Between the Hammer and the Nail

ed359-global_warming_or_global_coolingYes, I know everyone has jumped aboard the Global Warming bandwagon, hammered together the climate change apartment house and moved in lock stock and barrel to the CO2-causes-Climate-Change studio apartment. It’s a shame that such a ramshackle edifice dominates the climate science skyline.

“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Abraham Maslow, The Psychology of Science, 1966

Part One

Climate change has become the cause celebre of modern thought and action, the hammer employed to bang on almost everything else. Every Progressive cause from highway congestion to homelessness simply must be cast in the glare of Climate Change and/or Global Warming. Every organization from the United Nations to my local County Board of Supervisors is invested in the concept as the source of funding for addressing all social ills.

The basis for this totalitarian acceptance of human caused climate change, aka Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is the theory of radiative forcing of atmospheric warming, the so-called Greenhouse Effect. As we’ll see later, this is an instance of an attempt to prove an experiment by invoking a theory, rather than the accepted scientific process of proving a theory by experimentation and hypothesis testing.

Carbon dioxide radiative forcing was first proposed by Joseph Fourier in 1824, demonstrated by experiment by John Tyndall in 1859, and quantified by Svante Arrhenius in 1896. The unfortunate and inaccurate descriptor “Greenhouse Effect” was first employed by Nils Gustaf Ekholm in 1901.

The basic premise of the “Greenhouse Gas” theory is that greenhouse gases raise the temperature at the surface of the Earth higher than it would be without them (+33º C). Without these gases in the atmosphere (water vapor (0 to 4%), Carbon dioxide (0.0402%), Methane (0.000179%), Nitrous oxide (0.0000325%) and Fluorinated gases (0.000007%) life on this planet would be impossible.

This basic theory is deployed to buttress the assumptions that increased atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations (mainly CO2) cause increased global average surface temperature, and, therefore lowering atmospheric CO2 concentrations will reduce or even reverse increases in global average surface temperature.

Let’s look at the observations and assumptions that have led to this erroneous conclusion.

Observations and Assumptions

  1. Observation – Humans produce greenhouse gases through industrial activity, agriculture and respiration, increasing the atmospheric concentration of CO2 from ~300 ppmv to ~400 ppmv over the past 58 years
  2. Observation – The calculated measure of global average surface temperature has increased by about 0.8° Celsius (1.4° Fahrenheit) since 1880.
  3. Assumption – Adding more CO2 to the atmosphere causes an increase in global average surface temperature.
  4. Assumption – Increase in global average surface temperature will cause changes in global climates that will be catastrophic for all life on Earth.
  5. Conclusion – Therefore, reducing human CO2 production will result in a reduction in atmospheric CO2 concentration and a consequent reduction in increase of global average surface temperature, stabilizing global climates and preventing catastrophic climate change.

Items 1 and 2 are observations with which few climate scientists disagree, though there may be quibbles about the details. CO2 and temperature have both increased, since at least 1850.

Items 3 and 4 are assumptions because there is no evidence to support them. The correlation between global average surface temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration is not linear and it is not causal. In fact, deep glacial ice cores record that historical increases in CO2 concentration have lagged behind temperature rise by 200 to 800 years, suggesting that, if anything, atmospheric CO2 increase is caused by increase in global average surface temperature.

Nevertheless, the “consensus” pursued by global warming acolytes is that Svante Arrhenius’ 1896 “Greenhouse Gas” theory proves that rising CO2 causes rising temperature.

However, in the scientific method, we do not employ a theory to prove an experiment. Since we have only one coupled ocean/atmosphere system to observe, the experiment in this case is the Earth itself, human CO2 production, naturally occurring climate variation, and observed changes in atmospheric CO2 and global average surface temperature. There is no control with which to compare observations, thus we can make no scientifically valid conclusions as to causation. If we had a second, identical planet earth to compare atmospheric changes in the absence of human produced CO2, we would be able to reach valid conclusions about the role of CO2 in observed climate variation, and we would have an opportunity to weigh other causes of climate variation shared by the two systems.

To escape from our precarious position between the hammer and the nail, we should understand all possible causal factors, human caused, naturally occurring, from within and from without the biosphere in which all life lives.

Based on our current cosmology, it is my conclusion that we live in a chaotic, nonlinear, complex coupled ocean/atmospheric adaptive system, with its own set of naturally occurring and human created cycles that interact to produce the climate variation we observe. This variation is not the simple linear relationship touted by the IPCC and repeated in apocalyptic tones by those who profit from its dissemination, but rather is a complex interplay of varying influences, that results in unpredictable climate variation.

