Weekend Climate Reader
Research on climate does
not always match political hype
After two years of lockdowns and mandates, reports are coming out that the scientific consensus was often wrong about Covid-19 policy (example from this week in Europe). How about with climate policy?
In a day when the climate consensus is pressuring governments to impose draconian measures about energy policy that affect whole countries and could lead to poverty and death, it is imperative we get the best facts available. The following research papers and articles about climate are all drawn from mainstream sources that accept the consensus that human activity is causing global warming. But do they strongly confirm the consensus position?
We present these links with minimal commentary so that readers can learn for themselves what the evidence indicates. Remember as you read that even if global temperature is confirmed to be rising, the issue of human causation is a separate question, and what to do about it is another separate question.
Nord Stream leak may have been largest methane emission ever recorded (New Scientist, 11 Oct 2022). Largely regarded as an act of sabotage, a series of explosions to Russia’s natural gas pipelines to Europe under the Baltic Sea on September 27 let methane leak under the sea and into the air. The explosions “released between 56,000 and 155,000 tonnes of methane into the atmosphere, making it among the largest methane emissions ever recorded from a single point.” Methane is up to 80 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, but so far the experts do not anticipate a long-term climate impact from this event. See also:
- High levels of methane in the Nord Stream leak area (University of Gothenburg, 7 Oct 2022).
- What do Nord Stream methane leaks mean for climate change? (Nature, 30 Sept 2022).
Uniformitarian prediction of early-Pleistocene atmospheric CO2 (Geophysical Research Letters, 10 Oct 2022). Two climatologists believe they can confirm that CO2 levels were high two million years ago long before modern humans could affect the climate.
Water vapor injection into the stratosphere by Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai (Science, 22 Sept 2022). “Water vapor is the most abundant radiatively active trace gas in our atmosphere, and despite its low concentration in the stratosphere, changes in stratospheric water vapor can influence our climate.” These scientists believe that a single volcanic eruption on January 15, 2022 “may have increased the amount of global stratospheric water vapor by more than 5%.” Live Science claims, “50 million tons of water vapor from Tonga’s eruption could warm Earth for years.”
Tonga volcano blast was unusual, could even warm the Earth (Phys.org, 22 Sept 2022). This press release about the above paper states that volcanoes can cool the atmosphere. But “since water vapor acts as a heat-trapping greenhouse gas, the eruption will probably raise temperatures instead of lowering them,” one climate researcher believes. Live Science opines, “widespread and violent volcanic activity in Earth’s distant past may have contributed to global climate change, triggering mass extinctions millions of years ago.”
The Unprecedented Character of California’s 20th Century Enhanced Hydroclimatic Variability in a 600-Year Context (Geophysical Research Letters, 1 Oct 2022). Researchers examined tree rings to deduce climate variations back to the 16th century. They concluded that California’s current climate swings are due to wet extremes, but those in the 16th century (before the Industrial Revolution) were caused by dry extremes.
You Asked: Dinosaurs Survived When CO2 Was Extremely High. Why Can’t Humans? (Columbia University, 30 Sept 2022). “Living things didn’t seem to mind the scorching conditions” during the Cambrian Explosion, this article says. Nor did dinosaurs when CO2 levels were five times as high. The problem today, they claim, is the rate of climate change. Their diagram of climate swings is worth examining, because swings (both warm and cold) were much more extreme in the past, assuming evolutionary deep time:
Arctic lakes act as “reactors” or “chimneys” for carbon dioxide (Umea University, 27 Sept 2022). A PhD student’s dissertation finds that arctic lakes, “one of the most common lake types on earth,” act as chimneys or reactors that release CO2. And counterintuitively, he found that increased warming of these lakes would actually reduce their CO2 emissions.
Furthermore, the thesis suggests that a warmer climate may, contrary to expectations, have a dampening effect on organic carbon processing through increased nutrient competition and changes to species composition. As a result, warmer lakes may in fact show decreasing in-lake production of CO2, and may take up rather than release CO2 to the atmosphere.
“In a broader perspective, the thesis contributes to our knowledge of how arctic lakes – one of the most common lake types on earth – relate to regional carbon cycles, and what lake and landscape drivers lead to them acting as ‘chimneys’ or ‘reactors’ in the landscape” says Dirk Verheijen.
The results furthermore stress that omission of ice-melt emission may lead to wrongful classification of the lakes as carbon sinks, while they are in fact emitting CO2 on an annual scale.
The oceans store more carbon than thought — but not enough to save the planet (Nature, 27 Sept 2022). The subtitle reads, “Although the marine ‘carbon sink’ is bigger than expected, it is still inadequate to keep global warming at bay.” One has to wonder, though, what else they are thinking that will turn out to be wrong.
