Ronald Bailey has gone over to the Dark side
Bailey was once a climate skeptic but claims that in 2005 new data made him into a Warmist. I commented on that "conversion" at the time. He has however upped his game since then and we see the result below. His big failing this time can be found in the rubric (red bit) below. He is precisely wrong in what he says there. The Climategate emails show that the major players in Warmism are outright crooks. They arbitrarily alter data sources and do their best to ensure that any articles that don't suit them never get published. How surprising that the word "climategate" does not occur once in Bailey's long and diligent aricle.
So it is difficult to ascertain the truth when the chief sources of information about the climate are untrustworthy. This is particularly so if we realize something that Bailey himself admits: The data is full of estimates. The climate data is woefully incomplete and all sorts of dodges have to be resorted to to fill in those gaps, with some of the estimates (terrestrial-based measures of arctic temperatures, for instance) being truly heroic. At almost every point there is room to move estimates in the direction desired. So all the findings that Bailey relies on may or may not be true. We cannot know. But it is the warmist claim is that we DO know
But that is not a deliberate retreat into nescience. We can still make our own observations and develop our own theories. And that is what climate skeptics have done. And they have found much that does not support the conventional theories and findings. Bailey attempts to debunk one by one the dissident theories and findings but he does so by relying on findings from people within the consensus. And we know that data to be assumption-laden. So Bailey's large project ends up with circular reasoning: Warmism is true if you accept what warmists say. Or putting it another way, you cannot lift yourself up by your own bootstraps. Once crookedness has been established, it is difficult to find the truth
But vast government activity worldwide is based on Warmist claims being truth. To use another metaphor, that is a castle built on sand.
The replication crisis
I must stress that I am not putting total reliance on the climategate revelations. What I am stressing is the constant need for guessing when dealing with incomplete data. And confirmation bias is well known even without the climategate revelations. There is now a substantial literature in medical and psychological research showing that unreplicable findings will regularly be accepted until someone comes along and blows the whistle -- by attempting a close replication of the original finding. A disastrous 60% of findings do not replicate -- indicating that most of what we thought we knew in those disciplines was frankly wrong.
So what about climate findings? Do they replicate? We cannot know. Climate researchers have traditionally kept all details of their data and its analyses close to their chest. They defy the basic philosophy of science dictum that your data and analyses must be available for all to check. So that basically tells you all you need to know about the research concerned. The authors know that their results will not replicate when examined by outsiders so make such examinations impossible.
And that suspicion hardens into certainty when we look at Michael Mann's influential hockeystick claim. Mann denied access to his data but inadvertently left some of it on a server where sophisticated computer users could find it. And when Ross McKitrick and Steve McIntyre did a reanalyis of that data using Mann's program they found that ANY data fed into Mann's program would produce Mann's result. Mann's findings were a total fraud. Mann guards his data jealousy to this day. He was even prepared to lose his lawsuit against Tim Ball rather than reveal it. And Mann is one of those whom Bailey assumes to be "acting in good faith".
Sadly, global warming is the greatest hoax in human history, perpetrated by grant-hungry scientists with few scruples. The future of the climate CANNOT be known or predicted but it is the contention of the Warmists that it can be.
The satellite data
I will be mentioning the satellite record of global temperatures shortly so before I do that I need to spend a little time looking at Bailey's attempt to discredit the satellite data.
He says, rightly, that even the satellite data requires adjustments for various things and points to discrepancies in what the various versions of what the satellite data shows. In the best Leftist practice however he tells only half the story. Let me mention something he leaves out. The two major versions of the satellite record have long been the UAH record maintained by skeptics and the RSS version by the conventional Carl Mears.
And the two produced such similar results that the RSS figures were often used by skeptics as discrediting warmism. Even the RSS data from Carl Mears showed little warming.
As Mears himself admits, he was mightily irritated by people accusing his temperature record of supporting the climate skeptics. He was in fact expressing irritation with that for quite some years. He declared several times that he still supports Warmism despite what his own data show.
So in 2016 he finally devised a solution to his embarrassment. He "adjusted" his data. He said his old data had errors in it and he has now corrected the errors, to show some warming -- a warming of 18 hundredths of one degree over nearly 20 years, no less! One hundredth of a degree per annum! (If there had been errors in it, one wonders why he rode with the "erroneous" data for so long but let that be by the by).
And the explanation he gives for his adjustments is reasonable in principle, but, as always, the devil is in the details. And the details do contain devilry, as Roy Spencer has pointed out. Carl's adjustments were so bad in fact that the paper in which he described them was rejected as unpublishable by a major climate journal, eventually being accepted by a meteorological one. However you look at it, however, one hundredth of a degree per annum is negligible warming. Both major versions of the satellite data continued to show no significant warming
The skeptical response
Most of the prominent climate skeptics have looked at Bailey's article and are mocking of it. I thought I might close by reproducing a emailed comment on it from Don Easterbrook:
"The latest evidence shows that the likelihood of an apocalyptic climate change are about as close to zero as you can get. The NASA and NOAA portrayals of 'hottest year ever' are totally fraudulent. NOAA temperatures in the US have cooled slightly over the past 20 years and global satellite temperatures show no warming (see below).
