for regulating its temperature, with the water cycle (evaporation, condensation and precipitation) being the most important. Water is the only common molecule on earth that occurs naturally in three different states: solid, liquid and gas. In the tropics, temperature is largely regulated on a daily basis by the timing and strength of clouds and thunderstorms (Eschenbach, 2013, 2018a,b). Data shows that when the tropical ocean is warm, clouds and thunderstorms form earlier in the day and in greater numbers. The evaporation of water at the surface requires energy and has a cooling effect. Water vapour rises and condenses to form clouds, releasing latent heat, which is radiated out to space. Clouds reflect sunlight back into space, while the surface is further cooled by rain and winds.
‘Climate sensitivity’ is the temperature increase caused by a doubling of atmospheric CO2: equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) is the average temperature response after the atmosphere and oceans have fully adjusted and reached a new equilibrium state (there is no agreement on how many centuries this takes); transient climate response (TCR) is the average temperature response at the time CO2 doubles.
Climate models give values of ECS ranging from 1.5 to 9°C. According to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (2007), equilibrium climate sensitivity ‘is likely to be in the range 2°C to 4.5°C with a best estimate of about 3°C’. The 2013 Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) stated with ‘high confidence’ that ECS is ‘likely in the range 1.5°C to 4.5°C’, but refrained from giving a best estimate due to the discrepancy between observation-based estimates and the far higher estimates from climate models (IPCC, 2013, SPM). AR5 also stated with ‘high confidence’ that the transient climate response was 1.0°C to 2.5°C. In the climate models used for AR5, the average ECS is 3.2°C and the average TCR is 2.3°C.
Despite 35 years of research costing billions of dollars, the IPCC’s range of ‘likely’ values for ECS has therefore increased, rather than narrowed, with the main uncertainty being the role of clouds. Yet the IPCC claims to be more certain than ever before that all the warming since 1950 is caused by humans.
In recent years, several papers have been published in mainstream journals that provide observation-based estimates of climate sensitivity below 2°C (see McKitrick, 2018). For instance, Lewis & Curry (2018) calculated a best estimate of 1.5°C for ECS and 1.2°C for TCR. Using satellite data since 1979, Christy & McNider (2017) determined TCR in the lower troposphere to be 1.1°C. Since they made the simplifying assumption that most of the warming over that period was caused by humans, the real value must be far lower. Some researchers have in fact put the value of climate sensitivity at 0.5°C or less (Lindzen & Choi, 2009; friendsofscience.org; john-daly.com).
Every doubling of atmospheric CO2 – whether it be from 100 to 200 ppm, or from 200 to 400 ppm – is said to produce the same temperature rise. In other words, each increase in CO2 has a smaller effect. This logarithmic behaviour arises from the fact that there is an absolute limit on the total amount of IR radiation that CO2 can absorb because it absorbs only a narrow range of wavelengths.
Fig. 2.3 The top panel shows the incoming shortwave solar radiation in red, and outgoing longwave radiation in blue, the rest being absorbed or scattered. The lower panels show the wavelengths of the radiation absorbed by the main greenhouse gases (wikimedia.org). CO2 absorbs infrared radiation in only three narrow bands of frequencies, and only the one corresponding to a wavelength of 15 micrometres (µm) has much significance. Where the grey shading extends to the top of a panel, it indicates that the energy at that wavelength is already fully absorbed. Parts of the CO2 spectrum are already fully saturated, and further CO2 increases will result in ever diminishing effects as more of the remaining available wavelengths become saturated.
3. Climate models and their failings
Climate computer models – or general circulation models (GCMs) as they’re officially known – attempt to simulate the earth’s climate. They divide the atmosphere, oceans and land into a three-dimensional grid system. Each grid cell is typically about 100 to 200 km wide and 1 km deep – the smaller the size, the greater the computing power and processing time required. Many important weather phenomena occur on scales smaller than the model resolution. These processes are represented by approximations known as ‘parameterizations’ (i.e. fudge factors). Only one figure can be placed in each grid cell for each parameter (temperature, cloud cover, rain, snow, humidity, etc.).
The commonly heard claim that climate models are based purely on ‘physics’ is false. A great deal of arbitrary tuning or calibration is required. If climate science was truly settled, there would be one model, and it would match reality. Instead, there are over 100 different models, each tuned differently, but they can all approximately reproduce the temperature trend over the past century, since that is what they have been designed to do. They produce very different simulations of 21st-century climate, but observations show that, overall, they have a notable tendency to exaggerate warming. In 1990 the IPCC predicted a warming rate of 0.3°C per decade for the next century, whereas the observed rate from 1990 to the end of 2017 was 0.165°C per decade (HadCRUT4).
A key factor used to tune climate models is the cooling effect of man-made aerosols, which can reflect solar radiation back into space. The value of this forcing is highly uncertain, and this allows modellers to offset models’ excessively high climate sensitivity to greenhouse gases with aerosol cooling to reduce the mismatch between model projections and observations (see Lindzen, 2015).Clouds, which can cause cooling or warming, are a major uncertainty in all climate models. Due to the inadequate size of model grid cells, crude estimations of cloud cover at varying altitudes have to be inserted into the models. Climate models assume that a warming world will lead to greater evaporation and therefore more water vapour in the atmosphere, producing a strong positive feedback. This, in turn, assumes that relative humidity will remain constant. However, atmospheric physicist Richard Lindzen (2015) points out that there is no basis for this claim and that a change in relative humidity from 80% to 83% would completely eliminate any increase in evaporation resulting from a warming of 3°C. He adds that ‘such changes in relative humidity at the surface are commonplace and easily produced’ and indicate ‘the ease with which the system can adjust to changes’.
Climate models are run according to different scenarios for future greenhouse gas emissions and other factors. The four scenarios for AR5 are known as Representative Concentration Pathways: RCP2.6, RCP4.5, RCP6.0 and RCP8.5. The figures 2.6, 4.5, 6.0 and 8.5 are the total radiative forcing (in W/m2) in 2100 relative to 1750. RCP2.6 is a scenario with strong mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, RCP4.5 and 6.0 are medium-emission scenarios, and RCP8.5 is an extremely high-emission scenario. Since 2011 our emissions have been growing at a similar rate to RCP4.5.
Fig. 3.1 Approximately 1000 climate model runs for the four RCPs. (Fuss et al., 2014)
RCP8.5 gets the most attention from climate catastrophists because it produces the scariest predictions; it is sometimes falsely called the ‘business as usual’ scenario, but is actually a worst-case scenario (Kummer, 2015; Pielke, 2018). It is the most commonly used scenario in climate impact studies published in the academic literature. Media reports about its dire predictions rarely mention the unrealistic assumptions on which they are based. RCP8.5 assumes that in 2100 the world will be powered mainly by coal, resulting in CO2 levels rising by 300% (to 1200 parts per million). However, thanks to the discovery of abundant shale gas, the use of natural gas for electrical generation is rapidly increasing at the expense of coal. Current trends indicate that natural gas usage will overtake coal worldwide around 2030, and oil use will level off at the same time. Moreover, a recent study found that there simply isn’t enough coal to support RCP8.5 (Michaels, 2018).
Fig. 3.2 Primary energy consumption in billion tonnes of oil equivalent (toe). (bp.com)
Climate models predict a region of enhanced greenhouse-gas warming above the tropics in the mid-troposphere (10-15 km above the earth’s surface), caused by the heat released when water vapour condenses. This ‘hotspot’ has been called a ‘fingerprint’ of human-caused warming. However, observations show that it does not exist. Earlier IPCC reports contained dramatic diagrams of the hotspot, but more recent ones do not.
Fig. 3.3 The hotspot is supposed to be located in the outlined tropical band (20°S-20°N) of the atmosphere. (Christy, 2017)
The climate model experiments for AR5 are part of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5). CMIP5 models were initialized in 2006: before that date, model outputs are hindcasts, using historical data as inputs; model projections begin after that date. The 102 climate models used for CMIP5 are divided into 32 institutional groups. The graph below shows the model results for these 32 groups (dotted lines), the average of all the models (red line), and actual observations (circles, squares and diamonds). Clearly, the models as a whole fail miserably to match the bulk atmospheric temperature trend.
Fig. 3.4 (Christy, 2017)
A diagram confirming that the models exaggerate the effects of CO2 can be found in AR5 itself (IPCC, 2013, fig. 10.SM.1). It shows temperature trends at different levels of the atmosphere according to observations and model outputs. It was included at the request of climate scientist John Christy, a critic of CAGW and one of the reviewers, but the IPCC presented the information in a way that made it difficult to understand and buried the graph in the supplementary material for chapter 10, where it would receive little attention. Christy presents the key data in the following simplified graph.