More about chaos and complexity in the next installment.

 

Media Fallout

In my last post on Words Arranged, I mused on the question, “Who benefits from global warming alarmism?”

As the above picture illustrates, I think I might have a clue.

We’ve all noticed an exponential increase in climate change hyperbole in the run up to COP21, the climate summit coming up in Paris. Media pundits everywhere are climbing on each others’ shoulders to jump on the global warming bandwagon in attributing all the ills of the Universe to climate change.

What you may not have noticed is a parallel increase in nuclear energy propaganda, linking self-proclaimed “clean” (sic) nuclear energy to expressed concerns about human produced CO2 emissions from fossil fueled energy plants. Lobbying organizations such as The Breakthrough Institute, who have pimped for nukes for decades, are now doubling down on their “clean nuclear energy” mantra.

However, there’s a new fly swimming in this radioactive ointment.

You didn’t read this in the mainstream press, oddly, given it’s connections to “terrorism”and its critical importance to the nuclear industry:

As you read this, a terror attack has put nuclear reactors in Ukraine at the brink of another Chernobyl-scale apocalypse. ISIS has the power at any time to inflict

Source: Nuclear Reactors Make ISIS an Apocalyptic Threat

What’s going on here? Terrorists blowing up power lines feeding a nuclear power plant? Why, Dave Foreman and friends were arrested and prosecuted in 1990 for even thinking about such a deed, making headlines across the US. Why hasn’t the media jumped on this story like a herd of children in a bounce house?

Could it be that nukes in the United States are vulnerable to such terrorist attacks, thus, increasing liability for nuke builders and operators? Would this cause a nuclear energy funding drought, just when nuke operators were starting to fill their funding rain barrels in the “clean” nukes global warming debate?

One might think, if one were disposed to such a revolutionary act, that mainstream media might have buried this story at the behest of those corporate interests who stand to benefit from current global warming hysteria.

Who benefits, indeed?

Famines and Wars Predicted

In a recent article in City Watch, Seth Berenstein whinges on about apparent ho-hummieness about climate change among the public in the United States (mistakenly calling us “Americans” (Does that include Canada, Central and South America?). We’re apparently supposed to be “extremely worried” about climate change, as if being worried would in some way make it go away.

There are two problems with the popular perception of climate change that make it a non-issue.

1) The case for human causation, and, thus, human solution to the perceived problem of climate variation, is very weak. We all know that climates have varied for millennia, long before humans had the capacity to influence weather, let alone climate. If climate didn’t vary on its own, we’d all still be buried under miles of glacier ice. Despite this simple fact, we are expected to accept as rote that humans are so powerful as to cause climate change, and, worse yet, we’re even powerful enough that we can control climate change.

2) The social changes necessary to lower anthropogenic CO2 to levels suggested by the IPCC as sufficient to forestall climate disaster are never full explicated. They would amount to dismantling western civilization and replacing it with a low energy, highly dispersed economy, instead of the present high energy, highly centralized economy. This is not, mind you, a bad idea, whether it affects climate variation or not. But I digress.

No one knows how to do this, no politician or economist wants to do this, and few in the public understand the full implications of the anthropogenic CO2 hypothesis. Life in the United States, and much of the rest of the world, is dominated by propaganda promoting the very totalitarian capitalist consumer economy that is said to be the source of “global warming.”

How do we get the problem to solve itself?

Whether or not observed climate variation is “caused” by humans, or is a natural phenomenon subject to limited human influence, speculation about famine and wars, based on interpretations of worst case scenarios projected by an international policy organization run by the “Sustainable Development” arm of the United Nations, are baseless at best and ultimately counterproductive. This is eminently evident in the response of much of the public around the world to alarmist media pronouncements leading up to the looming major global summit meeting attempting to solidify the global corporate stranglehold on local economies.

Beyond the rampant hyperbole and screaming headlines, one thing is true: human growth and development must stop and some way must be found to decrease economic disparity throughout the world, global warming or not. Famine and wars will continue as they have for thousands of years, with or without climate change.

And still, all of life shares this world of finite resources. We Homo sapiens cannot continue on our present economic and social course. Either we deal with this reality or Nature will deal with us as she has done with all other species.

Climate Change Can’t Be Stopped, Human Change Never Starts

I don’t know what’s happening these days. I thought climate change hysteria couldn’t be cranked up any higher, but sure enough, looky here, this article is over the top: To Stop Climate Change, Start Calling It By a Different Name

This is nonsense. There is no global climate disruption or climate chaos,  described in the above article, other than in the minds of those who do not understand climate dynamics and have no perception of geologic time.

