Climate change

Trump, the National Climate Assessment report, and fake news

The New York Times recently obtained a draft of the up-coming National Climate Assessment report. NYT is worried that the Trump administration will suppress the report. However, according to scientists who worked on the report, it has been available online since last January. (See Daily Caller story) You can download the 545-page 3rd draft report here, but don’t bother.

Besides the “fake news” story in the New York Times, we have a “fake news” story from the Associated Press printed by the Arizona Daily Star. Within that story is this sentence: Contradicting Trump’s claims that climate change is a “hoax,” the draft report representing the consensus of 13 federal agencies concludes that the evidence global warming is being driven by human activities is “unambiguous.”

Definition of unambiguous: “Admitting of no doubt or misunderstanding; having only one meaning or interpretation and leading to only one conclusion.”

Because of that statement and this one: “In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the prediction of a specific future climate state is not possible.” — Final chapter, Draft TAR 2000 (Third Assessment Report), IPCC, I downloaded the report to see just how unambiguous the evidence is. Here is what I found.

1) All their evidence consists of computer modeling. There is no physical evidence. That’s just like the previous National Climate Assessment report. They are, in essence, claiming that evidence of warming is evidence of the cause of warming.

2) On page 139, they discuss how they attribute causes:

Detection and attribution of climate change involves assessing the causes of observed changes in the climate system through systematic comparison of climate models and observations using various statistical methods. An attributable change refers to a change in which the relative contribution of causal factors has been evaluated along with an assignment of statistical confidence.

3) Beginning on page 144, they discuss “major uncertainties.” Oops, not so “unambiguous.”

The transient climate response (TCR) is defined as the global mean surface temperature change at the time of CO2 doubling in a 1%/year CO2 transient increase experiment. The TCR of the climate system to greenhouse gas increases remains uncertain, with ranges of 0.9° to 2.0°C (1.6° to 3.6°F) and 0.9° to 2.5°C (1.6° to 4.5°F) in two recent assessments. The climate system response to aerosol forcing (direct and indirect effects combined) remains highly uncertain, because although more of the relevant processes are being in included in models, confidence in these representations remains low. Therefore, there is considerable uncertainty in quantifying the attributable warming contributions of greenhouse gases and aerosols separately. There is uncertainty in the possible levels of internal climate variability, but current estimates likely  range of +/- 0.1°C, or 0.2°F, over 60 years) would have to be too low by more than a factor or two or three for the observed trend to be explainable by internal variability.

Does that sound like the evidence is unambiguous?

“There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.” – Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi

UPDATE: The material above refers to the third draft of the report. The fifth draft has just become available. One analyst noticed “that the latest draft climate report, published in June, had seemingly left out a rather embarrassing table from the Executive Summary, one that had previously been written into the Third Draft, published last December.” What has been omitted is the fact “that the hottest temperatures, (averaged over the US), were not only much, much higher in the 1930s. They were also higher during the 1920s. Indeed there have been many other years with higher temperatures than most of the recent ones.” (Source)

I would not call it a hoax as does President Trump; I’d call it a scam. The National Climate Assessment itself is fake news; a political, rather than a scientific document.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair.

Additional reading:

Alan Carlin, a former senior EPA analyst, says computer models fail because: The bottom-up GCM was a bad approach from the start and should never have been paid for by the taxpayers. All that we have are computer models that were designed and then tuned to lead to the IPCC’s desired answers and have had a difficult time even doing that.

So not only are the results claiming that global temperatures are largely determined by atmospheric CO2 wrong, but the basic methodology is useless. Climate is a coupled, non-linear chaotic system, and the IPCC agrees that this is the case. It cannot be usefully modeled by using necessarily limited models which assume the opposite. Read more

Dr. Tim Ball: Uncovered: decades-old government report showing climate data was bad, unfit for purpose. In 1999, the National Academy of Sciences, the research arm of the National Research Council, released a study expressing concern about the accuracy of the data used in the debate over climate change. They said there are,

“Deficiencies in the accuracy, quality and continuity of the records,” that “place serious limitations on the confidence that can be placed in the research results.”

