Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Climate Change Hysteria

This article explains why the biggest problem with President Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate accords is not the withdrawal itself, but with President Trump's hamfisted lack of explanation of why it's a reasonable course of action.
Instead of starting with the social case against the substantive provisions of the Paris Accords, Trump justified his decision by invoking his highly nationalistic view of international arrangements. He said the United States was once again getting ripped off by a lousy treaty that, in his words, would force American “taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production.” He then insisted that his first duty is to the citizens of Pittsburgh, not of Paris—giving the impression that there are only provincial arguments that support his decision.

Yet, ironically, the President has a stronger case on this point than he does with his attacks on free trade, which he justified in similar terms. Free trade has a natural corrective, in that no private firm will enter into any agreement that it believes will work to its disadvantage. That was decidedly not true of the Obama approach to the Paris Accords, which gives a free pass to China until 2030 even though its recent carbon emissions have increased by 1.1 billion tons, while the United States’ total has dropped by 270 million tons, and will continue to do so.
I like a lot of what the president has done so far, but he should do a better job than he's been doing of explaining himself--and no, Twitter isn't sufficient.

Here's someone who does a great job of explaining himself--Roy Spencer: climatologist, author, former NASA scientist:
But first let’s examine the basics of why so many scientists think global warming is manmade. Earth’s atmosphere contains natural greenhouse gases (mostly water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane) which act to keep the lower layers of the atmosphere warmer than they otherwise would be without those gases. Greenhouse gases trap infrared radiation — the radiant heat energy that the Earth naturally emits to outer space in response to solar heating. Mankind’s burning of fossil fuels (mostly coal, petroleum, and natural gas) releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and this is believed to be enhancing the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect. As of 2008, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was about 40% to 45% higher than it was before the start of the industrial revolution in the 1800’s.

It is interesting to note that, even though carbon dioxide is necessary for life on Earth to exist, there is precious little of it in Earth’s atmosphere. As of 2008, only 39 out of every 100,000 molecules of air were CO2, and it will take mankind’s CO2 emissions 5 more years to increase that number by 1, to 40.

The “Holy Grail”: Climate Sensitivity Figuring out how much past warming is due to mankind, and how much more we can expect in the future, depends upon something called “climate sensitivity”. This is the temperature response of the Earth to a given amount of ‘radiative forcing’, of which there are two kinds: a change in either the amount of sunlight absorbed by the Earth, or in the infrared energy the Earth emits to outer space.

The ‘consensus’ of opinion is that the Earth’s climate sensitivity is quite high, and so warming of about 0.25 deg. C to 0.5 deg. C (about 0.5 deg. F to 0.9 deg. F) every 10 years can be expected for as long as mankind continues to use fossil fuels as our primary source of energy. NASA’s James Hansen claims that climate sensitivity is very high, and that we have already put too much extra CO2 in the atmosphere. Presumably this is why he and Al Gore are campaigning for a moratorium on the construction of any more coal-fired power plants in the U.S.

You would think that we’d know the Earth’s ‘climate sensitivity’ by now, but it has been surprisingly difficult to determine. How atmospheric processes like clouds and precipitation systems respond to warming is critical, as they are either amplifying the warming, or reducing it. This website currently concentrates on the response of clouds to warming, an issue which I am now convinced the scientific community has totally misinterpreted when they have measured natural, year-to-year fluctuations in the climate system. As a result of that confusion, they have the mistaken belief that climate sensitivity is high, when in fact the satellite evidence suggests climate sensitivity is low.
For those of you who want to complain that I quote someone who's not a climatologist--well, here's a climatologist. Yes, I've found people who've spoken against him, and yes, I can find web sites attacking what he says, too.  So you choose to believe your way, Chicken Little, and I'll choose to believe mine.  The fervor with which the Believers attack and respond, though--yes, it's a religion to them.  And I'll enjoy taunting them as much as they enjoy taunting those with more conventional religious beliefs.

I wrote this post 7 1/2 years ago, and I still stand by it.  One of the benefits of getting old is the wisdom that comes with experience; I'm not as easily fooled as some are, if for no other reason than because I've seen this trick before.  The Believers have cried wolf too many times in just my lifetime for me to take their current howls seriously.


Anonymous said...

Regardless of my thoughts on climate change, it seems clear to me that green energy is going to be the way to go in the sense of economics for it at both a national and international scale. If we don't invest in this we're going to be heavily left behind in a huge sector of the economy, plus it's better to play nice with our allies/trade partners even if we think it's silly or exaggerated.

That's just me though.

Darren said...

I don't see wind or solar as ever being more than bit players. Heck, my roof gets *no* shade, and every solar person I've ever brought out here says it makes no economic sense to put solar on my roof. Why? Because I don't use enough electricity to justify the cost.

I'm all about nuclear power, though. And so is Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that's true for single guy living in a home by himself. Add a wife and two teen age daughters and that solar array on your roof would pay for itself pretty quickly. That's closer to the average household, plus or minus.


Anonymous said...

Approximately thirty percent of the sunlight striking the earth’s surface is radiated back into space as long wave, infrared, radiation.
The absorption of infrared radiation by carbon dioxide and water vapor has the effect of reducing the radiation from the Earth into space, in the infrared part of the spectrum. Therefore the temperature of the Earth must increase in accordance with the First Law of Thermodynamics, the conservation of energy. There is no way around the First Law.


socalmike said...

Hey Anon - would you pay 25-50K out of your own pocket to put solar on your roof, not to mention the upkeep and maintenance, for something that will never pay for itself in your lifetime?

Or, would you only do it with the government subsidies? If yes, then you're part of the problem.

Do away with the 180 billion a year subsidies on solar and wind, and the industry shrivels up and blows away.

Darren said...

Richard, if it were that easy, not only would there be no debate, there'd be no people to have the debate--because carbon dioxide levels and water vapor have both been much higher in the past, meaning we'd be Venus already.

Anonymous said...

Mike, The federal subsidy for solar and wind are about six billion each per year. A five kw solar rooftop aray costs about 20-25 grand without subsidy. That pays out for most households in ten or fifteen years. After that you have free power forever. Maintenance is almost nothing. I"m with Darren, that would never pay out for me. But for a 30ish family with 2.2 kids it would be the best investment they could make depending on location and other factors. Plus you would have the peace of mind that you were not contributing to air pollution if that means anything to you. Also if the grid goes down for whatever reason you are ok and a valuable neighborhood resource.

Best regards,

Anonymous said...

Daren, I totally respect anyone who pounds out this blog day after day year after year. I’m pretty liberal but do appreciate hearing alternate views. That said, you are wrong on the global warming thing. There is no debate, at least not in the science community except for the outliers you find and publish occasionally. For at last four hundred thousand years the co2 level has not been above 280 parts per million by volume. We are now at 410 and climbing. You cannot increase a heat trapping gas by around forty percent had not have the temperature of the earth increase. The First Law of thermodynamics demands it.

You don’t need to publish this. I would just ask you to take a fresh look at the data.

Yours for civil discourse.


Darren said...

AGain, if this were nothing more than an issue of the First Law, there would be no debate. Until the most basic questions can be answered, I'm not drinking the Kool-Aid.

socalmike said...

Richard - nope - we're both wrong - according to Forbes, 2013 federal subsidies were 13 billion.

You forget that it takes upkeep and maintenance - after 8-10 years, the inverter must be replaced. The solar panels themselves lose 1-2% efficiency per year, and after about 20-25 years must be completely replaced.

And where in California is a young family in their 20s-30s going to be able to afford a home in the first place? Barstow? Corcoran?

Mike Thiac said...

Richard, just one question. Actually, several.

1. You say we have increased from 280 to 410 ppm of CO2. Ok, what is the "normal" amount we should have? Please give me a number and how stated that.

2. Can you tell me what is the "normal" temperature for the Earth?

3. If you can tell me the Earth will warm by so much in 100 years, can you tell me what the temperature will be in 5?

Anna A said...

I remember reading somewhere recently that the only computer models that accurately predicted some recent weather trends were based on and/or included solar and lunar cycles. The same article pointed out that one of the worst times for humans was when the CO2 content in the air was extremely low.

Might be interesting to see if greenhouse owners control CO2 content for best growing and what the numbers are.

Anonymous said...

Socialmike: You are correct that the inverter will need to be replaced every decade or so. The panels themselves these days are guaranteed to produce at least eighty percent efficiency after twenty years. Guarantees are conservatives so the actual efficiency rate is probably at least ninety. I still say that’s a pretty good long term deal for the price of a new car.

Getting established and buying a home has always been a tough go for young families. It takes planning, sacrifice and modest living. That’s something teachers know something about for sure.

Mike T.,
The normal amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is what is has been for the last half million years that homo sapiens evolved in. That is 200-280 ppm by volume. Leaving aside the climate change thing, we have no idea what the long term effects of breathing forty percent more CO2 are.

There is no normal temperature for the earth. A stable climate is a good idea if you have a planet with seven and a half billion humans. We have anything but that now and it is getting worse.

Five years from now the atmospheric CO2 will be around 425 ppm. The temperature in five years will be higher than it is now. Can’t give you an exact figure but there will assuredly be even more dislocation than presently. More blocked infrared will be retained. Sorry to drag out that old first law of thermodynamics but it is the law and it will be obeyed. That heat energy will be conserved.

Yours in civil discourse