We are now entering a Grand Solar Minimum, guaranteeing that temperatures will plunge, not warm catastrophically. The chances of cataclysmic warming are not worth worrying about!
Excerpts from Bailey
Researchers use complicated computer climate models to analyze all these data to make projections about what might happen to the climate in the future. My reporting strategy has been to take seriously what I believe to be the principal objections made by researchers who argue on scientific grounds that panic is unwarranted. I also assume that everyone is acting in good faith. What follows is based on what I hope is a fair reading of the recent scientific literature on climate change and communications with various well-known climate change researchers.
Ice Age Climate Change
To decide how worried we should be, we need to go back much further than 1992. Starting about 2.6 million years ago the Earth began experiencing ice ages lasting between 80,000 and 120,000 years. The world's most recent glacial period began about 110,000 years ago.
Most researchers believe that variations in Earth's orbital path around the Sun is the pacemaker of the great ice ages. Ice ages end when wobbles in Earth's orbit increase the sunlight heating the vast continental glaciers that form in the northern hemisphere. These orbital shifts initiate a feedback loop in which the warming oceans release of large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which in turn further boosts global temperatures. Higher temperatures increase atmospheric water vapor which further boosts warming that melts more ice and snow cover. Less snow and ice enables the growth of darker vegetation which absorbs more heat and so forth.
At the height of the last glacial maximum 19,000 years ago atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide stood at only about 180 parts per million. The level of atmospheric carbon dioxide increased to around 280 parts per million by the late 18th century. This chain of feedbacks eventually produced a rise in global average surface temperature of about 4 degrees Celsius. That's the difference between the last ice age in which glaciers covered about one-third of the Earth's total land area and today when only 10 percent of the land area is icebound.
As a result of human activities, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen to about 415 parts per million now. The annual rate of increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide during the past 60 years is about 100 times faster than the rate of increase that occurred at the end of the last ice age. How much this increase is responsible for having warmed the planet over the last century, along with how much more warming will result if carbon dioxide concentrations continue to rise, is the central issue in climate change science.
Just Add Carbon Dioxide
Of course, the sun powers the Earth's climate. About 30 percent of solar energy is directly reflected back into space by bright clouds, atmospheric particles, and sea ice and snow. The remaining 70 percent is absorbed. The air and surface re-emit this energy largely as infrared rays that are invisible to us but we feel as heat.
The nitrogen and oxygen molecules that make up 99 percent of the atmosphere are transparent to both incoming sunlight and outgoing infrared rays. However, water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone are opaque to many wavelengths of infrared energy. These greenhouse gas molecules block some escaping heat and re-emit it downward toward the surface. So instead of the Earth's average temperature being 18 degrees Celsius below zero, it is 15 degrees Celsius above freezing. This extra heating is the natural greenhouse effect.
NASA climate researcher Andrew Lacis and his colleagues contend that carbon dioxide is the key to greenhouse warming on Earth. Why? Because at current temperatures carbon dioxide and other trace greenhouse gases such as ozone, nitrous oxide, methane, and chlorofluorocarbons do not condense out of the atmosphere. Overall, these noncondensing greenhouse gases account for about 25 percent of the Earth's greenhouse effect. They sustain temperatures that initiate water vapor and cloud feedbacks that generate the remaining 75 percent of the current greenhouse effect. Lacis and his colleagues suggest that if all atmospheric carbon dioxide were somehow removed most of the water vapor would freeze out and the Earth would plunge into an icebound state.
Princeton physicist and lately resigned Trump administration National Security Council member William Happer has long questioned the magnitude of carbon dioxide's effect with respect to warming the atmosphere. In fact, Happer is the co-founder and former president of the nonprofit CO2 Coalition established in 2015 for the "purpose of educating thought leaders, policy makers, and the public about the important contribution made by carbon dioxide to our lives and the economy."His 2014 article, "Why Has Global Warming Paused?" in the International Journal of Modern Physics A, Happer argued that climate scientists had gotten crucial spectroscopic details of how atmospheric carbon dioxide absorbs infrared energy badly wrong. As a result, he asserts, a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide would likely warm the planet by only about 1.4 degrees Celsius. If the effect of carbon dioxide on temperatures was indeed constrained to that comparatively low value man-made global warming would probably not constitute a significant problem for humanity and the biosphere.