See also:

A Simple Question for Climate Alarmists – where is the physical evidence

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

My comments on the previous National Climate Assessment:

https://wryheat.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/national-climate-assessment-lacks-physical-evidence/

 

Pima County Az tilting at climate change

In the novel “The Ingenious Nobleman Mister Quixote of La Mancha” by Miguel de Cervantes, first published in 1605, the protagonist, Don Quixote, imagines that windmills are giants to be destroyed. Don Quixote attacks the windmills with his lance, an action called “tilting,” all to no avail. From this story comes the idiom “tilting at windmills” which means confrontations where adversaries are incorrectly perceived, or courses of action are based on misinterpreted or misapplied heroic, romantic, or idealistic justifications. We can add the motivation of political correctness to the Pima County, Arizona, plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Since President Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord, Pima County Supervisors have approved their own version of the Paris Accord and pledge to reduce the County’s carbon dioxide emissions.

In a previous article, “Impact of Paris climate accord and why Trump was right to dump it” I show that if all countries fully comply with their promises under the Paris Accord, it would make a difference of only 0.17°C by the year 2100.

According to an article in the Arizona Daily Star, Pima County government will attempt to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by 42 percent from current levels by 2025, mainly by using more solar energy. The county government will attempt to get 40 percent of its electricity from very unreliable solar generation. The county will also buy 20 new electric-powered sedans for its vehicle fleet a year, at $30,000 to $40,000 apiece.

These electric vehicles are much more expensive than gasolene-powered versions of the same model. According to a new paper published in the journal Issues in Science and Technology entitled Electric Vehicles: Climate Saviors, Or Not?, driving an electric vehicle rather than a conventional petroleum-powered vehicle effectively does nothing to reduce global-scale CO2 emissions. The net carbon dioxide emissions depend greatly on how the electricity for recharge is generated.

The Star story also notes that the county government’s share of regional greenhouse gas emissions is minuscule. It generated less than 0.1 percent of all emissions produced in eastern Pima County in 2014.

In my opinion, Pima County’s action with regard to reducing carbon dioxide emissions is simply a quixotic exercise in political correctness that will have absolutely no effect on global temperature nor on Tucson temperature. The action also diverts taxpayer money from projects that would actually benefit county citizens, such as repairing roads.

“In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the prediction of a specific future climate state is not possible.” — Final chapter, Third Assessment Report, IPCC.

See also:

A Simple Question for Climate Alarmists which asks: “What physical evidence supports the contention that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are the principal cause of global warming since 1970?” Expert climate scientists can’t cite any such evidence.

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

US Summers Are Getting Much Cooler

Reblogged from Tony Hellers RealClimate Science:

https://realclimatescience.com/2017/07/us-summers-are-getting-much-cooler-2/

Every single metric shows that summer maximum temperatures are cooling in the US, and that heatwaves are becoming shorter, less intense and covering a smaller area.

Climate scientists say the exact opposite of the data, because they are consultants being paid to push the global warming scam.

West Antarctica ice-sheet calving due mainly to geology

Sometime between Monday 10th July and Wednesday 12th July, a 2,239 square mile section of Larsen C ice sheet finally broke away. As the media put it, that’s about the size of the State of Delaware. The Larsen C ice sheet is located in the Weddell Sea near the tip of the West Antarctica peninsula. The resulting iceberg has been designated Larson A68. Some of the media claimed this calving was due to human-induced global warming and portends a scary future. (See LA TimesNew York Times , and CNN stories. CNN headline: “That huge iceberg should freak you out” )

The LA Times story does note that in the year 2000, a 4,200 square mile chuck of ice calved from the Ross Sea ice shelf.

A scientist from Project MIDAS, a UK-based Antarctic research project investigating the effects of a warming climate on the Larsen C ice shelf in West Antarctica, said that they were “not aware of any link to human-induced climate change…” (Source)

The geology of West Antarctica is discussed in a long post by geologist James Kamis (read full post).

As shown on Kamis’ figure 2 above, West Antarctica is within a major rift zone which is pulling the continent apart. There are also 61 recognized volcanos on the surface, on the sea bed, and under the ice, all of which provide heat and tectonic instability. Kamis contends that the geology is driving ice shelf calving.

