Severe Weather and Anthropogenic Global Warming

As I put together an updated version of my climate movie and powerpoint deck, I am constantly amazed how alarmist claims that man is causing [fill in the blank severe weather] via his CO2 emissions simply never pan out.  I am not saying they don’t pan out because there is no causality proof – that goes without saying.  No one has ever been able to or likely will ever be able to link a specific weather event like Katrina directly to CO2 emissions — but of course that does not stop them from trying and does not prevent a credulous media from lapping it up  (and in fact there is a class action suit as we speak against oil and power companies for “causing” Katrina).

No, what I mean is that the supposed weather trend seldom if ever exists.  What is happening is that alarmists are latching onto individual events in the tail ends of the normal distribution for weather and claiming that these events signal a shift in the mean.  But they never actually publish data for the mean, and there is a reason for that.  Time and time again, with hurricanes, US floods and droughts, severe storms, and tornados, when we look at the data we see no shift in the mean.

Here is a good example form Warwich Hughes.  The Western Australia Premier says back in 2007″

Mr A.J. CARPENTER (WA Premier): “..It has stopped raining in the south west of Western Australia. The rain no longer falls from the sky in sufficient quantities to fill the dams to fill the pipes to fill the cups for people to drink…”

The reality:  A one year drought in 2006 is being used to argue that the mean rainfall has shifted.  It clearly has not.


14 thoughts on “Severe Weather and Anthropogenic Global Warming”

  1. One hears repeatedly, as if it were a religious incantation or mantra of some kind, that ‘Global Warming/Climate Change/Whatever’ must be “addressed” because of the terrible impacts of sea level rise/more droughts/more or worse hurricanes, tornadoes/insect & disease spreading &etc. But study after study (and reviews of earlier ones) show that none of these things is taking place, in spite of on-going ‘Climate Change’ and increasing CO2 levels. Normal flucuation appears, and is apparently unchanged in the face of the global changes purported to be occurring.

    Which begs the question….if these are the reasons that “something must be done”, then why should anything be done? If the negative impacts are absent or far less severe than claimed, that seems to completely undermine any argument for substantial action…to prevent negative impacts that don’t at all appear to be happening.

  2. ADiff,
    The point our alarmist friends and trolls miss is that even if CO2, at this time, is driving the climate (and I think it is), what is being driven to is indistinguishable from any other ‘natural’ variability in the climate record.

  3. I tend to think the argument for CO2 being the most significant driver is doubtful, based on the arguments for this and the criticisms of those arguments. Actual temperature data, even accepting the increasingly convincing arguments that it’s been corrupted by selectivity to demonstrate warming, suggests the role of CO2 is overstated. Is CO2 a driver? I think that’s pretty well established. Is it a primary driver? That’s far from clear, it increasingly seems. It may take some time for all that to become clearer, and may require a less heated political environment to be able to achieve that end. But beyond the objective scientific questions there are issues of policy: to what degree, if any, should we wield ‘guns and butter’ (the police power of the States and their taxing authority) to addressing either CO2 emissions and/or ‘Climate Change’. These are not scientific questions, but economic and political ones. The questionable scientific basis for such only adds to the already troublesome issues of efficacy (are such investments likely to produce meaningful results toward the intended ends) and beneficence (will any benefits accruing outweigh the costs). In both areas massive investments in CO2 emission control seem very much ‘long shots’ to produce any pertinent benefits at all, much less any in excess of their costs.

  4. ADiff,
    We are in agreement. CO2 is a driver, not *the* driver. The mechanism by which it acts as a driver has been mis-stated by our AGW friends.
    CO2 has not driven the world temps past where it was in the MWP, when something else was the driver.
    Not one of the dire predictions regarding CO2 driven climate change have come true. Not one holds up- storms, sea levels, temps, ocean heat content, droughts, rain, ocean current disruption, etc. etc. etc.

  5. Leaving aside for a moment the ‘science’ for the realm of Policy, what’s asked by AGW Alarmists is a monumental claim on the material welfare of billions of citizens of this Earth. The extraordinary demands of those arguing for urgent emergency action will impose untold costs on countless individuals in both developed and developing world. Leaving aside the possible social and political cost, the economic impacts of their suggestions would be breathtakingly massive and certainly negatively impact everyone (excepting, perhaps, the super-wealthy) and probably in a most regressive manner, too!

    We are told that the “impacts” of the purported phenomenon justify this. And yet none of these impacts appears to be happening, nor does any available evidence suggest they are at all likely to occur. And still we’re told we “must” proceed on that basis. As Carl Sagan said “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” These are “extraordinary claims” presented without any real evidence at all, much less “extraordinary evidence”. How can they not be refused as such?

  6. Environmentalists are arguing more that there is a change in the standard deviation than a change in the mean. I think this is the crux of the re-labeling of Global Warming to Climate Change. What’s great about this is that you can argue that it creates less severe storms too. It’s completely meaningless mumbo jumbo, but so is most of environmentalism. They turn a blind eye to reality when it flies in the face of their dogma.

  7. Good post. I’ve noticed this issue with respect to rainfall in our area. Many people I talk to think we are in the midst of an unusual drought and are surprised when I inform them (having done research on the actual data) that the last year was at 95% and 99% of average respectively, for the two primary watersheds in our area.

