Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Is Climate Change Man-Made?

The global warming "skeptics" now accept that climate change is happening, but deny that it has a significant man-made component.

Here is the evidence that there is such a component:

1 CO2 has increased from 280 to 380 parts per million since the Industrial Revolution began clearing forests and burning fossil carbon. About half of our releases have been reabsorbed by forests and oceans. The other half is still in the air.

Isotope studies and tree analyses confirm that plant derived carbon in the air has increased- which points back to ourselves, since we burn plants, both ancient and modern.

So we have definitely put carbon that was taken out of the air in the Carboniferous Period 360 million years ago back into the air.

My back of an envelope calculations suggest that each year we release into the atmosphere carbon that took about 60,000 years to take out. Peak Oil sites web gives a figure closer to an annual release of carbon that took between 250,000 - 1.5 million years to form. Their figure is probably nearer the truth

So there is no reasonable doubt whatsoever that we are responsible for the increase in carbon dioxide.

2 It is an observed fact that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas (GHG).
(Watch an experiment)

3 The "greenhouse effect" is necessary to keep the planet in a mode that sustains human life at the population levels of 6 billion.

We rely on being in the Goldilocks temperature band - not too hot, not too cold. We must be absolutely sure that we are not disturbing this equilibrium.

4 Calculations of "Radiative Forcing" for the various inputs into the planet show that the CO2 (and other GHGs) that we emit are the only explanation for the recent observed warming of the planet.

If we take greenhouse gases out of the equation, and rely on the other variables - core heat, clouds, water vapour, aerosols, volcanoes and solar variation - we cannot explain the recent changes in global temperature.

Click to enlarge.The red line is temperature observations, grey line is the model. Top left shows natural forcings, top right CO2 forcings, and below, the best match, with natural and CO2 combined.





5 All reasonable persons who look at the data with an open mind are convinced by the case that the climate scientists have put.

We observe temperature increases, GHG (greenhouse gas) increases are the only way we can explain the temperature differences, we produced the extra GHG, the consequences of continuing to do so are extremely serious, therefore we must decarbonise the economy.

6 The losers from decarbonisation - oil and mining multinationals, and free market ideologues - have fought a rearguard action, and have challenged the scientists on every point. Each and every one of their challenges have been met.

Some will never be convinced, because they are free market fundamentalists, and feel threatened by the guided market and cooperative economic measure that are necessary as a response to global warming. This idealism is the driver for the ceaseless, importunate criticism, and the current drive attacks in East Anglia and New Zealand. And possibly illegal activity in Canada.

This opposition has held up the decarbonisation for nearly two decades, but thankfully the world's leaders are now taking the first steps towards decarbonisation.

Another clear summary here.


Climate change FAQs.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am disappointed by many of your recent posts about AGW.

I didn’t think that you would stoop to using some of the types of argument that you have.

You have simplified the range of sceptic views into a travesty of the reality.
You have implicitly used the “those who are not with us are against us” fallacy.
Did you really post this- “All reasonable persons who look at the data with an open mind are convinced by the case that the climate scientists have put.” Yes, you did!-So people who are not convinced must be...
The whole post called “Climate change skepticism, science, logic and ideology” was a straw-man exercise.
As for Copenhagen, as far as I can see it is another step on the road to big business and political leaders hijacking the AGW issue in order to turn it into another money making scheme for capitalism (and they have been busy doing that) and a face-saving issue for the politicians.

And who will end up hardest-hit by this? I notice that the energy companies seem to be going down the route that the consumer must pay, both for future investment and greening.
But the bankers are too important not to get their bonuses. But people like me on low fixed income are too small to count.
Some of those bonuses, given for one year, are many times larger than everything I earned in my entire working life!
Do I want people harmed by sea-level rise and extreme weather events?-no I don’t.
But I don’t believe that those people at Copenhagen who are now heroically posturing as saviours of the world in clothes they stole from you are serious about implementing real measures. They will do more harm than good by capturing mainstream public opinion and goodwill for their own purposes.
JMac

DocRichard said...

Well, JMac, I detect that you do not like what I have said, but I do not detect any critique of the actual case that is put here.

You see Copenhagen as a capitalistic cabal. The "skeptics" see it as a neo-Communist conspiracy.

I have re-read the climate change skepticism post, and it is not a straw man argument. It is a fair and accurate description of the basic sceptic position, as I have absorbed it in 3 weeks of intensive debate.

OK there is a range of opinion, but that has to be their core position.

With us - against us fallacy? It is time for a decision. The world has a choice: BUA, or decarbonise? There is a range to the degree of decarbonisation, but the choice is a binary choice - decarbonise, yes or no.

Sorry, jmac, we do not agree.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you are right that I am not critiquing the scientific case that you put. This is because I decided about 2 years ago that rather than accept the case for AGW on authority I would at least attempt to understand the science for myself. Once I got below the surface of the science it became a lot more complicated than I had thought it would be and I was stymied. But along the way I felt that there were legitimate concerns in some areas, though not enough to definitely undermine the AGW case. And anyway the Precautionary Principle cuts that particular knot.