Fig. 3.5 This graph shows the temperature trends in the tropical atmosphere from the surface (1000 hPa [hectopascals]) up to 50,000 ft (15 km) (Christy, 2017). The grey lines are the bounds for the range of observations, the blue for the range of IPCC model results without extra greenhouse gases (GHGs), and the red for IPCC model results with extra GHGs. The model trends in which extra GHGs are included lie completely outside the range of the observational trends. In other words, the bulk tropical atmospheric temperature change is modelled best when no extra GHGs are included. Yet, on the basis of the same models that failed this simple validation test, the IPCC claims to know with ‘high confidence’ that the rise in global temperature since 1950 was entirely due to human greenhouse gas emissions.
Commenting on AR5, Richard Lindzen wrote:
[T]he latest IPCC report has truly sunk to the level of hilarious incoherence. They are proclaiming increased confidence in their models as the discrepancies between their models and observations increase. ... It is quite amazing to see the contortions the IPCC has to go through in order to keep the international climate agenda going. (climatedepot.com)
The IPCC (2013, FAQ 10.1) presents the following two graphs to ‘prove’ the human impact on climate. The black line shows the change in the observed surface temperature. The blue and red lines show the temperatures projected by the climate models for the Third and Fifth Assessment Reports respectively. The top graph shows the model results that include only natural forcings (mainly the sun and volcanoes). The bottom graph shows the model results that include both natural forcings and human forcings (mainly greenhouse gases). Only the model results that include GHGs match observed temperatures, therefore – says the IPCC – all the warming since 1950 is caused by humans. The graphs imply that if GHG emissions were not increasing, the climate would be cooling.
Fig. 3.6 IPCC pseudoscience at its finest.
If models that assign a major role to GHGs are tuned to match the climate record, and the GHG tuning knob is then turned down without turning up the tuning knobs for natural factors, the model output will of course no longer match historical temperatures. If, on the other hand, natural forcings are increased, models can still be made to match past temperatures. The above graphs therefore prove nothing about how the climate really works. They prove only that modellers can program their models to give whatever results they want.
As the bottom graph in fig. 3.6 shows, climate models are tuned to match the rapid warming from 1970 to 2000, which they then extrapolate over the 21st century, on the false assumption that the warming was entirely caused by increases in CO2 emissions. A close look at the graph shows that the climate models do not correctly simulate the cooling from the 1880s to 1910, the significant warming from 1910 to 1945, the cooling from 1945 to the late 1970s and the flat temperatures in the early 21st century (until the 2015-16 El Niño; see fig. 3.7). From 1910 to 1945 the climate warmed up to three times faster than the multi-model mean (Tisdale, 2015, 219-20). If the models are tweaked to better match this warming, but retain a high sensitivity to CO2, they end up grossly exaggerating the warming in the late 20th century.
Fig. 3.7 HadCRUT4 surface temperature anomalies (13-month average) from 1950 to May 2018 (black curve), with average linear trend (thin black line), compared with the CMIP5 multi-model mean (historical/RCP4.5, thin blue line), showing confidence intervals (light and dark blue areas) (Vinós, 2018c). The powerful 2015-16 El Niño briefly lifted temperatures above the model mean.
AR5 (IPCC, 2013, Tech. summary, box TS.3) mentioned the ‘hiatus’ in warming from 1998 to 2012, pointing out that the mean model trend was 0.21°C per decade – four times higher than the observed trend (0.05°C per decade). It admitted that the models might exaggerate the warming from greenhouse gas increases and underestimate the climate’s natural internal variability. But no steps have been taken to fix this as it would risk putting an end to the scaremongering and flow of funding.
While the pause was in progress, CAGW supporters came up with over 60 reasons why temperatures had stalled. These included: low solar activity, Chinese coal use, volcanic aerosols, faster trade winds, and coincidence, but one of the favourites was that the ‘missing’ heat was hiding deep in the oceans – though no convincing evidence of this has ever been found (Istvan, 2014).
In one of the Climategate emails, Kevin Trenberth, a leading IPCC author, comments: ‘The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.’ He goes on to say that the data collected by the CERES satellite (which measures radiant energy) ‘are surely wrong’ (junksciencearchive.com; see Climategate). In other words, he blames the data rather than the models. Unfortunately for Trenberth, the temperature slowdown he thought was an artefact of wrong data in 2009 is still in place in 2018, according to UAH6.0 (ysbl.york.ac.uk).
The following graph compares the observed warming of the oceans with the warming projected by the CMIP5 climate models. The models exaggerate the warming trend by 55%.
Fig. 3.8 Data: Reynolds OI.v2 (climexp.knmi.nl). Model: CMIP5 multi-model mean (tos, historical/RCP6.0) (climexp.knmi.nl).
Linear data trend: 0.105°C/decade. Linear model trend: 0.163°C/decade.
In the Pacific, the models exaggerate the warming trend by 100%.
Fig. 3.9 Data: Reynolds OI.v2 (climexp.knmi.nl). Model: CMIP5 multi-model mean (tos, historical/RCP4.5) (climexp.knmi.nl).
Linear data trend: 0.104°C/decade. Linear model trend: 0.216°C/decade.
The reason climate models fail to capture the different levels of warming of the individual oceans (Tisdale, 2018) is because they don’t correctly simulate ocean temperature oscillations like the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). Jim Steele writes:
Abrupt ocean regime shifts cause abrupt climate shifts. The ocean surface temperatures determine the strength and location of rising and sinking air currents. So shifting ocean temperatures rapidly alter high and low pressure systems that distribute the earth’s heat and moisture. Global warming models have failed to predict those shifts. (2013, 167)
Fig. 3.10 Above: El Niño (top) and La Niña (bottom), together called ENSO, involve warmer-than-normal and cooler-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, which affect weather patterns around the world by influencing high and low pressure systems, winds and precipitation (esrl.noaa.gov). Below: ENSO index (esrl.noaa.gov).
El Niños occur every two to seven years, with major events occurring in 1981-82, 1986-87, 1997-98, 2010-11 and 2014-16. El Niños and La Niñas are the main causes of annual variations in surface temperatures around the globe. El Niños release a huge amount of heat from the tropical Pacific Ocean to the atmosphere, mainly through evaporation, and redistribute warm water within the oceans. The warm water for an El Niño is typically created during a preceding La Niña, when cloud cover above the tropical Pacific decreases, allowing more sunlight to heat the water. While sunlight penetrates and warms the oceans to depths of 200 metres (though most is absorbed in the top 10 metres), longwave infrared radiation emitted downwards by greenhouse gases can only penetrate the top few millimetres of the ocean surface (Tisdale, 2015, 2018).
Fig. 3.11 Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation index. (climatedataguide.ucar.edu)
The Pacific shifted from a cool to a warm cycle in 1976 (meaning that El Niños began to outnumber La Niñas), while the Atlantic started its warm cycle in 1995. The Pacific flipped back into its cool cycle in 2007, and the Atlantic will do so around 2020. The AMO can explain about 70% of the surface warming in the northern hemisphere since 1975 (Tisdale, 2015, 485). Spencer & Braswell (2014) argue that about half of the worldwide warming since the late 1970s was due to stronger El Niño events.
The IPCC predicts a 0.3 to 0.7°C rise in global mean surface temperature from 2016 to 2035, while researchers who assign a major role to natural internal variability believe that the recent slowdown in global warming could extend into the 2030s (Wyatt & Curry, 2014; Bastardi, 2018; Vinós, 2018c).
The following graph shows that climate models exaggerate the quantity of precipitation by over 10%. Yet according to the IPCC’s worst-case scenario, global precipitation is only supposed to increase by about 5.5% by 2100. In other words, models already show more precipitation today than is supposed to occur by the end of the century. This indicates that the models exaggerate the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere. Modellers are unlikely to fix this problem because the models need lots of water vapour to triple the amount of warming expected from a doubling of atmospheric CO2.
Fig. 3.12 Data: GPCP v2.3 (climexp.knmi.nl). Model: CMIP5 multi-model mean (pr, historical/RCP4.5) (climexp.knmi.nl).
Linear data trend: 0.105°C/decade. Linear model trend: 0.163°C/decade. The model trend is 55% too high.
How well do climate models represent the changing climate in the north and south polar regions? Northern polar winters are warming very strongly (0.26°C/decade), and much faster than summers (0.18°C/decade), and warming is much faster than in the tropics (0.10°C/decade). This is in line with global warming theory. Unfortunately for the theory, the opposite is happening in the southern polar region: summers are warming slightly (0.058°C/decade), while winters are cooling strongly (0.166°C/decade) (kenskingdom.wordpress.com).
