Climate science isn’t necessarily ‘settled’
BY JOHN R. CHRISTY
March 20, 2014
Why do we argue about climate change?
The reason there is so much contention regarding “global warming” is relatively simple to understand: In climate change science we basically cannot prove anything about how the climate will change as a result of adding extra greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
So we are left to argue about unprovable claims.
We can measure and prove that greenhouse gases are increasing. And, in the laboratory, we can measure and prove that adding greenhouse gases to a jar of air will lead to further warming.
But when it comes to how the actual climate system might respond to extra greenhouse gases, we’re out of luck in terms of “proof” because the climate’s complexities are innumerable and poorly understood.
Climate science is a murky science. When dealing with temperature variations and trends, we do not have an instrument that tells us how much change is due to humans and how much to Mother Nature. Measuring the temperature change over long time periods is difficult enough, but we do not have a thermometer that says why these changes occur.
We cannot appeal to direct evidence for the cause of change, so we argue.
The real climate system is so massively complex we do not have the ability to test global-size theories in a laboratory. Without this ability, we tend to travel all sorts of other avenues to confirm what are essentially our unprovable views about climate. These avenues tend to comfort our souls because we crave certainty over ambiguity.
It is a fundamental characteristic of the scientific method and, therefore, of the confidence we have in our theories, that when we finally understand a system, we are able to predict its behavior.
One avenue of inquiry is computer simulation. If a system’s important details can be represented properly in a computer model, predictions can be accurate and therefore valuable.
My local supermarket can predict with great skill what I am going to buy, thanks to the information-gathering system now utilized and my boring eating habits. Unfortunately, even the most advanced set of climate-model simulations does not deliver much in the way of certainty.
For example, I analyzed the tropical atmospheric temperature change in 102 of the latest climate-model simulations covering the past 35 years. The temperature of this region is a key target variable because it is tied directly to the response to extra greenhouse gases in models. If greenhouse gases are warming the Earth, this is the first place to look.
All 102 model runs overshot the actual temperature change on average by a factor of three. Not only does this tell us we don’t have a good grasp on the way climate varies, but the fact that all simulations overcooked the atmosphere means there is probably a warm bias built into the basic theory — the same theory we’ve been told is “settled science.”
To me, being off by a factor of three doesn’t qualify as “settled.”
As important as models can be for problems like this, it is clear we have a long way to go. And it is troubling that current policy is being based on these computer models, none of which has been validated by a formalized, independent Red Team analysis. (Congress, EPA: Are you listening?)
Others might look to certain climate anomalies and convince themselves that humans are the cause. I often hear claims that extreme weather is getting worse. Now, here we do have direct evidence to check. Whether it’s tornadoes (no change over the past 60 years), hurricanes (no changes over the past 120 years) or droughts and heat waves (not as bad as they were during the past 1,000 years), the evidence doesn’t support those claims. So, we argue.
Without direct evidence and with poor model predictability, what other avenues are available to us? This is where things get messy because we are humans, and humans tend to select those avenues that confirm their biases. (It seems to me that the less direct evidence there is for a position, the more passion is applied and the more certainty is claimed.)
One avenue many folks tend to latch onto is the self-selected “authority.” Once selected, this “authority” does the thinking for them, not realizing that this “authority” doesn’t have any more direct evidence than they do.
Other avenues follow a different path: Without direct evidence, folks start with their core beliefs (be they political, social or religious) and extrapolate an answer to climate change from there. That’s scary.
Then, there is that time-honored, media-approved, headline-grabbing source of truth — the opinion poll. The poll can be of scientists, nonscientists, the man on the street, anyone with a smartphone or groundhogs. If no one (not even an esteemed scientific organization) has direct evidence to substantiate any claim of the impact of greenhouse gases on climate, what would an opinion poll provide besides entertainment or (worse) justification for one’s agenda?
This polling tack is relatively clever. Without direct evidence to prove or refute the claims of a climate poll, the poll becomes the popular avenue for supporting whatever claims are being made. With enough attention, a poll’s climate claim morphs into “settled science.”
So we argue even more.
