Quote of the Week: “Aqueous vapor [water vapor] is a blanket, more necessary to the vegetable life of England than clothing is to man. Remove for a single summer-night the aqueous vapor from the air which overspreads this country, and you would assuredly destroy every plant capable of being destroyed by a freezing temperature. The warmth of our fields and gardens would pour itself unrequited into space, and the sun would rise upon an island held fast in the iron grip of frost.” – John Tyndall (“Heat: A Mode of Motion”, 1861) [H/t William Happer]
Number of the Week: Daily change of 100⁰C (or daily change of 180⁰F)
Greenhouse Warming: Last week, TWTW focused on a new book by Peter Webster, Dynamic of the Tropical Atmosphere and Oceans, reviewed by his spouse Judith Curry, formerly the chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. There are many issues that we do not understand about the tropics, which render climate modeling used by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highly questionable and the US climate modeling efforts highly doubtful.
Writing in No Tricks Zone, Kenneth Richard brings up a new paper by Richard Lindzen, “An oversimplified picture of the climate behavior based on a single process can lead to distorted conclusions.” A retired professor at MIT, Lindzen was last year’s recipient of the Fredrick Seitz Memorial Award for exceptional courage in the quest for knowledge. The current work is an example of his courage. [Unfortunately, the paper, published in The European Physical Journal Plus, is paywalled, and TWTW relies on what was reproduced in No Tricks Zone.] Lindzen begins:
“Although it is often noted that greenhouse warming has long been found in the climate literature, it turns out that this was not generally considered a major cause of climate change until the 1980s.
“Many factors, including fluctuations of average cloud area and height, snow cover, ocean circulations, etc. commonly cause changes to the radiative budget comparable to that of doubling of CO2. For example, the net global mean cloud radiative effect is of the order of – 20 W/m squared [minus 20 watts per meter squared] (cooling effect). A 4 W/m squared forcing from a doubling of CO2, therefore, corresponds to only a 20% change in the net cloud effect.
“The ‘consensus’ assessment of this system is today the following:
“In this complex multifactor system, the climate (which, itself, consists in many variables – especially the temperature deference between the equator and the poles) is described by just one variable, the global averaged temperature change, and is controlled by the 1—2% perturbation in the energy budget due to a single variable (any single variable) among many variables of comparable importance. We go further and designate CO2 as the sole control Although we are not sure of the budget for this variable, we know precisely what policies to implement in order to control it.
“How did such a naïve seeming picture come to be accepted, not just by the proponents of the issue, but also by most skeptics?”
Lindzen gives his views on how this came about and discusses problems therein. In the blog Richard highlights certain points presented in the full paper:
“1. Doubling the atmospheric CO2 concentration from 280 ppm to 560 ppm results in just a 1-2% perturbation to the Earth’s 240 W/m² energy budget. This doubled-CO2 effect has less than 1/5th of the impact that the net cloud effect has. And yet we are asked to accept the ‘implausible’ claim that change in one variable, CO2, is predominantly responsible for altering global temperatures.
“2. A causal role for CO2 ‘cannot be claimed’ for the glacial-to-interglacial warming events because CO2 variations follow rather than lead the temperature changes in paleoclimate records and the 100 ppm total increase over thousands of years produce ‘about 1 W/m²’ of total radiative impact.
“3. Climate science didn’t used to be alarmist prior to the late 1980s. Scientists were instead sufficiently skeptical about claims of climatically-induced planetary doom. That changed during the years 1988-1994, when climate research centered on CO2 and global warming received a 15-fold increase in funding in the US alone. Suddenly there was a great financial incentive to propel alarming global warming scenarios.
“4. Concepts like ‘polar amplification’ are ‘imaginary’.
“‘The change in equator-to-pole temperature difference was attributed to some imaginary ‘polar amplification,’ whereby the equator-pole temperature automatically followed the mean temperature. Although the analogy is hardly exact, this is not so different from assuming that flow in a pipe depends on the mean pressure rather than the pressure gradient.’”