Ice core data shows no overall warming of Antarctica from 1800 to 2000 (fig. 3.13). The large East Antarctic Ice Sheet is currently gaining mass. Whether it is growing fast enough to compensate for ice loss in coastal areas of West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula is controversial. NASA glaciologist Jay Zwally and his team argue that it is, and that Antarctica is gaining land ice overall (Zwally et al., 2015; dailycaller.com; McIntyre, 2015). For challenging the IPCC consensus on this matter, they have been accused of doing ‘a real disservice to the science community’ (scientificamerican.com). Geothermal heat is increasingly being recognized as a potential factor in ice-sheet melting in West Antarctica, and also in Greenland (see Curry, 2018c).
Fig. 3.13 Antarctic temperature anomalies for 1800-2000 (blue curve) and CO2
concentration expressed as a natural logarithm (ln; red curve). (Schneider et al., 2006)
The following two graphs compare the sea ice changes observed in the Arctic and Antarctic regions with model projections.
Fig. 3.14 Data: NSIDC Sea Ice Index v3.0 (climexp.knmi.nl). Model: CMIP5 multi-model mean (sic, historical/RCP4.5) (climexp.knmi.nl).
Models project a sea ice loss of 206,000 sq km per decade in the Arctic, while observations show that the ice loss is 2.6 times greater (533,000 sq km per decade).
Fig. 3.15 Data: NSIDC Sea Ice Index v3.0 (climexp.knmi.nl). Model: CMIP5 multi-model mean (sic, historical/RCP4.5) (climexp.knmi.nl).
Models project a sea ice loss of 98,000 sq km per decade around Antarctica, while the long-term trend shows that ice is being gained at the rate of 114,000 sq km per decade.
In short, CO2-based climate models are clueless about what is happening in the polar regions.
4. Past climate change
We are currently living in an interglacial period known as the Holocene, which began 11,700 BP (years before 2000). It was preceded by the Pleistocene, which saw a succession of long glacial periods separated by shorter interglacials. The four interglacials that preceded the Holocene were, on average, more than 2°C warmer than the present one (NIPCC, 2013, 4.2.1). At the peak of the previous (Eemian) interglacial some 125,000 years ago, trees were able to grow 13° further north than they do today, the hippopotamus was found as far north as the rivers Rhine and Thames, and sea level was 6 to 9 metres higher than today (en.wikipedia.org).
Fig. 4.1 Reconstruction of a temperate landscape in Germany during the previous interglacial,
showing the now extinct straight-tusked elephant and an extinct rhinoceros. (pnas.org)
The large climatic shifts needed to bring about alternating glacial and interglacial periods are usually attributed mainly to changes in the earth’s orbital parameters (the ellipticity of its orbit, the precessional cycle, and changes in the inclination of the earth’s axis), which alter the amount of solar radiation reaching the earth’s surface and how it is distributed seasonally and by latitude. This theory was first proposed by Milutin Milankovitch, who argued that the key factor determining glacial cycles is summer insolation in the Arctic. The orbital variation of this quantity is about 100 W/m2 (Lindzen, 2015), which is huge compared with the 3.7 W/m2 contribution from a doubling of CO2. However, the Milankovitch theory faces a number of problems and is unable to explain all the climatic changes that have occurred (see Poleshifts, pt. 4).
Changes in CO2 concentration are certainly not the primary cause of glacial-interglacial temperature changes, because the data shows that changes in temperature tend to precede changes in CO2 concentration by between a few hundred and several thousand years (NIPCC, 2013, 4.2.1). As atmospheric temperature rises, more CO2 is released from the oceans, which contain 50 times more CO2 than the atmosphere. The long lag between temperature changes and the CO2 response has been linked to the circulation of surface and deep ocean currents (Climate change controversies, section 7). Some scientists have tried to resolve the ‘problem’ of CO2 (and methane) lagging temperature changes by ‘recalibrating’ the data (a highly dubious practice), but because the time lags vary so greatly in length, these efforts can never be entirely successful (euanmearns.com).
Even the mainstream argument that rising atmospheric CO2 levels significantly amplify the temperature increases once they get started is questionable, because during the ice age cycle we see again and again that when CO2 levels peak, temperature suddenly plummets and the earth descends into the next glacial period, and when CO2 reaches a minimum, the world rapidly warms and enters an interglacial.
Fig. 4.2 Antarctic temperature vs. CO2 for the last 800,000 years, from the EPICA3 ice core. (ars.els-cdn.com)
Ellis & Palmer (2016) propose that, in addition to being determined by the Milankovitch cycle, ice ages are regulated by changes in the earth’s albedo resulting from an increase in ice or dust. During a glacial period, the high albedo of the northern ice sheets lowers global temperatures and leads to more and more CO2 being absorbed by the oceans. When atmospheric CO2 reaches a critically low level, terrestrial plant life is starved of a vital nutrient, causing a die-back of upland forests and savannahs. This results in widespread desertification and soil erosion, and storms deposit large amounts of dust on the ice sheets. This reduces their albedo, allowing them to absorb considerably more insolation and undergo rapid melting, forcing the climate into an interglacial period. Every interglacial warming period over the last 800,000 years was preceded by several thousand years of dust storms.
The Holocene started with 2000 years of rapid warming, leading to the Holocene Climatic Optimum, a 4000-year period of high humidity and temperatures about 1°C to 2°C warmer than today. Current desert regions of Central Asia were extensively forested, and the Sahara desert was green and dotted with numerous lakes containing crocodile and hippopotamus fauna. Pine trees grew in Scotland at altitudes 650 metres higher than those where we find the stunted trees of today, and sea level was over 2 metres higher than today (Brady, 2017, ch. 4). The Holocene is divided into three stages or ages. The most recent is known as the Meghalayan Age and began 4250 BP, when an abrupt and critical mega-drought and cooling precipitated the collapse of agricultural civilizations in Egypt, Greece, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and the Yangtze River Valley (wattsupwiththat.com).
The general trend over the past 6000 years has been one of progressively accelerating cooling and drying, punctuated by a number of warm periods, such as the Minoan Warm Period, Roman Warm Period, Medieval Warm Period (900-1250) and Current Warm Period. The last three warm periods were separated by the cooler Dark Ages (5th to 8th centuries) and the Little Ice Age (1450-1850) (Vinós, 2017a). The European Alps were nearly glacier free in the Minoan, Roman and medieval warm periods. During the Roman Warm Period there were vineyards in Britain as far north as Hadrian’s Wall near the Scottish border, and during the Medieval Warm Period Vikings farmed much of the now-frozen expanse of Greenland. Retreating glaciers have exposed artefacts, bodies and remains of trees dating from earlier ice-free periods (news.bbc.co.uk; notrickszone.com; climateaudit.org).
Fig. 4.3 The receding Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska has exposed tree stumps and logs – the remains of an ancient forest that grew there over 1000 years ago until it was destroyed by the advancing glacier. (livescience.com)
The Little Ice Age was the coldest period of our interglacial and led to many famines. Some scientists believe it was caused mainly by volcanic activity, but this is contradicted by the fact that volcanic activity was two to four times higher during the Holocene Climatic Optimum, the warmest period of our interglacial (Vinós, 2018b). Other researchers invoke solar and oceanic cycles.
Fig. 4.4 The upper panel shows the air temperature derived from the GISP2 ice core from Greenland (the record ends in 1855). The lower panel shows the past atmospheric CO2 concentration, derived from the EPICA Dome C ice core in the Antarctic (the record ends in 1777). (climate4you.com)
The IPCC’s First and Second Assessment Reports (1990 and 1995) contained graphs showing a Medieval Warm Period warmer than today. That changed with the Third Assessment Report (2001), which featured the notorious ‘hockey stick’ graph of northern-hemisphere temperatures over the past millennium (see The global warming scare, section 3; McKitrick, 2015; Montford, 2010). This once iconic but now discredited graph eliminated the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age, and showed relatively stable temperatures until the 20th century, when the modern rapid temperature increase began. The hockey stick rewrote well-established climate history, but easily passed peer review because it supported the alarmist narrative. The graph turned out to be based on statistical malpractices applied to carefully selected tree-ring data. Other temperature proxies – e.g. oxygen isotope ratios in carbonates (like stalagmites in caves), borehole temperatures, lake-bottom pollen and diatoms, and plankton alkenones – reveal a clear Medieval Warm Period, in agreement with historical records.
Fig. 4.5 The hockey stick – a glowing example of ‘climate change denial’. The long, flat shaft of the graph is mostly reconstructed from tree-ring proxy data and the almost upright blade represents the instrumental temperature record, ending with the 1998 super El Niño. Other CAGW scientists have ‘confirmed’ the hockey stick by using much of the same dubious data and flawed methodology (Climate change controversies, section 4).
