Monday, February 15, 2010


The Persistence of Warmie True Believers

Ronald Reagan is credited with the following insight about lefty intellectuals--their trouble was not..."that they are ignorant, but that the know so much that isn't so."

With the walls of their predictions crashing down around them, the Warmie true believers dismiss as trivial the mistakes and corruption recently exposed throughout the community and repeat the old standards, as if mere repetition equals convincing on the merits. Here is MIT professor Kerry Emanuel, repeating what he calls "proven facts" about global warming climate change. I think he gets some things very wrong.

He writes that the earth is roughly 60 degrees warmer because of a few greenhouse gasses which gasses, he alleges, make up "only 3% of the mass of our atmosphere."

Wait, let's compare apples to apples. We don't talk about atmospheric concentration of CO2 and methane, etc. in terms of mass, but by dry volume, by parts per million. Here are the parts per million of our atmosphere:

Nitrogen--780,840 parts per million (ppm) or 78.o84%;
Oxygen--209,460 ppm or 20.946%;
Argon--9,240 ppm or .9240%.

Together those three gasses make up 99.954% of our atmosphere or are 999,640 ppm. None of these three are greenhouse gasses. All the rest of the trace gasses have to occupy what's left and the bulk of these trace gasses is CO2, at 387 ppm. Calling it and the other seriously rare gasses 3% by mass inflates the importance of these trace gasses by a factor of 100. Water vapor gets to 4% of the wet atmosphere by volume, especially close to the surface, and is responsible for most, but not all, of the greenhouse effect. Professor Emanuel doesn't mention water vapor at all and leaves out its overwhelming effect to the alleged 60 degrees warming (namely about 57 degrees of it--95%). Wonder why he left that out and used a different measure (mass) 100 times more 'impressive' than the usual ppm?

He's right that the recent 40% rise in ppm of CO2 diffuse in the atmosphere (from the pre industrial agreed upon 280 ppm) almost certainly comes primarily from humans burning fossil fuels and from "changes in land use." Indeed, if there were no feedbacks, doubling CO2 now would theoretically increase the air temperature by anywhere from .35 to 1.8 degrees F. Professor Emanuel cites the highest as if it was the agreed upon number. Not so, but not wrong, per se, either as that is part of the agreed upon range. Finally, he is right to say that the rise in temperature in the past century was about 1.4 degrees F.

But he then writes that this increase is consistent with predictions of rise in temperature made in the 1800s (what predictions?) and, worse, that the change "is larger than any natural change we have been able to discern for at least the past 1,000 years." Although true for increases in temperature, it is not true for cooling temperatures (the Little Ice Age) and by choosing 1,000 years as the limit of the look back, he avoids the purely natural increase in temperatures beginning in the 800s, the Medieval Warm Period, which dwarfs our 20th C. warming. So not out and out lying, but Professor Emanuel is using a trick to hide the medieval increase. He's not telling us the whole truth. Why not?

He later admits that the computer models (which are the whole of the "evidence" that the climate change will be catastrophic) are not very good, but then he throws some ad hominem bombs about cherry picking data and then pleads that we believe him (I guess on faith) that climate change is, both now and in the future, a problem for all mankind.

Sorry, Professor, no sale. Garbage in, garbage out. Your call to rational scientific discourse fails to rally us skeptics to your cause when you've misled us on some of the basics and used a trick to hide the natural increase of global temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period.

The rate and magnitude of 20th C. warming are wholly unremarkable in the long unbroken chain of climate change. There is no problem to face there.


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