It’s CO2, Because We Can’t Think of Anything Else it Could Be

For a while, I have written about the bizarre assumption made by climate scientists.  They cannot prove or show any good link historically between CO2 and warming.  What they instead do is show that they can’t explain some of the warming by understood processes, so they assume that any warming they cannot explain is from CO2.   Don’t believe me?

Researchers are trying to understand how much of the melting is due to the extreme natural variability in the northern polar climate system and how much is due to global warming caused by humans. The Arctic Oscillation climate pattern, which plays a big part in the weather patterns in the northern hemisphere, has been in "positive" mode in recent decades bringing higher temperatures to the Arctic.

Dr Igor Polyakov, an oceanographer from the International Arctic Research Centre in Fairbanks, Alaska, explained that natural variability as well as global warming is crucial to understanding the ice melt. "A combination of these two forces led to what we observe now and we should not ignore either forces" he said.

The consensus among scientists is that while the natural variability in the Arctic is an important contributor to climate change there, the climate models cannot explain the rapid loss of sea ice without including "human-induced" global warming. This means human activity such as burning fossil fuels and land clearing which are releasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

"There have been numerous models run that have looked at that and basically they can’t reproduce the ice loss we’ve had with natural variability," said Dr Perovich. "You have to add a carbon dioxide warming component to it."

In other words, any warming scientists can’t explain is chalked up to, without proof mind you, CO2.  Why?  Well, perhaps because it is CO2 that gets the funding, so CO2 it is.  To show you how dangerous this assumption is, I note that this study apparently did not consider the effect of man-made soot from inefficient coal and oil combustion (e.g. from China).  Soot lands on the ice, lowers its albedo, and causes it to melt a lot faster.  Several recent studies have hypothesized that this alternate anthropogenic effect (with a very different solution set from Co2 abatement) may explain much of recent Arctic ice loss. 

Here is a big fat clue for climate scientists:  It is not part of the scientific method to confidently ascribe your pet theory (and source of funding) to every phenomenon you cannot explain.  Or, maybe climate scientists are on to something.  Why does gravity seem to work instantaneously at long distances? Co2!  What causes cancer cells to turn on and grow out of control?  CO2!  Hey, its easy.  All of our scientific dilemmas are instantly solved.

  • Things like this are what makes the internet usfull things you want to read . I love the random the “ironic” but sometimes change may not be the worst thing.

  • Scientist

    it is CO2 that gets the funding – yet again, proof that you have no idea how science works and how grants are awarded.

    I think the reason for attributing warming to CO2 is that physically it is impossible to add CO2 to the atmosphere without making it hotter (this has been known for more than 100 years), a lot of CO2 has been added to the atmosphere, no other counteracting effect is in action, and temperatures are rising. Further, temperatures are rising fastest in the Arctic, which is exactly what models predicted 20 years ago. So, when there is a cause, and and effect, and the magnitude of the effect matches that predicted, it would be bizarre and stupid to attribute the warming to some other effect, like that which you’ve just pulled out of your arse. Or is there actually observational evidence that soot is being transported from China to the Arctic and settling on the ice there?

    By the way, gravity has been shown to propagate at or close to the speed of light. You seem rather vulnerable to misunderstanding or misreporting of basic science.

  • B.D.
  • Scientist

    Lovely. So you’ve proved rather handily that in fact climate researchers do give great consideration to effects besides rising CO2 levels, thus demonstrating how ignorant the ‘climate skeptic’ is. If you read the paper you’ll see that the radiative forcing attributed to black carbon is 0.3-0.6 W/m⊃2, thus making it clearly a secondary effect compared to the forcing of ~1.7 W/m⊃2 due to CO2.

  • Hud

    Feeling a bit nostalgic last night, I watched Apollo 13 on AMC’s “DVD TV.” On this program, along with the movie, they provide little snippets about the movie, characters, production, background story, etc. Former NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz was said to believe only confronting a great crisis like global warming will restore the space program.

    Keeping the movie theme, “show me the money!”

  • So Scientist, how do you explain that temperatures stopped rising in 1998 and have slightly fallen since 2001? We’ve added a lot of CO2 to the atmosphere since 1998 and as you say, there are “no other counteracting effects in action” and “physically it is impossible to add CO2 to the atmosphere without making it hotter.” So where’s the heat? It’s not in the ocean. It’s not in the atmosphere.

    You also conveniently leave out that models predict that the mid troposphere in the tropics should be warming faster than the surface–that’s what the models predict. And yet that’s not happening.

