Zero Carbon False Pretenses

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Legal Definition of false pretenses: false representations concerning past or present facts that are made with the intent to defraud another.  Marriam-Webster.

As we will see below, the zero carbon campaign relies on a series of false representations, primarily from omitting realities contradictory to the CO2 scare narrative.

In the aftermath of Glasgow COP, many have noticed how incredible were the pronouncements and claims from UK hosts as well as other speakers intending to inflame public opinion in support of the UN agenda.  No one in the media applies any kind of critical intelligence examining the veracity of facts and conclusions trumpeted before, during and after the conference.  In the interest of presenting an alternate, unalarming paradigm of earth’s climate, I am reposting a previous discussion of how wrongheaded is the IPCC “consensus science.”

Background

With all the fuss about the “Green New Deal” and attempts to blame recent cold waves on rising CO2, it is wise to remember the logic of the alarmist argument.  It boils down to two suppositions:

Rising atmospheric CO2 makes the planet warmer.

Rising emissions from humans burning fossil fuels makes atmospheric CO2 higher.

The second assertion is challenged in a post: Who to Blame for Rising CO2?

This post addresses the first claim.  Remember also that all of the so-called “lines of evidence” for global warming do not distinguish between human and natural causes.  Typically the evidence cited falls into these categories:

Global temperature rise
Warming oceans
Shrinking ice sheets
Glacial retreat
Decreased snow cover
Sea level rise
Declining Arctic sea ice
Extreme events

However, all of these are equivocal, involving signal and noise issues. Note also that all of them are alleged impacts from the first one.  And in any case, the fact of any changes does not in itself prove human causation.  That attribution rests solely on unvalidated climate models.  Below is a discussion of the reductionist mental process by which climate complexity and natural forces are systematically excluded to reach the pre-determined conclusion.

Original Post:  Climate Reductionism


Reductionists are those who take one theory or phenomenon to be reducible to some other theory or phenomenon. For example, a reductionist regarding mathematics might take any given mathematical theory to be reducible to logic or set theory. Or, a reductionist about biological entities like cells might take such entities to be reducible to collections of physico-chemical entities like atoms and molecules.
Definition from The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Some of you may have seen this recent article: Divided Colorado: A Sister And Brother Disagree On Climate Change

The reporter describes a familiar story to many of us.  A single skeptic (the brother) is holding out against his sister and rest of the family who accept global warming/climate change. And of course, after putting some of their interchanges into the text, the reporter then sides against the brother by taking the word of a climate expert. From the article:

“CO2 absorbs infrared heat in certain wavelengths and those measurements were made first time — published — when Abraham Lincoln was president of the United States,” says Scott Denning, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University. “Since that time, those measurements have been repeated by better and better instruments around the world.”

CO2, or carbon dioxide, has increased over time, scientists say, because of human activity. It’s a greenhouse gas that’s contributing to global warming.

“We know precisely how the molecule wiggles and waggles, and what the quantum interactions between the electrons are that cause everyone one of these little absorption lines,” he says. “And there’s just no wiggle room around it — CO2 absorbs heat, heat warms things up, so adding CO2 to the atmosphere will warm the climate.”

Denning says that most of the CO2 we see added to the atmosphere comes from humans — mostly through burning coal, oil and gas, which, as he puts it, is “indirectly caused by us.”

When looking at the scientific community, Denning says it’s united, as far as he knows.

earth-science-climatic-change-Climate-System-3-114-g001

A Case Study of Climate Reductionism

Denning’s comments, supported by several presentations at his website demonstrate how some scientists (all those known to Denning) engage in a classic form of reductionism.

The full complexity of earth’s climate includes many processes, some poorly understood, but known to have effects orders of magnitude greater than the potential of CO2 warming. The case for global warming alarm rests on simplifying away everything but the predetermined notion that humans are warming the planet. It goes like this:

Our Complex Climate

Earth’s climate is probably the most complicated natural phenomenon ever studied. Not only are there many processes, but they also interact and influence each other over various timescales, causing lagged effects and multiple cycling. This diagram illustrates some of the climate elements and interactions between them.