Calving of giant ice bergs is not a new phenomenon. A 1956 newspaper story found by Tony Heller of RealScience.com documents two large icebergs. One, spotted by a Navy icebreaker was 208 miles long and 60 miles wide (12,480 square miles, about the size of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined). During the same year another iceberg measuring 200 miles long and 10 miles wide calved from the Ross Ice Shelf. The same story notes that the Navy Hydrographic Office reports a 100 mile by 100 mile iceberg (10,000 square miles) spotted by a whaling ship in 1927. (Source) Remember that good coverage of ice shelf calving is made possible by satellite observation which began in 1979. Before that, it was by chance observation from ships.

See also:

The “Unstoppable Collapse” of the West Antarctic ice sheet

Geology is responsible for some phenomena blamed on global warming

A Simple Question for Climate Alarmists

A Simple Question for Climate Alarmists

What physical evidence supports the contention that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are the principal cause of global warming since 1970?

(Remember back in the 1970s, climate scientists and media were predicting a return to an “ice age.”)

I have posed that question to five “climate scientist” professors at the University of Arizona who claim that our carbon dioxide emissions are the principal cause of dangerous global warming. Yet, when asked the question, none could cite any supporting physical evidence.

Some of the professors would claim that computer models, when corrected for natural variation, required carbon dioxide emissions to correlate with observed warming of the late 20th Century. But computer modeling is not physical evidence; it is mere speculation. And correlation does not prove causation. One could easily substitute any increasing time series of data to produce similar results. In fact, an Australian group did a tongue-in-cheek exercise of comparing the historic price rise of a first class U.S. postage stamp with temperature. Results are shown on the graph below. The rise in the price of a stamp shows a remarkable correlation with the rise of global temperature.

In seeking an answer to the initial question, I also read the many reports from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The reports provide no physical evidence, only various scenarios generated by computers. The outputs from computer models diverge widely from observational evidence because the models attribute too much warming influence to carbon dioxide emissions and too little to natural variation. (See Why Climate Models Run Hot by Rud Istvan.)

It appears that there is no physical evidence showing that carbon dioxide emissions have a significant effect on global temperature. There is, however, physical evidence showing that our carbon dioxide emissions are not having any significant effect, see my article Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect for details. That article examines four predictions made by climate alarmists of what we should see as atmospheric carbon dioxide content rises. In each case, what really happened was the opposite of what was predicted.

The benighted, eco-faddish, Tucson City council wants to reduce the City’s carbon footprint by installing 100 percent renewable energy for all city government operations so Tucson will not get as hot as Phoenix. (Source) If they do that, they really will be in the dark. In another article, Impact of Paris climate accord and why Trump was right to dump it, I present research which shows that even if all countries fulfilled their pledges to reduce carbon dioxide emissions made in the Paris Climate Accord, it would make a difference of only 0.17°C by the year 2100.

Can anyone provide an answer to the initial question?

Note: evidence of warming is not evidence of the cause of warming.

One other complication, Fake warming: A new peer-reviewed study finds that nearly all reported warming in the 20th century is a result of historic adjustments made to the original data. The study concludes: “The conclusive findings of this research are that the three GAST data sets [ Global Average Surface Temperature (GAST) data, produced by NOAA, NASA, and HADLEY] are not a valid representation of reality. In fact, the magnitude of their historical data adjustments, that removed their cyclical temperature patterns, are totally inconsistent with published and credible U.S. and other temperature data. Thus, it is impossible to conclude from the three published GAST data sets that recent years have been the warmest ever –despite current claims of record setting warming.” Read the study

Bottom line: Reducing carbon dioxide emissions will have little, if any, effect on global temperature. Such efforts are therefore a waste of money and other resources.

See also:

An examination of the relationship between temperature and carbon dioxide

Carbon dioxide is necessary for life on Earth

What keeps Earth warm – the greenhouse effect or something else?