What I am objecting to is the polarising, name-calling, pejorative-labelling, censorious-opinion- forming, tribalistic manner of conducting the argument.

I have given up mentioning to friends and acquaintances anything that might even hint of criticism of the AGW case because apparently that identifies me as a “denier” and “flat-earther”, no matter how much I protest. And if I do protest then I am in denial about my “denialism”. Thus is created a kind of censorship in the social as well as public sphere.

I just thought that maybe you weren’t the sort of person who would be part of that.

JMac

DocRichard said...

JMac
"What I am objecting to is the polarising, name-calling, pejorative-labelling, censorious-opinion- forming, tribalistic manner of conducting the argument."

I really think that you need to go to the Daily Mail website to get things into proportion regarding name-calling &c. Have you done so? If you have not, then you should definitely go and take a look at the realities of the situation.

I try my best to be fair, neutral and rational. Obviously, being human, this aim is not always attained.

Again: there is an operational decision to be made over AGW. To their credit, world leaders, with the notable exception of Saudi Arabia, are doing so at the moment, even though inevitably it is going to be some kind of dog's breakfast.

On the other hand, the scientific research will go on, refining the models towards perfection, but we definitely know enough now to act to decarbonise. Do you agree?

skeptical said...

Doc - I am not a scientist, rather a regular Joe concerned that we are uprooting our entire economic system due to unsubstantiated research. If any reasonable person with an open mind should accept the argument that scientists have put forth......why are there so many credible scientists that make strong and logical arguments discounting your claim?
You really do sound like an anti-capitalism - political activist versus a pure scientist.

How do you explain all of the DRASTIC climate changes our planet has experienced before humans?

I am like many other average citizens that do not know who to believe. I just know it has not been proven that man is THE ONLY EXPLANATION for GW.

DocRichard said...

Hi Skeptical
(does the K mean you are from the US or Canada?)

Good question, so good in fact that I am going to answer it as todays blog post.

Thanks
Richard

skeptical said...

USA.

Since my post I have read numerous articles from AGU scientists rebuking the man made theory. I will be interested to see your blog.

There are numerous theories contained in the links within this article that are very compelling.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2009/12/08/john-lott-climate-gate-global-warming-east-anglia/

Anonymous said...

DocRichard,
I have had a look at the Daily Mail board thread called "Is global warming man-made?".
My mistake in criticising your posts here on Mabinogogiblog is that I just picked up the term sceptic/skeptic and used it without realizing that I should have said who I meant.
In fact I realize that I shouldn't really be using that word as some of the people I am talking about don't accept it themselves.
I am talking about people who I regard as having some real and relevant input to the debate such as Storch and Zorita,Pielke Sr,Steve Mcintyre,Anthony Watts,Tennekes and others - even if they have different motives.

Yes, I agree that there are overwhelmingly good reasons to decarbonise.
JMac

DocRichard said...

Thanks Jmac.
Hi Skeptical
I had a look at the Fox news.
Do a search on "consensus" on this blog to balance their first point.

They point to the Petition Project.

Re: 33 and the Oregon Petition Project, we took the time to look up some of the signers in Connecticut.
Roger Smith (#52 here:http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/10/global-cooling-again/comment-page-2/)
says: ...we took the time to look up some of the signers in Connecticut.
We found very few scientists- mainly engineers and grad students, and the scientists were in totally unrelated fields. The only academic climate scientist we found (and contacted) was aghast that his name was on it and asked to be removed. The list doesn’t include city, title, or institution, making it pretty much useless.

Its scientific neutrality is compromised by a. poor science and b. policy statements like:

“Mankind is moving the carbon in coal, oil, and natural gas from below ground to the atmosphere and surface, where it is available for conversion into living things. We are living in an increasingly lush environment of plants and animals as a result of the CO2 increase. Our children will enjoy an Earth with far more plant and animal life as that with which we now are blessed. This is a wonderful and unexpected gift from the Industrial Revolution”

Re: "450 peer reviewed papers support the skeptical position": this claim will be checked, but already Real Climate have noticed that the list contains papers by non-skeptics. On the other hand there are literally thousands of papers that support AGW.

DocRichard said...

RL
Great. You had me worried there. Thing is, the Great Climate Conspiracy movement is holding onto the handbrake as while we are trying to reverse the car away from the cliff edge.

I have been reviewing your comments - didn't realise you had made so many. If I had an Thoughful Commenter award, I would give it to you straight away.

Paul Clark said...

1. Hi Richard. I came over here after seeing your post on the daily express article. Please take a look at this scatter plot from wiki. If humans were responsible for the CO2 increase wouldn't there be less variation in CO2 increase from year to year? Declination in dC13 is better correlated to ocean changes like El Nino. (The rest on my blog here.)