Flows and Feedbacks for Climate Models

The Many Climate Dimensions

Further, measuring changes in the climate goes far beyond temperature as a metric. Global climate indices, like the European dataset include 12 climate dimensions with 74 tracking measures. The set of climate dimensions include:

  • Sunshine
  • Pressure
  • Humidity
  • Cloudiness
  • Wind
  • Rain
  • Snow
  • Drought
  • Temperature
  • Heat
  • Cold

And in addition there are compound measures combining temperature and precipitation. While temperature is important, climate is much more than that.  With this reduction, all other dimensions are swept aside, and climate change is simplified down to global warming as seen in temperature measurements.

Climate Thermodynamics: Weather is the Climate System at work.

Another distortion is the notion that weather is bad or good, depending on humans finding it favorable. In fact, all that we call weather are the ocean and atmosphere acting to resolve differences in temperatures, humidities and pressures. It is the natural result of a rotating, irregular planetary surface mostly covered with water and illuminated mostly at its equator.

The sun warms the surface, but the heat escapes very quickly by convection so the build-up of heat near the surface is limited. In an incompressible atmosphere, it would *all* escape, and you’d get no surface warming. But because air is compressible, and because gases warm up when they’re compressed and cool down when allowed to expand, air circulating vertically by convection will warm and cool at a certain rate due to the changing atmospheric pressure.

Climate science has been obsessed with only a part of the system, namely the atmosphere and radiation, in order to focus attention on the non-condensing IR active gases. The climate is framed as a 3D atmosphere above a 2D surface. That narrow scope leaves out the powerful non-radiative heat transfer mechanisms that dominate the lower troposphere, and the vast reservoir of thermal energy deep in the oceans.

As Dr. Robert E Stevenson writes, it could have been different:

“As an oceanographer, I’d been around the world, once or twice, and I was rather convinced that I knew the factors that influenced the Earth’s climate. The oceans, by virtue of their enormous density and heat-storage capacity, are the dominant influence on our climate. It is the heat budget and the energy that flows into and out of the oceans that basically determines the mean temperature of the global atmosphere. These interactions, plus evaporation, are quite capable of canceling the slight effect of man-produced CO2.”

The troposphere is dominated by powerful heat transfer mechanisms: conduction, convection and evaporation, as well as physical kinetic movements.  All this is ignored in order to focus on radiative heat transfer, a bit player except at the top of the atmosphere.

There’s More than the Atmosphere

Once the world of climate is greatly reduced down to radiation of infrared frequencies, yet another set of blinders is applied. The most important source of radiation is of course the sun. Solar radiation in the short wave (SW) range is what we see and what heats up the earth’s surface, particularly the oceans. In addition solar radiation includes infrared, some absorbed in the atmosphere and some at the surface. The ocean is also a major source of heat into the atmosphere since its thermal capacity is 1000 times what the air can hold. The heat transfer from ocean to air is both by way of evaporation (latent heat) and also by direct contact at the sea surface (conduction).

Yet conventional climate science dismisses the sun as a climate factor saying that its climate input is unvarying. That ignores significant fluctuations in parts of the light range, for example ultraviolet, and also solar effects such as magnetic fields and cosmic rays. Also disregarded is solar energy varying due to cloud fluctuations. The ocean is also dismissed as a source of climate change despite obvious ocean warming and cooling cycles ranging from weeks to centuries. The problem is such oscillations are not well understood or predictable, so can not be easily modeled.

With the sun and the earth’s surface and ocean dismissed, the only consideration left is the atmosphere.

The Gorilla Greenhouse Gas

Thus climate has been reduced down to heat radiation passing through the atmosphere comprised of gases. One of the biggest reductions then comes from focusing on CO2 rather than H20. Of all the gases that are IR-active, water is the most prevalent and covers more of the spectrum.

The diagram below gives you the sense of proportion.

GHG blocks

The Role of CO2

We come now to the role of CO2 in “trapping heat” and making the world warmer. The theory is that CO2 acts like a blanket by absorbing and re-radiating heat that would otherwise escape into space. By delaying the cooling while solar energy comes in constantly, CO2 is presumed to cause a buildup of heat resulting in warmer temperatures.

How the Atmosphere Processes Heat

There are 3 ways that heat (Infrared or IR radiation) passes from the surface to space.

1) A small amount of the radiation leaves directly, because all gases in our air are transparent to IR of 10-14 microns (sometimes called the “atmospheric window.” This pathway moves at the speed of light, so no delay of cooling occurs.

