Climate Change: myth or reality?

There’s no question in my mind the “Intelligent Design” movement has lost all its arguments with Science. Unfortunately, post Trump-it, that fact is now an irrelevance. With Trump’s appointment of Betsy de Vos as Education Secretary, it looks like religious fundamentalism no longer needs its figleaf. What concerns me much more is that a similar fate awaits climate research if his appointment of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State is any indication of future policy on combating climate change.

The science and politics of Global Warming seem to have roots going back to 1950, the year I was born. Two irrefutable examples of rapid climate change stand out for me. Around then atmospheric CO_2 was not much more than 250 ppm. Today it is pushing 500 ppm and shows no sign of tailing off. We have ice-core samples showing how atmospheric CO_2 has changed previously over 800,000 years and present levels and rate of change are unprecedented.

Also the extent of land and sea ice globally appears to be changing rapidly. I can look out of my window now across at les Monts d’Olmes in the Pyrenees, which are almost devoid of snow cover. Glaciation has reduced to 10% of what it was in the Pyrenees at the start of the nineteenth century. The story of retreating glaciers is repeated on every continent.

The Arctic sea ice seems to be on a rapid trend of shrinkage, especially when one looks at volume and not just area. There have been suggestions that the loss at the Arctic was being balanced by increases in sea ice at the Antarctic but latest information suggests this is no longer happening.

Today I see Barry Arrington has posted a “Friday Chuckle” cartoon mocking change as if it were a myth created by scientists. That his attitude is widely shared, even in the US administration, is worrying. One would expect the argument to move to considering whether the undeniable change is caused in whole or in part by human activity and whether changes we make now can help reverse the trend and if that is achievable or desirable. Has electing Trump condemned us to four lost years of denial and inaction?

What do others think?

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136 thoughts on “Climate Change: myth or reality?

  1. and if the 50 year history of nuclear power is any indication, it will cost 3 times as much as we hope.

  2. Frankie: The point is it isn’t the added CO2, Alan. Snow and ice can melt even with below freezing temps.

    What are you wanting to claim Joe? That CO_2 isn’t a greenhouse gas? Or that the albedo effect is not a factor in loss of glaciers and sea ice?

    CO2 is not the problem. CO2 is not a pollutant. And a doubling of CO2 – from 280 to 560ppm- will only cause an increase of 0.6C

    Not sure where you are getting that figure. There is a recent paper claiming to have the first measurements correlating CO_2 concentrations to heat absorption. Here’s the blurb on it. I’m trying to find a copy that isn’t paywalled.

  3. Like I said before–nuclear is a whole mess of headaches, and it doesn’t make sense anymore.

    But some people are wedded to them for political reasons.

  4. Frankie: It’s called summer time

    And if the summers and winters are warmer, the melt increases. If less snow falls, there is less necessary to melt. Is there any research which point to enough an increase of soot and dirt to say explain the general retreat of the glaciers worldwide?

  5. Everything costs three times as much as projected.

    Nukes are not instead of wind and solar. They are a supplement, and they are going to be necessary in places where wind and solar are unavailable or unreliable.

    Or during times when solar is unavailable.

  6. petrushka:
    Do the costs of wind and solar include the cost of storage for nighttime demand and for times when wind is unavailable? And the environmental costs of building enough batteries, and the costs of replacing the batteries every five years or so?

    I have nothing against wind and solar, but I’m not convinced the costs have been calculated for switching the world economy.

    As I understand it, when the wind blows and the sun shines that energy goes into the grid thereby reducing the amount of energy you need from fossil fuel sources,The energy is fungible. If you have an effective solar collection system in many places you can sell your excess back to the grid.

  7. AhmedKiaan: if you really want to get into the numbers, you should read the relevant Vaclav Smil books. But they’re quite dense. Storage, btw, is not too hard, you build hydroelectric pump storage, batteries, maybe ice systems.

    Smil does look like he understands how poor the chances are for renewables making a large contribution soon

    Storage perhaps isn’t so hard, but it’s certainly expensive where you can’t use hydro pumping.

    Glen Davidson

  8. Frankie:
    Berkeley Lab Quantifies Effect of Soot on Snow and Ice, Supporting Previous Climate Findings

    Even though the air temp is below freezing the ice and snow melts because the dirt and soot warm up well above freezing in the sun light. On the weather channel they did an experiment in the Artic. In below freezing temps they placed a square black piece of cardboard on the snow and started measuring its temperature, which reached 90 F in minutes.

    Isn’t that what I said?

    Have you ever heard about feedback?

  9. Alan Fox: Storing energy in molten salt is cost-effective, according to this companie’s blurb.

    It probably is cost-effective for high-temperature systems. Using the heat of fusion is a significant advantage in such a situation. Whether or not those systems are cost-effective overall would be the question.

    But I was discussing “electrical storage” (of course electricity isn’t itself stored, save in superconducting storage), something that could store electricity from any source. Molten salt won’t do anything for wind or photovoltaics, both of which seem more likely to be eventually used for the bulk of renewable electric energy systems, if they are to take over electrical generation.

    Glen Davidson

  10. GlenDavidson: Yes, it’s not new, and it only works for high-temp systems, solar thermal systems operating at high temperatures such as solar towers.

    Which is why molten salt storage is being developed and tested in conjunction with high temperature solar energy collection.

    It’s not storage of electricity.

    Glen Davidson

    No, it’s storage of heat energy from which electricity can be generated. Are we at cross-purposes in some way?

  11. GlenDavidson,

    smil is the go-to-guy to get the comprehensive numbers on a situation. There’s nobody better for that. But his analysis is notoriously pessimistic. For instance, years ago he said the Tesla batteries wouldn’t work because there were too many interconnects.

  12. Richardthughes:
    petrushka,
    Aren’t we looking for bridging technologies to Fusion?

    Fusion power is and always will be thirty years in the future.

    I am thinking of what we can have done in twenty years.

    There are places where wind power is enough, most of the time, and there are places that could export solar power during daylight hours. But we are going to need nukes to get off coal in the short term. And some places just won’t have wind or solar available or sufficient.

  13. Alan Fox: Not sure where you are getting that figure.

    Umm the four links that followed it. Then there is the fact that one scientist challenged all comers to show that AGW was real and they couldn’t do it- tat was another link I provided.

    The math says a doubling of CO2, from 280 to 560pm would only cause a 0.6C increase and that is if everything else remained equal.

    CO2 is a greenhouse gas but it isn’t a blanket. And at parts per million it is swamped by water vapor. Deserts are still cold at night even with the increased CO2.

  14. Frankie: Umm the four links that followed it.

    I read some quite reasoned articles by one Mike Jonas but I seem to miss the place where he gives that figure. Could you be more specific about its location?

    Then there is the fact that one scientist challenged all comers to show that AGW was real and they couldn’t do it- tat was another link I provided

    Failure to answer an all-comers challenge is pretty meaningless. I think you’ve issued several yourself and been totally ignored.

    The math says a doubling of CO2, from 280 to 560pm would only cause a 0.6C increase and that is if everything else remained equal.

    Show me the math.

    CO2 is a greenhouse gas but it isn’t a blanket. And at parts per million it is swamped by water vapor. Deserts are still cold at night even with the increased CO2.

    But the percentage of water vapour in the atmosphere isn’t being affected by human activity, Water evaporates and condenses according to the water cycle. Its atmospheric concentration is limited by its physical properties. Turnover for atmospheric water vapour is around nine days.

  15. Alan Fox,

    The math is here, Alan:

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/climate-change-myth-or-reality/comment-page-2/#comment-159553

    The challenge issued to climate scientists, which was accepted but not refuted is here, Alan:

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/climate-change-myth-or-reality/comment-page-1/#comment-159419

    I think you’ve issued several yourself and been totally ignored.

    If my challenges were accepted then you and yours would prove that your position isn’t science and there isn’t a scientific theory of evolution. And you can’t have that so it’s best to keep pretending.

  16. Alan Fox: No, Joe, those are links to a series of articles by someone called Mike Jonas. Show me the math. Quote the relevant text.

    The math is there, Alan

  17. Frankie: The challenge issued to climate scientists, which was accepted but not refuted is here, Alan…

    It wasn’t of course but, out of curiosity, I worked back to the original challenge, which was to pick out trends from noise in anonymous data. Here is Douglas Keenan on the outcome.

  18. Alan Fox,

    Conclusion:
    Global temperatures have increased since 1880. Many people have claimed that the increase can be shown, statistically, to be more than just random noise. Such claims are wrong, as the Contest has effectively demonstrated. From the perspective of statistics, the increase in temperatures might well be random natural variation.

    Random natural variation is not human induced

  19. Alan Fox: OK. So copy-paste the text then.

    Alan, I don’t care what you believe with regards to climate change. All I know is the dire predictions that started coming out a decade ago have not happened. I also know that humans prosper during warmer periods. And to top it off the baseline temperature is arbitrary- meaning we are warm as compared to some arbitrary baseline.

  20. We need to spend more trying to harness rain power!

    I also have plans for a way to convert rising sea levels into energy. Looking for investors.

  21. Mung:
    We need to spend more trying to harness rain power!

    I think it’s been done. Hoover Dam?

    I also have plans for a way to convert rising sea levels into energy. Looking for investors.

    That too. Rance

  22. Frankie: Alan, I don’t care what you believe with regards to climate change. All I know is the dire predictions that started coming out a decade ago have not happened. I also know that humans prosper during warmer periods. And to top it off the baseline temperature is arbitrary- meaning we are warm as compared to some arbitrary baseline.

    I’ll take that as confirmation there was no such math in those articles.

  23. Alan Fox: I’ll take that as confirmation there was no such math in those articles.

    And, by Joe’s own logic, if he can’t respond to your challenge, you must be right.

  24. Alan Fox: I’ll take that as confirmation there was no such math in those articles.

    LoL! I will take that as a confirmation that you cannot read

  25. Frankie: LoL! I will take that as a confirmation that you cannot read

    Frankie, you still haven’t provided a link to support the following claim you made on Hunter’s blog:

    Alan Fox admitted that Darwin’s concept couldn’t be tested.”

    Maybe you could provide it here. Or get Alan to acknowledge that he admitted this.

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