Finally, what to do about climate change is not a scientific question; it is a moral question: Is there value in enhancing the quality and length of human life?
If one believes greenhouse gases will cause terrible climate problems, then stopping their release from sources of carbon-burning energy means energy costs will skyrocket.
However, the length and quality of human life is directly proportional to the availability of affordable energy, which today is about 85 percent carbon-based. The truth is, carbon emissions will continue to rise no matter what the U.S. does, because most of the world has already answered the real question — that argument is settled.
Should we study new sources of energy? Absolutely.
And when they become safe and affordable, they could be ready for deployment. Until then, I’d rather see my five grandchildren have the opportunity to accumulate wealth, enabled by affordable energy, rather than be made poorer and thus less able to face whatever vagaries the world and the climate might throw at them in the future.
This is much more than a murky scientific issue and why the stakes, and thus passions, can be so high — and why we argue.
John R. Christy is a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Alabama state climatologist. Readers may write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He wrote this for The (Fredericksburg, Va.) Free Lance-Star.
This is as good a presentation on this subject that I have ever read. Thanks.ReplyDelete
Yes the science is settled by fact.ReplyDelete
Measurements made with the Ranque-Hilsch vortex tube now confirm the validity of the gravito-thermal effect. That is what explains the "33 degrees of warming" not GH radiative forcing.
Would someone like to help Lindzen, Christy and Curry get into the 21st century?
It would be nice if real science could be discussed, instead of the false fictitious fissics fantasy that is promulgated by the IPCC, Lindzen, Spencer, Curry, Christy etc.
They all think a state of isothermal conditions could happen, despite the obvious fact that such a state is not a state of thermodynamic equilibrium with maximum entropy and does not exist in the Uranus troposphere.
There's nothing quite like empirically measured facts to prove the GH conjecture wrong, but Lindzen, Curry and Christy still have their heads buried in at least some carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide cools by 0.1 degree: it does not warm.
If this concept has validity you could twirl a long test tube full of air, like a majoret twirls a baton, and the ends of the tube would permenantly be warmer than the center of rotation if the tube was insulated from it's surroundings. Has this simple experiment been tried?Delete
Doug Cotton, when are you ever going to submit any of your so-called "papers" to a real journal, instead of your vanity press?Delete
Anon, not to my knowledge, but it would be nice to show that simple inexpensive demonstration before spending trillions on the CO2 non-problem.Delete
In reality, it has been demonstrated for many years that gravity produces the lapse rate, which controls the entire atmospheric temperature profile.
In reality, it has been demonstrated for many years that gravity produces the lapse rate, which controls the entire atmospheric temperature profile.Delete
False. Worse than that that -- a lie.
Appell: You are an idiot. Stop wasting my time with your asinine comments.Delete
The equation for the dry adiabatic lapse rate is
dT/dh = -g/Cp where g=gravity you idiot
and here how that equation is derived from the 1st and 2nd laws:
Get some basic physics education before wasting my time with your pathetic ad homs. I'm simply going to delete any further abusive, false, asinine commentary from you.
"Carbon dioxide cools by 0.1 degree: it does not warm."Delete
Please provide a reliable source for this statement. CO2 as a gas only cools if it expands under pressure. This fact is taught in high school science.
It's fraud that lies at the very heart of climate “science” so *arguing* is a pretty weak description of the task of exposing that fraud. It is now so out in the open anybody can fully understand it, as of 2013, when mathematician Mike Mann promoted a new Harvard produced and Science journal published fake hockey stick that a simple plot of input data revealed utterly no blade. The authors simply and bizarrely re-dated low lying temperature proxies to afford a pure artifact blade by data drop-off at the end. I mean, it simply doesn't get any more brazen that that, corruption wise!ReplyDelete
Nice graphic at top - I'm going to steal that the next time someone claims Marcott replicated the hockey stick.Delete
FTA: And it is troubling that current policy is being based on these computer models, none of which has been validated by a formalized, independent Red Team analysis.ReplyDelete
Umm. It's not that they haven't been validated... It's that they are proven to be completely incorrect.
