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Responses to Monckton of Brenchley’s article “A Non-Problem Spun into a Global Crisis”
by Dr Andrew Glikson Earth and paleo-climate scientist Institute of Climate Change Australian National University Following the distribution of a piece titled “Climate QaA” by Andrew Glikson, Earth and paleoclimate scientist, communicated on behalf of a member of the Australian Parliament, December, 2009, a response was published by Monckton of Brenchley (MB), titled “A non-problem spun-up into a global crisis” (http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/NonProblem_S pun_Into_Global_Crisis.pdf). In a different context MB also proposed a meeting with the Australian Prime Minister to brief him on the climate (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/01/03/climate-change-proposed-personalbriefing/). MB’s response includes (A) technical points, and (B) critical comments regarding the scientific integrity and honesty of climate scientists, science research organizations and of the IPCC. Given MB’s hundreds of points, my responses below are restricted to essential scientific/technical points. In so far as the principal observations of climate science are correct, which I suggest is beyond reasonable doubt, as based on direct observations around the world as well as on physics and chemistry, this inherently vindicates the position climate scientists have taken with regard to the nature and dangerous consequences of current global warming. The hacked CRU E-mail issue, which diverted attention from the increasingly serious climate change developments around the globe, is resolved in the Pew Centre for Global Climate Research document: http://www.pewclimate.org/ docUploads/east-anglia-cru-hacked-emails-12-07-09.pdf I cite Professor Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impacts and climate advisor of the German Government: “We’re simply talking about the very life support system of this planet. A recent comprehensive study confirms this in showing that we are going beyond the limits of the Earth. Yet, we are still chugging along like we have no need to solve these issues any time in the near future. We are not even near the reductions that are necessary.” (http://ecoworldly.com/2009/10/02/is-the-us-climateilliterate/). Dr Andrew Glikson Earth and paleoclimate scientist Australian National University 10 January, 2010
Glikson’s Climate QaA, MB’s comments, Glikson’s (AG) responses to MB’s comments 1. Are human activities contributing to climate change? How do we know the atmosphere build up of greenhouse gases is due to human activity?
Glikson QaA-1a: Since the industrial revolution in the mid-18th century, combustion of fossil fuel resulted in the emission of more than 320 billion tons of carbon in the form of CO2. This is more than half the preindustrial carbon content of the atmosphere of 590 billion tons. About 200 billion tons stayed in the atmosphere, raising CO2 concentration from 280 parts per million (ppm) to the current level of 388 ppm.
MB: So CO2 occupies one part in ten thousand more of the atmosphere than it did 250 years ago. If we do not reduce our emissions, it will occupy one part in 2000 more in another 100 years. The warming effect of each additional molecule of CO2 is less than that of its predecessor. The CO2 that is already in the atmosphere is causing very nearly all of the warming that CO2 can cause. AG Response to MB 1a
Despite attempts to argue to the contrary, global warming since the 18th century has reached levels above any measured or studied through proxies for the Holocene (since 11 kyr) (compare Figure 1a with Figure 9), whereby the last decade includes the 3 warmest years on record. CO2 constitutes the second-most important heat-trapping (greenhouse) gas after water vapour. The CO2 in the atmosphere has not absorbed "very nearly all of the warming that CO2 can cause". A further increase in CO2 comparable to that so far caused by anthropogenic activity since the industrial revolution, that is, about 100 ppm, can further raise global temperature, as indicated by climate sensitivity estimates (the relation of CO2 with mean global temperatures, defined at 3+/-1.5 degrees C per doubling of CO2) (Charney, 1979, Hansen et al., 2007, 2008) (see Figure 1) This translates into 3°C to 4°C rise in the polar regions, leading to the directly observed extensive melting of the Arctic Sea ice, Greenland ice sheet, West Antarctic ice sheet (http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v2/n12/ full/ngeo694.html). Recent satellite data indicates ice loss in East Antarctica glaciers (Nathan Bindoff, Professor of Physical Oceanography, Antarctic Climate Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, Hobart: “The data shows that East Antarctica has been shedding about 57 billion tonnes of ice mass each year since 2006. And most of this loss has occurred in the coastal fringes.” http://www.abc. net.au/pm/ content/2009/s2751232.htm). MB’s comment, which refers to the low concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere (few hundred parts per million, as compared to the major atmospheric components: Nitrogen ~78%; Oxygen ~21%), ignores the fact that CO2 and water vapour constitute the most important heat-trapping (greenhouse) gases in the atmosphere, with radiative effects which far exceeds their absolute concentrations (see Figures 1 and 2). The greenhouse effect of water vapour are important in the tropics but are minor over the deserts and polar regions—which
warm the fastest. Further, water vapour have an atmospheric residence time of only 9 days (http://www.engr.colostate.edu/~ramirez/ce_old/classes/ce422 _ramirez/CE422_Web/WaterVapor/water_vapor_CE322.htm), by contrast to the well-mixed CO2 with residence time of centuries to millennia (Eby et al., 2008). From the relations between CO2 and mean global temperature, defined as “climate sensitivity” (Charney, 1979; Hansen et al., 2007, 2008), doubling of CO2 levels in the atmosphere leads to temperature increase of ~3+/-1.5oC. During the 20th century on average a rise of 1 ppm CO2 can drive atmospheric heat energy by approximately 0.015 Watt/m2. The relations between CO2 and temperatures are portrayed in Figure 1b.
Figure 1a. NASA/GiSS mean global land-sea temperature changes 1880-2008.
Figure 1B. Relations between CO2 emissions and temperature with time according to several IPCC scenarios and according to a climate sensitivity of 3+/1.5 degrees C per doubling of CO2 (IPCC AR4 2007 Fig. 5.1). The rise in mean global temperature of 1.2–1.3 oC since the 18th century (0.8oC measured; 0.5oC masked by emitted sulphur aerosols) suggests a climate sensitivity consistent with Charney’s CS index. The Charney climate sensitivity index is consistent with best estimate for climate variations during the last 420 million years, measured from paleoclimate proxies (mainly from stomata leaf pores) in the range of 1.5 - 6.2oC, with best estimate of 2.8C (Royer et al., 2007). Consistent with physical laws (Stefan-Bolzmann law), satellite and ground stations temperature measurements indicate an increase in CO2 in the order of ~100 ppm can raise global temperature by more than 1 degrees Celsius, superposed by the effects of ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) variations, the 11 years sunspot cycle and aerosol albedo effects (see Figure 10). This translates into 3oC to 4C rise in the polar regions, leading to the directly observed extensive melting of the ice sheets and polar-ward migration of climate zones. Further note: Referring to MB’s comment on the low concentration of CO2, as is commonly the case with non-linear processes in nature, where output and input are decoupled due to feedback processes, small changes in quantity can result in major consequences. Examples include threshold changes in temperature which trigger boiling or freezing of water, the effects of small critical changes in the concentration of oxygen and CO2 on the human lungs, the body fever effects of above-threshold levels of microbial populations, the consequences of tiny concentrations of toxins in the human blood, and threshold levels in radioactive mass that trigger a nuclear reaction.
Figure 2a. IPCC-2007 figure SPM-1, indicating the rise of greenhouse gases (CO2, methane, Nitric oxide) during the Holocene, with insets for the last 250 years. Note the sharp rise since the 18th century.
Figure 2b. IPCC 2007 AR4. Figure TS.5. 2005 Global mean radiative forcings of the atmosphere, including their 90% confidence intervals, for various greenhouse gases, aerosols, effects of aerosol/clouds relations and the sun. ________________________________________________________________ Glikson QaA-1b: When the effects of the gas methane (CH4) are included in the total greenhouse effect, the total rise of greenhouse gases is equivalent to 460 ppm CO2.
