December 8, 2023 | David F. Coppedge

COP28 vs Science

The UN climate conference is making world-shattering
decisions based on questionable scientific inference

 

COP28, the U.N.’s 28th annual meeting of climate alarmists, politicians and businessmen, will wind down on December 12th. Much of the discussion concerns whether “privileged” nations should redistribute their wealth to “marginalized” nations that are supposedly impacted by global warming they caused. It seems curious that the solutions proposed by these global leaders, many of whom are communist or communist sympathizers, most often fit with Marxist ideology.

The panic in the media is driven by over-the-top claims that climate change leads to war, “ecocide,” fire and floods (e.g., article on Phys.org that presents a disturbing antisemitic bent). The media keeps trotting out silly claims about warming’s effect on everything, e.g., that climate change is making beer taste worse, increasing gender inequality, and making the Gulf Stream collapse. Some are trying to help people suffering from climate grief.

Keep in mind that the crux of this blame game and panic revolves on the question of whether climate change is being caused by humans. If it is part of a natural cycle, then all the downstream issues and solutions change. The planet has endured many cycles of warming and cooling (e.g., an ice age), and weather-related disasters have occurred throughout history. All biology is carbon-based, but climate alarmists have made carbon a boogeyman that must be suppressed and sequestered and offset to reduce everyone and everything’s “carbon footprint.”

Fair Balance

In keeping with our previous reports on this subject (e.g., 2 May 2022, 30 Sept 2020), all sources listed below are from the mainstream media and journals that believe in anthropogenic climate change. These sources (we have also repeatedly shown) promote ideas from the far left (see 30 Nov 2023, 3 Aug 2023 and other entries in the Politics & Ethics category). It’s not hard to see why some conservative commentators see the media’s climate panic as a Marxist hoax, especially in their proposed solutions that reward communist China as a “developing nation” and punish Europe and America, seeking redistribution of wealth as a goal.

Selective evidence (funded by leftist, globalist Big Science) undergirds the rush to “do something” about global warming. As indicated below, however, significant uncertainties and unknowns from scientists make the evidence undergirding climate policy worthy of a closer look.

The Science

Readers are encouraged to delve into these articles and papers and evaluate their significance to climate and to politics. These are some the latest ones. See also our previous reports on climate by searching our archives on the keywords climate, warming, geology, and environment.

Ancient carbon in rocks releases as much Carbon Dioxide as the world’s volcanoes (Oxford University, 5 Oct 2023). Here is another factor that has been misinterpreted till now, say these researchers from the venerable British institution. Researchers got a measurement—a natural process—backwards. For the most part, humans are not responsible for “natural rock weathering” except when it is exacerbated by construction or mining projects.

A new study led by the University of Oxford has overturned the view that natural rock weathering acts as a CO2 sink, indicating instead that this can act as a large CO2 source, rivalling that of volcanoes. The results, published today in the journal Nature, have important implications for modelling climate change scenarios.

Carbon hot spots discovered near California coast (Los Angeles Times via Phys.org, 6 Dec 2023). The coastline sequesters far more carbon than thought. This surprise is not just about the Pacific offshore California where it was detected, but probably is true for other coastal areas around the world.

Unlocking a climate puzzle: Study reveals hidden physics in quasi-linear temperature-radiation link (Chinese Academy of Sciences via Phys.org, 6 Dec 2023). Warming is a consequence of the ratio of incoming and outgoing radiation. This article and paper offer more corrections to previous assumptions about the complex behavior of the atmosphere to temperature and radiation. Notice the reference to “climate puzzle” and “hidden physics” indicating that these relationships are not well known.

By illuminating these connections, scientists make significant strides in comprehending Earth’s climate and how its intricate components orchestrate the overall climate sensitivity, namely not only energy output rate but also where the output takes place.

A mineral produced by plate tectonics has a global cooling effect, study finds (MIT, 30 Nov 2023). What? Plate tectonics mitigates climate change? Read and see: “MIT geologists have found that a clay mineral on the seafloor, called smectite, has a surprisingly powerful ability to sequester carbon over millions of years.” Two researchers decided to investigate “how nature works” with carbon. Smectite might have caused ice ages, they think. Their conclusions have short-term and long-term effects.