In short, although considered complex, the climate models oversimplify critical parts of the climate system, making the models unreliable. Lindzen’s findings are similar to those of Webster in last week’s TWTW: Critical parts of the climate system are over-simplified, and a minor part (CO2) is over-emphasized. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy
The Shape of Water: In an open access paper in The European Physical Journal Plus, Geoffrey Vallis of the University of Exeter, brings up the problems of modeling water vapor and methane which have phase changes. According to his web site, the interests of Vallis “are in climate dynamics and planetary atmospheres, and my work varies between basic research in geophysical fluid dynamics and more applied modeling of various aspects of the oceans, atmospheres, or climate, although distinguishing between these subfields can sometimes be quite arbitrary.” The abstract of the article “The Trouble with Water: Condensation, Circulation and Climate” states:
“This article discusses at a basic level a few of the problems that arise in geophysical fluid dynamics and climate that are associated with the presence of moisture in the air, its condensation and release of latent heat. Our main focus is Earth’s atmosphere, but we also discuss how these problems might manifest themselves on other planetary bodies, with particular attention to Titan where methane takes on the role of water. Geophysical fluid dynamics has traditionally been concerned with understanding the very basic problems that lie at the foundation of dynamical meteorology and oceanography. Conventionally, and a little ironically, the subject mainly considers ‘dry’ fluids, meaning it does not concern itself overly much with phase changes. The subject is often regarded as dry in another way because it does not consider problems perceived as relevant to the real world, such as clouds or rainfall, which have typically been the province of complicated numerical models. Those models often rely on parameterizations of unresolved processes, parameterizations that may work very well but that often have a semiempirical basis. The consequent dichotomy between the foundations and the applications prevents progress being made that has both a secure basis in scientific understanding and a relevance to the Earth’s climate, especially where moisture is concerned. The dichotomy also inhibits progress in understanding the climate of other planets, where observations are insufficient to tune the parameterizations that weather and climate models for Earth rely upon, and a more fundamental approach is called for. Here, we discuss four diverse examples of the problems with moisture: the determination of relative humidity and cloudiness; the transport of water vapor and its possible change under global warming; the moist shallow water equations and the Madden–Julian Oscillation; and the hydrology cycle on other planetary bodies.”
The phase changes of water require or give off considerable heat. Under a standard atmosphere, the melting of ice, alone, requires 79.7 calories per gram (cal/gm) or 334 kJ/kg, which does not include heating of the ice to bring it to melting temperature. The vaporization of water to water vapor (steam) requires 539 cal/gm or 2260 kJ/kg, which does not include the heat required to bring water to a boiling (vaporizing) point.
Except in a laboratory, there is no such thing as dry air on earth, much less “dry fluids”, yet climate modelers assume their existence, then try to guess at what the influence of physical air and water, including phase changes, would be on their models after they created the models using imaginary air. This is a major reason why climate models must be tested against physical evidence, not against similar models. See links under Seeking a Common Ground.
Heat Exposure: The JAMA network, formerly known as the Journal of the American Medical Association produced a “peer reviewed”, highly questionable meta-analysis claiming that heat and pollution present serious health risks particularly to black expectant mothers. It appears to be another meta-study lacking rigor. Have issues such as smoking, alcohol intake, drug use, pre-natal care, body weight and BMI of the mother been eliminated? Steve Milloy writes:
“While it is true that African-Americans as a group have suffered at a proportionately greater rate from COVID-19 – as well as many other illnesses – than other population groups, this has nothing to do with the environment so much as it does with poverty, education and the increased rate of co-morbidities that go along with those two problems.”
The heat issue prompts one to ask how humanity survived in the tropics, where it evolved? Also, the combined pollution and heat issue prompts the question, how did African-Americans survive in the American South, without air conditioning, and the roads were unpaved,
dusty, until the 1960s and 70s? See links under Health, Energy, and Climate and Other News that May Be of Interest.