MB: Methane occupies just two-thirds of a part per million of the atmosphere, and its radiative effect is 23 times that of CO2, so its entire existing concentration has a warming effect equivalent to that of just 14 ppmv of CO2, of which not more than 4 ppmv is attributable to humankind – so, in effect, we have added 108 + 4 = 112 ppmv CO2 to the pre-existing 278 ppmv, making around 400 ppmv CO2 equivalent, not 460 ppmv. AG response to MB 1b
Not so: The current concentration of methane is 1.7 parts per million. MB's calculation of the effect of methane is in error. The rise in methane from about 700 ppb to 1700 ppb since 1850 has induced radiative forcing rise of 0.48 Watt/m2, i.e. about 0.3 of the effects of c.108 ppm CO2 of 1.6 Watt/m2 (Figure 2). Thus, the increase in methane since 1850 contributed further warming by about a third of the CO2 effects. The rise in Nitric oxide from the 18th century by about 50 ppb (0.16 Watt/m2), related to nitrate-rich fertilisers, and of 6
halocarbons (0.34 Watt/m2), have pushed atmospheric radiative forcing by another 0.53 Watt/m2, consistent with the estimate of 460 ppm CO2-equivalent of the Copenhagen Synthesis Report. Estimates of paleo-CO2 levels during Phanerozoic, based to a large extent on stomata pores of fossil leafs (Royer, 2004), combine the CO2 and the decomposed methane component. A large body of paleoclimate evidence indicates an upper stability level of the Antarctic ice sheet at approximately 500 CO2 (Zachos et al., 2008), consistent with current melting of the west and east Antarctica ice sheets. _____________________________________________________________ Glikson QaA-1c: Consistent with the basic laws of physics and chemistry, experimental evidence and direct observations in nature, greenhouse gases, including water vapour [H2O], carbon dioxide [CO2], methane [CH4], nitrous oxide [N2O], and ozone [O3] possess heat-trapping and heat-emitting capacity.
MB: The effect of all greenhouse gases except water vapour and carbon dioxide is so small that it may be left out of account without significant error. AG response to MB 1c
This is not the case. As shown in the previous comment, the combined effects of the rise in methane, nitric oxides and halocarbons since the 18th century add radiative forcing of ~0.98 Watt/m2, i.e. an extra 61% of the radiative effect of CO2. The total rise in greenhouse gas radiative forcing is thus 2.58 Watt/m2, which from paleoclimate-based observations of 3/4°C per W/m2 correlates with just under 2oC. The combined rise in atmospheric energy level of c.2.58 Watt/m2 is just under half the value of c.6.5 Watt/m2 of the last glacial termination (Hansen et al., 2007, 2008), and thus represents the strongest forcing since about 14,000 years ago. Current changes around the globe in terms of the polar-ward migration of climate zones, melting in the cryosphere, sea level rise and extreme weather events are consistent with observed rise in atmospheric and oceanic energy levels. _________________________________________________________ Glikson-1d: This characteristic arises from the translation of heat into kinetic energy (internal vibration of gas molecules) and, conversely, of kinetic energy to heat. The concentration of greenhouse molecules in the atmosphere thus acts as a ‘warm blanket’ without which the mean temperature of the Earth surface would have been about 30oC lower than the present mean level of about 14oC.
MB. In fact, one must also allow for the reduction in the Earth’s albedo (its propensity to reflect sunlight harmlessly straight back to space) from 0.30 to 0.16 in the absence of clouds. Therefore the Earth’s surface today is not 30 C° warmer but just 20 C° warmer than it was when there was no atmosphere.
AG response to MB 1d
The Earth albedo response as related to land use since 1750 is estimated as -0.15 Watt/m2 (IPCC-2007; Fig. SPM-2) (Figure 2b). MB’s comment is not understood as the Earth’s albedo depends on a number of factors, including the extent of the ice sheets, of forests, deserts etc. ______________________________________________________
2. How reliable are predictions of future climate?
Glikson QaA-2: Rapid climate change is happening in the present time, as manifested by polar ice melt, sea level rise, prolonged droughts in Australia, China, Argentina and the US, extreme weather events and acidification of the oceans.
MB: The climate has been changing for 4.5 billion years, ever since the planet first came into existence. The question is whether the changes in today’s climate are beyond its natural variability. The answer, in each of the instances of “rapid climate change” mentioned by Dr. Glikson, is No. Polar ice melt: Ice has been accumulating in Greenland (at a rate of 2 inches a year, averaged across the entire ice sheet) for 11 years (Johannessen et al., 2005). Antarctic has cooled throughout the period of the satellite record, though a single paper (Stieg et al., 2009) has unsuccessfully tried to argue otherwise, by inventing data that were not actually measured. In fact, the extent of sea ice around Antarctica has grown steadily throughout the satellite record, and reached a 30-year maximum in October 2007, just three weeks after the Arctic sea-ice extent had reached a 30-year minimum. Overall, there has been virtually no trend in global sea-ice extent in 30 years. AG response to MB 2a
Where MB states the “climate has been changing for 4.5 billion years”, first: it is 4.65 Ga since Earth was accreted; Second, that natural calamities occurred over time (volcanic eruptions, asteroid impacts, methane eruptions) does mean humans are justified in triggering calamities! Regarding whether current climate change is natural or anthropogenic, reference is made to melting in the cryosphere as follows: Greenland and Antarctic ice melt: Rignot & Kanagartnam (2006) estimate that Greenland is on balance losing mass (see Figure 3) and over the period of their study the ice sheet mass deficit (the amount of ice lost to the sea) has doubled, increasing from 90 to 220 km3/year (an increase of 0.23 to 0.57 mm/year sea level equivalent). Here is what the NSIDC (National Snow and Ice Data Centre; http://nsidc. org/ quickfacts/icesheets.html) states: “The mass of ice in the Greenland Ice Sheet has begun to decline. From 1979 to 2006, summer melt on the ice sheet increased by 30 percent, reaching a new record in 2007. At higher elevations, an increase in winter snow accumulation has partially offset the melt. However, the decline continues to outpace accumulation because warmer temperatures have led to increased melt and faster glacier movement at the island's edges.”
By contrast to MB’s, the British Geological Survey reports (Authors Hamish D. Pritchard, Robert J. Arthern, David G. Vaughan & Laura A. Edwards. publication Nature, 23 September 2009, doi:10.1038/nature08471): : “The most comprehensive picture of the rapidly thinning glaciers along the coastline of both the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets has been created using satellite lasers. The findings are an important step forward in the quest to make more accurate predictions for future sea-level rise. The analysis of millions of NASA satellite measurements from both of these vast ice sheets shows that the most profound ice loss is a result of glaciers speeding up where they flow into the sea. The authors conclude that this ‘dynamic thinning’ of glaciers now reaches all latitudes in Greenland, has intensified on key Antarctic coastlines, is penetrating far into the ice sheets’ interior and is spreading as ice shelves thin by oceandriven melt. Ice shelf collapse has triggered particularly strong thinning that has endured for decades. The paper also compares the rates of change in elevation of both fast-flowing and slow-flowing ice. In Greenland, for example, 111 fastmoving glaciers were studied and 81 found to be thinning at rates twice that of slow-flowing ice at the same altitude. They found that ice loss from many glaciers in both Antarctica and Greenland is greater than the rate of snowfall further inland. In Antarctica some of the fastest thinning glaciers are in West Antarctica (Amundsen Sea Embayment) where Pine Island Glacier and neighbouring Smith and Thwaites Glacier are thinning by up to nine metres per year.” The SCAR (Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research) Report of November 2009 states; “Over the next century we expect ozone concentrations above the Antarctic to recover, but if greenhouse gas concentrations increase at the present rate then temperatures across the continent will increase by several degrees and there will be about one third less sea ice.”
Figure 3. IPCC-2007 AR4 Figure TS.14. Rates of observed recent surface elevation change for Greenland (left; 1989–2005) and Antarctica (right; 1992– 2005). Red hues indicate a rising surface and blue hues a falling surface, which typically indicate an increase or loss in ice mass at a site, although changes over time in bedrock elevation and in near-surface density can be important. For
Greenland, the rapidly thinning outlet glaciers Jakobshavn (J), Kangerdlugssuaq (K), Helheim (H) and areas along the southeast coast (SE) are shown, together with their estimated mass balance vs. time (with K and H combined, in Gt yr–1, with negative values indicating loss of mass from the ice sheet to the ocean). For Antarctica, ice shelves estimated to be thickening or thinning by more than 30 cm yr–1 are shown by point-down purple triangles (thinning) and point-up red triangles (thickening) plotted just seaward of the relevant ice shelves. ________________________________________________________________
MB. Sea-level rise: Ever since satellites began measuring sea-level rise by altimetry against a reference geoid in 1993, sea level has been rising at a mean rate of just 1 ft (0.3 m) per century, very similar to the 8 inches/century observed by tide-gauges in the 20th century. Indeed, even the tiny increase from 8 to 12 inches (0.2 to 0.3 m) per century is probably an artefact of the change in measuring systems rather than a consequence of “global warming”. Prof. Niklas Moerner, who has written 530 papers in the scientific literature, many of them on sea-level rise, says he expects sea level to rise by just 4 inches (10 cm) this century. In the past four years, sea level has not risen at all. AG response to MB 2b
Sea levels: The rise of sea level is well documented, including: (1) Rahmstorf et al. 2009, indicating for the period 1880-2008 an SL rise of about 20 cm and an SL rate rise from about 0.7 to 3.7 mm/year (Oxford “Beyond 4 degrees C”, September, 2009); (2) Church et al 2006, indicating a rise of about 40 mm between 19922001. Morner et al.’s 2004 suggestion as if sea level fell by 30 cm around the Maldive Islands over the last 50 years has been refuted by Church et al. 2006, who state: “We find no evidence for the fall in sea level at the Maldives as postulated by Mörner et al. (2004). Our best estimate of relative sea-level rise at Funafuti, Tuvalu is 2±1 mm yr 1 over the period 1950 to 2001. The analysis clearly indicates that sea-level in this region is rising“ Likewise Nerem et al. 2006 state: “We feel compelled to respond to the recent article by Mörner (2004) because he makes several major errors in his analysis, and as a result completely misinterprets the record of sea level change from the TOPEX/Poseidon (T/P) satellite altimeter mission. One major criticism we have with the paper is that Mörner does not include a single reference to any altimeter study, all of which refute his claim that there is no apparent change in global mean sea level (GMSL) [see Cazenave and Nerem, (2004) for a summary].” _________________________________________________________________
MB: Droughts in Australia, China, Argentina, and the US: The pattern of droughts has shown no overall increase worldwide. Droughts have always occurred in human history, wiping out civilizations from South America and Africa to India and China. They are not new. Australia has a desert climate and has long been affected by droughts. In the US, the worst drought in recent times was in the 1920s and 1930s in the Great Plains, which John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath powerfully describes.
AG response to MB 2c
MB mistakes regional for global climate changes. It is well known that, in any particular global climate regime, high-amplitude regional and local variations occur, yet an overall shift in the global state of the atmosphere takes place between climate states such as the glacial and interglacial eras, with profound effects on all regions. The rapid rise in the energy state of the atmosphere toward 500 ppm CO2-e, i.e. the upper stability limit of the Antarctic ice sheet (Zachos et al., 2008 and references therein) constitutes such a fundamental shift. Droughts occurred through the Holocene in particular regions, for example successive failures of monsoons, evidenced by the collapse of river-based civilizations dependent on river flow (Indus, Euphrates, Nile, Yang-Tse). As shown by Holocene paleo-temperature records, mean global temperature change responsible to these droughts were in some instances on the order of a fraction of a degree (an excellent paleoclimate summary is given in the IPCC-2007 chapter 6: http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Report/AR4WG1 _Print_Ch06.pdf Figures 6.10, 6.4, 6.13, 6.3). Mean global temperature rise during the 2nd part of the 20th century, an order of magnitude stronger than historic climate changes, result in a polar-ward shift in climate zones and extensive droughts. “The countries that make up two thirds of the world's agricultural output are experiencing drought conditions. Whether you watch a video of the drought in China, Australia, Africa, South America, or the US, the scene will be the same: misery, ruined crop, and dying cattle.“ (http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=12252) (Figure 4). Temperature and rainfall maps by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology demonstrate remarkable rise in temperature and decline in rainfall over the agricultural regions (SE and SW Australia) during the second half of the 20th century, affecting Australia’s premier agricultural regions (Figure 5). Climate “sceptics” often refer to the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) as a corollary of current climate change, however mean global temperature rises based on multi-proxy studies indicate the peak of the MWP about 1400-1450 AD was about 0.6oC lower than late 20th – early 21st century temperatures (Figure 9). Reference is also made to the 1600-1700 AD “Little Ice Age”, which correlates closely with a lull in sunspot activity (Solanki, 2002). Until the mid-20th century concomitant rise in solar insolation and in greenhouse gases rendered their separation on global temperature plots difficult. However, from the 1970s a clear decoupling between insolation and greenhouse-induced radiative forcing is manifest (Solanki, 2002, 2004; Laut, 2003; Damon and Laut, 2004).
Figure 4. Catastrophic declined in global food production: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=12252 (a) 2006 $value of food production (b) 2008 - 09 droughts
Figure 5. Australia temperature change rates in degrees C per 10 years for the periods 1950-2008 and 1970-2008. http://www.bom.gov.au/cgibin/silo/temp_maps.cgi Australia rainfall change rates in mm per 10 years for the periods 1950-2008 and 1970-2008. http://www.bom.gov.au/cgibin/silo/rain_maps.cgi Displaying the acceleration in temperature rise in southern Australia, rainfall in northwestern and mid-Western Australia, and worsening drought conditions in eastern and southwestern Australia from the 1970s. ________________________________________________________
MB: Extreme-weather events: The UN’s climate panel explicitly gives warnings against attributing extreme-weather events of any kind to anthropogenic “global warming”. For instance, the number of hurricanes making landfall in the US has not risen in 150 years. And it is settled science that a warmer planet would also be a calmer planet, weather-wise, because it is the absolute difference between extremes of temperature that causes storms, and warmer weather reduces this difference, consequently diminishing the power of storms. I am grateful to Professor Richard Lindzen for explaining this. AG response to MB 2d
Hurricane intensity: Webster et al. (2005) and the Copenhagen Synthesis Report, 2009 (figure 6), indicate a sharp rise in the frequency of Category 5 hurricanes. A recent paper regarding frequency of severe storms (Frequency of severe storms and global warming by Aumann et al. 2008, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L19805) states: “We use five years of data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) to develop a correlation between the frequency of Deep Convective Clouds (DCC) and the zonal mean tropical surface temperature. AIRS data show that the
frequency of DCC in the tropical oceans is very temperature sensitive, increasing 45% per 1 K increase of the zonal mean surface temperature. The combination of the sensitivity of the DCC frequency to temperature indicates that the frequency of DCC, and as a consequence the frequency of severe storms, increases at the rate of 6%/decade with the current +0.13 K/decade rate of global warming. This result is only qualitatively consistent with state-of-the-art climate models, where the frequency of the most intense rain events increases with global warming.” Whereas in other parts of his comments MB tries to deny global warming exists, in the last comment he suggests it may be beneficial. However, Lindzen’s advice is gravely mistaken. A warmer planet will have smaller or no ice sheets to maintain the Holocene climate which allowed the development of agriculture in the first place! Global warming by about 2 – 3 degrees C, conditions similar to the mid-Pliocene, will lead to sea levels about 25 meters higher than at present. Only small burrowing mammals could survive on the continents during greenhouse climate states, beginning to grow from about the mid-Eocene when temperatures were dropping. Natural disasters: The frequency of economic losses due to natural disasters, as monitored by GeoRisks Research, Munich Reinsurance Company, is portrayed in Figure 6, showing a sharp rise since about 1987. The article states: “Out of the 245 natural disasters in 2009, 224 were weather related, accounting for 55 million people out of the 58 million people affected, 7 000 out of 8 900 of those killed, and US$ 15 billion out of the US$ 19 billion in economic damages. The Belgian World Health Organization-collaborating Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) released these preliminary 2009 disaster figures for the period from 1 January to November 2009. A joint press conference was held in Copenhagen by WMO, the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and the United Nations Development Programme. Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of WMO, underlined the importance of early warning systems and seasonal climate forecasts to manage risks and to better prepare vulnerable populations to cope with more extreme events.” (http://www.wmo. int/pages/mediacentre/news/index_en.html)
Figure 6. Rising insurance costs related to natural disasters between 1950 and 2006: (http://www.draeger-stiftung.de/HG/internet/SD/pdf/charts_hoeppe.pdf) Values in $billion _______________________________________________________________
MB. Acidification of the oceans (MB): This is the fall-back position of those who are desperate to maintain that CO2 is bad for us, now that it is clear that “global warming” at the extreme rate predicted by the UN’s climate panel is not occurring and is not going to occur. Professor Ian Plimer of the University of Adelaide says that because the oceans rub up against trillions of square miles of rock they will always be – as they have always been – alkaline. In the Cambrian era, 550 million years ago, the alkalinity of the oceans was much as it is today, even though CO2 concentration in the atmosphere was 2o times today’s level. It was in that era that the calcite corals originated: they could not have done so if the oceans had been acid. Likewise, the delicate aragonite corals evolved in the Jurassic era, 175 million years ago, when CO2 concentration was again close to 20 times today’s. Calcium ranks only seventh among the substances in the ocean that could in theory acidify it: however, it is present in such small quantities that it cannot make a difference. Indeed, even if all of the CO2 we emit this century were to end up immediately in the oceans (in which case it would not cause any “global warming” at all), the CO2 already in the oceans, where there is 70 times as much of it as there is in the atmosphere, would increase by little more than 1%. The idea that so small an increase in concentration could possibly cause any measurable acidification is simply nonsense. AG response to MB 2e
As with atmospheric CO2, MB’s argument appeals to an intuitive idea as if small changes in pH in the oceans are not destructive to corals and to other calcifying marine organisms. The opposite is true, as conveyed by Malcolm McCulloch: “The oceans play a key role in global climate change, being responsible for taking up nearly one-half of the anthropogenic CO2 that has been released so far. However, unlike the atmosphere where CO2 causes warming through its strong
physical interaction with infrared radiation, in the oceans it is a highly reactive species causing a major perturbation to the chemistry of surface waters. This perturbation arises from dissolution of CO2 in surface waters, resulting in an increase in the concentration of carbonic acid, which in turn is leading to an overall increase in acidity. Rapidly rising levels of atmospheric CO2 have thus resulted in a significant reduction in seawater pH or what has become known as “ocean acidification”, presenting many challenges and problems.” And “Calcifying organisms are amongst the most sensitive ecosystems to the effects of increasing atmospheric CO2, with recent experimental studies now indicating a high sensitivity to the degree of carbonate over-saturation. Tropical reef waters are oversaturated ( >1), with values typically from 3 to 4, but a doubling of CO2 will decrease carbonate levels by over 40 percent.” Likewise, according the Australian Marine Science Institute, Anthropogenic carbon dioxide has been accumulating in the oceans, lowering both the concentration of carbonate ions and the pH index. Previous laboratory experiments have shown that decreased carbonate ion concentrations cause many marine calcareous organisms to show reduced calcification rates (http://www.nature.com/ngeo/ journal /v2/n4/full/ngeo460.html). MB’s reference to Cambrian and Jurassic marine conditions are irrelevant as different organisms existed at that stage, adapted to climate conditions which varied from the present, including lower solar luminosity and high CO2 levels, which appear to have compensated each other. As shown in figure 7, close correspondence is observed between atmospheric CO2 levels, determined from proxies, and early climate phases, where levels approximately below 500 ppm correspond to cool periods and ice ages.
Figure 7. CO2 and Oxygen paleo-levels correlated with greenhouse and glacial climate states (after R. Berner and D. Royer)
Observations and interpretations of post 18th century climate change inherently hinge on (A) precise measurements from weather stations, balloons and satellites; (B) the in-depth studies of ice cores and Pleistocene to Holocene sediments, which document the detailed history of the last 740,000 years; (C) interpretations and projections of the evidence in view of the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere and the relevant forcings, which apart from greenhouse gases include aerosols (dust, volcanic ash and sulphur), solar radiation, cosmic rays, weathering sequestration and numerous other processes. Inherent in the resort to geological periods hundreds of millions of years old, while of great academic interests, are too many unknowns to allow clear insight into atmospheric processes of the last 250 years, the major one being the human emission of more than 320 billion tons of carbon (GtC), more than half the original 540 GtC level of the atmosphere. _________________________________________________________ Glikson QaA: The world’s major climate science research organizations (Hadley Met Office, NASA/GISS, Colorado NSIDC, Tyndall Climate Centre, Potsdam Climate Impact Institute, CSIRO, BOM) and university-based climate scientists have projected the current trends since the 1980s, including pioneering authorities such as Professor James Hansen and his group (NASA), Professor Wally Broecker (Columbia University), Professor Joachim Schellnhuber and Professor Stephan Rahmstorf (Potsdam), Dr Barrie Pittock, Dr Graeme Pearman and Dr Ian Enting (former CSIRO climate scientists).
MB: Many of these organizations are deeply implicated in the Climategate scandal. The emails between them have demonstrated a systematic, self-serving, ruthless readiness to invent, fabricate, distort, alter, suppress, hide, conceal or even destroy scientific data for the sake of reaching the answer they want. That is not how science is done. James Hansen is not a professor, and his forecast in 1988 of how fast global temperatures would rise is “pioneering” only in the sense that it has proven to be a ludicrous and fanciful exaggeration, a technique that other scientists have copied with profitable alacrity. Many of the other scientists named by Dr. Glikson have a reputation for bending science to suit their political stance: and the sheer nastiness of most of them can be gauged from reading the Climategate emails. In any event, science is not done by consensus, nor by reputation. The “consensus” argument, known as the argumentum ad populum or head-count fallacy, is one of the dozen ancient and by now well-worn logical fallacies first codified by Aristotle. The “reputation” fallacy is the argumentum ad verecundiam. Neither of these fallacious arguments is acceptable. All of the scientists mentioned by Dr. Glikson are funded by taxpayers, as is Dr. Glikson himself. All of them, therefore, have a direct, financial vested interest in promoting and maintaining the “global warming” scare, which has panicked scientifically-illiterate politicians into throwing billions of wasted dollars at the scientists to make their scare go away. It is not necessary to allege that each of those named has fallen prey to the temptation to enrich himself at our expense by banging the drum for “global warming: it is necessary only to establish that motives of this kind exist and that, therefore, mere numbers or mere reputation are not enough to establish a scientific case. Aristotle was right. AG response to MB 2f
As documented in (http://www.pewclimate.org/ docUploads/east-anglia-cruhacked-emails-12-07-09.pdf), what is referred to as “climate gate” has no substance, reflecting no more than doubts raised regarding the paleoclimate significance of a pine tree proxy and objection by some scientists to the
publication in the scientific literature of papers which have no basis in the database nor in theory. A conspiracy theory against the entire scientific world, including thousands of individuals and research institutions, does not negate the direct observations and empirical evidence, consistent with the basic physics and chemistry of the atmosphere, which underlie climate change. _______________________________________________________ Glikson QaA 2g: The atmospheric energy rise exerted by the well-mixed greenhouse gases, mainly CO2 and methane, is consistent with the basic laws of physics and chemistry and with calculations and observations in nature and the laboratory.
MB: Unfortunately for Dr. Glikson, the direct warming effect of CO2 is only one-third of the warming predicted by the UN [AG1]. Even this direct effect is problematic, in that it is simply not possible to simulate the entire 20-mile vertical atmospheric column in the laboratory. At low altitudes, for instance, the principal absorption band of CO2 is already almost saturated, allowing very little opportunity for further warming [AG2]. At higher altitudes, the atmosphere is not dense enough [AG3]. Methane, as we have already shown, is simply irrelevant, and would remain so even if we were to quintuple its atmospheric concentration [AG3]. However, the UN multiplies the direct warming effect of CO2 by 3 to allow for what are known as “temperature feedbacks” – changes in global temperature that occur purely because temperature has already changed. Not one of these feedbacks can be directly measured, and the UN is unable to assign any “level of scientific understanding” to them, because our understanding of them is negligible. Notwithstanding our very low understanding of temperature feedbacks, the UN has somehow decided – on no credible evidence at all – that it should be allowed to triple the direct warming effect of CO2 to take account of them. Yet it is clear from numerous studies that the UN has prodigiously exaggerated the biggest two positive feedbacks – that from water vapor and that from cloud albedo. Most climate-sensitivity studies – those which quantify the amount of warming to be expected from a given proportionate increase in CO2 concentration – now find that the UN has exaggerated CO2’s warming effect between threefold and sixfold. AG response to MB 2g
1 – Given the oscillation of insolation at +/-0.1 Watt/m2 since the mid-20th century, no significant forcing other than that by the heat-trapping effect by greenhouse gases (CO2, methane, N2O, Halocarbons, ozone) has been identified which accounts for the rise in mean global temperatures since about 1970. 2 – What is the basis for such “saturation” hypothesis? CO2 levels and corresponding warming occurred at levels of 400 ppm and 500 ppm in the midPliocene (2.8 Ma) and mid-Miocene (15 Ma), respectively, and a couple of thousand ppm during parts of the Eocene (55 – 34 Ma) and late Cretaceous, as documented by detailed paleo-CO2 studies based on stomata (fossil leaf pores) and carbon and boron isotope data (Royer, Berner, Beerling and other, Figure 7). 3 – MB’s questioning of the reality of feedbacks indicates lack of familiarity with the basic tenets of climate science. The entire behaviour of the atmosphereocean-cryosphere is governed by responses to external forcings, such as Milankovic cycles solar pulsations (40 – 60 Watt/m2) which trigger glacial terminations, or release of methane from sediments as documented at the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (55 million years ago), or the excavation
and combustion of more than 320 billion tons of fossil carbon separated from the atmosphere for hundreds of millions of years. 4 – As shown in my response to comment 1b, methane is very relevant, accounting for 0.48 Watt/m2 rise in atmospheric energy level. The threat of methane release from Siberian and Canadian permafrost and from sediments, constituting a major feedback to global warming, is one of the most serious elements of continuing global warming (Figure 8), as in the following reference: “Thawing permafrost and the resulting microbial decomposition of previously frozen organic carbon (C) is one of the most significant potential feedbacks from terrestrial ecosystems to the atmosphere in a changing climate. In this article we present an overview of the global permafrost C pool and of the processes that might transfer this C into the atmosphere, as well as the associated ecosystem changes that occur with thawing. We show that accounting for C stored deep in the permafrost more than doubles previous high-latitude inventory estimates, with this new estimate equivalent to twice the atmospheric C pool. The thawing of permafrost with warming occurs both gradually and catastrophically, exposing organic C to microbial decomposition. Other aspects of ecosystem dynamics can be altered by climate change along with thawing permafrost, such as growing season length, plant growth rates and species composition, and ecosystem energy exchange. However, these processes do not appear to be able to compensate for C release from thawing permafrost, making it likely that the net effect of widespread permafrost thawing will be a positive feedback to a warming climate.” (Schuur et al., 2008, BioScience, September 2008 / Vol. 58 No. 8).
Figure 8. Global methane deposits (Global Carbon Project/CSIRO). __________________________________________________________
Glikson QaA 2h: Measurements of solar radiation and cosmic rays rule out these factors as drivers of climate change since the mid-20th century.
MB: Once again, Dr. Glikson is not abreast of the latest research. Though the relatively small changes in solar irradiance between the maxima and minima of the solar activity cycle are in themselves too small to make much difference, it has long been observed that weather on Earth changes markedly in parallel with these cycles. Professor Henrik Svensmark has performed detailed experiments and calculations, in collaboration with scientists from all around the world, so as to demonstrate that it is changes in the magnetic activity of the Sun that alter the quantity of cosmic rays entering our atmosphere and serving as nuclei for the formation of
cloud droplets. His theory is extremely unpopular with scientists making their fortunes from the “global warming” scare, because on both very long and very short timescales he has been able to demonstrate the correlation between solar activity, cosmic-ray deflection and variations in cloud nucleation. The Sun cannot safely be dismissed as the main driver of today’s changes in the Earth’s climate. Scafetta and West (2008), for instance, attribute two-thirds of the “global warming” of the past half century to the Sun.
AG response to MB 2h
The solar and cosmic ray flux (CRF) factor: Since recently climate “sceptics” have focused on interpretation of climate change in terms of extraterrestrial forcing, this aspect is considered here in further detail. Solar factor was responsible for atmospheric energy rise of up to about 0.2 Watt/m2 during the first half of the 20th century, but stabilized during the second half. Since cosmic ray flux (CRF) activity is inversely related to solar magnetic activity, once insolation stabilized from about mid-20th century according to the 11 years sun spot cycle (+/- less than 0.1 Watt/m2), in follows fluctuations in CRF activity would be reduced. Since the c.0.56oC rise in mean global temperature since the mid-20th century is accounted for by greenhouse gas emissions, what factor CRF may induce is inherently minor. Measurements of the CRF intensity for the last 50 years betrays little variation (Figure 11). According to Damon and Laut (Eos,Vol. 85, No. 39, 28 September 2004) “The last decade has seen a revival of various hypotheses claiming a strong correlation between solar activity and a number of terrestrial climate parameters. Links have been made between cosmic rays and cloud cover, first total cloud cover and then only low clouds, and between solar cycle lengths and northern hemisphere land temperatures. These hypotheses play an important role in the scientific debate as well as in the public debate about the possibility or reality of a man-made global climate change. Analysis of a number of published graphs that have played a major role in these debates and that have been claimed to support solar hypotheses [Laut, 2003; Damon and Peristykh, 1999, 2004] shows that the apparent strong correlations displayed on these graphs have been obtained by incorrect handling of the physical data. The graphs are still widely referred to in the literature, and their misleading character has not yet been generally recognized. Readers are cautioned against drawing any conclusions, based upon these graphs, concerning the possible wisdom or futility of reducing the emissions of man-made greenhouse gases.”
Whereas a relationships is observed between the solar magnetic field, sun spot numbers and the cosmic ray flux, apart from the 11 years cycle there is no evidence of a trend in cosmic ray intensity during the last ~60 years” (Ram, Stolz & Tinsley EoS 90 (44) 2009, Figure 2). Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and colleagues challenged the cosmic ray hypothesis (Eos, 2004), claiming Shaviv and Veizer’s paper (2003), which attributes most climate change on Earth to cosmic rays is incorrect, and based on questionable methodology. According to Rahmstorf, Shaviv and Veizer's analyses-and especially their conclusions-are scientifically ill-founded. The data on cosmic rays and temperature so far in the past are extremely uncertain. Their reconstruction of ancient cosmic rays is based on only 50 meteorites, and most other experts interpret their significance in a very different way. The two curves presented in the article show an apparent statistical correlation only because the authors adjusted the data, in one case by 40 million years. They conclude Shaviv and Veizer have not shown that there is any correlation between cosmic rays and climate. Further regarding cosmic rays, Laut, 2008, states: “The last decade has seen a revival of various hypotheses claiming a strong correlation between solar activity and a number of terrestrial climate parameters: Links between cosmic rays and cloud cover, first total cloud cover and then only low clouds, and between solar cycle lengths and Northern Hemisphere land temperatures. These hypotheses play an important role in the scientific as well as in the public debate about the possibility or reality of a man-made global climate change. I have analysed a number of published graphs which have played a major role in these debates and which have been claimed to support solar hypotheses. My analyses show that the apparent strong correlations displayed on these graphs have been obtained by an incorrect handling of the physical data. Since the graphs are still widely referred to in the literature and their misleading character has not yet been generally recognized, I have found it appropriate to deliver the present overview. Especially, I want to caution against drawing any conclusions based upon these graphs concerning the possible wisdom or futility of reducing the emissions of man-made greenhouse gases. My findings do not by any means rule out the existence of important links between solar activity and terrestrial climate. Such links have over the years been demonstrated by many authors. The sole objective of the present analysis is to draw attention to the fact that some of the widely publicized, apparent correlations do not properly refect the underlying physical data.” Laut, 2008, Journal of Atmospheric and SolarTerrestrial Physics 65 (2003) 801– 812. __________________________________________________________
Are temperatures rising?
Glikson QaA: While decade-long climate trends manifest global warming, superposition by the El Nino – La-Nina (ENSO) cycle and the 11 yearslong sunspot cycle results in a zigzag upward trend of global temperatures. As the globe warms and the energy levels of the atmosphere increase, short term climate variability is increasing.
MB: Here are the facts. It was around 7C warmer than the present throughout most of the past 600 million years, warmer by up to 6C during each of the last half dozen interglacial warm periods over the past 850,000 years [AG1] (there was no ice on Greenland that far back),
warmer during 7500 of the last 11,400 years, warmer during the Holocene climate maximum 7500 years ago, warmer during the Minoan warm period, warmer during the Roman warm period, and warmer during the Medieval warm period. [AG2] The present “global warming” began 300 years ago, at the end of the long period of comparative solar inactivity called the Little Ice Age. Then, in parallel with the recovery of solar activity, temperatures worldwide began to climb. Solar activity peaked during the Grand Maximum of the last 70 years of the 20th century. For the past few years, however, solar activity has been in decline. Therefore, there has been no statistically-significant increase in global temperatures in a decade and a half. [AG3] Akasofu (2008) finds that temperatures have risen by around 0.5 C/century during each of the past three centuries, in parallel with the warming over that period. During 280 of those 300 years, our own contribution to the warming must have been infinitesimal and not detectable by measurement. During the 20 years 1975-1995, we might in theory have caused some warming – except that the rate of warming during those years was no greater than the rate of warming from 1860-1880 and again from 1910-1940, [AG4] two periods during which our influence on temperature was negligible. So there is no, repeat no, anthropogenic effect on temperatures that is yet measurable. Since the turn of the millennium on 1 January 2001, there has been a global cooling trend that is rapid and statistically-significant. Dr. Glikson has only been able to pretend that there was a rising trend over that period by taking as his endpoint the temperature peak caused by the prominent el Nino southern oscillation – a natural event – that occurred in 2007. AG response to MB 3
Look at Figure 9, portraying the mean global temperature proxy curves (IPCC2007), showing most of the above is incorrect. Global warming since the 18th century has exceeded historical and Holocene temperatures. The last 10 years contain the warmest years recorded since instrumental measurements commenced (1998, 2002, 2007) 1 - Not so. Terrestrial climates oscillated between greenhouse states and glacial states (see Figure 7). 2 – The interglacial periods during the last 850,000 years were not 6 degrees C warmer than at present. They were about 5-6 degrees warmer that the intervening glacial periods. 3 - As summarized in the IPCC Chapter 6 (paleoclimate), CO2 and the rate of temperature rise since the 18th century are the fastest observed during the Holocene. 4 – Fast global warming by about 0.56oC since the mid-1970s, can not be accounted for by solar forcing, which varied by +/-0.1 Watt/m2 in relation to the 11 years sunspot cycle. Temperatures continued to rise from the last El-Nino peak of 1998 by about 0.2oC, then declined by about 0.2-0.3oC in connection with the La-Nina, presently rising again toward a new El-Nino. 5 – The 1910-1940 warming represents combined result of solar factor (~0.2oC) and carbon emissions (Solanki, 2002). Regarding comparisons between the Medieval Warm Period and the present, see Figure 9.
Figure 9. Proxy and measurements based mean global temperature plot for the last millennium (IPCC-2007) Mean global temperature has risen since the 18th century by about 0.8oC, plus about 0.5oC masked by the cooling effect of emitted sulphur aerosols. Following steep mean global warming by about 0.45oC from 1975 to 1997, a major El-Nino peak in 1998 drove mean global temperature upward by another 0.2oC. Following this peak temperature continued to rise by about 0.3oC from 1999 toward a peak in 2007, followed by a strong La-Nina phase which brought temperatures down by about 0.4oC. Currently temperatures are rising, heralding a new El-Nino phase (Figure 10).
Figure 10. The relations between decadal global mean temperature trend and the ENSO cycle, showing the superposition of El Nino – La Nina cycles on the longer term trend. After Easterling and Wehrl (2008) and NOAA. A 2009 assessment of global warming by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) states: (http://www.wmo.int/pages/mediacentre/news/index_en.html): “The year 2009 is likely to rank in the top 10 warmest on record since the beginning of instrumental climate records in 1850, according to data sources compiled by WMO. The global combined sea-surface and land surface air temperature for 2009 (January–October) is currently estimated at 0.44°C ± 0.11°C above the 1961–1990 annual average of 14.00°C. The current nominal ranking of 2009, which does not account for uncertainties in the annual averages, places it as the fifth-warmest year. The decade from 2000 to 2009 was warmer than the decade from 1990 to 1999, which in turn was warmer than from 1980 to 1989. More complete data for the remainder of 2009 will be analysed at the beginning of 2010 to update the current assessment.”
Figure 11. A correlation between Cosmic Ray intensity and sunspot numbers (Gupta et al. 2005. http://www.ast.leeds.ac.uk/~ jh/ICRC/PAPERS/SH34/ind-gupta-M-abs1sh34-poster.pdf) (above) and mean global land-sea temperature anomalies (NASA/GISS) for the period 1950 – 2005 (below), showing that while the CRF oscillated with the sun spot numbers, mean global temperatures has been rising.
4. Why should a few degrees warming be a concern?
Glikson QaA: As distinct from changes in the weather, which can vary sharply by tens of degrees over short periods, a medium to long term upward trend of mean global temperatures by several degrees Celsius results in progressive shift in climate zones from the tropics toward the poles. This ensues in drying of the mid-latitudes, such as southeast and southwest Australia, sea level rise (from about 1.1 mm/year early in the 20th century to about 3.7 mm/year at present), ocean acidification (pH reduced by about -0.1 points) and intensification of extreme weather events, including floods and fires.
MB: In fact, the Clausius-Clapeyron relation – one of the few proven results in the slippery subject of climatology – mandates that, as the space occupied by the atmosphere warms, the atmosphere is capable of carrying near-exponentially more water vapor. This, in turn, should increase cloud cover and rainfall generally, though the spatial distribution will not necessarily be the same as it is today. As for ocean acidification, there has been no attempt at worldwide measurement of the acid-base balance (measured on a logarithmic scale of pH values): the figure mentioned by Dr. Glikson is merely a computer model’s projection. Nor is there any evidence for “intensification” of extreme-weather events – there has simply not been enough warming, particularly over the past 15 years, to cause any such thing.
AG response to MB 4a
MB states: “there has simply not been enough warming, particularly over the past 15 years”, hardly consistent with the evidence, as portrayed in Figure 11, showing warming by at least 0.2oC. Precipitation: Whereas overall precipitation has increased, much of it occurs in association with cyclones over desert areas, whereas agricultural regions such as in southeast and southwest Australia are suffering droughts associated with the polar-ward migration of the subtropical high pressure ridge and temperate climate zones. As indicated in my earlier response 1a, the role of water vapour as a greenhouse gas, is as a feedback effect, not a primary driver. Water vapour are important in the tropics, less important over the dry deserts and even less over the low-humidity polar regions, yet it is the latter which warm the fastest. Ocean acidification: Observations hinge on direct measurements. As stated by Caldeira and Wickett, 2003 (NATURE|VOL 425 | 25 SEPTEMBER 2003 |www.nature.com/nature): “Most carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the burning of fossil fuels will eventually be absorbed by the ocean, with potentially adverse consequences for marine biota. Here we quantify the changes in ocean pH that may result from this continued release of CO2 and compare these with pH changes estimated from geological and historical records. We find that oceanic absorption of CO2 from fossil fuels may result in larger pH changes over the next several centuries than any inferred from the geological record of the past 300 million years, with the possible exception of those resulting from rare, extreme events such as bolide impacts or catastrophic methane hydrate degassing. When carbon dioxide dissolves in the ocean it lowers the pH, making the ocean more acidic. Owing to a paucity of relevant observations, we have a limited understanding of the effects of pH reduction on marine biota. Coral reefs, calcareous plankton and other organisms whose skeletons or shells contain calcium carbonate may be particularly affected. Most biota reside near the surface, where the greatest pH change would be expected to occur, but deepocean biota may be more sensitive to pH changes.”
Glikson QaA: Human agriculture could only develop in river valleys from about 7000 years ago when the climate stabilized and a balance was achieved between mountain glaciers and the monsoons, allowing nearconstant river flow and thereby irrigation. A rise in mean global temperature results in melting of mountain glaciers, such as in the Himalaya, disrupting the great rivers of south and southeast Asia and the cultivation on which the lives of hundreds of millions of people depends. Modern civilization depends on extensive cultivation of marginal semiarid lands and of low river valleys and delta, which are vulnerable to temperature rise and sea level rise, respectively.
MB: In fact, it is not Himalayan glacial meltwater that billions depend upon for their water supply: it is Eurasian snow-melt, which, according to the Rutgers University Snow & Ice Lab, shows no trend throughout the past 40 years. I have also consulted Professor M.I. Bhat of the Indian Geological Survey, who confirms that the pattern of glacial melt in the Himalayas is much as it always was: generally nothing unusual in the 150-200 years for which the Indian
Government and its predecessor the British Raj maintained records. As usual, however, there has been local geological deformation in some places, leading to rapid recession of a few glaciers. Overall, though, Dr. Bhat finds that the health of the 9575 glaciers that debouch from the Himalayas into India are doing fine. AG response to MB 4b
Not true. For example, look at “Himalayan Glacier Melting Observed From Space” (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070327113346.htm) which states, among other: “The results show clear regression of the large glaciers whose terminal tongues reach the lowest levels (about 4000 m) with a thinning of 8 to 10 m below 4400 m. Such loss is 4 to 7 m between 4400 and 5000 m, passing to 2 m above 5000 m. The satellite image evaluation yields an average mass balance of -0.7 to -0.85 m/year water equivalent for the 915 km2 of glaciers surveyed, a total mass loss of 3.9 km3 of water in 5 years. In order to check these results and validate the procedure, the satellite-derived results were compared with the mass balance for the small glacier Chhota Shigri (15 km2) determined from the field measurements and surveys, performed between 2002 and 2004 by the Great Ice research unit and its Indian partners. The mass balance determined from these field data and that calculated from satellite data agree. For both evaluation methods, Chhota Shigri glacier appears to have lost an average of a little over 1 m of ice per year.” Or look at the Times of India 7 Dec 2009 where a front page news quoting "findings" of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) that Gangotri galcier has receded by 1.5 Kms in the last 30 years as seen in the remote sensing data (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india /Isro-images-show-Gangotri-glacierreceded-15km-in-30-yrs/articleshow/5302230.cms). The Guardian Weekly features the melting of the Thulagi glacier and the photos of the Rongbu Glacier near Everest. ________________________________________________________ Glikson QaA: There is a delicate balance between the physical and chemical state of the atmosphere-ocean-land system and natural habitats. This controls the emergence, survival and demise of species, including humans.
MB: In fact, it is striking how many homoeostatic mechanisms seem to exist in the climate, maintaining it at a level capable of sustaining life from the Equator to the Poles. Many billions of years ago, for instance, one-third of the atmosphere of the Earth was CO2: yet no “runaway greenhouse effect” occurred. As noted above, in the Cambrian and Jurassic eras there was up to 20 times today’s CO2 concentration, and no harm done. CO2 is a harmless trace gas: these quite substantial alterations in its concentration have been insufficient to disturb the balance of nature. AG response to MB 4c
Jurassic CO2 levels were up to 2000 ppm (R. Berner, D. Royer) (see Figure 7), not the “20 times today’s CO2 concentrations” (which would mean 388 x 20 = 7760 ppm CO2). Where MB states “and no harm was done” (from high CO2 levels), he misses the point that comparisons with “billions of years ago”, or the Cambrian or the
Jurassic, are irrelevant, since mammals and humans are the product of evolution in specific environmental conditions, and the emergence of larger mammals on land toward the late Eocene was intimately associated with global cooling related to development of the polar ice sheets. The high rate of melting of the latter (see comment 2b above) threatens these conditions. “CO2 is a harmless trace gas”. Medical doctors know well what happens when the lungs contain excess CO2! --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
5. How reliable is the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) and the information it provides?
Glikson QaA: The IPCC assessment reports prepared by the IPCC are based on scientific contributions by many hundreds of the world’s most experienced and reputable scientists, employed by research institutions and universities. These contributions are based on both original research and on extensive reviews published in thousands of peer-reviewed papers in the scientific literature. The peer review system, where experts scrutinize scientific data and evidence, ensures accuracy of scientific data and consistency of interpretations of the data with the basic laws of physics and chemistry. This contrasts with unreferenced claims proliferating nowadays on the internet.
MB: And here we go again with the argumenta ad populum and ad verecundiam – the headcount and reputation fallacies. Though peer review is the best system we have for evaluating the reliability of a scientific claim, in the present age editors and reviewers at scientific journals have the same financial vested interest in promoting the “global warming” scare as the scientists who write the papers they review and publish, and in suppressing or even ridiculing the views of their opponents. You will notice that many of the assertions I have made here, along with many of the documents at www.scienceand publicpolicy.org, are in fact referenced – i.e., we say which papers in the scientific literature we are relying upon. Now that the scientific journals are almost as bad as the mainstream media at allowing serious but counterconsensual science to be fairly presented, the internet is in some respects a natural outlet for scientists exasperated at the unfairness of their mistreatment by the established outlets for scientific publication. One has only to read the Climategate emails to realize that many of the scientists cited with approval by Dr. Glikson are part of the small, nasty, determined conspiracy that has – as the emails bear witness, bullied, menaced, threatened and interfered with journal editors and reviewers, and even tampered with the process of the UN’s climate panel itself. AG response to MB 5a
As in my comment 2f, a conspiracy theory against the entire scientific world, including thousands of individuals and research institutions, does not constitute a valid argument and does not negate the direct empirical evidence of climate change. Glikson QaA: The comprehensive IPCC reports constitute the most advanced, multiply verified, compilations of climate science available. If any criticism can be aimed at the IPCC reviews, it is that in some respects they underestimated the magnitude and pace of ice melt and
sea level rise observed since 2005, which are at the upper end or exceed the more serious IPCC projections.
MB: In 1990, the First Assessment Report of the UN’s climate panel, the IPCC, was published. That report produced wildly-exaggerated projections of future temperature increase, based on the inaccurate and artfully-manipulated graphs of James Hansen, whom we mentioned earlier. How do we know the projections were exaggerated? Because almost two decades have passed since then, and the rate of temperature increase that we have actually measured is very considerably below the rate projected in that first report. It may be that this embarrassing failure of prediction is the main reason why the UN’s first and second quinquennial assessment reports are not available online. In 1995, the scientists’ final draft of the Second Assessment Report of the UN’s climate panel stated plainly, on five separate occasions, that no human effect on global temperatures was discernible, and that it could not be predicted when any such effect might become discernible. The UN’s bureaucracy found this conclusion unacceptable, because – among other things – it would have put them all out of work, for the climate panel would have been closed down. So the bureaucrats invited a single scientist – one of those active as a Climategate emailer – to rewrite the draft. All five of the passages I have mentioned were deleted; hundreds of consequential amendments were made; and the new draft contained a statement that a human influence on the climate was now discernible. This was the complete opposite of what the scientists had said. Yet this version – written by one man – was the version that was published, and his conclusion, directly contrary to that of the scientists who had signed off the previous final version of the 1995 report, has been the official line ever since. So, whenever anyone tells you the IPCC’s chief conclusion – that humans are affecting the climate appreciably – is the view of a “consensus”, remember that the “consensus” consisted originally of just one man. In the 2001 Third Assessment Report, the headline graph – reproduced six times, large, and in full color, the only graph to be so favored – purported artificially to abolish the medieval warm period, on the basis of what was subsequently exposed in the peer-reviewed literature as a series of statistical abuses and downright frauds. Once again, the UN’s report did not represent the “consensus”. For, in the past 25 years, more than 770 scientists from more than 450 institutions in more than 40 countries have contributed to papers providing evidence by a variety of methods that the medieval warm period was real, was global, and was warmer than the present. That is the consensus, but the UN’s report decided – on the basis of bogus evidence – to override it, while still claiming to represent “consensus”. In the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report, the headline graph – reproduced three times, large, and in full color, the only graph to be so favored – purported artificially to demonstrate that the rate at which the world has been warming has been accelerating over the past 150 years, with the fastest rate being observed over the past 25 years. This graph, too, is bogus, since it relies upon a known and serious statistical abuse called the “endpoint fallacy”: the artful choice of startpoints or endpoints for a multiplicity of linear-regression trends on the same stochastic dataset, which allows the dishonest scientist to demonstrate any desired change in the direction in which the data appear to be tending, or in the rate of change. The truth is that the warming rate of the 23 years 1975-1998, even though it culminated at the peak of a Great El Nino, an oceanic release of massive amounts of heat-energy to the atmosphere that occurs less than once a century, was no greater than the warming rate observed from 1860-1880 and again from 1910-1940, so that there is known to be no anthropogenic signal at all in the global temperature data. That is the truth, but the UN decided to use a cheap statistical fraud to pretend otherwise. The 2009 update on climate science by the UN Environment Program, one of the two cofounders of the UN’s climate panel, made a clumsy and dishonest attempt to revive the longdead graph purporting to abolish the medieval warm period. To do so, however, the UN lifted
the graph from the pages of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that any idiot can edit but only a cretin would credit. Wikipedia is the most unreliable data source in the world, particularly on “global warming”, where its “editors” allow only one point of view – far more extreme even than the UN’s climate panel – to prevail. It is most certainly not a scientific or peer-reviewed source: yet that is the source to which the UN turned to get its science from. Within days, thanks to the Internet (for no science journal or mainstream news medium would lift a finger), the UN was humiliated into being forced to alter the published document online, removing the bogus graph. For these and many, many other reasons, the documents of the UN’s climate panel are not acceptable as the basis for any scientific conclusion whatsoever, except the conclusion that the entire process is prone to dishonesty. You will notice, of course, that all of the dishonesties I have outlined in successive UN reports have pointed in one direction and in one direction only – towards creating a climatic problem where there is none, and then exaggerating it beyond all reason. Dr. Glikson says that the IPCC’s reports, including the most recent full report in 2007, underestimated the future rate of ice-melt and of sea-level rise. Let us consider each in turn. Ice-melt: In the summer of 2007 some 27% of the sea ice that normally covers the Arctic Ocean at the annual sea-ice minimum in mid-September was not there. No one had predicted this sudden loss of ice. However, three weeks later, in early October 2007, the Antarctic seaice reached an equally-unpredicted maximum. Therefore, whatever caused the very temporary loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic, it was not “global warming”, or the Antarctic sea ice (which has actually been growing steadily for 30 years would not have reached a 30-year maximum just after the moment when the Arctic sea ice reached a 30-year minimum. Indeed, a paper by NASA scientists the following year said that unusually warm winds and currents from the tropics had caused the sudden ice-melt: it had very little to do with “global warming”. And what has happened since 2007? By 2008, half of the missing ice had returned at the summer minimum, and by 2009 very nearly all of it was back. This year the British Antarctic Survey produced a paper saying that so much grounded ice had melted in West Antarctica over the previous four or five years that sea-level rise was inevitable. At the Copenhagen climate conference, which was taking place as we wrote this document, Al Gore (after Wikipedia, the second-most-untrustworthy source of information about the climate) was publishing a report about the loss of ice in the Arctic and worldwide, with the enthusiastic backing of some of Europe’s silliest ministers and some of the United States’ most dishonest scientists. What, then, is the truth? It is this. Though the British Antarctic Survey found that there had been a massive loss of Antarctic ground ice in the past four years, and though a Danish scientist at Al Gore’s ludicrous presentation said that there had been gigatons of accelerating ice-melt in Greenland (the only source of land-based ice in the Arctic) over the past two or three years, sea level worldwide has not risen for four years. My question – if I had been allowed to ask it – would have been this. If all that ice had really and truly melted, where did the water go? Is this a stupid question? No. The UN’s claim is that if significant amounts of land-based or grounded ice in Greenland and Antarctica were to melt then sea level would have to rise. But it has not risen. Could the water have evaporated into the atmosphere, causing an increase in what is called column absolute humidity? Well, this quantity – effectively, the concentration of water vapour in
