Climate Change Questions
December 16, 2009
Andrew Glikson of the Australian National University at Canberra talks with Lord Monckton.
1. Are human activities contributing to climate change? How do we know the atmosphere build up of greenhouse gases is due to human activity?
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Lord Christopher Monckton
Glikson: Since the industrial revolution in the mid-18th century, combustion of fossil fuel resulted in the emission of more than 320 billion tons of carbon in the form of CO2. This is more than half the pre-industrial carbon content of the atmosphere of 590 billion tons. About 200 billion tons stayed in the atmosphere, raising CO2 concentration from 280 parts per million (ppm) to the current level of 388 ppm.
M of B: So CO2 occupies one part in ten thousand more of the atmosphere than it did 250 years ago. If we do not reduce our emissions, it will occupy one part in 2000 more in another 100 years. The warming effect of each additional molecule of CO2 is less than that of its predecessor. The CO2 that is already in the atmosphere is causing very nearly all of the warming that CO2 can cause. Even if – per impossibile – the IPCC’s wildly-exaggerated central estimate of the warming effect of CO2 were correct, we are only adding 2 ppmv/year to CO2 concentration, so that shutting down the entire global economy for a year would forestall just 4.7 ln (390/388) = 0.024 C of warming. At today’s emissions rate, we’d need to go on doing that for 41 years to forestall just 1 C of warming.
Glikson: When the effects of the gas methane (CH4) are included in the total greenhouse effect, the total rise of greenhouse gases is equivalent to 460 ppm CO2.
M of B: Methane occupies just two-thirds of a part per million of the atmosphere, and its radiative effect is 23 times that of CO2, so its entire existing concentration has a warming effect equivalent to that of just 14 ppmv of CO2, of which not more than 4 ppmv is attributable to humankind – so, in effect, we have added 108 + 4 = 112 ppmv CO2 to the pre-existing 278 ppmv, making around 400 ppmv CO2 equivalent, not 460 ppmv.
Glikson: Consistent with the basic laws of physics and chemistry, experimental evidence and direct observations in nature, greenhouse gases, including water vapour [H2O], carbon dioxide [CO2], methane [CH4], nitrous oxide [N2O], and ozone [O3] possess heat-trapping and heat-emitting capacity.
M of B: The effect of all greenhouse gases except water vapour and carbon dioxide is so small that it may be left out of account without significant error.
Glikson: This characteristic arises from the translation of heat into kinetic energy (internal vibration of gas molecules) and, conversely, of kinetic energy to heat. The concentration of greenhouse molecules in the atmosphere thus acts as a ‘warm blanket’ without which the mean temperature of the Earth surface would have been about 30oC lower than the present mean level of about 14oC.
In fact, one must also allow for the reduction in the Earth’s albedo (its propensity to reflect sunlight harmlessly straight back to space) from 0.30 to 0.16 in the absence of clouds. Therefore the Earth’s surface today is not 30 C° warmer but just 20 C° warmer than it was when there was no atmosphere.
2. How reliable are predictions of future climate?
Glikson: Rapid climate change is happening in the present time, as manifested by polar ice melt, sea level rise, prolonged droughts in Australia, China, Argentina and the US, extreme weather events and acidification of the oceans.
M of B: The climate has been changing for 4.5 billion years, ever since the planet first came into existence. The question is whether the changes in today’s climate are beyond its natural variability. The answer, in each of the instances of “rapid climate change” mentioned by Dr. Glikson, is No.
Polar ice melt: Ice has been accumulating in Greenland (at a rate of 2 inches a year, averaged across the entire ice sheet) for 11 years (Johannessen et al., 2005). Antarctic has cooled throughout the period of the satellite record, though a single paper (Stieg et al., 2009) has unsuccessfully tried to argue otherwise, by inventing data that were not actually measured. In fact, the extent of sea ice around Antarctica has grown steadily throughout the satellite record, and reached a 30-year maximum in October 2007, just three weeks after the Arctic sea-ice extent had reached a 30-year minimum. Overall, there has been virtually no trend in global sea-ice extent in 30 years.