Tree Rings, Again? As discussed by Paul Homewood, a review of a new book, Tree Story: the History of the World Written in Rings brings up how tree rings may provide answers to questions about history.
“Unlike carbon14-dating, which can only offer a temporal range, tree rings pinpoint the conditions for a precise year, even the beginning or end of the season. Cross-referencing with known events has helped add a missing climate element to history. The disappearance, for instance, of the pioneering English colony at Roanoke in North Carolina had long baffled historians; after three years, in 1590, a relief ship arrived to find everyone gone. Tree-ring analysis has confirmed not only the intervening years as ones of drought but as the most extreme dry period on the eastern seaboard in the last eight centuries.
“Dendrochronology has also helped explain such curiosities as a dip in Caribbean piracy in the 17th century (a spate of hurricanes), riots in Ptolemaic Egypt (rain failure), the Ottoman crisis of the early 17th century and the rise and fall of the Mayan, Mongolian and Uyghur empires. When, a few years ago, Stradivari’s famous Messiah violin was deemed a copy, it was analysis of the rings in its wood that confirmed its authenticity.”
Unfortunately, the reviewer for the UK Spectator falls into the Mann trap, the hockey-stick. As Homewood writes:
“Somehow what starts as a perfectly sensible review morphs into Michael Mann and his discredited hockey stick!
“But, as the review itself admits, tree rings tell you more about rainfall than temperature, Indeed, in a much better review in Newsweek, we read how the book reveals in detail the effect that a long period of drought had on the declining Roman Empire in the 4thC.
“In fact, Mann’s Hockey Stick was hopelessly flawed in many ways. (I would recommend Andrew Montford’s book, ‘The Hockey Stick Illusion’, for anyone interested.
“For a start, the Hockey Stick was based on shonky [questionable] statistics, which were guaranteed to produce a hockey stick curve regardless of the data fed into it. This was because of the way Mann used Principal Component analysis. In simple terms, Mann’s statistics blew out of all proportion any data which showed a hockey stick effect and ignored all other data.
“Secondly, as far as tree rings were concerned, it was heavily dependent on bristlecone pines. It has long been known that the marked increase in bristlecone growth in the 19th and 20thC is due to CO2 fertilization, not temperature. When bristlecones are taken out of Mann’s analysis. the hockey stick disappears.
“Thirdly, when tree ring and other proxy data diverged from rising temperature data in the late 20thC, Mann ignored the proxies and spliced the temperature data onto his graph.
“There are also a whole host of other major flaws in the Hockey Stick, not related to tree rings. Homewood links to works by McKitrick and McIntyre. See links under Oh Mann!
SEPP’S APRIL FOOLS AWARD
Since 2012, SEPP conducted an annual vote for the recipient of the coveted trophy, The Jackson, a lump of coal. Readers are asked to nominate and vote for who they think is most deserving, following these criteria:
- The nominee has advanced, or proposes to advance, significant expansion of governmental power, regulation, or control over the public or significant sections of the general economy.
- The nominee does so by declaring such measures are necessary to protect public health, welfare, or the environment.
- The nominee declares that physical science supports such measures.
- The physical science supporting the measures is flimsy at best, and possibly non-existent.
The eight past recipients, Lisa Jackson (12), Barrack Obama (13), John Kerry (14), Ernest Moniz (15), Michael Mann (16), Christiana Figueres (17), Jerry Brown (18), and AOC (19) are not eligible. Generally, the committee that makes the selection prefers a candidate with a national or international presence. The voting will close on June 30. Please send your nominee and a brief reason why the person is qualified for the honor to Ken@SEPP.org. Thank you.
