Facts, Myths, and Givens in Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC)
Facts, Myths, and Givens in Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC)
In the following I'm going to rely heavily on The Shattered Greenhouse: How Simple Physics Demolishes the "Greenhouse Effect". I've linked the article in for anyone who wants to check my interpretation of the story. It has an extensive bibliography at the end for further reading.
The basic idea of a greenhouse gas comes from Arrhenius' in 1896 representing (some say misrepresenting) the work of Fourier from 1827
In other words, visible light can traverse the atmosphere more easily than infrared can traverse the atmosphere back into space. Fourier actually said nothing of the kind, but it has entered our collective culture that he did.
Quote (Arrhenius (1896, p 237))"Fourier maintained that the atmosphere acts like the glass of a hothouse, because it lets through the light rays of the sun but retains the dark rays from the ground."
This idea ignores the fact that in greenhouses, the glass acts to prevent the heated air from mixing with the ambient air outside the box (i.e., prevents mass transfer) and has nothing to do with different wave lengths of light. The ACC concept says that the heating is due to energy absorption and disregards the fact that hot gases rise and there is no physical barrier to how far they can rise.
The linked article ends with:
Quote (Consulting Geologist)In the real physics of thermodynamics, the measurable thermodynamic properties of common atmospheric gases predict little if any influence on temperature by carbon dioxide concentration and this prediction is confirmed by the inconsistency of temperature and carbon dioxide concentrations in the geological record. Moreover, when the backradiation "Greenhouse Effect" hypothesis of Arrhenius is put to a real, physical, material test, such as the Wood Experiment, there is no sign of it because the "Greenhouse Effect" simply does not exist. This is why the "Greenhouse Effect" is excluded from modern physics textbooks and why Arrhenius' theory of ice ages was so politely forgotten. It is exclusively the "Greenhouse Effect" due to carbon dioxide produced by industry that is used to underpin the claim that humans are changing the climate and causing global warming. However, without the "Greenhouse Effect", how can anyone honestly describe global warming as "anthropogenic"?
If the thermodynamic underpinning of the "Greenhouse Effect" is absolutely missing, ACC does not have a leg to stand on.
Much has been made about the "fact" that atmospheric CO2 must have come from geologically old sources because of the lack of Carbon-14 in the atmospheric CO2. The idea of carbon dating is the result of very creative work in 1946 by Willard Libby at the University of Chicago. His concept is that Nitrogen-14 in the atmosphere is bombarded by solar radiation and that some proportion of the impacts will cause the stable nitrogen to lose a neutron and become radioactive Carbon-14 (radiocarbon). He further postulated that the number of collisions is relatively constant and that as animals breathed the C14 a portion of it would be absorbed into their systems and decay to Carbon 12 over time. This means that as long as the animal is breathing they will be ingesting C14. When the animal stops breathing they will stop ingesting C14 and the inventory of radiocarbon in their bodies will decay with a half life of 5730 years. So if you find a sample with 1/4 as much C14 as you expect then it is something like 11,460 years old. There are a large number of assumptions that go into this calculation, and many of them are invalid for any given biological sample, and the uncertainty in dating cam be millennia.
The big question is what sources of fuel have zero C14? Of course hydrocarbons that haven't been alive for 300 million years likely have zero C14. Same with CO2 from volcanoes. What about biological material that has been frozen under the permafrost since the last ice age (2.58 to 0.012 million years ago)? That stuff has been through a lot of half lives of C14. So if the climate is warming, and if the permafrost is retreating, then biological action on the newly thawed material would have zero C14. This means that C14-free CO2 in the atmosphere does not necessarily have to come from industrial activity.
The temperature record is not just one thing.
- Data from 2005 might be from digital instruments that self-report or from satellite surrogates.
- Data from 1970 likely comes from analog instruments manually recorded
- Data from 1900 likely comes from spotty coverage at universities and on ships.
- Data from 1800 comes from ice cores, sea floor samples, and tree ring analysis
- Data from thousands of years ago to about 1.5 million years ago come from ice cores
- Data older than that comes from analysis of the fossil record (i.e., what kind of plants were growing? how big were they?)
The oldest data has a temporal uncertainty of no less than ±10,000 years. The Ice core data is probably ±200 years. Data from the 1800's is certainly ±1-2 years. Data from the early 1900's is around ±6 months. More contemporary data has a better temporal uncertainty.
Contemporary data is collected from thousands of weather stations and stored in a database. The database (actually there are several, each its own format) contains one record per station per time period. No indication that the data is anything but true and accurate like scientific data is supposed to be. It is anything but that. "Everyone" understands that temperature on a blacktop surface is higher than temperature on a grassy field. As urban populations have expanded to formerly rural spaces, many weather stations have shifted from rural to urban. If you look at the data for the station, there is a step change in the output. To be able to compare a station that is currently urban to data from when it was rural, requires some "adjustments". These adjustments are done destructively without even a flag in the database. Also many of the stations have been broken for months or years and just receive "estimates", without any explicit definition of the estimating technique.
Finally, the historical record can be modified. Luckily several "outsiders" made copies of the databases at various times. Comparing those copies to the "official" records indicates some distinct trends. Several warm periods from the past are no longer included in the historical record. Data from 2000, show the 1930's to have been as much as 5°F warmer than the current string of "warmest on record years". Many of those record-breaking years were warmer by less than 0.05°F when the contemporary records have an uncertainty of ±0.1°F, but "Warmest Year on Record" gets headlines.
Impact of Climate Change
The list of things that ACC is going to cause has been widely published. It includes wildfires, more hurricanes, more tornadoes, floods, droughts, more deserts, reduced biodiversity, rising sea level, etc. This list was generated by a group of grad students sitting around a table throwing out ideas. Things like "when it is hotter it feels like the desert, I bet deserts will grow". In fact the geological record shows that in general during a warm epoch there is additional moisture in the atmosphere and deserts shrink--this is happening today all over the world. The list of consequences is not part of the "science" of ACC, but the scientists involved have rarely spoken out against the list. The scientific theories of ACC talk about physical reactions, but they can't even predict clouds or rotating systems let alone wildfires.
Before you say you "believe" in ACC remember:
For every Michael Mann there is a Judith Curry. For every Al Gore there is a Jim Imhoff (U.S. Senator from Oklahoma). For every David Suzuki there is a Lord Monkton. For every Bill Nye there is a Jack-in-the-Box Clown. For every IPCC report there are contributors who claim their statements were misrepresented. The 97% consensus was made up from whole cloth. Before this subject got so political and began having so much money thrown at it, there were frank and honest discussions among the scientific community and people of varying views could get published or get on the podium at conferences. Not today. There are a large number of scientists who have actually lost tenure for holding opinions that the ACC story does not hold up to scrutiny, and getting published with papers outside the mainstream is nearly impossible. Not the "science" of my youth.
Quote:Belief is the acceptance of a theory in the absence of data
David Simpson, PE
In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist