Is the Climate Change CO² Science Right? - Printable Version
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Is the Climate Change CO² Science Right? - rwswan - 04-10-2017
Science has historically not always got it right despite any “overwhelming proof” in their day.
For almost three decades the IPCC and its advocates have been saying that their scientists are right in declaring human kind responsible for causing dangerous global warming aka AGW – Anthropogenic Global Warming. Not proven, but so near that they agree it IS indeed right. So right in fact that they are squandering literally trillions of dollars around the world still trying to prove it. They believe implicitly that excess CO² greenhouse gases (GHG) produced by mankind are warming the planet higher than natural processes.
According to climate alarm sceptics which include thousands of eminent scientists among them, they believe there is sufficient evidence to at least cast some doubts on the accuracy of many of the IPCC pronouncements, if not throw out the case for AGW completely.
The question is – could the IPCC actually be right? This article will take a look at just a few of the disputed issues that relate to CO² emissions.
The Current Warming Trend
The mainstay of the IPCC argument is that mankind is responsible for the late 20th century warming trend. But it’s important to understand that there is a natural warming phase going on right now anyway.
As we know, the planet goes through cyclical periods of warming and cooling. The Earth is currently on a natural warming trend following on from the last Little Ice Age. Hypothetically, how long this warming cycle would have lasted without mankind’s contributions is anybody's guess.
The 33°C Greenhouse “Envelope”
So … there’s all this talk about CO² emissions being at the heart of the problem and causing so much angst between alarmists and sceptics, but what if CO² isn’t even relevant?
Scientists mostly agree that without GHG the global average temperature of the Earth would be about -19°C and that a natural 33°C “envelope” of warming GHG brings it up to around 14°C or so. What they don’t agree on is the cause of this natural warming. There are at least two separate theories. One that discusses GHG radiation and the other a gravito-thermal greenhouse effect or to put it more simply – greenhouse gases vs natural processes.
The 33°C Arrhenius Radiative Greenhouse Effect
Don’t let the title put you off. It just means the greenhouse theory used by the IPCC and in their computer climate models . It’s probable that most scientists agree that elements of different radiative gases including CO² are trapped in the atmosphere and re-radiate heat back to Earth thus causing a cycle of continual warming of the planet.
An example of the 33°C Arrhenius Radiative
Greenhouse Effect theory. NB: Natural “feedback”
cooling effects not shown here.
But it’s important to understand that the 33°C envelope is not just all warming as is commonly expressed as shown in the example. It is really the end result of roughly 50/50 warming AND cooling effects i.e. a combination of both natural climate forcing (heating) and feedback (cooling) systems. This has been known for a long time and supported for example in scientific papers by Messrs Manabe and Strickler in 1964 and Dick Lindzen’s paper in 1990.
In any case, if the Arrhenius theory is correct, then mankind obviously must be responsible to some extent – although arguably not to the levels we are being led to believe. That viewpoint also applies to the possibly exaggerated future consequences of increased global warming.
But given that the planet is subject to both warming and cooling influences, shouldn’t the warming of less than 1°C over the last 150 years or so alleged to have been caused by mankind, also be reduced to about 0.05°C?
The 33°C Gravito-Thermal Greenhouse Effect
Other scientists follow the Gravito-Thermal theory which began in 1738 when Daniel Bernoulli learned how to understand air pressure at a molecular level. Some problems were further explained in the 1850s by Maxwell who found it wasn’t necessary to track every molecule but just the distribution of them e.g. how the microscopic connected to the macroscopic. Albert Einstein did some work on related Kinetic Theory in 1907. In 1976 the final version of a 241 page supporting document the US Standard Atmosphere was published.
One of the adherents to the Gravito-Thermal theory was a leading Physicist Richard Feynmann (decd 1988). He said the greenhouse effect that warms the Earth is due solely to the effects of gravity, atmospheric mass, pressure, density, and heat capacities, and not due to any “trapped” radiating elements of greenhouse gases. And not just the 33°C “envelope” but constantly.
Read More: Principa Scientific International: Physicist Richard Feynman Discredits Greenhouse Gas Theory
Was he a crackpot? Not likely. He was a Nobel Prize winner in Physics in 1965 along with several other awards. He and allegedly hundreds of rocket and atmospheric scientists, physicists and aeronautical engineers were involved in formulating the US Standard Atmosphere. It provides the means to determine the temperature, pressure and density at any altitude. It’s used for example in aviation applications and in application of this theory.
Nowadays, the “33°C Maxwell/Clausius/Carnot/Feynman Gravito-Thermal Radiation Effect” aka gravitational forcing theory maintains that the generally accepted greenhouse radiative gases version confuses “cause with effect” in the Earth’s warming processes. In other words they say the gravito-thermal processes comes before any radiation from greenhouse gases.
