By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM, Fellow
Until the last strong El Nino brought the normal spike in global temperatures, there was much ado about what was being called a pause of almost 19 years in global temperature rise. Eventually even the once professional societies like the AMS, had to admit to it and had papers published and many panels at annual meetings discussing why the accelerated warming predicted by climate models and the UN IPCC was not occurring even as global CO2 levels continued to rise.
The first efforts made were to modify the data sets (surface and some balloon and satellite) to bring the data closer into agreement with the models (instead of rethinking the theory and models). Then the got the help from El Nino. A weak La Nina and a declining sun should cause temperatures to fall off and the pause resume but the train may have left the station after the Paris Treaty.
This conflicting data had for several years brought an uncomfortable feeling among many believers, what is called ‘cognitive dissonance’, but most all were able to shake it off especially when they have so many colleagues riding the same grant gravy trains that benefit from the failing theory or have business financial potential and/or personal political ideologies that the plans to address the so-called Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming fits so nicely into.
A fine work over five decades ago by Leon Festinger, a social psychologist helps explain how they can do that and why we may not see a widespread rapid return to sanity on global climate change even as the pause resumes and other evidence mounts the prevailing greenhouse theories are flawed, global warming has ceased and climate change may be largely due to natural variability.
When discomfirmatory (contrary) evidence is presented, Festinger found one condition that often determined whether the belief is discarded or maintained with new fervor by belief with a strongly held belief. That was whether or not the individual believer has social support. It is unlikely that one isolated believer could withstand strong discomfirming evidence. If, however, the believer is a member of a group of convinced persons who can support one another, you might expect the belief to be maintained and the believers to attempt to proselytize or persuade non-members that the belief is correct even in the face of data suggesting otherwise.
Today there is a huge ‘social support’ group of grant toting modelers and researchers, agenda driven or ratings driven journalists, environmentalists and corporations that have realized green is their favorite color and and see this as a way to keep green paper flowing into their coffers and pockets, farmers who are benefiting from the misplaced focus on alternative fuel from crops which has sent the cost for their crops to record levels, traders and major market firms licking their chops at the prospects of big time money from carbon trading, big oil and alternative energy companies that have realized this is the vector to bigger profits and the politicians and political activists who see it as a way to accomplish ulterior goals about changing society and increasing their powerbase.
In reality although there is claimed consensus, scientists and the public are not so convinced. It will only be after the public realizes they have been snookered or like in the UK, they realize the pains for adhering to the green assault on humanity is insufferable (Brexit was largely due to this) that the situation may turn on them. We can only hope damage done here is not great or irreparable when that day finally comes. That is why you must consider your vote seriously next month.
Perhaps, the greens and the administration and untrustworthy mainstream media with the outrageous claims saying ‘global warming is the greatest peril that humanity faces” has them sensing a snake oil salesman situation.
The late great Michael Crichton, author of State of Fear on this topic, said “Historically, the claim of consensus is the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming the matter is already settled.” “Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.”
“Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. In science, consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.” (Galileo, Newton, Einstein, etc)
He concluded: “There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”
We all miss the man and his work. Read more on ‘cognitive dissonance’ and Festinger’s work “When Prophecies Fail” here.
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The public is not buying what the world ‘leaders’ proclaim - US and UN polls. In fact they fear clowns more the global warming.
One of the claims made is that CO2 increases are now or will soon cause crop yields to decline. Roy Spencer replies:
Global Warming be Damned: Record Corn, Soybeans, Wheat
Dr. Roy Spencer
For many years we have been warned that climate change is creating a “climate crisis”, with heat and drought reducing agricultural yields to the point that humanity will suffer. Every time there’s a drought, we are told that this is just one more example of human-caused climate change.
But droughts have always occurred. The question is: Are they getting worse? And, has modest warming had any effects on grain yields?
We have yet to experience anything like the Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s, or the mega-droughts the western U.S. tree ring record suggests occurred in centuries past.
And even if they do occur, how do we know they were not caused by the same natural factors that cause those previous droughts? While “global warming” must cause more precipitation overall (because there is more evaporation), whether this means increased drought conditions anywhere is pretty difficult to predict because it would require predicting an average change in weather patterns, which climate models so far have essentially no skill at.
