While the climate system continues to behave as if the additional CO2 is having a negligible effect, the climate alarm campaigners remain deeply entrenched in many important areas, not least in politics and education.
That is a source of discontent for those of us who have not been convinced by the arguments made in favour of panic and alarm. We can believe that a gentle, beneficial warming has taken place over the past 150 years or so, and we can see the beneficial impact of increased CO2 on crop production, and in 'greening' the planet generally. We note that while CO2 may well have added to the observed warming, the impact of more CO2 is expected to be even weaker.
So here is a pleasant diversion for Christmas: the enchanting music that Holst wrote to go with lyrics by Rossetti:
The performance is by a group called '2002'. More details here:
Merry Christmas to all who visit here!! Let good cheer abound, and here's hoping for a New Year that will be better for climate policies, and for climate-scared children and adults, than it looks like being from here.
Climate Change Science Overview for Parents, Teachers, and Senior Pupils - calm appraisals by genuine experts Publish: Mon 27 Jul 2020 - 5:06 PM
Website: Climate Lessons
Here is a long extract from the July 25 issue of the invaluable 'The Week That Was' newsletter from the Science & Environmental Project. It shares recent insights from very distinguished experts, namely Richard Lindzen, William van Wijingaarden, William Happer, and Mototaka Nakamura, in separate publications. Key points include: CO2 plays a relatively modest roles in the climate system, doubling CO2 levels has 1.5C as a credible upper-bound impact on mean temperature (and mean temperature is a poor measure of climate variation), and that the computer models of climate are utterly unsuited and incompetent for forecasting climate change. At the very least, these insights undermine the current widespread confidence that a climate crisis is underway.
THIS WEEK: By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)
July Summary Part III; Models and Observations: Two weeks ago TWTW reviewed Richard Lindzen’s new paper summarizing what we know with reasonable certainty, what we suspect, and what we know is incorrect about climate change, the greenhouse effect, temperature trends, climate modeling, ocean chemistry, and sea level rise. Key parts included:
1) The climate system is never in equilibrium.
2) The core of the system consists of two turbulent fluids interacting with each other and unevenly heated by the sun, which results in transport of heat from the equator towards the poles (meridional) creating ocean cycles that may take 1,000 years to complete.
3) The two most important substances in the greenhouse effect are water vapor and clouds, which are not fully understood and are not stable.
4) A vital component of the atmosphere is water in its liquid, solid, and vapor phases and the changes in phases have immense dynamic consequences.
5) Doubling carbon dioxide, (CO2), creates a 2% disturbance to the normal flow of energy into the system and out of the system, which is similar to the disturbance created by changes in clouds and other natural features.
6) Temperatures in the tropics have been extremely stable. It is the temperature differences between the tropics and polar regions that is extremely important. Calculations such as global average temperature largely ignore this important difference.
Last week, TWTW used the work of William van Wijngaarden and William Happer (W & H) to summarize what we know with reasonable certainty, what we suspect, and what we know is incorrect about the greenhouse effect. Both the gentlemen are experts in Atomic, Molecular, and Optical physics (AMO), which is far from simple physics, but is necessary to understand how greenhouse gases interfere (delay) the radiation of energy from the surface into space – how the earth loses its heat every day, mainly at night.
1) There is no general understanding sufficient to develop elegant equations.
2) The optical depth or optical thickness of the atmosphere (transparency) changes as altitude changes. The depth is measured in terms of a natural logarithm and, in this instance, relates to distance a photon of a particular frequency can travel before it is absorbed by an appropriate molecule (one that absorbs and re-emits photons of that frequency).
3) Unlike other natural greenhouse gases, water vapor, the dominant greenhouse gas, is not well distributed in the atmosphere, its irregular. [SEPP Comment: It is variability during the daytime, the formation of clouds from H2O, etc., all combine to make it impossible to do theoretical computational "climate" dynamics with any value at all. Because H2O is known to be “all over the map" the Charney Report recognized a decent calculation was impossible. So, it went down the erroneous path of ignoring H2O and assumed a CO2 value; and then coming back in later with a "feedback" argument to try to account for H2O. It didn’t work then, now, or into the future.]
4) There is a logarithmic relationship between greenhouse gases and temperature.
5) “Saturation” means that adding more molecules causes little change in Earth’s radiation to space. The very narrow range in which Methane (CH4) can absorb and emit photons is already saturated by water vapor (H2O), the dominant greenhouse gas, below the tropopause, where the atmosphere is thick. Thus, adding methane has little effect on temperatures because its influence is mostly where the atmosphere is thin, transparent.
6) Their (W & H) calculations show that a doubling of CO2 will increase temperatures by no more than 1.5 ⁰ C.
