Sunday, August 19, 2007

Policy planning in an "atmosphere" of uncertainty

Let's return one last time to the Summary For Policymakers written in 2001 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the source many global warming alarmists cite as the "consensus" view that proves we must act to prevent further global warming.

The complete chart from that report showing influences on warming in the industrial era (since 1750), is reproduced here, and this time we want to pay particular attention to the very bottom of the chart. You can click on the chart at any time for a larger view.

The bottom of the chart represents the IPCC's estimate of our level of scientific understanding of each of the factors contributing to the warming of planet earth since 1750. They claim a "high" or "medium" scientific understanding of carbon dioxide (C02), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4), halocarbons, and tropospheric ozone (O3) as warming factors. They also claim a medium level of scientific understanding of the cooling factor stratospheric ozone.

Now let's note what they admitted (in 2001) that science does NOT understand very well. Warming of the planet caused by solar radiation? They classify scientific understanding of solar-induced warming (over which man obviously has no control) as "very low." Similarly, they confess a "very low" level of understanding of the cooling effects caused by changes in land use, and the indirect effects of aerosols -- how tiny particles we release into the atmosphere affect cloud formation and precipitation, which cool the earth.

What else do we understand poorly? According to the IPCC, our understanding of global cooling from sulphates, organic carbon from burning of fossil fuels released as aerosols, and biomass burning. Also, the effects of aviation contrails, mineral dust, and carbon black from fossel fuel burning are poorly understood.

To summarize, of the major factors influencing the warming of the planet (according to the IPCC, the scientific "consensus"), we have a high level of understanding of greenhouse gases, a medium level of understanding of the effects of ozone, and a low or very low level of understanding of eight other factors: sulphate, carbon black, organic carbon, biomass burning, mineral dust, indirect effects of aerosols, aviation contrails, and the effects of the sun. I think this last item cannot be repeated enough: the IPCC admits to a "very low" level of scientific understanding of the role changes in the sun play in global warming in the industrial age.

Two global warming factors we understand well, eight factors we do not. How can accurate climate models even exist, when eight out of a dozen or so factors are poorly understood? This is a no-brainer. It is impossible to even create a reliable computer model to predict future climate and temperature when most of the major factors in such a model are poorly understood. Such was the admission of the 2001 report by the IPCC, clear to anyone who would examine their summary closely.

The "consensus" of climate scientists reports that we are heading for disastrous global warming. It does so on the basis of computer climate models. The models must take into account many factors for which our level of scientific understanding is admittedly "very low." Why should the public pay any heed to predictions that are based on such huge uncertainties?

Next time, we will update this information by examining the most recent IPCC report from 2007. The basic conclusions do not change. Their estimates are, by their own admission, subject to a very wide range of possible outcomes. The uncertainty of any such estimates is built-in, via computer models, which must necessarily take into account many things we understand poorly.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Human land use cools the planet

Examining a section of the same graph seen in the two previous entries, a graph from the 2001 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, note that humans change the surface of the earth, by planting or harvesting forests, by cultivating land for farming, by building cities, and other activities that change the reflectivity (albedo) of the earth's surface. If man takes a forest and plows it up to create a field of bare dirt, the blackness of the soil will absorb more of the sun's heat, and this creates a warming effect.
According to the scientists represented by the IPCC, however, the net effect of human activity on albedo is actually a cooling effect.
On the other hand, increased solar activity, the item on the right edge of the graph, is a warming influence. This graph was designed to compare the pre-industrial climate and conditions (circa 1750 A.D.) to the current day. Clearly the IPCC believes that increased solar activity is partly responsible for our slightly warmer global temperatures today compared with the climate 250 years ago.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Man-made global COOLING!

In 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in their "Summary for Policymakers" showed the cooling -- yes, cooling -- effects of human activity.

Granted, humans burn fossil fuels releasing CO2, domesticated animals release methane gas, and we release Freon and other industrial chemicals that contribute to climate warming.

But humans also create aerosols of various sorts. Aerosols are small particles that stay airborne and affect the properties of the atmosphere. Note this section of a chart from the 2001 IPCC report that identifies aerosols that can cause both warming (in the pink area, black carbon and mineral dust) and cooling (in the blue section, sulphate, organic carbon, biomass burning, and indirect effects). What are the indirect effects of small particles floating in the atmosphere? They tend to cause cloud formation, and clouds reflect solar energy away from the earth, thus cooling the planet by shading the earth from the hot, hot sun.

Therefore, not every activity of man contributes to global warming. Aerosols contribute to global cooling, and therefore they offset the warming of our carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Have you heard this discussed in your newspaper? newsmagazine? television news report? talk radio? It is unlikely you have. Not only is the IPCC ignoring the data in their own report, almost everyone else seems oblivious to the implications as well.