  • mbabbitt

    Scaredy (he uses an alias) Scientist says “temperatures are rising fastest in the Arctic”.
    1) Is this true? How many temp-reading stations are there compared to the past, say 20 years ago? “Another issue troubling arctic scientists is the degradation of climate data from the Arctic region, including closures of some hydrometeorological stations and reductions of other climate networks in Canada and Russia…” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08/000810071622.htm” So scientists are sure the arctic is experiencing accelerated warming but at the same time, they claim that their data gathering has degraded. Doesn’t that give you a “warm and fuzzy” feeling all over? Considering the permafrost situation, I would imagine the Arctic had undergone a warming spurt recently but how extensive — if they are blind in many areas? And remember the North Pole did not become ice free like so many scientists had hoped for (oh, I mean predicted)
    2)And what does fastest mean — Compared to global temps? Well, except for Hansen’s controlled magic GISS numbers, global temps have shown no warming and a cooling possibly since 2002. Maybe the Arctic warming is a localized anomaly. Correlation/Causation — this fits the models — maybe that is a coincidence in itself especially considering how wrong the models have been elsewhere.
    3) If true, what about Antartica? Isn’t the rise in temperatures supposed to be at the poles (plural)? The Anarctic has shown now warming in temps. “The Earth may be in the midst of a planet-wide warming cycle, but in a startling departure from global trends, scientists have found that temperatures on the Antarctic continent have fallen steadily for more than two decades.” http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1P2-336187.html Boy, that scares the heck out of me…
    Summary: Does not seem such a convincing argument to me.

  • Scientist

    mbabbett:

    1. Yes, it is true. All global temperature measurements show that warming is fastest at high northern latitudes. And remember the North Pole did not become ice free like so many scientists had hoped for (oh, I mean predicted) – no scientists predicted that the north pole would be ice free now. You’ve just made that up. Why lie? Why make it so obvious that you are ideologically committed to stupidity?

    2. You and Daniel both suffer from the classic climate idiot belief that you can measure climate change over six years. You can’t.

    3. It has long been known that Antarctica would respond slowly to rising CO2. It is surrounded by oceanic and atmospheric currents which thermally isolate it.

  • B.D.

    Scientist says:
    no scientists predicted that the north pole would be ice free now. You’ve just made that up. Why lie?

    Reality says:
    Exclusive: Scientists warn that there may be no ice at North Pole this summer

  • Scientist Fan

    Scientist,

    I want to encourage you to keep posting. You are always thought-provoking and I am open minded.

  • Scientist

    Have you never heard the expression ‘don’t believe everything you read in the papers’? The article entirely misrepresents the scientists in its first paragraph. No-one has said that the north pole ‘will be ice free’. The boldest statement, directly quoted further down, is I’d say it’s even-odds whether the North Pole melts out,” said Dr Serreze. So, reality says, no scientists predicted that the north pole would be ice free now.

  • mbabbitt

    By the way the, “Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego atmospheric scientist V. Ramanathan and University of Iowa chemical engineer Greg Carmichael, said that soot and other forms of black carbon could have as much as 60 percent of the current global warming effect of carbon dioxide…” This is from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080323210225.htm , March 24th of 2008. So Black Carbon might be a bigger player than previously thought. But the science is settled.

    Also in the article linked in B.D.,”There’s a good chance that it will all melt away at the North Pole, it’s certainly feasible, but it’s not guaranteed,” Dr Lindsay said.” Would you take your umbrella if a meteorologist predicted over 50% or a good chance for rain. Try to break it down to semantics but that sound pretty predictive to me. Not definite but when do you get that in science anyway?

    And can you stop with the ‘lying’ accusations and name calling? You must be a mean spirited, unhappy person to throw around such invectives so freely.

  • Scientist

    Scientist Fan – thanks for the encouragement. As long as I see falsehoods and misunderstandings being propagated here, I’ll be around.

    mbabbitt – again, you prove that black carbon is a secondary effect. And saying there’s a 50-50 chance is hardly a bold prediction. If I say that Lewis Hamilton has a 50-50 chance of winning the European Grand Prix, and he doesn’t, was I right or was I wrong?

  • Yeti

    ICE if it freezes its just weather if it melts its definitely without any drought AGW at least that’s what the media wants us to believe.
    In the recent evening news on almost all channels here in Canada not just CBC.
    http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2008/07/29/iceshelf-fracture.html
    A 18 square kilometer peace of ice shelf broke of out of a total of 900 square kilometer ice shelf thats 2 % or 0.00025% of the current 7 million square kilometer of ice cover we currently have.
    The media is intend to fool the public into thinking the situation is getting worse in the arctic.
    Interesting as well is how many skeptics voiced there concern about the dramatization.