This committee is a set-up to get the same conclusion not a solution to the dilemma of real science verses the unproven hypotheses of greenhouse gas effect. As Doug Cotton say above Lindzen, Christy, and Curry are Luke warm skeptics, they believe the GHGE exist but that it only has a slight effect. What is needed are three true skeptical physicists like the former members of APS that left because of the corruption in the management of APS (this is true of many other pretend scientific societies including Sigma Xi) other better members of this committee would be Doug Cotton. Dr. Edward Berry of Climate Clash, Dr. Pierre Latour, and many other true skeptic. There are a few hundred thousand to pick from both in this country and throughout the world.ReplyDelete
To illustrate the fault of John Christy this statement about Jar tests is false. Jar test are only examples of "confined space heating" not of testing the effect of a gas to heat when irritated with IR. Only an idiot would thing that a test that put a thermometer inside a test jar then shine an IR heat lamp on it would give meaningful results.
I have review about 6 of these Jar test and all have the same errors in scientific test procedure. Below is a review of just one that was submitted as a Ph.D thesis, to prove the GHGE it is a total piece of crap. the analysis is as follows.
Sorry Judy for this long comment but it is relevant and would only confuse if it were broken into many separate Blogs>§
Dave H says:
September 13, 2010 at 11:54 am
I made the following comment elsewhere the last time this question came up.
Off the top of my head, if you want to falsify AGW, you have to do one or more of the following:
1. Falsify that there is a CO2-induced warming effect. This involves demonstrating that small scale laboratory experiments showing the physical radiative transfer mechanism behind CO2-induced warming are wrong, and provide an alternative explanation that explains the observations. Subsequently, demonstrate that calculations as to what the Earth’s temperature would be in the absence of atmospheric CO2 are wrong, and explain what other previously unknown mechanism is responsible for our present habitable temperatures. Explain why all previous work on this subject is wrong, and how the new hypothesis better matches observations and calculations.
David H.: I know of only one set of one experiment that claims to “proof the existence of the GHG effect” It was done at the University of Bremen in Germany as part of a Ph.D. thesis. After attempting to get in touch with the author I prepared the following list of faults in the text and description of the experiment. The experiment only proves one thing and that is that the “Greenhouse effect exists” and that it is caused by “confined space heating as was proved by R.W. Wood in 1909.
1. Are the two containers the same size, shape and type of glass? Different types of glass
absorb different wave lengths of IR and heat up differently.
2. Where are the thermometers located relative to the light? Are they in the light path
were they would absorb some of the IR thus warming & skewing the data.
3. If the greenhouse gas effect exists there should be a different temperature of the black
cardboard in the CO2 container. The temperature was not measured therefore this
experiment only illustrates that the CO2 heats up. Does it heat from absorption or from conduction of different heating of the container?
4. Was the experiment done with other “greenhouse gases?” as CH4, butane, natural
cooking gas, Nitrogen trifloride (supposedly 1000 time the effect of CO2) ?
5. Did the experimenters reverse the gases to the other container to evaluate differences
in the set-up.?
6. Was more than one set of test done? Is there more data to evaluate?
7. Did you monitor the temperature of the water in the trays? If the trays are in contact
with the gases there is conduction of heat from the bottom of the glass trays to the gases.
8. I can not be sure from the photos but it appears that the top of C1 container is closed ,if
this is true then you have created a confined space heating container (greenhouse effect).
It has been proved by R.W. Wood and others that the heating in a greenhouse is caused
by the restriction of heat convection and not back radiation of IR. The top of C2 appears
open thus keeping the temperature lower by convection. Good job of cheating.
9. What you have shown is what has been known from IR spectroscopes that different
gases absorb different wave lengths of IR. ( CO2 only absorbs three narrow wavelengths of IR)
10. I have done a similar experiment except I used clear Mylar balloons (very little or no
absorption of IR as opposed to glass) Based on IR thermometer reading and available
data on IR absorption by glass much of the heating in the experiment was from the glass.
This was not measured in the experiment. By using Mylar balloons in bright sunlight
there was no heating of the gases inside 4 balloons above ambient temperature (measured
with an IR thermometer reading to O.1 degrees F. The contents were 100% CO2, 100%
butane, natural gas (CH4 and CO2) and air. The black cardboard I used did not show any
differential heating between areas in the “shadow” of the balloons compared to “unshadowed” areas –no back radiation from the “greenhouse gas effect” The black
Cardboard did increase in temperature from ambient of 95 degree F to 175 degree F.
Uniformly across the surface.
11. If the greenhouse gas effect exists why hasn’t it been applied to something useful like
Thermo pane window filled with a “greenhouse gas” that would back radiate IR into the
house and create insulated windows with R=30 values.
12. In the text of the experiment the Experimenter state that the” IR heats the CO2” this is absolutly wrong,as was proved by Niels Bohr in his 1922 Noble prize winning work know as the “Bohr model”. Absorbed IR excites the electrons to a higher level but does not heat the Gas.
You ask the question “Why can it be warmer at night than during the day? Any
Elementary school students that can read a weather report know that daily temperature is
Effected by hot or cold air masses moving across the area. It is also obvious that
on a clear night the temperature will cool down much faster that on a cloudy night. Water
is not a greenhouse gas in spite of what many people say- it has known properties that
explain temperature differences 24/7/365. There is no back radiation –there is reflection
of light or blockage of light(clouds) energy release as lightening and other thermo effects
that are within the Laws of physics and thermodynamic.
When you find reliable experimental data that proves that the “greenhouse gas effect
exists please share it with the world.
In the mean time read “Falsification of the Atmospheric CO2 greenhouse effects within
The frame of Physics” by Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner and when you
understand it in five or ten years (a PhD level –way above your level of intelligence) and
the global temperature has dropped by the 0.6 degrees that it has gone up over the passed
120year you will realize that man-made global warming is a hoax.
Posted by: cleanwater | May 14, 2009 3:09 PM revised 9-13-2010
ps: To compare the Earth to a theoretical "black body" is totally ignorant of physics- a theoretical "black body" is just that. The Earth is covered with 80+% water (hot water bottle effect) or ice, the remainder is green or brown and there is an Atmosphere around it of Oxygen and Nitrogen that hold heat. It also has a core of Magma.
The debate over climate change can be settled quite quickly: it's called weather. It always changes.ReplyDelete
Spending billions of dollars on pseudo-scientific speculation is irresponsible waste of the hard-earned money of taxpayers all over the country. Our debt is high enough. Stop the madness!
You are only half right- it effects the whole world.Delete
An excellent article about the truth of global warming science.ReplyDelete
Thank you Dr. Christy
"And, in the laboratory, we can measure and prove that adding greenhouse gases to a jar of air will lead to further warming."ReplyDelete
WAIT ONE MOMENT! The CO2 in the jar has been debunked. Pure CO2 does not get any warmer than air. Here you can read how this simple experiment by Bill Nye was proven a fake.
Good stuff. Thanks!ReplyDelete
John Christy and Roy Spencer have committed some numerical falacies in order to arrive as their conclusions, documented here:ReplyDelete
I'm just an uneducated fool with an older but still good high school diploma from a government-union secondary school. I think we learned that if the observed data doesn't fit the hypotheses then the hypotheses is wrong. Also my grass grows much faster than 25 years ago and the forest is trying to reclaim my house at an alarming rate. Obama should be subsidizing wood chippers and chainsaws so we can keep the encroaching vegetation at bay, but it must be good for me because don't plants breath in CO2 and exhale O2? Does anyone know what radiational cooling is anymore, my adult children with degrees from well respected universities didn't.ReplyDelete
I think the Earth does offer some areas which are different enough that insights in to the effects of CO2 and other GHGs can be judged.ReplyDelete
As I think water is such a dominant factor in climate my idea was to look at an area which has relatively little, such as the Sahara desert. This can drop by 35C in less than 18 hours! From boiling hot to freezing. GHGs will be much the same here as elsewhere so their effect can be seen - none really.
By comparison take an area with a lot of water, for example the Amazon rain forest. Here temperatures vary by only 2C to 5C in a day, and the average only varies by 2C over the year! It seems like water vapour is acting like an insulator - slowing down warming during the day and slowing down cooling overnight.