The climates of the earth vary through time, naturally, continually and cyclically. They have done so for millennia and will continue to vary long after Homo sapiens has left the evolutionary scene. The earth is not a closed system, and its climate varies in response to solar and cosmic influences that have driven climate since long before humans came down from the trees.

Does human activity influence natural climate variation? Certainly. Do we know how much and in what direction? Hardly at all. Is there anything we can do about observed climate variation? Not with any certainty of a positive outcome.

Meanwhile, arm-waving and Chicken Little histrionics do nothing to mitigate climate variation or make our communities more resilient in the face of a naturally varying climate.

Let’s assume for the moment that “Global Warming” is caused by human CO2 production and will result in catastrophic climate change (for humans at least). What “serious action” can we take “to curb the devastating effects of climate change” within the time frame prognosticated by arm-waving Chicken Littles? Stop driving cars? Stop heating our homes with fossil fuels? Stop raising cattle for human consumption? Stop producing electricity with fossil fuels? Stop building with cement? Reduce human population levels? Stop economic growth and development? Stop maintaining standing militaries that ravage the earth?

Can you say, “Not on your life?” Sure.
It’s real simple. If human produced CO2 is really causing climate change that’s going to destroy human civilization, then just stop producing CO2. If it were that simple and the consequences as dire as the Chicken Littles proclaim, we would have stopped it long ago. Look what we did in response to Hitler, and he was just a mustachioed paper hanger.
Do we need to stop polluting the Earth? Do we need to stop destructive resource exploitation? Do we need to reduce human population growth? Do we need to stop species extinctions? Do we need to stop natural habitat destruction?
Damned straight!
And if we did all these necessary things, guess what? We wouldn’t have to worry about climate change!

Solar Reality is Climate Reality

It is abundantly clear that recent observations of global average surface temperature increase are the result of complex interactions among a variety of factors influencing natural global climate variation.
The combination of periodic oscillation cycles of solar irradiance, solar magnetic flux, internal heliophysical solar cycles, cosmic ray intensity and solar system precession create regular fluctuations in global climate on all planets in the solar system. The coupled ocean/atmospheric system on Earth further complicates the interactions among these cycles, creating a chaotic complex adaptive system that results in perceived climate variation. (D’Aleo 2011 http://icecap.us/docs/change/OceanMultidecadalCyclesTemps.pdf)
The effect of human produced greenhouse gases on climate variation is minimal, amounting to 0.28% (28/100 of 1 percent) of the total atmospheric “greenhouse effect,” more accurately called radiative forcing. The largest contributor to atmospheric radiative forcing is natural water vapor, at 94.999% of the total greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. (Hieb 2007, http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/greenhouse_data.html
Atmospheric concentration of water vapor is a function of atmospheric circulation driven by solar energy. 
“I can only see one element of the climate system capable of generating these fast, global changes, that is, changes in the tropical atmosphere leading to changes in the inventory of the earth’s most powerful greenhouse gas– water vapor.” Dr. Wallace Broecker, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, R. A. Daly Lecture, American Geophysical Union, May 1996.
What all this means is that proposed changes in human produced greenhouse gases would result in imperceptible changes in total overall climate variation.
The present world-wide focus on human produced greenhouse gases is a politically and economically motivated propaganda campaign to generate support for World Bank and United Nations “Sustainable Development” programs. The World Bank has produced an internally written document, “Turn Down the Heat,” purportedly, according to the World Bank’s own promotional press release, a “scientific report.”
The world is barreling down a path to heat up by 4 degrees at the end of the century if the global community fails to act on climate change, triggering a cascade of cataclysmic changes that include extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks and a sea-level rise affecting hundreds of millions of people, according to a new scientific report released today that was commissioned by the World Bank.” (http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/2012/11/18/new-report-examines-risks-of-degree-hotter-world-by-end-of-century)
However, the report was prepared by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, which states as its mission, “PIK addresses crucial scientific questions in the fields of global change, climate impacts and sustainable development,” (http://www.climateanalytics.org/) with help from Climate Analytics, which claims: “Our vision is to devise science-based policy to prevent dangerous climate change, enabling sustainable development.” (http://www.climateanalytics.org/)
Global Warming and climate change alarmism are promoted to the public by a vast interlinked system of global NGOs, “progressive” foundations, public relations firms and web-based advocacy groups. To “follow the money,” go to any web site promoting global warming and click on their “Who We Are,” “Funding” or “Partners” links. You’ll find yourself quickly immersed in a sea of interconnected links, from foundation to foundation to environmental group to NGO, populated by self-identified experts feeding at the global warming funding trough.
Proponents of human caused climate change claim that “climate skeptics” and “deniers” are a large, well-organized group, massively funded by oil companies, who sow seeds of doubt among the consensus of climate scientists who believe in anthropocentric global warming. (http://www.examiner.com/article/deceit-and-corporate-manipulation-of-the-dialogue-on-climate-change-redux)
The truth is exactly the opposite. The well organized and highly funded effort is the economic and political manipulation and misrepresentation of climate science to further global political and economic agendas.