Satellite data show that CO2 has almost no effect on global warming

Geology is responsible for some phenomena blamed on global warming

The past is getting cooler – an example of fake warming

 

 

Ozone, Asthma, and EPA Junk Science

On June 22, 2017, the Arizona Daily Star ran a story with the alarmist headline: “Tucson-area air quality the worst in five years.” The “worst in five years” thing is that on just five days during the past three months ground-level ozone measurements exceeded the EPA standard of 70ppb by a few parts per billion. “Ozone levels at Saguaro National Park-East that topped the 70 parts per billion federal standard: June 15 — 77 ppb, June 14 — 73 ppb, May 12 — 71 ppb, April 21 — 73 ppb, April 20 — 74 ppb.” The EPA claims that ozone causes asthma and other respiratory ailments, hence the strict standards. But, the EPA’s own data debunks the claim.

For many years, the EPA has been conducting experiments on the effects of ozone exposure. They placed volunteers in a closed room and subjected them to 300ppb and 400ppb ozone for two hours while they performed mild exercise. The 6,000 volunteers included children, the elderly, and even asthmatics. The EPA reports that “not a single adverse event.. [was] observed.” (Source)

There is also independent data showing that EPA ozone standards are bunk. For instance, there was “No association between air quality (PM2.5, ozone) and hospital admissions for asthma in University of California-Davis Health System during 2010-2012 (19,000+ cases). (Source)

According to the Institute for Energy Research, “average ozone concentrations nationwide dropped by 33 percent from 1980 to 2014. Since the incorporation of the 2008 standards, average ozone levels have declined by more than 9 percent, nationally.”

IER also reports: “According to an August 2015 report by NERA Economic Consulting, which analyzed the impacts of a 65 ppb standard (EPA ultimately went with a slightly higher 70 ppb standard), the total compliance costs could total $1.13 trillion from 2017 to 2040. The rule could also lead to annualized GDP declines of $140 billion as well as $840 in consumption losses for households.” (Source)

The EPA’s rules were endorsed by a panel of scientists required by law to review them, called the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC). Both the Clean Air Act and the Federal Advisory Committee Act required that CASAC panels be independent and unbiased. So was the panel independent and/or unbiased? A report shows that members of the board received a total of $192 million worth of EPA grants. (Source)

Some background:

“Ground-level ozone is formed through a chemical reaction when nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) interact with sunlight. Emissions from power plants, industrial facilities, automobiles, gasoline vapors and solvents are all sources of NOx and VOCs. Natural sources, such as plant life and fires, also contribute to the formation of ozone; today, given how much ozone levels in the United States have already been reduced, a significant portion of a given area’s ozone concentration is made up of natural background ozone and ozone that has traveled from other states and, increasingly, from overseas.” (Source, study by National Association of Manufacturers)

A measurement problem:

“While the EPA has long known that ozone measurements are significantly biased upward by mercury vapor, the agency has required States to use ultraviolet ozone monitors subject to mercury interference. These ozone monitors blow air between an ultraviolet (UV) lamp and a UV detector. Ozone strongly absorbs UV, so reductions in UV arriving at the detector are proportional to the ozone in the air. But mercury vapor and other contaminants in air also absorb UV, thus, artificially inflating the amount of ‘ozone’ that is measured. The bias can range from a few parts per billion to many more.” (Source)

Mercury occurs in soil in and around Tucson. It is possible that readings recorded by local instruments may be “biased upward” by the mercury contained in blowing dust. A study in Avra Valley, west of Tucson, found soil mercury values up to 750ppb. (Arizona Geological Survey, Open-File Report 81-5, 1981).

The AZ Star article expresses much concern over the County exceeding EPA standards. These standards are the current law, so they may have economic consequences for non-attainment. There is, however, no proof that exceeding these standards have any effect on health.

See also: EPA experiments on humans debunk their ozone and particulate matter health claims

Impact of Paris Climate Accord and why Trump was right to dump it

The much touted Paris Climate Accord aims at worldwide reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in order to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. This goal is purely arbitrary and based not upon any physical evidence, but upon the unproven assumption that carbon dioxide emissions play a significant role in global warming. What the Paris Accord really does is to transfer trillions of dollars from industrialized countries, mainly the US, to the sticky-fingered United Nations and to developing nations. It has a very minimal effect on global warming.

Several studies estimate the actual effects of the Accord. The most recent is from Bjorn Lomborg, published in the peer-reviewed journal, Global Policy (read full paper). Here is the paper abstract:

This article investigates the temperature reduction impact of major climate policy proposals implemented by 2030, using the standard MAGICC climate model [developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, US, and University of Adelaide, Australia].

