Mythmakers, climate and reality orientation

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Scientific skepticism is healthy. Researchers should always challenge themselves to improve their understanding. But climate deniers are not there. With weak roots in scientific facts they throw out allegations, speculations and unfounded criticism of evidence supporting anthropogenic global warming. Uncritically they embrace any argument, conspiracy theory or propaganda that refutes global warming. The propaganda often refers to individuals having written an article in a newspaper or on a blog claiming that we are entering a new ice age or that New York will be under water in the year 2017 or that the Arctic will be ice free in 2018 or that the Greenland glaciers will be gone in 2020 and the world go under in 2050. If such claims were at all made by scientists, it is ridiculous to deduce that the entire scientific community should support one article, even if it had been peer reviewed and published in a scientific journal. The only publications that to some extent may claim to represent the scientific community are the IPCC reports, since they summarize thousands of scientific publications in five year periods.

Retired professors in the United States are paid to produce seemingly scientific information in newspaper articles and create myths for extreme think tanks and PR companies, funded by the international fossil fuel industry.

When in doubt, it is wise to follow the big money.

The age of fossil fuels will soon end. We need to plan the transformation now.

The age of fossil fuels will soon end. We need to plan the transformation now.

The world’s largest exporter of fossil energy is President Putin. The world’s richest company; the Arab-American Oil Company, Aramco, is owned by the wahabbist  Saudi royal family. With their partners; ExxonMobil, Shell and other oil companies previously called “The seven sisters“, they form the world’s largest economic entity.

Carbon barons, extreme Islamist petro-tyrants and corrupt oligarchs will do anything to prolong the oil era.

Knowing the economic and hegemonic interests at stake, one should be wary of those who support them. Do their arguments have scientific basis? Is the article peer reviewed? The graphics, are they “embellished”? Is the article in reality unscientific speculation with possible referral to sources produced by Arab-American-Russian fossil propaganda industry?

With unlimited amounts of petro-dollars backing them, the “skeptics” still fool people into inaction. Gullible politicians have an enormous responsibility. Not only are they complicit in prolonging unnecessary air and sea pollution, promoting wars and financing most of the terrorists and petro-tyrants in the world. They risk stealing the very future from today’s children. The only ethically responsible stand now is to ensure that fossil fuels are used to produce renewable sources of energy as fast as possible. Fossil fuels can be perceived as the “parents” of renewables. As good parents, they should step aside for their “offspring” during the coming decade. In 10-15 years we should no longer burn oil, but just use it as a valuable resource.

Conspiracy theory about the UN

International fossil industry propaganda spreads several myths. One such myth is the conspiracy theory that the UN and tens of thousands of scientists and politicians have agreed to scare people so they easily accept more taxes.

Thousands of the world’s foremost scientists meet annually at climate summits. They discuss and argue about everything, down to commas. But they, allegedly, in some strange way, continuously manage to agree to deceive the media and defraud people, even if hundreds of new researchers join every year. IPCC associated scientists build their reports on over 30,000 peer-reviewed articles published in the world’s most prestigious scientific journals. The IPCC reports summarize some of the best science ever presented.

One needs to have a lot of good, naive faith – or be well paid – to believe in such conspiracy theories.

The skeptics’ null hypothesis

The climate deniers’ null hypothesis: “There is no relationship between greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and climate change”, was refuted already in 1863, when  J.Tyndall  proved the greenhouse effect experimentally and in 1896 when  S. Arrhenius showed how CO2 in the atmosphere affects the temperature on the ground.

In principle, large gas molecules, as a rule molecules with three or more atoms vibrate in step with the infrared radiation. Gases such as oxygen (O2) and nitrogen (N2) will not react particularly to such radiation, while for example molecules of water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), ozone (O3) and methane (CH 3) will vibrate.  Vibration entails heat energy.

