Clashing Climate Paradigms

Global Warming/Climate Change is not formally debated any more since early on such proceedings made audiences more skeptical of alarmist claims. Instead, mostly it is on comment threads that True Believers (TB) of AGW can be found jousting with Climate Realists (CR). I recently came upon one from earlier in 2018 that illuminated how these two worldviews compare and contrast regarding the planetary climate functioning. There were numerous participants on both sides (unusually rich interchange), so I will organize my synopsis as a dialogue between Believer and Realist comprised of text from various comments in italics with my bolds. This is a shortened extract of a very long thread focusing on those comments generating more light than heat.

Structuring this argument along the lines of a Platonic dialogue seems right, but also ironic because Plato invented idealism, the basic stance of True Believers. That is, Plato invested eternal verity into objects of the mind, like Good and Evil, Beauty and Justice. Whereas, Climate Sceptics subscribe to objective realism, thus see the natural world as operating by its own devices, independent of what we think or know about it. This interplay of theoretical versus empirical orientations manifests throughout the commentary. And like Plato’s dialogues, the discussion sometimes returns to previous topics and repeats information in another context, which can also be instructive.

The comments were triggered by a post at Discover Magazine Here’s what real science says about the role of CO2 as Earth’s preeminent climatic thermostat. The article by Tom Yulsman concluded:

Earth’s climate is clearly an incredibly complex system. And climate scientists have never contended that they’ve understood all the details, or that their current understanding isn’t subject to revision when new evidence comes along. This is why they continue to do their research – to improve our understanding of how one of Earth’s key life support systems works.

They’ve also never contended that CO2 is the sole factor driving climate changes over geologic history. As we’ve seen, however, it plays a key role: Without the CO2 thermostat, Earth would likely be a proverbial snowball.

And now, we humans have turned the thermostat up, with predictable results that we’re already observing — such as changes to permafrost in the Arctic that got me going on this post to begin with.

The article prompted responses such as these.

Realist: Yulsman correctly states that “scientists actually have long known that something other than CO2 sets thing in motion when Earth enters and emerges from ice ages: shifts in solar radiation …” and “The bottom line is that a change in amount of solar energy reaching Earth may get things going”.

But he is just speculating when he goes on to say “but it’s CO2 that plays the dominant role”, because there is no empirical evidence that is true. It’s just the assumption of the CO2 hypothesis. The real world data shows is not true, as the 1940-1970 global cooling essentially reversed the 1910-1940 warming even though CO2 steadily increased from 1940-1970, and as there has been no CO2-induced warming over the last ~2 decades, even though human CO2 increase has been even higher during the most recent two decades.

There is much more evidence that H2O is the “thermostat”, as the Ramanathan 1981 paper cited below finds, ie., high SST during El Ninos causes more high cirrus clouds which regulate the max SST by blocking solar radiation.

Clouds, made of H2O, are the thermostat. When warming occurs this causes more clouds which reduces solar radiation reaching the surface to prevent ‘runaway’ warming. A negative feedback keeping the temperature within a limited range. When cooling occurs this causes fewer clouds which increases solar radiation reaching the surface to prevent ‘runaway’ cooling. Again, a negative feedback keeping he temperature within a limited range.

There is no physical reason that this cloud/water vapor negative feedback would stop working if there was no CO2 in the atmosphere. So Yulsman’s claim “if water vapor would rain out the result would be a very dramatic cooling” is wrong. If water vapor were to rain out, there would be fewer clouds and more solar radiation would reach the earth’s surface causing warming. It would never drive to an icehouse climate.

Believer: So you’re basically accusing the author of this article of fraud, if he’s perpetuating a “hoax,” as you call the well-established scientific principle that human greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to rising average global temperatures. Exactly what evidence would you use to support such a radical assertion?

Realist:  “well-established scientific principle that human greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to rising average global temperatures.”
What a mouthful. However, it isn’t ‘well established” (although it is widely believed that it is…)
…There is no observational evidence linking Mannkind’s burning of fossil fuels, and planetary warming. None. There are lots of big computer models that generate the appearance of “evidence” … but this is imaginary, existing only in the output of the models. Look a little deeper, and you’ll find large flaws in those models.

Believer: Wrong, as the article above, and over a century of scientific knowledge of carbon dioxide’s properties has shown. Please discuss the “flaws” in this science, if you’re so certain otherwise.

Realist: Trenberth, Fasullo, & Balmaseda 2014: ”All estimates (OHC and TOA) show that over the past decade, the energy imbalance ranges between about 0.5 and 1 W/㎡.

The concept of “Global Warming” is the supposed imbalance of Earth heat gain, and heat loss, measured in Watts per square metre of the Earth surface. In no particular order:

L’Ecuyer 2015 0.45 W/㎡, Trenberth and pals, 2009: 0.9 W/㎡; Stephens 2012: 0.6W/㎡; Lyman 2010: 0.64 ± 0.11 W/㎡; Hansen 2011: 0.8 ± 0.2 W/㎡; Loeb 2012: 0.5 ± 0.43 W/㎡; Allan 2014: 0.34 ± 0.67 W/㎡ from 1985 to 1999 and 0.62 ± 0.43 W/㎡ from 2000 to 2012; Dieng: 0.75 ± 0.52 W/㎡; Levitus 2009: 0.57 W/㎡; Llovel 2014: 0.67 ± 0.43 W/㎡; Wild 2017: 0.60 W/㎡; Johnson 2012 0.48 W/㎡; Church 2011 ~0.4 W/㎡ …von Schuckmann and Le Traon, 2011: 0.55 ± 0.1 W/㎡, so, about ½ Watt per square metre.

Schwartz 2008: ”Comparison with the natural greenhouse effect of about 300 W/m^2 … shows that this enhancement [greenhouse gas forcing] is well less than 1%.”

Wielicki 2013: ”Climate change, however, consists of very small changes in distributions of geophysical variables … Typical decadal changes are much less than 1% and clearly are small perturbations.”

Ollila 2014: “The changes are so small that they can be analyzed only by computational methods.”

Wick, Gary 2016: ”These climate change signals … are far below any expected observational accuracy globally or in polar regions. … .”

All these high-level climate scientists are telling you that these ‘Climate Change’ signals are really small… far below observational accuracy, can only be analyzed by computational methods, consisting of very small changes, much less than 1% … These folks are telling you that, in the twenty-first century. What “century of scientific knowledge” do you have, that these above-mentioned, high-level climate scientists have missed?

Believer: Very close to 1C surface warming in 137 years is substantial and very fast warming. There is no denying that.

Oceans heat content steadily increasing, with temps increasing as deep as 2,000 meters.
Season changing, shorter winters
Arctic rapidly losing sea ice and land ice on Greenland
Agricultural growing zones shifting north in northern hemisphere
Sea level rising

Realist: “Slight warming?”
Yes, slight warming over the last half of the 20th century, which is the only warming the IPCC claims is primarily human-caused. The satellite data shows that there has only been ~0.5C and most of that has been natural, due to El Nino and more solar radiation reaching the earth’s surface.
“is VERY fast warming”
There have been many previous natural warmings with greater rates of warming and greater absolute warming than recent warming of less than 1C/century, such as the following:
– 250 yrs BP 106yr natural warming of >1.5C/century
– 400 yrs BP 103yr natural warming of >1.5C/century
– 1600 yrs BP 119yr natural warming of >1.25C/century
– 2585 yrs BP 84yr natural warming of 2.0C/century
– 2760 yrs BP 90yr natural warming of 2.2C/century
– 2980 yrs BP 133yr natural warming of 1.5C/century
– 3511 yrs BP 89yr natural warming of 1.3C/century
– 4880 yrs BP 94yr natural warming of 1.5C/century
– 6385 yrs BP 98yr natural warming of 1.9C/century
– 8226 yrs BP 91yr natural warming of 3.2C/century
– 10.3K yrs BP 97yr natural warming of 1.9C/century
– 74.7K yrs BP 167yr natural warming of 1.3C/century
– 78.4K yrs BP 160yr natural warming of 1.9C/century
– 80.2K yrs BP 153yr natural warming of 1.8C/century
– 82.4K yrs BP 139yr natural warming of 1.7C/century
– 90.1K yrs BP 155yr natural warming of 1.3C/century
– 102K yrs BP 65yr natural warming of 1.4C/century
– 127K yrs BP 102yr natural warming of 1.3C/century
– 129K yrs BP 162yr natural warming was 1.9C/century
Sources: Mulvaney(2012) and this report

Believer: And you are saying the Earth’s energy balance change is not enough?
Offsetting some of the increased greenhouse effect from our emissions is human emissions of aerosols, having a cooling effect.

Then there is the fact that the net effect of all natural factors would have cooled the planet over the last 50 plus years, if not for our emissions.
Foster & Rahmstorf 2011
Lean and Rind 2008
and other attribution studies

Realist: All of the above, fast warming, OHC, shorter winters, ice loss, agricultural zones moving poleward, rising sea level … These are all just different manifestations of one single fact … It’s a bit warmer. These are not independent, separate facts … they are just one.
Trenberth, Fasullo, & Balmaseda 2014: ”Rising surface temperatures are just one manifestation. Melting Arctic sea ice is another.”
Shepherd, T, 2014: ”…surface temperature, upper-ocean heat content, sea level, Arctic sea-ice extent, glaciers, Northern Hemisphere snow cover, large-scale precipitation patterns (especially as reflected in ocean salinity), and temperature extremes (Figure 1a,b). All these global indicators are physically linked in a direct way to the first on the list, surface temperature, …”
von Schuckmann 2016: ”…global temperature rise, increased [ocean heat content], sea level rise, and the acceleration of the hydrological cycle (Fig. 2b). These are all symptoms of [Earth’s energy imbalance].”
this, theorized, energy imbalance has been quantified as about ½W/㎡. Beyond small, that is tiny. Relative to the average sunshine striking Earth … (½÷340)=0.001471 ≈0.15%
No, what I’m saying is that the imbalance is tiny. Too small for any direct measurement.

Believer: Every year since 2001 was warmer than any year in the 20th century, with the sole exception of 1998. – Globally 15 of the warmest years on record were in the last 16 years.

Realist: CO2’s “properties” are a “push” in the warming direction. Ramanathan 1981: ”Increasing CO2, while fixing all the other climatic parameters and variables, will cause a radiative heating of the surface-troposphere system.”

the trouble is, however, “fixing” all the other variables and parameters in place. Things change.

Plass 1956: ”The most recent calculations of the infra-red flux in the region of the 15 micron CO2 band show that the average surface temperature of the earth increases 3.6° C if the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is doubled, and decreases 3.8°C if the CO2 amount is halved, provided that no other factors change which influence the radiation balance.”

Plass 1956 didn’t warn us, just once. He told us, three different ways, three different phrases … Did you listen? “It is assumed that nothing else changes that affects the radiation balance when the CO2 amount varies.”

” It is also assumed here that no other factors change at the same time which can influence the radiation balance.”

Believer: There are about a half dozen peer reviewed attribution studies showing that the net effect of ALL natural climate forcings and feedbacks, as well as effects of solar and ENSO cycles, since 1960, would have Cooled the Planet, if not for human emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

Foster and Rahmstorf (2011) is one such study.

Lean and Rind (2008)
“None of the natural processes can account for the overall warming trend in global surface temperatures. In the 100 years from 1905 to 2005, the temperature trends produce by all three natural influences are at least an order of magnitude smaller than the observed surface temperature trend reported by IPCC [2007].”

According to this analysis, solar forcing contributed negligible long-term warming in the past 25 years and 10% of the warming in the past 100 years”

{Skeptical Science}

Realist: Believer, I want you to think for yourself. Please stop typing what SkS has written. Read the real science papers, take notes, quote the paper (not SkS) and provide citations. I won’t send you to What’s Up, please stop prattling on with SkS text.

Feel free to read the papers I quote. SkS is all backed up by selective choice of papers. You’ll not see many of the papers that I quote from, on SkS. That means, when real science has a disagreement, or a correction, SkS just lets that slide. Then again, I wouldn’t expect you to find and read those papers … so, read the references you find at SkS, and quote the reference paper … not the SkS text, please. Assemble your own thoughts, and support them with quotations from the papers.

Lean & Rind 2008, and the “none of the natural processes…” has several monstrously large flaws. The biggest, is that it is discussing the flawed computer models …these are known knowns, thorny problems that continue into CMIP6. But the second, is that not all the natural processes have been considered. These are known unknowns. Oh, and then, there are the unknown, unknowns.

As I was perusing the paper, Lean & Rind 2008: Influences on Surface Temperatures, I noticed the authors started off with a grand summary. In it, they mentioned, ”An exhaustive model- based study concludes that increasing anthropogenic gas concentrations (GHGs and tropospheric aerosols) produced 0.3–0.5 K per century warming over the 1906–1996 period, and are the dominant cause of global surface warming after 1976 [Allen et al., 2006].”

If some empirical, observational evidence, of this anthropogenic warming, existed prior to their publication in 2008, don’t you think that this review, would have mentioned it? …but, all they mentioned in this review, was this exhaustive model-based study by Allen 2006.
Lean, Judith L., and David H. Rind 2008. “How natural and anthropogenic influences alter global and regional surface temperatures: 1889 to 2006.” Geophysical Research Letters

Believer: Lean and Rind is one of several studies with the same conclusions. Of course, you believe climate models are not valid tools, which is nonsense.

Knutti and Huber is another such study

“Our results show that it is extremely likely that at least 74% of the observed warming since 1950 was caused by radiative forcings, and less than 26% by unforced internal variability.

Of the forced signal during that particular period, 102% (90–116%) is due to anthropogenic and 1% (−10 to 13%) due to natural forcing…. The combination of those results with attribution studies based on optimal fingerprinting, with independent constraints on the magnitude of climate feedbacks, with process understanding, as well as paleoclimate evidence leads to an even higher confidence about human influence dominating the observed temperature increase since pre-industrial times.”
To test whether recent warming might just be down to a random swing in Earth’s unstable climate — another theory favoured by sceptics — Knutti and Huber conducted a series of control runs of different climate models without including the effects of the energy-budget parameters. But even if climate variability were three times greater than that estimated by state-of-the-art models, it is extremely unlikely to have produced a warming trend as pronounced as that observed in the real world, they found.

Realist: “you believe that climate models are not valid tools, which is nonsense.”

Climate models are not empirical data. They merely output what is programmed into them, and we know that what is programmed into them is wrong because 95% of them predict too much warming, and because they can’t project global temperature at even the 2% confidence level, “we find that the continued warming stagnation of fifteen years, 1998-2012, is no longer consistent with model projections even at the 2% confidence level” – vonStorch(2013).

Knutti and Hueber is climate model based:

“based on a massive ensemble of simulations with a medium-complexity climate model we demonstrate…” – Huber & Knutti(2011) ‘Anthropogenic and natural warming inferred from changes in Earth’s energy balance’   And the only solar they use is at ToA, and do not include the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface, which invalidates that study as attempting to attribute warming to CO2 versus solar radiation.

There are no peer reviewed papers that empirically show that anthropogenic CO2 was the primary cause of the late 20th century warming like climate alarmists claim.

Believer: “Climate models are not empirical data. They merely output what is programmed into them, and we know that what is programmed into them is wrong because 95% of them predict too much warming”

Patently FALSE
The models do NOT show too much warming, except when deniers cherry pick their projection for worst case emissions scenarios and ignore the other one or two scenarios used in the models. In fact the projections are spot on when looked at honestly

Realist: “The models do NOT show too much warming . . .”
Patently FALSE. A scientist who is not a denier, but a believer in your CAGW-by-CO2 climate alarmism wrote a paper which confirmed that 98% of the latest CMIP5 climate models predict too much warming.

“we find that the continued warming stagnation of fifteen years, 1998-2012, is no longer consistent with model projections even at the 2% confidence level … for the 15-year trend interval corresponding to the latest observation period 1998-2012, only 2% of the 62 CMIP5 and less than 1% of the 189 CMIP3 trend computations are as low as or lower than the observed trend.” – vonStorch(2013) ‘Can climate models explain the recent stagnation in global warming?’
“In fact the projections are spot on when looked at honestly”

Patently FALSE. That warmist scientist confirmed that 61 of the 62 CMIP climate models predicted too much warming.

And that warmist scientist’s paper confirmed that Dr. Roy Spencer’s graph was correct. And there was no cherry-picking by Roy Spencer, because he evaluated 90 CMIP5 models, ~50% more than vonStorch did!

You are just denying reality, evidently because of your ideological blindness and/or your inflexible belief in your climate alarmism belief system/religion.