Even optimistically assuming that promised emission cuts are maintained throughout the century, the impacts are generally small.

The impact of the US Clean Power Plan (USCPP) is a reduction in temperature rise by 0.013°C by 2100.

The full US promise for the COP21 climate conference in Paris, its so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) will reduce temperature rise by 0.031°C.

The EU 20-20 policy has an impact of 0.026°C, the EU INDC 0.053°C, and China INDC 0.048°C.

All climate policies by the US, China, the EU and the rest of the world, implemented from the early 2000s to 2030 and sustained through the century will likely reduce global temperature rise about 0.17°C in 2100.

The estimated cost of this scam:

REPORT: $12.7 Trillion Needed To Meet Paris Climate Accord’s Goal

by Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller

A whopping $7.4 trillion will be spent globally on new green energy facilities in the coming decades, but another $5.3 trillion is needed to meet the goals of the Paris climate accord, according to a new report.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) is out with a new long-term energy outlook report, this time projecting a total of $12.7 trillion to keep projected global warming below 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century — a goal of the Paris accord. Read more

“The current focus on CO2 emissions reductions risks having a massively expensive global solution that is more damaging to societies than the problem of climate change.” – Dr. Judith Curry

But the Accord will harm poor people in developing countries:

While the plan’s costs may range as high as $1 trillion annually, none of it would have any meaningful impact on the roughly three billion people in the developing world who currently have no real access to energy.

Much of the developing world still burns dung as their chief means of cooking and heating. Realistically, the most effective means of saving their lives and improving living conditions would be to provide the steady electricity generation needed for water and sewage treatment as well as lighting and cooking.

The Paris Accord, in contrast, essentially ends any chance to help them. While natural gas and coal power plants could provide reliable, affordable electricity for these populations, the Accord aims to steadily reduce fossil fuel usage. Read more

Estimates of the Accord’s effectiveness in reducing global warming as stated above are based on analysis of surface temperatures. However, “For the past 38 years, satellites have continually tracked global temperatures. And what they’ve recorded in that time is a temperature increase averaging 0.136 degrees Celsius per decade. That means on its current trajectory the Earth could see a potential surface temperature increase of 1.36 degrees Celsius over the entire 21st century.

Noting the current warming trajectory, it appears that by simply doing nothing, the world could accomplish the main goal of the Accord.” (IBID.)

See also:

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

Failure of climate models shows that carbon dioxide does not drive global temperature

An examination of the relationship between temperature and carbon dioxide

 

An examination of the relationship between temperature and carbon dioxide

Natural variation trumps CO2

Many climate scientists claim that our carbon dioxide emissions are the principal driver of global warming. I have asked several University of Arizona professors, who make such a claim, to provide supporting physical evidence. So far, none have been able to justify the claim with physical evidence.

In this article, we will examine the Earth’s temperature and the carbon dioxide (CO2) content of the atmosphere at several time scales to see if there is any relationship. I stipulate that the greenhouse effect does exist. I maintain, however, that the ability of CO2 emissions to cause global warming is tiny and overwhelmed by natural forces. The main effect of our “greenhouse” is to slow cooling.

There is an axiom in science which says: “correlation does not prove causation.” Correlation, however, is very suggestive of a relationship. Conversely, lack of correlation proves that there is no cause-and-effect relationship.

Phanerozoic time – the past 500 million years:

 

Estimates of global temperature and atmospheric CO2 content based on geological and isotope evidence show little correlation between the two. Earth experienced a major ice age in the Ordovician Period when atmospheric CO2 was 4,000ppm, 10 times higher than now. Temperatures during the Cretaceous Period were rising and steamy, but atmospheric CO2 was declining.

Notice also, that for most of the time, Earth’s temperature was much warmer than now and life flourished. There were some major extinction periods, all associated with ice ages.

Sources:

Berner, R.A. and Kothavala, Z, 2001, GEOCARB III: A Revised Model of Atmospheric CO2 over Phanerozoic Time, American Journal of Science, Vol. 301, February, 2001, P. 182–204

Scotese, C.R., http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Carboniferous_climate.html

Our current ice age – the past 420,000 years:

During the latter part of our current ice age, glacial-interglacial cycles occurred with a periodicity of about 100,000 years which correlates with the changes in Earth’s orbit around the sun as it changes from nearly circular to elliptical with an eccentricity of about 9%. Here we see an apparent correlation between temperature and CO2. The data are from ice cores collected at the Vostok station in Antarctica. The scientists working on the Vostok core noticed that temperature changes PRECEDED changes in CO2 concentration by about 800 years. Again, we see that CO2 doesn’t have much influence on temperature, but temperature has great influence on CO2concentration because temperature controls CO2 solubility in the ocean.

Sources:

Petit, J.R., et al., 1999. Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000 years from the Vostok ice core, Antarctica. Nature 399: 429-436.

Mudelsee, M, 2001. The phase relations among atmospheric CO2 content, temperature and global ice volume over the past 420 ka, Quaternary Science Reviews 20:583-589.

Siegenthaler, U. Et al., 2005. Stable carbon cycle-climate relationship during the late Pleistocene. Science 310: 1313-1317.

The Holocene – the past 10,000 years:

The Holocene represents the current interglacial period. For most of the past 10,000 years, temperature was higher than now. CO2 was fairly steady below 300ppm (vs over 400ppm now). There were cycles of warm and cool periods at a periodicity of 1200 to 1500 years. This periodicity correlates with the interplay of the several solar cycles. The sun itself goes through cycles of solar intensity and magnetic flux. When the cycles are in a strong phase, the amount of cosmic rays entering the atmosphere is reduced, there are fewer clouds to block the sun, so it is warmer. When solar cycles wane, as is beginning to happen now, more cosmic rays enter the atmosphere and produce more clouds which block the sun, so it becomes cooler. The number of sunspots (hence magnetic flux) varies on an average cycle of 11 years. There are also 87-year (Gliessberg) and 210-year (DeVriess-Suess) cycles in the amplitude of the 11-year sunspot cycle which combine to form an approximately 1,500-year cycle of warming and cooling.

The 20th Century:

 

The first part of the 20th Century experienced warming in the 1920s and 1930s comparable to current temperatures. According to NASA, atmospheric CO2 rose from 295ppm in 1900 to 311ppm in 1940. Major emissions from burning fossil fuels, however, commenced after WWII in the mid 1940s. The period 1940-1970 saw a CO2 rise of 311ppm to 325ppm. That period also showed global cooling to such an extent that climate scientists were predicting a return to glacial conditions. From about 1980 to 2000, CO2 rose from 339ppm to 370ppm and we had warming during that period until the super El Nino of 1997/1998. Some of this data has been “corrected” by NOAA.

Source: NOAA Climate at a glance

The 21st Century so far 

Microwave data from satellites converted to temperature.

Between the El Nino of 1997 and that of 2016, there have been temperature fluctuations but no net warming. Atmospheric CO2 rose from 363ppm to 407ppm today. It seems that there is no correlation between global temperature and CO2.

As I said at the beginning, while the CO2-induced greenhouse effect has some hypothetical warming potential, that warming is tiny and overwhelmed by the forces of natural variation. So far, I have seen no physical evidence to contradict my contention.

Source : http://www.drroyspencer.com/2017/05/uah-global-temperature-update-for-april-2017-0-27-deg-c/

See also: Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

More March Madness – AZ Star blames human-caused climate change for March heat

On Sunday, April 30, the Arizona Daily Star published a front-page story by Tony Davis which proclaimed “Greenhouse gases called a factor in March heat.” (Link to online version)

The story begins: “Human-caused climate change was at least partly to blame and probably mostly to blame for Tucson’s record-setting March heat, says a researcher with expertise in this field.”

This story is another example of speculation based on computer modeling and cherry-picked data rather than physical evidence. The Star consulted Dr. Geert Jan van Oldenborgh of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute who analyzed possible factors for explaining Tucson’s March temperatures. “He concluded that long-term temperature trends point almost certainly to human-caused greenhouse-gas emissions as a factor. The unresolved question, he said, is how big of a factor they are.” The article provides no physical evidence to support that conclusion.

Ignoring the high temperatures during the 1900s to 1930s, van Oldenborgh examined the record beginning in 1950 and found “a clear upward trend in the March high temperatures started in the middle 1970s.” (See my article: March 2017 – Hottest Ever in Tucson? for earlier temperature data. That article shows Tucson’s temperatures steadily rising, probably due to the urban heat-island effect, while temperatures in rural Tombstone remained level.)

From the Star: “Looking across Southern and Central Arizona high temperatures for March, van Oldenborgh found they seem to be warming across the region but that Tucson’s temperatures are rising faster than in nearby cities Casa Grande and Willcox.”

“The urban heat-island effect often accounts for differing temperatures between larger and smaller cities. But van Oldenborgh said he tried to account for such differences by focusing his analysis on daytime high temperatures, not nighttime lows that are most commonly affected by the heat island effect.” So he didn’t study the heat island effect.

Oldenborgh looked at computer models. One model set “showed that March high temperatures have risen at a point near Tucson at about 2.5 times the rate the global average temperature has risen since about 1950. The model shows that is the local effect of global warming.” (A new term: local global warming?) The other model set “showed that Tucson has received on average less long-term warming than shown by the first model.”

The article contained much “expert” speculation, but from the material presented, I see no physical evidence justifying the conclusion nor the headlines that could attribute the high March temperatures to carbon dioxide emissions. If it was not just a quirk of natural variation, then maybe Tucson has its own evil cloud of carbon dioxide hovering above the city. Of course, there was lots of hot air expelled by local politicians in March.

In my opinion, this type of story is, to put it politely, junk science, designed to stir up alarm about a subject that has become purely political. It is not really news, but propaganda.

Here is the temperature record from the USHCN weather station at the University of Arizona. The top red line shows March high temperatures. The other lines show a slow rise consistent with the urban heat island effect. Had van Oldenborgh used this more complete record, his “clear upward trend” would have disappeared.

See also:

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

Also look at this story from 2012: MILD WINTER MAKES MARCH MADNESS

The Oman geoengineering scheme to save the planet

A story in the Arizona Daily Star, 4-14-17 (the great march for science issue) shows how some scientists create the most tenuous links between their research and climate change as a plea for funding.

This story is “Oman’s mountains may hold clues for reversing climate change.” (Link) The lede: “Deep in the jagged red mountains of Oman, geologists are searching for an efficient and cheap way to remove carbon dioxide from the air and oceans — and perhaps begin to reverse climate change. They are coring samples from one of the world’s only exposed sections of the Earth’s mantle to uncover how a spontaneous natural process millions of years ago transformed carbon dioxide into limestone and marble.”

The researchers are excited because the exposed mantle rock is mostly peridotite, a coarse-grained igneous rock made up of the minerals olivine and pyroxene, both magnesium silicates. “They hope to answer the question of how the rocks managed to capture so much carbon over the course of 90 million years — and to see if there’s a way to speed up the timetable.” A researcher goes on to say, ““Every single magnesium atom in these rocks has made friends with the carbon dioxide to form solid limestone, magnesium carbonate, plus quartz.”

A couple of nitpicks: Limestone is calcium carbonate, not magnesium carbonate (Calcium and magnesium together with carbonate form a rock called dolomite). Marble is a metamorphic rock which requires heat and/or pressure to form. That “spontaneous natural process” happened not only millions of years ago, but is a continuing natural process in the ocean when calcium ions derived from weathering of surface rocks combine with carbonate ions in the ocean. Basaltic ocean crustal rocks act as a buffer by continuously removing CO2 from the ocean by combining carbonate with calcium derived from surface weathering of rocks.

Their great scheme is this: “a drilling operation could cycle carbon-rich water into the newly formed seabed on oceanic ridges far below the surface. Just like in Oman’s mountains, the submerged rock would chemically absorb carbon from the water. The water could then be cycled back to the surface to absorb more carbon from the atmosphere, in a sort of conveyor belt.”

Perhaps the researchers made the climate change link to their research just to suck up grant money so they can continue studying. The geology is interesting, but their idea sounds like another crazy, expensive, and totally unnecessary geoengineering scheme. (See Wacky Geoengineering Schemes to Control Climate)

See also:

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect