Roy Spencer Wants You to Believe the Magician Really Cuts Her Body in HalfWe all know that she is not really going to be cut in half, but heck, I like this magic trick just as much as the next person. Magic is fun to watch but most of us understand that it is not real. Roy Spencer believes in magic and wants you to also.
Roy Spencer and his friends, Christopher Monckton, John Christie, and Richard Lindzen (appearing clockwise to the right and hereafter referred to as SMCL) tell you that humans can keep dumping billions of tons of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere and ocean and things are going to be just hunky dory. They believe that climate sensitivity [the equilibrium global surface air temperature change due to a doubling of CO2 from 280 ppm (pre-Industrial Revolution concentration) to 560 ppm] is very low. Simply put, they do not think that there will be much global warming this century despite the fact that just about every publishing climate scientist and every national academy of science state otherwise.
Skeptical Science lists some of SMCL’s public statements that fly in the face of the current scientific understanding. Compare SMCL’s statements with the following from the United States National Academy of Sciences (2011):
A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems…. Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities.Because they think we have nothing to worry about, SMCL are the darlings of the climate science deniers. For his part, Spencer thinks clouds cause climate change, instead of the other way around. His latest paper (Spencer & Braswell, 2011), published in the obscure journal Remote Sensing, caused quite a splash in the science denier world. Once again, the deniers trumpeted a single paper as somehow driving a nail into the coffin of man-made global warming. Of course, science does not work that way. To overturn the current scientific consensus requires extraordinary evidence and other scientists must be able to duplicate the results.
Alas, the paper was fundamentally flawed and used by Spencer to make false claims. So much so that the Editor-in-Chief of Remote Sensing recently resigned. His resignation letter can be read here. An excerpt appears below:
I would also like to personally protest against how the authors and like-minded climate sceptics have much exaggerated the paper’s conclusions in public statements, e.g., in a press release of The University of Alabama in Huntsville from 27 July 2011, the main author’s personal homepage, the story “New NASA data blow gaping hole in global warming alarmism” published by Forbes, and the story “Does NASA data show global warming lost in space?” published by Fox News, to name just a few. Unfortunately, their campaign apparently was very successful as witnessed by the over 56,000 downloads of the full paper within only one month after its publication. But trying to refute all scientific insights into the global warming phenomenon just based on the comparison of one particular observational satellite data set with model predictions is strictly impossible. Aside from ignoring all the other observational data sets (such as the rapidly shrinking sea ice extent and changes in the flora and fauna) and contrasting theoretical studies, such a simple conclusion simply cannot be drawn considering the complexity of the involved models and satellite measurements.Although Kevin Trenberth and John Fasullo were first off the mark correcting Spencer’s errors, Dr. Michael Ashley wrote the best summary of the problems with Spencer & Braswell (2011) in his post Spencer & Braswell 2011: Proof that global warming is exaggerated? Or just bad science? I also highly recommend reading Robert Grumbine’s Peer Review and Wagner Resignation over Spencer and Braswell and the set of related links he has posted there. Another good summary by Trenberth, Abraham, and Gleick can be read at The Daily Climate.
Today, an important rebuttal to both Spencer and Braswell (2011) and Lindzen and Choi (2011) was published in Geophysical Research Letters. Dr. Andrew Dessler, in his paper Cloud variations and the earth’s energy budget, shows that in the previous ten years, clouds are NOT the cause of the observed climate change and that mainstream climate models are not in disagreement with observed data. (Listen to Dessler explain his paper.)
“The bottom line is that clouds have not replaced humans as the cause of the recent warming the Earth is experiencing,” – Dr. Andrew DesslerThere is no nail in the coffin after all (shocker!) but there was plenty of drama offered by both Spencer and Lindzen this year. At COP16 in Cancun, Spencer stood with Monckton at a press conference to publicly criticize Dessler’s previous paper, and Lindzen complained about being shut out of prestigious journals and ended up publishing in the unheard of Asian Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Science. Both of these gentleman should be ashamed of their unprofessional behavior.
Mother Nature is also not buying what SMCL are selling.
Here is what scientists know:
Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases trap heat and cause the planet to be warmer. Humans are overloading the air with too much carbon dioxide (CO2). In the past decade, the increase of CO2 in the air due to human emissions has averaged about 2 ppm per year. To put that into perspective, the amount of CO2 that is emitted globally each day that remains in the air is equivalent to almost 8,000 Gulf oil spills each day!