Problems with Models: In September 2019, established Japanese climate modeler Mototaka Nakamura, wrote a book that is available on Kindle, which contains an English summary. Nakamura is the author of about 20 published papers on fluid dynamics, one of the complex subjects in climate change. Interestingly, Richard Lindzen was one of Nakamura’s thesis advisors at MIT. Nakamura mentions this in his discussion of ocean currents, namely the Thermohaline circulation. This circulation includes the Gulf Stream, which keeps Western Europe far warmer than it would be otherwise. [The late Bill Gray, who was a pioneer in forecasting hurricanes, was a strong advocate of the importance of the Thermohaline circulation.]
Based on Nakamura’s discussion, he is a stronger advocate of the Thermohaline circulation than Lindzen, particularly in the cold southward flowing water on the bottom of the Atlantic. In his discussion on this phenomena, Nakamura states Professor Lindzen may disagree, asking how do you know?
As presented in the September 28, 2019, TWTW, Australian reporter Tony Thomas, who has followed the climate issue for years, reviews the book, emphasizing that the certainty claimed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its followers is hollow.
Among other important changing phenomena, the climate system is largely made up of two fluids in dynamic motion, the ocean, and the atmosphere, and we simply do not know enough about fluid dynamics to make long-term predictions about the interactions of these fluids. According to Nakamura the climate models are useful tools for academic purposes, but useless for prediction. As quoted by Thomas, Nakamura writes:
“These models completely lack some critically important climate processes and feedbacks and represent some other critically important climate processes and feedbacks in grossly distorted manners to the extent that makes these models totally useless for any meaningful climate prediction.
“I myself used to use climate simulation models for scientific studies, not for predictions, and learned about their problems and limitations in the process.”
Nakamura and his colleagues tried to repair the errors:
“…so, I know the workings of these models very well. For better or worse I have more or less lost interest in the climate science and am not thrilled to spend so much of my time and energy in this kind of writing beyond the point that satisfies my own sense of obligation to the US and Japanese taxpayers who financially supported my higher education and spontaneous and free research activity. So please expect this to be the only writing of this sort coming from me.
“I am confident that some honest and courageous, true climate scientists will continue to publicly point out the fraudulent claims made by the mainstream climate science community in English. I regret to say this, but I am also confident that docile and/or incompetent Japanese climate researchers will remain silent until the ’mainstream climate science community’ changes its tone, if ever.”
Thomas writes some of the gross model simplifications are:
• Ignorance about large and small-scale ocean dynamics. • A complete lack of meaningful representations of aerosol changes that generate clouds. • Lack of understanding of drivers of ice-albedo (reflectivity) feedbacks: “Without a reasonably accurate representation, it is impossible to make any meaningful predictions of climate variations and changes in the middle and high latitudes and thus the entire planet.” • Inability to deal with water vapor elements. • Arbitrary “tunings” (fudges) of key parameters that are not understood.
As Richard Lindzen has stated for years, the models fail to capture changes in clouds including changing cloud area and that the sizes of clouds are too small for grid scale modeling.
Nakamura’s work reinforces what many, including Lindzen, have stated. But it is refreshing to see that a modeler who spent years trying to model the climate system recognizes how unsuccessful this 40 plus year effort has been.
To the above, one can quote from the beginning of the English appendix of Nakamura’s book:
“Before pointing out a few of the serious flaws in climate simulation models, in defense of those climate researchers who use climate simulation models for various meaningful scientific projects, I want to emphasize here that climate simulation models are fine tools to study the climate system, so long as the users are aware of the limitations of the models and exercise caution in designing experiments and interpreting their output. In this sense, experiments to study the response of simplified climate systems, such as those generated by the ‘state-of-the-art’ climate simulation models, to major increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases are also interesting and meaningful academic projects that are certainly worth pursuing. So long as the results of such projects are presented with disclaimers that unambiguously state the extent to which the results can be compared with the real world, I would not have any problem with such projects. The models just become useless pieces of junk or worse (worse, in a sense that they can produce gravely misleading output) only when they are used for climate forecasting.
