“‘Global warming’ will kill 6 billion”

By | March 16, 2009

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[Illustrations, footnotes and references available in PDF version]
The scare: In March 2009, Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber, director of a grand-sounding pressure-group called the “Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research”, said that “global warming” of 7 Fahrenheit degrees would wipe out all but 1 billion of Earth’s 7 billion human population.

Mr. Schellnhuber said, “In a very cynical way, it’s a triumph for science, because at last we have stabilized something – namely the estimate of the carrying capacity of the planet – fewer than 1 billion people.” The planet, of course, is somehow currently carrying seven times that number. The previous month, Dr. James Hansen of NASA had predicted that “global warming” would raise sea level by 75 meters – equivalent to 246 feet.

The truth: In every respect, Mr. Schellnhuber’s outlandish prediction is as absurd as that of Dr. Hansen. It lacks any credible scientific foundation. We may dispose of Dr. Hansen’s prediction in the single, withering sentence of Mr. Justice Burton in the High Court of England and Wales in October 2007, condemning Al Gore’s suggestion that sea level would imminently rise by less than one-twelfth of Dr. Hansen’s flagrant prediction – “The Armageddon scenario that he depicts is not based on any scientific view.”

Global temperature will not rise over the coming century by as much as 7 Fahrenheit degrees: or, if it were to do so, humankind would have had little or nothing to do with it. For the following reasons, it is now known, and is well established in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, that the UN’s climate panel has greatly exaggerated not only climate sensitivity – the effect of increased atmospheric CO2 concentration on global temperature – but also the rate at which CO2 is accumulating in the atmosphere.

The UN calculates the temperature increase to 2100 by multiplying four parameters together – the radiative forcing from CO2, the zero-feedback climate-sensitivity parameter, the temperature-feedback multiplier, and the natural logarithm of the proportionate increase in CO2 concentration. However, it exaggerates each of the four parameters more than somewhat, so that when the four parameters are multiplied together a very large exaggeration of predicted warming results.

Radiative forcing’s effects exaggerated: All of the computer models relied upon by the UN’s climate panel predict that, if rising CO2 concentration has a significant effect on temperature, then at altitude in the tropics temperature will rise at thrice the surface rate –

Temperature fingerprints of five forcings

Modeled zonal mean atmospheric temperature change (ºC/century, 1890-1999) in response to five distinct forcings (a-e), and to all five combined (f). Altitude is in hPa (left scale) and km (right scale) vs. latitude (abscissa). Source: IPCC (2007).

However, this warming “hot-spot” in the tropical upper troposphere has not been found in half a century of radiosonde and drop-sonde measurements, nor in 30 years of satellite monitoring. It is not there, notwithstanding some ingenious but laughable attempts to suggest that, if only we could measure temperatures not by measuring temperatures but by measuring something else (wind-shear, for instance) and processing the results through a computer game, then we could pretend that the absent “hot-spot” had been present all along.

Fingerprints of anthropogenic warming in 4 models

Zonal mean equilibrium temperature change (°C) at CO2 doubling (2x CO2 – control), as a function of latitude and pressure (hPa) for 4 general-circulation models. All show the projected fingerprint of anthropogenic greenhouse-gas warming: the tropical mid-troposphere “hot-spot” is projected to warm at twice or even thrice the surface rate. Source: Lee et al. (2007).

The absent fingerprint of anthropogenic warming

Altitude-vs.-latitude plot of observed relative warming rates in the satellite era. The greater rate of warming in the tropical mid-troposphere that is projected by general-circulation models is absent in this and all other observational datasets, whether satellite or radiosonde. Altitude units are hPa (left) and km (right). Source: Hadley Centre for Forecasting (HadAT, 2006).

Confirmation of this point has recently come from Paltridge et al. (2009), who have found that in the upper troposphere the relative humidity is substantially below what the UN’s computer games are told to imagine.

This absence of the computer-predicted relative humidity high above the Earth greatly reduces the magnitude of the water vapor feedback, which the UN had thought would very strongly amplify any warming, whether natural or anthropogenic.

Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT has said in his lectures that the long-proven absence of the “hot-spot” requires that the UN’s estimates of climate sensitivity must be divided by at least 3. Hype factor: at least 3.00.

Zero-feedback climate sensitivity parameter exaggerated: The UN has also exaggerated the value of the zero-feedback climate-sensitivity parameter, which cannot exceed the reciprocal of the first differential of the Stefan-Boltzmann radiative-transfer equation at the characteristic-emission level (the point halfway up the tropospheric column where ingoing and outgoing long-wave radiation are equal).

The maximum permissible value of this parameter is thus 254 / (4 x 236) = 0.269 K W–1 m2, where the characteristic-emission temperature is 254 K and radiant energy is 236 W m–2.

As Dr. David Evans has shown, this value must be reduced by approximately 10% to allow for diurnal and latitudinal temperature variations, giving a true value not greater than 0.242.

Indeed, given that the UN’s computers hold that the temperature lapse-rate will decline as the world warms, the value could be as little as the reciprocal of the first differential of the Stefan-Boltzmann equation at the surface: 288 / (4 x 390) = 0.185 K W–1 m2. However, the UN’s value is 0.313 K W–1 m2. Hype factor: at least 1.29.

Temperature feedbacks exaggerated: Wentz et al. (2007) report that the UN’s climate games fail to take account of two-thirds of the cooling effect of evaporation at the surface, attenuating what the UN had thought to be the effect of the water-vapor feedback. And Spencer (2007) finds that the cloud-albedo feedback, which the UN imagines to be strongly positive, is in fact slightly net-negative. Taking these exaggerations as well as that of the zero-feedbacks parameter partially into account, the feedback factor, taken by the UN as 3.08, should be 1.44. Hype factor: at least 2.23.

Proportionate increase in CO2 concentration exaggerated: Finally, the UN admits it is unable to add up what is called the “CO2 budget” to within a factor of two. Its predictions suggest that at present CO2 should be accumulating in the atmosphere at 4.1 parts per million by volume per year. However, CO2 is actually only accumulating at a little over 2 ppmv/year, and the UN simply cannot explain where the remaining CO2 is going. Thus, though the UN predicts that by 2100 there will be 836 ppmv in the atmosphere, CO2 concentration has been rising for seven years not in an exponential curve, as the UN has predicted, but in a straight line towards just 575 ppmv by 2100. Hype factor: 1.85. CO2 concentration is rising well below IPCC predictions CO2 concentration is rising in a straight line, well below the IPCC’s projected range of increases in CO2 concentration (pale blue region). The deseasonalized real-world data are shown as a thick, dark-blue line superimposed on the least-squares linear-regression trend. Data source: NOAA. Multiplying all four parameters causes a substantial exaggeration: Though each individual exaggeration is small, the table shows that multiplying the exaggerations together produces a large exaggeration of final climate sensitivity –

It may be that the UN itself does not appreciate that its separate exaggerations of these four crucial parameters, which are then multiplied together, creates a very large exaggeration of the effect of rising CO2 on temperature. For at no point in either of the UN’s two most recent reports is there a systematic consideration of all four parameters in one place, still less of the interactions between them. The table demonstrates that the UN has exaggerated climate sensitivity to atmospheric CO2 concentration approximately eight and a half times over (cf. Covey, 1995, who finds climate sensitivity to be exaggerated tenfold, and Lindzen, 2009, who finds it exaggerated sevenfold). Multiplying the climate-sensitivity exaggeration by the UN’s exaggeration of the predicted rate of increase in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere shows that the IPCC has perhaps exaggerated its central estimate of 21st-century anthropogenic temperature increase almost sixteen fold.

Consideration of the four parameters that contribute to the UN’s estimate of anthropogenic global-temperature increase to 2100 is scattered untidily through the 1600 pages of its 2007 report, ensuring not only that individual scientists attempting to review its methodology cannot properly do so but also that the scientists authoring the individual chapters in which consideration of each parameter is buried will not be able to consider the interaction of their own parameter with the other parameters.

Indeed, none of the report’s co-authors is likely to have worked on more than one or, at most, two of the four parameters, and it may well be that none has realized that the small exaggerations of which he and others are guilty have been compounded by multiplication to become a very large exaggeration. It is this large exaggeration upon which the entire case for climate alarm is founded.

On any view, the central question in the entire climate debate is the question how much a given proportionate increase in CO2 concentration will be likely to increase global mean surface temperature. This is the climate-sensitivity question. It is more than a little curious, then, that the UN does not devote any single chapter exclusively to this central question.

Is there empirical confirmation that the IPCC has exaggerated climate sensitivity? There is. Repeated observations by satellites (e.g. CERES, ERBE) has long established that the reduction in outgoing long-wave radiation is only one-seventh to one-tenth that which is predicted by the computer games on which the UN so heavily but imprudently relies. See, for instance, Covey (1995), who finds that the diminution in outgoing long-wave radiation over time is an order of magnitude below what the UN had predicted, requiring all of the UN’s estimates of climate sensitivity to be divided by ten.

