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The Truth About Greenhouse Gases

The dubious science of the climate crusaders

By William Happer | First Things | June 2011

Excerpt:

… The message is clear that several factors must influence the earth’s temperature, and that while CO2 is one of these factors, it is seldom the dominant one. The other factors are not well understood. Plausible candidates are spontaneous variations of the complicated fluid flow patterns in the oceans and atmosphere of the earth—perhaps influenced by continental drift, volcanoes, variations of the earth’s orbital parameters (ellipticity, spin-axis orientation, etc.), asteroid and comet impacts, variations in the sun’s output (not only the visible radiation but the amount of ultraviolet light, and the solar wind with its magnetic field), variations in cosmic rays leading to variations in cloud cover, and other causes.

Let me summarize how the key issues appear to me, a working scientist with a better background than most in the physics of climate. CO2 really is a greenhouse gas and other things being equal, adding the gas to the atmosphere by burning coal, oil, and natural gas will modestly increase the surface temperature of the earth. Other things being equal, doubling the CO2 concentration, from our current 390 ppm to 780 ppm will directly cause about 1 degree Celsius in warming. At the current rate of CO2 increase in the atmosphere—about 2 ppm per year—it would take about 195 years to achieve this doubling. The combination of a slightly warmer earth and more CO2 will greatly increase the production of food, wood, fiber, and other products by green plants, so the increase will be good for the planet, and will easily outweigh any negative effects. Supposed calamities like the accelerated rise of sea level, ocean acidification, more extreme climate, tropical diseases near the poles, and so on are greatly exaggerated.

’Mitigation’ and control efforts that have been proposed will enrich a favored few with good political ties—at the expense of the great majority of mankind, including especially the poor and the citizens of developing nations. These efforts will make almost no change in earth’s temperature. Spain’s recent experiment with green energy destroyed several pre-existing jobs for every green job it created, and it nearly brought the country to bankruptcy.

“The frightening warnings that alarmists offer about the effects of doubling CO2 are based on computer models that assume that the direct warming effect of CO2 is multiplied by a large “feedback factor” from CO2-induced changes in water vapor and clouds, which supposedly contribute much more to the greenhouse warming of the earth than CO2. But there is observational evidence that the feedback factor is small and may even be negative. The models are not in good agreement with observations—even if they appear to fit the temperature rise over the last 150 years very well.

Indeed, the computer programs that produce climate change models have been “tuned” to get the desired answer. The values of various parameters like clouds and the concentrations of anthropogenic aerosols are adjusted to get the best fit to observations. And—perhaps partly because of that—they have been unsuccessful in predicting future climate, even over periods as short as fifteen years. In fact, the real values of most parameters, and the physics of how they affect the earth’s climate, are in most cases only roughly known, too roughly to supply accurate enough data for computer predictions. In my judgment, and in that of many other scientists familiar with the issues, the main problem with models has been their treatment of clouds, changes of which probably have a much bigger effect on the temperature of the earth than changing levels of CO2.

What, besides the bias toward a particular result, is wrong with the science? Scientific progress proceeds by the interplay of theory and observation. Theory explains observations and makes predictions about what will be observed in the future. Observations anchor our understanding and weed out the theories that don’t work. This has been the scientific method for more than three hundred years. Recently, the advent of the computer has made possible another branch of inquiry: computer simulation models. Properly used, computer models can enhance and speed up scientific progress. But they are not meant to replace theory and observation and to serve as an authority of their own. We know they fail in economics. All of the proposed controls that would have such a significant impact on the world’s economic future are based on computer models that are so complex and chaotic that many runs are needed before we can get an “average” answer. Yet the models have failed the simple scientific test of prediction. We don’t even have a theory for how accurate the models should be. …

Full article

March 4, 2019 - Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular

1 Comment »

  1. don’t worry, mankind will nuke himself to death…..period

    Comment by yep | March 4, 2019 | Reply


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