Previously I wrote about some of what I say to alarmists. It’s time to address the skeptics.
One of my original premises when I started following the global warming issue almost a decade a go was that scientists (and physicists especially) jumped into analysis of climate change using every sophisticated tool at their command.
I don’t think this served them well and my response has been to try and use ‘lower math’ to see if this explains some phenomena more effectively. Obviously I think it has worked or I probably would be too embarrassed to write about it here. (I mean, c’mon–lower math?)
It worked for me last year when I was (one of?) the first to note that one-third of human emissions of CO2 had taken place since 1998, which some label the start of the current (?) pause in global warming. I asked then and have asked since if this does not constitute a real argument against high values for atmospheric sensitivity.
But lower math also argues in favor of anthropogenic contributions to global warming. On my other blog I note that concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere are climbing more rapidly than just 30 years ago–from 1980 through 1993 I notice that the mean rise in concentrations from has a fairly modest average of 1.45 ppm. However, the average from 1993 to 2013 jumps to 1.96 ppm. Early in the data series, there is only one year over 1.6 ppm increase. In 1994 the increase jumps to 1.75 ppm and from 1994 to 2013 there are only two years with an increase below 1.6 ppm.
CO2 is accumulating in our atmosphere and more quickly than in the past.
But to use even lower math, if I may, it’s enough to go to any of the temperature records. Any of them. (I know they are not completely independent and I know we cannot put all our faith in them. But they are what we have to work with.)
If you create an average temperature record from 1901 through 2000 and use it as a baseline and plot temperature changes against that baseline, according to the NOAA it looks like this:
The lower math analysis of this says that the last time temperatures were below this average was 1978. If temperatures fluctuated randomly that wouldn’t happen. (By the way, they haven’t gone below that average since 2000, either.) That’s what–37 years without one year below average?
During that same period, human emissions of CO2 increased by about 20% (from 5,087 million metric tons to 6,765 mmt) and concentrations of CO2 increased 20%.
I personally believe man has been affecting the climate for 50,000 years, cutting down forests or burning them, clearing land for agriculture, damming rivers, etc. I believe that emitting large quantities of CO2 is an additional impact we are having on the climate. In 1945 there were about 5 million vehicles with internal combustion engines on the roads of this planet. There are now close to 1 billion. I think this has an impact. Planes, washing machines, driers, air conditioning units, etc. And power plants. The first one in New York in, what, 1881? Now there are tens of thousands.
We are still clearing land. We are still damming rivers. We are still burning forests. Now we are also emitting industrial quantities of CO2 (and of course, conventional pollution both in the form of aerosols and black carbon, which may counteract some of that CO2).
I don’t know what atmospheric sensitivity is. Sorry–maybe the clerk at the next window can help. I do know that even without lower math, adding an additional component to human impacts on the climate looks to have an effect just by looking at the temperature record.
And I say that knowing there has been a pause in temperatures since 1998. Like James Hansen. It’s easy to see. But you know what? There have been pauses before–two in the modern temperature record–and when they finished, temperatures did not resume a random nature. They just kept climbing. The pause has been a plateau. Looking at the temperature record would have us bet (not the farm, not our livelihood, but a modest wager) that when this pause concludes temperatures will rise again.
My other blog is dedicated to showing that energy consumption is rising faster than predicted, that we will use 3,000 quads a year by 2075. For any–any–positive value of atmospheric sensitivity that should be troubling. Because we are not planning for this faster rate of consumption, the odds are good that the energy burned for most of these 3,000 quads will be coal.
This is something we need to take seriously.
And that’s some of what I say to skeptics. Happy Sunday to all!