Bones of contention made explicit

A small skirmish on the periphery of the global-warming/climate-change wars. . .

Given below is a series of emails exchanged between Harry, an MBA classmate, a few others and myself. They are in the order received/generated and comprise my humble attempt to separate cause from effect, fact from fiction, science from politics and reason from emotion regarding “CLIMATE CHANGE”. The scientific paper I refer to in the emails may be found here.

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To Harry from his fraternity brother
Sent: Wednesday, October 28, 2015 3:25 PM
Subject: Greenland Is Melting Away

I send this along to point out to the ignorantura, that the credibility of climate change assessment is not a function of how well models do, or do not, predict the changes in the environment.

Rather, it is the analysis and interpretation of measured physical variables that tells the story.

This is why a cretinous infatuation with predictions of where the global temperature is, or is not going, is rather beside the point. This is the province of asshole journalists, Ingrish Majers, history students, and alleged meteorologists. Notice that scientists are not immune from this inappropriate seduction into delusional behavior.

Concentrate on the fact that it is not possible to deny the ongoing monotonic accumulation of HEAT that comes from spewing 34 gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. Try and ask yourself where that HEAT is going, because unless you are totally daft, you must accept that the HEAT so trapped cannot be destroyed – it can only be moved around.

Of course, there is an alternative: If you can PROVE that there are far right-wing Republican CO2 molecules, that refuse to absorb the infrared radiation nature says they must, because they know this is part of a left-wing conspiracy on the part of communist pinko preeeeeverts, designed to rob real red-blooded American patriots of their vital essence. Just ask Cliven Bundy….


“We scientists love to sit at our computers and use climate models to make those predictions,” said Laurence C. Smith, head of the geography department at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the leader of the team that worked in Greenland this summer. “But to really know what’s happening, that kind of understanding can only come about through empirical measurements in the field.”

For years, scientists have studied the impact of the planet’s warming on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. But while researchers have satellite images to track the icebergs that break off, and have created models to simulate the thawing, they have little on-the-ground information and so have trouble predicting precisely how fast sea levels will rise.

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From Harry to myself et al.
Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2015 08:11
Subject: FW: Greenland Is Melting Away


Other than the fact that this elitist guy (a fraternity friend), disdains skeptics, I don’t know what to make of this tirade.

For years they told us to spend billions if not trillions to fix a problem that “models” predicted will destroy the earth within 20 years or was it 100 years, and all of a sudden we hear “never mind”! Forget the models, they don’t have to be right. They are not right.

I am not an expert but I do not understand how come 95% of the scientists who it is claimed believe in anthropomorphic global warming, cannot accurately model what would happen to the accumulated heat in the CO2 which is spewed. How difficult a problem can it be?

Doesn’t that fact tell us that it is not “settled science” yet?


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From me to Harry et al.
Sent: Thursday, Oct 29, 2015, at 9:14 AM
Subject: FW: Greenland Is Melting Away

My Dear Fellow Climate-change Cretins,

As far as I know, no one has ever claimed that the heat generated from the burning of fossil fuels is directly causing the global temperature to increase. The heat output of human activity is miniscule when compared to the effect of solar radiation. “Human Heat”, if you will, is to a great extent radiated out into space. Urban heat islands may have a small effect on the “average” global temperature. But for the past fifteen years, based primarily on satellite data, there has been no measurable increase in the average global atmospheric temperature. Things have moved around a bit and there are some warmer and cooler spots. If the atmosphere’s average temperature has remained stable, how has the heat released through human activity found it’s way into the Greenland glaciers? What’s the mechanism? How do you measure the effect? Or is it merely hypothesis?

The theory of global-warming/climate-change began with the hypothesis that the increase of atmospheric CO2 that has resulted from the combustion of fossil fuels would increase the heat trapped in the atmosphere and there would be a resulting increase in surface temperatures. Atmosphere warms first, surface temps increase as a result. Then the ice melts. Period. Perhaps the heat that is melting Greenland is coming up from the interior of the earth? Perhaps it’s just continuing to melt after the warming that was/is coincident with the end of the last ice age? I don’t know. But it’s not because the atmosphere is warming.

But now it’s called climate change because there hasn’t been any warming for at least the last decade and a half. But things are still melting, polar bears are still dying (even though their population is steady or going up), oceans are rising (but not nearly as fast as predicted by any means), and numerous giant storms are battering humankind (even though we continue to have relatively quiet hurricane seasons). Did I leave anything out? If so, please insert the unnatural disaster of your choice.

There are a whole host of other considerations such as the relative effectiveness of the various greenhouse gases, i.e., CO2, CH4, H2O vapor, et cetera. Also, There is no reason to believe that some degree of warming is all that bad.

As the man said, “Rather, it is the analysis and interpretation of measured physical variables that tells the story.” I agree wholeheartedly. Feel free to pass this along should you so wish.