Fig. 4.6 Non-tree-ring temperature reconstruction with 95% confidence intervals, showing a distinct Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age (Loehle & McCulloch, 2008). The last point on the graph represents the 29-year average temperature centred on 1935.
The 2013 Fifth Assessment Report resurrects the Medieval Warm Period (or Medieval Climate Anomaly) to some extent. It states that, at times, some regions were as warm as in the mid-20th century and others were as warm as in the late 20th century. It also states with ‘medium confidence’ that, in terms of average annual northern-hemisphere temperatures, the period 1981-2010 was the warmest 30-year period of the last 1300 years (IPCC, 2013, ch. 5).
As the Non-Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC, 2013, ch. 4) points out, the IPCC ignores an enormous body of literature that clearly demonstrates that its assessment of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) is wrong. There are over 350 peer-reviewed papers showing that the MWP was mostly warmer than today (by 0.91°C on average) and global in nature (CO2science.org). This means that there is nothing unusual, unnatural or unprecedented about the warming seen since 1950.
Fig. 4.7 Reconstruction of the extra-tropical, northern-hemisphere mean temperature reaching back to 300 CE. Calibration period: 1880-1960. Thin black curves are annual values; thick curves are 50-year smoothed. Red curves show bias and confidence intervals for the smoothed values. The green curve shows the observed extra-tropical (>30°N) annual mean temperature. The yellow curve shows the temperature average over grid cells with proxies used in the reconstruction. The graph shows a well-defined MWP, with a peak warming around 950-1050 reaching 0.6°C relative to the reference period, and the Little Ice Age, cumulating in 1580-1720, with a temperature minimum of 1.0°C below the reference period. (Christiansen & Ljungqvist, 2012)
Climate models tuned to present-day global warming perform very poorly when trying to reproduce Holocene climate evolution because they are too sensitive to changes in greenhouse gases and underestimate solar, oceanic and tectonic factors. They show a constant increase in temperature during the entire Holocene, in line with the rising greenhouse gas concentration. This disagreement has been called the ‘Holocene temperature conundrum’.
Fig. 4.8 Estimated global average surface air temperature over the last 540 million years (Phanerozoic Eon) (wikimedia.org). Temperature is plotted as anomalies relative to the 1960-1990 average, in degrees Celsius (left) and Fahrenheit (right). The graph consists of five separate segments, with the timescale expanding by about an order of magnitude at each vertical break. The two red dots in blue circles on the right-hand axis indicate the IPCC’s predicted temperatures for 2050 and 2100, based on its worst-case scenario (RCP8.5), and are for scaremongering/entertainment purposes only. The fact that temperature has changed by only about ±10°C over hundreds of millions of years indicates that the climate system is dominated by negative, stabilizing feedbacks.
5. CO2: the elixir of life
The three main constituent gases of the earth’s atmosphere are nitrogen (78.0%), oxygen (21.0%) and argon (0.9%). The final 0.1% of the atmosphere is made up of many other gases, known as trace gases. The atmospheric concentration of CO2 at the start of 2018 was 408 parts per million (ppm) by volume of dry air, or just over 0.04% (esrl.noaa.gov). The estimated composition of the earth’s atmosphere has changed considerably over geologic time, as the following chart shows. It indicates that in the early history of the earth the atmospheric concentration of CO2 (by volume) may have been over 500 times higher than today.
Fig. 5.1 Changing composition of earth’s atmosphere (in terms of mass). (Plimer, 2017)
The following chart shows how average global temperature and CO2 concentration have changed over the past 600 million years. There is little correlation between CO2 and temperature.
Fig. 5.2 Global temperature and atmospheric CO2 during the Phanerozoic. (geocraft.com)
In the Cambrian, CO2 levels reached nearly 7000 ppm, about 17 times higher than today. The late Carboniferous and early Permian were the only period when both atmospheric CO2 and temperatures were as low as they are today. In the late Ordovician, an ice age occurred while CO2 concentrations were 4400 ppm, over 10 times higher than today. It is sometimes claimed that this was because the sun was weaker than it is now, but this doesn’t explain why the earth warmed up and emerged from that ice age even though the CO2 concentration began to fall. The evolution and subsequent diversification of land plants some 450 million years ago contributed to the decline in CO2 levels as a result of plant photosynthesis. The far higher concentrations of CO2 in the geologic past never led to runaway warming or disaster.
Proponents of the CO2-driven climate paradigm don’t like the graph shown in figure 5.2 so they decided to produce an ‘improved’ version (Royer et al., 2004). The temperatures were adjusted on the basis of seawater pH values calculated from atmospheric CO2 levels, which inevitably produces a better correlation between temperature and CO2. However, the new graph (fig. 5.3) doesn’t help the alarmist cause, because it implies an equilibrium climate sensitivity of only 1.28°C and a transient climate response of only 0.85°C. Moreover, it clearly shows that changes in temperature precede changes in CO2 during much of the Phanerozoic.
Fig. 5.3 Adjusted version of fig. 5.2, implying a very low climate sensitivity. (Middleton, 2019)
The official CO2 record during the Pleistocene and Holocene, as derived from ice core data, is shown in figures 4.2 and 4.4 above. If this record is taken at face value, it would mean that CO2 levels are now higher than they have been in at least 800,000 years (though temperatures are not). In the Medieval Warm Period, the CO2 concentration was allegedly only 280 ppm and did not change much during the subsequent Little Ice Age, standing at 278 ppm in 1750.
Many researchers challenge the official ice core record on the grounds that the CO2 concentration in air bubbles trapped in ice declines over the course of countless thousands of years due to many physico-chemical processes (see Climate change controversies, section 7). CO2 concentrations determined on the basis of fossil plant stomata tend to be higher and more variable than those determined from ice cores. For instance, stomata data indicates that CO2 levels may have reached 425 ppm 12,750 years ago (Steinthorsdottir et al., 2013). Moreover, in the 19th and early 20th centuries various chemical analyses were made of CO2 levels which also gave higher values than ice cores (Middleton, 2010; Scotese, 2010). None of these records is perfect, so controversy remains. However, this does not alter the fact that changes in CO2 concentration tend to lag temperature changes during the ice age cycles.
The demonization of carbon dioxide as a ‘pollutant’ or ‘poison’ is ignorant and idiotic. CO2 is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, nontoxic gas that is essential to life on earth. It is one of the raw materials for photosynthesis, the process whereby plants and other organisms use energy from sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates to sustain their growth. This is accompanied by the release of oxygen, which has built up in the atmosphere, allowing higher life forms to evolve.
Thousands of laboratory and field experiments over the past 200 years demonstrate numerous growth-enhancing, water-conserving and stress-alleviating effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 on terrestrial and aquatic plants (NIPCC, 2014; CO2science.org). Horticulturists add extra CO2 to their glasshouses to raise the concentration to up to 1500 ppm and boost crop yields (maximumyield.com). A 300 ppm increase in CO2 levels is expected to increase agricultural yields by an average of one-third (Idso, 2017).
Fig. 5.4 Positive impact of CO2 on plants and trees. (NIPCC, 2014)
Satellite data shows that between 25% and 50% of earth’s vegetated lands have undergone significant greening over the last 35 years. CO2 fertilization explains 70% of this effect, followed by nitrogen deposition (9%), climate change (8%) and land-cover change (4%) (Zhu et al., 2016).
Fig. 5.5 (nasa.gov)
Fig. 5.6 The IPCC’s (2013, 6.1) simplified diagram of the global carbon cycle (climatechange2013.org). Numbers represent reservoir mass (‘carbon stocks’) in petagrams of carbon (1 PgC = 1015 g = 1 billion tonnes) and annual carbon exchange fluxes (in PgC/yr). Black numbers and arrows indicate estimated reservoir mass and exchange fluxes prior to the industrial era (1750). Red arrows and numbers indicate annual ‘anthropogenic’ fluxes (2000-2009 average). The uptake of anthropogenic CO2 by the ocean and by terrestrial ecosystems (‘carbon sinks’) is indicated by the red arrow numbers in ‘Net land flux’ and ‘Net ocean flux’. Red numbers in the reservoirs denote cumulative changes of anthropogenic carbon over the industrial period (1750-2011). The IPCC notes that ‘Individual gross fluxes and their changes since the beginning of the Industrial Era have typical uncertainties of more than 20%’, and that figures have been adjusted ‘to achieve an overall balance’.