So, here we are with yet another year (2016) experiencing either record or near-record yields in corn, soybeans, and wheat. Even La Nina, which was widely feared would cause reduced crop yields this year, did not materialize.
How can this be?
How has Climate Changed in the U.S. Corn Belt?
Let’s start with precipitation for the main growing months of June-July-August over the 12-state Corn Belt (IL, IN, IA, KS, NE, ND, SD, MO, WI, MN, MI, OH). All data come from official NOAA sources. Since 1900, if anything, there has been a slight long-term increase in growing season precipitation:
In fact, the last three years (2014-16) has seen the highest 3-yr average precip amount in the entire record.
If we examine temperature, there has been some warming in recent decades, but nothing like that predicted for the same region from the CMIP5 climate models:
That plot alone should tell you that something is wrong with the climate models. It’s not even obvious a statistically significant warming has occurred, let alone attribute it to a cause, given all of the adjustments (or lack of proper adjustments) that have been made to the surface thermometer data over the years. Note the models also cannot explain the Dust Bowl warmth of the 1930s, because the models do not mimic the natural changes in Pacific Ocean circulation which are believed to be the cause.
So, has Climate Change Not Influenced Grain Yields?
Let’s assume the temperature and precipitation observations accurately reveal what has really happened. Has climate change since 1960 impacted corn yields in the U.S.?
As part of some consulting I do for a company that monitors grain markets and growing conditions around the world, last year I quantified how year-to-year variations in U.S. corn yields depend on year-to-year changes in precipitation and temperature, over the period 1960 through 2014. I then applied that relationship to the long-term trends in precipitation and temperature.
What I found was that there might be a small long-term decrease in yields due to climate change, but it is far exceeded by technological advancements that increase yields.
In fact, based upon studies of the dependence of corn yield on CO2 fertilization, the negative climate impact is even outweighed by the CO2 fertilization effect alone. (More CO2 is well known to fertilize, as well as increase drought tolerance and make plants more efficient in their water use).
The people I know in the grain trading business do not even factor in climate change...primarily because they do not yet see evidence of it.
It might well be there...but it is so overwhelmed by other positive factors, especially improved varieties, that it cannot be observed in corn yield data. In fact, if varieties can be made more heat tolerant, it might be that there will be no climate change impact on yields.
So, once again, claims of severe agricultural impacts from climate change continue to reside in the realm of science fiction...in the future, if at all.
There was a post on TWTW that did some follow up on the paper published on Tropical Hot Spot model failures that had a commenter that challenged the ramp step regression that he thought was used. The author has responded, correcting the commenter’s errors, in an email titled Errors, shown below.
ERRORS (in comment not in the paper)
First, I never used the words “ramp step regression” in my discussions with you or in the paper; where did that come from? As the report clearly states, the first step in the analysis is called Time Series Decomposition which was used to determine which functional form best represents the underlying trend in the data. That might or might not be a Ramp Step. Moreover , unlike what you stated, it frequently was not a Ramp Step. See pages 22 & 23, which include the following:
“Section VIII. Tropical Upper Troposphere Balloon Data
The analysis results are shown first for Tropical Upper Troposphere Balloon (1959-2015) data in Figures VIII 1-4 below. In this analysis, for each temperature time series, the first step was to determine via “time series decomposition” the “best fit trend line” among standard functional forms such as Linear, Ramp Step, Step, Multiple Step, etc. The selected trend lines were best of those tested in the sense that they had the maximum R Bar Squared value.----”
And, second to my knowledge, there were no errors in any of the graphs - only 2 mislabeled Figure numbers and one Table number - all three of which were missed by our 7 reviewers and 3 authors! It was easy because the 2 Figures and one Table were right below the text which so stated.
Finally, again to my knowledge, only one person had a problem with charts and Joe responded to him by email as well the 22 people that were copied on his original email. There was nothing wrong with the chart. The commenter did not understand the time series decomposition analysis that was carried out. Furthermore, I seem to recall telling you about this situation.
As an important aside, you stated the following:
“For purposes of government regulations, it is not what the science demonstrates, but what the courts believe. And the courts believed the EPA.”
As I have indicated to you before, EPA won the Endangerment Finding case before the D.C. circuit because our side allowed itself to be in an “Our Paper Vs Their Paper” situation in which case, as a matter of (CAA) law, EPA is deemed the expert and wins - period. That did not have to happen. An empirical evidence based attack on each of EPA’s 3 Lines of Evidence was not made by the plaintiffs.
