Alarmism

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I just don’t get climate alarmism. It isn’t enough that the climate is changing, whether it is warming or cooling, it actually needs to be out of the ordinary or directly attributed to human activities to be alarming. And you have to separate out the natural patterns of change to do that.

Weather on the other hand, is something that humans have always been concerned with. It is too cold, it is too warm, it is too wet, it is too dry; and on and on. However, the climate is just the accumulation of weather over a longer period of time. All those individual weather events add up to give a place a kind of climate that will be different from somewhere else.

So to get climate alarmism, the change has to be far different than expected and heading in a direction that is going to be mostly destructive or harmful to humans and other species. Determining if it is out of the ordinary should be easy. We just have to compare it to historical patterns. We actually have accumulated a lot of historical data that can be used as reference.

Context is so important here, so let’s start with that. We are in an interglacial where a warming trend is the norm. When the interglacial ends, we will enter a period where a cooling trend is the norm. Is this interglacial any different than past interglacials? Actually it turns out it is. We are at the midpoint of the interglacial and past interglacials were 4C warmer and sea levels were 10M higher than present.

The next question to answer, is the change we are experiencing tolerable? The temperature has warmed at the rate of .5C in 100 years. Is this tolerable? Ok, so that change of .5C in 100 years works out to a rate of .005C per year. However, the average temperature change from one year to the next can be as much as 5C which is 10x greater than .5C and at a 1000x greater rate of change than that .005C per year. And we seem to be able to accommodate that. It is even worse if you look at the temperature change within a single year, where it can be 50C or even 80C where I live. This 50C is  100x greater than .5C. And a 50C change compared to the .005C is at a 10,000x greater rate of change and we also seem to be able to tolerate that too. So there is no question that we should be able to tolerate a .5C change over the course of 100 years. It is 10,000 times smaller than what we experience each year.

The next question to answer is will it always be like this or will it get worse? For sure, a .5C rise in temperature of 100 years is a 5C in a thousand and 50C in 10,000 years. But is that even realistic? What of the future?

Extinction Event

This is a climate emergency, we must all act as one, right now. Something pretty awful is happening. Something catastrophic is happening. Anxious about the environment. This is a problem that no one is doing anything about. We are poisoning our planet. That sense of moral duty to do something about it. We are in denial. What is wrong with taking extreme action. People are starting to realize that climate change and ecological breakdown are getting very close.

Ok, so these statements are full of feeling but it is hard to get at the source of their concern. And there seems include a mix of other concerns such as population growth and environmental destruction, and very little about climate. And there seems to be a call to action, without a clear understanding of what that action should be, or even why we need a call to action.

So lets next take a look at some of the key aspects of climate.

Global Temperature

Impact of 1.5C of warming is not safe and we absolutely must keep to this 1.5C limit.  Yet, they predict warming of 3C by end of this century and this is alarming.

What we can agree on

There have been periods of warming but there have also been periods of cooling. During the last century, the warming is greater overall than the cooling so we have experienced a net warming at the rate of .6C per century in recent times. We have some interesting proxy data such as Ice Cores that can give us a pretty good indication of past temperature changes, and this kind of change is something that occurs regularly.

What we can not agree on

No apparent acceleration of warming is evident, that would indicate anything more than a similar warming rate of the next 100 years compared to the last 100 years. This would suggest only a further warming of .5C by the end of this century.

Central England 1660-2017

Take a close look at the land temperature data, from thermometer readings for Central England from 1660-2017:

  • Nothing remarkable, albeit a small slow warming trend is evident;
  • 2017 is only slightly warmer than 1730, maybe half a degree;
  • a half a degree can not be considered statistically significant because it is within the measurement error;
  • Annual variations from one year to next are typically 5C which is huge in comparison to the 350yr trend.

We also have to consider that we are in the midst of an interglacial where warming is the norm. In other words, it is supposed to be warming. What we really should be asking is why is this interglacial so cold? It was 4C warmer last time. Previous interglacials were even warmer.

Arctic Ice

The Arctic will be ice free by 2014, (or 2020, or 2024). Reaching the tipping point with irreversible change.

What we can agree on

The ice area has been in decline from 1979-2018. The most notable change is the minimum ice area has declined from 4.6 in 1979 to 3.3 in 2018. The maximum area has hardly changed at all with a peak of 13.2 in 1979 and a decline of 12.6 in 2018, however it was also 12.6 in 1980 and 1984.

What we can not agree on

Although I didn’t plot it on the min-max graph above, the annual mean has gone from 9.4 in 1979 to 8.7 in 2018, a difference of 0.7. However, look at the following historical record on previous ice mean levels from 1920-1975. You can clearly see lows of 5.5 and highs of 7.2 with a difference of 1.7. Is there any chance that this kind of variation might be normal, it is certainly within the variation of historical records?

Here is another look at current trends since 2006. What are they seeing that makes them conclude the arctic will be ice free in 2012? Things look pretty normal to me. Nothing to be alarmed at.

Blue ocean event.

The arctic will be ice free in a few years and once that happens, the change in albedo will accelerate the ice loss be the tipping point that keeps it from freezing again.

What we can agree on

Minimum ice area has declined from 4.4 in 1979 to 3.3 in 2018 which is a 25% loss. But there does not appear to be any acceleration in loss so at that rate it will take at least another 120 years for it to reach zero, if nothing changes. I wish I could find a time series on the period before 1979 as I do not know how the minimum ice area decline compares to the past. If the mean annual ice area is any indication, it was probably lower in the past.

What we can not agree on

This one is crazy, and I can’t quite get the logic behind it, and that could just be because it is never actually explained. Two factors seem to be in play here: the heat latency of ice compared to water and the difference in albedo between ice and water. Ok, so we know that the ice thaw occurs from the south moving north and occurs because at the summer solstice, the axial tilt of the earth is causing the sun to shine down on the north, 24 hours a day. Even with that, it still takes until September, almost the equinox, to melt all that ice. But by then, the days are getting shorter, very fast. The sun is low on the horizon and very soon will not even appear for several months. So, even if all the arctic ice should manage to disappear one warm day in September some time in the future, it is still going to refreeze quickly during those cold sunless days of winter until the spring equinox approaches and the sun reappears on the horizon.

We also know that the arctic ice cap disappeared during the last interglacial so once again we should be asking, why is this interglacial so cold?

(Will examine the following topics in future upates)

  • Sea level
  • Extreme weather events
  • Depleting resources
  • Species loss
  • Environmental destruction

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Donald

28,132 thoughts on “Alarmism

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