You may have been told that CO2 is such a tiny part of the atmosphere that it does not matter. What they “forget” to tell you is that what counts are greenhouse gases, less than 1% of the air. Then CO2 is highly significant. When you are tøld that the natural carbon cycles are so enormous, that anthropogenic emissions are insignificant, they “forget” to tell you that when you move carbon from the “slow  carbon cycles” to the “fast  carbon cycle“, you bring the natural carbon cycle out of its finely tuned balance. The natural greenhouse effect gives us a comfortable average ambient temperature of + 14 ° C, instead of -18 ° C, which it would have been without the natural greenhouse effect. So far the additional anthropogenic greenhouse effect has only given us one degree in addition to the Earth’s natural 32 degrees. Not so much perhaps, but for a person who gets a rise in temperature from 37 ° C to 39 ° C it means the difference between being healthy and sick. – The world’s politicians want to allow for a two degree temperature rise. Unfortunately, anthropogenic emissions – which we may influence – are not the only factors. The anthropogenic emissions give the triggering forcing. Natural feedback systems, such as increased atmospheric water vapor, carbon dioxide from natural sources, methane emissions from clathrates and melting tundra, will boost the original forcing. The end result might be four or even 6 centigrades increase.

IPCC synthesis report, Figure SPM.3: Assessed likely ranges (whiskers) and their mid-points (bars) for warming trends over the 1951–2010 period from well-mixed greenhouse gases, other anthropogenic forcings (including the cooling effect of aerosols and the effect of land-use change), combined anthropogenic forcings, natural forcings, and natural internal climate variability (which is the element of climate variability that arises spontaneously within the climate system even in the absence of forcings).

IPCC synthesis report, Figure SPM.3, p.6: Assessed likely ranges (whiskers) and their mid-points (bars) for warming trends over the 1951–2010 period from well-mixed greenhouse gases, other anthropogenic forcings (including the cooling effect of aerosols and the effect of land-use change), combined anthropogenic forcings, natural forcings, and natural internal climate variability (which is the element of climate variability that arises spontaneously within the climate system even in theabsence of forcings).

Many factors affect the climate. Anthropogenic emissions come together with particles; aerosols, which have a cooling effect (except black soot which has a warming effect). Air pollution over Asia, an increasing number of large wildfires and more dust storms in drier areas mean more cooling aerosols over land. Solar insolation over the past decades has been low. Global warming occurs therefore not evenly, but incrementally. It is misleading just to include surface temperatures over land. Ocean temperatures must also be included.

The pet year of the climate illusionists, 1998, was a special year with high solar activity and the strongest El Nino in a hundred years. “It has not been warmer since 1998” it is stated. If you start out in the climate (the normal), rather than weather from one year to the other, and warming of land and ocean, the average temperature rise from decade to decade is clear and dramatic. When data biases are corrected, there is no “warming pause”.

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 ” The average global temperature across land and ocean surface areas for 2015 was 0.90°C (1.62°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F), beating the previous record warmth of 2014 by 0.16°C (0.29°F). This is not only the highest calendar year temperature, but also the highest temperature for any 12-month period on record. ”

For the last 50 years, global temperature rose at an average rate of about 0.13°C (around one-quarter degree Fahrenheit) per decade—around twice as fast as the 0.06°C per decade increase observed over the previous half-century. In the next 20 years, scientists project that global average temperature will rise by around 0.2°C (about one-third of a degree Fahrenheit) per decade (NOAA 2016). 

What Are The Chances Of Getting All These Record Hot Years Without The Extra Greenhouse Gases? The Answer…

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2015 record hot

2015 has clearly been warmer than 2014, although northern Europe did not have a particularly hot summer. The rest of the world had an exceptionally warm period.

201501-201512-t

Record warmth was observed over various regions of the world’s land surfaces, including Central America, the northern half of South America, parts of northern, southern, and eastern Europe stretching into western Asia, a large section of east central Siberia, regions of eastern and southern Africa. It was also much warmer than average across many other land areas all across the globe. Only part of Quebec in northeastern Canada and the very southern tip of Argentina were cooler than average. No land areas were record cold or even much cooler than average.

Globally the curve for March 2016 looks like this:

201603

The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for March 2016 was the highest for this month in the 1880–2016 record, at 1.22°C (2.20°F) above the 20th century average of 12.7°C (54.9°F). This surpassed the previous record set in 2015 by 0.32°C / (0.58°F), and marks the highest monthly temperature departure among all 1,635 months on record, surpassing the previous all-time record set just last month by 0.01°C (0.02°F). Overall, the nine highest monthly temperature departures in the record have all occurred in the past nine months. March 2016 also marks the 11thconsecutive month a monthly global temperature record has been broken, the longest such streak in NOAA’s 137 years of record keeping.

