climate-change-uncertainty-loop.0

Vox produced this excellent graphic above which describes some of the interdependence of unknowns and how that affects the whole impact of climate change.    This is a virtuous circle or unvirtuous circle depending on your viewpoint I suppose.   The magnitude of each thing  multiplies the previous effect. If any one of them is very small impact then it tends to make the overall impact small and if one gets really large it tends to magnify the whole effect.

Let’s look at each of these issues:

A. How much CO2 will humans output?

IPCC Answer:  800-1000PPM or more by 2100

REALITY:  Maximum CO2 concentration:  550PPM, i.e. Almost exactly one doubling

REALITY:  2100 CO2 concentration < 500PPM (Concentration will be falling by the end of the century)

Reason:  Unlikely to continue to produce energy from fossil fuels for economic reasons at the exponential levels needed because of advancing technology

Few question the basic assumption that we will continue to pour out exponentially more and more CO2 as the IPCC assumes in most of its models.   Yet an exponential assumption is problematic.  It is almost impossible to keep up an exponential curve on anything.

  1. Technological Change
    1. About 15 years ago we learned how to “frak” for natural gas from sediments.   In 15 short years the US has dramatically changed its consumption pattern of energy.   While this is NOT away from CO2 it shows that small technological differences can cause changes that are enormous in a few years.
    2. Our technological capabilities are exploding.  Our ability to engineer at the micro level allows us to build truly unbelievable materials and devices.   Anybody who thinks that 80 years from now we will be making energy from the same dirty carbon based materials or producing CO2 in the same quantity or way is simply non-sensible.   The cost of alternatives falls while the cost for oil and other sources will go up.  Inevitably we will simply stop using fossil fuels for many things.
    3. If we see serious problems erupting from “CO2” then there are many alternative energies available even today.   We have nuclear and solar.  Regardless of how much some may not like those options it comes down to the fact we have alternatives if we have to.  We are not FORCED to produce more and more CO2.
  2. Exponential assumption is hard to keep up with.
    1. In the last year CO2 output in the world declined.   People expect 2015 and maybe even 2016 may be flat.  The computer models assume exponential increasing CO2 output.   This is required because without exponential increase in CO2 output the “greenhouse effect” will decline.   CO2 will purge from the atmosphere.  People are not sure if it is 10, 20 or 100 years but if we don’t keep pouring in vast amounts of CO2 it will go down.
    2. There isn’t enough fossil fuel to keep the theory alive.  Even if we don’t find a new clean technological energy source and we TRY to produce more energy from fossil fuels it will become extremely un-economic to find, produce and distribute this much oil, coal, etc…
    3. If we are 80 years from now doing this it would be evidence of something gone horribly wrong in the world that is probably indicative of worldwide Armageddon.
    4. Population will not continue to rise exponentially and we are getting MORE efficient in our use of energy.  Eventually the population and  energy use/person in the world will put a limit on the energy needs and production needs.
    5. Every “doom” prediction at its heart has an exponential assumption.   In this case it is CO2.  If and when the CO2 output stops being exponential the theory collapses.  It may have already started with China’s reduced CO2 output.   We have had a haitus in temperatures for nearly 20 years.   We may have a long period of little or no CO2 output growth which would halt any increase in energy to the earth and stop global warming in its tracks.

For these and many other reasons the assumptions that CAGW advocates make about CO2 output are bogus.  In my opinion it is EXTREMELY unlikely we will be producing more CO2 than we are today in 50 years regardless of what laws are changed or activists make us do.   So, the impact of CO2 is not as great as CAGW/IPCC assumes because it is almost impossible for it to rise to the levels they predict.

B.  What is the response of temperature to CO2.

IPCC Answer:  TCS = 1.6 -> 2.4C,

IPCC: we will see about 1.5C additional temperature gain by 2100.

REALITY: TCS = 0.4C -> 0.6C.  

REALITY:  0.2-0.3C increase between now and 2100.

I have talked about this extensively in other blogs and it is clear to me that the amount of extra heat generated by a doubling of CO2 (TCS) is far less at least in the short term than advocates continue to suggest.   For instance, they claim the temperature has climbed 1.2C since 1900.  However, 0.4C happened before CO2 was being put by man into the atmosphere in quantity.  Another 0.4C of this 1.2C is not real in that it is manufactured by adjustments to land data that cannot be right.

This leaves 0.4C of ACTUAL warming over the last century that has occurred during the time we have been putting CO2 into the atmosphere.   However, the discovery of AMO/PDO ENSO cycles means that at least 0.2C of that 0.4C is not because of CO2.

Lastly, we don’t know because of the inability of the models to predict correctly the temperature over the last 1,000 years what caused the remaining 0.2C rise.   It is entirely possible that whatever has caused the warming since the LIA of 1600 or so and was responsible for the warming in the early part of the 20th century that is unexplained by the IPCC could be some or all of the remaining 0.2C.   The IPCC ruled out that the heating over the last few centuries could be part of the cause of the heating between 1975 – 2000 on reasons that are now shown to be invalid.

Therefore the response of the atmosphere to CO2 cannot be as high as the IPCC claims.

We therefore don’t know what the response is but we can put some upper bounds.   I won’t belabor the blog with extensive discussion but there is some probability of >0.2C impact from CO2 during this period and some probability below.  Without additional information to constrain those probabilities I will say they are equal and suggest that there has been likely about 0.2C impact from the 30% of a doubling in CO2 we have put in.  Therefore TCS = 0.4. (The effect of CO2 is non-linear which is why the remaining 70% does not increase temperatures more than this.)

Given that the analaysis from the A part of the circle above is HALF what the IPCC projects and that the TCS is 1/4 what the IPCC tells us we already have a factor of 1/8 of the net effect that the IPCC predicts.

 

C.  How will other things respond to the rise in temperature?

IPCC:  Environment will multiply by 5 or more the effect of CO2

REALITY:  The total impact of CO2 cannot be more than another 0.2C which means the multiplier is close to  1 

REALITY:  Completely unknown how the longer term climate will respond. However, we have hundreds of years to respond to that.

Since the overall rise is going to be much less compared to estimates the amount of amplification by the system to the CO2 additional heat is going to be less.

However, It is clear the feedbacks cannot be very strong.   Since the total temperature rise is close to the amount of heat we expect to be generated by CO2 WITHOUT feedbacks it appears the multiplier or feedback is close to 1 NOT 5 as the IPCC projected.

CO2 generates 0.6C for a doubling by itself according to physics.   If we see close to 0.6C the multiplier is by definition 1 and all the models are grossly wrong which show much higher multipliers.

An example of how the multipliers are failing to kick in as expected is increased humidity.  It is assumed higher temperatures will generate more evaporation and more humidity.  This will triple the impact of CO2 by itself.  However, humidity hasn’t climbed as they suggested.  So, we have not seen the expected amplification they expected.   They thought clouds might double the impact of CO2.  So far, if anything clouds have responded by becoming less of a heat barrier and more of a heat release.

Over the period from 1945-2015 we have seen 0.4C change in temperature and we have seen CO2 climb 90ppm from 310 to 400ppm.    This is very close to the amount of change in temperature we would see from that much CO2 without considering any complicated computer models or feedbacks.

The IPCC assumes a large feedback is necessary to get TCS > 1.5 and ECS = 3.0 or larger.  This assumption appears to be false.   It is neccessary for the IPCC to have large positive feedbacks because the effect of CO2 alone without amplification is insignificant.   Even with exponential assumptions of CO2 generation which are infeasible if the feedback is not strongly positive and greater than 5 or so the amount of climate change will be negligible.

 

D.  Impacts on the environment and people

IPCC:  Food decline, millions die, wars increase, islands disappear and people relocated, species die, 20% of GDP destroyed.  Possible catastrophic scenarios imagined.

Reality:  IMPACT IS POSITIVE ALMOST ZERO NEGATIVES

This has been an area I have also spoken little about in blogs but it is clear that the impacts of climate change on animals, plants and humans is far far far less than the extremists claim.   In fact the IPCC itself admits that temperatures gains less than 1.5C will be good yet it is shown the temperature gain is almost impossible to exceed 1.5C.   So, even they would agree any temperature gain will likely result in positive results.

They have grossly overestimated the negative impacts of higher temperatures than 1.5C and grossly underestimated the benefits from higher temperatures.