Ken, in my view, your comments regarding our paper were highly misleading. You might find interesting Alan Carlin’s comments (below)) on our paper. At his request we are adding his name to our list of reviewers.
The Importance and Unique Aspects of the New Wallace et al. Report
Although the very new Wallace et al. report focuses on a new approach to showing the critical absence of a tropical hot spot, which indeed has an important inference of invalidity for USEPA’s principal “line of evidence” in their GHG Endangerment Finding, the report has even more interesting findings about other aspects of climate science. The absence of the tropical hot spot has been discussed for several years, and been ignored by climate alarmists despite the implication of this new finding that CAGW is invalid scientifically. I discussed some of these more interesting findings last week. The report provides considerable support to several of the new hypotheses highlighted here.
The importance of this new study is that the authors very carefully specified multiple simultaneous functional relationships between the most important climate science variables including the critical (in terms of alarmist science) possible dual relationships between CO2 and global temperatures and then allowed the available data to determine the importance of each variable. The report ends by asking why alarmists have apparently never used this approach to determine or assess their “science. Most of their “science” is based on alleged relationships between the variables based on their interpretations of physical science and particularly various computer models of their creation using these interpretations (despite the inherent inability of such models to accurately portray future climate due to the chaotic nature of climate).
The Wallace et al. 2016 study represents a new and interesting approach to climate science research which should yield very interesting and much more valid results since the weight given to each likely variable is determined by available evidence rather than the guesses of carefully selected “experts” and incorporated into their largely arbitrary computer models. As Wallace et al. 2011 said:
The simplest model that can characterize the relationship between atmospheric CO2 concentration levels and temperature levels must contain at least two simultaneous equations, one for each of these two state variables. Therefore, the climate system must be analyzed using simultaneous equation estimation techniques. Otherwise the parameter estimates of any structural equations will be both biased and inconsistent, which implies they are useless for policy analysis purposes. The existence of a robust atmospheric CO2 equation has been amply demonstrated, thus guaranteeing that ANY modeling system designed to forecast temperature must include at least two equations.
The much more appropriate simultaneous equation approach used in the Wallace et al. 2016 report is notable by its apparent absence (to my knowledge) in alarmist climate science despite the contribution it could and must make if climate science is ever to have any validity.
New Report Definitively Shows UN CAGW Hypothesis and IPCC Reports Invalid and Thus CPP and Paris Treaty Total Wastes
As discussed in my book, Environmentalism Gone Mad, two of the reasonable inferences from the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) hypothesis (the scientific basis for the world climate scare pushed by the United Nations and the Obama Administration) are that atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels should affect global temperatures, and that the resulting heat generated should be observable by a hot spot about 10 km over the tropics. In fact, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC) argues that both should exist and the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) uses the hot spot as one of its three “lines of evidence” for justifying its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Endangerment Finding (EF).
The EF, in turn, is used by EPA to justify all its climate regulations, including its ultra-expensive so-called “Clean Power Plan” (CPP} requiring that many coal plants be replaced with wind and solar-generated electric power at huge expense to ratepayers in terms of outlays and reductions in reliability as well as to taxpayers for government subsidies. The 2016 Democratic Party Platform last July now carries this approach to a new extreme by advocating that all use of fossil fuels be ended by 2050, which is highly unlikely to even be achievable at any cost.
Climate skeptic scientists have long questioned whether the effects of relatively minor (compared to other CO2 sources and sinks) human-caused emissions of CO2 have more than a minor effect on global temperatures and some have even questioned whether the UN and USEPA have even gotten the causation backwards (i.e., because on balance global temperatures affect atmospheric CO2 levels). A very interesting new study shows that their skepticism has been more than justified. By using sophisticated econometric/statistical methods on 13 different climate databases for the years 1959 to 2015 where available, the study concludes that the changes in CO2 have no measurable net effects on global temperatures but that global temperatures affect CO2 levels. The real advance in the new study is that it assumes that global temperatures may affect atmospheric CO2 levels in addition to assuming that CO2 may affect global temperatures (as assumed by UNIPCC and USEPA). This introduces complexity to the analysis but is a crucial improvement over most earlier studies.
