Posts Tagged Global Warming

CFCs, not CO2?

Could CFCs, already known to be responsible for the ozone hole, also be responsible for global temperature change, rather than CO2?

That’s the conclusion from a new paper in Modern Physics B, a high-level peer-reviewed journal.  The paper found that while the correlation between recent temperature anomalies and  CO2 was close to 0 – as in, no correlation whatsoever – the correlation to CFCs was close to 1, almost a perfect fit:

Climate scientists have been hard-put to explain the fact that there’s been no net warming since 1998, despite increases in atmospheric CO2.  If this is true, it is extraordinarily good news.  CFC usage has been heavily reduced since their effects on the ozone layer were discovered, and are slowly being removed from the atmosphere.  The 15-year lull in warming would not, then, be a pause before further warming, but the top of the roller coaster before we headed back down.

But more important, even the publication of the piece pulls the rug out from underneath the climate alarmists, who have been telling us for well over a decade that The Science Is Settled, and that CO2 emissions are responsible for global warming – or, as they now prefer, “climate change.”  There has been plenty of reason to doubt these conclusions – historically, CO2 levels have closely led, rather than closely training, global temperatures.  Moreover, climate has been changing for millennia, long before the industrial revolution.  And recent papers have also cast doubt on the speed with which temperatures have actually been increasing.

CO2 emissions have become something of a totem in current policy debates, inserting themselves into just about every discussion, and they have been responsible for some of the most distortionist of recent economic policies.  The people who suffer from these policies most are, of course, the poorest. Globally, the poorest find themselves victimized by added costs for their countries to industrialize and modernize.  Locally, Americans find themselves with higher utility costs from green subsidies, higher food costs from diverting massive amounts of corn to ethanol, higher housing costs from mandatory efficiency requirements in building codes, and higher transportation costs from boondoggles like “cash-for-clunkers.”   And of course, such policies make jobs scarcer for college grads, and less remunerative for a middle class already finding it hard to save for their futures.

On a grander scale, “greenhouse gas emissions” end up being the justification for wasteful light-rail, high-speed rail, and streetcar projects, and the excuse for diverting ever-more tax dollars into losing efforts to force people out of suburbs an into higher-density city centers.  The Supreme Court’s ruling that CO2 is a pollutant has given the EPA carte-blanche to interfere in just about every industrial process in the country.  This despite the fact that natural gas use has allowed the US’s CO2 emissions to fall to 1992 levels, even as actual industrial production has risen, without massive government intervention.

As, the climate alarmists have been seeing the debate slip away from them, they have resorted to more anti-science, political hardball tactics.  The Climategate I and Climategate II emails laid bare the ruthlessness with which they treated those who questioned their orthodoxy.  Recently, it was revealed that the Texas A&M Atmospheric Sciences Department was requiring what amounted to a climate loyalty oath for its faculty – usually not a sign of security that one’s position is supported by the actual science.

Add this paper to the growing body of evidence undermining the need for massive reordering of the global economy in order to stave off a disaster that looks increasingly unlikely.

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Snow Shovel-Ready

Michael Mann may get some use out of that hockey stick yet.

After a particularly quiet solar minimum, solar physicists are preparing for the possibility that sunspots may be scarce for a while:

Hill’s own research focuses on surface pulsations of the Sun and their relationship with sunspots, and his team has already used their methods to successfully predict the late onset of Cycle 24.

…Hill’s results match those from physicists Matt Penn and William Livingston, who have gone over 13 years of sunspot data from the McMath-Pierce Telescope at Kitt Peak in Arizona. They have seen the strength of the magnetic fields which create sunspots declining steadily.

Three different methods all confirm that we’re headed into uncharted solar waters, potentially rivaling the Maunder Minimum, which coincided with a particularly severe 70-year stretch of the so-called Little Ice Age:

Naturally, the headline writers have seized on the term “Ice Age,” with the result that people who only read the headlines think that they’re likely to wake up one morning in 2025 only to see that the massive 10-ft wall of blue ice has finally sealed them into their homes for good.

In fact, the Little Ice Age may have been a regional phenomenon, affecting the northern hemisphere.  OK, yes, that’s where most of the land is, and, yes, that where most of the people live, so this isn’t necessarily good news by any stretch.  Cooler periods tend to be drier and less fertile, although better for ice skating on wide, frozen rivers.  But we don’t know the magnitude of the effect of diminishing the sun’s input.  It certainly seems counter-intuitive at best to argue that the earth will be just as good if not better at capturing the sun’s heat when there’s less of it coming in.

Sure, the Hockey Puck has one hockey stick that can state with certitude that less heat from the sun absolutely, positively, won’t make any different whatsoever in the earth’s climate, which seems a little silly to me, inasmuch as it gets colder at night.  But most actual scientists, you know, the ones who aren’t going around trying to suppress their model, data, or emails, recognize that the climate is a complex chaotic system, and that even small changes in the inputs can result in huge and sudden variations in the output.

NASA, for instance:

And the changes in the inputs may not be as small as the Nittany Lyin’ wants to assert:

In a recent paper in Geophysical Research Letters, solar physicist Karel Schrijver of the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, California, and his colleagues argue that during the Maunder Minimum, the sun couldn’t have dimmed enough to explain the Little Ice Age. Even during a prolonged minimum, they claim, an extensive network of very small faculae on the sun’s hot surface remains to keep the energy output above a certain threshold level.

Not so, says Peter Foukal, an independent solar physicist with Heliophysics Inc. in Nahant, Massachusetts, who contends that Schrijver and his colleagues are “assuming an answer” in a circular argument. According to Foukal, who presented his work yesterday here at the summer meeting of the American Astronomical Society, there is no reason to believe that the network of small faculae would persist during long periods of solar quiescence. In fact, he says, observations between 2007 and 2009, when the sun was spotless for an unusually long time, reveal that all forms of magnetic activity diminished, including the small-faculae network.

What’s more, detailed observations from orbiting solar telescopes have shown that the small faculae pump out more energy per unit surface area than the larger ones already known to disappear along with the sunspots. So if the small faculae start to fade, too, that would have an even stronger effect on the total energy production of the sun. “There’s tantalizing evidence that [during the Maunder Minimum] the sun may have actually dimmed more than we have thought until now,” Foukal says.

Let’s assume, just for argument, that we’re in for a century’s worth or so of cooling temps.  That would imply that just about every policy we’re pursuing right now to prevent “climate change,” is both ineffectual and mistaken.  Instead of eating our food, we’re burning it for fuel.  Instead of expanding our energy resources, we’re constricting them, just at the time when some natural gas might come in handy on those cold, dark, May nights.

Most of these policies are easily reversible, given the will, but Global Warmism has become such an idee fixee on the part of the political class and its bought-and-paid for scientists that they’re more than capable of looking at a cooling thermometer (as it has been for the last 13 years), and declaring that nothing’s changed.  Self-trained to see nothing but warming, and certain that they’ll be insulated from any ill-effects, the political class will, like their predecessors in Soviet Ag Policy, declare that every crop failure or shortage is a result of “special circumstances.”

I’m not sure I place any more faith in NASA’s complex models just because the results are sort of comforting and sort of intuitive.  (There’s a reason Easy-Bake Ovens don’t work very well.)  That has to go for the other side, as well, but then, that would require a level of intellectual honesty that a dependence on a government-funded viewpoint precludes.

So expect this report – and any actual observations that James Hanson sees fit to print – to change the political debate over climate change not one bit.  But for those paying attention, a climate science that’s been maundering about quite a bit on its own is likely to get some very interesting data over the next few decades.

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