Read More: The Hockey Schtick Dec 2014: Why Atmospheric Temperature is a Linear Function of Mass & Gravity, and Not Influenced by Greenhouse Gas Concentrations
The world’s scientists don’t seem to be even able to agree on how the Earth is warmed naturally let alone that mankind’s activities are responsible for additional warming. Only one 33°C “envelope” warming theory can be correct. Surely it’s impossible to determine human effects if you don’t know the natural patterns or causes. And we apparently don’t …
A Caution About Global Averages
The term “global average” is often used in public discussions of climate change to demonstrate negative trends such as rising global temperatures or the amounts of global CO² in the atmosphere. But at the end of the day it is merely a statistical figure usually based on different specimens of different data from several different sources. Data is collected and manipulated in any number of legitimate methods by different people with different statistician skills to produce different outcomes – just select the one that suits your argument best.
Images from IPCC Summary for Policy Makers AR5
showing a 0.8°C global surface temperature rise
since 1850 and a 0.2mm global rise in sea levels
The IPCC in their Fifth Assessment Report of 2014 (AR5) continuously mentions global averages in respect of temperatures, CO² emissions, sea level rises, precipitation and so on.
To be fair they do acknowledge that temperatures etc at any given region may experience more, or less, or no effects of increased global warming in the future. But it’s a passing sentence and you need to actually read the document rather than just skim through it. It really ought to be flagged more prominently.
But of course temperatures vary widely around the Earth depending on time of year, latitude, ocean and wind currents, For example, the coldest inhabited place on Earth is arguably the village of Oymyakon in Russia where it can reach -45ºC, and the hottest inhabited is probably Death Valley in California USA where it can get up 56.7ºC.
Whether people could actually live independently of outside sources in places like these is another story. But in general, any given place will usually have a hotter or colder climate than the stated global average.
But let’s get back to the overuse of global averages … professional writers know that the written word (and diagrams etc) are often interpreted differently depending on the reader or their level of focus at the time of reading.
It’s not likely to be stretching things too far to say that the constant use by alarmists in using global average figures can lend itself to misconceptions in some lesser educated or inattentive people that it is going to get hotter where they actually live – or that extreme weather events are going to happen in their own region.
The bottom line is that if a media presentation keeps blathering about global averages and how negative it’s going to be, and which does not relate it to your geographical region then please let me suggest you turn it off. Such stuff is neither scientific or even sensible and is more about devotion to an quasi-religious eco-alarmism … or headline seeking.
Uncertainty Errors in CO² Emission Calculations
Scientists generally refer to an “error bar” or “uncertainty range” where an exact figure is not known.
So let’s take a common method of measuring an unknown distance by asking a group of people to give a visual distance estimate and call it a range of uncertainty or as in science, an error bar. Now remove the highest and lowest distances and what’s left is your error bar or range. Somewhere within that range the real distance should be located – hopefully. Now either centre or else average out between the highest and lowest to find what you hope is close to the real distance or to provide a baseline point.
Average atmospheric CO2 concentrations
measured in the 19th and 20th century. Encircled
are the values used by Callendar (1958).
Redrawn after Fonselius et al. (1956).
In a very basic sense this is how scientists originally estimated the pre-industrial levels of CO² in the atmosphere as being 280 ppm. And that’s ignoring the many scientifically recorded measurements taken during the 19th and 20th centuries which indicated higher readings. And so it’s been used during pre-industrial times and then accepted by the IPCC when it first formed.
Obviously the methodology was more calculated than that but the principles were most likely basically the same. But let’s stick with 280 ppm because it at least provides a kind of baseline.
If we assume the GHG theory as being correct, there can be little argument that humans have contributed to the current estimate of about 400 ppm of CO² in our atmosphere. Nor do scientists necessarily argue that CO² is at the very least a mild GHG – though of course there is diligent argument whether it is more than that.
Yet doubts have been cast on the previously accepted levels. Examination of glacier data has often been used to determine the levels of CO² concentrations in the atmosphere during the pre-industrial era, and they are also used for important calculations in climate change research. For example, Messrs Jaworowski, Segalstad & Hisdal in their 1992 paper discussed this in their paper, “Atmospheric CO2 and Global Warming – A Critical Review, 2nd Revised Edition 1992″.
