Lame, Desperate Climate Alarm Logic

Via Kevin Drum:

Chris Mooney reports today that there’s also a very simple reason: global warming has raised sea levels by about eight inches over the past century, and this means that when Sandy swept ashore it had eight extra inches of water to throw at us.….So that’s that. No shilly shallying. No caveats. “There is 100 percent certainty that sea level rise made this worse,” says sea level expert Ben Strauss. “Period.”

Hmm, OK.  First, to be clear, sea level rise over the last 100 years has been 17-20cm, which is 6.7-7.7 inches, which the author alarmingly rounded up to 8 inches.  But the real problem is the incredible bait and switch here.  They are talking about the dangers of anthropogenic global warming, but include the sea level rise from all warming effects, most of which occured long before we were burning fossil fuels at anywhere near current rates.  For example, almost half this rise was before 1950, where few argue that warming and sea level rise was due to man.  In fact, sea level rise is really a story of a constant 2-3mm a year rise since about 1850 as the world warms from the little ice age.  There has been no modern acceleration.

Graph—Global mean sea level: 1870–2007(source)

It is pretty heroic to blame all of a trend on an input that really only appeared significantly about 2/3 into the period on this chart.  By this chart, the warming since 1950, the period the IPCC blames warming mostly on man’s CO2, the sea level rise is only 10cm, or about 4 inches.  And to even claim four inches form CO2 since 1950 one would have to make the astonishing claim that whatever natural effect was driving sea levels higher since the mid-19th century suddenly halted at the exact same moment man began burning fossil fuels in earnest.    I’m not sure that the Sandy storm surge could even be measured to a precision of four inches or less.

Assuming three of the four inches are due to anthropogenic CO2, then the storm surge was 1.8%  higher due to global warming (taking 14 feet as the storm surge maximum, a number on which there is little agreement, confirming my hypothesis above that we are arguing in the noise).  Mooney’s argument is that damage goes up exponentially with surge height.  Granting this is true, this means that Sandy was perhaps 3.5% worse due to man-made higher sea levels.

So there you have your stark choice — you can shut down the global economy and throw billions of people in India and China back into horrendous poverty, or your 100-year storms will be 3,5% worse.  You make the call.

I would argue that one could find a far bigger contribution to Sandy’s nastiness in New York’s almost pathological refusal to accept in advance of Sandy that their city might be targeted by an Atlantic storm.  Huge percentages of the affected areas of the city are actually fill areas, and there is absolutely no evidence of sea walls or any sort of storm preparation.  I would have thought it impossible to find a seacoast city worse prepared for a storm than was New Orleans, but New York seems to have surpassed it.

As I wrote before, it is crazy to use Sandy as “proof” of a severe storm trend when in fact we are in the midst of a relative hurricane drought.  There is no evidence that the seas in Sandy’s storm track have seen any warming over the last century.

63 thoughts on “Lame, Desperate Climate Alarm Logic”

  1. Trenberth failed to mention that the SST’s were not outside the normal anomaly range if we look at the last 70 years of data, or so. Yes it was warmer than average, but sometimes those waters are warmer than average and sometimes they are colder than average. Trenberth has the habit of being rather selective in his presentations.

  2. The graph showing 1870-1924 0.8mm per year 1925-1992 1.9mm per year 1993- mid2012 3.1mm per year.

    The trendlines change from 0.8 to 1.9 to 3.1mm annually ,how is that not increasing?

    Are you sure that you want to claim its not increasing, i expected the graph to be wrong or the data to be manipulated but to flat out deny that the graph shows what it shows does make even less sense.

    I suppose if i would have to make a point is that maybe you dont understand the graph, maybe you pretend not to get it. Surely you dont want to understand it.

  3. What is important in this conversation is how much is anthropogenic? It was still fuel for hurriane Sandy what ever was human and natural variation. The stalled high up north in Greenland helped steer Sandy into the east coast. It was deadly for over 100 New Yorkers.


    Let me try to explain better why carbon dioxide has no effect …

    The process of diffusion in the vertical direction in a gravitational field effectively turns a “level base” into a “sloping base” like a concrete driveway running down a hillside.

    This diffusion process ensures that the sum of the PE and KE of individual molecules has a propensity towards equality in all molecules at all altitudes. Those lower down (with less PE) thus have higher KE, leading to higher temperature in the lower regions.

    There will be some absorption of Solar insolation at all levels in the Venus atmosphere, because we know at least some gets through to the surface. Think of this absorption as being like lots of different size loads of sand dumped on that sloping driveway. In general, the piles will be smaller as you go towards the top. So there’s no real propensity for convection rising in the atmosphere (sand from higher piles flowing down through the bigger piles further down the slope) so what happens is simply that the amount of radiation varies at different levels to get rid of the sand. But it stops when it gets down to the concrete driveway. The mean amount of radiation has to equate with the incident radiation, so this requirement (long ago) set the level of the driveway, but not its gradient – gravity and the specific heat of the gas set the gradient.