Remarkably even the impacts the climate advocates have talked extensively about, such as sea level rise leading to islands having to be abandoned is not likely in this century.  More than half of all the island nations in the world have seen land INCREASE not decrease as sea levels rise.  If this seems unbelievable it is because they don’t want you to know this. Islands grow for many reasons and the small increase in sea level is not impacting the islands nearly like the advocates have told us.

They claim people will die in much greater numbers from infectious diseases that now occur in the tropics.   Evolution of our medical science is tremendous and even diseases like cancer are finally starting to come under the gun of our technological prowess.

However, even if we don’t have an technological answer and more people do die from these diseases what they don’t say is that the overall effect of higher temperatures must be to SAVE lives not lose lives because studies show that millions would NOT die if temperatures were to climb.   2 Studies you can look up make this plain.  One studied the cause of death of 74 million people published in Lancet magazine in 2014 it showed 20 times greater death from cold than warmth.  A second earlier study shows that 15% more deaths occur in winter than summer.   The warming of the climate will result in millions of SAVED lives not deaths.  It is absolutely unsupportable by any logic to assert there will be more deaths from climate change even if the climate change were to be large and even if we were helpless to the diseases they project.

Animals and plants are also not seeing the impact they suggested even a few short years ago.   We were told the coral would die, that plankton would die, that polar bears would die or walruses.   NONE of this has happened or is possible.  Studies coming out show that coral adjusts to higher salinity and higher temperatures as do plankton which actually prosper in higher temperatures.   Polar bear population has surged and Walruses are 48% more numerous.  NONE of these predictions have turned out true.    This is damning but never discussed in the media.

They said that 50% of all species would face extinction but we have now seen studies that the models they use for estimating extinction are grossly innacurate.

On the positive side longer growing seasons, access to more arable land for food, for people to live on or for animals and more minerals means a larger habitable world if we got the higher temperatures.   This is not accounted for by the IPCC.   Countries such as Canada and Russia and large parts of the world now considered uninhabitable might become more viable for life of all types and to enrich humanity.

I have trouble finding ANY negative consequence they have predicted that has ANY chance of actually happening.  However, even if there is such a negative we have to remember that humans are amazingly ingenious and like with previous models of our ultimate demise they fail to take account of changing abilities of man to cope.

In 1997 France experienced a heat wave.  15,000 people died.  3 years later a worse heat wave hit and 10 people died.   Simple, almost costless measures reduced the death rate by 99.9%.   I am not saying all the negative consequences of global warming whatever they should be might be as easily mitigated but it is preposterous to predict gloom in the face of not really knowing what the negatives might be and with inadequate analysis of the responses we might have.

Catastrophic Analysis

Some economists have argued that the IPCC is being way too conservative in estimating the costs of Global warming.   The IPCC itself estimates the costs of all these maladies they talk about as being still an infinitessimal cost to future generations.  Some economists think the overbloated overhyped costs should be magnified even more because it is a moral imperitive not to burden our children with our impact.   However, they don’t consider that reducing our productivity today has a magnified impact on our children.   Our children should want us to grow our economies and let them take care of whatever costs of global warming in the future using technology and money we have THEN not NOW.

There is also a missing moral imperitive that current generations of poor countries have.   They have underperformed their people for centuries.  They are guilty of abusing and stealing from their own people.   Now, finally many countries are finally emerging from their totalitarian economic and political systems to allow the people to gain the wealth they deserved all along.   We cannot in the first world morally argue they shouldn’t have the wealth we had or we WOULD BE GUILTY of stealing from the poor and trying to repress them.

The poor countries have a right to grow and attain significant wealth like us.   If that meant environmental degredation then we would be in a dire situation of trying to balance that between the haves and have-not nations.  HOWEVER, this is NOT TRUE.   The rich countries live in relative clean and pure environments.  We are saving species from extinction, we are figuring out how to move to a post-fossil fuel environment.  Therefore, greater wealth and energy use DOES NOT MEAN apriori a worse environment.  On the contrary it is essential they become richer to stop despoiling their environment and to help in moving the world to a cleaner future.    China needs to be rich enough to afford cleaning its air.  Alternatively it goes back 30 years to abysmal poverty and ascetic existence forced on the population.

Conclusion

In 1980 as I graduated from college at MIT I believed the Club of Rome computer models might be true.  They had significant smart professors who had made them very sophisticated.   They showed that by 2000 the world would be destroyed by lack of food, pollution or other problems.   In fact, the opposite happened.   By 2000, the world was cleaner, more prosperous and happier place.   The Club of Rome computer models showed that the ONLY way to achieve anything other than death was to institute a communist ascestic system where we cut back everyone to the basics.   It turned out these computer models and their “science” didn’t forecast anything.

This is extremely instructive lesson.

  1. Computer models aren’t easy to make right
  2. Computer models can be an expression of what the programmers want rather than an expression of reality
  3. Computer models can be 180 degrees wrong from the actual result
  4. Some people may have used science to try to convince people of their arguments while in fact having no basis in science for their work
  5. Technology adaptation by man is far greater than anyone anticipates even in relatively short time periods
  6. Trying to prevent a short term impact may cause longer term much more negative impact (even when doing something that seems intuitively to be sensible)

The Club of Rome may have been a bunch of socialists with an agenda and made the computer models do what they wanted from the beginning.  That could be a cynical view of the process.   I prefer to think they simply underestimated mans ingenuity.

The socialist and communist agenda may have merits but it is incredibly instructive to see that during this period the exact OPPOSITE policies from what the Club of Rome indicated got us to a much much better world.   Institution of more freedom, more capitalism, more production resulted in a much much better world.   Wheres the countries that until 2000 had basically kept communist systems fared extremely poorly.    In fact, people said in 2000 that communism had fallen.   Yet, we hear from the IPCC that we need to institute massive new state measures to redistribute wealth, cut back on this or that, restrict everything to get to nirvana.   We must realize this could be VERY wrong.  These measures may instead result in the worst case scenario rather than a best case.

Every doomsday model suffers from the same failure.  Assumption of an exponential trend combined with minimizing ingenuity results in a prediction of doom.   The fact that these always come out wrong is possibly luck or possibly due to wrong assumptions.   I suggest the IPCC like many have made the same error every other doom and gloom prediction has made including the club of rome, malthus and dozens of well celebrated failures.   They assume an exponential problem that will not stay exponential.   They don’t realize the alternatives, the possible mitigations and the scientific progress will dramatically affect the choices.   Thus population has continued to rise but we produce far more food than Malthus ever imagined.   The population has risen, wealth has risen but the Club of Rome didn’t anticipate the ability to find raw materials, the ability to clean the environment and to grow food.  In general each suffered the same fate.

The IPCC is absolutely following 100% along these lines.   They have overestimated the possibility of the exponential increase in CO2.   They have completely miscalculated the impact and costs of this CO2 and have not considered the alternatives carefully nor have they considered the inevitable ingenuity of man.

I want to emphasize I don’t believe this is burying my head in the sand nor is it a blissful belief in mans unlimited abilities.  I believe that the IPCC has grossly overestimated the costs of CO2 and the amount of impact on temperature and other things.   I know that even with today’s technology many of the things they say make no sense.   More fundamentally the science of Global warming is not sound.   It is based on some physics that is defensible but 80-90% of the science is entirely made up postulates that are unproven and I believe they use this like the Club of Rome professors may have to intentially produce an outcome they want to push as a poltiical agenda not as scientific.

Whether I agree with the politics they are suggesting is in my mind irrelevant.  I hold Science to a high standard.   I would like to see all such pseudo – science type unproven stuff clearly seen for what it is.  The public and our governments need science to remain as true to truth as possible.  Therefore, statements such as we are certain when the science is basically newborn is ridiculous on the face of it.   They obviously can’t be certain because we have almost no good data and most of the theory is purely speculation.

I now believe the science is solidly on the side that the impact of CO2 on the environment is far less than the IPCC or scientists thought 30 years ago.   Annoyingly the activists continue to say “it is worse than we thought.”  A little like the King without clothes or the boy who claimed the fox was here too many times.

P.S.  I want to say that while I do not believe the negative impacts from co2 production are significant because of climate change.  However, fossil fuels are a dirty and dangerous source of energy.  They kill millions of people every year in the discovery, mining, transportation, refining, distribution and usage as well as the toxic chemicals then unleashed in the air.   Not only that but they are limited in quantity and for me one of the most negative aspects is that they have forced the developed world to fund many noxious governments and to in a sense fund our enemies.   IMO nuclear, solar and other sources of energy are plentiful and getting cheaper.   We should encourage moving away from this legacy source of energy in the most economically practical way.  

 

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