The report is believed to be the first critical review of CO² trapped in air bubbles in glaciers. It reveals several errors in methodology and incorrect scientific assumptions which question the very validity of the AGW hypothesis. Some of the issues discussed include:
The projections of man-made climate change through burning of fossil carbon fuels (coal, gas, oil) to CO² gas are based mainly on interpretations of measured CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere and in glacier ice. These measurements and interpretations are subject to serious uncertainties…
Jaworowski et.al 1992
The Uncertainty Range of Volcano Effects
There have been some very big volcanic eruptions in recent decades causing all sorts of problems spewing out volcanic dust and CO². Major fractures, hot springs and geysers also vent CO². Over the last 10,000 years or so there have been around 1500 land volcanoes active.
Let’s take just one example. The Kilauyea Volcano in Hawaii has been active for a long time erupting on average about once per three years or so and is among the most watched in the world. Until recently it was thought to be emitting around 2,800 tons of CO² per day. In 2001 it was thought to be more accurately amended to 8,800 tons/CO2/day. In 2008 the USGS – the US Geological Survey changed it again to 4,000 tons/CO²/day. That all makes for an uncertainty error bar of between 100% to 300%.
But compared to land volcanoes, not so much is known about sub-sea volcanoes which make up the majority on the planet. There are literally thousands of them. CO² is the most common gas found in their volcanic hydro-thermals but rarely is it found in liquid form as well.
White smoking vents at
the Champagne sub-sea
In 2006 the Champagne volcanic site in the Mariana Trench was found to be discharging a 103°C gas rich fluid and droplets at less then 4°C of mainly liquid CO2 were also discovered. The hot fluid at a molecular level of 2.7 moles/kg of CO² was the highest ever reported. The droplets contained 98% CO². All of this CO² was being absorbed into the ocean before it had risen less than 200m. This site alone is estimated to be contributing 0.1% of the “global carbon flux” i.e. from all natural sources being sent into the atmosphere – and that’s a lot.
An example of a “global carbon flux”
See: Submarine venting of liquid carbon dioxide on a Mariana Arc volcano
Following the Champagne discovery there have been suggestions that perhaps sub-sea volcanoes may be contributing more to the global carbon flux than previously realized. With so much uncertainty on volcanoes generally and other forcing (CO² adding) agents, how can the IPCC be so certain on the extent of mankind’s contributions of CO² compared to natural sources?
The bottom line is they can’t really know. Very little of it is yet known. They are forced to make calculated, educated guesses and produce results that include error bars of uncertainty about accuracy. And the ranges of those error bars are also under attack by sceptics.
CO2 “Residence” Time in the Atmosphere
As of 2010 there was an estimated 780Gt of CO² of which about 210 Gt (25%) was believed to be exchanged between the oceans and land “sinks” e.g. plants etc. So how long does the remainder stay up there?
The IPCC estimates the “residence time” i.e. the time that CO² elements remain in the atmosphere before being reabsorbed or emitted to space is anywhere between 5 and 200 years or more. That’s quite a error bar range of uncertainty. I have read where one alarmist advocate stated that the rates of absorption of CO² into the Earth varied widely depending on how it’s being absorbed e.g. by the oceans, land or sea biota. Maybe that is possible.
See also: Working Group I: The Scientific Basis: https://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/016.htm
IPCC AR5 2014 CO2 residence time chart
Other non-IPCC aligned scientists generally estimate a CO² residence time of between 5 to 10 years.
And the observed decrease in the radioactive carbon 14C in the atmosphere following the cessation of atmospheric nuclear testing in 1963 has confirmed the half life of CO² in the atmosphere at less than 10 years. Incidentally, the 14C radioactive element can also be present naturally.
Source: Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide
Unfortunately the IPCC tends to rely on a longer residence time in their computer models which consistently produce a higher global average temperature result by a given time e.g. 2020.
Also read: Don Aitkin – How Long Does Carbon Dioxide Remain in the Atmosphere.
So if the non-IPCC aligned scientists and educated others are right, then the future temperatures following the currently observed trend is going to be more likely correct?
Both the sceptic and alarmist sides of the climate change debate are prone to making exaggerated and implausible claims. So much so that it’s sometimes difficult to find the real truth about the alleged dangerous global warming being caused by humans aka AGW.
This site is about trying to find that truth. However, these pages may at first appear to be on the sceptic side – but that is not entirely true. Information in support of AGW that can be proven from sources outside the IPCC will be accepted.
The information here is believed to be correct at time of writing. Comments to the contrary which can prove otherwise are welcome. Only comments from rational people who can discuss AGW issues dispassionately and with common courtesy will be considered.
1. Climate: The Counter Consensus, Professor Robert M. Carter 2010.
2. IPCC Fifth Assessment Report 2014
3. Other Links as indicated in the text.
For more articles on climate change visit:
Issues on Climate Change