UPDATE: Death Blow To Anthropogenic Global Warming:
by Stephen Wilde
My earlier article
“The Death Blow to Anthropogenic Global Warming.
This has proved to be a highly popular article having received over 10,000 viewings on CO2Sceptics.Com and probably similar numbers of viewings on sites that reproduced it.
I think it is time for a general update due to subsequent developments (especially the current 2 year global cooling trend and a quieter sun with cooling oceans after an 8 year temperature plateau which tends to show that my point about solar and oceanic influences on global temperatures has some merit) and the fact that I can make the essential points more simply by condensing them into a series of bullet points as follows:
1)Logically there must be a level of Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) or total radiant energy received from the sun, at which the heat from the sun balances the Earth between warming and cooling. Obviously that point is also affected by all the other planetary influences on heat storage and transfer (especially the oceans in my opinion). I still do not accept that TSI alone is necessarily a sufficient reflection of the net effect of solar input to weather and climate but it is enough for the purposes of this article.
2)There have been increases and decreases in global temperature since 1600 so the point of balance must be somewhere in the band of 4 Watts per square metre shown on the chart attached to my article. Since my initial article I have ascertained that the originator of that chart namely one Judith Lean now believes that her chart overstates the variation in TSI since 1600. Of course I have no idea whether she might have been put under any pressure.
3) However, even if the actual variance in TSI during that period was less than 4 Watts per square metre the fact is that various changes in temperature trend did occur and the shape of the chart would remain so on the basis of real world observations we must accept that the lower the range of TSI involved then the more sensitive the Earth is as a water based thermometer. I see no reason why the Earth should not be adequately sensitive to changes in solar irradiance combined with The Hot Water Bottle Effect
described in an earlier article of mine to explain the various observed changes in global temperature trend.
4)Ms Lean’s slight change of position therefore does not detract from the merit of the point that I made. I have already provided examples of observed real world shifts in global temperature trend going back to 1960 that match very well with shifts in the balance between solar variation and the net global effect of all the separate oceanic oscillations (especially the Pacific Decadal Oscillation which is by far the largest).
5) As always, observations trump models. If, prior to the existence of significant anthropogenic CO2, real world switches between warming and cooling are observed to have happened then protestations about the smallness of solar variability come to nought when the only relevant heat source is the sun. As I’ve previously pointed out the atmospheric greenhouse effect does not create heat, it merely delays the transmission of solar energy through the atmosphere. The oceans do the same thing but to an infinitely greater and more variable extent via The Hot Water Bottle Effect (which can cool the Earth as well as warm it if the oceans are in a negative or cooling mode). Any anthropogenic CO2 influence would only have been significant, if at all, since about 1945 because before that date the human contribution to total atmospheric CO2 was relatively minor and, in my opinion, probably insignificant as a climate driver.
6)Whenever TSI is above the point of balance then the Earth is warming. Below that point and the Earth is cooling. In each case CONTINUALLY warming or cooling probably at varying rates for the WHOLE of the period above or below the point of balance. Note that if the Hot Water Bottle Effect is in a negative or cooling mode then the total heat stored by the Earth’s oceans can increase even whilst the atmosphere is cooling and vice versa. I may deal with the mechanics of that in more detail in another article.
7)The question is: Was the TSI level above or below the point of balance from 1975 to 1998?
8)How likely is it that a level of TSI at the top of the historical scale for the past 400 years was at or below the point of balance? The fact is that having been at the top of the historical scale TSI must have been above the point of balance however narrow the band of variation in TSI actually turns out to have been during that period of 400 years since the depths of the Little Ice Age. It has been mentioned that the highest peak of TSI was at the peak of solar cycle 21 and that there has been a slow decline subsequently with a more rapid decline in the past couple of years. I have seen some AGW proponents declare that because there was a slow decline in TSI from the peak of cycle 21 to the end of cycle 23 then the globe should have been cooling and the level of TSI could not be the cause of the apparent continued warming. They miss the point that the TSI level would have remained above the point of balance until about 2000 or perhaps 2002 and in any event there is a significant oceanic lag before changes in TSI will have any effect.
9)I previously used the analogy of a constant emission of heat from an indoor electric bar fire. The heat source may be constant (as the sun may have been on average from 1960 to 2000 despite a slow decline during that period from an early peak) but the surrounding air in the room which contains it continues to warm up until there is a new equilibrium between the heat coming from the bar fire and heat escaping from the room. Earth has now had the flow of heat from the bar fire of the sun turned down so the point of equilibrium is slowly but inevitably falling and will do so until the sun becomes more active again. In the meantime we are no longer getting any offset from a positive regime of ocean oscillations hence the speed of downward trend over the past 2 years. The Atlantic is still feeding warm water under the Arctic ice however but that will soon fade away as the Pacific cooling spreads around the world.
10)I know that the IPCC says that there was no significant solar forcing during the period 1975 to 1998 (presumably either positive or negative).
11)For their assumption to have been correct the point of balance would have to have been exactly at the average level of TSI throughout that period. That must be impossible given the historically high level of TSI at the time.