New Research Findings Support Earlier Research by Skeptics
This conclusion is exactly what Dr. Murry Salby has independently concluded in recent years. Unfortunately, his conclusions resulted in the loss of his professorship at Macquarie University in Australia in 2013 and the confiscation of his research notes by climate alarmists at the University. As a result, his research has not been published to date in journal format as far as I know. The absence of any measurable effect of CO2 on global temperatures and the resulting missing hot spot invalidates the CAGW hypothesis in terms of the Scientific Method, and thus the EPA EF as well as the basis for the UN IPCC physical science reports and thus the scientific basis for the Paris Treaty of 2015 as well as the USEPA CPP. Alarmist scientists have tried to argue that the hot spot is actually present, but have failed to make a convincing case.
The new research report is consistent with the findings of Environmentalism Gone Mad that CAGW is invalid because reasonable inferences from it are not supported by comparisons with real world data (as required by the scientific method), but goes beyond it by providing still another, and a more sophisticated, basis for rejecting the UNIPCC/USEPA CAGW hypothesis.
The new econometric/statistical report shows that that the minor increases in global temperatures can be entirely explained by natural factors. By subtracting temperature changes due to the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) the report shows that there is no role for human emissions of CO2 as a cause of global warming.
The Role of ENSO in Determining Global Temperatures
It has long been evident even to a casual observer that global temperatures vary with ENSO since these temperatures consistently increase when El Nino conditions prevail and fall when La Nina conditions prevail. The alarmists have generally tried to ignore this reality, but in the last year or two even they have finally begun to recognize the role of ENSO in global temperatures and eagerly awaited the expected increase in global temperatures (the so-called highest recorded temperatures resulting from the 2016 El Nino) in order try to justify their now invalidated CAGW hypothesis.
Atmospheric CO2 levels, on the other hand, have been increasing fairly steadily and bear no obvious similarity to global temperatures. Previous skeptic studies have simply looked for the hot spot and not found it. But the new study shows that the current warming can be fully explained by including ENSO variations in the analysis and that while changes in CO2 levels must be considered in the analysis, it turned out that they can safely be ignored, which is even more than most skeptics have long argued.
The authors believe that ENSO is a natural phenomenon and I agree. There is no basis I know of for arguing that the gradual and fairly steady increases in atmospheric CO2 levels would bring about the ENSO fluctuations in the vast Central Pacific Ocean. ENSO has been observed over long periods and predated humans. The authors believe that ENSO appears to be influenced by changes in solar activity, so such oscillations are highly unlikely to be human influenced. Thus there is no basis to blame human activities for global temperature changes as the alarmists claim. And there is thus no basis for claiming that humans must reduce their CO2 emissions in order to avoid CAGW at the cost of hundreds of trillions of dollars, much less reliable energy supplies, and significantly lower economic growth by using wind and solar energy.
In the words of the new report:
These analysis results would appear to leave very, very little doubt that EPA’s claim of a Tropical Hot Spot [THS], caused by rising atmospheric CO2 levels, simply does not exist in the real world. Also critically important, even on an all-other-things-equal basis, this analysis failed to find that the steadily rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations have had a statistically significant impact on any of the 13 temperature time series analyzed.
Thus, the analysis results invalidate each of the Three Lines of Evidence in its CO2 Endangerment Finding. Once EPA’s THS assumption is invalidated, it is obvious why the climate models they claim can be relied upon, are also invalid. And, these results clearly demonstrate - 13 times in fact - that once just the ENSO impacts on temperature data are accounted for, there is no “record setting” warming to be concerned about. In fact, there is no ENSO-Adjusted Warming at all. These natural ENSO impacts involve both changes in solar activity and the 1977 Pacific Shift.
Moreover, on an all-other-things-equal basis, there is no statistically valid proof that past increases in Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations have caused the officially reported rising, even claimed record setting temperatures. To validate their claim will require mathematically credible, publicly available, simultaneous equation parameter estimation work. Where is it?
So it is time to pursue other ways to improve the environment and not waste further time and resources on the scientifically invalid CAGW hypothesis. It is a failed hypothesis, nothing more. (Although it is true that conventional pollutants may be reduced by decreasing coal use, there are much cheaper ways to control such pollutants than reducing coal use if and when there should be a need for further such controls.) Accordingly, there is now definitive evidence that the Paris Treaty and actions taken in response to it will serve no useful purpose and should be abandoned.