Sea-level rise: Ever since satellites began measuring sea-level rise by altimetry against a reference geoid in 1993, sea level has been rising at a mean rate of just 1 ft (0.3 m) per century, very similar to the 8 inches/century observed by tide-gauges in the 20th century. Indeed, even the tiny increase from 8 to 12 inches (0.2 to 0.3 m) per century is probably an artefact of the change in measuring systems rather than a consequence of “global warming”. Prof. Niklas Moerner, who has written 530 papers in the scientific literature, many of them on sea-level rise, says he expects sea level to rise by just 4 inches (10 cm) this century. In the past four years, sea level has not risen at all.
Droughts in Australia, China, Argentina, and the US: The pattern of droughts has shown no overall increase worldwide. Droughts have always occurred in human history, wiping out civilizations from South America and Africa to India and China. They are not new. Australia has a desert climate and has long been affected by droughts. In the US, the worst drought in recent times was in the 1920s and 1930s in the Great Plains, which John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath powerfully describes.
Extreme-weather events: The UN’s climate panel explicitly gives warnings against attributing extreme-weather events of any kind to anthropogenic “global warming”. For instance, the number of hurricanes making landfall in the US has not risen in 150 years. And it is settled science that a warmer planet would also be a calmer planet, weather-wise, because it is the absolute difference between extremes of temperature that causes storms, and warmer weather reduces this difference, consequently diminishing the power of storms. I am grateful to Professor Richard Lindzen for explaining this.
Acidification of the oceans: This is the fall-back position of those who are desperate to maintain that CO2 is bad for us, now that it is clear that “global warming” at the extreme rate predicted by the UN’s climate panel is not occurring and is not going to occur. Professor Ian Plimer of the University of Adelaide says that because the oceans rub up against trillions of square miles of rock they will always be – as they have always been – alkaline. In the Cambrian era, 550 million years ago, the alkalinity of the oceans was much as it is today, even though CO2 concentration in the atmosphere was 2o times today’s level. It was in that era that the calcite corals originated: they could not have done so if the oceans had been acid. Likewise, the delicate aragonite corals evolved in the Jurassic era, 175 million years ago, when CO2 concentration was again close to 20 times today’s. Calcium ranks only seventh among the substances in the ocean that could in theory acidify it: however, it is present in such small quantities that it cannot make a difference. Indeed, even if all of the CO2 we emit this century were to end up immediately in the oceans (in which case it would not cause any “global warming” at all), the CO2 already in the oceans, where there is 70 times as much of it as there is in the atmosphere, would increase by little more than 1%. The idea that so small an increase in concentration could possibly cause any measurable acidification is simply nonsense.
Glikson: The world’s major climate science research organizations (Hadley Met Office, NASA/GISS, Colorado NSIDC, Tyndall Climate Centre, Potsdam Climate Impact Institute, CSIRO, BOM) and university-based climate scientists have projected the current trends since the 1980s, including pioneering authorities such as Professor James Hansen and his group (NASA), Professor Wally Broecker (Columbia University), Professor Joachim Schellnhuber and Professor Stephan Rahmstorf (Potsdam), Dr Barrie Pittock, Dr Graeme Pearman and Dr Ian Enting (former CSIRO climate scientists).
M of B: Many of these organizations are deeply implicated in the Climategate scandal. The emails between them have demonstrated a systematic, self-serving, ruthless readiness to invent, fabricate, distort, alter, suppress, hide, conceal or even destroy scientific data for the sake of reaching the answer they want. That is not how science is done. James Hansen is not a professor, and his forecast in 1988 of how fast global temperatures would rise is “pioneering” only in the sense that it has proven to be a ludicrous and fanciful exaggeration, a technique that other scientists have copied with profitable alacrity. Many of the other scientists named by Dr. Glikson have a reputation for bending science to suit their political stance: and the sheer nastiness of most of them can be gauged from reading the Climategate emails.
In any event, science is not done by consensus, nor by reputation. The “consensus” argument, known as the argumentum ad populum or head-count fallacy, is one of the dozen ancient and by now well-worn logical fallacies first codified by Aristotle. The “reputation” fallacy is the argumentum ad verecundiam. Neither of these fallacious arguments is acceptable. All of the scientists mentioned by Dr. Glikson are funded by taxpayers, as is Dr. Glikson himself. All of them, therefore, have a direct, financial vested interest in promoting and maintaining the “global warming” scare, which has panicked scientifically-illiterate politicians into throwing billions of wasted dollars at the scientists to make their scare go away. It is not necessary to allege that each of those named has fallen prey to the temptation to enrich himself at our expense by banging the drum for “global warming: it is necessary only to establish that motives of this kind exist and that, therefore, mere numbers or mere reputation are not enough to establish a scientific case. Aristotle was right.