Whatever its shortcomings, the above diagram helps to put human-related CO2 emissions in perspective. Total ‘anthropogenic’ emissions amount to 8.9 billion tonnes (gigatonnes, Gt) of carbon per year: 7.8 Gt from fossil fuel combustion and cement production, and 1.1 GtC from land-use changes.* Total annual emissions from the oceans are 78.4 GtC and those from the terrestrial biosphere are 118.7 GtC, giving a total of 197.1 GtC. This means that anthropogenic emissions make up 3.8% of total annual emissions of CO2. Moreover, the IPCC admits that the figures for natural emissions have an uncertainty of 20%, equal to 39.4 GtC. In other words, total anthropogenic emissions are far smaller than the error margin in the level of natural emissions. Finally, the average annual increase in atmospheric carbon is 4 GtC (or about 2 ppm), which the IPCC attributes entirely to humans, on the grounds that it is only about half the total anthropogenic emissions, with the other half being absorbed by the oceans and terrestrial biosphere.
*8.9 GtC per year = 32.7 GtCO2 per year. 1 GtC = 3.67 GtCO2 (carbon and oxygen have atomic masses of 12 and 16 respectively; CO2/C = 44/12 = 3.67).
A key assumption behind the IPCC’s analysis is that the carbon cycle was in a state of equilibrium prior to 1750, and that humans have ‘perturbed’ this balance. But clearly the carbon cycle could not have been in perfect equilibrium, because the earth was already warming in 1750, and in a warming world the oceans start releasing more CO2. There are currently huge uncertainties regarding CO2 sources and sinks. The following graph shows that annual increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration correlate poorly with annual emissions from fossil fuel burning and cement production.
Fig. 5.7 (Spencer, 2014)
Climate scientist Roy Spencer (2014) comments:
There are obviously some very large natural yearly imbalances in CO2 sources and sinks, with the atmospheric yearly increase ranging anywhere from 23% to 100% of anthropogenic emissions. If the yearly fluctuations are this large, how do we know that nature is in long-term balance for CO2 sources and sinks? The answer is, we don’t. This is why NASA launched the OCO-2 [Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2] satellite [in 2014], to try to get a better handle on the regional sources and sinks of CO2 around the world.
Furthermore, in contradiction to IPCC predictions, the ability of the Earth to absorb extra CO2 seems to be increasing with time: the equivalent of 40% of our emissions were being absorbed early in the record, a fraction which has increased to 50% late in the record.
Many other researchers have challenged the belief that 100% of the annual increase in atmospheric CO2 is due to humans (see Climate change controversies, section 7; Berry, 2018; Harde, 2017; Salby, 2016; Björnbom, 2013; Humlum et al., 2013; Glassman, 2010; Rorsch et al., 2005). Exactly how much of the CO2 increase may come from stronger outgassing from the oceans, faster plant growth and decomposition, or other sources is unknown. Regardless of the precise causes of increasing atmospheric CO2, the net effect is likely to be beneficial for life on earth. There are plenty of genuine environmental problems that need fixing, but rising atmospheric CO2 is not one of them – it is a diversion.
Examples of highly uncertain sources of CO2 include the following (Quinn, 2010):
- Microbial/insect activity. Termites alone are estimated to emit more CO2 per year than human activities (50 Gt versus 32.7 Gt) (Zimmerman et al., 1982).
- Planetary degassing (besides CO2, this includes water vapour, methane, sulphur-bearing gases, nitrogen). Grape-sized, highly viscous, liquid CO2 balls have been observed drifting up from the bottom of the Marianas Trench and surrounding submarine volcanoes in the western Pacific. This outgassing may be occurring all along the world’s volcanic ocean-ridge and trench system.
- Methane hydrates in marine sediments, which can be released as oceans warm. The amount of carbon bound in gas hydrates is conservatively estimated at twice the amount of carbon in all known fossil fuels on earth.
It is noteworthy that changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration continue to lag behind temperature changes. Humlum et al. (2013) found that the short-term changes in atmospheric CO2 lagged about one year behind short-term changes in global temperature, but found no correlation with short-term changes in anthropogenic CO2 emissions.
Fig. 5.8 Green curve: southern-hemisphere sea surface temperature (HadSST3).
Red curve: rate of change in CO2 concentration (Mauna Loa). (woodfortrees.org)
The oceans are not acidic, but alkaline (i.e. their average pH is higher than 7.0), and they will always be alkaline, but they are reportedly becoming less alkaline – that is the real meaning of the potentially misleading term ‘ocean acidification’. If ocean pH ever fell below 7, shells would start to dissolve. The IPCC (2013, FAQ 3.3) claims that the absorption of atmospheric CO2 by the oceans has reduced the average pH of ocean surface waters from about 8.2 to 8.1 since the beginning of the industrial revolution, and that the average pH could be 0.2 to 0.4 lower than it is today by the end of this century. Like other scare stories, this one is overly simplistic and exaggerated.
The pH of present-day seawater varies widely. On average it ranges from 8.2 to 8.4, but it can be as high as 9.5 in isolated coral reef pools during the day and can fall to 7.5 at night. In fact, night-time pH minima on the reef flat fringing Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef are already lower than the pH values predicted for the open ocean by 2100. Experiments showing harmful effects of ocean acidification on biological systems often deal with single species in contrived laboratory conditions that ignore natural variability in pH and take no account of the ability of species to adapt. Such studies tend to appear in high-profile journals, while studies reporting no adverse effect tend to appear in lower-ranking journals (Abbot & Marohasy, 2017).
Fig. 5.9 Variations in pH at Flinders Reef reconstructed from boron isotopes in coral. Comparatively rapid changes in
pH have occurred on a decadal timescale before the recent increase in atmospheric CO2. (Abbot & Marohasy, 2017)
We know that many aquatic organisms survived when atmospheric CO2 was 15 times higher than it is today. The NIPCC (2014) states:
Rising temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels do not pose a significant threat to aquatic life. Many aquatic species have shown considerable tolerance to temperatures and CO2 values predicted for the next few centuries, and many have demonstrated a likelihood of positive responses in empirical studies. Any projected adverse impacts ... will be largely mitigated through phenotypic adaptation or evolution during the many decades to centuries it is expected to take for pH levels to fall.
Abnormally high seawater temperatures can cause corals to bleach. This results from corals expelling their algal symbionts, and forces them to take on board a better adapted strain of symbionts. Most corals that bleach fully recover, and are then relatively unsusceptible to similar high temperatures in subsequent years. A survival mechanism such as bleaching indicates that corals have adapted to periods of unusually high temperatures in the past (Ridd, 2017).
Fig. 5.10 Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has been a poster child for the global warming cause (businessdestinations.com, climatecentral.org). Its imminent demise has been predicted as often as the demise of Arctic sea ice. The head of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has accused activist groups of exaggerating the extent of coral bleaching (joannenova.com.au).
In the non-binding Paris Climate Agreement (2016), many countries pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, with a view to limiting global warming to less than 2°C, and if possible 1.5°C, by the end of the century. What impact will these measures really have on global temperature? Bjørn Lomborg (2017) has addressed this question using MAGICC 6.3, the latest version of a climate model used in all the IPCC’s past reports. He stresses that previous decarbonization promises have routinely been flouted; for instance, almost every Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) country missed its target under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. He does not take seriously promises by Western countries to cut emissions by 85 to 90% by 2050. He finds that even if we assume that the promises countries have made for the period until 2030 are continued for the rest of the century, the temperature in 2100 will be only 0.17°C lower than it would otherwise have been. Even this puny figure is based on an exaggerated climate sensitivity of 3°C.
What will the emission reductions agreed in Paris cost? Amazingly, there are no official estimates of this. We know from past experience that governments tend to enormously underestimate the economic costs of adopting climate policies. In addition, politicians rarely pick the most efficient policies. Lomborg says that EU countries could have reduced their emissions by switching to gas and improving efficiency; this would have cost 0.7% of their gross domestic product (GDP) per year. But instead, they opted for extremely inefficient subsidies for solar power and biofuels, which almost doubled the cost to 1.3% of GDP. He calculates that the global cost of the Paris Agreement will reach around US$1 trillion per year by 2030 if the most efficient policies are adopted, or nearly US$2 trillion per year if less efficient policies are adopted. This works out at a minimum of $4.1 trillion for each hundredth of a degree saving in temperature!
Integrated assessment models (IAMs) are used to map out ways of stabilizing CO2 emissions and preventing more than 2°C of warming by the end of the century. But virtually all IAM mitigation scenarios depend on the wide deployment of technologies that do not exist, notably bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). Some scenarios assume that BECCS will be able to remove over 1000 Gt of CO2 from the atmosphere (‘negative emissions’) over the course of the century and store it underground. Full-scale implementation of BECCS would require a global land area 1½ times the size of India, which would not be available for agriculture or other uses. In other words, climate policies – including the Paris Agreement – focused on stabilizing atmospheric CO2 at low levels are based not on science, but on science fiction (Pielke, 2018; theclimatefix.com).
