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Is the Science Really Settled?

11 Replies

Is the Science Really Settled?

Posted by Roger Bryant on Aug 30, 2019 11:27 am

Whilst looking for something else I came across this piece on Cloud Climatology on the NASA GISS website. As one of the premier research institutes in this field they don’t seem to think we know enough. Here are some quotes:
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•Clouds cool Earth's surface by reflecting incoming sunlight.
•Clouds warm Earth's surface by absorbing heat emitted from the surface and re-radiating it back down toward the surface.
•Clouds warm or cool Earth's atmosphere by absorbing heat emitted from the surface and radiating it to space.
•Clouds warm and dry Earth's atmosphere and supply water to the surface by forming precipitation.
•Clouds are themselves created by the motions of the atmosphere that are caused by the warming or cooling of radiation and precipitation.
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Right now, we do not know how important the cloud-radiative or cloud-precipitation effects are and cannot predict possible climate changes accurately.
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When contemporary models are given information about Earth's present condition — the size, shape and topography of the continents; the composition of the atmosphere; the amount of sunlight striking the globe — they create artificial climates that mathematically resemble the real one: their temperatures and winds are accurate to within about 5%, but their clouds and rainfall are only accurate to within about 25-35%. Such models can also accurately forecast the temperatures and winds of the weather many days ahead when given information about current conditions.
Unfortunately, such a margin of error is much too large for making a reliable forecast about climate changes, such as the global warming will result from increasing abundances of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. A doubling in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), predicted to take place in the next 50 to 100 years, is expected to change the radiation balance at the surface by only about 2 percent. Yet according to current climate models, such a small change could raise global mean surface temperatures by between 2-5°C (4-9°F), with potentially dramatic consequences. If a 2 percent change is that important, then a climate model to be useful must be accurate to something like 0.25%. Thus today's models must be improved by about a hundredfold in accuracy, a very challenging task. To develop a much better understanding of clouds, radiation and precipitation, as well as many other climate processes, we need much better observations.
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In 1974 an international conference of investigators in Stockholm highlighted the need for greater understanding of clouds as one of the two biggest obstacles to further progress in climate research. The second was inadequate knowledge of ocean currents. Recent comparisons of the predictions made by various computer climate models show that the problem has not gone away. In some models, for instance, clouds decrease the net greenhouse effect, whereas in others they intensify it.
https://isccp.giss.nasa.gov/role.html#COMP_MODS
 
The summary of those points is that we have no idea if the current series of climate models is accurate and the potential errors are much bigger than the potential changes. Nice to know what our policy makers are basing their policies on 🙄
Best regards
Roger
 

Re: Is the Science Really Settled?

Posted by Malcolm Davies on Aug 31, 2019 4:30 pm

Oh my Goodness Roger B - I am truly shocked by what you have unearthed - but to be honest not really surpised. The ability of big business sponsored lobby groups,with significant vested commercial interests in the resultant legislative frameworks - to materially influence government thinking, policy and ultimately legslative output has been seriously flawed for decades.

Take as an example the direct injection, turbo charged diesel engines with nasty particulates - nitrous oxides - but comparitively low carbon dioxide output per litre vs the far cleaner, normally aspirated, multlipoint fuel injected, minimal particulate producing but much higher carbon dioxide output per litre petrol engines FIASCO resulting in an unnatural and inherently less good for air quality bias - indeed a positive encouragement towards buying a diesel car -  with VED or 'benefit in kind' costs for privately owned and business owned motor cars with internal combustion engines cars based SOLELY on their 'green house gas' carbon dioxide output - as measured in the magic 'grams per kilometre' figures obtained under frankly unrepeatable laboratory conditions.

All this is a reflection that we only have one or two professional engineers who are MPs in our houses of parliament and so the whole legislature has had the proverbial wool well and truly  pulled over its eyes and ears for decades with no one 'on the team'  to carry out any scientific checks and balances. Needless to say it has only now been discovered that the process of direct gasoline (petrol) fuel injection produces much higher levels of particulates than the use of mutipoint gasoline (petrol) fuel injection and so now some of the latest GDI 'petrol' engines (where GDI = Gasoline Direct Injection) are having to have Petrol Particulate Filters fitted ( just like modern Turbo Direct Injection Diesel engines have DPFs fitted) in order to meet the emmissions standards demanded by Euro 6 and subsequent Euro Emmissions Standards. However, some skilful manufacturers have managed to design their T-GDI engines to capture most of the excess particulates in suspension in the engine oil which turns from honey gold to brown and eventually to black after each mandatory 10,000 mile interval oil change compared with similarly powered mutli-point fuel injection engines which have theri engine oil remaining visibly honey golden on the dipstick for most of the 10,000 miles of motoring! .

Time to set radical new standards for technical scrutiny within our legislative framework and within oir scientific civil service me thinks ?

It really is a scandal.
 

Re: Is the Science Really Settled?

Posted by Roger Bryant on Sep 2, 2019 9:28 am

Indeed Malcolm. I am a strong believer in reducing our impact on the Planet but focusing on CO2 is not the way to do it. Targeting real pollutants would be much better.

Even Extinction Rebellion admit that diesel can be the best option, especially when you take the full costs into account. I hope they are using bio diesel 😏

7a4e1a3ab8de2896785b00b2604b27da-huge-xr

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/climate-change-protesters-admit-using-16848139

Best regards

Roger


 

Re: Is the Science Really Settled?

Posted by Roger Bryant on Oct 11, 2019 11:43 am

Another commentary on climate science from a professor of physics:

How Climate Change Pseudoscience Became Publicly Accepted
Political and corporate leaders gathered for the climate week in New York City have urged significant action to fight global warming. But, given the high costs of the suggested solutions, could it be that the suggested cure is worse than the disease? As a liberal who grew up in a solar house, I have always been energy-conscious and inclined toward activist solutions to environmental issues. I was therefore extremely surprised when my research as an astrophysicist led me to the conclusion that climate change is more complicated than we are led to believe. The disease is much more benign, and a simple palliative solution lies in front of our eyes. To begin with, the story we hear in the media, that most 20th-century warming is anthropogenic, that the climate is very sensitive to changes in CO2, and that future warming will, therefore, be large and will happen very soon, simply isn’t supported by any direct evidence, only a shaky line of circular reasoning. We “know” that humans must have caused some warming, we see warming, we don’t know of anything else that could have caused the warming, so it adds up. However, there is no calculation based on first principles that leads to a large warming by CO2—none. Mind you, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports state that doubling CO2 will increase the temperatures by anywhere from 1.5 degrees to 4.5 degrees C, a huge range of uncertainty that dates back to the Charney committee from 1979. In fact, there is no evidence on any time scale showing that CO2 variations or other changes to the energy budget cause large temperature variations. There is, however, evidence to the contrary. Tenfold variations in CO2 over the past half-billion years have no correlation whatsoever with temperature; likewise, the climate response to large volcanic eruptions such as Krakatoa. Both examples lead to the inescapable upper limit of 1.5 degrees C per CO2 doubling—much more modest than the sensitive IPCC climate models predict. However, the large sensitivity of the latter is required in order to explain 20th-century warming, or so it is erroneously thought. In 2008, I showed, using various data sets that span as much as a century, that the amount of heat going into the oceans, in sync with the 11-year solar cycle, is an order of magnitude larger than the relatively small effect expected simply from changes in the total solar output. Namely, solar activity variations translate into large changes in the so-called radiative forcing on the climate. Since solar activity significantly increased over the 20th century, a significant fraction of the warming should be then attributed to the sun, and because the overall change in the radiative forcing due to CO2 and solar activity is much larger, climate sensitivity should be on the low side (about 1 to 1.5 degrees C per CO2 doubling). In the decade following the publication of the above, not only was the paper uncontested, more data, this time from satellites, confirmed the large variations associated with solar activity. In light of this hard data, it should be evident by now that a large part of the warming isn’t human, and that future warming from any given emission scenario will be much smaller. Alas, because the climate community developed a blind spot to any evidence that should raise a red flag, such as the aforementioned examples or the much smaller tropospheric warming over the past two decades than models predicted, the rest of the public sees a very distorted view of climate change—a shaky scientific picture that is full of inconsistencies became one of certain calamity. With this public mindset, phenomena such as that of child activist Greta Thunberg are no surprise. Most bothersome, however, is that this mindset has compromised the ability to convey the science to the public. One example from the past month is my interview with Forbes. A few hours after the article was posted online, it was removed by the editors “for failing to meet our editorial standards.” The fact that it’s become politically incorrect to have any scientific discussion has led the public to accept the pseudo-argumentation supporting the catastrophic scenarios. Evidence for warming doesn’t tell us what caused the warming, and any time someone has to appeal to the so-called 97 percent consensus, he or she is doing so because his or her scientific arguments aren’t strong enough. Science isn’t a democracy. Whether the Western world will overcome this ongoing hysteria in the near future, it’s clear that on a time scale of a decade or two, it would be a thing of the past. Not only will there be growing inconsistencies between model and data, a much-stronger force will change the rules of the game. Once China realizes it can’t rely on coal anymore, it will start investing heavily in nuclear power to supply its remarkably increasing energy needs, at which point, the West won’t fall behind. We will then have cheap and clean energy-producing carbon-neutral fuel, and even cheap fertilizers that will make the recently troubling slash-and-burn agriculture redundant. The West would then realize that global warming never was and never will be a serious problem. In the meantime, the extra CO2 in the atmosphere would even increase agriculture yields, as it has been found to do in arid regions in particular. It is plant food after all.