Glikson: The atmospheric energy rise exerted by the well-mixed greenhouse gases, mainly CO2 and methane, is consistent with the basic laws of physics and chemistry and with calculations and observations in nature and the laboratory.
M of B: Unfortunately for Dr. Glikson, the direct warming effect of CO2 is only one-third of the warming predicted by the UN. Even this direct effect is problematic, in that it is simply not possible to simulate the entire 20-mile vertical atmospheric column in the laboratory. At low altitudes, for instance, the principal absorption band of CO2 is already almost saturated, allowing very little opportunity for further warming. At higher altitudes, the atmosphere is not dense enough. Methane, as we have already shown, is simply irrelevant, and would remain so even if we were to quintuple its atmospheric concentration.
However, the UN multiplies the direct warming effect of CO2 by 3 to allow for what are known as “temperature feedbacks” – changes in global temperature that occur purely because temperature has already changed. Not one of these feedbacks can be directly measured, and the UN is unable to assign any “level of scientific understanding” to them, because our understanding of them is negligible. Notwithstanding our very low understanding of temperature feedbacks, the UN has somehow decided – on no credible evidence at all – that it should be allowed to triple the direct warming effect of CO2 to take account of them. Yet it is clear from numerous studies that the UN has prodigiously exaggerated the biggest two positive feedbacks – that from water vapor and that from cloud albedo. Most climate-sensitivity studies – those which quantify the amount of warming to be expected from a given proportionate increase in CO2 concentration – now find that the UN has exaggerated CO2’s warming effect between threefold and sixfold.
Glikson: Measurements of solar radiation and cosmic rays rule out these factors as drivers of climate change since the mid-20th century.
M of B: Once again, Dr. Glikson is not abreast of the latest research. Though the relatively small changes in solar irradiance between the maxima and minima of the solar activity cycle are in themselves too small to make much difference, it has long been observed that weather on Earth changes markedly in parallel with these cycles. Professor Henrik Svensmark has performed detailed experiments and calculations, in collaboration with scientists from all around the world, so as to demonstrate that it is changes in the magnetic activity of the Sun that alter the quantity of cosmic rays entering our atmosphere and serving as nuclei for the formation of cloud droplets. His theory is extremely unpopular with scientists making their fortunes from the “global warming” scare, because on both very long and very short timescales he has been able to demonstrate the correlation between solar activity, cosmic-ray deflection and variations in cloud nucleation. The Sun cannot safely be dismissed as the main driver of today’s changes in the Earth’s climate. Scafetta and West (2008), for instance, attribute two-thirds of the “global warming” of the past half century to the Sun.
3. Are temperatures rising?
Glikson: While decade-long climate trends manifest global warming, superposition by the El Nino – La-Nina (ENSO) cycle and the 11 years-long sunspot cycle results in a zigzag upward trend of global temperatures. As the globe warms and the energy levels of the atmosphere increase, short term climate variability is increasing.
M of B: Here are the facts. It was around 7 C warmer than the present throughout most of the past 600 million years, warmer by up to 6 C during each of the last half dozen interglacial warm periods over the past 850,000 years (there was no ice on Greenland that far back), warmer during 7500 of the last 11,400 years, warmer during the Holocene climate maximum 7500 years ago, warmer during the Minoan warm period, warmer during the Roman warm period, and warmer during the Medieval warm period.
The present “global warming” began 300 years ago, at the end of the long period of comparative solar inactivity called the Little Ice Age. Then, in parallel with the recovery of solar activity, temperatures worldwide began to climb. Solar activity peaked during the Grand Maximum of the last 70 years of the 20th century. For the past few years, however, solar activity has been in decline. Therefore, there has been no statistically-significant increase in global temperatures in a decade and a half.