I Am Not a Leftist, Right-Wing, Environmentalist Denier!

The discussion over climate change, global warming, anthropogenic or natural, is polarized along several lines that create needless misunderstanding, obfuscation and dissent.

On the one hand, vocal proponents of anthropogenic global warming/climate change often accuse those who do not accept this view without question as being “deniers,” driven by an overwhelming right-wing, oil company-funded propaganda campaign.

On the other hand, those who question the reality of anthropogenic global warming/climate change often accuse the proponents as being leftist environmentalists seeking to redistribute wealth and destroy civilization by promoting wind generators and solar panels.

Of course, both of these extreme positions are misleading. There are principled, independent scientists and activists who are not Right-wing, who are not funded by oil companies and who question the claims of human causation of climate variation. And there are principled proponents of human caused climate change who are dedicated environmentalists who are not Leftists and who do not seek redistribution of wealth and who are genuinely concerned about the effects of human development on the natural world.

More troubling is the right-wing, property rights, fossil fuel/nuclear power propensity of many self-avowed climate change “skeptics.” A recent article, The Cost of Running the World on Renewable Power, by Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi, suggests that a shift to renewable energy sources is overwhelmingly expensive, unattainable and unnecessary. This is far more of an ostrich-in-a-hole viewpoint than the “denier” accusation. It’s abundantly clear that fossil fuels are finite and will become uneconomic to produce long before they “run out.” It is also abundantly clear that we have no solution for the problem of  dispersing nuclear waste materials that will remain radioactive and toxic for centuries, even if there were unlimited sources of nuclear fuel. At some point, we will change to a renewable energy economy. Why wait for the crisis? Change now and avoid the rush!

I am one of those caught in the middle. I have been an active environmentalist for over forty years, working to limit, as much as possible, pollution, habitat and biodiversity loss and unlimited economic growth. I am also skeptical of claims for human caused climate variation. I’ve studied climate science, as an archaeologist, since 1991, and the case for human produced CO2 climate change causation is not supported by the evidence. Yes, humans do affect local weather and climates, but these effects do not result in global climate variation. There are many natural factors in climate variation that far overwhelm the contributions from human technology and behavior.

My problem is I am tarred with both the “denier” and “Leftist” brushes, even though I am neither. When I write about natural factors active in climate variation, I am called a denier and accused of accepting money from oil companies. When I write about the necessity of limiting pollution and habitat and biodiversity loss, I am accused of being a warmist and part of the United Nations Agenda 21 sustainable development conspiracy.

I can’t win. I hesitate to identify myself in either camp, as I am marginalized and ignored by proponents and opponents alike. Between Scylla and Charybdis, I swirl in the whirlpool of universal obloquy.

The truth is I’m a scientist, albeit a semi-retired, unfunded, independent and non-academic scientist. I read the literature on both sides of the climate change debate and draw my own conclusions as the the  relevancy of the evidence and methodology with respect to the conclusions of the publications’ authors. I have gone back and forth in my conclusions, at first convinced by the data that humans are indeed causing significant climate change, then, over the years, reversing that position to conclude that, while human activities do influence climate variation, they are but one of many influences, human and natural, both positive and negative forcings and feedbacks, that result in a highly complex, chaotic and largely unpredictable global climate system.

It seems that the tide may be turning, slowly on its own cosmic timetable. But I am fearful that the withdrawal of public attention from climate change will take with it support for traditional environmental defense and activism, as I have cautioned for many years. Throughout all the global warming hyperbole, pollution and habitat loss have continued unchecked, to have far greater and much more immediate effects in our lives today, not in some computer modeled, hypothetical future.

The natural world doesn’t know Left or Right, Deniers or Warmists.

“Not bird, nor plane, nor even frog,
It’s just little old me…  Underdog.”