    Now I know that some radiation (roughly half) is directed towards the hotter surface, but those who understand what Prof Johnson proved, will realise that the electro-magnetic energy in such radiation is never converted to thermal energy in a hotter region than that from whence it came. Instead it is immediately re-emitted, just as if “pseudo scattered.” Hence the energy in all radiation from the atmosphere always ends up eventually getting to space, even if it strikes the surface, or gets partly absorbed by cooler gas and subsequently re-emitted.

    So the diffusion process in a gravitational field sets the gradient of the temperature plot in the atmosphere, with some small variation depending on the specific heat of the gases. The incident Solar radiative flux sets the overall level. These combine to produce a sloping, near linear temperature plot which of course intercepts the surface at a temperature which is determined by the input factors just mentioned, and nothing else.

    Any additional absorption of either incident or upwelling radiation merely adds temporary energy which will be quickly radiated away and, even though such radiation is in all directions, it will eventually transfer energy out of the planetary system and back to space.

    Venus is a good example, because it is so much more obvious that the surface is not heated to the temperature it reaches by the direct Solar radiation it absorbs. Instead, an interplay of conduction (diffusion) and radiation at the surface/atmosphere interface keeps the surface at a temperature close to that of the base of the atmosphere.

    Which came first – the chicken or the egg? The temperature of the base of the atmosphere must have come first because otherwise it would be just too much of a coincidence that the same formula “works” on all planets with sufficient atmospheres.

    So, if you don’t accept the above, then please explain in a similar level of detail, exactly what you think explains the surface temperature, being sure to keep within the confines of the laws of thermodynamics and atmospheric physics, as I have.

    Doug Cotton

  5. If you spend a few minutes reading my paper and at least the abstract of the paper published by the American Institute of Physics (cited in reference (8) in my reference [13]) you might understand what happens in the atmospheric physics of both Earth and Venus.

    I’m still waiting for a satisfactory alternative explanation from anyone in the world regarding the Venus surface temperature.

    Pressure does not maintain high temperatures all by itself, anywhere, not even on Venus. So forget that “explanation.”

    My paper is up for PROM (Peer Review in Open Media) for a month, so feel free to publish a rebuttal or debate it with some of these members of PSI. Such a review system far outstrips the “peer-review” system used for typical pro-AGW publications.

    Doug Cotton

  6. One fact that is never mentioned is that since CO2 acts like a blanket it spreads heat around making storms less intense.

    The alarmists don’t seem to have anyone on board who understands thermodynamics !!

  7. OK

    CO2 supposedly acts like a blanket to spread the energy around more evenly. Thermodynamics shows us that more even energy causes milder storms.

    QED !! Moe energy does not !

  8. Who says it is supposed to “spread the energy around”

    And what logic do you use to get to “Thermodynamics shows us that more even energy causes milder storms.”

    These sound like statements that makes no sense, could you explain why you come to those conclusions.

    Repeating stuff as true doesnt help making sense of what you want to argue. Please explain the mechanism involved.

  9. Thermodynamics says that the work a system like a storm will do is proportional to the DIFFERENCE in temperature not the absolute temperature.

    The strongest winds in the solar system are ion NEPTUNE where it is almost absolute 0 !

    The ignorance of those who say more temperature causes stronger storms should book a flight to Neptune !

  10. You just keep ignoring anything i say, and come up with absurd examples that somehow “proves your point”

    You dont explain how things work, you try to do the jedi master mind trick but you lack the skill to wave your hand.

    As i said if you want me to listen to what you have to say, explain the mechanism involved. I ASKED SOME QUESTIONS- you just ignore them. Like facts. Or science.

    All you have is a oneliner you cant substantiate, i know this is a denier blog and explaining anything goes against the interests of the deny-o-spere. You only want to spread doubt.

    Feel free to keep repeating nonsense, i hope you dont mind if i get a little less friendly when you do.

  11. Latest NOAA Assessment of sea level rise from 2005-2012 by Eric Leuliette which shows sea level rise decelerating as of late:

    Eric Leuliette joined NOAA in 2007 as a research oceanographer at the Laboratory for Satellite
    Altimetry in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. Prior to joining NOAA, he was an assistant research professor at the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research at the University of Colorado.
    Eric is a member of the Ocean Surface Topography Science Team and the GRACE Science Team. As a member of Working Group 1 of the IPCC, Eric was a contributing author and reviewer for the chapter “Observations: Oceanic Climate change and Sea Level” of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report Climate Change 2007: the Physical Science Basis.

    Steric (Argo) = 0.2 ± 0.8mm/yr.
    Mass (GRACE, Paulson GIA) = 1.0 ± 0.2mm/yr
    Steric + mass (Paulson GIA) = 1.2 ± 0.9mm/yr
    Total sea level (Jason-1 and Jason-2) = 1.6 ± 0.8mm/yr.

Comments are closed.