“Jagoutz and Murray’s work is a nice demonstration of how important it is to consider all biotic and physical components of the global carbon cycle,” says Lee Kump, a professor of geosciences at Penn State University, who was not involved with the study. “Feedbacks among all these components control atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations on all time scales, from the annual rise and fall of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to the swings from icehouse to greenhouse over millions of years.

Slaying the methane minotaur (PNAS commentary, 27 Nov 2023). As a greenhouse gas, methane (CH4) is more than 28 times as potent as CO2. It doesn’t survive in the atmosphere as long, but sources and sinks “are imprecisely known.” It’s like a half-human monster in a labyrinth, says commentator Euan G. Nisbet, but that’s not stopping global policymakers from trying to slay it.

Atmospheric Methane is like the ancient minotaur, dominantly human, partly natural, with more than a whiff of cow breath. Anthropogenic sources include gas, oil, and coal industry leaks and vents, landfills, biodigesters, and sewage, as well as a wide range of agricultural sources including the breath of farmed ruminants like cattle, sheep, and goats, animal manures, and in smoke from deliberate burning of crop waste, grassland, and forest. Although these anthropogenic emissions are still imprecisely known, international agreements such as the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Paris Agreement, and Global Methane Pledge have driven development of detailed national emissions inventories.

Origins of Uncertainty in the Response of the Summer North Pacific Subtropical High to CO2 Forcing (Geophysical Research Letters, 22 Nov 2023). Climate alarmists say “the science is settled” but here is another paper claiming uncertainty in one of the “substantial” processes affecting the atmosphere.

The variability of the summer North Pacific Subtropical High (NPSH) has substantial socioeconomic impacts. However, state-of-the-art climate models significantly disagree on the response of the NPSH to anthropogenic warming. Inter-model spread in NPSH projections originates from models’ inconsistency in simulating tropical precipitation changes. This inconsistency in precipitation changes is partly due to inter-model spread in tropical sea surface temperature (SST) changes, but it can also occur independently of uncertainty in SST changes.

Mind the gap: caution needed when assessing land emissions in the COP28 Global Stocktake (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, 22 Nov 2023). This paper tries to bring “clarity” to climate ambitions by noting large gaps in measurements the IPCC uses to determine greenhouse gas emissions from land. Reporters need to exercise caution.

The land use, land use change, and forestry sector plays a strong role in achieving global climate targets, but a gap exists between how scientists and countries account for its emissions. A new study highlights how mitigation benchmarks change when assessing IPCC scenarios from a national inventory perspective, with net-zero timings arriving up to five years earlier and cumulative emissions to net-zero being 15-18% smaller.

The authors conclude that mitigation is still an urgent necessity, but they have exposed an assumption that undercuts precision in measurement of an important factor. Are there others?

Arctic Warming and Eurasian Cooling: Weakening and Reemergence (Geophysical Research Letters, 20 Nov 2023). These authors investigate the “remarkable” 20-year “hiatus” in Europe that was “contrary to global warming” and which led to significant cooling in Europe. Notice how they believe that “atmospheric internal variability” may cause another cooling period in future decades. The atmosphere’s own variability could overwhelm the effects of greenhouse gases, they say. So why the panic over warming? If atmospheric variability can “overwhelm” the effects of greenhouse gases, should Europeans be preparing for global cooling?

The observed Eurasian winter surface cooling from the 1990s to the early 2010s, which is contrary to global warming, has been extensively studied. Previous studies revealed that the surface cooling trend has significantly weakened in the past decade. Based on large-ensemble simulations, this study reveals that the weakening of Eurasian surface cooling is primarily driven by the atmospheric internal variability, which coincides with the weakening of Arctic mid-tropospheric warming and Eurasian mid-tropospheric cooling. Negative Arctic Oscillation (−AO) and Ural blocking (UB) in combination dominate the intensity of Arctic mid-tropospheric warming and Eurasian mid-tropospheric cooling. In the future, there is a possibility that the severe Eurasian cooling trend with comparable magnitude to that during 1990–2013 may reemerge accompanied with Arctic mid-tropospheric warming, in response to the decadal strengthening of −AO and UB. This may occur before the 2050s, when the atmospheric internal variability is able to overwhelm the effects of greenhouse gases.