Largely ignored in the global warming controversy is how important greenhouse gases are in keeping the land masses of Earth inhabitable. Yet in 1861, greenhouse gas pioneer John Tyndall understood the critical role the major greenhouse gas, water vapor, plays in keeping land masses warm enough for life on Earth. (See Quote of the Week) This knowledge has been lost in the noise of global warming fears since the 1980s.
Thus, it is useful to recognize the stability greenhouse gases give to Earth by comparing the temperature swings near the equator of the Earth with a nearby planet that has limited greenhouse gases, Mars. Mars has a daily rotation of 24.6 hours, similar to that of Earth. The primary gas in the atmosphere is carbon dioxide, 95% and it has very little water vapor, while the atmosphere of Earth is 0.04% carbon dioxide with about 1.5% water vapor (ranging from about 1% to 4%)
Since 1997, there have been 4 US rovers on Mars. The first one lasted a few months, the second one landed in January 2004 and operated until March 2010, the third one also landed in January 2004, and operated until June 2018, the fourth one landed in August 2012 and continues to operate.
Based on measurements, near the equator of Mars, the daily temperature fluctuation is about 100⁰C (180⁰F), from a high of about 21⁰C (70⁰F) at midday to minus 79⁰C (minus 110⁰F) the same night. [During polar winters, not on the equator, surface frost can form at night, giving evidence of limited water vapor.]
Using Wikipedia, TWTW reviewed the reported temperatures of locations, near the equator, near the centers of land masses of Africa and South America. The results are:
Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo, from BBC Weather Centre (No time period given)
0 degrees, 31 minutes North
Elevation 447 m (1467 ft)
Population 1,602,144 (2015)
March average high 31⁰C (88⁰F) average low 21⁰C (70⁰F) Mean monthly hours Sunshine: 187
June – average high 30⁰C (84⁰F) average low 21⁰C (70⁰F) Mean monthly hours Sunshine: 150
September– average high 29⁰C (84⁰F) average low 20⁰C (68⁰F) Sunshine hours: 186
December– average high 30⁰C (84⁰F) average low 20⁰C (68⁰F) Sunshine hours: 155
Heaviest rain period September to November with October 218mm (8.6 Inches)
Boa Vista, Brazil from Brazilian National Institute of Meteorology (1981-2010 normal)
2 degrees 49 min N
Elevation 90 m (300 ft)
March average high 34.2⁰C (93.6) average low 24.3⁰C (75.7⁰F) Sunshine hours: 142
June – Average high 31.2⁰C (88.2) average low 23.1⁰C (73.6⁰F) Sunshine hours: 93.5
September– average high 34.2⁰C (93.6) average low 24.2⁰C (75.6⁰F) Sunshine hours: 200.7
December– average high 33.8⁰C (92.8) average low 24.3⁰C (75.7⁰F) Sunshine hours: 173.5
Heavy rain in the May to August, 321.3 mm (12.65 in) in June
CONCLUSION: Compared to Mars, with little atmosphere and the primary gas being CO2, the stability (lack of variation) of daily temperatures on Earth is remarkable. As Tyndall implied, without the greenhouse effect, the nighttime temperatures on Earth’s land masses would be well below freezing, preventing growth of vegetation. Yet the UN IPCC and others claim a small increase in the greenhouse effect, occurring at night, will be dangerous to human health?
What Covid Models Get Wrong
Focus on the burden on hospitals, not on the oft-mistaken forecasts.
Editorial, WSJ, June 17, 2020
TWTW Summary: Much of what is said in this editorial, particularly about models, applies to the climate models as well.
Here we go again. The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has issued a new forecast that Covid-19 fatalities would spike over the summer in states that have moved faster to reopen. Cue the media drumbeat for another lockdown. Maybe someone should first explain why the models were wrong about so much the last time.
Take New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo locked down the state in mid-March based on dire warnings. His public health experts projected the state would need as many as 140,000 hospital beds and 40,000 intensive care units—two to three times more regular hospital beds and 10 times more ICU beds than were available. The UW model forecast that 49,000 regular beds and 8,000 ICU beds would be needed at the peak.