Glikson: Mean global temperature has risen since the 18th century by about 0.8oC, plus about 0.5oC masked by the cooling effect of emitted sulphur aerosols. Following steep mean global warming by about 0.45oC from 1975 to 1997, a major El-Nino peak in 1998 drove mean global temperature upward by another 0.2oC. Following this peak temperature continued to rise by about 0.3oC from 1999 toward a peak in 2007, followed by a strong La-Nina phase which brought temperatures down by about 0.4oC. Currently temperatures are rising, heralding a new El-Nino phase (figure 1).
M of B: Akasofu (2008) finds that temperatures have risen by around 0.5 C/century during each of the past three centuries, in parallel with the warming over that period. During 280 of those 300 years, our own contribution to the warming must have been infinitesimal and not detectable by measurement. During the 20 years 1975-1995, we might in theory have caused some warming – except that the rate of warming during those years was no greater than the rate of warming from 1860-1880 and again from 1910-1940, two periods during which our influence on temperature was negligible. So there is no, repeat no, anthropogenic effect on temperatures that is yet measurable.
Since the turn of the millennium on 1 January 2001, there has been a global cooling trend that is rapid and statistically-significant. Dr. Glikson has only been able to pretend that there was a rising trend over that period by taking as his endpoint the temperature peak caused by the prominent el Nino southern oscillation – a natural event – that occurred in 2007.
4. Why should a few degrees’ warming be a concern?
Glikson: As distinct from changes in the weather, which can vary sharply by tens of degrees over short periods, a medium to long term upward trend of mean global temperatures by several degrees Celsius results in progressive shift in climate zones from the tropics toward the poles. This ensues in drying of the mid-latitudes, such as southeast and southwest Australia, sea level rise (from about 1.1 mm/year early in the 20th century to about 3.7 mm/year at present), ocean acidification (pH reduced by about -0.1 points) and intensification of extreme weather events, including floods and fires.
M of B: In fact, the Clausius-Clapeyron relation – one of the few proven results in the slippery subject of climatology – mandates that, as the space occupied by the atmosphere warms, the atmosphere is capable of carrying near-exponentially more water vapor. This, in turn, should increase cloud cover and rainfall generally, though the spatial distribution will not necessarily be the same as it is today. As for ocean acidification, there has been no attempt at worldwide measurement of the acid-base balance (measured on a logarithmic scale of pH values): the figure mentioned by Dr. Glikson is merely a computer model’s projection. Nor is there any evidence for “intensification” of extreme-weather events – there has simply not been enough warming, particularly over the past 15 years, to cause any such thing.
Glikson: Human agriculture could only develop in river valleys from about 7000 years ago when the climate stabilized and a balance was achieved between mountain glaciers and the monsoons, allowing near-constant river flow and thereby irrigation. A rise in mean global temperature results in melting of mountain glaciers, such as in the Himalaya, disrupting the great rivers of south and southeast Asia and the cultivation on which the lives of hundreds of millions of people depends. Modern civilization depends on extensive cultivation of marginal semi-arid lands and of low river valleys and delta, which are vulnerable to temperature rise and sea level rise, respectively.
M of B: In fact, it is not Himalayan glacial meltwater that billions depend upon for their water supply: it is Eurasian snow-melt, which, according to the Rutgers University Snow & Ice Lab, shows no trend throughout the past 40 years. I have also consulted Professor M.I. Bhat of the Indian Geological Survey, who confirms that the pattern of glacial melt in the Himalayas is much as it always was: generally nothing unusual in the 150-200 years for which the Indian Government and its predecessor the British Raj maintained records. As usual, however, there has been local geological deformation in some places, leading to rapid recession of a few glaciers. Overall, though, Dr. Bhat finds that the health of the 9575 glaciers that debouch from the Himalayas into India are doing fine.
Glikson: There is a delicate balance between the physical and chemical state of the atmosphere-ocean-land system and natural habitats. This controls the emergence, survival and demise of species, including humans.
M of B: In fact, it is striking how many homoeostatic mechanisms seem to exist in the climate, maintaining it at a level capable of sustaining life from the Equator to the Poles. Many billions of years ago, for instance, one-third of the atmosphere of the Earth was CO2: yet no “runaway greenhouse effect” occurred. As noted above, in the Cambrian and Jurassic eras there was up to 20 times today’s CO2 concentration, and no harm done. CO2 is a harmless trace gas: these quite substantial alterations in its concentration have been insufficient to disturb the balance of nature.
5. How reliable is the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) and the information it provides?
Glikson: The IPCC assessment reports prepared by the IPCC are based on scientific contributions by many hundreds of the world’s most experienced and reputable scientists, employed by research institutions and universities. These contributions are based on both original research and on extensive reviews published in thousands of peer-reviewed papers in the scientific literature. The peer review system, where experts scrutinize scientific data and evidence, ensures accuracy of scientific data and consistency of interpretations of the data with the basic laws of physics and chemistry. This contrasts with unreferenced claims proliferating nowadays on the internet.
M of B: And here we go again with the argumenta ad populum and ad verecundiam – the head-count and reputation fallacies. Though peer review is the best system we have for evaluating the reliability of a scientific claim, in the present age editors and reviewers at scientific journals have the same financial vested interest in promoting the “global warming” scare as the scientists who write the papers they review and publish, and in suppressing or even ridiculing the views of their opponents. You will notice that many of the assertions I have made here, along with many of the documents at www.scienceandpublicpolicy.org, are in fact referenced – i.e., we say which papers in the scientific literature we are relying upon. Now that the scientific journals are almost as bad as the mainstream media at allowing serious but counter-consensual science to be fairly presented, the internet is in some respects a natural outlet for scientists exasperated at the unfairness of their mistreatment by the established outlets for scientific publication. One has only to read the Climategate emails to realize that many of the scientists cited with approval by Dr. Glikson are part of the small, nasty, determined conspiracy that has – as the emails bear witness, bullied, menaced, threatened and interfered with journal editors and reviewers, and even tampered with the process of the UN’s climate panel itself.
The comprehensive IPCC reports constitute the most advanced, multiply verified, compilations of climate science available. If any criticism can be aimed at the IPCC reviews, it is that in some respects they underestimated the magnitude and pace of ice melt and sea level rise observed since 2005, which are at the upper end or exceed the more serious IPCC projections.
In 1990, the First Assessment Report of the UN’s climate panel, the IPCC, was published. That report produced wildly-exaggerated projections of future temperature increase, based on the inaccurate and artfully-manipulated graphs of James Hansen, whom we mentioned earlier. How do we know the projections were exaggerated? Because almost two decades have passed since then, and the rate of temperature increase that we have actually measured is very considerably below the rate projected in that first report. It may be that this embarrassing failure of prediction is the main reason why the UN’s first and second quinquennial assessment reports are not available online.
In 1995, the scientists’ final draft of the Second Assessment Report of the UN’s climate panel stated plainly, on five separate occasions, that no human effect on global temperatures was discernible, and that it could not be predicted when any such effect might become discernible. The UN’s bureaucracy found this conclusion unacceptable, because – among other things – it would have put them all out of work, for the climate panel would have been closed down. So the bureaucrats invited a single scientist – one of those active as a Climategate emailer – to rewrite the draft. All five of the passages I have mentioned were deleted; hundreds of consequential amendments were made; and the new draft contained a statement that a human influence on the climate was now discernible. This was the complete opposite of what the scientists had said. Yet this version – written by one man – was the version that was published, and his conclusion, directly contrary to that of the scientists who had signed off the previous final version of the 1995 report, has been the official line ever since. So, whenever anyone tells you the IPCC’s chief conclusion – that humans are affecting the climate appreciably – is the view of a “consensus”, remember that the “consensus” consisted originally of just one man.
In the 2001 Third Assessment Report, the headline graph – reproduced six times, large, and in full color, the only graph to be so favored – purported artificially to abolish the medieval warm period, on the basis of what was subsequently exposed in the peer-reviewed literature as a series of statistical abuses and downright frauds. Once again, the UN’s report did not represent the “consensus”. For, in the past 25 years, more than 770 scientists from more than 450 institutions in more than 40 countries have contributed to papers providing evidence by a variety of methods that the medieval warm period was real, was global, and was warmer than the present. That is the consensus, but the UN’s report decided – on the basis of bogus evidence – to override it, while still claiming to represent “consensus”.
In the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report, the headline graph – reproduced three times, large, and in full color, the only graph to be so favored – purported artificially to demonstrate that the rate at which the world has been warming has been accelerating over the past 150 years, with the fastest rate being observed over the past 25 years. This graph, too, is bogus, since it relies upon a known and serious statistical abuse called the “endpoint fallacy”: the artful choice of startpoints or endpoints for a multiplicity of linear-regression trends on the same stochastic dataset, which allows the dishonest scientist to demonstrate any desired change in the direction in which the data appear to be tending, or in the rate of change. The truth is that the warming rate of the 23 years 1975-1998, even though it culminated at the peak of a Great El Nino, an oceanic release of massive amounts of heat-energy to the atmosphere that occurs less than once a century, was no greater than the warming rate observed from 1860-1880 and again from 1910-1940, so that there is known to be no anthropogenic signal at all in the global temperature data. That is the truth, but the UN decided to use a cheap statistical fraud to pretend otherwise.
The 2009 update on climate science by the UN Environment Program, one of the two co-founders of the UN’s climate panel, made a clumsy and dishonest attempt to revive the long-dead graph purporting to abolish the medieval warm period. To do so, however, the UN lifted the graph from the pages of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that any idiot can edit but only a cretin would credit. Wikipedia is the most unreliable data source in the world, particularly on “global warming”, where its “editors” allow only one point of view – far more extreme even than the UN’s climate panel – to prevail. It is most certainly not a scientific or peer-reviewed source: yet that is the source to which the UN turned to get its science from. Within days, thanks to the Internet (for no science journal or mainstream news medium would lift a finger), the UN was humiliated into being forced to alter the published document online, removing the bogus graph.
For these and many, many other reasons, the documents of the UN’s climate panel are not acceptable as the basis for any scientific conclusion whatsoever, except the conclusion that the entire process is prone to dishonesty. You will notice, of course, that all of the dishonesties I have outlined in successive UN reports have pointed in one direction and in one direction only – towards creating a climatic problem where there is none, and then exaggerating it beyond all reason.
Dr. Glikson says that the IPCC’s reports, including the most recent full report in 2007, underestimated the future rate of ice-melt and of sea-level rise. Let us consider each in turn.
Ice-melt: In the summer of 2007 some 27% of the sea ice that normally covers the Arctic Ocean at the annual sea-ice minimum in mid-September was not there. No one had predicted this sudden loss of ice. However, three weeks later, in early October 2007, the Antarctic sea-ice reached an equally-unpredicted maximum. Therefore, whatever caused the very temporary loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic, it was not “global warming”, or the Antarctic sea ice (which has actually been growing steadily for 30 years) would not have reached a 30-year maximum just after the moment when the Arctic sea ice reached a 30-year minimum. Indeed, a paper by NASA scientists the following year said that unusually warm winds and currents from the tropics had caused the sudden ice-melt: it had very little to do with “global warming”.
And what has happened since 2007? By 2008, half of the missing ice had returned at the summer minimum, and by 2009 very nearly all of it was back.
This year the British Antarctic Survey produced a paper saying that so much grounded ice had melted in West Antarctica over the previous four or five years that sea-level rise was inevitable. At the Copenhagen climate conference, which was taking place as we wrote this document, Al Gore (after Wikipedia, the second-most-untrustworthy source of information about the climate) was publishing a report about the loss of ice in the Arctic and worldwide, with the enthusiastic backing of some of Europe’s silliest ministers and some of the United States’ most dishonest scientists.
What, then, is the truth? It is this. Though the British Antarctic Survey found that there had been a massive loss of Antarctic ground ice in the past four years, and though a Danish scientist at Al Gore’s ludicrous presentation said that there had been gigatons of accelerating ice-melt in Greenland (the only source of land-based ice in the Arctic) over the past two or three years, sea level worldwide has not risen for four years.
My question – if I had been allowed to ask it – would have been this. If all that ice had really and truly melted, where did the water go? Is this a stupid question? No. The UN’s claim is that if significant amounts of land-based or grounded ice in Greenland and Antarctica were to melt then sea level would have to rise. But it has not risen.
Could the water have evaporated into the atmosphere, causing an increase in what is called column absolute humidity? Well, this quantity – effectively, the concentration of water vapour in the atmosphere – is notoriously difficult to measure, because, although the UN’s computer models treat water vapour as though it were a well-mixed greenhouse gas, occurring at the same concentration throughout the atmosphere, water vapour does not behave in this way at all. Getting a reliable measure of column absolute humidity, averaged worldwide, is still beyond our capacity – and, indeed, this is one of the numerous reasons why the output of the computer models on which the UN’s case for alarm entirely relies is – well – unreliable.
