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Memories of the 28th Century

The Modern King Canute

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I don’t like repeating myself, but sometimes appropriate people do not hear, so repitition is necessary. Today I had the misfortune of hearing Obama making noise about trying to command the tide to stand in its place, specifically the tide of cyclical change in climate. Those who deny the validity of science still believe, in a few cases, the CO2 put into the atmosphere by human activities has led to an increase in surface temperatures. There are a few problems with that: CO2 is a very weak greenhouse gas, the increase in atmospheric CO2 has followed the increases in temperature, and temperatures stopped rising fifteen years ago, but during those years CO2 levels increased substantially.

The characteristic that enables a gas to act as a greenhouse gas is that it is a molecular dipole, which means that one side of it has a positive charge and the other side has a negative charge. Most gases are not dipoles, except ones that have asymmetrical shapes. Water is quite asymmetrical, and it is a strong dipole. CO2 is perfectly symmetrical, so it is not a dipole, and it emits very little in the infrared part of the spectrum.

While it is true that temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels rise and fall more or less together; the temperature changes lead the CO2 levels. This is something that can be seen readily in many graphs of CO2 and temperature, so I won’t flog this any more than necessary.

There was an excellent article in The Economist (link below) about the IPCC September 2013 report that reported that the change in temperatures over the last fifteen years was nil, even though atmospheric CO2 rose from 350 ppm in 1988 to October 2013: 393.66 ppm
“The rate of warming over the past 15 years,” it says, “[is] 0.05ºC per decade...smaller than the rate calculated since 1951.” (From the IPCC report)

And the comments and summary at this site: says what I was planning to write. Some pieces are pasted below:
The IPCC concedes for the first time that a 15 year-long period of insignificant warming has occurred since 1998 despite a 7% rise in carbon dioxide. It also acknowledges that on a longer (more climatic) time scale the rate of global warming has decelerated since 1951, despite an accompanying 80 ppm or 26% increase in carbon dioxide (312 to 392 ppm).

If the theoretical underpinning of the CO2 theory of global warming were correct, then warming would have increased in that period when the CO2 concentration increased from 312 ppm to 392 ppm. That it did not shows that that theory is false.

This is a turn about in this report from earlier reports: “It is very likely that the annual mean Antarctic sea ice extent increased … (by) 1.2-1.8% per decade between 1979 and 2012” (SPM-6).

This section may be the most telling. It appears that the IPCC is accepting that proposition that there may not be any need for the panic that they had been trying to spread.
8. “The transient climate response*** is likely in the range of 1.0 deg. C to 2.5 deg. C … and extremely unlikely greater than 3 deg. C” (SPM-12).

By reducing the bottom of the range of TCR to 1.0 deg. C, the IPCC’s estimate of human-caused warming for the rest of the twenty-first century now overlaps with those many independent scientists who put the response in the range of 0.3 to 1.2 deg. C. (NIPCC, Chapter 1, Section 1.1.5). In setting the top of the range at 3.0 deg. C, the IPCC’s estimate now falls within the range of natural climate variation over the last 6 million years. Because it falls within the warm natural temperature limit that planet Earth has attained recently, any such change (should it actually happen) is unlikely to be “dangerous” (NIPCC, Chapter 1).

Even with the IPCC admitting that climate change is not worthy of worry, Obama recently suggested that the U.S. should do something about it. That is dangerous, because it would not be difficult to start a new ice age or little ice age, at least. Having politicians play around with the atmosphere is much more frightening than anything that nature is likely to serve up.

You can read the actual report at the IPCC site.
Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis

Please inform your representatives that there is no problem with climate, and that they should not muck around with the atmosphere, or they may create a real problem.

Updated 11-23-2013 at 03:45 PM by PeterL