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From: Art
Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2015 5:01 PM
To: Dennis Sevakis
Cc: Harry; Mark; Mel
Subject: Re: Greenland Is Melting Away

Very well said. I agree with all your points and would add a few more.

With regard to climate models–there is almost universal agreement regarding the heat trapping capacity of CO2. The calculations are straight forward and they yield only a modest rise in temperature which diminishes as as concentrations rise, i.e. at higher CO2 concentrations, each increment of additional CO2 produces less temperature rise. The key point is that the CO2 “greenhouse” effect alone does not produce enough temperature rise for even Al Gore to worry about. The problem arises–and the model uncertainty is introduced–when so called forcing factors are introduced. An example might be the postulation that the slight temperature rise from the greenhouse effect would reduce snow cover which reduces the sun’s reflection which heats the earth. Another would be the greenhouse increase raises ocean temperatures which causes the release of more CO2 which creates more warming. These are offset by negative forcing such as higher temperatures evaporate more water forming clouds which reflect heat away from the earth. It’s the attempt to model all that which is the source of so much uncertainty and subjectivity.

Indeed, some degree of warming is not bad and some degree of added CO2 is likely good for the planet. There is mounting evidence that global vegetation is expanding and the higher levels of CO2 might be contributing to rising crop yields. There are a lot of mouths to feed.

Final point–There have been numerous studies on the cost to “stop climate change” (whatever that means) vs. adapting to changes. Adaption is the clear winner–the best use of scarce resources. Maybe Greenland can become the poster child–a country that adapted and actually benefited from change–probably asking too much.

Best, Art

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From: Harry
Sent: Friday, October 30, 2015 22:57
To: Art; Dennis Sevakis
Cc: Mark; Mel
Subject: RE: Greenland Is Melting Away

I too agree with all your comments. But I insist, on my original argument.

I do not understand how come 95% of the world’s most acclaimed scientists who, it is claimed, believe in anthropomorphic global warming, cannot accurately model what would happen to the accumulation of HEAT that comes from spewing 34 gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. In spite of all the forcing factors Art is talking about. How difficult a problem can it be? What a waste of brainpower?

Doesn’t that fact alone tell us that it is not “settled science” yet?

And yes I believe in adaptation. The Dutch dikes are perhaps the best example in history of adapting to control the environment since the times of the Roman Empire!


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From: Dennis Sevakis
Sent: Tuesday, November 03, 2015 12:54
To: Harry; Art
Cc: Mark; Mel
Subject: Re: Greenland Is Melting Away


Please forgive me for repeating myself, but I have no really new response to what you have stated. But in an effort to restate my argument more clearly (convincingly?) I offer the following:

1. I have never seen the “95% of the world’s most acclaimed scientists” figure documented. The only documentation I have seen is a letter to, I believe, the U.S. Senate signed by 100 atmospheric scientist/physicists who are among what are commonly called the “deniers.” Not that they deny the possibility of human influence on climate. They just deny that the politically manufactured and MSM promoted panic over global-warming/climate-change is unwarranted. The postulated mechanism for climate change, i.e., a warming of the atmosphere resulting from heat, infrared radiation, trapped by additional CO2 in the atmosphere, has not been verified. All the media hoopla is naught but obfuscation. Measurement of atmospheric temperatures over the past two decades do not match the predictions of the CO2 models. That’s what is demonstrated in the 2007 paper that I have often referred to. I have not come across any scientific paper that contradicts it. The MSM never, ever reference it. Not difficult to understand why.

2. I have not come across any postulated alternative mechanism for human influenced global-warming/climate-change. Everything is based, whether or not explicitly so stated, on the CO2 hypothesis. It has utterly failed quantitatively.

3. I do not understand the phrase “the accumulation of HEAT that comes from spewing 34 gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.” What heat? Are you talking about the heat released by the exothermic reaction that is the burning of carbon? If so, as I mentioned earlier, most of that, all of it eventually, is radiated back out into space — not unlike the solar energy that warms the earth in the daytime is radiated back out at night, barring cloud cover and high humidity, that is. That’s why desert areas have such high diurnal temperature swings. No H2O in the form of vapor or clouds to stop the drop — H2O being a much better greenhouse gas than CO2. Also, CO2 is not the only product of combustion. Obviously water is another when burning hydrocarbons.

4. Our current knowledge regarding the massively complex system that is “climate” is woefully inadequate to build a model that is predictive in any meaningful sense. The climate system is also chaotic and therefore not predictable in a detailed way. All the dire predictions of the “95%” are therefore pure speculation, whoever the 95% may or may not be.

5. This climate brouhaha is 95% politics, 5% science. And that is not just my opinion. And that is also why it is such a conflated emotional battle, almost religious in nature.


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