Also I note that the 60 year warming and cooling cycle from 1970-2030 seems very similar to the one from 1910-1970. If CO2 had any appreciable effect then I would have expected 'the pause' to show SOME increase in temperature. It doesn't.
The above suggests that the warming effect of CO2 is very small indeed.
There really isn't a "pause" when you do better data analysis:Delete
and the slowdown isn't even as deep as the one in the mid-1990s:
And there's plenty of warming now going on; it's just that more of it lately has moved into the ocean:
Yes, there is indeed a "pause"Delete
Cowtan & Way debunked
Silly scaremongering about ocean warming:
and many, many other posts, but I'm not going to waste any more of my time debunking Appell
Your Cowtan & Way "debunking" misrepresents the Chung et al paper's findings.Delete
They found cooling trends only in certain places at certain times -- not, as you imply, in all places in all times.
They found a cooling trend at 500 hPa in autumn.
They found no summertime trend.
There are more seasons than summer, you know. And there are more atmospheric levels than 500 hPa.
From section 4 of the Chung et al paper:
"Considering ﬁrst the surface level, the reanalyses and
GISTEMP both show clear warming trends from 1979 to
"...in spring, autumn and winter,
the reanalyses and GISTEMP all show signiﬁcant warming trends."
These kind of misrepresentations seems par for your blog's course.
On par for you David, you misrepresent what I say and then try to debunk that strawman.Delete
1. I absolutely did not say they found "cooling trends...in all places at all times." You misquote me and the point of my posts routinely, and if you continue to waste my time pointing out how you misquote me and libel me on your blog, I will not allow you to comment here further.
According to AGW theory, the upper troposphere is supposed to warm faster than the lower troposphere or surface. The authors find the opposite pattern, and a 'pause' or even cooling in the upper troposphere which is where the AGW fingerprint is supposed to be.
"GISTEMP both show clear warming trends from 1979 to
2011" Duh, the point of the post is that the temperature trend stalled in the Arctic post 1998, not the overall trend 1979-2011.
Furthermore, you gloss over the main point "Our results also suggest that studies of the Arctic climate based on reanalyses should be undertaken with extreme caution." i.e. Cowtan & Way's paper should be considered with "extreme caution"
Next, you ignore the other post I linked to debunking Cowtan & Way:
David, I've got better things to do than to continue to debunk your strawman arguments and abusive statements about this blog. If you post any more comments violating the comment policy, they will be deleted.
Christy and others do not really understand this ...ReplyDelete
The Second Law of Thermodynamics is not a simplistic rule that heat always transfers from warmer to cooler regions if there is a temperature difference.
In the early pre-dawn hours the lower troposphere still exhibits the expected thermal gradient, but meteorologists know that convection stops. Yes energy flow stops even though there is warmer air at lower altitudes. That is because there is thermodynamic equilibrium, and when we have thermodynamic equilibrium - well, you can look up in Wikipedia all the conditions and things that happen.
The real Second Law of Thermodynamics takes quite a bit of understanding and many hours, maybe years of study. You guys have absolutely no understanding of it, as I can detect from my decades of helping students understand physics.
To understand it you have to really understand entropy for starters. Then you have to really understand thermodynamic equilibrium and all the other states, such as mechanical equilibrium, thermal equilibrium etc which the Second Law embraces. That is why, for example, you cannot disregard gravity and gravitational potential energy when determining the state of maximum entropy attainable by an isolated system.
If you want to stay in the mid-19th century when much of this physics was not widely understood, and if you want to imagine, for example, that radiative heat transfer does not obey the Second Law, then all I can say is that you must live in a strange and isolated planet, because you sure can't answer my questions about other planets with your climatology paradigm.
When you truly understand the Second Law of Thermodynamics then, and only then, will you start to understand how it explains the so-called lapse rate and how the pre-determined thermal profile supports surface temperatures everywhere, not back radiation from a cooler atmosphere. Thus you will understand why it's not carbon dioxide after all.
