2019 – The End of a Decade When Climate Change Alarmism Tipped Abruptly Into Climate Crisis Hysteria
In the final days of 2019, there is much to reflect upon events of the past year and, with the closing of the second decade of the 21st Century, much to reflect upon how climate change alarmism has itself alarmingly morphed into something much more dangerous, visceral, urgent, ideologically driven and immediate as regards public perception and societal impact. A decade during which global warming faded into obscurity (on account of the fact that there wasn’t any from 1998-2013) to be replaced almost universally by the more politically correct term of ‘climate change’, which has itself now been largely displaced in activist circles and the media by the terms ‘climate emergency’ and ‘climate crisis’. Ironically so, because, bereft of an actual climate crisis, alarmist scientists and activists have proceeded to invent one, linguistically, as in the case of the Guardian’s newly introduced style guide and by co-opting extreme weather events and their impacts into the general narrative.
In the absence also of any observably catastrophic global rise in temperature throughout the 21st century (which not even ‘pause-busting’ adjustments to temperature data could conjure up), alarmists have turned to inventing imminent future catastrophes via the invocation of highly speculative ‘tipping points’ which supposedly will be ‘triggered’ at imaginary and entirely ad hoc global warming thresholds (1.5C, 2C, 3C etc. relative to pre-industrial baseline). They have also increasingly employed the highly unrealistic ‘business as usual’ scenario RCP8.5 to supercharge their global warming projections in order to manufacture climate alarmist narratives in the media, a strategy which only in the last couple of months has started to be seriously questioned. Roger Pielke Jr has recently been at the vanguard of the movement to expose the misuse of this nightmarishly unrealistic scenario as ‘business as usual’:
The decade started off with the climate science community desperately trying to salvage some shred of credibility from the fallout of climategate. In the event, they never managed – they just airbrushed over the warts and manufactured official-looking false exonerations of their appalling behaviour, bordering on scientific fraud in some cases. Having done this, they carried on regardless – ‘business as usual’ you might say. With the RCP8.5 debacle, due to be now carried over (with interest) into the ‘new, improved’ SSP/CMIP6 fantasy couplings, one can see that nothing has changed. Bad practice and dodgy science are still rewarded with lavish grants if the message remains still that ‘It’s time to panic!’.
Judith Curry has written an excellent push back article to the lukewarm attempt by Wallace-Wells, among others, to dial down the alarmist hype in the light of the RCP8.5 criticisms, whilst still maintaining the necessary ‘scary’ projections of future warming.
1.0 C warming for the remainder of the 21st century seems pretty benign. But if you add the ~1.0 C warming since 1890, then we are at 2 C – ‘dangerous’
2C, and then 1.5C, are the touted values of ‘dangerous’ climate change. Some context on ‘dangerous’, and some different perspectives in these previous blog posts:
Simply put, in terms of ‘dangerous’ we are looking at extreme weather events, sea level rise and species extinction. I’ve written numerous posts on all of the above, won’t rehash here, other than to point you to the recent IPCC Special Report on Oceans, Cryosphere and Climate, since sea level rise is one issue that is very directly and monotonically linked to warming. Their main conclusion regarding sea level rise:
“Projections of global mean SLR under RCP2.6 result in 0.42 m (0.28–0.57 m; likely range) in 2100. Projections of global mean SLR under RCP4.5 results in0.55 m (0.39–0.71 m, likely range) in 2100. Projections of global mean SLR under RCP8.5 results in 0.97 m (0.55–1.40 m) in 2100.”
The issue of 2 C as ‘dangerous’ is tied to concerns about tipping points, and massive melt of ice sheets that were observed in previous interglacials at comparable temperature.