We conclude, therefore, that temperature will not rise by 3.9 Celsius degrees (7 Fahrenheit) to 2100, as predicted by the IPCC. Instead, it could rise by as little as a quarter of a Celsius degree, and is very unlikely to rise by more than 1 Celsius degree. Therefore, the anthropogenic “global warming” on which Mr. Schellnhuber’s regrettable prediction of mass extermination of humanity is so tenuously founded will not occur, even if no measures whatsoever to abate CO2 emissions are undertaken anywhere in the world.

Finally, it is worth recalling that in the 18th, 19th, and the 20th centuries global temperature rose by just 05-0.7 Celsius degrees/century (Akasofu, 2008), following the unprecedented increase in solar activity during the 300 years since 1700 (Hathaway, 2004; Solanki et al., 2005), and that, as the SPPI composite global-temperature index demonstrates, for seven full years since late 2001 global temperature has been falling at a rate equivalent to 2 Celsius degrees/century, following a sharp decrease in solar activity – 7 years’ global cooling at 3.6 °F (2 °C) / century For the past seven full years, global temperatures have exhibited a pronounced downtrend. The IPCC’s predicted warming path (pink region) bears no relation to the global cooling that has been observed in the 21st century to date. Source: SPPI global temperature index.

Since cold, rather than warmth, is the real killer, global cooling is more to be feared than “global warming”. And, if the conclusions of the 2004 symposium of the International Astronomical Union are correct, it is global cooling that we now have to fear. The Sun, said the symposium, will be markedly less active in the coming half-century than it was in the previous half-century; and cooling will result. In the four years since that prediction was made, the planet has been cooling at a rapid rate equivalent to 11 Fahrenheit degrees/century. If that rapid rate were to continue, we should be in a new Ice Age well before 2100.

Even if global temperature were to rise by as much as Mr. Schellnhuber and the UN would like us to believe, his notion that warmer weather would extinguish 6 billion of Earth’s 7 billion people is pure rodomontade, and is perhaps a measure of the desperation into which the wolf-criers have sunk. For events – not least the satellite record of changes in outgoing long-wave radiation, the absence of the tropical upper-troposphere “hot-spot”, the failure of CO2 concentration to rise as predicted, the self-confessed failure of the UN to add up the carbon budget to within a factor of two, and the rapid fall in global mean surface temperatures since 2001 – have conclusively proven their exaggerations to be as false in observed reality as they are baseless in theoretical climatology.

A glance at the difference between the tropics (teeming with life) and the poles (where few creatures live) suggests, prima facie, that warmer weather is more favourable to life than cooler weather. If the world were to continue to warm, life –including human life – would be likely to become more prevalent, not less prevalent.

Furthermore, the notion that today’s temperature is the best of all possible temperatures in the best of all possible worlds is fanciful. Ask a wolf-crier what he considers to be the best of all possible temperatures and he will be at once thrown into confusion. There is nothing magic about today’s temperature, except that it is considerably more agreeable than temperatures during the Maunder Minimum, 300 years ago, when both the Thames and the Hudson froze over every winter.

In any event, it is almost as likely as not that temperature will fall during the 21st century. Anthropogenic enrichment of the atmosphere with carbon dioxide is likely to cause some warming, but the amount of warming that CO2 enrichment causes is – and will be – very small indeed. Our influence, such as it is, will be drowned out by natural variability in the climate. End of scare.

Footnote: Just two days before Mr. Schellnhuber’s unfortunate prediction, the valedictorian speaker at the Heartland International Conference on Climate Change in New York had poured withering scorn on the propensity of “global warming” wolf-criers such as Mr. Schellnhuber to overegg the pudding beyond all scientific reason –

“Now, if we’re going to exaggerate, let’s exaggerate properly. Sea level is going to rise not by Gore’s 20 feet, not by Hansen’s 246 feet, but by 2640 feet. Half a mile. You heard it here first. …

All lands not submerged beneath the inexorably-rising waves will bake and wither under permanent year-round drought. Yea, and the very same lands will smother and drown under permanent year-round floods at the same time. And plagues of locusts. And pestilences. And famines. And brimstone and fire. And boils and pustules, yea, verily, and other things that pullulate and fester – and sound nasty enough to get big headlines and bigger research grants. …

“[Dr. Hansen] has published a peer-reviewed paper – so it must be true – saying 60% of all species will soon be flung into extinction. It won’t be 60%. It will be 326%. Whaddaya mean, we can’t extinguish more than 100%? You heard President Obama. Yes We Can.”