In 2016, NASA Langley Research Center atmospheric scientist Martin Mlynczak and his colleagues analyzed Happer's claims in a Geophysical Research Letters article and found, "Overall, the spectroscopic uncertainty in present-day carbon dioxide radiative forcing is less than one percent, indicating a robust foundation in our understanding of how rising carbon dioxide warms the climate system." In other words, the details of how carbon dioxide absorbs and re-emits heat are accurately known and unfortunately imply that future temperatures will be considerably higher than Happer calculated them to be.
Another related claim sometimes made is the effect of carbon dioxide on the climate is saturated, that is, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is already absorbing re-emitting about as much heat as it can. Consequently, increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere won't much increase the average temperature of the globe. But is this so?
This claim is based on the fact in the current climate era that, as Princeton University climatologist Syukuro Manabe in a 2019 review article "Role of greenhouse gas in climate change," notes, "surface temperature increases by approximately 1.3 degrees C in response to the doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration not only from 150 ppm [parts per million] to 300 ppm but also from 300 ppm to 600 ppm." To get a further increase of 1.3 degrees Celsius would require doubling atmospheric CO2 concentration to 1200 ppm. A metaphorical way of thinking about this issue is to visualize that the atmosphere consists of layers and as each layer fills up with enough carbon dioxide to absorb all the heat that it can, the extra heat radiates to the next layer that then absorbs it and re-emits it, and so forth. Consequently, the effect of CO2 on temperatures does decline but it does not saturate at levels relevant to future climate change.
Again, an increase of 1.3 degrees Celsius due to doubling carbon dioxide doesn't seem too alarming. "It is much smaller than 2.3 degrees C that we got in the presence of water vapour feedback," notes Manabe. Researchers find under current climate conditions that "water vapour exerts strong a positive feedback effect that magnifies the surface temperature change by a factor of ∼1.8." A warmer atmosphere evaporates and holds more water vapor which again is the chief greenhouse gas. Just as predicted, water vapor in the atmosphere is increasing as average global temperatures rise. Citing satellite data, a 2018 article in Earth and Space Science reported, "The record clearly shows that the amount of vapor in the atmosphere has been increasing at a rate of about 1.5% per decade over the last 30 years as the planet warms."
Researchers have devised various records to track changes in global average temperatures. These include surface records incorporating thermometer readings on land and at sea; remote sensing of atmospheric trends using satellites, and climate reanalyses to calculate temperature trends for two meters above the surface.
All temperature records must be adjusted since all have experienced changes that affect the accuracy of their raw data. For example, surface temperature records are affected by changes in thermometers, locations of weather stations, time of day shifts in measurements, urban heat island effects, shipboard versus buoy sampling and so forth. Satellite data must be adjusted for changes in sensors and sensor calibration, sensor deterioration over time, and make corrections for orbital drift and decay. Climate reanalysis combines weather computer models with vast compilations of historical weather data derived from surface thermometers, weather balloons, aircraft, ships, buoys, and satellites. The goal of assimilating and analyzing these data is to create past weather patterns in order to detect changes in climate over time. Since climate reanalyses incorporate data from a wide variety of sources they must be adjusted when biases are identified in those data.
Some skeptics allege that the official climate research groups that compile surface temperature records adjust the data to make global warming trends seem greater than they are. A recent example is the June 2019 claim by geologist Tony Heller, who runs the contrarian website Real Climate Science, that he had identified "yet another round of spectacular data tampering by NASA and NOAA. Cooling the past and warming the present." Heller focused particularly on the adjustments made to NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) global land surface temperature trends.
One general method used by climate scientists of adjust temperature records, explains Berkeley Earth climate data scientist Zeke Hausfather (now at Breakthrough Institute) is statistical homogenization. Researchers compare each weather station to all of its nearby neighbors and look for changes that are local to one station, but not found at any others in the area. A sharp sustained jump to either lower or higher temperatures at a particular station generally indicates a change such as a shift in location or a switch in instrumentation. The records of such out-of-line stations are then adjusted to bring it back in line with its neighboring stations.
In general, temperatures increase more rapidly over land compared to the oceans because of the oceans' greater capacity to absorb heat and ability to get rid of extra heat through evaporation. Heller is right that raw land station adjustments by NOAA/NASA have increased overall land warming by about 16 percent between 1880 and 2016. On the other hand, NOAA/NASA adjustments of raw sea temperature data to take account of the shift from measuring ocean temperatures using buckets and intakes aboard ships to a widely deployed network of automatic buoys reduced the amount of warming in past. The adjustments result in about 36 percent less warming since 1880 than in the raw temperature data. When taken together the NOAA/NASA adjustments to land and ocean data actually reduce, rather than increase, the trend of warming experienced globally over the past century. Adjustments that overall reduce the amount of warming seen in the past suggest that climatologists are not fiddling with temperature data in order to create or exaggerate global warming.