“All climate simulation models have many details that become fatal flaws when they are used as climate forecasting tools, especially for mid- to long-term (several years and longer) climate variations and changes. These models completely lack some of critically important climate processes and feedbacks, and represent some other critically important climate processes and feedbacks in grossly distorted manners to the extent that makes these models totally useless for any meaningful climate prediction. It means that they are also completely useless for assessing the effects of the past atmospheric carbon dioxide increase on the climate. I myself used to use climate simulation models for scientific studies, not for predictions, and learned about their problems and limitations in the process. I, with help of some of my former colleagues, even modified some details of these models in attempts to improve them by making some of grossly simplified expressions of physical processes in the models less grossly simplified, based on physical theories. So, I know the internal workings of these models very well. I find it rather bewildering that so many climate researchers, many of whom are only ‘so-called climate researchers’ in my not-so-humble opinion, appear to firmly believe in the validity of using these models for climate forecasting. I have observed that many of those climate researchers who firmly believe in the global warming hypothesis view the climate system in a grotesquely simplified fashion: many of them view the climate system as a horizontally homogeneous (no variations in the north-south and east-west directions) or zonally homogeneous (no variations in the east-west direction) system whose dynamics are dominated by the radiative-chemical-convective processes, smooth vertical-north-south motions in the atmosphere, and stationary oceans, and completely neglect the geophysical fluid dynamics, an extremely important and strong factor in the maintenance of the climate and generation of climate variations and changes. So, in their view, those climate simulation models that have ostensible 3 D flows in the atmosphere and oceans may be more than good enough for making climate predictions. They are not good enough. Incidentally, I never liked the term, ‘model validation’, often used by most climate researchers to refer to the action of assessing the extent to which the model output resembles the reality. They should use a more honest term such as ‘model assessment’ rather than the disingenuous term, ‘model validation’, and evaluate the model performance in an objective and scientific manner rather than trying to construct narratives that justify the use of these models for climate predictions. [Boldface in original]
“The most obvious and egregious problem is the treatment of incoming solar energy — it is treated as a constant, that is, as a ‘never changing quantity’. It should not require an expert to explain how absurd this is if ‘climate forecasting’ is the aim of the model use. It has been only several decades since we acquired an ability to accurately monitor the incoming solar energy. In these several decades only, it has varied by 1 to 2 Watts per square meters. Is it reasonable to assume that it will not vary any more than that in the next hundred years or longer for forecasting purposes? I would say ‘No’.
“One can stop here and proclaim that we can never predict climate changes because of our inability to predict changes in the incoming solar energy. Nevertheless, for the sake of providing some useful pieces of information that can help countervail rampantly bold and absurd claims such as ‘We can correctly predict climate changes that are attributable only to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide to assess the human impact on the climate’, I will describe two problematic aspects of climate simulation models below. I also hear somewhat less bold claims such as ‘These models can correctly predict at least the sense or direction of climate changes that are attributable only to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide.’ I want to point out a simple fact that it is impossible to correctly predict even the sense or direction of the change of a system when the prediction tool lacks and/ or grossly distorts important nonlinear processes, feedbacks in particular, that are present in the actual system.” [Boldface added.]
It is possible to believe, as Matt Ridley does, that climate change is man-made, and still be pleased about the industrial and agricultural development of recent decades, and to be optimistic about the future. Here are three extracts from an article he published earlier this month in PERC:
(1) 'Far from starving, the seven billion people who now inhabit the planet are far better fed than the four billion of 1980. Famine has pretty much gone extinct in recent decades. In the 1960s, about two million people died of famine; in the decade that just ended, tens of thousands died—and those were in countries run by callous tyrants. Paul Ehrlich, the ecologist and best-selling author who declared in 1968 that “[t]he battle to feed all of humanity is over” and forecast that “hundreds of millions of people will starve to death”—and was given a genius award for it—proved to be very badly wrong.
Remarkably, this feeding of seven billion people has happened without taking much new land under the plow and the cow. Instead, in many places farmland has reverted to wilderness. In 2009, Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University calculated that thanks to more farmers getting access to better fertilizers, pesticides, and biotechnology, the area of land needed to produce a given quantity of food—averaged for all crops—was 65 percent less than in 1961. As a result, an area the size of India will be freed up by mid-century. That is an enormous boost for wildlife. National parks and other protected areas have expanded steadily as well.'
(2) 'Here’s a question I put to school children when I get the chance: Why is the wolf population increasing, the lion decreasing, and the tiger now holding its own? The answer is simple: Wolves live in rich countries, lions in poor countries, and tigers in middle-income countries. It turns out that we conservationists were wrong to fear economic development in the 1980s. Prosperity is the best thing that can happen to a country’s wildlife. As people get richer, they can afford to buy electricity rather than cut wood, buy chicken rather than hunt bushmeat, or get a job in a town rather than try to scratch a living from a patch of land. They can also stop worrying that their children will starve and start to care about the environment. In country after country, first in Asia, then in Latin America, and now increasingly in Africa, that process of development leading to environmental gains has swiftly delivered a turning point in the fortunes of wild ecosystems.