12)No one has ever, as far as I know, made any successful attempt to identify the level of TSI at which the Earth switches from cooling to warming or vice versa. Not enough is yet known about the other planetary heat storage and transfer mechanisms that act with TSI or against TSI to make the switch. As I have explained before those other (primarily oceanic in my opinion) mechanisms dwarf by orders of magnitude any similar effect from anthropogenic increases in the amount of atmospheric trace gases like CO2.
13)In my article “Weather is the key after all
” I have suggested two new diagnostic tools to help identify whether a change in global temperature trend has occurred or is in progress. An increase in the size of the high pressure systems poleward or equatorward of the mid latitude jet streams will indicate cooling or warming respectively and the first sign we get of a change in progress will be a movement of the jet streams poleward for warming or equatorward for cooling. The current cooling phase has been accompanied by an increase in size of the poleward high pressure systems and a sinking equatorward of the jet streams in both hemispheres.
14)What are the chances that the IPCC (purely accidentally) correctly identified the point of balance as being at the average level of TSI observed from 1975 to 1998? To be frank, zero. To assert that it remained at zero for the whole period of 23 years or so is laughable. Everything in nature is in constant change. In my opinion it was above the point of balance for the whole 23 years subject only to a variation in the distance above the point of balance that varied only with the peaks d troughs of solar cycles 21, 22 and 23.
15)The IPCC has fired off with catastrophic predictions (or is it projections?) whilst having no idea of the net warming or cooling effect of the level of TSI actually being received by the Earth during the relevant period. If it had any idea of the actual net solar contribution it could not have said that the solar effect was insignificant without first having established the point of balance at the then existing level of TSI . They clearly did not, and could not, do so because it is beyond the current capabilities of science.
16)Instead they just said, in effect, “no obvious changes for a while so we can safely ignore solar influence” They also ignored the oceans, evaporation, condensation, clouds, precipitation and convection and other potentially substantial influences as admitted in this quote from the IPCC itself
Technical summary of the Fourth Assessment Report, TS.1 Introduction, page 21, quote, “There is still an incomplete physical understanding of many components of the climate system and their role in climate change. Key uncertainties include aspects of the roles played by clouds, the cryosphere, the oceans, land use and couplings between climate and biogeochemical cycles”
Now one doesn’t need a PhD. or to trawl through thousands of pages of thousands of peer reviewed papers to raise this issue. How can one arrive at a level of certainty exceeding 90% about any aspect of the Earth’s climate whilst attributing a value of zero to all the main (and obvious) factors namely the sun, the oceans, evaporation and condensation, clouds and atmospheric convection. Indeed I would have thought that in view of the importance of such omissions the level of certainty would be zero (or even negative if that were possible). Astoundingly all the main influences on average global temperatures have been completely ignored in favour of one single tiny factor namely any enhancement of greenhouse effect from anthropogenic CO2. Then they go on to list a string of positive feedbacks leading to alleged disaster whilst ignoring a whole string of negative feedbacks that could render their scenario impossible. My previous articles mention those negative feedbacks in more detail.
The significance of the TSI point is that it reintroduces solar influence as a factor and probably the main factor in the late 20th Century warming. AGW proponents have usually accepted the warming of the early 20th Century as solar induced so why not the warming of the late 20th Century? If anything the late 20th Century phase of enhanced solar activity was greater than that seen during the earlier 20th Century phase.
My Hot Water Bottle Effect shows how any apparently minor changes in solar activity can be supplemented or offset to match the observed changes in global temperature trend during the latter half of the 20th Century. Warming proponents often say there is no mechanism whereby small changes in solar activity can be scaled up to the apparently large changes in atmospheric temperature. I believe that my Hot Water Bottle Effect provides just such a mechanism.
The oceanic mechanism emphasising or offsetting solar variation firmly places the burden of proof back on to those who say that such warming as was observed was human induced to establish exactly how big or small any anthropogenic component was in relation to the undoubted (and previously ignored) combined solar and oceanic influence. Frankly, we do not have the techniques to do more than guess and who would believe them now anyway? The damage they may have done to the scientific establishment is incalculable.
The more I think about this the more apt the title of my earlier article seems to have been but it is going to take a while for the implications to sink in more widely and for a proper assessment to be made. The IPCC summary is deeply flawed as a scientific document and as I have explained in other recent articles it appears impossible for increased levels of atmospheric CO2 at the puny levels caused by mankind to affect the characteristics of the atmosphere enough to significantly enhance the greenhouse effect and even if it could do so then any such effect would be quickly neutralised by the primary solar/oceanic driver and the oceans acting in conjunction with evaporation, condensation and atmospheric convection (which includes clouds and rain).
The alarmists are half aware of the potential negative influence of convection, clouds, evaporation, condensation and rainfall because they say that a warmer Earth will have more and/or bigger storms. They can’t have it both ways. Those very storms represent the cooling effect of those negative processes. The bigger the storms we get the less warming we can get. There is a separate issue as to how far warming alone does give rise to more and bigger storms but that is not relevant here. I merely point out an example of the incompleteness and inconsistency of alarmist theory.
By Stephen wilde,
U.K. Private Client Solicitor and lifelong Weather and Climate enthusiast.
Joined Royal Meteorological Society 1971.
Copyright © 2008 Stephen Wilde - All Rights Reserved
Link to original graph