Nearly all the increase in energy-related CO2 emissions in the coming decades will come from emerging economies like China and India, as the graph below shows. Non-OECD countries are expected to account for 68% of emissions in 2040, compared with 46% in 1990 (eia.gov). In this context, the emission cuts by developed (OECD) countries are of little consequence.
Fig. 5.11 (mongabay.com)
6. Solar-terrestrial interactions
Strong empirical correlations have been reported from all over the world between solar variability and climate indices, including temperature, precipitation, droughts, floods, streamflow and monsoons (NIPCC, 2013, ch. 3; Scafetta, 2013, 2014). There is climate data matching the sun’s variable 87-year Gleissberg cycle, its 105-year periodicity, the approx. 200-year De Vries/Suess cycle, the approx. 1000-year Eddy cycle, and the approx. 2500-year Bray cycle. The lows of the Bray cycle correspond to significant glacier readvances and vegetation changes. The lows in the De Vries cycle correlate with tree growth in many regions. The De Vries and Gleissberg cycles affect the intensity of summer monsoons and regional precipitation patterns. The lows in the Eddy cycle correspond to increased iceberg discharges in the North Atlantic (Vinós, 2016). The Eddy cycle dominated Holocene climate evolution between 11,500 and 4000 years ago, and also in the last two millennia, where it defines the Roman, medieval and modern warm periods (Vinós, 2017c).
Some researchers believe that the sun could have contributed at least 50% of the post-1850 global warming, whereas IPCC climate models predict at most a 5% solar contribution. Solar scientist Willie Soon (2015) writes:
[T]he IPCC asserts against all evidence that the sun has little influence on climate change. This represents neither a consensus nor an authoritative review of the subject. ... Centuries of observation and more recent research strongly suggest that our climate is modulated in important ways by the sun’s variability. The basic physics of this connection is still poorly understood and stands at the frontier of research.
According to the IPCC’s Second and Third Assessment Reports, the sun’s radiative influence on earth’s climate since pre-industrial times is 0.3±0.2 W/m2. The Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC, 2013, SPM) reduced this number still further, to 0.05±0.05 W/m2, while it estimated the forcing due to increased greenhouse gas concentrations at 2.29 W/m2. The IPCC reaches this conclusion because it focuses solely on the direct impact of total solar irradiance (TSI) variations on the earth’s climate, and ignores possible amplification mechanisms and indirect influences. Satellite estimates of TSI vary from 1360 to 1365 W/m2; the error margin is therefore greater than the entire forcing attributed to greenhouse gases. Svensmark & Shaviv (2017) argue that sea level variations during the approx. 11-year sunspot cycle indicate that the solar forcing is about 1.25±0.25 W/m2, 25 times higher than the IPCC figure.
During the sunspot cycle, TSI varies by only 0.1%, whereas ultraviolet (UV) radiation varies by 6% (longer wave UV) to 75% (shortest wave UV). These wavelengths are absorbed by aerosols, clouds and gases such as nitrous oxide in the earth’s lower atmosphere. The middle range of UV radiation forms ozone in the stratosphere, and the shortest waves of UV form a band of charged particles around the earth known as the ionosphere. The ozone formed in the stratosphere is a minor greenhouse gas. Some researchers argue that this ozone can cause high-altitude cloud formation, thereby significantly varying the amount of solar radiation reflected into space (Brady, 2017, ch. 11). Studies suggest that the major changes caused in the stratosphere may propagate down into the lower atmosphere through complex physical and chemical interactions (NIPCC, 2013, ch. 3).
Cyclical changes in the sun’s magnetic field modulate the amount of cosmic rays reaching the earth, which govern the amount of atmospheric ionization. Despite IPCC denials, experiments confirm that this could significantly affect the formation of cloud condensation nuclei and either increase or decrease cloud cover in the earth’s lower atmosphere (Kirkby, 2007; Svensmark & Shaviv, 2017).
John Quinn (2010) writes:
Evidence indicates that global warming is closely related to a wide range of solar-terrestrial phenomena, from the Sun’s magnetic storms and fluctuating solar wind all the way to the Earth's core motions. Changes in the Solar and Earth magnetic fields, changes in the Earth’s orientation and rotation rate, as well as the gravitational effects associated with the relative barycenter motions of the Earth, Sun, Moon, and other planets, all play key roles.
Solar-terrestrial magnetic-field and charged-particle interactions generate electric currents that produce heating in the atmosphere, oceans and earth’s interior, particularly along faults and fissures, and interfaces between different zones within the earth. Such interactions also influence earth’s angular momentum, which affects jet stream wind patterns and global climate (see Leybourne et al., 2018).
Fig. 6.1 Solar activity (yellow curves) plotted against northern hemisphere temperature
reconstructions (other curves) since 1600 (from Wanner et al., 2008). (Vinós)
There is a definite correlation between low sunspot numbers and cold periods on earth, such as the Oort Minimum (1040-1080), the Wolf Minimum (1280-1350), the Sporer Minimum (1460-1550), the Maunder Minimum (1645-1710) and the Dalton Minimum (1795-1825). Solar activity has been increasing for the past 300 years according to sunspot observations and solar proxies. However, the current sunspot cycle (the 24th since 1755) saw the lowest level of solar activity since the Dalton Minimum. During sunspot cycle 25, which will begin in 2019 and last until about 2030, solar activity is widely expected to be higher than in cycle 24, but still below average. This could result in the global warming slowdown continuing into the mid-2030s.
As many wise people have noted, it’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future – and especially when there are many variables and interacting cycles involved. Some researchers predict even lower solar activity in the decades ahead, resulting in a grand solar minimum (of which there have been about 30 during the Holocene), with temperatures falling as low as in the Maunder or Dalton Minimum (e.g. Abdussamatov, 2013; Yndestad & Solheim, 2017). However, this does not look very likely at present (Vinós, 2018c). One analysis of Holocene climate cycles indicates that the period 1600-2100 should be a period of overall warming, with natural warming peaking in 2050-2100, followed by 500 years of cooling, provided the cycle maintains its beat (Vinós, 2018a). What happens in the coming decades will help to clarify the sun’s impact on climate.
7. Extreme weather and alarmist hype
As Richard Lindzen (2015) notes, ‘The failure of the public to get unduly excited over a degree or two of warming has led the environmental alarmists to turn to the bogey man of extreme weather.’ Nowadays, we’re frequently told that every turn of the weather is proof of global warming / climate change / climate chaos / climate disruption / climate weirding / the climate crisis (or whatever the latest buzzword may be). Each heat wave or cold snap, drought or flood, storm or bushfire, each decrease in sea ice or calving glacier is hailed as a sign of impending doom.
In fact, whether we experience unusual warmth or unusual cold, more rain or less rain, more drought or less drought, more snow or less snow, more ice or less ice, more hurricanes or fewer hurricanes – it’s all cited as evidence that the earth is fast approaching a ‘tipping point’ that could lead to climate catastrophe. Climate change has been blamed for causing or worsening an endless range of problems, including airplane turbulence, murder, prostitution, rape, car thefts, barroom brawls and child marriage (Morano, 2018, ch. 11). For amusing lists of hundreds of contradictory things that have been blamed on ‘global warming’ (i.e. anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions), see numberwatch.co.uk, whatreallyhappened.com and notrickszone.com.
Many people are convinced that the weather is already becoming more extreme due to CO2 emissions. But even the IPCC (2013) doesn’t go this far, though its models do predict that the human fingerprint on extreme weather events will eventually become visible in the coming decades. Like negative events in general, extreme weather events are instantly broadcast around the world and sensationalized, and this can give the impression that lots of things are getting worse. However, extreme weather expert Roger Pielke Jr. (2017) writes:
The world is presently in an era of unusually low weather disasters. This holds for the weather phenomena that have historically caused the most damage: tropical cyclones, floods, tornadoes and drought. Given how weather events have become politicized in debates over climate change, some find this hard to believe. Fortunately, government and IPCC ... analyses allow such claims to be adjudicated based on science, and not politics.
