IPCC – Back to the Little Ice Age?

11/15/2018 19:20 - Posted by Tom van Leeuwen
Recently, the IPCC published it's “Summary for Policymakers 2018 - An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”

The strange thing is that the IPCC never defines what they mean by “pre-industrial levels”. Do they mean the Holocene Optimum, 8,000 years ago, when temperatures were 4°C warmer than now? That’s a pre-industrial level. Or do they mean the depths of the latest glacial period, 15,000 years ago, with temperatures more than 15°C below the current averages? That’s a pre-industrial level as well.

It’s not until page 6, after repeating “pre-industrial levels” a large number of times, that the phrase is substituted once, and only once, by “the 1850–1900 period”, somehow indicating that is the pre-industrial period they're referring to. After that, it’s back to the very unscientific “pre-industrial levels” wording.
Clearly, the IPCC wants to make sure to frame that the supposed warming has something to do with industrialization.

What they do not tell you is that the 1850-1900 period marks the end of the “Little Ice Age”, the coldest period of the Holocene (the last 10,000 years.)
Wikipedia describes that period as “Europeans sought explanations for the famine, disease, and social unrest that they were experiencing”, and “… consequences of the Little Ice Age: livestock epidemics, cows that gave too little milk, late frosts, and unknown diseases.

Is that the type of world the IPCC wants to lead us back to?

The warming we observe is nothing more than the return to the normal situation during the Holocene, leaving behind the extremes of the Little Ice Age.

On a brighter side, the IPCC now forecasts 26-77 cm sea-level rise until 2100 instead of the 26-82 cm they predicted 5 years ago. Maybe they need a couple of additional special meetings at exotic locations in order to discover that the sea level rise is not accelerating at all and that all of the forecasts that were made 30 years ago have failed.


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The fingerprints of the greenhouse effect

The hypothesis of "man-made climate change" tells us that the increase in the concentration of CO2 enhances the greenhouse effect of the atmosphere and has global warming as a final result.

Since the beginning of the industrialized era around 1850, man emits relatively large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere through the use of fossil fuels. The consequence of these emissions is that during that period, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increased sharply from about 300 parts per million to more than 400 ppm, an increase of almost 40%. The average temperature increased in the same period more or less 1.5 °C with a small variation depending on the data source used.

Why did the warming stop?

The political reports of the IPCC are based on the hypothesis that CO2 is the most important control knob of the Earth's temperature. The problem is that this hypothesis does not correspond at all with the empirical data available to science. Forecasts are made using models that are not capable of 'predicting' the past.

Temperature versus CO2 – the big picture

When discussing “Climate Change” it’s good to have an understanding of how the Earth’s climate has changed in the past. That will give us a reference to decide whether the current changes are normal or not.

Global temperatures have varied a lot over the last 500 million years. Depending on the timescale used, the current temperature is either cold or hot, so when you want to know the “normal temperature” you’ll have to indicate what timescale you’re using.

CO2 Band-Saturation Explained

Professor at the Geophysical Sciences department at the University of Chicago David Archer describes the band-saturation of the CO2 greenhouse effect. After that, everything goes wrong.

The first part of the lecture is very informative. Professor Archer explains in great detail how the CO2 greenhouse absorption works, it's logarithmic nature and the band saturation. He even shows on a working instance of the MODTRAN model how adding the first ppm of CO2 to the atmosphere has a huge impact on the atmosphere's energy balance. Adding more CO2, the effect fades away.

Hydroelectricity and greenhouse gasses

Hydropower is one of the cleanest energy sources available. The only downsides known so far are the impact on the landscape and the risk of a dam breaking due to earthquakes. Carefully choosing the locations and high construction standards are needed to solve these problems.

Besides electricity generation, dams also help to regulate the water flow in the rivers, making them better navigatable and useful for irrigation.

So, overall it seems to be quite positive, but recent research has "discovered" a new downside to hydroelectricity and it's a usual suspect: Greenhouse gasses.

The world needs more CO2

Interview with Professor William Happer of Princeton University. Mr. Happer is a renowned physicist, specialized in the field of atomic physics, adaptive optics and spectrometry. This interview from 2015 is part of the series "Conversations that Matter."

Some quotes from this interview:

The logarithmic nature of the CO2 greenhouse effect

For many people, a logarithmic relationship can be a fairly abstract concept. It is hard to imagine the implication that it has on the strength of the greenhouse effect that corresponds to the amount of CO2 that humanity emits into the atmosphere. Here we present a visualization to explain in a simple way what we are talking about.

CO2 is a greenhouse gas. The presence of CO2 in the atmosphere traps a part of the infrared radiation that the Earth's surface emits into space. The total greenhouse effect of the Earth's atmosphere is about 30 °C, without this effect, the temperature would be -15 °C instead of +15 °C, the actual current average temperature.
Water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas. CO2 provides 3 °C of heating, that is, 10% of the total effect.

When the concentration of CO2 increases, its greenhouse effect also increases, but not in a linear fashion, but logarithmically. For each increase in concentration, the effect on temperature is less and less.

Water vapor

Water vapor is the single most important greenhouse gas. It makes up 80% to 90% of the total greenhouse effect of the Earth's atmosphere.

Climate models depend on water vapor as a positive feedback for supposed CO2 warming. In these models, CO2 causes a tiny warming that causes the relative atmospheric humidity to increase. That increase in water vapor produces the catastrophic warming they predict.
The problem is that in the real world, while atmospheric CO2-concentrations increased by almost 30% since the end of World War II, the relative atmospheric humidity has been stable at low altitudes and has even decreased at higher altitudes.