As the third decade of the 21st Century dawns and a spotless Cold Sun rises ever higher, we’re going to see a lot more use of scary emissions scenarios coupled with climate models having ridiculously high sensitivities to CO2 to ‘scientifically’ justify urgent action on climate change. We are going to see a lot more talk of ‘tipping points’ – even at half a degree extra warming from the present – and we are going to be regaled with continuing scare stories about extreme weather which will be formally attibuted to global warming using even more unrealistic CMIP6 models. Often though, they won’t even bother with the formal attribution; they’ll just go straight to social media to declare that such and such an event (in this case, the current Australian heatwave) is almost impossible to imagine happening in a world unaffected by demonic man-made climate change:
Judith’s estimate of 21st Century warming from the baseline 2000-2014 is one degree, accounting for likely cooling from natural variability plus more moderate GHG forcing using Nic Lewis’s lower – and some might argue, rather more credible – observationally based estimates of TCRE (effective transient climate response). She was heavily criticised for suggesting that the impacts of such warming were small in comparison to high impact RCP8.5 projections:
Whichever way you slice it, an extra degree of global warming from the baseline 2000-2014 is not going to be ‘catastrophic’ in 2100 and the expected impacts will be mostly manageable. Mitigation will become necessary, but not ‘urgent’, the latter requiring the immediate imposition of global Communism via ruinables Medieval ‘technology’ plus the adoption of correspondingly austere Medieval type lifestyles. Of course, zealots will continue to argue that even under such an ‘unrealistically optimistic’ warming scenario, heatwaves will still ravage the landscape once a year by then, killer storms will devastate entire regions, crops will fail, forests will burn, glaciers will transition into irreversible meltdown and corals will become ‘functionally extinct’ (like koalas). The hard evidence for these things occurring is virtually non-existent, however. So, 3C (an extra 2C of global warming from now) will most likely become the baseline ‘conservative’ scenario and the risks of extreme weather impacts, global extinctions, tipping points etc. etc. between now and 2100 under such a scenario will be played to the hilt, as will the risk of even more extreme global warming.
Welcome to 2020 and beyond and of course a very Happy New Year and New Decade to all our readers and contributors.
Why will it be a new decade? Just because everyone mistakenly says it will be? Seem to recall the current century falsely beginning on January 1st 2000 (when it should have begun January 1st 2001.)
Oh yes pedantry is alive and well.
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We have the 1930s, the 1960s, the 1970s, 1980s, the ‘noughties’ and so on. Personally, I figure 1930, 1960, 1970, 1980 to be included in those decades, but I wouldn’t include 1990 in the 80’s and no pop song released in 1990 would be worthy of the title ‘an 80’s pop song’. But Blondie’s ‘Call Me’, Spandau’s ‘To Cut a Long Story Short’ and OMD’s ‘Enola Gay’, all released in 1980, are all recognisably 80’s pop songs. Not very technical I know, but there you are!
It will be BAU for climate alarmists: all sound and fury, signifying nothing. Many failed predictions lie in their wake, but they’ll keep dreaming up more to try and unsettle the bemused public.
In the new decade we need to show how and why greenhouse gases are not the ‘climate control knob’.
Here is a start but will anyone in authority pick it up and run with it?
“Climate Science is sometimes claimed to be a new young science, and in its present form perhaps that is so, but in truth our knowledge of the concept of climate goes back to the Greek philosopher Aristotle. It was Aristotle who recorded the three main climatic zones known to the ancient world. These zones are: –
A. The Equatorial Torrid Zone.
B. The Mid- Latitude Temperate Zone.
C. The Polar Frigid Zone.
The three latitudinal climate zones of Aristotle can be directly linked to the three main atmospheric circulation cells that we now recognise within the Earth’s atmosphere. These three cells are:
A. The Hadley cell, which is a thermal cell, driven by solar radiation from space heating the planet’s surface. Two zones of Hadley cells exist in our atmosphere, these are both found in the Tropics and are generally located between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere, and the Tropic of Capricorn in the south. The Hadley cell’s pole-ward limit is located in the Horse Latitudes; where a zone of descending air exists forming surface high pressure anticyclones.
B. The Ferrel cell, which is a mechanical cell, located between the Hadley and Polar cells. It acts as a buffer or cog between the latitudinal limits of the two thermal cells, and has a circulation pattern that abuts and links these two opposing cells. The Ferrel cell forms a zone of mixing and ascending air that is associated with cold cored cyclones.
C. The Polar cell, which like the Hadley cell is also a thermal cell, but it is driven by atmospheric circulation caused by radiation cooling from the ground surface directly to space. This radiative cooling produces an atmospheric surface inversion, that is most noticeable in winter. The Polar cell’s equator-ward limit is marked by the Polar Front, an oscillating band with an associated strong horizontal surface temperature gradient; above which is found the jet stream of the upper troposphere. The Polar cell is responsible for the formation and surface export towards the equator of cold dense air-masses.
Modern climate science starts with the vacuum planet equation (1), a conceptual model devised by astronomy, and used to determine the average thermal emission temperature of a rapidly rotating solar illuminated planetary body. All models are abstractions based on assumptions, in order to understand modern climate science, the elements of the model and the fundamental assumptions need to be recognised and understood. The primary climate science assumption that directly arises from the use of the vacuum planet equation is this: –
It is the daily rotation of the globe that distributes the intercepted solar energy from the lit to the unlit hemisphere of the planet.
We can demonstrate that this assumption is paramount because it is correctly deduced that if the vacuum planet was tidally locked in its orbit around the sun then only one hemisphere, the sun-facing side would ever receive solar energy. Consequently, the unlit far side would experience a never-ending night and have vacuum surface temperatures of only a few degrees above absolute zero.