In the past 800,000 years, CO2 has naturally cycled between 170 ppm and 300 ppm. At 170 ppm there were massive ice sheets. At 300 ppm there were no massive ice sheets and sea levels were hundreds of feet higher (goodbye Florida). Small changes in the Earth’s orbit shape, tilt, and eccentricity were the initial cause of global climate change and then CO2 feedbacks accelerated the change.
We have blown past 300 ppm and are adding CO2 at rates not witnessed in at least the previous 800,000 years. How can anybody look at this image and believe SMCL when they tell you that these increases in CO2 will not cause much climate change? Do you believe magic will save us? SMCL do, but Mother Nature certainly does not.
Many independent observations convincingly indicate that the Earth’s surface and lower atmosphere are warming. Oceans are gaining heat, ice is rapidly melting, and the atmosphere is warming. (A wealth of details and illustrations regarding this warming may be viewed on my Web page titled: Modern Day Climate Change.)
The pattern of warming matches that expected by increasing heat-trapping CO2 and other greenhouse gases. There are no known natural mechanisms that can explain this pattern. The physics of increasing heat-trapping gases tells us:
- Higher latitudes (toward the poles) will warm the most while lower latitudes (tropics) will warm less
- Winters will warm faster than summers
- Nights will warm faster than days
Climate sensitivity is NOT low as SMCL believe. According to the IPCC (2007): “Climate sensitivity is likely to be in the range 2 to 4.5 °C (3.6 to 8.1 °F) with a best estimate of about 3 °C (5.4 °F), and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5 °C (2.7 °F). Values substantially higher than 4.5 °C cannot be excluded.” Here is where we are headed in the best and worse case emission scenarios:
According to Synthesis Report from the Climate Change Congress – University of Copenhagen (Richardson et al., 2009):
“Recent observations show that societies and ecosystems are highly vulnerable to even modest levels of climate change, with poor nations and communities, ecosystem services and biodiversity particularly at risk. Temperature rises above 2 °C will be difficult for contemporary societies to cope with, and are likely to cause major societal and environmental disruptions through the rest of the century and beyond.”This is a polite way of saying that 2 °C may be a deal-breaker for people and for nature. Unfortunately, it appears that the world, especially the US, does not have the political courage to change course and prevent us from “falling off the cliff”. For much more information about the impacts of climate change please see Impact of Climate Change or my public presentation Climate Change is Not Being Nice to Mother Nature.
Human emissions of CO2 are already changing our climate. As predicted more than two decades ago, a warmer planet will result in more frequent and intense heat waves, droughts, fires, and floods. You do not need me to tell you what your eyes are seeing. These extreme events have been all over the news lately.
Scientists are not the only ones that are very concerned. Health experts are concerned. Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, made this point quite clearly in his recent statement:
Climate change is one of the most serious health threats facing our nation. Yet few Americans are aware of the very real consequences of climate change on the health of our communities, our families and our children.
Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, made this point even more bluntly in stating:
We need to… convince the world that humanity really is the most important species endangered by climate change.Military and intelligence experts are concerned. In a 2010 statement, 33 of the top generals and admirals in the United States stated:
Climate change is making the world a more dangerous place. It’s threatening America’s security. The Pentagon and security leaders of both parties consider climate disruption to be a “threat multiplier” – it exacerbates existing problems by decreasing stability, increasing conflict, and incubating the socioeconomic conditions that foster terrorist recruitment. The State Department, the National Intelligence Council and the CIA all agree, and all are planning for future climate-based threats. America’s billion-dollar-a-day dependence on oil makes us vulnerable to unstable and unfriendly regimes.
Financial experts are concerned. A 2010 statement from 268 investors representing assets of more than US$15 trillion:
Several leading studies indicate that the systemic shocks to regional and global economies from climate change will be substantial and will worsen the longer world governments wait to take sufficient policy action.Already this year, the United States has experienced the greatest number of billion-dollar climate-related disasters in its history, and you should expect this to become much more common and much worse in the decades to come. We all pay for this whether we experience the event or not because our taxes and our insurance rates will be climbing to cover these costs.
Climate change is already here and the worst is yet to come. Solutions are going to be put into place. If you do not accept the science and choose not to sit at the solution table, you will have no say in what happens. Why not come join the discussion. There is no debate that humans are overloading the atmosphere with heat-trapping carbon and that big climate changes will occur if we keep emitting away like there is no tomorrow. The debate needs to move away from the cause and on to the solutions.
Spencer, Monckton, Christie, and Lindzen want you to believe all of this evidence and all of these experts are wrong. C’mon, you know that is not true just like you know that the woman is not really being cut in half.
Trust the evidence and the experts – not the magicians.