Most people know the old adage “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” How does that saying apply to Climate Science? While, in 2001, the UN IPCC’s Third Assessment Report (TAR, 2001) conceded that
“climate study should focus on factors which may affect climate change during the next century,”
there is really only one factor today that matters to climate modellers and policy-makers alike – CO2. How did that happen? Following the embrace of Mann’s Hockey Stick graph and prior to the release of the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4, 2007), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) narrowed the focus and research funding for Climate Change. They redefined it in Article 1 of the UNFCCC to be
“a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over considerable time periods.”
Is it any wonder that climate modellers have failed dismally at predicting future global temperatures? Their models were all crippled from birth as forcing assumptions betrayed any pretence of neutrality. They shout “it’s all about the greenhouse, baby” while natural drivers like the sun are written off as being trivial.
The other day, I watched a video of two scientists debating the role of humans in climate change, more specifically, in relation to the addition of CO2 to the atmosphere. It was actually a pleasure to hear opposing sides of the argument stated with an appeal to evidence and without the alarmist rhetoric that pervades today’s media. The key point made by the AGW proponent was that “it’s actually quite simple.” Scott Denning argued that the dominant driver of AGW is the Radiative Green House Effect with mankind’s use of fossil fuels and the resultant CO2 emissions being responsible. He demonstrated, with gyrating arms and a “woo, woo” sound, how CO2 molecules absorb heat energy, vibrate and radiate it back to earth. Nothing else is worth considering, he argued.
This narrative, started by Al Gore, has been picked up and spread by scientists and children alike. The latter, led by Greta Thunberg, have been thrust forward by the popular media in an attempt to shame those who resist the alarmist rhetoric.
Astrophysicist, Professor Willie Soon holds a very different view to the modellers and policy-makers. He often speaks to a modified version of the 1974 Kellogg and Schneider systems diagram (refer below) like the ones my friend Richard has mastered.Soon argues that climate is actually a very complex system and that to assume CO2 has the only significant impact strains credulity. To understand climate change properly, many scientific disciplines are required including astrophysics, geology, oceanography, paleontology, climatology, meteorology and photochemistry to name a few. This is actually the crux of the entire Climate Change debate. Simple or Complex – which is it? After all, Einstein himself stated that
“it can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.”
Constrained by the UNFCCC’s narrowed definition of Climate Change, modellers moved to simplify their assumptions, using CO2 as the critical variable. Thankfully, empirical evidence is the best judge of any hypothesis. If CO2 is so dominant, then high-quality temperature data could validate the AGW position easily; it should rise and fall in proportion to that of the gas levels.
In Fool’s Gold, I mentioned the 2015 research paper describing the Connolly’s findings regarding LST measurement from high-quality, long-standing weather stations. After eliminating the urban heat island effect and micro-site biases from the temperature record, the Connolly’s graph showed a distinct variability and common temperature pattern across all regions studied – warming till the 40’s, a cooling trend till the later 70’s and then further warming through the end of the 20th century. This rise and fall in temperature cannot be explained as a function of CO2 only, as the latter has risen steadily since the 1920’s. This demonstrates that the RGHE simply does not work as claimed.
“The great tragedy of Science — the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.”
There must be other drivers of warming. It appears not to be as simple as the UN IPCC would like it to be.
The Connollys collaborated with Soon to produce their research paper, testing a solar warming hypothesis. Soon had been studying the effects of the sun on the earth’s climate system for several decades leading to their paper. His preferred Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) estimate (refer to graph 1 – Hoyt and Schatten) had been eliminated from UN IPCC forcing assumptions after 1994 in favour of estimates with far less variability. Amazingly, when Soon’s TSI estimates were compared with the Connolly rural LST data, lo and behold, a notable relationship was discovered. It may not be the whole story, but the two sets of data do indicate what Willie Soon likes to say, in an understated way:
“the sun also warms.”
Why such a stark difference in TSI estimate values? The preferred UN IPCC solar forcing estimates (Wang, Krivova, Steinhilber and Vieira et al.) seem to consider the sun to be little more than a giant heat lamp in the sky with the thermostat stuck in place for the past 200 years. Serious astrophysicists draw upon a much deeper understanding of solar activity when forming their estimates. They include an ~ 11-year sunspot cycle, routine reversal of solar magnetic polarity and the impact of solar wind on atmospheric ionisation. Together, these astrophysical events contribute to much higher variability in both Radiative flux levels and reflectivity from the influence on cloud production than the UN IPCC is willing to acknowledge. Israeli scientist Nir Shaviv has demonstrated how solar wind modulation of cosmic rays governs the amount of atmospheric ionisation by affecting the formation of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). These CCNs have the ability to create highly-reflective white clouds which aid in cooling the earth. Shaviv’s claim of a high variability solar estimate appears highly plausible. The graph (right) shows a strong link between solar activity and the rise and fall of sea levels.
As mentioned earlier, climate modellers have minimised the solar heating effect and other natural causes, and have conversely dialled up the CO2 warming sensitivity via the RGHE. However, the effect of clouds is essentially absent from Climate Models. Scientific elites may think it’s OK to ignore clouds. Funny, I’ve never heard a farmer or bricklayer argue against the effect that clouds have on temperature; cooling significantly during the day-time and warming at night. Unfortunately for them, modellers have put all of their eggs in a “simple” RGHE model because they understand the science at the molecular level and can express it mathematically. Too bad the data doesn’t support their hypothesis.
Data demonstrates clearly that the sun exerts a significant influence on the earth’s temperature. Who’d have thunk it? I trust that this article has provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the climate system is not simple. Instead, it is complex and factors other than CO2 must cause warming and cooling, as CO2 simply cannot do this solo. So now, which of the following positions do you consider to be more plausibly true?
As described throughout this article, the key assertion of climate modellers is that the Radiative Green House Effect (with CO2 as the main factor) provides the primary mechanism for global warming. My next article will go to the heart of this argument, providing not one, but two distinctly different sets of compelling evidence that disprove the effect of the Radiative Green House Effect through 80 – 90 % of the earth’s atmosphere. Stay tuned!