    It is pretty easy to create a scare story out of one or two “bad” years or “bad” events, but every time I look at the actual data, it isn’t particularly scary.

  8. Yup, seen this repeatedly around DC.

    Funny thing about the Aussie data that was posted, those droughts are regular enough you could prepare for them. Amazing that is ignored.

  9. The IPCC, in their fourth assessment report, stated that the increase from 280ppm to 390 ppm increased energy retained by 1.77 watts/m2. Applying the logarithmic relationship;
    1.77 = n * log (390/280)
    from which it follows that n = 12.3.
    The increase from 390 ppm to 560 ppm (2070 projection from IPCC 4th assessment report) would increase retained energy by 12.3 * log (560/390) = 1.93 watts/m2 . Applying Stefan’s law at 288 kelvin (+14C) we find that each degree rise in temperature takes 5.4 watts/m2 . Thus the direct effect of the rise in carbon dioxide is 1.93/5.4 = 0.36C.
    IPCC inflates this to about 3C by assuming massive positive feedback from water vapour.

    There’s a 342 watt flux from the sun, but about 30% of that is reflected away by clouds, a negatative feedback from water vapor, leaving only 240 watts waming the earth. According to Trenbeth,

    greenhouse gases and clouds add to the warming, roughly doubling the surface flux to 490 watts. Only 390 watts results in heating the earth’s surface, the rest goes into the latent heat of evaporation, conduction, and convection.

    The net result is , global warming increases the ground flux by about
    399-342 = just about 50 watts, and about 100 watts goes into latent heat.
    It’s implausible to believe that a majority of any additional flux from increased CO2 would go into actual warming rather than into latent heat.

  10. Drachsi, I am not sure that I adequately understand the proposal on the website you referenced; but at first glance, it essentially would be a way for Western countries to subsidize corrupt governments with very little positive impact on the environment.
    Now, there is no hesitation on the part of skeptics to allow individuals and firms to invest in any green technology that they want to. And sometimes that investment requires a loan. If that loan can be paid back, again skeptics would have no problem. However, I do have a problem with government action that increases our dependence on foreign oil (the quickest way to increase such dependence is to limit coal) or destroys the rainforest (through biofuels subsidies) or sets up for another recession through inefficient capital investment or diverts resources and talent away from real environmental problems.

  11. CO2 is not a temp driver. It is a result of temp, to some extent, at least coincidentally. Warning: I’m going to use some basic physics here. Sorry, but I must. Heat moves from hot to cold, just as high energy moves from high to low. Always and forever. So, an energized CO2 (which is only happening primarily at 2.5 microns and 15.7 microns) is only going to release to cooler air or material, not warmer air. It’s the 3rd Law of Thermodynamics, though we can call it convection and it is why your air conditioner works.

    So, if you want to make out that CO2 is warming the planet, first tell me your air conditioner isn’t working and why it isn’t working. Yeah, it really is that simple.

    Also, the greatest absorption and re-emission is in the first 20 ppm. And all of Nature without Man is around 280 ppm? Which means that first 20 ppm is totally in Nature’s CO2 load, if Man never existed.

    Let’s liken gases unto blankets. Water vapor is like a comforter with 4 layers of batting in it. Heat will eventually dissipate through it, just the same, it’s just slowed down to a rate that is comfortable for your body to lose heat at. All bodies radiate heat. CO2 is like a fishnet. You could put on another layer of fishnet and not alter the heat exchange rate past the first layer, which wasn’t much to begin with.

    If you add to that the fact that the “data” was altered to fit a theory and now Jones tells us the “data” is lost, what do you have? A broken theory with nothing to support it and everything about it flying in the face of everyday proven physics. My air conditioner works just fine. So does my heater (works on the same principle.)

  12. ron from Texas: I dont know what point you are trying to make. But if you are trying to say either that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas or an effective greenhouse gas, you are wrong.

    You say “So, an energized CO2 only going to release to cooler air or material, not warmer air. It’s the 3rd Law of Thermodynamics, though we can call it convection and it is why your air conditioner works.
    So, if you want to make out that CO2 is warming the planet, first tell me your air conditioner isn’t working and why it isn’t working. Yeah, it really is that simple.”

    Its not “that simple”. If it were that simple then the case against AGW would have been wrapped up before it even started. You make two mistakes here.

    1. “So, an energized CO2 only going to release to cooler air or material, not warmer air” – Not so. Radiation is released in all directions. The energised CO2, or any other molecule, doesnt check which side is warmer or cooler.

    2. We are talking about radiation here not convection and not the NET flow of energy. Radiation striking an object simply adds energy to it, this does not depend on the temperature. Radiation striking the Earth gets absorbed by greenhouses gases, which will radiate some of this energy towards the surface and will continue warming the surface till there is radiative balance. In the Earth’s case they warm it by about 33C

    There are many reasons why the AGW hypothesis is not credible, but your “simple” reason is not one of them.

  13. PS – You are talking about the Second Law of Thermodynamics and not the third, which is about entropy. From an engineering point of view, can be stated as heat will not flow from a cold body to a hot body, UNLESS you do some “work”. The example you have provided of an air conditioner (or refrigerator which is the reverse), illustrates this. The “work” in this case is provided primarily by the sun.

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