Thursday, January 14, 2010

Spencer: A Demonstration that Global Warming Predictions are Based More On Faith than On Science

I’m always searching for better and simpler ways to explain the reason why I believe climate researchers have overestimated the sensitivity of our climate system to increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere.

What follows is a somewhat different take than I’ve used in the past. In the following cartoon, I’ve illustrated 2 different ways to interpret a hypothetical (but realistic) set of satellite observations that indicate (1) warming of 1 degree C in global average temperature, accompanied by (2) an increase of 1 Watt per sq. meter of extra radiant energy lost by the Earth to space.

The ‘consensus’ IPCC view, on the left, would be that the 1 deg. C increase in temperature was the cause of the 1 Watt increase in the Earth’s cooling rate. If true, that would mean that a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide by late in this century (a 4 Watt decrease in the Earth’s ability to cool) would eventually lead to 4 deg. C of global warming. Not good news.

But those who interpret satellite data in this way are being sloppy. For instance, they never bother to investigate exactly WHY the warming occurred in the first place. As shown on the right, natural cloud variations can do the job quite nicely. To get a net 1 Watt of extra loss you can (for instance) have a gain of 2 Watts of forcing from the cloud change causing the 1 deg. C of warming, and then a resulting feedback response to that warming of an extra 3 Watts.
The net result still ends up being a loss of 1 extra Watt, but in this scenario, a doubling of CO2 would cause little more than 1 deg. C of warming since the Earth is so much more efficient at cooling itself in response to a temperature increase. Read more.

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