One way of measuring such progress is to look at forests. Forests are still being cut down in poor countries, but they are expanding in rich ones. It turns out that when a country reaches a certain level of income, around $5,000 per person per year, it starts reforesting. This is because people become wealthy enough to stop relying on wood fires for cooking and to use electricity or gas instead. Bangladesh, for example, was desperately poor in 1980 but is now rich enough to be significantly increasing its forest cover today.'
(3) 'What else might we achieve by the year 2060, when I shall be 102? Even though there will then be more than nine billion people, it is almost certain there will be larger forests, more wildlife, cleaner rivers, and richer seas, because that is what is currently happening. Most people who deny this, and insist things are getting worse, are simply wrong. The latest example is the “insect apocalypse,” a scare that has been widely reported by the media but is based on inadequate data and ridiculous exaggerations from one or two small-scale studies of dubious value.
There is, however, one thing that worries me, and it is this: Some environmentalists, as steeped in pessimism today as I was 40 years ago, are determined to push policies that actually harm the environment. They want us to farm organically, even though that uses more land and does more harm to the soil than farming with chemicals and biotechnology. They want us to get all of the energy we need from the sun or the wind, even if it means covering the landscape in industrial structures to try to extract energy from extremely low-density sources. They want us to turn crops into fuel, via ethanol from corn or diesel from palm oil, even though this means pinching land from wildlife. They want us to reject biotechnology and nuclear power, two practices that reduce humans’ environmental footprint. They want us to recycle plastic, rather than incinerate it, which has resulted in an industry of exporting plastic to Asia where much of it ends up dumped in the ocean. In short, their policies are in many cases actually worse for the environment.'
There seems to be quite a few of these articles agonising about how to teach children about climate change without scaring them witless. None of them consider the best way of all: stick to reality, stick to good science, and teach that the alarmism is really, really, really overblown.
Teach them that the climate system is quite robust on any timescale of concern to us, and that CO2 has never been a big player in the past, and does not seem to be a big player now. Teach them that rising CO2 has helped green the planet, and increase food production, and at the same time the climate system is behaving just as it might if the additional CO2 had only a very minor effect. Teach them that the gentle warming we have seen is good for life in general, and humans in particular. Teach them that so much has been getting better in the environment and in human welfare that this is probably thebest time ever to be young since the potential is there for continued improvement. Teach them that affordable energy is a liberator, and that abundant relatively affordable energy is available through fossil fuels and nuclear.
Teach them that things have been getting dramatically better over the past 50 years and that this can easily continue. Teach them to not take eco-scare stories at face value ever again. Teach them how wrong these stories have all been.
One climate alarmist has changed his mind, but goodness knows how many to go before the climate scaremongering comes to an end, and children everywhere can begin to recover from all the fatuous shocks and terrors pushed at them from kindergarten onwards. 'On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem.
I may seem like a strange person to be saying all of this. I have been a climate activist for 20 years and an environmentalist for 30.
But as an energy expert asked by Congress to provide objective expert testimony, and invited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to serve as Expert Reviewer of its next Assessment Report, I feel an obligation to apologize for how badly we environmentalists have misled the public.'
(Note added later: Many thanks to the commenter below who alerted me to that link no longer working. His cache link doesn't seem to work either, but I did find this on the WayBackMachine, and I hope it will continue to work .)
See the link to read his heartfelt testimony backing up this apology. I'll reproduce one more extract here since it is most relevant to this blog:
'But then, last year, things spiraled out of control.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said “The world is going to end in twelve years if we don’t address climate change.” Britain’s most high-profile environmental group claimed “Climate Change Kills Children.”
The world’s most influential green journalist, Bill McKibben, called climate change the “greatest challenge humans have ever faced” and said it would “wipe out civilizations.”
Mainstream journalists reported, repeatedly, that the Amazon was “the lungs of the world,” and that deforestation was like a nuclear bomb going off.
As a result, half of the people surveyed around the world last year said they thought climate change would make humanity extinct. And in January, one out of five British children told pollsters they were having nightmares about climate change.
Whether or not you have children you must see how wrong this is. I admit I may be sensitive because I have a teenage daughter. After we talked about the science she was reassured. But her friends are deeply misinformed and thus, understandably, frightened. '
Shellenberger has written a book in support of his new position, and it certainly looks like one well worth buying. Sadly, copies are unlikely to be pushed by government on to schools in the UK in the way that Gore's misleading melodrama 'An Inconvenient Truth' was.
The book is due to be published in the UK on the 23rd of July. You can pre-order a copy on Amazon.
Here's hoping it is a good one.
Notes added 30 June 2020.
1.James Delingpole has reported that Forbes Magazine caved in to green pressure when it pulled the article, and notes that Shellenberger himself says that Forbes censored it. Shellenberger has reproduced his article here.