Junk Science About Climate Change Acceleration

By David Middleton- Re-Blogged From WUWT

There was a time that I had a fair bit of respect for Dr. Novella.

Climate Change Is Accelerating
Published by Steven Novella under General Science

Have you ever traveled with a large group of friends? When a group gets beyond a certain “critical mass” it becomes geometrically more difficult to make decisions. Even going to a restaurant or a movie become laborious. Decision making seems to break down in large groups, especially if there isn’t an established hierarchy or process in place. That’s why the “by committee” cliche exists – group decision making can be a highly flawed and problematic process.

I can’t escape the nagging sensation that the world is having this problem. We seem to be politically frozen and unable to take decisive timely action. We are metaphorically driving toward a cliff, and we can’t even take our foot off the accelerator, let alone apply the brakes.

I am talking, of course, about climate change. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) compiled data in preparation for a UN summit on climate change in New York (which the US will not, ironically, be attending). They found:

*2014-2019 are the hottest 5 years on record

*Global temperature have risen by 1.1 C since 1850, but  0.2 C between 2011-2015.

*CO2 release between 2014-2019 was 20% higher than the previous 5 years

*Sea level rise has been 3.2 mm per year on average since 1993, but is 5mm per year averaged over the last five years.

*Ice loss is accelerating. For example – “The amount of ice lost annually from the Antarctic ice sheet increased at least six-fold, from 40 Gt per year in 1979-1990 to 252 Gt per year in 2009-2017.”

*Heatwaves, wild fires, and extreme weather events are increasing and causing increasing damage and costs.


NeuroLogica Blog

“2014-2019 are the hottest 5 years on record”

Figure 1. UAH v6.0 (°C), 12-month running average, Wood for Trees

“Sea level rise has been 3.2 mm per year on average since 1993, but is 5mm per year averaged over the last five years”

More like 3.0 and 3.4 mm/yr.

Figure 2. Sea Level – NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The y-axis is sea level variation (mm), “with respect to 20-year TOPEX/Jason collinear mean reference”. In the data download, NASA includes the standard deviation. I had no idea it was that large.

A couple of degrees warmer than the coldest climate of the entire Holocene Epoch (The Little Ice Age) is a good thing. If not for the warming allegedly caused by CO2, it would be colder than “The Ice Age Cometh“…

Figure 3. Modified after IPCC AR4

“CO2 release between 2014-2019 was 20% higher than the previous 5 years”

There are no data for 2019, the year isn’t over yet. And 2014-2019 would be 6 years. According to the 2019 BP Statistical Review of World Energy carbon dioxide emissions for the five year period (2014-2018) were 5% greater than the prior five year period (2009-2013):

  • 2009-2013 157,872 million tonnes
  • 2014-2018 165,696 million tonnes
  • 165,696/157,872 = 1.04956


Figure 4. Global carbon dioxide emissions (BP Statistical Review of World Energy)

Red China is not an OECD nation. Dr. Novella needs to learn how to speak Mandarin, so he can hector the source of the problem.

Figure 5. Global carbon dioxide emissions (BP Statistical Review of World Energy)

“Ice loss is accelerating. For example – “The amount of ice lost annually from the Antarctic ice sheet increased at least six-fold, from 40 Gt per year in 1979-1990 to 252 Gt per year in 2009-2017”

The asserted ice loss over the satellite era works out to about 3 trillion tonnes. The total mass of the Antarctic Ice Sheet is about 27,601,654 BILLION metric tons… 27,602 TRILLION metric tons… 3 is 0.011% of 27,602.  Zero-point-zero-one-one percent is indistinguishable from Mr. Blutarski’s grade point average…

99.989% of the Antarctic Ice Sheet didn’t melt. If ice loss is accelerating, why don’t we see it in the sea level data? The missing sea level rise is the primary reason they tack 0.2 mm/yr onto SLR and call it a glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA).

Figure 6. Sea level reconstruction from tide gauge data (Jevrejeva et al., 2014). Note rock pick added for scale.
Figure 7. J14 exhibits alternating periods of fast (~3 mm/yr) and slow (~1 mm/yr) of sea level rise.

Sea level is not doing anything that is wasn’t already doing.

Figure 8. GSL since Younger Dryas. Note the error bar is ±12 meters. (The Holocene Sea Level Highstand)

Are Warmunists allergic to context?

