Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #416

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

Re-Blogged From WUWT

Quote of the Week:“No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” – Albert Einstein [H/t H. Sterling Burnett]

Number of the Week: From 55% to 34% with no change in gross amount.

July Summary: Discussed in the previous three TWTWs, Richard Lindzen’s paper, “An oversimplified picture of the climate behavior based on a single process can lead to distorted conclusions,” contained nothing new, but provided an excellent basis for understanding what we know with reasonable certainty, what we suspect, and what we know is incorrect about climate change, the greenhouse effect, temperature trends, climate modeling, ocean chemistry, and sea level rise. Describing this knowledge, or lack thereof, will probably take two or three installments to complete in TWTW, but it may be a valuable reference in the future that can be modified as needed.

The guiding principle is expressed by Einstein in the quotation above and amplified by Feynman in his lectures. Test hypotheses against all relevant physical data, experimental and observational. If the hypothesis is wrong, its wrong. But you cannot prove it right.

Unfortunately, scientists in a number of organizations, such as the Union of Concerned Scientists, confuse hypothesis testing with cherry picking – the selection of data that supports the hypothesis, ignoring the rest. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its followers use this erroneous procedure by ignoring forty years of atmospheric temperature trends which show that whatever greenhouse gas warming is occurring is not dangerous.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) has many roles in life on this planet. It is vital that any government policy in curtailing human emissions of CO2 be based on full recognition of these roles and their relative importance. These roles include photosynthesis and the greenhouse effect. Both can influence climate. TWTW will attempt to discuss these roles as objectively as possible.

As stated in the June 27 TWTW, Lindzen wrote:

“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 difference 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 [deviation] 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?” To which the paper adds: “After all, we spend much of our effort arguing about global temperature records, climate sensitivity, etc. In brief, we are guided by this line of thought.”

Lindzen thinks the focusing on CO2 is not productive in addressing climate change and needs to be corrected. He reviews what is generally accepted about the climate system stating [edited from the original with direct quotations in italics]:

  1. The core of the system consists in two turbulent fluids (the atmosphere and oceans) interacting with each other.
  • The two fluids are on a rotating planet that is differentially [unevenly] heated by the sun and unevenly absorbing the solar warming. Solar rays directly hit the equator and skim the earth at the poles resulting in uneven heating, which drives the circulation of the atmosphere. The result is heat transport from the equator towards the poles (meridional).
  • The earth’s climate system is never in equilibrium. [Boldface added]
  • In addition to the oceans, the atmosphere is interacting with a hugely irregular land surface distorting the airflow, causing planetary scale waves, which are generally not accurately described in climate models.
  •  A vital component of the atmosphere is water in its liquid, solid, and vapor phases, and the changes in phases have immense dynamic consequences. Each phase affects incoming and outgoing radiation differently. Substantial heat is released when water vapor condenses, driving thunder clouds. Further, clouds consist of water in the form of fine droplets and ice crystals. Normally, these are suspended by rising air currents, but when these grow large enough, they fall as rain and snow. The energies involved in phase changes are important, as well as the fact that both water vapor and clouds strongly affect radiation.

“The two most important greenhouse substances by far are water vapor and clouds. Clouds are also important reflectors of sunlight. These matters are discussed in detail in the IPCC WG1 reports, each of which openly acknowledge clouds as major sources of uncertainty in climate modeling.” [Boldface added]

[However, the IPCC Summaries to Policymakers largely ignore these uncertainties.]

  • “The energy budget of this system involves the absorption and reemission of about 240 W/m2 [Watts per square meter]. Doubling CO2 involves a perturbation [deviation] a bit less than 2% to this budget (4 W/m2) So do changes in clouds and other features, and such changes are common. The earth receives about 340 W/m2 from the sun, but about 100 W/m2 is simply reflected back to space by both the earth’s surface and, more importantly, by clouds. This would leave about 240 W/m2 that the earth would have to emit in order to establish balance. The sun radiates in the visible portion of the radiation spectrum because its temperature is about 6000 K. If the Earth had no atmosphere at all (but for purposes of argument still was reflecting 100 W/m2), it would have to radiate at a temperature of about 255 K, and, at this temperature, the radiation is mostly in the infrared.”

The oceans and the atmosphere introduce a host of complications including evaporation creating water vapor which strongly absorbs and emits radiation in the infrared.

