Why Global Warming Alarmism Isn’t Science

Science is not a set of dogmas, and it is not a pronouncement by a committee. It is a method. Richard Feynman, perhaps the world’s most eminent physicist, put it this way:

In general, we look for a new law by the following process: First we guess it; then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what would be implied if this law that we guessed is right; then we compare the result of the computation to nature, with experiment or experience, compare it directly with observation, to see if it works. If it disagrees with the experiment, it is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It does not make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it does not make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is—if it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong.

The catastrophic anthropogenic global warming theory is based entirely on models, which are programmed by their creators to predict disaster. But we know for a fact that the models are wrong, because they disagree with reality. When the facts collide with a theory, the facts win.

At Watts Up With That?, Don Easterbrook applies the scientific method to the recently-produced National Climate Assessment (NCA). The NCA predicts all kinds of awful consequences from a hypothetical rise in temperature that is based exclusively on models, not on observation. Easterbrook finds that the NCA fails the test of reality. Here are a few examples.

NCA assertion: “Temperatures are projected to rise another 2°F to 4°F in most areas of the United States over the next few decades.” “By the end of this century, a roughly 3°F to 5°F rise is projected under a lower emissions scenario, and a 5°F to 10°F rise for a higher emissions.”

Facts: How do we check the validity of this prediction? Well, we can look at comparisons of previous computer model results to recorded satellite temperatures. Figure 2 shows Roy Spencer’s plot of 44 of the latest climate models versus satellite measurements. As his graph shows, the models were not even close to the real measured temperatures. The obvious conclusion here is that the models failed miserably, a fact admitted to by the IPCC in their latest report.

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2. NCA assertion: “It has been known for almost two centuries that carbon dioxide traps heat.”

Facts: That’s not the question—it’s not if CO2 is a greenhouse gas, it’s how much is there in the atmosphere (Fig. 3) and how much can it affect climate? CO2 makes up only 3.6% of the greenhouse gases (Fig. 4) and coupled with the fact that the atmospheric concentration has changed only 0.0065% since recent warming began in 1978 (Fig. 3), there is no way that this miniscule amount can have any significant effect on climate. Water vapor accounts for ~95% of the greenhouse effect and computer modelers put a large arbitrary water vapor factor in their computer programs, claiming that if CO2 increases, so will water vapor. But that isn’t true—atmospheric water vapor has been declining since 1948 (Fig. 5), not increasing, so modelers who put a water vapor driver in their programs will not have a valid output.

This is a critically important point. Everyone agrees that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. (That’s a good thing; the Greenhouse Effect makes life on Earth possible.) The problem from the hysterics’ point of view is that doubling the tiny concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere would, without more, have only an insignificant–and in fact, beneficial–effect on the Earth’s climate. The Earth would become a greener and slightly warmer place. (It is ironic that “greens” are obsessively hostile to the very substance–carbon dioxide–that makes the Earth green.) The hysterics admit this, so their models are programmed to amplify the effect of increased CO2. They hypothesize positive feedbacks, most notably by assuming that increasing CO2 will lead to a higher concentration of water vapor. The supposedly baleful consequences of burning fossil fuels are mostly indirect; they derive primarily from the feedbacks, not from the CO2.

But, as Easterbrook says, we know that this assumption is false. Carbon dioxide levels have been increasing for some decades now, and that has not led to an increase in water vapor in the atmosphere. On the contrary, as Easterbrook notes, atmospheric water vapor has declined since 1948. So, once again, the alarmists’ models are simply wrong.

Let’s conclude with the NCA’s predictions about sea level rise. For some reason, more liberals seem to make fools of themselves over the idea of a rising sea level than anything else. You see pictures of the Statue of Liberty, up to her waist in water. California’s Governor Jerry Brown recently had to retract a dumb comment about needing to move LAX because the present location will soon be under water. The whole thing is a fantasy:

NCA assertion: Global sea level has risen by about 8 inches since reliable record keeping began in 1880. The future scenarios range from 0.66 feet to 6.6 feet in 2100. This recent rise is much greater than at any time in at least the past 2000 years.

Facts: During the last Ice Age (~10-20,000 years ago), vast areas of continents were covered with ice sheets up to 10,000 feet thick. [Ed: That's almost two miles.] There was so much water tied up in these ice sheets that it caused sea level to drop about 120 meters (400 feet). 11,500 years ago, the climate changed abruptly, warming at rates up to 20 °F in a century, bringing the Ice Age to a very sudden end. The ice sheets melted at an astonishing rate, causing sea level to rise sharply. We know the chronology of this sea level rise (Fig. 21), so we can calculate the rate of sea level rise as the ice sheets melted. Sea level rose 50 meters (160 ft) between 12,000 and 8,000 years ago. That’s a rate of sea level rise of 4 feet per century, during a time when gigantic ice sheets were melting from warming of tens of degrees per century.

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Figure 21. Sea level over the past 12,000 years.

The authors of the NCA report (and NOAA) want us to believe that sea level may rise as much as 6.6 feet by 2100 (86 years from now), a rate of sea level rise of 7.7 feet per century! That’s about twice the rate at which sea level rose while the huge Ice Age ice sheets melted under warming of tens of degrees per century. So where do the so-called scientists of this report think all this water will come from? Those huge Ice Age ice sheets no longer exist, so the only possible source is melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets? How likely is it that a 0.006% rise in CO2 is going to melt a significant portion of the Antarctic ice sheet? Probably zero to none. Why couldn’t the so-called scientists who authored the NCA report do the simple math? If they had even read the literature, this analysis has already been published (Morner, 2010).

The East Antarctic ice sheet (the major Antarctic ice sheet with ice up to 15,000 feet thick) first appeared in the Miocene, 15 million years ago. Throughout most of the Antarctic ice sheet history, global CO2 levels were 1000-2000 ppm (compared to present 400 ppm), so the recent miniscule rise of CO2 is peanuts compared to what it has been. So even doubling, tripling, quadrupling, or quintupling of CO2 would still be well below the levels of most of the ice sheet’s history and the ice sheet survived those quite nicely.

I am sure most people don’t realize how low contemporary CO2 levels are. We are living in a carbon-deprived era. CO2 levels have been 15 times higher than they are at present without any runaway warming, or any other adverse consequence.

The Antarctic ice sheet is continuing to grow, not melt, and sea ice is presently at an all-time high (Fig. 22). The average daily temperature in Antarctica is –58° F, so to get significant ice to melt would require raising the average daily temperature from -58 to +32 ° F (melting point of ice), plus another ~10 ° F, a total warming of +100° F. Not likely!

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Figure 22. Antarctic sea ice is presently at an all-time high, about a million square kilometers above average.

Another way to look at the ridiculousness of the NCA predicted sea level rise is to compare their predictions with history sea level rates. The rate of sea level rise from 1900 to 2000 was 1.7 mm/yr (~7 inches per century) (Fig. 23). Figure 24 shows a comparison of the sea level rise over the past century with the NCA predicted sea level rise. The huge difference is impossible because there is no source of water for the NCA predicted rise.

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Figure 23. Sea level since 1700 AD

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Figure 24. NCA sea level rise prediction compared to projecton of sea level rise over the past century.

Global warming alarmism fails the test of science. The alarmists’ models generate one false prediction after another. When a model is falsified by experience, we know that the model is no good. A bad model cannot be a basis for predicting the future, or for making decisions about public policy. Global warming alarmism is not science. It is, rather, an industry fueled by billions of dollars that the world’s political class showers on climate “scientists” to compensate them for producing silly projections of doom. The political class needs the predictions of doom to justify its own grab for more power and money, and certain compliant “scientists” are happy to oblige. Money talks, but it doesn’t necessarily produce good science.

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