By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project
Brought to You by www.SEPP.org
Quote of the Week. “Nullius in verba” – “Nobody’s word is final.” Motto of the Royal Society, Freeman Dyson
Number of the Week: 54 Hoover Dams
Warming and Cooling? S. Fred Singer, our founder and newly elected Chairman Emeritus, is busily working on an interesting question: can carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, cause a cooling as well as a warming? The answer is YES, depending on subsidiary conditions.
The notion has been checked by several atmospheric physicists. One issue is putting the concept into a format that is easily understandable, without many highly technical equations.
The concept has the potential of partially explaining the hiatus in measured atmospheric warming despite increasing carbon dioxide (CO2). If correct, adding more CO2 will produce a cooling, not a warming of the atmosphere. Does it sound counter-intuitive? YES!
Hint for this week: Climate sensitivity, both amount and sign, warming or cooling, depends on atmospheric lapse rate. For example, in the troposphere the lapse rate is negative, temperature decreases with altitude increases. In the stratosphere the lapse rate is positive, temperature increases as altitude increases, and additional CO2 may cause cooling.
Seeding Clouds from Space: Fred Singer has reminded us that we need to consider two different types of warming and cooling periods over the recent history of the earth, the past 2.5 million years or so. The longer periods of warming and cooling result in major Ice Ages of long duration, 100,000 years or so interrupted by brief warming periods of 10,000 years or so. These are explained as resulting from a changing of the orbit and tilt of the globe in relation to the sun, known as the Milankovitch cycles. The second type, such as the warming and cooling of the globe of the past 10,000 years may be explained by changing total solar energy, not just solar irradiance, sunlight hitting the upper atmosphere. The effect of changing total solar energy into the solar system may be many times more powerful in changing the earth’s climate than indicated by just changing solar irradiance.
Fred Singer was an early researcher into what now falls under space weather, variations within solar system from changing solar wind, solar magnetism, etc. Early on, Singer supported the Svensmark Hypothesis, formed by Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen. In summary, the intensity of the solar wind modifies the number of high energy cosmic rays from exploding supernova in deep space that hit the upper atmosphere. According to the hypothesis, the cosmic rays start a cascade of secondary particles that ionize molecules helping form cloud condensation nuclei (cloud seeds) that promote the growth of cloudiness, which cools the earth.
The concept has been tested by the SKY Experiment at the Danish National Space Science Center. Then it was comprehensively verified by the CLOUD Project at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva. Despite these laboratory results, critics have dismissed the efforts saying that the small aerosols formed by these ionized molecules are too small to a be means where water vapor can condense. There was no mechanism demonstrated whereby the small particles can accumulate the mass required. Others claimed there is little or no statistical correlations between cosmic rays and clouds or cosmic rays and changes in temperatures.
For four years researchers at The Technical University of Denmark have addressed what they consider to be the last link in the chain of reasoning and experimentation needed to establish a firm relationship between cosmic rays and clouds by using a cloud chamber – a particle detector for ionizing radiation using supersaturated water vapor.
Led by Henrik Svensmark, the researchers state that they may have the last piece of the link and have established that small nucleated aerosols can grow and become cloud condensation nuclei, the seeds for clouds, where water vapor can condense. Further, they state the evidence shows that changing cloud cover is associated with changing intensity of the sun. The classic example is the Little Ice Age, which was a period of low solar activity. According to Svensmark, the temperature effects of changes in total solar energy, varying cloudiness, may be 5 to 7 times the effects of solar irradiance alone.
For the climate establishment, the stakes are huge. For over 38 years, global climate modelers have insisted that a doubling of carbon dioxide (CO2) will result in a warming of 3 degrees C plus or minus 1.5 degrees C. If the Svensmark Hypothesis is correct, and if an increased intensity of the sun, unrelated to measured solar irradiation, has resulted in less cloud formation, then late 20th century and 21st century warming may be more due to solar activity than due to CO2, implying that a doubling of CO2 will lead to a warming of about 1-degree C, hardly cause for concern. The UN climate apparatus, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Paris Accord, has been built on the assumption the carbon dioxide is a major threat to humanity, and without that fear, it has no basis. The EPA finding that greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare has little supporting physical evidence, and the Svensmark Hypothesis would remove most of that.
The reduced influence of CO2 on temperatures, would largely remove two other great fears of the future: sudden sea level rise and famine, resulting in an embarrassment to the 13 US government entities that make up the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), the elimination of which would be a savings of about $2.5 Billion a year to the US government. This is nothing compared with the tens of billions expended on subsidies to unreliable solar and wind, which would have little justification now that hydraulic fracturing is well established, and coal reserves in the US are extensive.
No doubt the new work will be intensely reviewed, some of the reviews will be fair, others highly biased. Svensmark and co-author Nir Shaviv have posted a summary of the work on Shaviv’s web site, Science Bits. The five boxes give additional details that are helpful. See links under Science: Is the Sun Rising? and Commentary: Is the Sun Rising?
Life in Ice? Using techniques and instruments that enable researchers “to detect the presence of gases even at part-per-trillion levels, one million times less concentrated than atmospheric CO2 concentrations”, researchers found evidence of marine bacteria living in snow while it is being compressed into ice, which may take decades. These bacteria may produce carbon dioxide in air pockets as the snow as being compressed. This uncertainty creates an issue regarding inflection points. For example, when did CO2 concentrations begin to fall during cooling periods?
False precision is a problem when attempting to describe a change in trends, a warming trend to a cooling trend, particularly when straight lines are used. But for cooling trends in the CO2 record from Antarctica, the periods for which CO2 lagged falling temperatures are in centuries, not decades. Further, the lag after the Eemian, the last warm period about 115,000 to 130,000 years ago, was about 14,000 years between when temperatures began to fall, and CO2 began to fall. This research should not affect such estimates significantly. See link under Other Scientific News
Letter to Dr. Singer: Fred Singer received a letter from three students in Denmark asking questions regarding climate change. It reads:
We are starting a project next week and the topic is “change”. We have chosen the subtopic “global warming”
Do you have the time to answer a few questions in writing?
1. What is behind global warming?
2. What can we do to prevent global warming?
3. If we don’t do anything about it, how does it affect us and our descendants?
4. What will happen in the future, and what are the alternatives for us, if the Earth becomes unlivable?
5. How can we save Earth if it isn’t too late?
Those who are skeptical of claims that human emissions of CO2 are causing dangerous global warming can expect questions like these. SEPP’s response is posted on its web site. See http://www.sepp.org/key_issues/DearStudents.docx
Number of the Week: 54 Hoover Dams. According to Solar Daily, total global photovoltaic (PV) installation is forecast to reach 108 gigawatts (GW) in 2018, largely in China. This is the equivalent of 54 Hoover Dams (726 feet (221 meters) high, with a 112 (180 km) mile reservoir). One wonders what is the actual expected capacity, and where will the back-up be located?