Climate models unreliable in predicting damage to coral reefs (University of Leeds, 20 Sept 2022). Models “are not yet reliable enough to determine which reefs will be most at risk from cyclone damage.”
Updated climate models are clouded by scientific biases, researchers find (Chinese Academy of Sciences via Phys.org, 20 Sept 2022). “Cloud and radiation biases over the Southern Ocean have been a long-lasting problem in the past generations of global climate models,” says a climate researcher in China. Does Chinese politics play any role in the opinion?
Correcting Systematic Bias in Climate Model Simulations in the Time-Frequency Domain (Geophysical Research Letters, open access, 19 Sept 2022). General Circulation Models, including the latest CMIP-6, are widely trusted by climate experts to predict climate change. These authors claim that “Systematic biases exist in the magnitude and frequency of climate events simulated by the models.”
Ever heard of ocean forests? They’re larger than the Amazon and more productive than we thought (The Conversation, 15 Sept 2022). Kelp forests, lining the coastlines of most continents, may take up more carbon than the Amazon. “As they grow, they pull large quantities of carbon from seawater and the atmosphere,” say three scientists from the University of Western Australia. More research is needed to determine whether ocean forests will be hurt by global warming or help to mitigate it, they indicate. But did the IPCC take their modeling research into account?
Tropical Wetlands Emit More Methane Than Previously Thought (EOS, 13 Sept 2022). Chalk this up to another factor not considered adequately in current climate models. “Climate models could be vastly underestimating methane emissions from the world’s tropical wetlands, according to observational surveys of wetlands in Zambia.”
Little Ice Age study reveals North Atlantic reached a tipping point (University of Exeter, 11 Sept 2022). A recorded climate change occurred in medieval times—global cooling. The authors think the North Atlantic reached a tipping point back then, and it may be at a tipping point now, this time toward warming. The earlier change, though, was due to ocean currents, not human activity.
Filling a gap in climate models (Phys.org, 13 Sept 2022). “When modeling the climate, clouds are still one of the biggest sources of uncertainty,” says Estefania Montoya Duque, researcher from the ARC Center of Excellence for Climate Extremes. Notice that she is admitting these uncertainties in the models now, years after international climate summits have been held, like those in Tokyo and Paris. Global carbon-reduction goals now in operation were set based on these models.
Planting trees not always an effective way of binding carbon dioxide (University of Gothenburg, 8 Sept 2022). Quick fix or not? Planting trees in nutrient-poor soils doesn’t help much, two scientists say. “As forests age, their uptake of CO2 declines and, each time forests are planted, there is a risk of additional carbon being released from the soil.”
Adapt conservation biology teaching to address eco-anxiety in students (PLoS Biology, 6 Sept 2022). “The fear of environmental doom (eco-anxiety) is a new and growing source of mental distress that could particularly affect the next generation of conservation biologists,” say three educators warning that scaring young people about climate change could backfire. “With care and empathy, educators can help to prevent worsening the mental health of students.”
Media consumers undoubtedly notice the wide disparity between liberals who fear global warming and conservatives who deny it or minimize its impact. Sean Hannity at Fox News, for instance, calls it a “radical climate alarmist cult” that is forcing policies that will hurt millions of people. One thing should be clear from these links above: many journalists who take dogmatic positions know little about the actual science. Our goal is to share peer-reviewed sources that indicate some of the complexities on which government policies depend. How many politicians know a tenth of the information presented here? They don’t; they rely on what “consensus science” tells them.
But when scientists go out and measure things, they find that simplistic answers are unreliable. They often find that their little piece of the puzzle is different than thought. How can any climate model properly incorporate all the unknowns in the right proportions? We can see glaciers receding and droughts in parts of the world, but it’s an enormously complicated task attributing causation or blame. We hope the information presented here and in previous similar posts will bring light and not just heat to the debate.
The opening remark about Covid-19 should be a warning never to put all one’s stock on a scientific consensus, especially when money and power are involved. Science is not consensus, and vice versa. It’s evidence that matters. Consensus can also shut out voices that don’t go along with the crowd. Never base your opinions on “all scientists believe” or “the science is settled.”
Without endorsing any of the voices outside the consensus, we share a few links of apparently knowledgeable dissenters to round out the discussion: Judith Curry, a former Professor and Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, maintains a climate blog at judithcurry.com. Tom Harris, president of Canada’s International Climate Science Coalition, appearing Weds Oct 12 on Fox News, was once a climate alarmist but now feels the entire movement is a scam. Author of “Apocalypse Never” Michael Shellenberger believes man-caused global warming is occurring but is not as bad as projected; he thinks that free market solutions are better than global mandates; he writes on Substack. Note also the Oregon Petition, signed by over 30,000 scientists (over 9,000 with PhDs) who deny that human release of greenhouse gases (CO2, methane, or other) will cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.