Thursday, October 16, 2014

Earth Warming and Resistance Forces

Since I am back in the states, exhausted and the weather is beautiful.

I am going to be a lazy blogger.  Lance wrote this piece that the CAGW folks loved.  However I asked one question and did not get any answers.   MinnPost Earth Warming Faster  Thoughts?
"There is a form of insanity peculiar to humans that comes into play when politics and money are allowed to dominate in discussions in which they have no legitimate place, or only peripheral involvement at most. It is called "magical thinking".

People, most people, are so used to feeding every issue under the sun into the political meat grinder that they think they can do it with physics too, as if the basic laws by which the universe operates can be influenced by opinion polls, PAC money, votes (bought & sold), and postings on comment pages. I blame it on our abysmal educational effort in science and mathematics. People opt out of the "hard" classes, but then proceed to blather about the topics they didn't study.

MODELS: AGW denialists love to attack climate models as being inaccurate. You know what? They are. That's why they're just models, which are by definition imprecise approximations of the real world, using only a subset of all the myriad variables that go into the real world system. They are useful in testing which variables are the most important, thus improving our understanding of the natural system, and over time become more precise as they are adjusted based on new data. But this is all a red herring. We don't need models to know what happens when the Earth is out of energy balance, because we have ample record of what *has actually happened* in the Earth's past when energy imbalance has occurred due to nonhuman forcings. We also have the examples of Venus and Mars, which started out much like the early Earth, but went in radically different directions. The bottom line is that when more energy is coming into the system than is going back out, the world warms, and this has various consequences to the climate system and the biosphere. When warming is extreme or very rapid, the climate system is destabilized and species go extinct. It's all there in the paleo record, you only have to look.

PHYSICS: CO2, methane, and other gases are greenhouse gases. This means when they are present in an atmosphere, they retain heat by preventing it from radiating back into space. There's no good arguing about it, this is a physical fact. Add more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, and more energy is retained in the system. Period, end of story. As I and many others have noted, physics cannot be bargained with, wished away, or voted out of office. It just is, and it had better be accounted for when making decisions. Ask any engineer or astronaut about physics. Leave it out of your calculations and disaster results.

ENERGY: The various forcings impacting the Earth's energy balance can be measured with precision. Pre-industrial civilization, the Earth was more or less in energy balance. Natural forcings would sometimes push the climate toward cooling, and sometimes toward warming, but over time the system would re-balance. Human activity has now pushed the Earth out of energy balance. A NASA study ( of the Earth's energy balance during the period 2005-2010 - a period of unusually low solar activity - found that reduced solar radiance had a negative forcing of 0.25 watts per square meter of the Earth's surface. If the Earth were in energy balance, that would result in cooling. However, the carbon people are pumping into the atmosphere produces a positive (warming) forcing of 0.58 watts per square meter, more than twice the natural negative forcing (there will never be another ice age as long as humans maintain an industrial civilization). This energy is not being radiated back into space, it is staying in the system. 0.58 watts per square meter. Multiply that times the surface area of the Earth - that's a heck of a lot of energy. In order to restore energy balance, atmospheric CO2 would need to be reduced to no more than 350 ppm. We are now at 400 ppm, give or take a couple of ppm. The last time this happened, horses and camels lived in arctic. Given that we are doing nothing effective to reduce emissions, we will certainly reach 450 ppm. The last time that happened, there was no sheet ice anywhere on the planet, and that means dramatically higher sea levels.

TIPPING POINTS: The issue is not just the CO2 level, that isn't even the most important issue by itself. The real danger is crossing a tipping point after which warming accelerates dramatically and out of any hope of control. In the past, long periods of warming led eventually to the melting of methane hydrates, releasing vast amounts of methane into the atmosphere, which abruptly spiked the temperature. Methane lasts only a short time in the atmosphere, but is oxidized to CO2, which lasts a long time. Temperatures spike, and all the extra CO2 holds in the excess energy. Civilization would end, as quite likely would the human (and all or nearly all other) species. Depending on how things play out, the world could enter a Venus Syndrome phase of unrestrained warming. It's just nothing to play with. In recent years, elevated release of methane has been detected in the arctic. It seems the melting may have already started. We had better hope not, because if it has, we have no hope of stopping it no matter what we do.