New York was hit hard, but Covid-19 hospital bed utilization in New York peaked at 18,825 and 5,225 for ICUs in mid-April. Even in New York City, hospital utilization never exceeded 85% of capacity and 89% for ICUs. Government-run hospitals in low-income neighborhoods with the most cases were unprepared, but they were ill-managed before the pandemic.
New York was the country’s frontline in the coronavirus attack, and caution was needed in the early days because so little was known about the virus. The original UW model, which was based on the experiences in Italy and Wuhan, assumed that strict lockdowns would curb infections, reduce hospitalizations and lower deaths faster than they actually did in the Northeast.
Asked last month about when fatalities and hospitalizations would meet state thresholds for reopening, Mr. Cuomo responded: ‘All the early national experts, ‘Here’s my projection model.’ . . . They were all wrong. They were all wrong. . . . There are a lot of variables. I understand that. We didn’t know what the social distancing would actually amount to. I get it, but we were all wrong.’
Hospital utilization by Covid-19 patients in New York City has fallen 94% since the peak, which has allowed some non-essential treatments to resume. New York City has 29% of its hospital beds and 34% of its intensive care units now available. New cases have fallen by about 40% and new hospitalizations by a third in the last two weeks, despite the recent protests.
Warnings about reopening states are also overblown so far. While Arizona has had an uptick in hospitalizations, about 59% of its emergency beds and 17% of ICU beds are unused. A month ago, 43% of hospitalized patients with Covid were in the ICU. Now only a third are, suggesting that better and earlier treatment is easing disease severity.
In Texas, hospitalizations have also been climbing, but weekly fatalities are down 40% from a month ago. Covid-19 patients occupy fewer than 5% of all hospital beds, and more than a quarter are available. Even in Houston—which has experienced the biggest increase in hospitalizations—Covid-19 patients occupy only 6% of hospital beds. More than 20% are unused.”
According to an accompanying graph, Arizona had the greatest share of ICU beds occupied by Covid-19 patients, slightly more than 30% as of June 16.
“Covid-19 patients take up a small share of ICU beds in most states that have reopened including California (16%), Texas (11%), Georgia (10%), Utah (9%), Wisconsin (8%) and Florida (7%). Nearly all states have ample hospital and ICU capacity.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom started easing his strict lockdown six weeks ago, and restaurants, hair salons, retail stores and gyms are now allowed open in most counties outside of the Bay Area. While new cases have been rising due to more testing and in some cases from community spread, hospitalizations and fatalities have been flat since early May. In Los Angeles, ICU utilization has fallen by about 15% in the last month.
‘We have to recognize you can’t be in a permanent state where people are locked away—for months and months and months and months on end—to see lives and livelihoods completely destroyed, without considering the health impact of those decisions as well,’ Mr. Newsom said Monday.
Yet national Democrats and the press are still promoting worst-case predictions, almost as if they’re hoping for worse so they can prove Donald Trump wrong. The University of Washington now projects that reopening will cause deaths to triple in California and increase six-fold in Florida and Arizona through September.
But as Stanford epidemiologist John Ioannidis explains in a new paper, most models have overshot in part by making faulty assumptions about virus reproduction rates and homogenous susceptibility. A Massachusetts General Hospital model predicted more than 23,000 deaths within a month of Georgia reopening but the state had only 896.
‘In the presence of strong groupthink and bandwagon effects, modelers may consciously fit their predictions to what is the dominant thinking and expectations—or they may be forced to do so,’ Mr. Ioannidis writes. ‘Forecasts may be more likely to be published or disseminated, if they are more extreme.’
A surge of new infections is inevitable as states reopen, and health officials will have to watch for and contain hot spots. But the Covid models aren’t destiny, and the cost of new lockdowns is too great to sustain. We have to live with the virus risks while fortifying the health system and protecting the most vulnerable.