Adding Crushed Rock to Farmland Pulls Carbon Out of the Air (UC Davis, 23 Oct 2023). One simple method to reduce atmospheric CO2, scientists found, is to spread crushed volcanic rock over fallow farmland. It doesn’t hurt the plants, and it works even during drought.

Rain captures carbon dioxide from the air as it falls and reacts with volcanic rock to lock up carbon. The process, called rock weathering, can take millions of years — too slow to offset global warming. But by crushing the rock into a fine dust, rock weathering speeds up. Previous studies have estimated this “enhanced” rock weathering could store 215 billion tons of carbon dioxide over the next 75 years if spread across croplands globally.

The press release doesn’t mention the carbon footprint of crushing the rock first and using tractors to spread it. See also a press release from the University of Illinois (18 Aug 2023) that calls this technique a “win-win” for climate.

Sea level may have been higher than it is now just 6000 years ago (New Scientist, 25 July 2023). Who has not heard warnings about sea level rise due to anthropogenic climate change? Surprise: “Climate researchers thought that current global average sea levels were the highest in more than 100,000 years, but new models suggest oceans just 6000 years ago may have been higher than at the beginning of the industrial revolution, and possibly even higher than today.

Higher global gross primary productivity under future climate with more advanced representations of photosynthesis (Science Advances, 17 Nov 2023). The authors of this important paper say that warmer temperatures will lead to greater primary productivity (photosynthesis), increasing carbon uptake by land plants. Global primary productivity (GPP) is poorly constrained, they say, but has important consequences as a feedback on climate change.

A higher-than-expected increase of GPP under future climate change would have important implications for global carbon cycle assessments as GPP is the main pathway for atmospheric CO2 entering the terrestrial biosphere. In TBM projections, a higher GPP is generally associated with an increase in the terrestrial carbon sink, a higher positive carbon-concentration feedback and a less negative carbon-climate feedback (i.e., smaller decrease in global net land carbon uptake for a given increase in temperature), given existing constraints of, e.g., water and nutrient availability. A higher vegetation productivity also increases leaf area growth, canopy conductance, and transpiration, affecting surface energy partitioning, land surface temperature, and associated interactions with the atmosphere, with likely mitigating effects on climate change globally.

Climate alarmists, are you listening? More plant growth means better crops, more food for livestock, and more prosperity for human well-being. If it mitigates climate change at the same time, then what is the worry? Maybe the world should be celebrating global warming!

Plants are likely to absorb more CO₂ in a changing climate than we thought – here’s why  (The Conversation, 17 Nov 2023). This article by Jürgen Knauer of West Sydney University, lead author of the paper above, explains the findings in plain English. He believes that climate action is still necessary, but he brings to light some of the uncertainties in climate models.

While today’s terrestrial biosphere models include a plethora of processes, they do not necessarily account for all mechanisms and processes that we know exist. There might not be enough data or information available to confidently represent a process across the entire globe, or it might just be difficult – conceptually or technically – to include it in models.

Nevertheless, he feels confident that his team’s analysis shows that more primary production from warming leads to more carbon mitigation in plants—naturally. Most climate models are too simplistic. By examining 8 models with the latest data, his team found that “the more complex the model, the higher the predicted CO₂ uptake by plants.” This should be good news.

For modellers this is important news. It tells us our current models, which are usually at the lower end of this complexity range, likely underestimate future CO₂ uptake by plants.

These results suggest plants could be pretty resilient to even severe climate change.

His ending sermon that “It is still up to us humans to fight climate change by drastically cutting fossil fuel emissions” sounds motivated by political expediency to avoid censorship. But that’s just an opinion.

China has a severe smog problem.

The Solutions

Proposed solutions to climate change can be summarized in this adaptation of a common football cheer:

Lean to the left! More to the left!
Stand up! Fall down! Fight fight fight!