Even Russia gets that there is human caused global warming- "2005 The national science academies of the G8 nations, plus Brazil, China and India, three of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the developing world, signed a statement on the global response to climate change. The statement stresses that the scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action, and explicitly endorsed the IPCC consensus. The eleven signatories were the science academies of Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States." - from Wikipedia Scientific Opinion on Climate Change.ReplyDelete
Uh, that was before Climategate, most skeptics, & recognition that global warming has stopped. The climb down has begun.Delete
Christy stepped in his own shit by the fourth paragraph. "When dealing with temperature variations and trends, we do not have an instrument that tells us how much change is due to humans and how much to Mother Nature". If by Mother Nature you mean methane, what is the reason behind the release of the methane. Anthropomorphic warming thawing the permafrost. I noticed Christy did not so much as mention that.ReplyDelete
No, he's not talking about methane. Methane is 0.00017% of the atmosphere and has essentially no effect.Delete
He's talking about natural internal variability, including solar, clouds, ocean oscillations, etc.
Methane is 0.00017% of the atmosphere and has essentially no effect.Delete
Bullsh*t. Prove it. Take the equations for radiative forcing for methane and prove it. I dare you.
The equations for radiative forcing for CO2, methane, and all the other GHGs are BS. The atmosphere is in radiative/convective equilibrium and any increase in surface T is easily overcome by increased convection.Delete
Really, MS (Afraid to use your real name) -- you know the real equations, and you know the all the others aren't true?Delete
What are your equations?
Who has published them?
Why are you hiding behind a fake name, anyway?
The barometric formulas have been known since the 1800's and published in many thousands of papersDelete
Here is a paper reviewing the history and physical derivations, which are completely independent of "radiative forcing":
To determine the entire atmospheric temperture profile and surface temperature of any planet
1. Determine the equilibrium temperature with the Sun. For Earth, 255K
2. To determine the "greenhouse effect," determine the height of the tropopause [h] from eq40 in the above paper. The "greenhouse effect" is then determined by
dT=h*g/Cp = 33K on Earth
3. The surface temperature is thus 255+33 = 288K
Thus, the entire greenhouse effect, troposphere temperature profile, and surface temperature have all been derived from the 1st and 2nd laws and ideal gas law, completely independent of "radiative forcing" from GHGs.
The wet adiabatic lapse rate is only one-half of the dry, which proves increased water vapor has a negative feedback cooling effect. Water vapor increases Cp in the above equation, therefore decreases the lapse rate. CO2 has essentially zero effect on atmospheric mass, any of the barometric equations, or lapse rate and thus essentially zero effect on the surface temperature.
The Connollys explain all of this and more on their site, and here are at least 18 additional links all arriving at essentially the same conclusions.
BTW, I'm still waiting for your humble apology that the lapse rate is in fact determined by gravity as I said above, and for calling me a liar for pointing this out.
I meant to add re equation 40 I mentioned above, the tropopause height is where P=0.1 bar, which has been known for many years establishes the radiative/convective boundary on all planetary atmospheres, and is where the atmosphere is too thin to support convection, allowing radiation as the only heat transfer mechanism. At pressures above 0.1 bar, convection easily dominates radiative transfer.Delete
Barometric formulas aren't radiative forcing formulas, you idiot.ReplyDelete
I just demonstrated that! I also just showed that "radiative forcing" is a fictitious concept that does not determine the "greenhouse effect" nor a change in the "greenhouse effect," which is entirely a function of atmospheric mass, gravity/pressure, and heat capacity completely independent of so-called "radiative forcing."Delete
Observations prove the "radiative forcing" concept is incorrect
David, you are a lost cause to the CAGW religion, and I'm not going to tolerate any further asinine, abusive comments from you. You are hereby banned from commenting.
This is the latest paper being used by alarmists re. Antarctic glacier melt: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/346/6214/1227ReplyDelete
Published Dec 5.
Example here: http://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/less-ice-or-more-what-you-need-know-about-antarcticas-n265646
The arguing and trolling snark with ad hominem comes not from the science. It comes from the harsh prescriptions for retardation of wealth creation planet wide and associated total state control the state-funded scientists are pushing.ReplyDelete