Fig. 1. Global temperature anomaly relative to 1951-1980 mean

Graphic by Hansen and Sato Aug 2015

“It’s getting colder!”  Really?

Climate deniers have for years told us that it is getting colder. As evidence, they’ve made themselves graphics where they cherry pick information that suits them. They avoid telling from where the data set is and how it is interpreted. They give the impression that the graphics come from a reputable institution, while in reality it is not sourced and simply concocted by individuals with their own extremist agenda.

The lower part of this graph is misleading because there is one data set from one satellite only, without any caveats. Cocksure statements based on weak science are typical for the “skeptics”.

Serious climatologists take datasets from three different satellites and add direct measurements from ground stations and in the oceans. The Hadcruth3 satellite data is excellent for its use. But it should not be presented without mentioning its limits. One of the weaknesses is that it does not include measurements from the Polar areas, where the greatest warming is in progress. Satellites take pictures in a belt around the globe, not the entire planet. (Hadcruth official site and with reanalysis data demonstrating that incomplete global coverage is a potential source of bias in global temperature reconstructions.)

For most, it should be sufficient to look out of the window or at the daily weather map to realize that climate change is underway, and that it is very doubtful that the climate would become cooler and more stable. A week or two with cold weather in your place does not mean there is no global warming.

Warming in the world’s oceans is dramatic and disturbing. Sea level rise accelerates. Warming in the Arctic is striking. Ice floe borders in Arctic waters move northwards “by itself”.  Extreme weather events are becoming the new normal. Glaciers worldwide melt away except some areas in the Antarctica, where more snow in the cold area is a clear sign of warming. Ice at the South Pole becomes thicker above but melts all the faster from below. All in all the ice loss in the Polar regions is alarming. The year 2014 is the warmest on record. 2015 was even hotter.

“It’s just a natural variation”

The climate is dynamic and has changed tremendously, well before humans existed. IPCC writes entire chapters about this in all major reports. This is a science called paleoclimatology. Through climate models we have gained solid knowledge on what may cause climate change. Most often it is changes in insolation, where the sun is more or less active. It may also be Milankovich effects where planetary positions relative to the sun affect climates.

In earlier times, meteor impacts, large volcanic eruptions, changes in ocean currents and tectonic changes have caused dramatic climate changes. CO2 has usually had an enhancing feedback effect, and not an initiating forcing effect, as is the case now. Most climate scientists agree that when including natural factors only, our planet should have become somewhat colder, since solar activity in recent decades has been low. The horrible anthropogenic air pollution particularly evident in Asia, also has a cooling effect. Despite this, almost all years of this century are as hot or hotter than the record year in the last century, 1998. This can only be explained by human activity. The changes in climate we observe now cannot be explained by natural variations only.

Bloomberg: What’s really warming the world?

Petitions

Thousands of scientists have signed a petition that the UN is wrong, is a frequent postulate. This is an old advertising trick. In ads 50 years ago we were told that 20,000 doctors recommended a particular cigarette brand, that tobacco was good for health, or at least that there was no empirical evidence that it was harmful. Smoking was not addictive, and at least passive smoking was totally harmless.

The same PR firms that “Big Tobacco” used and are using are now paid by “Big Oil” to disseminate the same kinds of deceptions. Petitions often come in the form of surveys that ask whether you believe that CO2 is useful for plants and trees, that climate change took place also before humans existed, that climate change usually is due to natural causes and similar platitudes.  Then the PR firms pretend that the IPCC insists that only CO2 can cause climate change, that there never were changes in climate before man intervened, that CO2 is nothing but harmful and similar nonsense.  When the names on the petitions are checked, the names are fictional, they are dead, they are unaware that they are on the list or they are not climate scientists.

A climate scientist is professionally qualified as a researcher and publishes in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Here the “skeptics” come woefully short. Less than 1% of peer-reviewed articles dispute anthropogenic global warming. Climate researchers agree that the current climate change is largely man-made; the changes accelerate and already cause major damage. Many climate scientists disagree about the politically approved two-degree target. More and more now say that a two degrees rise is a recipe for disaster, and that one degree rise is very risky.

“CO2 is plant food and not pollution”

The IPCC has many studies on the fertilization effect of CO2 in all major reports. That CO2 may have a positive effect on plant growth is as sensational as telling that water is wet. Much “plant food” is pollution if it lands in the wrong places. Cow dung, urine and sewage are also “plant foods”, but that does not necessarily mean that you want it everywhere and that it is not pollution.

CO2 can have a positive effect on plant growth when other growth factors like optimal temperature, light, enough water and micro nutrients are present. And yes, more CO2 might in some cases make plants more resilient to drought. However, there is no doubt that all the extra energy and CO2 absorbed by the oceans lead to acidification, destroy coral reefs and threaten marine bioproduction.

When fossil fuels are concerned, it is not only CO2 that is the problem. Toxic substances and particles spewed out by any combustion of coal and oil take the lives of millions of people, damage or destroy ecosystems and affect the health of billions of animals and humans. These huge costs are passed on to the public in general.  To the desperation of the fossil-industry, alternative renewable, non-polluting energy is economically competitive in ever more areas, even with the current low oil prices.

Climate “skeptics” confuse and spread uncertainty. They create paralysis in order for everything to continue as usual: trillions in subsidies from the world’s taxpayers, socialization of losses, externalization of costs and privatization of profit in the coal and oil industry. To draw attention away from the elephant in the room, they keep on creating quasi-scientific discussions about the Pope’s beard. They holler and point to mouse droppings in the corner and flies in the window. But the elephant is standing there, and more and more become aware of it: the fact that we daily burn over 90 million barrels of oil and an equivalent amount of coal and gas. One barrel of oil is 159 litres, about a full bathtub. Consumption corresponds to burning an olympic sized swimming pool filled with oil every second of the year. One must love illusions to believe that this has no negative effects.

It is irresponsible and unethical to speculate in possible microscopic doubts to refrain from taking sensible action. Municipalities and countries failing to upgrade water and sewage networks, allow for much more floods, droughts, weather extremes and landslides will lose. Those who do not invest in renewable energy and sustainable technology risk being left behind like the old Soviet states, with hopeless Trabant technology, outdated and uncertain economy and a depleted environment.

When measuring the average temperature over decades, there is a clear and dramatic warming the last 30 years. Global warming the last three decades has been dramatic. Source: World Meteorological Organisation, 2013 http://library.wmo.int/pmb_ged/wmo_1119_en.pdf

When measuring the average temperature over decades, there is a clear and dramatic warming. Global warming the last three decades has been dramatic. Source: World Meteorological Organisation, 2013

Climate research vs myths

The warming world

Pollution

Oceans in trouble

 Correlation between CO2 and climate change

Economies in transition

The Arctic and the Antarctic

Possible climate change impacts on ocean currents

Droughts, floods, weather extremes, glaciers

Climate Refugees

Debunking the “skeptics”

Some politicians are waking up

Some top military ranks wake up

Energy companies trying to change?

Deniers’ corner

About svenaake

University Teacher.
This entry was posted in Denialism, Environment, Fossil fuels. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Mythmakers, climate and reality orientation

  1. Richard Roman says:

    You state: “What they “forget” to tell you is that what counts are greenhouse gases, less than 1% of the air. Then CO2 is highly significant. ” I thought that water vapour could range from 0.1 to 4percent of the atmosphere?

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    • svenaake says:

      yes. the range is from insignificant to around 4%. Average content is around 1%, depending a bit on how you calculate.
      The interesting issue in this context is that atmospheric (tropospheric) water vapor increases by 5-7% for each grade Celcius increase in average global temperature. The water vapor feedback is thus one of the big feedback mechanisms that can cause a run-away greenhouse effect. Anthropogenic emissions alone can probably not do that. See IPCC report: http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/docs/WG1AR5_FAQbrochure_FINAL.pdf page 37

      Liked by 1 person

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