BUT NO WARMING?: Nonsense. It just hasn't been where you expected. According to the same study, "the upper ocean has absorbed 71 percent of the excess energy and the Southern Ocean, where there are few Argo floats, has absorbed 12 percent. The abyssal zone of the ocean, between about 3,000 and 6,000 meters (9,800 and 20,000 feet) below the surface, absorbed five percent, while ice absorbed eight percent and land four percent." The energy is there, the ocean has absorbed most of it. The ocean may temporarily be keeping the Piper at bay, but the Piper will be paid in the end.

CONSEQUENCES: Greenhouse gases have risen this high and higher in the distant past, and the Earth has been far warmer than it is now. Life survived. Life did, but not most species. Once major difference between then and now is that pre-humans, these changes happened over periods of thousands and tens of thousands of years. Species had time to adapt if they could. They had time to migrate. Not so, now. We are accomplishing in a couple of centuries what took tens of thousands of years through natural means. The natural world has no time to adapt. We are already in the midst of a 6th Great Extinction, mostly due to human activity. We have also confiscated and farmed or developed vast areas of habitat, and imposed blockades on most migration routes. Adding human induced climate change to the pressures we have already put on the biosphere means that most species will not be able to adapt, with enormous risk of wholesale collapse. If that doesn't scare you, you're not thinking hard enough. That is the chief problem from my point of view, because as much as we might like to think we're separate from nature, or somehow above and in control of it, we are not. We cannot survive without the web of life that supports us, and it is in imminent peril. That doesn't even get to other consequences, such as agricultural disruption (7+ billion people well on our way to 10 billion, and they all want to be fed), sea level rise when the ice melts (how many trillion $ to move our seaports "inland", or try to shelter them with massive seawalls?), acidification of the oceans (attacks the food web from the bottom up), human migrations (if you think immigration is a problem now, wait until the heat is on), and the list goes on.

The part of all this that makes me angry is that the denialists are willing to subject their descendants to all of this, mainly because they don't want to spend any money now to change how we do business, or compromise their lifestyles in any way for the benefit of our posterity, or because they calculate they can cynically use the issue to win elections in the short term. The Koch brothers I understand - they're in it for the money and the power, and they won't be around for the consequences, so what the hell. But why their disciples, who are not rich and powerful and will be victimized by all of this, allow themselves to be used so cynically is something that escapes me. I don't understand how they can care so little for their grandkids and great-grandkids. I can only put it down to gaps in education.

I am reminded that Carl Sagan warned that advanced civilizations may be rare, because they may tend to snuff themselves. With regard to climate, he said "Our intelligence and our technology have given us the power to affect the climate. How will we use this power? Are we willing to tolerate ignorance and complacency in matters that affect the entire human family? Do we value short-term advantages above the welfare of the Earth? Or will we think on longer time scales, with concern for our children and our grandchildren, to understand and protect the complex life-support systems of our planet? The Earth is a tiny and fragile world. It needs to be cherished."

Carl was wise. And we can no longer tolerate ignorance and complacency in such matters." Lance

""Natural forcings would sometimes push the climate toward cooling, and sometimes toward warming, but over time the system would re-balance." So if humans are accelerating the balance in one direction, when and how will nature adjust to push it back? The CAGW folks seem to deny that Mother Nature has self corrected before and will again.

As for Venus and Mars, maybe they are just like the story of the 3 bears. Venus was too close to the sun, and Mars was too far from the sun, whereas Earth was just right..." G2A


jerrye92002 said...

What's that old adage again? "It isn't what people don't know that causes problems; it's what people know for certain that just ain't so."

There are so many faulty facts, suspect science and unwarranted assumptions here it would take all the black pixels on my screen to catalog them all. The fundamental one is this: If the models predict catastrophe but are now higher than the actual data at the 97% confidence level, how confident can we be that the catastrophe will actually occur?

Laurie said...

about "The CAGW folks seem to deny that Mother Nature has self corrected before and will again."

that is a really dumb statement. Do you think the earth is not to adjust and not grow warmer? Is there any evidence for this belief? Or maybe you just don't care about all the major disruptions to the natural and civilized world.

jerrye92002 said...

Laurie, you are correct. That statement doesn't make sense in light of everything else said here. Of COURSE Nature self-corrects, and has for millions of years. The CAGW folks (proponents of the so-called "theory") are the ones saying Nature cannot cope. But they seem to want to say that the current amount of CO2 and the current temperatures are just right, when humans have survived through times much colder and much warmer than it is now, with CO2 both higher and lower than it is now, and with not a lot of real correlation between the two. In short, their science is bad, their math is worse, and their policy prescriptions are absolutely awful.

Anonymous said...

The question isn't whether Nature or the planet will cope. It's whether we'll be around afterwards.

And jerry, when have humans lived in a climate with this much CO2 in the atmosphere?


R-Five said...

My goodness, where to start on all this? But let me suupose they're right, including their models' predictions of what will happen if we adopt their Draconian reductions in prosperity and liberty: less than 1 degree C over next 100 years.

Let me also add that physical science does not readily embrace the "positive feedback" mechanisms those dire models require, quite the opposite in fact except at the cosmic "black hole / supernova " level. Even when we were seeing some US temperature increases, that extra energy dissapated into warmer nights and gentler winters, both seemingly desirable outcomes. How did nature do this? Basic thermodynamics: weather.

John said...

"Really dumb"... I expect better from you young lady. Hahaha

Now I will agree that burning fuels may warm the atmosphere. (Ie stored to active energy)

Why is it so hard for you to believe that mother nature will react in order to rebalance things. As she has many times before. Even Lance acknowledged this. That is why I posted the question.

John said...

The CAGW folks seem to believe that us humans have the capability to cause a death spiral that Mother Nature is powerless to stop. I disagree.

Now we humans may not like the solutions, especilly lthose iving near voolcanoes...

Sean said...

"The CAGW folks seem to deny that Mother Nature has self corrected before and will again."

How do you know what Mother Nature deems to be "correct"?

jerrye92002 said...

"... when have humans lived in a climate with this much CO2 in the atmosphere?"

Ummm, now? Human civilization had not yet evolved the last time CO2 was this high, but life on earth flourished with CO2 several times as high as it is today. Nature coped. Besides, what makes you think that CO2 is the major driver of global climate, or that manmade CO2 is the major driver of total atmospheric CO2?

R-five is right. Even assuming their models are 100% right, which is far from true, drastic CO2 reductions don't amount to a hill of beans in their predictions-- we would STILL have a catastrophe, and we would be less able to adapt ourselves to it.

Laurie said...

about "a death spiral that Mother Nature is powerless to stop" this implies a belief in a higher power (mother nature) that cares about maintaining ideal conditions for people and other life forms. I think mother nature is indifferent.

I think global warming will be enormously costly to cope with and we have been paying some of the costs already with increased wild fires and storms. You usually care about $, especially $ spent by the govt.

and lastly what does living near volcanoes have to do with this topic?

Anonymous said...

"Besides, what makes you think that CO2 is the major driver of global climate, or that manmade CO2 is the major driver of total atmospheric CO2?"

Science. You do know that it's possible to determine the source of the carbon, right?


jerrye92002 said...

Actually, what I know is that while it is possible to determine scientifically the "source" of the carbon, as far as I know nobody has actually done it that way. And if they have it needs to be done in a certain way or it will give wrong answers. So far as I know, all estimates of manmade CO2 are done by calculating the sum of fossil fuels burned and cement produced, not by actual measurement.