“The water vapor essentially blocks infrared radiation from leaving the surface, causing the surface and (via conduction) the air adjacent to the surface to heat, and convection sets in. The combination of the radiative and the convective processes results in decreasing temperature with height [lapse rate]. To make matters more complicated, the amount of water vapor that the air can hold decreases rapidly as the temperature decreases. Above some height there is so little water vapor remaining that radiation from this level can now escape to space. It is at this elevated level (around 5 km) that the temperature must be about 255 K in order to balance incoming radiation. However, because the temperature decreases with height, the surface of the Earth now has to actually be warmer than 255 K. It turns out that it has to be about 288 K (which is indeed the average temperature of the earth’s surface). The addition of other greenhouse gases (like CO2) increases further the emission level and causes an additional increase of the ground temperature. Doubling CO2 is estimated to be equivalent to a forcing of about 4W/m2 which is a little less than 2% of the net incoming 240 W/m2.

“The situation can actually be more complicated if upper-level cirrus clouds are present. They are very strong absorbers and emitters of infrared radiation and effectively block infrared radiation from below. Thus, when such clouds are present above about 5 km, their tops, rather than 5 km determine the emission level. This makes the ground temperature (i.e., the greenhouse effect) dependent on the cloud coverage.

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/m2 (cooling effect). A 4 W/m2 forcing, from a doubling of CO2, therefore corresponds to only a 20% change in the net cloud effect. [Boldface added]

  • It is important to note that such a system will fluctuate with timescales ranging from seconds to millennia even in the absence of explicit forcing other than a steady sun. Much of the popular literature (on both sides of the climate debate) assumes that all changes must be driven by some external factor.

Even if the solar forcing were constant, the climate would vary. With the massive size of the oceans, such variations can involve timescales of millennia. Lindzen mentions the El Niño Southern Oscillation, which has a relatively short cycle, but for which we do not have a sufficiently long instrumental record to understand. The earth has other natural changes or oscillations that are not fully understood. The solar sunspot cycle lasts about 11 years, imperfectly.

“Restricting ourselves to matters that are totally uncontroversial does mean that the above description is not entirely complete, but it does show the heterogeneity, the numerous degrees of freedom, and the numerous sources of variability of the climate system.”

After this review of the complexity of the climate system, Lindzen follows with the simplistic “consensus” assessment stated above.

It is important to note that the enormous complexity discussed above may take a thousand years to uncover. Further, these complexities that are internal to the earth do not include the complexities added by a changing sun, orbital changes of the Milankovitch cycles taking thousands of years, and changing intensity of high-energy cosmic rays hitting the globe as the solar system moves through the galaxy as suggested by the Svensmark Hypothesis, taking millions of years.

The next TWTW will continue with a summary of what we know with reasonable certainty about adding CO2 to the atmosphere. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy (Lindzen’s article not paywalled) and Article # 2 on earlier 20th century scientific beliefs about Mars.


Do Not Exaggerate: Writing in Master Resource, Robert Bradley brings up a 2009 article by Andrew Revkin, then a New York Times journalist. Though he did not agree with Revkin’s views about climate change, Fred Singer, the late SEPP Chairman, respected Revkin. Bradley’s essay demonstrates why. As the title of the article states: “In Climate Debate, Exaggeration Is a Pitfall.”

Unfortunately, far too many writers and scientists have failed to heed this advice. The result is ignoring other views no matter how well founded they may be. See links under Communicating Better to the Public – Exaggerate, or be Vague?


Setting Out To Deceive: One of the more disturbing false claims of CO2 alarmists is that human CO2 emissions are making the oceans acidic. As stated in the June 13 TWTW, Jim Steele wrote that the term was deliberately chosen by Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science to shock the public, to exaggerate the influence of carbon dioxide. Calderia was a lead author of the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC (AR5, 2013 & 2014).

On July 9, the Norwegian Institute for Water Research issued a news release stating:

“’Our study highlights the urgent need for interdisciplinary, cross-sector research to understand and prepare for challenges linking ocean acidification with [human] social development under climate change…”

According to Phys.org which carries many articles on so-called ocean acidification:

Ocean acidification is the name given to the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth’s oceans, caused by their uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Between 1751 and 1994 surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.179 to 8.104 (a change of -0.075).

This change is a modest decrease in alkalinity, not acidification.

The extent of the deliberate effort to deceive is clear when one realizes that the concept of pH was first proposed by a Danish chemist Søren Sørensen in 1909 and was revised in 1924. Yet, today organizations claiming to be scientific are claiming that ocean-wide pH is known to an accuracy of ± 0.001 as early as 1751?  Further, the stated change of -0.075 is less than what can occur seasonally in areas with upwelling, such as the coast of the Pacific Northwest.

See links under Acidic Waters, https://phys.org/tags/ocean+acidification/ and



A Good Proxy? Statistician Steve McIntyre, who with Ross McKitrick broke Mr. Mann’s hockey-stick, has a post on what may be a good proxy of temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsula back through the Holocene. This analysis is important because it appears that the IPCC and its followers are trying to re-create another hockey-stick to justify the inflated results of their models. All this is part of an effort to “shock” the public in demanding “action” on climate change, even though CO2 is a bit player.

“The LGM [Last Glacial Maximum] (not dated here) is very cold. The highest values of the series are in the Early Holocene (12.5-10 ka BP). Values from ~9000 BP to 3000 BP fluctuated within a relatively narrow range before declining in the late Holocene (after ~4000 BP). The lowest values were reached about 500 BP, more or less contemporary with the NH Little Ice Age [LIA]. Values in the 20th century were higher than in the LIA but are still lower than values through most of the Holocene and considerably lower than the highs in the Early Holocene.”


To the extent that proxies and proxy reconstructions have broader significance in the climate debate, their interest largely arises from the unprecedentedness (or lack thereof) of late 20th century/early 21st century data relative to the past.  When IPCC was founded, as much interest attached to the comparison of the modern warm period to the “Holocene Optimum” (or “Holocene Thermal Maximum”) as to the corresponding comparison to the medieval warm period.  In the 1990s and, especially since the IPCC Third Assessment (2001) promoted the Mann hockey stick, far more attention has been paid to the medieval comparison, but there is increasing interest in the longer Holocene perspective (Marcott et al 2013; Kaufman 12K (2020).”

It appears there will be another effort by the UN IPCC to create false impressions, no doubt falsely claiming it can “cure” the problem with $100 billion annually into its Green Climate Fund. See links under Changing Cryosphere – Land / Sea Ice


New Human Fingerprint: According to an article in Carbon Brief, a new human fingerprint on climate has been discovered. The UN IPCC’s old one has vanished. According to the abstract of the study published in Nature Climate Change:

“The second fingerprint, FM2(x), captures a pronounced interhemispheric temperature contrast associated meridional shifts in the intertropical convergence zone and correlated anomalies in precipitation and aridity over California the Sahel and India.”

The intertropical convergence zone has been shifting since long before humanity existed, much less when humanity started using fossil fuels. The question is why it shifts?  The 2008 NIPCC report indicates it may be due to the influence of cosmic rays on clouds, as per the Svensmark Hypothesis. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC and Changing Climate.


Vote for Aprils Fools Award: The voting for the SEPP’s April Fools Award will be continued until July 31. Due to changes in schedules, there are no conferences held before then to announce the results. So, get your votes in now.


Number of the Week: From 55% to 34% with no change in gross amount. Prompted by a post by Paul Homewood, TWTW examined the change in CO2 emissions since the Rio Earth Summit where the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was signed in 1992.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in 1992 Advanced economies (EU, US, & Japan) accounted for 11.3 Gigatons (Gt) of CO2 emissions, 55% of total world-wide emissions, while the Rest of the World accounted for 9.3 Gt., 45% of total emissions. In 2019, Advanced economies accounted for 11.3 Gigatons, no change, but only 34% of the total. The Rest of the World accounted for 22 Gigatons, 66% of the total. Western politicians and journalists who insist the West must do more are ignorant about CO2 emissions.



1. After the WHO Withdrawal

If the agency can’t be reformed, the world needs an alternative.

Editorial, WSJ, July 8, 2020


TWTW Summary: The editorial states:

We can’t blame President Trump for moving to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO). The agency’s failures during the Covid-19 pandemic deserve a response beyond rote condemnation, but sending notice also isn’t enough.

The State Department informed the United Nations on July 6 that the U.S. will withdraw from the agency in July 2021. Mr. Trump has said the more than $400 million a year spent on WHO will go to other public-health needs but has provided no details.

“Americans are safer when America is engaged in strengthening global health,” Joe Biden tweeted Tuesday. “On my first day as President, I will rejoin the @WHO and restore our leadership on the world stage.” The global leadership line is a canard. Membership isn’t the same as leadership, especially when international institutions like WHO undermine their biggest financial supporter.[Boldface added]

That certainly has been the case during the pandemic. While WHO officials privately fretted about China’s secrecy, the agency publicly praised the Communist regime’s handling of the outbreak and deceived the world about Beijing’s supposed commitment to transparency. WHO’s often contradictory public-health messaging, combined with fealty to China, has undermined its role as an impartial arbiter of global health information.

The problem with Mr. Trump’s announcement is that there is no sign of a plan to follow up. Senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican, warned that leaving WHO may “interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines.” The President hasn’t explicitly demanded Americans stop working on vaccines with WHO, and the Administration should make clear the work can continue.