2. Well, that was an enclosed space, not an open atmosphere, with no quantities for CO2 given. It would be very interesting to know just what gasses were in that and what the relation to conductivity of heat to the walls is; what the cooling upon expansion of the CO2 into the chamber was; what the pressure in there was; how sensitive the measurement apparatus etc. Rather than scale up a laboratory experiment to a planetary scale wouldn't it be better to empirically measure what the radiative forcing actually is, which is exactly what Lindzen and Choi did? Using data from the ERBE satellite over 16 years a study was completed in June 2009 and published in August 2009. It shows that all the UN climate models with their decreasing outbound radiation relative to an increasing heat change are wrong - there is no positive reinforcement and instead there is negative feedback. (Lindzen lecture and slides.)

3. Actually I agree with you here. We may be disturbing natural equilibriums, but I would look more toward ocean pollution and land deforestation rather than the CO2 component of our direct emissions.

4. You missed two forcings: ocean changes such as El Nino/La Nina and land change use. The urban heat island effect is responsible for much of the observed change. Plus, it's important to note that outfits like NZ NIWA have been tweaking upward trends from level trends.

And, what on earth is that plot? Is that empirical, is it a model, where's it from?

5. What, the consequences of warmth are "extremely serious"? Well from what I hear the medieval warm period was a pretty good time. Hurricanes go down with warmer poles.

6. As for point six the CRU was funded by Shell and BP and still receives grants to this day. In fact, many entrenched interests support political responses to AGW: www.us-cap.org.

DocRichard said...

Paul, thanks for commenting. You make some interesting points, but they are answered elsewhere on this blog. Try searching, or looking at the FAQs.
http://greenerblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/climate-change-debate-faqs.html

I hope we can agree that climate is the resultant of many inputs, of which man made co2 is key, because we can affect that input?

Your side believes that other inputs are being underestimated. I hope to God you are right, because it gives us more time to sort ourselves out.

Paul Clark said...

Thanks so much for considering my post - now I know you're a straight-up guy. I'm not a scientist and I've always hid my light under a bushel and been afraid of the New World Order...you see, years ago I worked on a free-energy machine called the N-machine with American scientist Bruce DePalma. It is the one-piece homopolar generator invented by Faraday in 1831 but renamed by DePalma in 1978 because DePalma discovered that in its operation it yields more energy in output than it consumes in mechanical energy - in violation of the law of conservation of energy. I can not provide you with anything other than my own hearsay and these photos.

So, I've always known that the energy answer was there but just suppressed (there's also the Robert Adams motor - worth a look.) You and I are on the same side - everyone wants a peaceful, fair and clean world - but this Copenhagen thing is just another scam to me. How long have the entrenched interests been stalling development of real alternative energy (not nuclear)!?

DocRichard said...

Hi Paul
Free energy? I keep seeing reports of this - and then losing them. But they never seem to make it to market.
We can hope.
In my glancing at water splitting, I noticed that a lot of models used a physical process to pre-treat the water before electrolysis - maybe loosening the H-O bonds.

Who knows what may come? One thing for sure, there is going to be an explosion of energy technologies - anaerobic digestion, wood gasification, solar concentrators (I envisage one made of bamboo frames and reflective aluminium foil).

And before anyone starts on me - yes, I do understand the first law of theroodynamics. It's just that I also understand the capacity and god-given right of inventors to break all known laws.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I always wonder why the sceptics seem to think that 'it's down to nature, oh well thats allright then'.

Even if it isn't (and I think you need to have a pretty good understanding of atmospheric physics to comment with much authority on the science), then the problem still remains ie what are you going to do about it?

Answer a: stick your head in the sand and hope

Answer b: try to do something constructive

I'll go for b myself

DocRichard said...

Absolutely. We know that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, so reducing it will reduce the temp, irrespective of the cause.

cameron-scott said...

firstly, how can you call sceptism "the Great Climate Conspiracy"when there is no clear right or wrong regarding the issue.
my second point is that your arguement is mainly focused around co2 levels, which is surely the wrong place to start as reseach shows that co2 levels rise naturally after the planet comes out of each ice age which makes them an effect of global warming and not a cause. as well as this co2 is insignificant as a greenhouse gas compared to the likes of water vapour and methane so why is there no movement towards reducing the levels of them if it believed global warming is a problem caused by man that can be prevented by man.

DocRichard said...

Cameron said "how can you call sceptism "the Great Climate Conspiracy"when there is no clear right or wrong regarding the issue.
RL: it is not a matter of right or wrong in a moral sense, it is a matter of scientific evidence. The community of climate scientists are very clear on MMGW/AGW.

my second point is that your arguement is mainly focused around co2 levels, which is surely the wrong place to start as research shows that co2 levels rise naturally after the planet comes out of each ice age which makes them an effect of global warming and not a cause.

RL: see here.

as well as this co2 is insignificant as a greenhouse gas compared to the likes of water vapour and methane so why is there no movement towards reducing the levels of them if it believed global warming is a problem caused by man that can be prevented by man.
RL: Water vapour is a follower of global warming, not a driver.

Please check out the .FAQs

Thanks for commenting.

Meykav said...

the auther is a lib!

DocRichard said...

Meykav
I don't get it. Which author? Me? What sort of lib? Women's, liberal, Liberal, LibDem, neo-liberal, libertarian or what?
Because if you mean me, I am none of the above.