Anonymous said...

jerry, CO2 sources have been well-studied. Should I be surprised that you are unaware of this?


John said...

Skeptical Science Carbon

Now history has shown that no one here ever budges from their very fixed belief regarding climate change. So let's try something new...

The climate is warming somewhat for some reason, as it has done many times before in earth's history. Now we know it has heated and cooled over the millenia.

What happened before man was here that cooled the planet?

Laurie said...

Can the Fern That Cooled the Planet Do It Again?

it seems unlikely to me that one plant species can have such a big impact but I have always believed that there is much about the interactions of everything on earth that is unknown or poorly understood.

Anonymous said...


The Earth goes through cycles and has done so for eons. We know this. This doesn't preclude the fact that humans have dumped and continue to dump huge amounts of CO2 into the climate system, causing a change that we can find no where else in the ancient records.

I'm pretty confident that the physical nature of the climate system will find equilibrium. It may be the old equilibrium. It may be a new equilibrium. It will take decades or, more likely, centuries, to do so. Whether the flora and fauna as we know them survive intact is a different question.


jerrye92002 said...

Joel, I'm still digesting your previous post, but I'm questioning your "huge amounts of CO2" being added by human activity. Every paper I read says it's only about 4% or so.

jerrye92002 said...

Total CO2 inputs to the atmosphere. 96% (or so) of CO2 comes from natural sources. And CO2 is only 4% of greenhouse gasses.

Anonymous said...

And what was it 200 years ago?

jerrye92002 said...

Alarmists would have us believe it has increased by 100% (that is, from zero) which I doubt. We burned coal and wood, slash-burned forests and tilled the soil and burned crop stubble. But the question is, how much has Nature increased her 96% of the total? That's supposedly what your previous link addresses. It's just not correct to say "huge amounts" are manmade unless you also concede that Nature is huger still.

Anonymous said...

From my link:

"Annual emissions of CO2 by human use of fossil fuels rose from 3 million tonnes of Carbon (11 million tonnes of CO2) in 1751 to 54 million tonnes of Carbon (198 million tonnes of CO2) in 1850. After that fossil fuel use rose sharply so that by 2008, annual emissions (including from cement manufacture) had risen to 8749 million tonnes of Carbon (32 billion tonnes of CO2). The rise in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 also began around 1750 and has followed the emissions up. This extraordinary coincidence strongly suggests that anthropogenic emissions are the cause of the rise in CO2 concentration."

11MM tonnes annually in 1751
32B tonnes annually in 2008

...a 290,000% increase.
in other words, a 'huge amount'.

Somehow I doubt natural forces have done the same. The natural systems have existed in a state of near equilibrium for much of the past few million years, as evidenced by the relatively stable levels of CO2 in the atmosphere during that time. Meaning, of course, that natural CO2 has been released and absorbed in roughly equal amounts. That is not happening today. Do you have information that our brightest scientists do not have that shows that the excess CO2 is a natural phenomenon?

FYI, 100% of zero is zero...I'm not sure what you were trying to say.


jerrye92002 said...

If you wanted to say that it has INCREASED by a huge amount, that would be correct. I said that it had INCREASED by 100%, which IS correct, assuming a zero starting point. The point is that, according to your figures, Mother Nature must have contributed 768B tonnes of CO2 in 2008. Somehow the 32B tonnes of anthropogenic CO2 doesn't seem like a "huge amount."

Anonymous said...

32B is a huge amount if Mother Nature is balancing the natural sources to ~zero every year. (NB: it actually balances to a net removal of CO2 from the system) I guess it's a good thing nature has been handling some of our excess CO2. Too bad that results in acidification of the oceans.

I assumed you hadn't bothered to read the link I posted, so I pulled out the pertinent information. Obviously, I was correct, since you remain ignorant of the science.


John said...

I don't understand Jerry's 100% either. However, help me understand something. Do you agree with Jerry's?

Mother Nature contributed 768B tonnes of CO2 in 2008.

Man contributed 32B tonnes of CO2 in 2008.

If not, what numbers do you believe?

Also, man currently fights forest and grass fires. They previously had to run their course.

There used to be millions of buffalo and other animals that created CO2, methane, etc. Are we giving humans credit for the CO2 reductions we have driven?

Humans grow a HUGE amount of plants that previously weren't grown. We plant forests where they did not exist. These plants use CO2, where does this show up in the calculation?

Anonymous said...

Those numbers are scientifically calculated, so yes, I agree with them. I used them in my own arguments.

Are you suggesting that our brightest scientists haven't considered those other items? The idea is ridiculous.


jerrye92002 said...

Joel, I have read your link but have not responded. I find some fault with the science and wanted to do more research to support those contentions. Sorry, but I couldn't let that "huge amount" comment go unchallenged-- it gives a wrong impression. Now IF (and I don't believe it is) the entire increase of atmospheric CO2 is due to anthropogenic sources and Nature doesn't absorb any of it, or contribute any additional CO2, yes, we could count that as significant. But what it means may or may not be. I'll let you know.

jerrye92002 said...

"Are you suggesting that our brightest scientists haven't considered those other items?"

So, those scientists who believe in Global Warming are our brightest? And the 97% who don't are, what, chopped liver?

John said...

"Are you suggesting that our brightest scientists haven't considered those other items? The idea is ridiculous."

Scientists aren't above bias and politics. They aren't all knowing.

They are just humans, like the rest of us. They work hard to get grants to support their work and livelihood. To keep getting these grants, they need to show something. Usually some study on some small aspect of the big picture, because that is all the scope they can handle.

Some of them dream of fame, do you think being indifferent and undecided is going to make them famous?

Some believe that man is ruining the Earth. So what do you think their work will show?

Where did your 97% come from? It is usually used differently.
G2A FMEA, CAGW and 97%

Anonymous said...

Then where is it coming from, jerry? Do tell us.
And do also share your peer-reviewed sources for your claims.

Good grief. Do either of your understand how science works?

If the science is incorrect, the truth will out. Must be quite the conspiracy you believe in. That's a lot of faith to put in humans with an agenda.

John said...

I am an engineer, I believe in science and the measurement of facts. I even support interpolation if we know the shape of the curve with some certainty.

What these "scientists" do with models and extrapolation are as much art as science.

I mean look at all these comments, and the only stabilizing force proposed are ferns... According CAGW folks, this a one way trip to the demise of life as we know it. History shows Earth works like a pendulum, it will stabilize somehow. Whether humans like it or not is another question.

John said...

By the way, you are not commiting to the tons of man made vs natural...

jerrye92002 said...

About that 97%:

I have seen it stated more clearly in other research, but clearly the 97% consensus is a bogus number, if not completely backwards.

jerrye92002 said...

"Then where is it coming from, jerry? Do tell us." -- Joel

Well, you can figure it out for yourself, just like any 5th-grader (or Al Gore). Take a carbonated beverage (aka soda pop) out of the fridge, open it, and let it sit on the kitchen counter for a few hours. What happens? That's right, all of the CO2 "fizz" escapes. Now imagine you have a really BIG can of soda pop (say 75% of the earth's surface) and SOMETHING heats it up. Atmospheric CO2 would rise, right?

Don't want to believe that? Then look at Al Gore's favorite proof, the ice core data. It shows that, on average, CO2 goes up 200-800 years AFTER global temperatures rise, and start down with a similar lag. That was long, long before SUVs and coal-fired power plants. Other research has caused me to revise my opinion that this accounts for 96% of the increase, but I'm not yet ready to suggest another figure. At any rate, it is clearly incorrect to blame humans for all of the CO2 increase, or for the warming it causes or WAS CAUSED BY.

John said...

WSJ 97%

Anonymous said...

"Don't want to believe that? Then look at Al Gore's favorite proof, the ice core data. It shows that, on average, CO2 goes up 200-800 years AFTER global temperatures rise, and start down with a similar lag. That was long, long before SUVs and coal-fired power plants. Other research has caused me to revise my opinion that this accounts for 96% of the increase, but I'm not yet ready to suggest another figure. At any rate, it is clearly incorrect to blame humans for all of the CO2 increase, or for the warming it causes or WAS CAUSED BY."

So you're saying that because one thing (the earth's cycles) caused the start of warming in the past that the same thing must be causing it now. Never mind the fact that most of the warming in the past happened AFTER CO2 was released from the initial warming. Also, CO2 isn't lagging behind the warming this time.

So...where is the peer-reviewed science that shows that the earth is in a warming cycle such as in the past?

It's too bad you're afraid to read the skeptical science website. But I get it. Nobody wants to find out just how ignorant they truly are.

Another thing, it's only deniers who think Al Gore is the final word on Global Climate Change.

John said...

Skeptical Science WSJ 97%


Patriot Post WSJ 97%

Salon WSJ 97%

John said...

Please be polite and professional or I will need to actually work at moderating. And I hate to do that.

jerrye92002 said...

John, Anon is clearly Joel. And his belief that I don't understand the science shows clearly he doesn't know whom he is addressing.

Joel, temperatures have been rising since the little ice age 400 years ago. It's about time, according to the ice core data, that the CO2 levels started up. Has humankind added to it? Quite likely, but how much?

John said...

And will Mother Nature push back?

If so, how?

jerrye92002 said...

It's already begun. Recent research attributes "earlier spring" not to global warming, but to increased CO2. Plants are able to begin extracting CO2 earlier in the year because of the increased concentration, thus removing some of that excess CO2. If my numbers are correct, this seasonal variation is greater than the human contribution.

Anonymous said...

And not once, jerry, have you linked to peer-reviewed Science that supports your claims. Why should I trust what you say?

And yes, I sometimes forget to sign my posts.


jerrye92002 said...

Joel, I am following what I believe to be correct scientific procedure here. It has previously always been the case that the proponents of a new scientific hypothesis-- in this case that of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming-- must prove their case before a wide skeptical audience with actual supporting data, repeatable research and the explanation and confirmation of the underlying scientific processes. It is NOT the job of the skeptic to prove the negative. Nonetheless, if you want to look for the information I cite-- I assure you it's out there-- you can see it for yourself, but perhaps you don't want to see it?

I have already looked at your earlier article and found evidence sufficient to believe that human activity has contributed SOME of the added CO2 in the atmosphere, which I thought was minimal before because I didn't have the information to say otherwise. So what?

John said...

Here is an interesting site...
Pop Tech Peer Reviewed against CAGW

Or this one...
Judith Curry on IPCC Updates

Anonymous said...

Great lists...thanks.

Of course, none of these scientists are getting paid for it or getting grants, so their findings are pure and they have no agenda.

See how that argument works?

John said...

Don't be difficult... One always needs to consider the source.

I don't think I have ever said otherwise.

jerrye92002 said...

"jerry, CO2 sources have been well-studied. Should I be surprised that you are unaware of this?"

OK, I've finally had a chance to look through your item, posted by a non-scientist and attempting to interpret the "real" science in a way favorable to the CAGW theory. I note that item 1 is called a "coincidence," item 2 is called a "correlation" (i.e. not a cause), item 3 says that anthropogenic CO2 and natural CO2 are roughly equal, and item 4 very interestingly shows that "anthropogenic" CO2 has been increasing for 200 years, not just the last 30. I'm happy with the conclusion that we simply don't know enough (yet, if you wish) to start suggesting massive changes in government policy in response. I don't resist the science; I resist the outrageous politics.