And yet the efficacy of proposed solutions has doubtful scientific justification. Read on:

Governing the net-zero transition: Strategy, policy, and politics (PNAS Perspective, 15 Nov 2023). The focus on “distributive impacts” of global “governance” in climate strategy is noteworthy here. Leftist lingo with a Marxist aftertaste permeates this commentary by two Canadians who see climate strategy as a way of achieving “equity” and “climate justice.” Why do climate discussions in the mainstream media and secular journals never consider free-market solutions that protect individual liberty? They see everyone as a member of a group: oppressors and oppressed. For example,

While this concept has been understood differently across scholarly and political debate, it emphasizes the importance of attending to issues of inequality and impacts on marginalized groups in defining pathways to a low-carbon future.

Mark Fabian, a public policy guy at Warwick University, writing at The Conversation (26 Nov 2023), at least gives a nod to market-based “green growth” policies, as opposed to “degrowth” policies that imply redistribution. But he thinks green growth advocates have their heads in the sand, and he never questions the science of the panic-stricken climate alarmists. “What green growth and degrowth advocates disagree most about is how deeply we need to alter our political economy to survive climate change.” Everyone must suffer to please Al Gore, John Kerry, and the other elites who get to fly their private jets to Dubai.

Why are people still flying to climate conferences by private jet?  (The Conversation, 1 Dec 2023). Three pro-warmist experts decry the fact that many going to COP28 are flying private jets, which are far and away the worst modes of travel measured in carbon footprints (see chart in article). They give excuses for why participants do this, but agree something must be done.

China and California are leading the way on climate cooperation. Others should follow (Nature World Views, 28 Nov 2023). Fan Dai praises the Chinese Communist Party and California leftist governor Gavin Newsom for their totalitarian, undemocratic actions on “climate cooperation” and urges other leaders to follow their example. Notably, she doesn’t mention China’s legendary abuses of human rights, nor its rapid ongoing production of new coal plants.

The most evil tyrants in world history have been communists, inspired by Marx, who was inspired by Darwin. China’s current dictator Xi continues the tradition.

UAE to pump CO2 into rock as carbon capture debate rages (Phys.org, 29 Nov 2023). The United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is hosting COP28 at Dubai, is a world leader in carbon sequestration technology. That is not protecting them from blame for refusal to schedule the complete elimination of fossil fuels, as the IPCC and global leftists are demanding. See more on this debate at New Scientist, 29 Nov 2023, where James Deneen claims the UAE is just seeking legitimacy among the climate crowd while wanting to keep its oil production. The debate hinges on the question of whether carbon is bad and whether its rise is human-caused.

The costs of “costless” climate mitigation (Science Magazine, 30 Nov 2023). Attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not a free lunch. How certain are climate mitigation policies? This policy forum warns that “different methodological approaches produce different results” and lead to paradoxical effects. As usual, more research is needed. Will the IPCC and the globalists wait?

Carbon-free fuels could have a dark side (Science Magazine, 15 Nov 2023). Subheading says: “As nations push for green hydrogen and ammonia, researchers warn of climatic side effects.” This is a warning to not jump to enticing ideas:

As climate-friendly fuels, hydrogen (H2) and ammonia (NH3) are enticing. Because they lack carbon, they can be burned to produce nothing but environmentally benign water and nitrogen (N2). But if producers do not take care to prevent leaks or incomplete combustion, researchers are now warning, the fuels could generate pollutants that could harm human health and shrink or reverse the climate benefits.

Don’t applaud the climate summit’s loss and damage fund deal just yet – it might not warrant that standing ovation (The Conversation, 6 Dec 2023). Shannon Gibson strongly supports draconian efforts to redistribute wealth. A look at her timeline of climate emissions, though, appears to show China and Asia being the worst emitters since 2000, with the US, Europe and other nations trending downward.

Carbon removal is needed to achieve net zero but has its own climate risks (The Conversation, 6 Dec 2023). A big proposed solution to warming is carbon sequestration. Two experts in this article say that it carries its own risks.

Human rights are a low priority for many national climate change adaptation policies (Concordia University, 28 Nov 2023). The heroine of this story, Alexandra Lesnikowski, defines human rights in terms of wealth, gender, relief from oppression and other leftist notions (not “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” in the Jeffersonian tradition). Her bias illustrates the connection between climate policy and leftism. But she is a scholar, so people must listen: “A growing scholarship is looking at how the structural drivers of climate change vulnerability are tied to issues of marginalization, exclusion and oppression,” she says.

We hope this listing will give climate activists occasion to temper their dogmatism, and climate skeptics material to analyze and judge. We are not taking a position on whether warming is occurring or is human caused. This article is prompted by our own experience seeing climate activism pushed primarily by the political left. We also have broad experience detecting bias in the way scientific evidence is presented, particularly regarding evolution, where views skeptical of Darwinism have long been systematically censored.

The pro-warmist literature is ubiquitous and needs no exhaustive coverage here. Many concerned citizens, however, lack the time and journal access to identify and report on scientific findings that contradict the consensus narrative. We can do that to some extent. No progress can be made toward sound policies without knowledge of the science opposed to the governing narrative along with evidence supporting it. As Charles Darwin said, “A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.”


Addendum: These articles didn’t make the main list but are offered for further research on climate science and policy.

Mother Nature knows best when it comes to climate solutions, social media users say (University of Cambridge, 3 Nov 2023). Many people aren’t buying climate doomism. They think nature will take care of itself. They need more propaganda from climate experts, says this article.

Models and Uncertainties

The role of dust on the world’s climate (University of Leeds, 7 Aug 2023). “At present, climate models tend not to represent these high-latitude sources of dust, but our work indicates that we need to.”

Arctic soil methane consumption may be larger than previously thought and increases in a drier climate  (University of Eastern Finland, 31 Aug 2023). “A recent study led by researchers from the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Montreal finds that Arctic soil methaneuptake may be larger than previously thought, and that methane uptake increases under dry conditions and with availability of labile carbon substrates.”

Climate Models Underestimate Dynamic Cloud Feedbacks in the Tropics (Geophysical Research Letters, 2 Aug 2023). “Cloud feedbacks are the leading cause of uncertainty in climate sensitivity…. Consequently, while the models consistently predict that these regimes increase in frequency in association with a weakening tropical circulation, they underestimate the positive cloud feedback associated with this increase.”

Volcanic Eruptions: A Source of Irreducible Uncertainty for Future Climates (Geophysical Research Letters, 30 Aug 2023). “The study exemplifies the profound implications of inaccuracies within simplified climate scenarios and motivates new research on volcanically forced climate variability. It also arouses some thoughts on climate uncertainty communication.

A Pacific Tropical Decadal Variability Challenge for Climate Models (Geophysical Research Letters, 3 Aug 2023). “Differences between observations and simulations are outside the range of natural internal TPDV noise and pose important questions regarding our ability to model the impacts of natural internal low-frequency variability superimposed on long-term climate change.

The Importance of Accounting for the North Atlantic Oscillation When Applying Observational Constraints to European Climate Projections (Geophysical Research Letters, 16 Aug 2023). So many variables, so little time to get them to Dubai.

North Atlantic volcanic activity was a major driver of climate change 56 million years ago, study finds (Phys.org, 21 Aug 2023). Can’t blame SUVs for climate change 56 million Darwin Years ago.

New study shows volcanism 56 million years ago released more methane than thought (Phys.org, 3 Aug 2023). Ditto.

Natural Carbon Solutions

Snowbanks are set to get whiter — offsetting climate change’s effects (Nature, 14 Oct 2023). Less pollution means less soot. That means whiter snow, and more reflection of sunlight to space.

What whale falls can teach us about biodiversity and climate change (Nature, 1 Aug 2023). Whales are a big part of the “carbon pump” that sequesters carbon on the sea floor, and whale numbers are increasing.

How to lock away more carbon: give mangroves a little love (Nature, 29 May 2023). “Restored mangroves and seagrass meadows could suck more carbon from the atmosphere.”

With UVA Discovery, We May Be One Good Solution Closer to Solving Climate Change (University of Virginia, 6 Oct 2023). Seagrass beds “can indeed capture and retain carbon for centuries – even in situations where the seagrass dies off.”

Pulling carbon dioxide right out of the air (Northwestern University, 3 Oct 2023). “The approach incorporates innovative kinetic methodologies and a diversity of ions, enabling carbon removal from virtually anywhere.”

Drier savannas, grasslands store more climate-buffering carbon than previously believed (University of Michigan, 2 Oct 2023). “Savannas and grasslands in drier climates around the world store more heat-trapping carbon than scientists thought they did and are helping to slow the rate of climate warming, according to a new study.”

 

 

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