the atmosphere – is notoriously difficult to measure, because, although the UN’s computer models treat water vapour as though it were a well-mixed greenhouse gas, occurring at the same concentration throughout the atmosphere, water vapour does not behave in this way at all. Getting a reliable measure of column absolute humidity, averaged worldwide, is still beyond our capacity – and, indeed, this is one of the numerous reasons why the output of the computer models on which the UN’s case for alarm entirely relies is – well – unreliable. However, we can establish by theoretical means, more or less exactly, how much and in what direction the absolute column humidity has changed. And, as it happens, we do not have to do a careful calculation, because there is a well-established relationship between atmospheric temperature and absolute column humidity. By the Clausius-Clapeyron relation, which we mentioned earlier, as the space occupied by the atmosphere warms, it can carry nearexponentially more water vapour. However, during the four years since 2005, when poor rich Gore made his now-discredited sci-fi comedy horror movie about the climate, global temperatures have fallen very rapidly. You will not have seen this fact reported in most of the mainstream news media, but it is nonetheless true. Therefore, today there is very likely to be less water vapour in the atmosphere than there was four years ago. So the supposedly-melted ice cannot have evaporated into the atmosphere. Of course, the vast bulk of the Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheets have been accumulating ice – contrary to reports that say otherwise – for many years. For instance, Johannessen et al. (2005), as we mentioned earlier, record that during each of the 11 years 1993-2003 the mean thickness of the entire Greenland ice sheet grew by 0.05m (2 inches) per year. Could the supposedly melted ice have ended up back on the top of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. The scientists at the Al Gore meeting in Copenhagen said No. They said that Greenland and even Antarctica were losing ice mass. So we are still left with the mystery of where all that ice went. There remains one more possibility. The rapid atmospheric cooling of the past four years may perhaps have caused thermosteric contraction of the oceans, a process by which as water cools it occupies less volume, and vice versa. This thermosteric contraction may have compensated for the extra ice-melt, so that as soon as warming resumes the sea level will begin to rise rapidly. Don’t hold your breath. The 3300 ARGO bathythermograph buoys deployed throughout the world’s oceans do show a little net cooling during the six years of their operation, but the cooling is not enough to cause much in the way of thermosteric contraction. And, of course, everyone at the Copenhagen conference has been doing his or her best not to mention the rapid cooling of the atmosphere and the cooling of the oceans over recent years. There is nowhere else for all those billions of tons of ice to go. Provisionally, I conclude that the loss of ice from Greenland and the Antarctic that the scientists are pretending to have observed is fictional. The ice is where it has long been, and yet another scare is shown to be false. Therefore, there is no basis whatsoever for Dr. Glikson’s assertion either that ice loss has accelerated beyond what was predicted or that sea level is rising faster than predicted. It is not rising at all. AG response to MB 5
Regarding where the melting ice from the Greenland and west Antarctic ice sheet go: (1) sea levels continued to rise at an accelerated rate up to 3.6 mm/year; (2) with rising temperature there is an increase snow fall over parts of Greenland and Antarctica. MB has not performed any quantitative calculations to the contrary.
Regarding ocean “cooling” I cite the statement by Dr Josh Willis of the ARGO oceanographic project: (http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/01/oceancooling-and-global-warming/): ”It is a well-established fact that human activities are heating up the planet and that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come. Climate change skeptics often highlight certain scientific results as a means of confusing this issue, and that appears to be the case with Mr. Gunter’s description of our recent results based on data from Argo buoys. Indeed, Argo data show no warming in the upper ocean over the past four years, but this does not contradict the climate models. In fact, many climate models simulate four to five year periods with no warming in the upper ocean from time to time. The same is true for the warming trend observed by NASA satellites; it too is in good agreement with climate model simulations. But more important than agreement with computer models is the fact that four years with no warming in the upper ocean does not erase the 50 years of warming we’ve seen since ocean temperature measurements became widespread …. It is important to remember that climate science is not a public debate carried out on the opinion pages of newspapers. What we know about global warming comes from thousands of scientists pouring over countless data sets, conducting experiments to figure out how the climate works and scrutinizing every aspect of each other’s work.” He added: “It is easy to pick on computer climate models for not simulating certain things or point out the odd measurement that isn’t well understood. Despite this, models and data of all different types tell the same story about the past century: the oceans are warming, sea levels are rising, the temperature of the atmosphere is increasing and carbon dioxide levels continue to go up. Given that, you don’t need a fancy computer model or an Argo buoy to tell you that the future will be warmer. The real debate is not over whether global warming exists, but how we as a society will address it. The climate system is already committed to a certain amount of warming from carbon dioxide emissions of the past, but the worst effects of global warming can still be avoided. It only requires the will to look toward the future and to curb our addiction to fossil fuels. That’s not alarmist, it’s just common sense.” __________________________________________________________
6. Does an increase in carbon dioxide make any difference?
Glikson: Carbon dioxide levels are already at 388 ppm and, combined with the effects of methane, are equivalent to 460 ppm CO2. This level is dangerously close to the upper stability limit of about 500 ppm of the Antarctic ice sheet, signifying a shift in the state of the atmosphere from glacial-interglacial conditions to greenhouse conditions, with serious consequences evidenced by current trends in the climate system. An increase in ice melt rates of the west Antarctica ice sheet and to a somewhat lesser extent the east Antarctica ice sheet is reported by the British Antarctic Survey and the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research, International Council for Science.
MB: As we have already demonstrated, methane is a bit-part player because there is so very little of it in the atmosphere. Make it 388 ppmv for CO2 and 12 ppmv for methane: total 400 ppmv. At today’s rates of emission, around 2 ppmv CO2/year, that gives us half a century before we reach Dr. Glikson’s ceiling of 500 ppmv, which is in any event entirely arbitrary. For very nearly all of the past 600 million years, CO2 concentration has been well over 1000 ppmv – twice Dr. Glikson’s “danger level”. We have already dealt with the British Antarctic Survey’s implausible finding as to the imagined – and probably imaginary – loss of ice from the West Antarctic ice sheet. There is certainly no basis in science for the proposition that after 15 years without statistically-significant “global warming” the planet is now approaching a dangerous “tipping-point”, as Dr. Glikson is here implying. In fact, it was proven by Edward Lorenz in 1963 that we can never predict the onset, timing, duration, extent, or magnitude of any phasetransition or bifurcation in the evolution of the mathematically-chaotic climate object. We conclude that Dr. Glikson’s note is inaccurate, misleading, and relentless prejudiced in one direction only – inventing a problem where there is none, and then magnifying it. That is not science: it is politics. AG final response
In his most recent report, Professor Will Steffen, Climate Change advisor of the Australian Government, stated (http://www.anu.edu.au/climatechange/wpcontent/uploads/2009/07/climate-change-faster-change-and-more-serious-risksfinal.pdf): 1. Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level. 2. At continental, regional and ocean basin scales, numerous long term changes in climate have been observed. These include changes in Arctic temperatures and ice, widespread changes in precipitation amounts, ocean salinity, wind patterns and aspects of extreme weather including droughts, heavy precipitation, heatwaves and the intensity of tropical cyclones. 3. Paleoclimate information supports the interpretation that the warmth of the last half century is unusual in at least the previous 1,300 years. The last time polar regions were significantly warmer than at present for an extended period (about 125,000 years ago), reductions in polar ice volume led to 4 to 6 m of sea level rise. 4. Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid 20th century is very likely1 due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. … Discernible human influences now extend to other aspects of climate, including ocean warming, continental-average temperatures, temperature extremes and wind patterns. 5. Continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that would very likely be larger than those observed during the 20th century.
I refer to the statement by Professor Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impacts and climate advisor of the German Government: “We’re simply talking about the very life support system of this planet. A recent comprehensive study confirms this in showing that we are going beyond the limits of the Earth. Yet, we are still chugging along like we have no need to solve these issues any time in the near future. We are not even near the reductions that are necessary.” (http://ecoworldly.com/2009/10/02/is-the-us-climateilliterate/). Dr Andrew Glikson Earth and paleoclimate scientist Australian National University 10 January, 2009
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