2) Some radiation is absorbed and re-emitted by IR active gases up to the tropopause. Calculations of the free mean path for CO2 show that energy passes from surface to tropopause in less than 5 milliseconds. This is almost speed of light, so delay is negligible. H2O is so variable across the globe that its total effects are not measurable. In arid places, like deserts, we see that CO2 by itself does not prevent the loss of the day’s heat after sundown.

3) The bulk gases of the atmosphere, O2 and N2, are warmed by conduction and convection from the surface. They also gain energy by collisions with IR active gases, some of that IR coming from the surface, and some absorbed directly from the sun. Latent heat from water is also added to the bulk gases. O2 and N2 are slow to shed this heat, and indeed must pass it back to IR active gases at the top of the troposphere for radiation into space.

In a parcel of air each molecule of CO2 is surrounded by 2500 other molecules, mostly O2 and N2. In the lower atmosphere, the air is dense and CO2 molecules energized by IR lose it to surrounding gases, slightly warming the entire parcel. Higher in the atmosphere, the air is thinner, and CO2 molecules can emit IR into space. Surrounding gases resupply CO2 with the energy it lost, which leads to further heat loss into space.

This third pathway has a significant delay of cooling, and is the reason for our mild surface temperature, averaging about 15C. Yes, earth’s atmosphere produces a buildup of heat at the surface. The bulk gases, O2 and N2, trap heat near the surface, while IR active gases, mainly H20 and CO2, provide the radiative cooling at the top of the atmosphere. Near the top of the atmosphere you will find the -18C temperature.

Sources of CO2

Note the size of the human emissions next to the red arrow.

A final reduction comes down to how much of the CO2 in the atmosphere is there because of us. Alarmists/activists say any increase in CO2 is 100% man-made, and would be more were it not for natural CO2 sinks, namely the ocean and biosphere. The claim overlooks the fact that those sinks are also sources of CO2 and the flux from the land and sea is an order of magnitude higher than estimates of human emissions. In fact, our few Gigatons of carbon are lost within the error range of estimating natural emissions. Insects produce far more CO2 than humans do by all our activity, including domestic animals.

Why Climate Reductionism is Dangerous

Reducing the climate in this fashion reaches its logical conclusion in the Activist notion of the “450 Scenario.”  Since Cancun, IPCC is asserting that global warming is capped at 2C by keeping CO2 concentration below 450 ppm. From Summary for Policymakers (SPM) AR5

Emissions scenarios leading to CO2-equivalent concentrations in 2100 of about 450 ppm or lower are likely to maintain warming below 2°C over the 21st century relative to pre-industrial levels. These scenarios are characterized by 40 to 70% global anthropogenic GHG emissions reductions by 2050 compared to 2010, and emissions levels near zero or below in 2100.

Thus is born the “450 Scenario” by which governments can be focused upon reducing human emissions without any reference to temperature measurements, which are troublesome and inconvenient. Almost everything in the climate world has been erased, and “Fighting Climate Change” is now code to mean accounting for fossil fuel emissions.

Conclusion

All propagandists begin with a kernel of truth, in this case the fact everything acting in the world has an effect on everything else. Edward Lorenz brought this insight to bear on the climate system in a ground breaking paper he presented in 1972 entitled: “Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?”  Everything does matter and has an effect. Obviously humans impact on the climate in places where we build cities and dams, clear forests and operate farms. And obviously we add some CO2 when we burn fossil fuels.

But it is wrong to ignore the major dominant climate realities in order to exaggerate a small peripheral factor for the sake of an agenda. It is wrong to claim that IR active gases somehow “trap” heat in the air when they immediately emit any energy absorbed, if not already lost colliding with another molecule. No, it is the bulk gases, N2 and O2, making up the mass of the atmosphere, together with the ocean delaying the cooling and giving us the mild and remarkably stable temperatures that we enjoy. And CO2 does its job by radiating the heat into space.

Since we do little to cause it, we can’t fix it by changing what we do. The climate will not stop changing because we put a price on carbon. And the sun will rise despite the cock going on strike to protest global warming.

Footnote: For a deeper understanding of the atmospheric physics relating to CO2 and climate, I have done a guide and synopsis of Murry Salby’s latest textbook on the subject:  Fearless Physics from Dr. Salby

5 comments

  1. brianrlcatt · 26 Days Ago

    Ron.