However, we can establish by theoretical means, more or less exactly, how much and in what direction the absolute column humidity has changed. And, as it happens, we do not have to do a careful calculation, because there is a well-established relationship between atmospheric temperature and absolute column humidity. By the Clausius-Clapeyron relation – one of the very few proven results in climatological physics – as the space occupied by the atmosphere warms, it can carry near-exponentially more water vapour. However, during the four years since 2005, when poor rich Gore made his now-discredited sci-fi comedy horror movie about the climate, global temperatures have fallen very rapidly. You will not have seen this fact reported in most of the mainstream news media, but it is nonetheless true.
Therefore, today there is very likely to be less water vapour in the atmosphere than there was four years ago. So the supposedly-melted ice cannot have evaporated into the atmosphere.
Of course, the vast bulk of the Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheets have been accumulating ice – contrary to reports that say otherwise – for many years. For instance, Johannessen et al. (2005) record that during each of the 11 years 1993-2003 the mean thickness of the entire Greenland ice sheet grew by 0.05m (2 inches) per year. Could the supposedly melted ice have ended up back on the top of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.
The scientists at the Al Gore meeting in Copenhagen said No. They said that Greenland and even Antarctica were losing ice mass. So we are still left with the mystery of where all that ice went.
There remains one more possibility. The rapid atmospheric cooling of the past four years may perhaps have caused thermosteric contraction of the oceans, a process by which as water cools it occupies less volume, and vice versa. This thermosteric contraction may have compensated for the extra ice-melt, so that as soon as warming resumes the sea level will begin to rise rapidly.
Don’t hold your breath. The 3300 ARGO bathythermograph buoys deployed throughout the world’s oceans do show a little net cooling during the six years of their operation, but the cooling is not enough to cause much in the way of thermosteric contraction. And, of course, everyone at the Copenhagen conference has been doing his or her best not to mention the rapid cooling of the atmosphere and the cooling of the oceans over recent years.
There is nowhere else for all those billions of tons of ice to go. Provisionally, I conclude that the loss of ice from Greenland and the Antarctic that the scientists are pretending to have observed is fictional. The ice is where it has long been, and yet another scare is shown to be false. Therefore, there is no basis whatsoever for Dr. Glikson’s assertion either that ice loss has accelerated beyond what was predicted or that sea level is rising faster than predicted. It is not rising at all.
6. Does an increase in carbon dioxide make any difference?
Glikson: Carbon dioxide levels are already at 388 ppm and, combined with the effects of methane, are equivalent to 460 ppm CO2. This level is dangerously close to the upper stability limit of about 500 ppm of the Antarctic ice sheet, signifying a shift in the state of the atmosphere from glacial-interglacial conditions to greenhouse conditions, with serious consequences evidenced by current trends in the climate system. An increase in ice melt rates of the west Antarctica ice sheet and to a somewhat lesser extent the east Antarctica ice sheet is reported by the British Antarctic Survey and the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research, International Council for Science.
M of B: As we have already demonstrated, methane is a bit-part player because there is so very little of it in the atmosphere. Make it 388 ppmv for CO2 and 12 ppmv for methane: total 400 ppmv. At today’s rates of emission, around 2 ppmv CO2/year, that gives us half a century before we reach Dr. Glikson’s ceiling of 500 ppmv, which is in any event entirely arbitrary. For very nearly all of the past 600 million years, CO2 concentration has been well over 1000 ppmv – twice Dr. Glikson’s “danger level”.
We have already dealt with the British Antarctic Survey’s implausible finding as to the imagined – and probably imaginary – loss of ice from the West Antarctic ice sheet. There is certainly no basis in science for the proposition that after 15 years without statistically-significant “global warming” the planet is now approaching a dangerous “tipping-point”, as Dr. Glikson is here implying. In fact, it was proven by Edward Lorenz in 1963 that we can never predict the onset, timing, duration, extent, or magnitude of any phase-transition or bifurcation in the evolution of the mathematically-chaotic climate object.
We conclude that Dr. Glikson’s note is inaccurate, misleading, and relentless prejudiced in one direction only – inventing a problem where there is none, and then magnifying it. That is not science: it is politics.