  • John M

    Scientist,

    Kindly parse this sentence in your excruciating detail for me:

    “We’re actually projecting this year that the North Pole may be free of ice for the first time [in history],” David Barber, of the University of Manitoba, told National Geographic News aboard the C.C.G.S. Amundsen, a Canadian research icebreaker.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/06/080620-north-pole.html

    Projecting that it may be. The finest of weasling.

    And then there’s this:

    http://www.barentsobserver.com/north-pole-ice-free.4474940-16149.html

    The North Pole is at the moment covered only by one-year old ice, all of which will melt in the course of summer, a Canadian ice expert says.
    Mr. Jaques Collin in the Canadian Ice Service in Ottawa says satellite pictures show that the Arctic ice is thinner than ever, NRK reports with reference to newspaper Fiskaren.

    -I have never seen anything like it in 28 years, he maintains.

    Traditionally, the Arctic ice is thickest in the areas north of Canada and Greenland.

    Now of course, we can blame all this on the nasty old media. But it’s a little disingenuous for climate scientists to run to the media with every little global warming scare they can muster, and then turn around and say, “hey, it wasn’t us, it was the media.”

    I have yet to see a letter to the editor from a climate scientist complaining that the media over-interpreted his or her claim with regard to the negative consequences of AGW.

    I can see it all in twenty years:

    “But we didn’t say for sure the temperature would be half a degree warmer. We only said it was ‘likely'”.

  • mbabbitt

    Ah yes, Scientist: “And saying there’s a 50-50 chance is hardly a bold prediction.” So you admit it was indeed some kind of prediction! Thank you.

  • Headless Blogger

    It may not be a coincidence that the introduction of catalytic converters and smokestack scrubbers coincides with the start of alarming global warming.

    It’s the sulfur, stupid.

  • Fred from Canuckistan . . .

    “2. You and Daniel both suffer from the classic climate idiot belief that you can measure climate change over six years. You can’t.”

    Just like you can’t take a 30 year period like 1970-2000 and measure “climate change”.

    The Believers of the Great Church of WARMongering believe it.

    Al Gore believes.

    The International Environmental Industry has flogged it into the most successful fund raising scheme they have ever invented to remove money from the pockets of those who want to buy some indulgences for their guilt.

    But all is well. You can Believe the Models, or you can believe the data, but you can’t believe both.

    I’m gonna trust the data.

    My advice – buy some long underwear ’cause its getting cold and it is going to get colder.

  • Scientist

    Ho ho. Good satire, Fred.

    To all the people who don’t understand how odds work, or who are deliberately misunderstanding scientists because they are ideologically committed to stupidity, please consider this question again: if I say that Lewis Hamilton has a 50-50 chance of winning the European Grand Prix, and he doesn’t, was I right or was I wrong?

  • Larry G.

    “If I say that Lewis Hamilton has a 50-50 chance of winning the European Grand Prix, and he doesn’t, was I right or was I wrong?”

    Statistics and probabilities apply ONLY to the set of outcomes from a large number of trials. The result of a single trial is meaningless, since the result can neither validate nor invalidate a statistical prediction. Let’s all agree to correctly use the language of statistics when making or assessing these climate predictions.

    For example, a climate scientist might predict that, “Over the next 10 years, there is a 50% probability that the Arctic ice will melt completely in any particular summer”. Then we can observe the degree of ice melt over a 10-year period, and assess the validity of the prediction (to a specific level of confidence, if we assume a Gaussian distribution).

    And yes, it would be quite helpful if the science writers at respected newspapers took an introductory course in the terminology of statistics, so the science writers could insist that predictions (quotes by climate scientists) conform to this terminology.

  • john m

    So I’m still waiting for someone to explain what a climate scientist means when he says:

    “We’re actually projecting this year that the North Pole may be free of ice for the first time [in history],”

    Is that a testable statement or not? Is it a statement that a reasonable person would interpret as being from a scientist who “predicted that the north pole would be ice free now.”?

  • Scientist

    Larry G. – I entirely agree with you.

  • Dodgy Geezer

    A scientist! I’ve been meaning to ask a scientist about Global Warming.

    You see, Popper said that the critical feature about scientific knowledge, as opposed to other forms, was that scientists activly sought to falsify their hypotheses. For other forms of knowledge it was reasonable to assert something to be true – for science you had to consider what might prove your hypothesis wrong, and then go out and look for that. Only if your theory survived your own attempts to prove it wrong could you claim that it was strong.

    Now I’ve asked AGW supporters what attempts they have made to prove their hypothesis wrong, and none have ever answered me. What I was looking for was a clear simple experiment which would clearly test a prediction made which could only occur if AGW were correct. But no one seems to have done this. As a scientist, perhaps you could help me find such an experiment?

