Saturday, December 12, 2015

No Hysteria Needed About Global Warming

The position on global warming (called “climate change” in order to make it more believable) that has gotten the most media attention can be called “climate alarmism.” It’s the idea that without immediate, radical and vastly expensive action, the planet will be destroyed. This is the position of Barack Obama.

At the opposite extreme are warming skeptics, who doubt that the modest run up of temperatures in the late 20th century was the result of human activity. They point out that the earth has been much warmer than it is now at other times in human history, long before the industrial revolution led to an increase in carbon dioxide levels.

In the middle are the “lukewarmers,” who think that human activity has contributed to some warming, but think it is much less than the alarmists believe. These people don’t object to “clean energy” (note the biased language, carbon dioxide is not dirty), but don’t think draconian limits on fossil fuels or vastly expensive government subsidies are needed.

Contrary to the alarmist notion that “the science is settled” in favor of the alarmist position, the very mainstream Scientific American recently published an essay supporting the lukewarmer position.
The climate change debate has been polarized into a simple dichotomy. Either global warming is “real, man-made and dangerous,” as Pres. Barack Obama thinks, or it’s a “hoax,” as Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe thinks. But there is a third possibility: that it is real, man-made and not dangerous, at least not for a long time.

This “lukewarm” option has been boosted by recent climate research, and if it is right, current policies may do more harm than good. For example, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and other bodies agree that the rush to grow biofuels, justified as a decarbonization measure, has raised food prices and contributed to rainforest destruction. Since 2013 aid agencies such as the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the World Bank and the European Investment Bank have restricted funding for building fossil-fuel plants in Asia and Africa; that has slowed progress in bringing electricity to the one billion people who live without it and the four million who die each year from the effects of cooking over wood fires.

In 1990 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was predicting that if emissions rose in a “business as usual” way, which they have done, then global average temperature would rise at the rate of about 0.3 degree Celsius per decade (with an uncertainty range of 0.2 to 0.5 degree C per decade). In the 25 years since, temperature has risen at about 0.1 to 0.2 degree C per decade, depending on whether surface or satellite data is used. The IPCC, in its most recent assessment report, lowered its near-term forecast for the global mean surface temperature over the period 2016 to 2035 to just 0.3 to 0.7 degree C above the 1986–2005 level. That is a warming of 0.1 to 0.2 degree C per decade, in all scenarios, including the high-emissions ones.

At the same time, new studies of climate sensitivity—the amount of warming expected for a doubling of carbon dioxide levels from 0.03 to 0.06 percent in the atmosphere—have suggested that most models are too sensitive. The average sensitivity of the 108 model runs considered by the IPCC is 3.2 degrees C. As Pat Michaels, a climatologist and self-described global warming skeptic at the Cato Institute testified to Congress in July, certain studies of sensitivity published since 2011 find an average sensitivity of 2 degrees C.

Such lower sensitivity does not contradict greenhouse-effect physics. The theory of dangerous climate change is based not just on carbon dioxide warming but on positive and negative feedback effects from water vapor and phenomena such as clouds and airborne aerosols from coal burning. Doubling carbon dioxide levels, alone, should produce just over 1 degree C of warming. These feedback effects have been poorly estimated, and almost certainly overestimated, in the models.

The last IPCC report also included a table debunking many worries about “tipping points” to abrupt climate change. For example, it says a sudden methane release from the ocean, or a slowdown of the Gulf Stream, are “very unlikely” and that a collapse of the West Antarctic or Greenland ice sheets during this century is “exceptionally unlikely.”

If sensitivity is low and climate change continues at the same rate as it has over the past 50 years, then dangerous warming—usually defined as starting at 2 degrees C above preindustrial levels—is about a century away. So we do not need to rush into subsidizing inefficient and land-hungry technologies, such as wind and solar or risk depriving poor people access to the beneficial effects of cheap electricity via fossil fuels.

As the upcoming Paris climate conference shows, the world is awash with plans, promises and policies to tackle climate change. But they are having little effect. Ten years ago the world derived 87 percent of its primary energy from fossil fuels; today, according the widely respected BP statistical review of world energy, the figure is still 87 percent. The decline in nuclear power has been matched by the rise in renewables but the proportion coming from wind and solar is still only 1 percent.

Getting the price of low-carbon energy much lower will do the trick. So we should spend the coming decades stepping up research and development of new energy technologies. Many people may reply that we don’t have time to wait for that to bear fruit, but given the latest lukewarm science of climate change, I think we probably do.

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Blogger jimspice said...

Are you still standing behind your claim there's been no warming since 1997?

2:56 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

>>> Are you still standing behind your claim there's been no warming since 1997? <<<


Satellite readings don't show any warming, and earth stations don't, unless you accept the new "adjusted" NOAA estimates.

But somehow, NOAA didn't see the need for the current set of "adjustments" until the lack of warming became terribly embarrassing.

But I suppose if Bruce Jenner can "adjust" his figure to make it look the way he wants, NOAA can "adjust" their figures to make them look the way they want.

P.S. Do you still believe in catastrophic global warming?

1:07 PM  
Blogger jimspice said...

Spoken like a true man of science there John. Here's that satellite data to which you refer.

2:36 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

I've afraid what you have found is an algorithm that fails to properly weight the 1998 value.

I can play with the numbers too:

3:30 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Here are some analyses you should look at:

3:36 PM  
Blogger jimspice said...

Yeah, seen it. Doesn't hold up anymore as I've pointed out. So throw a dummy variable in there for El Nino years. How does your no-pause fare then? Why don't you do an outlyer analysis why you're at it. If you don't know how, I'm sure one of your grad students could walk you through it. BTW, the UAH data set is the one preferred by the "skeptic" crowd. Or should I say WAS, until it no longer supported their case, then they jumped back on board the RSS bandwagon.

10:22 PM  
Blogger jimspice said...

BTW2, extend that Monckton "analysis" by one month, and the slope becomes positive. So you must agree that the "pause" has ended.

10:29 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

BTW, the UAH data set is the one preferred by the "skeptic" crowd. Or should I say WAS, until it no longer supported their case, then they jumped back on board the RSS bandwagon.

I don't see that:

Looks pretty much flat since 1998.

So throw a dummy variable in there for El Nino years. How does your no-pause fare then?

Oh, you mean take out data that's inconvenient.

You folks were very happy to have the El Nino effect in the late 1990s, when it helped you show a positive slope for the last few decades. Now you want it excluded.

The global temperature is an agglomeration of lots of different effects, including El Nino. If you get to take that out, I get to take out warm years that were the result of some anomaly.

11:44 PM  
Blogger jimspice said...

What? Inclusion of a dummy variable in no way excludes data. If you prefer, we could plug in Sea Surface Temperature anomalies or the Southern Oscillation Index to pick up the El Nino effect, but these tend to introduce auto-correlation issues, and if you don't grasp the role of dummy variables, I highly doubt you'd be able to sort that out.

9:23 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

What? Inclusion of a dummy variable in no way excludes data.

"Dummying out" El Nino would produce a trend that excludes the El Nino years from the trend. That's a simple fact.

It would produce a trend with the observations you find inconvenient excluded from the estimation of the trend, and consigned to the "El Nino" dummy.

And I know dummy variables perfectly well.

Have you ever had an article that uses statistics published in a peer reviewed journal? I have.

2:10 PM  

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