Professor Nir Shaviv @nshaviv is the chairman of the Racah Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

https://www.theepochtimes.com/how-climate-change-pseudoscience-became-publicly-accepted_3093372.html


Best regards
Roger

Re: Is the Science Really Settled?

Posted by Malcolm Davies on Oct 22, 2019 3:33 pm

Wow RB - yet another shocking revelation from your desk. As highlighted in your most recent posting/update - it is indeed very disturbing to hear of any examples relating to the suppression/withdrawal of scientifically sound, 'evidence based' technical arguments, as presented in published articles and technical papers, on the subject of Climate Change and Mankind's Ability/Inability to materially influence our Climate.

More importantly, it begs the question as to what hidden agendas so many administrations and/or the most active and successful lobby groups have in giving such aggressive support to the belief that we all need to radically change our travelling, energy consumption and dietary habits within the next 15 to 20 years, or sooner, in a last chance attempt to save the planet.

Maybe the possibility that our current 'chaotic climate changes' are actually largely beyond our control is too frightening a prospect to swallow. By all means let us legislate to improve air quality in our big cities by controlling the burning of fossil fuels in cars, lorries, homes and and factories and by the use of appropriate alternative technologies to facilitate this improvement.

However when we learn that a highly respected Scandinavian Professor of Physics and GeoSciences recently published a report giving detailed 'whole life cycle' calculations which compared the impact of battery electric cars vs internal combustion engined cars and concluded that their overall environmental damage/impacts were very similar and that even the real world 'cost benefit break even point' for BEV vs ICE could easily be around 250,000 miles - he was told that his figures were unacceptable and that he needed to substantially change/simplify his exhaustive list of facts and initial assumptions. Reluctantly he revised all his assumptions to be either softer or negligible and was discouraged from even considering worst case vs best case scenarios and the breakeven point was still around 80,000 miles - at which point the authorities thanked him for his work and then made sure it got little or no publicity. 

I am following with great interest, the current situation in the USA where New York State is bringing a law suit against The Exxon/Mobil Oil Corporation for allegedly having two sets of figures relating to the likely future impact of emmissions regulations on the future value of stocks and shares in the Oil and Petro-Chemical Industries. Other leagl cases are currently in the pipeleine aginast BP, Shell etc on similar themes. I wonder whether the Oil Industry legal teams will be able to effectively challenge all the assumptions made relating to the alleged close correlation between man made CO2 emissions and climate change - let's face it when there is money and the potential for damages being paid out (cf the VW Diesel Gate Scandal) - but this time running into possibly billions of dollars - it really does tend to focus the mind.

We all wait with bated breath until the next Solar CME that threatends to take out all our GPS Satellites and our power grids etc - roll on the next 11 year/33 year/99 year/300 year etc solar cycle... Do the Corporate Lobby Groups have a PLAN TO COUNTER THAT I WONDER..?
 
   

Re: Is the Science Really Settled?

Posted by Denis McMahon on Nov 1, 2019 7:52 am

Roger Bryant:
Whilst looking for something else I came across this piece on Cloud Climatology on the NASA GISS website. As one of the premier research institutes in this field they don’t seem to think we know enough. Here are some quotes:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
•Clouds cool Earth's surface by reflecting incoming sunlight.
•Clouds warm Earth's surface by absorbing heat emitted from the surface and re-radiating it back down toward the surface.
•Clouds warm or cool Earth's atmosphere by absorbing heat emitted from the surface and radiating it to space.
•Clouds warm and dry Earth's atmosphere and supply water to the surface by forming precipitation.
•Clouds are themselves created by the motions of the atmosphere that are caused by the warming or cooling of radiation and precipitation.
. . .
Best regards
Roger
 

 
I'd like to simplify thing a bit to the level of schoolboy physics. (Does anyone remember Leslie's cube?)
  • Light things reflect radiant heat well and absorb and radiate it badly.
  • Dark things reflect radiant heat badly and absorb and radiate it well.
Clouds are essentially light things. The dark clouds we occasionally see are really thick clouds where the base is in shadow and looks dark against the light sky above. So to examine these quotes individually:

•Clouds cool Earth's surface by reflecting incoming sunlight.
Agreed. That is why it can be swelteringly hot on a cloudless day.

•Clouds warm Earth's surface by absorbing heat emitted from the surface and re-radiating it back down toward the surface.
I have a different take on this. Clouds are poor at absorbing and radiating heat. They are good at reflecting heat radiated from the Earth's surface. That is why a cloudy night is warmer than a cloudless one.

•Clouds warm or cool Earth's atmosphere by absorbing heat emitted from the surface and radiating it to space.
I can't make sense of this. It seems to contradict the previous quote.

•Clouds warm and dry Earth's atmosphere and supply water to the surface by forming precipitation.
•Clouds are themselves created by the motions of the atmosphere that are caused by the warming or cooling of radiation and precipitation.
This is rather confusing. It seems a bit like saying that what goes round comes round.

Overall I would sum this up as good conclusion but poor explanation. I have every confidence in NASA's scientists, but some "dumbing-down" has been going on here.

On my visits to the USA I have visited the Kennedy Space Center more than once. At the popular Visitor Center things are demonstrated to appeal to the general public and put in simple and understandable terms. Measurements are usually given in imperial units, to appeal to the traditional American citizen. A visit to the Research and Education Center shows a very different approach and things are demonstrated on a much higher scientific level. One is left in no doubt that NASA does its measurements primarily in SI units.

In my career I have had much experience in expressing concepts in simple terms to suit the audience, but I would always avoid saying things that are just not true. One of the risks we face is that those responsible for decisions for our future could respond to the simpler explanation and pay less regard to the vital complexities.
Denis McMahon, BSc, MIET, MBCS, PGCE

Re: Is the Science Really Settled?

Posted by Simon Barker on Nov 1, 2019 12:56 pm

Bear in mind that tiny changes can make huge differences to the people on Earth.

The global mean temperature of the Earth is about 288K at the moment.  If it were to go up to 298K, then huge swathes of the planet would become uninhabitable.  That's only a difference of about 3.5%.  Even half that difference would cause major disruption to people farming and living in the hotter parts of the planet.

The Earth is receiving massive amounts of energy from the Sun.  Massive amounts of energy leak back out into space again.  It's the precise balance of those that makes the difference between our present climate, an ice age, or the planet becoming too hot to live.

Re: Is the Science Really Settled?

Posted by Denis McMahon on Nov 2, 2019 6:49 pm

Simon Barker:
Bear in mind that tiny changes can make huge differences to the people on Earth.
. . .
The Earth is receiving massive amounts of energy from the Sun.  Massive amounts of energy leak back out into space again.  It's the precise balance of those that makes the difference between our present climate, an ice age, or the planet becoming too hot to live.

The operative words are "precise balance". There are many unknowns in this debate. One thing we do know is that carbon dioxide levels are rising, for whatever reason, and this is linked with global warming.

It is quite likely that part of the trend of global warming is due to natural cycles. However we must not become complacent, even if it can be proved that this is the main cause. Carbon dioxide generated by mankind's operations is going to boost this trend. This is not helped by tropical forest fires on a large scale, producing vast amounts of carbon dioxide in the process and leaving behind less vegetation to absorb carbon dioxide. It is not helped by global warming causing thawing of tundra, releasing methane, a greenhouse gas, causing further global warming. There are real worries from some quarters that this could become a vicious circle. We have a vested interest in doing what we can to reduce carbon dioxide generation. If climate is indeed so finely balanced, then we cannot presume that the vast increase in carbon dioxide emissions over the past century, due to human activity, has not played a part. Ever- increasing human population is not helping.

If indeed, as has been suggested elsewhere, global warming does level off in the next ten years, there will no doubt be many sighs of relief. But our efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions will not have been without good effect. In the mid-20th century it was taken for granted that factory and household chimneys alike belched out smoke and soot, blackening buildings and jeopardizing our health - but look how we have progressed since then! By checking carbon emissions we are playing our part in maintaining a well-balanced climate and a cleaner planet.
 
Denis McMahon, BSc, MIET, MBCS, PGCE

Re: Is the Science Really Settled?

Posted by Roger Bryant on Nov 6, 2019 11:51 am

"If indeed, as has been suggested elsewhere, global warming does level off in the next ten years, there will no doubt be many sighs of relief. But our efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions will not have been without good effect. In the mid-20th century it was taken for granted that factory and household chimneys alike belched out smoke and soot, blackening buildings and jeopardizing our health - but look how we have progressed since then! By checking carbon emissions we are playing our part in maintaining a well-balanced climate and a cleaner planet. "


Denis, this rather confuses the issue between CO2 and pollution. The all out focus on CO2 is neither sensible or useful. We need to reduce our consumption of finite resources and reduce our impact on the planet. All the 'CO2 Neutral' solutions consume other resources and create additional pollution of many kinds. Replacing conventional thermal power stations before they reach the end of their life is also wasteful of resources unless it is also to reduce other forms of pollution. China is building a large number of new, cleaner, coal fired stations so they can shut down the older more polluting ones.

Is installing solar panels produced using high pollution coal fired power stations in China really sensible? The only reasonable way would be a 'bootstrap' system where you only make renewable energy sources by using renewable energy. Any other way will cause a significant increase in emissions in the medium term.

Best regards

Roger

Re: Is the Science Really Settled?

Posted by Denis McMahon on Nov 8, 2019 7:34 am

Sorry, Roger, if I have confused CO2 emissions with pollution. Maybe we can move forward and see the progress we have made in the 21st Century. We have low-energy lighting in wide use, and the EU encouraging appliance manufacturers to limit consumption whilst maintaining performance. Hence savings in electricity consumption and the attendant demand on natural resources. This cannot be bad, surely?

I too am very sceptical about carbon neutral schemes, whereby a scheme that emits CO2 can be traded against one that supposedly carries substantial savings in this respect. My aim would be to be "carbon negative".

I am sceptical about biomass schemes, whereby huge forests are chopped down, ground down into pellets and transported across oceans. All this surely consumes a great deal of energy, before it is finally burnt in power stations?

You do have a valid point when you talk about the need to use natural resources to manufacture resource-saving devices. There is no simple answer to this, but I do think we are making progress nevertheless. As for "bootstrapping", where is China finding the energy to build its new, low-pollution power stations?
Denis McMahon, BSc, MIET, MBCS, PGCE

Re: Is the Science Really Settled?

Posted by Simon Barker on Nov 8, 2019 8:25 am

Roger Bryant:

Is installing solar panels produced using high pollution coal fired power stations in China really sensible? The only reasonable way would be a 'bootstrap' system where you only make renewable energy sources by using renewable energy. Any other way will cause a significant increase in emissions in the medium term.
 

 
It's got to be better than using coal fired power stations to produce the energy to build more coal fired power stations, and to mine more coal to feed into them.

Re: Is the Science Really Settled?

Posted by Roger Bryant on Nov 12, 2019 12:06 pm

It actually depends on the total resource and energy balance which is generally hard to find. Information for conventional thermal and nuclear is generally available. Finding details of the amount of concrete and steel required to build a 6MW offshore wind turbine is not easy. Finding good information on solar PV manufacture is similarly difficult. This article is getting a little dated but is still reasonable and well referenced:

https://www.resilience.org/stories/2015-05-11/how-sustainable-is-pv-solar-power/

If your focus is solely on CO2 emissions and levels then a 'dash' for solar will increase total emissions which I assume is not the required result.

Best regards

Roger

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