Believer: “Later in the documentary he meets with climate scientist Hans von Storch, astrophysicist Piers Corbyn and physicist Freeman Dyson. Those in the loop will immediately recognize that this is not at all a fair representation of the scientific debate, but rather provides a very skewed vision thereof by emphasizing outlier views that are demonstrably false.”

Realist: “outlier views that are demonstrably false”
That’s exactly what your CO2-causes-global-warming view is: demonstrably false.

From 1940 to the 1970s, humans added 350 billion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere, twice as much as had been added prior to 1940, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere increased, yet global temperatures decreased by as much as they had increased since 1900. This is according to data from the U.S. National Center of Atmospheric Research:

When you add twice as much human CO2 to the atmosphere in 3 decades than had been added in the entirety of human history before that and the global temperature goes down by as much as it had increased over the previous 4 decades, that is irrefutable real world empirical data showing that CO2 does NOT cause global warming.

Why do you believe in a falsified CatastrophicAGW-by-CO2 hypothesis when there isn’t a single peer reviewed paper in existence which empirically shows that anthropogenic CO2 was the primary cause of the late 20th century warming like your climate alarmism religion says?

It’s just not rational.

Believer: That is because industrialization, before and after WWII, also greatly increased emissions of sulfur aerosols that cool the planet. When we put pollution controls on everything, those emissions were greatly reduced. This made the greenhouse gas warming stand out, which is why the warming increased after about 1975.

Those aerosols have a short resident time in the atmosphere of a few years. So it didn’t take long for their cooling effect to be greatly reduced.
The CO2 from back then is still in the atmosphere and will be for hundreds of years.

In fact, daily minimum temperatures rose during mid century cooling, even while daily maximum temps decreased.
“Solar activity increased during that period, and of course greenhouse gases were also already on the rise – in fact already in the 1930s Callendar attributed warming to rising CO2 in the air. The “hump” during WW2 (which includes the subsequent cooling) is only in the SST data and not the land temperatures, so for that I suspect there is still some uncorrected issues in the SST data sets. It is well-known that methods of SST data collection changed during this time.” – stefan at Real Climate

Realist: Sorry, but that BS failed excuse doesn’t fly. Even the IPCC admits that aersols from humans in the lower troposphere are washed out in a few days with rain, and don’t impact global climate:

“Aerosols undergo physical and chemical transformations in the atmosphere, especially within clouds, and are removed largely by precipitation. Consequently aerosols in the lower troposphere typically have residence times of a few days.”- IPCC, SAR, WG1, p.20
In the 1940s-1970s they were too insignificant to have global impact. The only aerosols that can cause a global impact are volcanic aerosols that reach the stratosphere and are there for a year or two, and they only cause a small cooling, not the several tenths of a degree C that happened in the 1940-1970s, while the amount of human CO2 added to he atmosphere TRIPLED. Clear refutation of your CO2 causes global warming hypothesis.
Your argument totally fails.

“The CO2 in the atmosphere from back then is still in the atmosphere and will be for hundreds of years.”
No, you are just repeating the false propaganda of your climate cult religion that was made up out of whole cloth by the IPCC as they denied the peer reviewed science and made up their 100-200 year claim. Here is the peer reviewed science that they ignored:
“in fact already in the 1930s Callendar attributed warming to rising CO2 in the air.”
Callendar was also making an evidence-free claim, confirmed by his own 1938 paper. In that paper he admitted that few scientists at that time held that human CO2 could have “any influence” on our climate and weather.

“Few of those familiar with the natural heat exchanges of the atmosphere, which go into makings of our climate and weather, would be prepared to admit that activities of man could have any influence on phenomena of so vast a scale. … It is well known that the gas carbon dioxide has certain strong absorption bands in the infra-red region of the spectrum, and when this fact was discovered some 70 years ago it soon led to speculation on the effect which changes in the amount of the gas in the air could have on the temperature of the earth’s surface. In view of the much larger quantities and absorbing power of atmospheric water vapour it was concluded that the effect of carbon dioxide was probably negligible.” – Callendar(1938) ‘The Artificial Production of Carbon Dioxide and its Influence on Temperature’

Since rates of human carbon dioxide release in the atmosphere were constantly increasing, Callendar expected that global temperature would increase during the next 20 years and would show that the CO2 hypothesis to be correct:

“The course of world temperatures during the next twenty years should afford valuable evidence as to the accuracy of the calculated effect of atmospheric carbon dioxide.” – ibid
In the next 30 years after Callendar’s paper, humans added more CO2 to the atmosphere than ever before. But the empirical data of temperatures over the next 30 years after Callendar’s 1938 paper showed that global temperature decreased by ~0.7C over the next 30 years:

So we see that the Arrhenius/Chamberlain /Callendar CO2 hypothesis failed the real world test, because global temperatures decreased over the next 30 years after Calander’s prediction, even though humans added over 2 times the total amount of human CO2 between 1938-1968 than had been added before 1938.

During that period of global cooling we come to 1951, where the world’s leading climatologists and meteorologists documented the then-current state-of-the-art climate science in the American Meteorological Society’s 1951 Compendium on Meteorology.

“The purpose of the Compendium of Meteorology is to take stock of the present position of meteorology, to summarize an appraise the knowledge which untiring research has been able to wrest from nature during past years, and to indicate the avenues of further studies and research which need to be explored in order to extend the frontiers of our knowledge.” – American Meteorology Society’s 1951 Compendium on Meteorology, Preface, p.v
It was in this state of climate science report that the world’s leading climate scientists and meteorologists stated that the CO2 hypothesis was never widely held and had been abandoned:

“Arrhenius and Chamberlain saw in this [variations in carbon dioxide] a cause of climate changes, but the theory was never widely accepted and was abandoned when it was found that all the long-wave radiation absorbed by CO2 is also absorbed by water vapor. In the past hundred years burning coal has increased the amount of CO2 by a measurable amount (from 0.28 to 0,30 percent), and Callendar [7] sees in this an explanation of the recent rise in global temperature. But during the last 7000 years there have been greater fluctuations in temperature without the intervention of man, and there seems to be no reason to regard the recent rise as more than a coincidence. This theory is not considered further. – American Meteorology Society’s 1951 Compendium on Meteorology, p.1016
You have swallowed the fake revisionist history that he peddlers of your CAGW-by-CO2 climate alarmism religion have fed you.

Believer: “The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95 percent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia.

Earth-orbiting satellites and other technological advances have enabled scientists to see the big picture, collecting many different types of information about our planet and its climate on a global scale. This body of data, collected over many years, reveals the signals of a changing climate.

The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century. Their ability to affect the transfer of infrared energy through the atmosphere is the scientific basis of many instruments flown by NASA. There is no question that increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm in response.

Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in greenhouse gas levels. Ancient evidence can also be found in tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs, and layers of sedimentary rocks. This ancient, or paleoclimate, evidence reveals that current warming is occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming.”

“Overall, Foster and Rahmstorf (2011) find that ENSO has the largest impact on short-term temperature variations, followed by volcanic activity, with solar irradiance a distant third. However, the contributions of each factor to the 32-year temperature trends were very similar (Table 2, Figure 2). …..These factors contributed to very slight cooling of global temperatures over the past 32 years”

Realist: “and solar irradiance a distant third”
That’s only considering the change in TSI at ToA before it enters the earth’s climate atmosphere/ocean/land system. What is important to global temperature is how much of that solar radiation reaches the earth’s surface. This has been known in peer reviewed science for decades:

“It follows from the analysis of observation data that the secular variation in the mean temperature of the Earth can be explained by the variation of shortwave radiation arriving at the surface of the Earth.” – Budyko(1969) ‘The effect of solar radiation variations on the climate of the Earth’
And the amount of solar radiation reaching the earth’s surface increased by 2.7W/m² to 6.8W/m² during the late 20th century warming. This is documented in the following peer reviewed science:

“Significant increasing trends in DSR [DownwardSurface Radiation] and net DSR fluxes were found, equal to 4.1 and 3.7 Wm⁻², respectively, over the 1984-2000 period (equivalent to 2.4 and 2.2Wm⁻² per decade), indicating an increasing surface solar radiative heating. This surface SW radiative heating is primarily attributed to clouds” –
Title: ‘Global distribution of Earth’s surface shortwave budget’
Author: N. Hatzianastassiou,
Journal: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
DoP: 01 Nov 2005
SRef-ID: 1680-7324/acp/2005-5-2847

“The decrease in the Earth’s reflectance from 1984 to 2000 suggested by Fig. 4, translates into a Bond albedo decrease of 0.02 (out of a nominal value of about 0.30) or an additional global shortwave forcing of 6.8W/m².”
Title: ‘Shortwave forcing of the Earth’s climate: Modern and historical variations in the Sun’s irradiance and Earth’s reflectance’
Author, P.R. Goode, E. Pallé
DoP: Sept 2007
DOI: 10.1016/j.jastp.2007.06.011

“Long term variations in solar radiation at the Earth’s surface (S) can affect our climate … We observed an overall increase in S from 1983 to 2001 at a rate of 0.16 W per square meter (0.10%) per year … the observed changes in radiation budget are caused by changes in mean tropical cloudiness, which is detected in the satellite observations but fails to be predicted by several current climate models.” –
Title: ‘Do Satellites Detect Trends in Surface Solar Radiation?’
Author: R.T. Pinker, et al.
Journal: Science
DoP: 6 May 2005
DOI: 10.1126/science.1103159
(0.16W/m²/yr x 18 years=2.88W/m² for 1983-2001)

“Applying a 3.6% cloud reflectivity perturbation to the shortwave energy balance partitioning given by Trenberth et al. (2009) corresponds to an increase of 2.7 Wm⁻² of solar energy reaching the Earth’s surface and an increase of 2.4 Wm⁻² absorbed by the surface.” –
Title: ‘A net decrease in the Earth’s cloud, aerosol, and surface 340 nm reflectivity during the past 33 yr (1979-2011)’
Author: J. Herman, et al.,
Journal: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
DoP: 27 Aug 2013
DOI: 10.5194/acp-13-8505-2013

“The temperature pattern for the period 1988-1997 appears to be generally consistent with the 7% reduction in total cloud cover that occurred across the period 1987-1999. Applying that reduction to the influence of clouds in the energy budget described by Trenberth et al. [34] results in an increased average solar forcing at the Earth’s surface of about 5 Wm⁻². This increase is more than double the IPCC’s estimated radiative forcing from all anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. … Conclusions Since 1950, global average temperature anomalies have been driven firstly, from 1950 to 1987, by a sustained shift in ENSO conditions, by reductions in total cloud cover (1987 to late 1990s) and then a shift from low cloud to mid and high-level cloud, with both changes in cloud cover being very widespread. According to the energy balance described by Trenberth et al. (2009) [34], the reduction in total cloud cover accounts for the increase in temperature since 1987, leaving little, if any, of the temperature change to be attributed to other forcings.” –
Title: ‘Late Twentieth-Century Warming and Variations in Cloud Cover’
Author: John McLean
Journal: Atmospheric and Climate Sciences
DoP: October 24, 2014
DOI: 10.4236/acs.2014.44066
The alleged increase in CO2 forcing during that time period was only ~0.5W/m². Clear empirical evidence that the late 20th century was overwhelmingly natural, not caused by human CO2.

Believer: I went to Skeptical Science and asked for clarification on the issues you brought up about CO2 increase mostly being natural, and clouds changes increasing solar energy.

Here are the responses

comment by Eclectic:

“The natural organic Carbon Cycle at the surface has been in mildly-fluctuating equilibrium for millions of years. Fossil CO2 (as represented by the approximately “4%” ) is a cumulative addition to the surface Carbon Cycle. Hence the AGW.

The friend appears to be suggesting that the solar radiation incidence increased significantly and/or the Earth’s cloud layer has become significantly less reflective, during the 20th Century.
Both such suggestions are unsupported by the evidence.”

Comment by MA Rodger

” the egregious CO2 cycle nonsense in Harde (2017) has been rebutted at RealClimate and in the literature by Köhler et al (2017). The paper itself still sits for unsuspecting fools to feed from courtesy of the heatland of fiction-creation the Heartland Institute which pretty-much says it all.

Realist: “I went to Skeptical Science…”
There’s your problem. You will never get honest science from a dishonest propaganda website for climate alarmism. The “About Skeptical Science” webpage admitted: “I’m not a climatatologist or a scientist but a self-employed cartoonist and web programmer by trade.” –

Now on to expose the false claims that you got from SkS commenters.
1st false statement by Eclectic: “The natural organic Carbon Cycle at the surface has been in mildly fluctuating equilibrium for millions of years”. Totally false, as over millions of years the natural level of CO2 has varied from a few hundred ppm to 7,000ppm.

2nd false statement by Eclectic: “Fossil CO2 (as represented by the approximately “4%”) is a cumulative addition to the surface Carbon Cycle.” Totally false, because the natural CO2 sinks can not discriminate between natural and human FF CO2 and only sequester the natural CO2, leaving the excess consisting only of human FF CO2. There is no physical process by which that can happen. What really happens is that there is 96% natural and 4% human CO2 in the well mixed atmosphere. 98% of that mixture is sequestered each year, leaving a residual made up of 96% natural and 4% human CO2, to which the next year’s 96% natural and 4% human CO2 is added, which still makes the mixture 96% natural and 4% human, then 98% of that is sequestered away leaving a residual that is still 96% natural and 4% human, and on and on and on, and as far as you go, the atmosphere is made up of 96% natural and 4% human CO2.

MA Rodger’s 1st false claim is that Kohler(2017) refuted Harde(2017). It did not because it was fatally flawed with its assumption that atmospheric CO2 would be constant without a human pertubation. Harde(2017) has not been retracted. It stands unrefuted inspite of flawded attack pieces like Kohler(2017). Rodger is counting on scientifically illiterate people swallowing his whopper false claims.

MA Rodger next writes a lot of words, NONE of which refute the empirical data which shows that there was 2.7W/m to 6.8W/m more “energy in” to the climate system during the late 20th century.

MA Rodger’s 2nd false claim is that “but the actual values for global warming are measured at the top of the atmosphere”. That is patently false, as what matters is how much solar radiation enters the atmosphere and is transferred to the surface. THAT is the only thing that transfers heat/thermal energy to surface & into the oceans.

The absurdity of Rodger’s claim is seen by a simple example. Assume the TSI at ToA is constant for two decades. During the first decade assume that the earth’s albedo is 37%. Then during the second decade assume the albedo changes to 0%. According to Rodgers it wouldn’t impact the global mean temperature because the TSI at ToA was unchanged. That’s ludicrous. The ludicrousness is also seen if the albedo would have changed to 100% so that no net solar radiation would have reached the surface. Again, according to Rodger, the global temperature wouldn’t have changed because the TSI at ToA didn’t change.

Then Rodger goes on to make an OWN GOAL when he brings up Ocean Heat Content. He claims that OHC is a more reliable measure and says that the increases in OHC “are those to be expected by AGW”. That is totally false because the only physical mechanism which can transfer heat/thermal energy into the oceans is solar radiation. And since the climate alarmist admit that 93% of global warming is observed in the increase in OHC, they are admitting that global warming is natural, not human-caused, because there is no physical mechanism by which CO2 in the cold atmosphere can transfer heat/thermal energy into the warmer surface of the ocean.

Believer: Realist, I feel you go beyond the bounds of respectability, even here deep in a Disqus thread. For an unreconstructed AGW denialist, you throw your words around as liberally as your citations. Yet your account is not in any way representative of what you describe. That makes you an untrustworthy source of anything.

You insist CO2 has not been in rough natural equilibrium for millions of years. Yet the last time atmopheric CO2 topped 400ppm (as it has done within just the last three years) was probably 14 million years ago (with an outside chance of it recurring briefly 3 million years ago). And within 40 years that could be 500ppm and a 25million year record falling. You however talk of ” the natural level of CO2 has varied from a few hundred ppm to 7,000ppm” with no time-scale. Of course, such a variation can be seen to have happened in a matter of seconds, having occurred once over millions of billions of second. Your response to the world is saying “High CO2? That’s alright. CO2 has been much-much-much higher, right here on Earth (before animals existed).”

You defend the egregious nonsense of Harde (2017) by saying it has not been “retracted”. That is true. Harde has not admitted that the nonsense-first-class he presented was an abomination. The actual state of play is that Wilde’s attempt to respond to Köhler et al (2017) was refused as it was as nonsensical as his original offerings. And the journal has now reviewed its procedures to prevent such an abomination happening again.

You then accuse me of a “false claim” (a second one apparently) and back this up by ignoring all Top-of-the-Atmosphere measurement bar incoming solar radiation. Are you crazy suggesting this is my meaining? Think of the implications of what you set out. How could anyone accept AGW if the only factor in play was TOA TSI? You are crazy!!

And why would the reliability of OHC measurement have any connection with the drivers of OHC? Oh, I forget. I read the words of a total moron. “…there is no physical mechanism by which CO2 in the cold atmosphere can transfer heat/thermal energy into the warmer surface of the ocean.there is no physical mechanism by which CO2 in the cold atmosphere can transfer heat/thermal energy into the warmer surface of the ocean.” You’re a complete muppet. You’re a SkyDragonSlayer!!!

Yet you insist you are a mere messenger who sets out peer-reviewed literature, like Wilde (2017) perhaps, or even Budyko (1969), who by-the-way was talking ice ages and not AGW. Mind, if you believe “What is important to global temperature is how much of that solar radiation reaches the earth’s surface.” and if you insist “This has been known in peer reviewed science for decades.”, do you have something more recent that a 1969 reference? (Interestingly Budyko is usually mentioned as modelling a climate with an excessively high climate sensitivity, something which denialists argue as being tiny-tiny-tiny. That’s probably why they tend not to be so stupid as to cite Budyko. But for you, Budyko is a bit of a favourite.)

Realist: “I feel that you go beyond the bounds of respectability, even here in a Disqus thread”
I’m sorry you feel that posting cites and quotes from peer reviewed empirical science and explaining people’s fallacious arguments is beyond the bounds of respectability. I suspect the real issue is that the science that I have presented is contrary to your deeply held climate beliefs and it disturbs you that deep down you know that your beliefs are not supportable by empirical science.

Your baseless name calling weakens your case before you even begin. I haven’t denied anything that is supported by empirical science. But you are obviously denying the peer reviewed science which I have presented which shows that the late 20th century warming was caused primarily by natural climate forcing, because the only “energy in” to the climate system increased by 2.7W/m² to 6.8W/m², which was ~10 times greater than the increase in CO2 forcing during that same time frame. Why do you deny that when the only “energy in” to the climate system increases significantly, it is clear evidence for the cause of warming? That’s not rational. It’s a denial of reality. So it appears that you were projecting on your “denialist” accusation.

“Yet the last time atmospheric CO2 topped 400ppm … was probably 14 million years ago”
Peer reviewed science reveals that is a false claim. Beck(2007),… , documents hundreds of direct atmospheric CO2 measurements greater than 400ppm, taken from 180 published technical papers written between 1812 and 1961. And he documents the cherry picking of Callendar which rejected any high CO2 measurements which didn’t fit their CO2 narrative. This cherry-picking is documented in Fig.1 from Fonselius(1956):

Fig 1. Average atmospheric CO2 concentrations measured in the 19th and 20th centuries. Encircled are the values used by Callendar. Redrawn after Fonselius et al. 1956

Your RealClimate article on Harde(2017) was just snipe and gripe and refuted no science from Harde’s paper. About what you would expect from a PR website created to promote your climate alarmism.

“but the important thing is that they are losing the PR battle. That’s what the site is about. By the way, did Gavin come up with the name? … Mike”[Mann] … “Got the email about realclimate from Gavin… Phil Jones” – climategate email #1485

And your histrionics doesn’t change the fact that you made a ridiculous claim: “The changes in these energy fluxes are large but the actual values for global warming are measured at the top of atmosphere and such large levels of warming are not present”. Your clear intention was to dismiss the increase in solar radiation at the surface by claiming that the TSI at TOA was not large. No amount of handwaving on your part can change that.

I made a scientifically correct statement that solar radiation is the only physical mechanism that transfers heat into the ocean. That is supported by Columbia University:

“Sea-air heat exchange … On average the ocean is about 1 or 2 degrees warmer than the atmosphere so on average ocean heat is transferred from ocean to atmosphere by conduction. …
Solar heating of the ocean on a global average is 168 watts per square meter. …
Net back radiation cools the ocean, on a global average by 66 watts per square meter. …
On global average the oceanic heat loss by conduction is only 24 watts per square meter. …
On global average the heat loss by evaporation is 78 watts per square meter. …” – Columbia Univ. Earth & Environ. Science Lecture, ‘Ocean-Atmosphere Coupling’,…
Get that? The only ocean-atmosphere heat exchange process that adds heat to the ocean is solar radiation. Why deny reality. It only destroys your credibility, which is already in shambles.

“Budyko (1969) who by-the-way was talking ice ages and not AGW.”
Strawman. I never said it was talking about AGW. Budyko(1969) was not limited to glaciations, as it stated: “Thus it seems probable that present changes of the Earth’s temperature are determined mainly the atmospheric transparency variations“. Your attempt to dismiss Budyko fail.

“Do you have something more recent that[sic] a 1969 reference?”

Really? You need a cite to confirm the fact that the amount of SW solar radiation entering the climate system, most of which arrives at the surface, is the most important factor in determining global temperature? Al, solar radiation is the only “energy-in” to the climate system, just as the previously cited Ozawa(2003) paper showed in its Fig.5(a). That’s the only reference you need, even though there are countless others.

Believer: When you tell me ”the only physical mechanism which can transfer heat/thermal energy into the oceans is solar radiation” this can be considered in one of two ways. (1) The only thing of consequence that is warming the oceans is “the sun’s radiation” but this is rather sweeping and I assume it is not your intended meaning. (2) The energy entering the oceans comes from the sun directly in the form of solar radiation being absorbed by the water. That is untrue but appears to be your meaning. What a shambles you appear to create? By listing heat fluxes from a CU webpage you seem to be continuing with (2). Is this (2) what you intend to mean?

Realist: Al just handwaved to deny the scientific fact that solar radiation is the only physical mechanism that transfers heat into the ocean. Notice that he failed to offer any other physical mechanism that transferred heat into the oceans. Notice that he ignored the Columbia Univ. Lecture that I quoted from which confirmed my statement on ocean warming was true. In his handwaving he stated and dismissed two things that are in fact true:
(1) “The only thing of consequence that is warming the oceans is “the sun’s radiation”.” He dismissed that by saying it is rather sweeping, which it is, but it’s true.
(2) “The energy entering the oceans comes from the sun directly in the form of solar radiation being absorbed by the water. That is also true and exactly what I meant. NOAA confirms that sun is what transfers heat into the oceans in a webpage on “Layers of the ocean”:

“This surface layer is called the sunlight zone and extends from the surface to 200 meters (660 feet). … With the light comes heating from the sun.” –…

Note that this NOAA reference says nothing about ‘backradiation from the cold atmosphere transferring any heat into the ocean, which is the claim of climate alarmists. Science tells us that backradiation can’t transfer heat into the ocean because first, the atmosphere is colder than the ocean, and heat/thermal energy is only transferred from higher temperature objects to lower temperature objects. Second, energy absorption into water is governed by wavelength. The 15μm wavelength of CO2 ‘backradiation’ essentially can’t penetrate the surface of the ocean. This graph from peer reviewed science shows that that wavelength is only absorbed in the top ~3 millionths of a meter, which is ~1/10th the thickness of a human hair:

Idealized temperature profiles of the near surface layer (~10 m depth) of the ocean during (a) nighttime and daytime during strong wind conditions and (b) daytime low wind speed conditions and high insolation resulting thermal stratification of the surface layers.

Solar radiation from the 5500C sun penetrates up to 200m as NOAA stated. Then you must consider that that uppermost few microns of the ocean skin is always colder than the water just below it, so heat can’t conduct downward. That is shown in this graphic from Donlon(2001) ‘The character of skin and subsurface sea surface temperature’:

So if you want to continue this discussion, please stop playing games, talking in circles, and misrepresenting what has happened and address the original subject of this discussion; the peer reviewed science in my original comment. So you don’t have to go back, I’ll repeat it here:

“It follows from the analysis of observation data that the secular variation in the mean temperature of the Earth can be explained by the variation of shortwave radiation arriving at the surface of the Earth.” – Budyko(1969) ‘The effect of solar radiation variations on the climate of the Earth’
And the amount of solar radiation reaching the earth’s surface increased by 2.7W/m² to 6.8W/m² during the late 20th century warming. This is documented in the following peer reviewed science referenced earlier.

Believer: “When greenhouse gases absorb infrared radiation, the energy heats the atmosphere which in turn re-radiates infrared radiation in all directions. Some makes its way back to the earth’s surface. Hence we expect to find more infrared radiation heading downwards. Surface measurements from 1973 to 2008 find an increasing trend of infrared radiation returning to earth (Wang 2009). A regional study over the central Alps found that downward infrared radiation is increasing due to the enhanced greenhouse effect (Philipona 2004). Taking this a step further, an analysis of high resolution spectral data allowed scientists to quantitatively attribute the increase in downward radiation to each of several greenhouse gases (Evans 2006).”

“From 1970 to 2003, the planet has been accumulating heat at a rate of 190,260 gigawatts with the vast majority of the energy going into the oceans. Considering a typical nuclear power plant has an output of 1 gigawatt, imagine 190,000 nuclear power plants pouring their energy output directly into our oceans. What about after 2003? A map of of ocean heat from 2003 to 2008 was constructed from ocean heat measurements down to 2000 metres deep (von Schuckmann 2009). Globally, the oceans have continued to accumulate heat to the end of 2008 at a rate of 0.77 ± 0.11 Wm?2, consistent with other determinations of the planet’s energy imbalance (Hansen 2005, Trenberth 2009). The planet continues to accumulate heat”

The enhanced greenhouse effect is confirmed by satellite and surface measurements. The planet’s energy imbalance is confirmed by summations of the planet’s total heat content and ocean heat measurements.”

Realist: Reinhart 2013: ” After an absorption event, the CO2 molecule is in an excited state with an estimated lifetime, τrad = (uj / ∆uj)2 / ν ≈ 6 µs for the 15 ㎛ lines. This corresponds to the spontaneous radiative decay rate, Rrad = 1.7×105 s-1. Collisions with the dominant gases of the atmosphere lead to a non-radiative decay. At sea level and T = 288 K, the collision rate of all gas molecules is approximately the inverse of the mean free time between collision. Its value is 7 x 10^9/s. The present CO2 concentration amounts to cco2 = 400 ppm. This leads to a non-radiative collision rate with the CO2 Rnon = 28 x 10^5/s. The chances of radiative emission in this situation is given by Rrad / (Rrad + Rnon ) ≈ 0.06. In the troposphere, where most of the absorption takes place, most of the absorbed energy, by the CO2, heats the dominant atmospheric gases. This is, however, no longer the case in the stratosphere and even higher levels, where the collision rate is dramatically decreased.”

NASA: ”Evaporation and convection processes in the atmosphere transport heat from the surface to the upper troposphere, where it can be much more efficiently radiated into space since it is above most of the greenhouse-trapping water vapor.”

“So in short, it is this convective overturning of the atmosphere – poorly represented in computer models of global warming – that primarily determines the temperature distribution of the surface and upper troposphere, not radiation balance.”

Realist: “Surface measurements from 1973 to 2008 find an increasing trend of infrared radiation returning to earth”
Infrared radiation returning to earth, DLR, varies directly with atmospheric temperature. Temperature went up.

Cho 2008: ”It has been shown that the downward longwave irradiance (DLR) is significantly correlated with three variables: air temperature, specific humidity, and cloudiness.

Dong 2006: ”Cloud fraction is the dominant modulator for determining insolation on the surface, nevertheless cloud-base height (temperature) is more important for downwelling LW flux.” 

Feldman 2015: ”Over the length of the observation period (2000–2010), the modelled spectra at both [Southern Great Plains] and [North Slope of Alaska] are dominated by trends associated with the temperature and humidity structure of the atmosphere rather than the smaller signal from CO2.” Temperature and humidity.

Philipona 2004: ”Longwave downward radiation is expected to increase with increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, but also with the increase in temperature and cloud amount.” Temperature and cloud amount.

Dong 2006 found a decrease…

Cho 2008 found a decrease in DLR, in Antarctica, were there is supposed to be “polar amplification” of this DLR.

Believer: CO2 from fossil fuels has a different Carbon isotope than CO2 from other sources

sources of carbon:
land 120 Gt
ocean 90 Gt
human 7 Gt

sinks for carbon:
land 122 Gt
ocean 92 Gt
human 0 Gt
net change: 3 Gt source – And it’s all human!

Realist: “CO2 from fossil fuels has a different Carbon isotope than CO2 from other sources.”
False. Figure 1 in this ‘Plant Physiology’ journal article, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.go… , shows that the δ¹³ C isotope ratio is exactly the same for coal, marine petroleum and land plants.

“And it’s all human!”
Peer reviewed science says that only 15% of the increased CO2 since the Industrial era is human, and 85% is natural:

“The anthropogenic contribution to the actual CO2 concentration is found to be 4.3%, its fraction to the CO2 increase over the Industrial Era is 15%” – Harde(2017) ‘Scrutinizing the carbon cycle and CO2 residence time in the atmosphere’

Believer: So by natural factors, CO2 stayed between 170ppm – 300ppm for at least the previous 800,000 years, but somehow nature magically increases CO2 since the start of the industrial revolution, to what is now 33% higher than in any of that previous time, at over 400ppm.

Here’s someone who thinks like me.

Tom Curtis at 12:40 PM on 5 April, 2012
tompinlb @1:

“1) CO2 concentrations over the holocene show little variation prior to the industrial era showing that the net natural CO2 flux is close to zero. Even the small 0.003 ppmv flux over the 7000 years prior to the industrial revolution is probably due to land use changes, partly from the desertification of the Sahara, but primarily due to human agriculture, particularly the cultivation of rice. The supposition that natural fluxes should increase 150 fold (conservatively estimated) by strange coincidence at exactly the time when humans started burning fossil fuels at a rate approximately double that which is required to explain the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere strains credulity, both in requiring human emissions to magically not effect atmospheric concentrations, and by requiring the vastly larger natural emissions from an undiscoverable source to magically coincide with the curiously ineffective human emissions.”

Realist: Repeating your false claim and finding someone else that believes it doesn’t refute Harde(2017).

“but somehow nature magically increases CO2 since the start of the industrial revolution … both in requiring human emissions to magically not effect[sic] atmospheric concentrations, and by requiring the vastly larger natural emissions from an undiscoverable source to magically coincide with the curiously ineffective human emissions.”

You and Curtis reveal your lack of science knowledge here. First, no one saying that human emissions don’t affect atmospheric CO2, as Harde(2017) shows. It’s just that all of the increase in CO2 is not due to humans, because nature can’t magically discriminate and only sequester natural CO2. There’s nothing magical about this, nor is there any “undiscoverable source” involved. Peer reviewed science shows it is natural laws such as Henry’s law that causes oceans to net outgas CO2 into the atmosphere when the oceans have warmed since the end of the Little Ice Age, which is coincident with the Industrial era.

“As the rate of net CO2 outgassing from the ocean is then affected by reduced solubility, this offers a simple physical explanation of the observed time lag” – Humlum(2011)  Peer reviewed science acknowledges that over 90% of global warming is observed in the increase in ocean heat content (OHC).

“The World Ocean accounts for approximately 93% of the warming of the earth system that has occurred since 1955.” – Levitus(2012) ‘World ocean heat content and thermosteric sea level change (0-2000m), 1955-2010’  The only physical mechanism that can transfer any significant amount of heat into the oceans on a global average basis is solar radiation. So again, nothing magical at all, just natural physical processes at work.

And the Humlum paper shows that this natural physical process of ocean outgassing happens because the increase in CO2 lags temperature increase. This shows that the temperature change is the cause and the CO2 increase/decrease is the effect because a cause must happen before the effect.

“Using data series on atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperatures we investigate the phase relation (leads/lags) between these for the period January 1980 to December 2011. Ice cores show atmospheric CO2 variations to lag behind atmospheric temperature changes on a century to millenium scale, but modern temperature is expected to lag changes in atmospheric CO2, as the atmospheric temperature increase since about 1975 generally is assumed to be caused by the modern increase in CO2. In our analysis we use eight well-known datasets: 1) globally averaged well-mixed marine boundary layer CO2 data, 2) HadCRUT3 surface air temperature data, 3) GISS surface air temperature data, 4) NCDC surface air temperature data, 5) HadSST2 sea surface temperature data, 6) UAH lower troposphere temperature data series, 7) CDIAC data on release of anthropogene CO2, and 8) GWP data on volcanic eruptions. Annual cycles are present in all datasets except 7) and 8), and to remove the influence of these we analyze 12-month averaged data. We find a high degree of co-variation between all data series except 7) and 8), but with changes in CO2 always lagging changes in temperature.

A main control on atmospheric CO2 appears to be the ocean surface temperature, and remains a possibility that a significant part of the overall increase of atmospheric CO2 since at least 1958 (start of Mauna Loa observations) simply relflects the gradual warming of the oceans as a result of the prolonged period of high solar activity since 1920 (Solanki et al., 2004). Based on the GISP2 ice core proxy record from Greenland it has previously been pointed out that the present period of warming since 1850 to a high degree may be explained by a natural c. 1100 yr periodic temperature variation (Humlum et al., 2011). …

Believer: There you go again “Where is this empirical, observational evidence?” We realize by now that YOU haven’t seen any, but that does not mean it doesn’t exist.

Obviously you have considerable difficult adding two and two, or even one and one. Otherwise you would look at the many experiments which show that increasing CO2 in a body of air (like in a greenhouse) raises the temperature. Then you would look at the measurements (usually considered empirical evidence) of CO2 in the atmosphere (around 280 in pre-industrial days and over 400 now) and you would say to your self “Could this possibly be the reason that temperatures are rising?”

Of course,you would have to accept the fact – shown by yet more empirical evidence – that temperatures are rising. If you were in any way connected to the climate sciences (which you clearly are not), you would do what scientists do and you would test this hypothesis in whatever way you could. And you would come to the conclusion that all the empirical evidence available pointed in one direction: the earth is warming because of humans’ love affair with fossil fuels.

You would, but you don’t because you are a stubborn old fool who thinks he knows better than nearly every climate-related scientist on the planet.

Realist: Even you (tacitly) admit, there is no observational evidence!

“many experiments … CO2 … temperature”
Consider Ramanathan & Collins 1991, where they observed, not only an increase in the greenhouse effect, but, as they termed it, a supergreenhouse effect. However, Earth reacted to it, and formed (a slight excess of) clouds, which cut off the incident sunlight, and stopped the warming.
Ramanathan & Collins 1991: ”Observations made … in the upper range of sea surface temperatures, … In response to this ‘super greenhouse effect’, highly reflective cirrus clouds are produced which act like a thermostat shielding the ocean from solar radiation. The regulatory effect of these cirrus clouds may limit sea surface temperatures to less than 305 K.” Yes, there are excellent measurements of atmospheric CO₂. There are bastardized measurements of global surface-air Tamperature. The correlation between the two isn’t so hot (pun intended) ‘cept for the last few years (when, the correlation is mediocre). In his awesome 1982 tome, called “Causation”, Barnard wrote: “That correlation, is not causation, is perhaps the first thing that must be said.”
Barnard, G. A. 1982 “Causation. Encyclopedia of Statistical Sciences” John Wiley, New York …
“Correlation is a necessary, but not sufficient condition, for a causal relationship” J Munshi
This is sage advice from learned, esteemed professors. 

CO₂ is easily demonstrated as opaque to certain wavenumbers, in a brass tube, as was done by John Tyndall, when he experimentally verified infrared opacity in various gases. However, the gases in Tyndall’s tube did not convect, advect, evaporate, condense, or freeze, as things do in a real atmosphere. It is this atmospheric motion …

Ramanathan & Collins 1991: “The required moisture for sustaining cirrus is not necessarily provided by the local evaporation, but instead, by large-scale transport within the lower troposphere, into the region of convection. These large circulation systems are the ‘Hadly’ and ‘Walker’ circulations. The sources [of energy] for these large-scale motions are the latent heat released by convection, the cirrus long-wave cloud forcing, and the spatial gradients in SST. Therefore, this convective large-scale system is self-sustaining. The large-scale convergence of moisture, into the warm oceanic regions, amplifies the warming, though the enhanced greenhouse effect, further driving the circulation. This continues, until the cirrus clouds, which accumulate during this process, reflect enough sunlight to arrest further warming. Thus, the [cirrus-cloud] anvils act like a thermostat.”

Believer: Face palm. I admitted nothing of the sort, tacitly or otherwise. There is a wealth of observational evidence. You are just too stupid to accept that.

And yes, I called you stupid. It takes a lot to make me say that, but, boy, have you earned the epithet.

Realist: Sure, there’s a wealth of observational evidence, of all kinds of things … but, none that show Mannkind’s CO₂ emissions cause planarity warming. We realize by now that YOU haven’t seen any, either, but that doesn’t stop you from believing it, simply because you are told it is so. Faith.

Lean 2018: ”IPCC’s finding that the globe would warm in the range 2–4 °C by the end of the 21st century unless greenhouse gas emissions were reduced significantly was based on simulations made by physical climate models, …”

Lean 2018: ”The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the IPCC (2007), charged with the detection and attribution of climate change for its Government stakeholders, stated that ❝Most of the observed increase in global average temperature since the mid‐20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gases❞. The basis for asserting a discernible human influence on climate is statistical comparisons of observed temperature with physical model simulations of the changes expected from anthropogenic and natural influences (Hegerl & Zwiers, 2011; Stott et al., 2010).”

Lean, Judith L. 2018 “Observation‐based detection and attribution of 21st century climate change.” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change

Believer: What evidence? The massive body of evidence going back to 1859. The huge number of peer reviewed research papers,

In the one year+ from November 12, 2012 through December 31, 2013, –
there were 2,225 peer reviewed papers published by 9,136 contributing scientists.
Only ONE of those 9,136 rejects AGW – [That’s just over 1/100 of 1%]

Between 1991 -2012 there were 13,950 papers published.
24 of them reject AGW.
Of the 33,690 scientists who contributed to the 13,950 papers, only 34 reject AGW – [That’s 1/10 of 1%]

Cook et al looked at 12,280 papers published, of which 4,011 papers addressed the cause.

* 3,933 papers endorsed AGW.
* 78 rejected AGW – 1.9%

98% of the authors of those 4,011 papers said they and their papers agree with AGW

Realist: 150 years of incorrect conclusions brought to the forefront as if they were uncontested. Recognize the errors of your worshipped gods, Tyndall and Arrhenius. Svante did not know about the water vapour’s far infrared radiation … neither did John Tyndall. See, John used rock salt to cap his brass tubes, when he observed that CO2 was opaque to some bands of infrared radiation. He knew not to use glass, because Silicon dioxide glass is widely opaque to infrared. At least, rock salt has some penetration into the IR (but not enough). Arrhenius used data from Langley’s prism, which was made from rock salt. Rock salt is opaque from 20㎛ past 100㎛. Neither Tyndall nor Langley nor Arrhenius could “see” or “measure” wavelengths longer than 20㎛. However, the cooling of the middle and upper troposphere is primarily from the water vapour rotational band (15㎛-100㎛ far-infrared). [Liou 1981 An Introduction to Atmospheric Radiation, 4.8, pg 109] … This is important, flighty, … about half of the infrared radiation that successfully escapes into space from water vapour, is in this long wavelength band. That means Arrhenius blundered, in his attempts to “subtract” water vapour’s effects from the combined atmosphere “greenhouse effect” … which means, he got a grossly wrong answer for the effects of CO2. Around 46% of water vapour’s radiation is in this band of longer wavelengths … Those scientists missed that. Even Plass, in 1956, laments the missing, far-infrared data:

Plass 1956: ”An accurate analysis of the effect of H,O on atmospheric radiation has not been made as yet because of the complexity of this spectrum and the difficulty of making experimental measurements beyond 20 microns. Considerable further work needs to be done on the effect of H2O. ”

Without detailed knowledge of the measure of water vapour in the far infrared, nobody could determine any balance or imbalance of the planet energy budget.

Believer: You don’t “get it”, do you?

Of course scientists document facts – all of them. Then other scientists look at the documentation. Some look at a small number of studies. Others do meta studies, looking at huge numbers of other studies. And pretty close to all of them have come to the same conclusion – when you look at all the data, the only possible explanation for rising temperatures is human activity.

Realist: Well, re-reading a paper that I had cited for other reasons, this paper by Judith Lean, I found a real nugget. She answered my question. I’ve been looking for observational evidence; her paragraph, rather succinctly, says that the only evidence is that from the computer models. There is no physical, observational evidence.

Lean 2018: ”The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the IPCC (2007), charged with the detection and attribution of climate change for its Government stakeholders, stated that ❝Most of the observed increase in global average temperature since the mid‐20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gases❞. The basis for asserting a discernible human influence on climate is statistical comparisons of observed temperature with physical model simulations of the changes expected from anthropogenic and natural influences (Hegerl & Zwiers, 2011; Stott et al., 2010).”

That’s it … quest, over. There is no observational evidence.

Believer: Some of these statements are true in a very limited way; others are just plain wrong.

For example, the climate has changed before. Of course. But never before at the rate of change we have seen in the past 50 years.

It’s the sun. Yes. Everything is the sun. But again, variations in solar activity take place on a different time scale. If we look only at incoming radiation from the sun, the earth should be cooling, but it is not.

It is bad – very bad, but I suspect you will choose not to accept that.

There is very definitely consensus in the scientific sense -all studies, all data, regardless of the source point to the same conclusion – human activity has caused the earth to warm.

Yes, it should be cooling, but it’s not.

The information derived from models changes with the input. That does not mean that they are unreliable. They are not expected to be perfect predictors of future climate conditions, but they give a reasonably accurate idea of what will happen if we continue with business as usual.

Temperature measurements become more and more accurate every day using a vast network of thermometers and satellites. It is possible that we are off on estimates of temperatures thousands and millions of years ago. However, it is clear that the current trend is inexorably upward. In my 34 years in the US, I have seen our temperature zone shift from Zone 5 to Zone 5B. This may not sound like much, but it translates to a difference in the frost free season of nearly two months. That is huge. Good for me trying to grow tomatoes in upstate New York, disaster areas that previously relied on a severe winter to control bugs.

Humans can probably adapt, but plants and most animals are having a hard time.

It has most definitely warmed since 1998. The RATE of increase stayed relatively stable, but the actual temperature continued to rise.

The Antarctic is gaining SEA ICE as are and more ice slips off the continental shelf. Overall there is a loss.

I challenge you to prove otherwise

Realist: You failed to mention what parameter you’re speaking of. Usually, alarmists speak of temperature rise rate, or the atmospheric CO2 rise rate.
Both are flawed concepts, as the modern instrumentation period cannot be compared to the non-instrumentation period, because … well, there were no instruments, then. You have to switch to proxy representations of temperature. Even if the proxy item could be considered as absolutely flawless in its ability to record temperature, the ability we have of determining the temporal resolution … what year it was, for example … is really poor. The temporal resolution of the instrumentation period is measured in minutes, perhaps a few hours. The ice core records have a temporal error amounting to dozens and dozens of years, even plus or minus a hundred years. The imprecise dating of the sample, introduces a skew of the (time, temperature) data point. Subsequent averaging of (time, temperature) data points (with dating errors) causes the obliteration of short-term temperature excursions, even though the peaks of the excursions might have been accurately recorded with individual proxies. This causes a low-frequency-pass (high-frequency-attenuation) “smearing” of the temperature reconstruction.

Believer: I get it now. You want someone to attach micro-thermometers to molecules of carbon dioxide so that you can actually OBSERVE a change in temperature. Great idea!

Realist: Well, we can do that, but in bulk. It is called “brightness temperature” and is observed with a microwave sensor. That’s how the satellites measure atmospheric temperature. What is reported, though is Oxygen brightness temperature, not CO2.

Believer: Why? You’ll have to explain to me why the satellites measure oxygen brightness and not CO2, if we can do that.

Realist: Just because CO2 is a GHG does nor mean that more CO2, causes planetary warming. Ramanathan & Collins 1991 showed, with real observations — no modelling — that (1) sunshine warms Earf, (2) Greenhouse gases intensify this warming, (3) the intensified warming causes more clouds (4) the clouds stop the sunshine that started the warming in the first place. End of points, reinforcement info follows.
Ramanathan & Collins 1991: ”… the greenhouse effect increases with surface temperature … In response to this ‘super greenhouse effect’, highly reflective cirrus clouds are produced which act like a thermostat shielding the ocean from solar radiation.”
The warmer ocean, thus, produces clouds, at higher altitudes. These clouds … have a larger greenhouse effect. … The sources [of energy] for these large-scale motions are the latent heat released by convection, the cirrus long-wave cloud forcing, and the spatial gradients in SST. …This continues, until the cirrus clouds, which accumulate during this process, reflect enough sunlight to arrest further warming. Thus, the [cirrus-cloud] anvils act like a thermostat.”
Ramanathan, Vi, and Wu Collins 1991. “Thermodynamic regulation of ocean warming by cirrus clouds deduced from observations of the 1987 El Nino.” Nature…
MORE observational work by Lebsock 2010, Lloyd 2012 has supported this hypothesis.


Important skeptical understandings embedded in this dialogue:

There is no observational evidence showing human CO2 causes rising temperatures.  All studies claiming so are based upon computer models incorporating that supposition. See Also: Temperatures According to Climate Models.

The fraction of atmospheric CO2 is 4% human and 96% from natural sources, such as microbes, insects, and principally ocean outgassing.  The human share of the rise in CO2 is about 15%.  See Also Who to Blame for Rising CO2?

The hypothetical GHG effect is too small to be detected, let alone quantified.  The claim depends on both a tiny CO2 signal and also on the supposition that nothing else changes in response to the minuscule perturbation.  See Also:  No GHG Warming Fingerprints in the Sky

The Arrhenius/Chamberlain /Callendar CO2 hypothesis failed the real world test in the decades following Callendar in the 1930s predicting future global warming .  In 1951 the world’s leading climate scientists and meteorologists stated that the CO2 hypothesis was never widely held and had been abandoned.

The evidence is much stronger for H20, not CO2, acting as climate thermostat.  Evaporation and clouds provide negative feedback to solar rays warming the surface.  See Also Nature’s Sunscreen

There is nothing unusual in the temperatures and weather patterns of the Modern Warming Period since the Little Ice Age.  Ice cores show dozens of previous periods with warming rates much faster and temperatures higher than we have seen.  See Also Does the Current Global Warming Signal Reflect a Recurrent Natural Cycle? by W. Jackson Davis and Peter Taylor

Thank you to RealOldOne2 and Damn Nitpicker for their strong contributions to the discussion and for providing many references to original sources supporting their assertions.


There is an old trial lawyers’ saying “When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the law is on your side, pound the law. When neither is on your side, pound the table.”

Postscript:  Believing in a climate forcing too small to be discerned by our best observation instruments reminds of Bertrand Russell’s Cosmic Teapot:

To enlarge, open image in new tab.



  1. Robin Pittwood · December 28, 2018

    Thanks for recording that valuable conversation Ron. It would have taken those two good folk a significant effort and due patience with other to have achieved that. Wishing you all the very best for the year ahead. Robin


    • Ron Clutz · December 28, 2018

      Good to hear from you Robin. Glad to hear that this longish post is not wasted on those willing to wade through it. I certainly learned some things in the process. Hope that your 2019 exceeds expectations.


  2. oiltranslator · December 28, 2018

    I waded a third of the way through, but am not convinced any net warming has occurred the past century. Newspapers have been printing temperatures for over a century so if I were predicting a Millerite apocalypse I’d chart those published figures’ 36,500 easily verified data points. Also, I did not see anyone taking note of the lava flows, nor of the radioactive decay heat that melts lava… to the extent of tubeworm evolution. There is even oceanic methane-consuming life on sea bottoms. What I do know is that in 1960, Soviet propaganda mills decided that a shortage of coercion changes climate:
    It fits the curve. Before Chernobyl, it was altruist nukes goood, selfish nukes baaad. Since Chernobyl… well… that slogan is seldom heard. If it weren’t for Canadian reactors, the northern USA would not be a pretty sight.


  3. Gengis · December 29, 2018

    Got about half way. I do not believe this GAW BS …BUT the section which said 96% CO2 was natural and 4% was Man made is fine and I conclude that the 98% absorbed or destroyed still leaves the ratio of 96:4. BUT if more GAW CO2 is added then this ratio increases, and maybe the world cannot absorb/destroy the increased amount of CO2. Again the effect is probably miniscule . Just thinking!!!
    Go Nuclear!


    • Ron Clutz · December 29, 2018

      Gengis, since the ocean has 50 times the CO2 as the atmosphere, Henry’s law will prevail.


  4. hunter · December 30, 2018

    Your approach is brilliant.
    Thank you for making what must have been a tremendous effort to piece this together.
    It would work as a book really well.
    Best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful New Year.
    May 2019 be the year the wheels fall off of the climate consensus.
    May COP be ended.


    • Ron Clutz · December 30, 2018

      Thanks for the encouragement hunter, not your first time coming to my support. So thanks again. May your 2019 exceed your expectations, May there be a blow to the global warming house of cards as huge as a denier elected into the white house!


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