Fig. 7.1 Economic damage from weather disasters as a proportion of global GDP has decreased since 1990. (theclimatefix.com)
Fig. 7.2 Over the past five decades, the number of global hurricane strength tropical cyclones (top curve) has decreased, while the number of major hurricane strength tropical cyclones (bottom curve) has increased slightly (though the trend is not significant). (policlimate.com)
Fig. 7.3 The top curve shows the accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) for the entire globe, the lower curve shows ACE for the northern hemisphere, and the area in between shows ACE for the southern hemisphere. (policlimate.com)
Fig. 7.4 (philklotzbach)
After five category 4 or 5 hurricanes hit the US in 2005, climate activists issued numerous warnings that hurricane destruction would increase further in the years that followed. Instead, no category 3 or higher hurricanes made landfall in the US for the next 12 years – a pause this long is expected to happen only once every 250 to 300 years. Then in August and September 2017 three category 4 hurricanes hit the US – Harvey in Texas, Irma in Florida, and Maria in Puerto Rico. This prompted the global warming propaganda machine to go into overdrive. However, the worst decade for major (category 3, 4 and 5) hurricanes in the US was the 1940s.
Fig. 7.5 There is no statistically significant trend in the number of hurricanes making landfall in the continental US. (philklotzbach)
The biggest natural disaster in the history of the United States was the Great Galveston Hurricane of 8 September 1900, which killed an estimated 6000 to 12,000 people and wiped out almost the entire city, destroying 3600 buildings. The second strongest landfalling hurricane in the US struck coastal Mississippi in 1969, at a time when the popular press was warning of a new ice age. It destroyed virtually every structure and killed 259 people. The historical record shows that in some years and decades there are many storms, while others are relatively quiet. As Roy Spencer (2017b) says, ‘This isn’t what human-caused climate change looks like. It’s what weather looks like.’
Hurricanes require a unique set of circumstances to occur, and sufficiently warm sea surface temperatures is only one of them. Meteorologist Joe Bastardi (2018, 5) explains: ‘Hurricanes are nature’s way of taking heat out of the tropics and redistributing it to the temperate regions. Weather and climate are nature’s way of seeking a balance it can never attain because of the very design of the system.’
If the world continues to warm, the intensity of cyclones may increase in tropical regions, but in mid-latitude areas there could be less severe weather events and lower wind speeds because the equator-to-pole temperature gradient is expected to decline, and it is this that drives the jet stream (Brady, 2017, ch. 5). Storm data from the last 6500 years clearly shows that the frequency and strength of storms increase with cooling, and decrease with warming (Vinós, 2017b, fig. 75b).
In 1970 a tropical cyclone struck East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), killing 500,000 people. Although coastal population has skyrocketed in recent decades, that kind of humanitarian disaster is unlikely today because we have developed satellite technology to monitor storms, created warning systems and built infrastructure to protect people or evacuate them.
As for floods, droughts and tornadoes, the official data shows little or no indication of them becoming more severe or frequent. The IPCC concludes:
- ‘There continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend [i.e. whether there is an upward or downward trend] in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale.’ (2013, ch. 2)
- ‘There is low confidence in observed trends in small spatial-scale phenomena such as tornadoes and hail ...’ (2012)
- ‘[T]here is low confidence in detection and attribution [to humans] of changes in drought over global land areas since the mid-20th century.’ (2013, ch. 10)
It’s worth remembering that in the 1970s many climatologists blamed droughts, floods and other extreme weather on global cooling (Morano, 2018, ch. 12).
It is widely claimed that in a warming world, wet areas will get wetter and dry areas will get drier. Warming certainly causes more water to evaporate from the oceans. The data shows that, overall, monthly rainfall is increasing by 2 mm per century, but it contradicts the belief that all drier areas are getting drier; on average, drier areas are getting wetter too (Eschenbach, 2018c). As noted in section 4, during the Holocene Climate Optimum, when temperatures were higher than today, much of what is now the Sahara Desert was covered with forests, lakes, rivers, thriving wildlife, and human settlements.
It seems that the frequency and intensity of heatwaves ought to increase in a warming world. However, as already noted, global warming is having more effect on minimum temperatures than on maximum temperatures, producing generally warmer winters. In the US, the worst heatwaves and worst droughts to date happened in the 1930s.
Fig. 7.6 US annual heat wave index, 1895-2015. (epa.gov)
Fig. 7.7 Average drought conditions in the contiguous United States, 1895-2015. (epa.gov)
In 2000 a senior scientist at the UK’s Climatic Research Unit predicted that within a few years winter snowfall would become ‘a very rare and exciting event’. ‘Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,’ he declared (climatedepot.com). This prophecy is not faring very well, as the graph below shows. However, climate activists have now decided that more snow is ‘consistent with’ man-made climate change. A headline in the pro-alarmist Guardian newspaper proclaimed: ‘That snow outside is what global warming looks like’ (climatedepot.com).
Fig. 7.8 (ncdc.noaa.gov)
In a study of global trends in wildfires, Doerr & Santín (2016) wrote:
many consider wildfire as an accelerating problem, with widely held perceptions both in the media and scientific papers of increasing fire occurrence, severity and resulting losses. However, important exceptions aside, the quantitative evidence available does not support these perceived overall trends. Instead, global area burned appears to have overall declined over past decades, and there is increasing evidence that there is less fire in the global landscape today than centuries ago.
It has been claimed that global warming could cause up to 40,000 plant and animal species to go extinct by 2100 (newscientist.com). As the NIPCC (2014) points out, such extreme predictions are based on models that exaggerate future warming and on ‘assumptions about the immobility of species that are routinely contradicted by real-world observations’. The adaptive responses of many species, such as range shifts and phenotypic or genetic adaptations, provide evidence of species resilience. Data indicates that in some cases warmer temperatures and higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations will be highly beneficial, and favour a proliferation of species. After all, the greatest diversity of life is found in the tropics.
The polar bear has long been an icon for the global warmist cult. The polar bear population was allegedly being decimated by rising temperatures and declining sea ice in the Arctic. It turns out however that in the 1950s and 60s there were 5000 to 10,000 polar bears, while in 2016 there were between 22,000 and 31,000 – the highest estimate in 50 years. What’s more, over the past 10,000 years polar bears have managed to survive Arctic temperatures from 0.5 to 5°C higher than today. In Greenland, the warmest decades since the 18th century were in the 1930s and 40s (Vinther et al., 2006). Even climate activists seems to be realizing their mistake, but – fortunately for diehard alarmists – modellers are still able to program their models to show a serious drop in polar bear numbers at some point in the distant future (Morano, 2018, ch. 4; polarbearscience.com).
Still waiting for extinction ...
Polar bears have survived past changes in climate that have exceeded those
of the 20th century or are forecast by computer models to occur in the future.
Sea level has risen by around 130 metres since the last glacial maximum, 22,000 years ago. Nowadays, there are many scare stories about the rise in sea level accelerating and how this will threaten coastal communities and wipe out low-lying Pacific islands. The IPCC claims that sea level could rise by up to 82 cm by the year 2100, but this would require a massive acceleration of the sea level rise observed over the past 150 years. According to the IPCC (2013, SPM), the mean rate of sea level rise was 1.7 mm/yr between 1901 and 2010, based on tide gauge data, while the average sea level rise was 3.2 mm/yr between 1993 and 2010, based on satellite altimetry data.
Transforming raw satellite measurements into sea level variations is a complex process involving many corrections and adjustments that are orders of magnitude greater than the actual rise in sea level. 0.3 mm/year of the 3.2 mm/year trend in satellite-era sea level is a global isostatic adjustment to account for rising shorelines and sinking ocean floors caused by the melting of the ice sheets since the end of the last glacial period (Tisdale, 2015,181). In many coastal regions the land is not rising but subsiding – but no correction is made for that. Furthermore, the volume of the oceans is affected by numerous tectonic motions that are impossible to quantify.
Tide gauges measure the local rate of sea level rise, relative to the local coast, regardless of whether it is rising or sinking or of changes in ocean volume. This is the information of most value to coastal communities. According to Nils-Axel Mörner (2017), global tide gauge datasets show a sea level rise rate of 1.7 mm/yr to 0.25 mm/yr depending on the choice of stations. Based on tide gauge records, Jevrejeva et al. (2008) found that the fastest sea level rise during the past 300 years occurred between 1920 and 1950, reaching a maximum of 2.5 mm/yr – something that cannot be blamed on CO2. The IPCC (2013, SPM) acknowledged that high rates of sea level rise similar to today’s occurred between 1920 and 1950. There is substantial multidecadal variability in the sea level change record, including an approx. 60-year oscillation (Curry, 2018a,b), which does not correlate with increasing CO2.
Fig. 7.9 Top: Global sea level since 1700 (grey shading represents uncertainty).