    It would help to communicate the core physical driver fact of your 3rd Pathway, that the lapse rate to the 0.1Bar tropopause is largely determined by the initial surface energy delivered to the oceans by the Sun, and returned to the atmosphere as largely the latent heat of water vapour from evaporative cooling plus convection determined by the Suns energy and the Earth’s gravitational pressure. THis acts on the dominant atmosphertic content. of ideal gasses, as you suggest, and the ideal gas component is defined by the Barometric formulae, snd the barometric equation in particular.

    THe greenhouse effect is a small perturbation in the lapse rate, and CO2 a smaller part still, with most of the CO2 natural.

    This is the basic thermodynamic physics of climatology everyone who knew it was told to forget so actic vists can assert that all the extra warmth on Earth is created bythe “greenhouse” effect’ , which oosovertly and wildly wrong, as any serious climate expert who has studied the reap hysics and observations instead of made it up in models knows.

    The basic problem is that people are told to believe the o predictions of models which are wildly wri ong when compared to the measurements we take to check the, The models cannot be wrong, so the observations are, per politicians and pseudo scientists.

    The idea that greenhouse effect accounts for all the Lapse rate, when in fact its is known to be a tiny proportion, and most of that is water vapour, is clearly wrong to anyone who understand climate science 101, the Barometric formulae… I have to thank Ned Nikolov for explaining this to me. He knows because he was taught this as an undergraduate climatologist, yet very few people in the climate “science” field seem to understand and explain this most fundamental physical control of the solar radiation that generates the surface energy to drive what Maxwell called an adiabatic convective equilibrium into a thinning cooling troposphere under gravitational pressure. Still with e.

    Finally, and perhaps least well explained, the condensing vapour that forms the clouds gives up its heat to the stratosphere as IR, no convection there, and the cloud albedo this forms is only strong negative feed back of the tropospheric clouds, that directly regulate the cloud cover to create a strongly controlled heat balance at whatever equilibrium temperature this takes. Note than this powerful control, the direct consequence of oceanic evaporation cooling, tends to saturate in the tropics at around 28 deg, so further cooling is created by the tropics broadening, as they did in the Eemian when Hippos , elephants and lions roamed the banks of Northen European rivers at 50 deg North. Nowhere much on land to go looking at 50 deg South.

    Hope that helps describe the really very simple control of the Earth’s climate stability, far better seem at a macro level than adding up a bucket of interdependent bits you don’t properly understand, like some witches cauldron, as IPCC modellers do. An empirical observation based approach to the realities of nature is always a better bet when understanding what nature is doing. Models are only useful when the realities of what happens naturally is unknown, but relationships between key variables, and what happens without a perturbation, IS well known, which IPCC CMIP models do not know and simply deny natural change as starting assumption, as their modellers admit. In particular regarding clouds, the dominant control, negative feedback, at scale. BUt the. biggest raud is therown made up science of temperature change over the last 2,000 years. Which simply denies hundreds of peer reviewed papers by thousands of geologists that have measured the regular cycles of natural planetary climate change that the IPCC simply denies.

    These over complex models are also a rather poor approach to understanding nature when basic physics explain what actually happens, Using models that cannot properly model even the dominant negative feedback control of cloud albedo, that our planetary climate stability overtly depends upon, is also clearly delusional.

    Past natural measured change accounts for most of that we observe, so the models have nothing much to account for,

    I also suggest because any small AGW effect within the atmosphere is reversed by the dominant control, as all the other and larger perturbations of the past have been reversed and stabilised as they return to normal though a changing equilibrium heat balance. Whether the change is an asteroid, caldera collapse, super volcano, etc.

    You can’t use models safely if you don’t understand how the basic control of climate works, and include the natural variability. Denying the facts of observation using a bad model is hardly scientific.

    nb: There are many perturbations, also many complementary feedback effects during change, such as ice melting further reducing surface albedo on land and sea, for example, but there is only one serious control at scale… and….

    It’s the oceans, stupid!

    Creating tropospheric clouds by evaporation in response to solar warming. The rest is internal noise, More ot less.

    All easy to quantify in the NASA heat budget. graphic and the overlay of the observed natural change across 4 Interglacials by James Covington.

    Note the 2 deg 1,000 year period short term cycles are present throughout all phases pf the ice age cycles THese are better seen in Fourier analysis which shows cycles at 1,000, 500 and 200 years, which combine to create the time series effect, with no monotonic signal, hence no AGW is detected in the observed data..

    E&OE

    Like

  2. HiFast · 26 Days Ago

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

    Like

  3. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #507 – Watts Up With That?

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