Let’s look at the much more “vulnerable” Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS). According to Kjeldsen et al., 2015, the GrIS lost over 9,900 km3 of ice from 1900-2010 and an article in The Economist asserted that the GrIS lost 375 Gt/yr (409 km3/yr) from 2011-2014.

Is that a lot of ice? According to U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1386–A (2012), the volume of the GrIS is 2,600,000 km3. The USGS cites a 1954 reference for this number and also cites Bamber et al., 2011, which puts the volume at 2,900,000 km3Bamber has subsequently upped his estimate to 2,960,000 km3.  This is funny.  Either the GrIS added 360,000 km3 of ice from 1954-2013 at a time when NASA said the GrIS was losing 4,089 km3 or the uncertainty of the volume of the GrIS is about 1,000 times the annual ice loss that is asserted with such precision by Amazing GRACE.

Here’s a graphical depiction of this projected up to 2017:

Figure 9. 99.58% of the Greenland Ice Sheet has not melted since 1900. (A Geological Perspective of the Greenland Ice Sheet)

For a little more perspective, let’s convert this to ice cubes.

Figure 10. Based on the asserted loss of ice since 1900, the GrIS has lost the equivalent of a Lake Superior-sized ice cube. However the GrIs remained larger than the Gulf of Mexico (by volume) despite losing a Lake Superior. The Gulf of Mexico has a volume of about 2.5 million km3. If the GrIS melted, the volume of water would be about 2.71 million km3. Before losing Lake Superior, the water volume was 2.72 million km3.

If you were to spread that Lake Superior-sized ice cube across the surface of the GrIS, it would only be about 2 meters thick.

Figure 11. The top panel is zoomed in on the box in the lower panel.  Each square on the graph paper image represents 5 vertical meters. (Alarmists Gone Wild: Greenland losing 400 cubic km ice cubes per year!!!)

2 meters is basically a Dean Wormer thickness.  Vinther et al., 2009 reconstructed the elevations of four ice core sites over the Holocene.  There has been very little change in elevation of the two interior ice core sites (NGRIP and GRIP), while the two outboard sites (Camp Century and DYE3) have lost 546 and 342 m of ice respectively.

Figure 12. Most of the melting since the beginning of the Holocene has occurred on the outboard, lower elevation portions of the GrIS – Same as it ever was. X-axis is in calendar years AD(BC). Elevation reconstruction data from Vinther et al., 2009. Map from Weißbach et al., 2015.

Here are elevation profiles for the end of the Pleistocene and 2000 AD.

Figure 13. Elevation profiles: End Pleistocene and 2000 AD.

Dr. Novella’s solutions

Even if everyone agrees we should do something, there is disagreement over what the best something is. Some people want to see an action movie, while others want to see a drama. Unfortunately for the global warming controversy – there is only one planet. We have to watch this same movie together no matter what. But this is not the main limiting factor. There are some obvious steps we all know we should take. Stop building coal-fired plants. Invest in zero-carbon energy. Stop subsidizing fossil fuel, and instead subsidize renewable energy. Improve the mileage of cars, and start switching to hybrids and electric vehicles. Prioritize energy efficiency. Plant trees.

NeuroLogica Blog

“Stop subsidizing fossil fuel, and instead subsidize renewable energy”???

The U.S. government spent next to nothing on fossil fuel subsidies in FY2016 (the most recent report).

Figure 14. $489 million is next to nothing. (Direct Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy in Fiscal Year 2016)

The expenses involved in extracting a depleting resource have to be written off as the resource is produced (depletion allowance). Some capital expenditures are allowed to be written off as expenses, rather than capitalized over time. When we drill wells, tangible drilling expenditures (items with salvage value) have to be capitalized. Intangible drilling expenditures (services and materials with no salvage value) can written off as expenses. According to the most recent EIA analysis of energy subsidies, fossil fuels received almost no net subsidies…

Figure 15. Click to enlarge.

The FY2016 numbers actually reflect a negative subsidy for natural gas and petroleum liquids. They also indicate that the solar subsidy has “fallen” to $4.19/mmBtu. The subsidy for solar power is about 1/3 higher than the wellhead price for natural gas.

Figure 16. Solar is subsidized more than it would cost to purchase natural gas.

Dr. Novella earns a Geico Caveman Award

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s