Bottom: Evolution of the rate of sea level change since 1700. (Jevrejeva et al., 2008)
Between 1995 and 2007 Arctic sea ice extent declined by 30%, leading to claims that it was in a ‘death spiral’. Numerous predictions that the Arctic Ocean would be ice-free in summer have already failed (wattsupwiththat.com). In fact, summer Arctic sea ice extent has not declined any further since 2007. If the prediction of an ice-free Arctic eventually comes true, it would be good news for shipping. Looking back at earth’s history, it is unusual for there to be year-round ice at both poles.
John Holdren, who was an extreme coolist in the 1970s but later became an ardent warmist, predicted in 1987 that CO2-induced famines could kill as many as a billion people by 2020. In 2009, while serving as science adviser to President Obama, he claimed that this prediction might still come true. In reality, the number of undernourished people fell by 21% from the early 1990s to 2012-14. Food availability worldwide has risen from 2220 kcal per person per day in the early 1960s to 2790 kcal in 2006-08 (worldhunger.org). Instead of undermining food security, warming and CO2 enrichment are boosting food production.
The prevailing theory is that the increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions has reduced the climate’s ability to radiate heat to outer space by about 1%. Those who accept this argument could say that humans bear 1% of the responsibility for bad weather. But that argument is never heard because it’s not scary or dramatic enough. What’s more, since the oceans have only warmed by hundredths of a degree since the 1950s, the observed average change in the global energy budget is only about 0.25% (Spencer, 2017a). And as we’ve seen, there is no empirical proof that all or most of this change is due to human activity. The only proof comes from man-made models that reflect the beliefs and assumptions of those who create them and are unable to accurately simulate the earth’s climate.
8. The cost of the climate cult
‘The clock is ticking. We have 10 years to save the planet.’ Doomsayers have been spouting this sort of nonsense for half a century; it began during the global cooling scare in the 1970s, and continued when the global warming scare got under way in the late 1980s (Morano, 2018, ch. 13). In 1989 a senior UN environmental official announced that we had 10 years to reverse global warming and prevent entire nations being wiped off the face of the earth and an exodus of eco-refugees (apnews.com).
Climate crusader Al Gore makes millions of dollars from companies that depend on government subsidies that he personally lobbies to perpetuate. In 2006 he announced that the climate ‘tipping point’ was still 10 years away, and two years later he announced that it was still 10 years away. Prince Charles, another climate clown, proclaimed in 2009 that we had 100 months (8⅓ years) to prevent climate catastrophe, while James Hansen declared that we had four years, and UK prime minister Gordon Brown announced that we had just 50 days. In 2015 Prince Charles announced that the climate apocalypse had been postponed to 2050, but in 2019 he changed his mind again and proclaimed that we had only 18 months to solve climate change and save the world (telegraph.co.uk). In 2007 Rajendra Pachauri, then chief of the IPCC, declared: ‘If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late.’ 2012 came and went without disaster, but disaster did strike three years later when Pachauri had to resign following a sex scandal.
In October 2018 the IPCC issued Special Report 15, which led to claims that we had 12 years to avert climate catastrophe. The report was designed to ramp up support for ‘unprecedented’ measures to transform global society ahead of a climate conference in Poland (COP24) two months later. It made no effort to quantify either the costs and benefits of warming or the costs and effectiveness of the proposed countermeasures. Charles Steele (2018) comments: ‘It’s less a scientific report and more a political platform, driven by ideology, not science’ (realclearenergy.org). The Guardian hyped up the latest scare, ignoring the fact that in 2008 it had reported that ‘runaway climate change’ would begin in 2016 (theguardian.com).
Armageddon postponed (again) ...
The climate change panic has more to do with politics, prestige and the power of money than with objective science. The emails leaked during the 2009 Climategate scandal exposed the efforts by a well-funded clique of alarmists to manipulate science to fit the catastrophist narrative, and to silence and sideline scientists with opposing views (see Climategate). Geologist Bob Carter (2015) writes:
All the classic tools of propaganda and spin have been deployed for the advancement of public alarm about global warming, including scientific malfeasance, noble cause corruption, the makeover of formerly independent expert groups such as academies of science, the indoctrination of school children from kindergarten onwards and the ad hominem demonisation of scientists who fail to conform to the orthodox IPCC view.
John McLean, an IPCC expert reviewer, states: ‘The reality is that the UN IPCC is in effect little more than a UN-sponsored lobby group, created specifically to investigate and push the “man-made warming” line’ (Morano, 2018, ch. 3).
A document listing over 1000 international scientists, of various political persuasions, who disagree with the IPCC consensus (groupthink) can be found here. Geophysicist and green guru James Lovelock, the author of the Gaia hypothesis, was once a climate alarmist, but in 2010 he stated: ‘The great climate science centers around the world are more than well aware how weak their science is. ... We haven’t got the physics worked out yet’ (cfact.org). Greenpeace cofounder Patrick Moore left Greenpeace in 1986 because he wanted to base his environmentalist positions ‘on science and logic rather than sensationalism, misinformation, and fear’. Martin Hertzberg, a retired Navy meteorologist, states: ‘As a scientist and life-long liberal Democrat, I find the constant regurgitation of the anecdotal, fear mongering clap-trap about human-caused global warming to be a disservice to science’ (Morano, 2018, ch. 9).
Physicist Denis Rancourt believes that the global warming movement is ‘as much a psychological and social phenomenon as anything else’. He says that ‘by far the most destructive force on the planet is power-driven financiers and profit-driven corporations and their cartels backed by military might’ and that ‘the global warming myth is a red herring that contributes to hiding this truth’; he also believes that the ‘climate change scam is now driven by the top-level financiers newly eyeing a multi-trillion-dollar paper economy of carbon trading’ (Morano, 2018, ch. 9).
From 1993 to 2013 total US expenditure on climate change amounted to more than $165 billion, with over $35 billion going to climate science (Morano, 2018, ch. 15). Since this money predominantly supports the alarmist point of view, it has stunted and distorted climate science and spawned an entire industry cashing in on climate fears. As earth scientist Ian Plimer (2015) says, ‘there are now armies of bureaucrats, politicians, scientists, and businesses living off the climate catastrophe scare’. The funding for climate alarmists is estimated to be 3500 times higher than that for their opponents (abc.net.au).
Where there’s a trough, there are pigs.
Fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas are highly concentrated forms of energy that have brought enormous benefits to humanity, enabling the majority of people in the industrialized nations to live longer and healthier lives and escape grinding poverty. Current efforts to decarbonize the economy include the hasty, large-scale installation of expensive, heavily subsidized, low-efficiency solar and wind technologies that are still only in their infancy.
Since solar and wind energy are intermittent and unreliable, and there is no large-scale storage technology on the horizon that could solve this problem, these methods of electrical generation have to be backed up by fossil fuel generators to avoid blackouts when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining (see The energy future). A 1% increase in the installed capacity of wind power results in electricity generation from oil and natural gas increasing by 0.26% and 0.22% respectively (Marques et al., 2018). This is costly and inefficient. Mainstream media reports about wind and solar farms typically highlight their nameplate capacity (i.e. the power they would produce under optimal conditions), and fail to mention that the actual output is usually 70 to 80% lower.
Since it costs two to eight times more to generate a megawatt-hour of electricity from wind and solar energy than from coal and natural gas (cornwallalliance.org), the rush to ‘go green’ is inflating the price of electricity and driving more people into fuel poverty. In Germany, for example, electricity prices rose by 51% during its expansion of solar and wind energy from 2006 to 2016 (environmentalprogress.org). In 2017, wind produced an estimated 0.68% of global energy, and solar PV 0.24%, and together they received $125 billion in subsidies (linkedin.com/pulse). By 2021, subsidies for wind power in the UK will reach £7.1 billion, or £265 per household (Homewood, 2017).
Many governments and agencies in the developed world are doing their best to prevent developing countries from using fossil fuels to generate the affordable energy that they need to lift themselves out of dire poverty, as the West has already done. Electricity helped raise life expectancy in China from 59 to 75 years, but 1.1 billion poor people across the world still don’t have electricity (yahoo.com). Some 3 billion people still cook and keep warm by burning fuels like wood, dung and charcoal, which give off deadly fumes. The World Health Organization estimates that this indoor air pollution causes around 3.8 million deaths a year (who.int; Lomborg, 2014; Paunio, 2018).
The climate is a highly complex, nonlinear, dynamic system governed by hundreds of factors. Governments will never be able to control the climate or stop it from changing, no matter how many trillions of dollars they spend or how many taxes they impose. And they certainly won’t achieve this by tinkering with one atmospheric trace gas. Whether the earth warms or cools, humans must either adapt or die.
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Climategate and the corruption of climate science
Climate change controversies
The global warming scare
The energy future
Earth’s meteoric veil