The next step is for Mr. Trump or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to outline conditions for the U.S. to rejoin. Most important are guidelines to ensure the independence of the Covid-19 inquiry agreed to in May. Washington will have to act swiftly, as WHO is sending a team to China this week to investigate the origins of the virus. The U.S. also should call on members to narrow the agency’s focus, create clearer rules for declaring a pandemic, and limit the director-general’s powers. [Boldface added]

If WHO can’t be fixed, the White House should support the creation of an alternative, perhaps privately run, pandemic-response agency. It won’t attract comprehensive membership like WHO, but what’s the point of Chinese support if Beijing’s influence means the agency can’t be trusted?

The editorial concludes by stating multilateral institutions have become self-sustaining bureaucracies without accountability.


2. ‘The Sirens of Mars’ Review: A Planetary Attraction

Early observers dreamed up canal-building civilizations on Mars, inspiring science-fiction writers. The search for life there goes on.

By John Miller, WSJ, July 6, 2020


TWTW Summary: After a lengthy introduction to the author and her previous discoveries of life on earth the reviewer states:

Instead of pursuing the study of death, Ms. Johnson took up the quest for extraterrestrial life, in a field sometimes called “exobiology.” Her ambitious goal is to find evidence of life on Mars and solve “the enigma of a neighboring world.” As she displays the love of discovery that drives so much scientific inquiry, it’s easy to cheer her on.

The cruel irony for exobiologists, however, is that for all of their pluck and determination, they still haven’t found what they’re looking for on the solar system’s second-smallest planet—and they probably won’t. There are no little green ferns on Mars, let alone little green men. Millions of bacteria can thrive in a pinch of Earth’s soil, but it’s starting to appear as if not a single one inhabits Mars. “The Sirens of Mars” is an elegy, though its author may be too hopeful to realize it.

Ms. Johnson acknowledges that the fourth rock from the sun is a “cold, hard, desolate world.” You wouldn’t want to live there, and it isn’t even a nice place to visit. Dry as a desert and drenched in radiation, it’s a harsh and hostile place that thwarts orbiters and landers. “Half the missions to Mars have failed,” she writes.

Her book describes the planet’s progression in the human mind from a rosy twinkle in the night sky to a mysterious world watched through telescopes. Some of its early observers dreamed up canal-building civilizations. They powered the imaginations of early science-fiction writers, such as H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Percival Lowell—a pioneering turn-of-the-century astronomer and the namesake of the Lowell Observatory in Arizona—theorized about a society led by “a group of benevolent oligarchs.” In 1924, reports Ms. Johnson, the astronomer David Peck Todd persuaded the U.S. military to cease all radio communication for two days so that he could listen for Martian transmissions. [Boldface added]

He heard nothing. Since then, the hunt has slipped into a cycle of diminishing returns. As the absence of intelligent life became obvious, the speculators demoted Mars to a “vegetated world” of plants. The truth hit hard when Mariner 4 flew by Mars in 1965 and snapped the first close-up photos of its sterile surface: “Exobiologists [were] as stunned as the rest of the world,” Ms. Johnson writes. “Suddenly it seemed like they might be wasting their time.”

Yet they kept probing. In 1996, they touted a “nanobacteria fossil” found in a Martian meteorite, a rock formed on Mars but ejected into space and hurled to Earth after a violent impact. President Clinton hailed it as potentially “one of the most stunning insights into our universe that science has ever uncovered.” Scientists soon rejected the idea, making this too a time-wasting tease.

By the 21st century, the exobiologists had suffered through a long slog of disappointment. When the Curiosity rover found organic molecules in Martian clay a few years ago, it marked an important development—these are the building blocks of life, after all—but also an example of how an invigorating exploration for actual life had been downgraded into a humdrum search for the merest hints of it.

Ms. Johnson remains upbeat: Life, she writes, is “stunningly resilient.” Maybe it lies buried beneath the Martian soil, where we haven’t found it yet. Conceivably it could arise from “an entirely different molecular foundation.” She likens this notion to “trying to imagine a color we’ve never seen”—and when she does, her yearning for signs of life starts to feel more like fantasy than science. What might be a cautionary tale becomes for her an opportunity to wax lyrical about “an almost existential endeavor to confront our own limitations, to learn what life really is, and ultimately to defy our own isolation in the universe.”

Great advances can spring from apparent defeat, of course. Perhaps the Mars Perseverance rover, scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral in a few weeks, will enjoy better luck. At some point, however, we may want to admit that the red planet is a dead planet—and that the search for life on Mars is a siren song.

TWTW Comment: At least NASA is not justifying a mission to Mars on the claim it may find an advanced civilization there, ignoring the physical evidence. NASA’s claims should be based on physical evidence, not model speculation such as used by NASA-GISS.


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