However, what happens if we add an atmosphere to the surface of a tidally locked vacuum planet? It is commonly assumed that the lit day side would experience searingly hot temperatures, while on the unlit night side, in the words of the great Isaac Asimov, for his description of the climate on his imagined tidally locked planet of Ribbon World, “the oxygen would run like water”. But is this actually true?
Time for a quick reality check. Venus is the closest approximation to a tidally locked planet which has an atmosphere that we can observe in our solar system. Data show that the surface day and night-time temperatures on slowly rotating Venus are almost identical. Similarly, for Titan the slowly rotating giant moon of Saturn, the surface day and night time temperatures are also almost identical. It appears therefore that it is not rotation that distributes the solar energy between the lit and unlit hemispheres of a planet, instead it is the presence of a thick and mobile non-condensing atmosphere.
So here at last we come face to face with the egregious error of applying the vacuum planet equation of astronomy to the process of determining the meteorological climate of a terrestrial planet with a thick atmosphere. The assumption of rotation first followed by atmosphere second is totally wrong, it is the atmosphere that distributes the solar energy and not planetary rotation, as the uniform climates of both slowly rotating Venus and also Titan so clearly demonstrate.
So, what is climate? The official definition that climate is the average of 30-years of weather is truly appalling in its naivety, this is how we measure climate it is not what climate actually is. Climate is the presence and action of a solar energy driven atmospheric cell over the surface of a terrestrial planet. Modelling studies of planetary atmospheric dynamics have shown that the latitudinal reach of a Hadley cell for a given terrestrial planet is determined by its daily rotation rate (2). Because all planets are rotating globes (even tidally locked ones) it follows that the latitudinal reach of the primary atmospheric cell determines the number of climate zones on a given terrestrial planet. Slowly rotating Venus has a Hadley cell that extends from the planet’s equator to its pole of rotation, and therefore has a single planetary climatic zone. Rapidly rotating Earth by contrast has three atmospheric cells and therefore our planet possesses three fundamentally distinct latitudinally defined climatic zones.
In order to study the climate of a terrestrial planet we need to formulate a model that can be applied in all possible scenarios. The vacuum planet equation by its very definition cannot be applied to a planet with an atmosphere, nor can it be applied to a planet that is tidally locked. To address both of these issues a new planetary climate model the Dynamic-Atmosphere Energy-Transport (DAET) Climate Model (3) was devised using a tidally locked planet as the fundamental element. We call this model planet Noonworld (4) and supply it with a transparent atmosphere of pure nitrogen gas so that all the processes of energy conversion can only take place at the basal surface boundary of the model.
The Noonworld model was run with a single day lit hemisphere receiving solar illumination. It was originally designed as a diabatic process with an equipartition of the surface captured solar power intensity flux as its core energy distribution process. Half of the intercepted solar energy is directly lost to space by through the transparent atmosphere thermal radiation, and the remaining half of the energy is retained by the surface heated air and transported by advection to the cold unlit dark side of the planet.
On the permanently unlit dark side of Noonworld the arriving advected air delivers the transported power intensity flux to the ground. As with the day lit side, half of the energy is lost to space by surface thermal radiation, and half is retained in the now cooled air and returned by surface advection to the sunlit side. This process of energy interception by the surface of the sunlit side, coupled with mass motion of heated air, and radiative cooling to space from the surface of the unlit side, is the diagnostic characteristic of a thermal Hadley cell.
The most critical feature of the DAET model is that it fully and accurately replicates the computation of the vacuum planet equation (5), and has the following distinct advantages as a founding model of climate:
1. The DAET model can be applied to all terrestrial planets including those that are tidally locked.
2. It is an atmospheric mass motion and energy circulation process, and so is fully representative of a Hadley cell; the observed fundamental meteorological process of a terrestrial planet’s climate.
3. The diabatic form of the DAET model fully replicates the vacuum planet equation, it applies to a totally transparent atmosphere, and therefore demonstrates that thermal radiant opacity is not a fundamental requirement for atmospheric energy retention and delivery.
4. For the adiabatic form of the DAET model, where the turbulent asymmetric daytime process of forced radiant convection applies, the intercepted solar energy is preferentially retained by the ascending air.
5. The adiabatic DAET climate model shows that the atmospheric greenhouse effect of surface thermal enhancement is a mass motion process, and that it is completely independent of an atmosphere’s thermal radiant opacity.
The only logical conclusion that arises from the application of our DAET climate model to the study of Earth’s climate is that there is not, and never has been a carbon dioxide greenhouse gas crisis.
1. Sagan, C. and Chyba, C., 1997. The early faint sun paradox: Organic shielding of ultraviolet-labile greenhouse gases. Science, 276 (5316), pp.1217-1221. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/276/5316/1217
2. Hunt, B.G. 1979. The Influence of the Earth’s Rotation Rate on the General Circulation of the Atmosphere. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, Vol. 36 (8), 1392-1408. http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0469(1979)036%3C1392%3ATIOTER%3E2.0.CO%3B2
3. Mulholland, P. and Wilde, S.P.R., 2019. Dynamic-Atmosphere Energy-Transport Climate Model. https://www.researchgate.net/project/Dynamic-Atmosphere-Energy-Transport-Climate-Model
4. Mulholland, P. and Wilde, S.P.R., 2019. Modelling the Climate of Noonworld: A New Look at Venus. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/334490844_Modelling_the_Climate_of_Noonworld_A_New_Look_at_Venus
5. Mulholland, P. and Wilde, S.P.R., 2019. Using an Iterative Adiabatic Model to study the Climate of Titan. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/334376243_Using_an_Iterative_Adiabatic_Model_to_study_the_Climate_of_Titan“
Temperature at 1 bar pressure on Venus equates to that at 1 bar (surface) on Earth, when adjusted for difference in distance from the Sun. This tells us that atmospheric mass, NOT composition is the other key factor after the Sun in regulating planetary temperatures, as Lubos Motl explains here:
The reluctant climb-down that you refer to here – no longer claiming four degrees this century – is interesting in relation to a post Jaime wrote earlier this year.
This was one of the posts responding to the BBC’s “Climate change, the facts,” which was in fact mostly lies.
David Attenborough, or whoever wrote his script, claimed that we were on course for 3-6 degrees of warming by 2100. Jaime rightly called this out. So, not for the first time, the climate industry is now reluctantly admitting that the sceptics were right.
I wonder if there is any chance of the BBC apologising for misleading viewers?
Yes, thanks Paul. The graphic which was used in the ‘Climate Change – The Facts’ program was based on a projection of global temperature increase using RCP8.5 in AR5 which Attenborough falsely claimed was our ‘current trajectory’. The median was 4.5C of warming relative to pre-industrial, which means 3.5C of warming from now! Ridiculous.
Lubos does not get it quite right in his old 2010 article since he thinks that a planet with a radiatively transparent atmosphere would lose so much radiation to space from the surface through the transparent atmosphere that it could not sustain an enhanced surface temperature.
As the model created by me and Philip Mulholland shows the truth is that the ‘excess’ surface temperature cannot radiate to space at a rate commensurate with the surface temperature because the portion of surface energy that causes the raised temperature is diverted via conduction into the energy needed for continued convective overturning.
So, a radiatively transparent atmosphere would still have the appropriate lapse rate to sustain the stable elevated surface temperature required for long term hydrostatic equilibrium.
The vacuum planet equation (from S-B) only predicts the rate at which energy is lost from the illuminated body to space. It says nothing about the internal operating temperature which is required to sustain convective overturning within an atmosphere.
This is exactly what I’m talking about. RCP8.5 may be in the process of being debunked as unrealistic but alarmists are in the process of blinking – and then carrying on as usual. Their brand of climate catastrophism is essentially bullet proof.
“Now for the bad news: 2.5 degrees of warming will still be catastrophic for many people and countries, and 3 degrees even more so. Heat waves will become unbearable without air conditioning, even in high latitudes. All coral reefs will probably die. Many major cities will be drowned. Even just 2 degrees of warming, which will be exceeded in any business-as-usual scenario, will have very serious global repercussions.”
Here’s Kate Marvel’s take on the decade. It’s slightly different from mine . . . . .
“This is the decade we knew we were right. It began with the warmest year on record; it then broke that record at least five times. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached levels unprecedented since humans were hominins. There were droughts and floods and brutal heat waves. Coral reefs turned white and gave up. Australia is in drought. The Amazon is on fire.
The decade began with lies and ended with evasions. Hackers, probably Russian, stole the emails of a few scientists and offered single sentences, taken wildly out of context, to an eager and credulous media. We heard both sides: the truth, and the not-truth, and were encouraged to draw our own conclusions. The temperature rose; physics was not watching the debate. We learned nothing from the experience.”
Roger Pielke sees what’s going on with RCP8.5:
And he foresees what will probably happen with AR6:
Ben has a review of the year here:
“The most extraordinary year of green bullshit yet”
It’s almost as if the alarmists know cooling is around the corner, and they’re in Custer’s-last-stand mode.