  • Scientist

    Dodgy Geezer – in a complex science, do not expect anyone to have gone out of their way to provide you with a clear simple example of what you demand. What kind of ‘simple experiment’ do you imagine could prove that ‘AGW is correct’? It’s a little bit more complicated than that.

    To claim that ‘no one seems to have‘ tested any predictions is really very silly. Like any other science, the whole point of climate science is to come up with a framework within which to understand what is being studied. How do you think that happens without any predictions ever having been tested? I’ll tell you just a few of the most important specific predictions that climate scientists have made while developing our understanding of the climate system that have been borne out:

    1. that if more CO2 was added to the atmosphere, surface temperatures would rise
    2. that if CO2 was added at a rate of 1-2ppm/year, the surface temperature would rise by about 0.2°C/decade
    3. that if CO2 was added to the atmosphere, the stratosphere would cool
    4. that globally, the Arctic would respond most quickly and the Antarctic most slowly to increasing CO2
    5. that if there was a sudden injection of aerosols into the atmosphere, then there would be a sharp but short-lived cooling

    Obviously, there are plenty more examples. Really, if you think that climate science has not been all about constructing theories which make testable predictions, and then testing those predictions, then you haven’t made any effort at all to understand how climate science works.

  • EarthScientist

    When the resident scientist here wakes up from his/her stupor with all of the graphs and measurements ad infinitum,he/she will not ever state such things as Human caused global warming.
    Cmon guys,even the old ice cores show the periodicities of high carbon from warming periods 1000 years ago.
    The universe works different than you assume,and yet you folks are so emotionally connected to all of your assumptions,you have no ability to step out of your box long enough to see the grid system in process and the physical evidence of its process.
    The grid is revved so much from energetic components visiting us that cruise in every 1050 years (This particular perodicity) that at my house alone with a medium node nearby,I can from time to time when conditions ar right see the cymatic wagon wheel of cumulus clouds forming and staying in its geometry right in front of all of you folks zeroing in on the Latte’ shop instead of observing the revv periods.
    The rainbows reach the ground with the revv up and they always jump from node to node as they propagate and travel with the aether cloud /moisture balance that allows their physical eye manifestation of the gases frequencies they represent. They always form in the same areas as they are a node short.
    The hills and eskers are simply weakening from aether entering the ground at that node point and the magma pushes up from below and a hill is formed.
    Magma heating from the revv has been up for many years as this periodic event has been with us and ebbs and flows,just to create trouble for your models,and it surely seems to be working.
    A simple grid scientist such as myself can show anyone the science of the grid.
    Egyptian and all other Pyramids are ground field instruments,Cheops rings in the key of “A” ,Science has gone so far backwards when no one except a grid scientist can clear up those pesky little problems with all of your modeling,goofy mathematical assumptions and the like over the carbohydrates in the atmosphere.
    We do not want all of the carbon in the atmosphere either,it of course reduces the high ozone that assists with its protective field.
    There are cymatic “Rings” about 4 thousand feet thick at the 48 and 96 on up level to assist the planet in keeping its gases in and we do not like the jets flying through these levels putting holes in the frequency shield that takes time to re-propagate and causes loss of gases.
    We do not like the jets eating up the ozone at all and are in favor of a train system with jets only allowed for over ocean travel.
    The science is on our side,and your refusal to even seek out proper information would create your discharge from any science tasking if I had my way,and boy oh boy arent you lucky I cant send you home to your junior chemistry set in your basements.
    You folks are creating such an economic and military problem on this planet that you should be sanctioned from all government assisting in their policies.
    The political folks do not have a clue and they count on science folks to provide proper process,so the responsibility to seek out proper science before you open your mouths and scream and take the publics money has not happened,The AGW bunch is the damndest conundrum. And you still do not seek anything beyond your favorite science person trained within the same jungle that has no exit for you,its your fault,it just is.
    The reason I state that is the fact that information has been avilable for anyone who seeks it and compiles their files of information and observation,so there is no excuse,not one.

  • eadler

    It is pretty clear to me that the GHG’s are causing heat to be added to the earth. I haven’t heard an alternative hypothesis that fits the most telling data –
    The stratosphere has cooled by 1Deg C.
    http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/2007/dec_stratosphere.gif
    while the earth’s surface has warmed.
    This simple fact indicates that the top of the atmosphere is radiating less heat into space than it used to, and the bottom of the atmosphere is warmer.
    The only way that this can happen is if the atmosphere is providing more insulation from heat loss from the surface than it did earlier – i.e. the so called greenhouse effect has increased.
    If the so called skeptics have an alternative hypothesis that explains this phenomenon, I am open to it, as a scientist, but I haven’t heard one yet.