The Creative Society ask to interview me on the 20th century climate shifts that Dr. Javier Vinós and I discussed in Part IV of our series of posts on Javier’s Winter Gatekeeper hypothesis. I don’t agree with a lot of the Creative Society ideas, but we do agree that open discussion on the future of mankind is important. I was pleased that an organization that has such a different outlook on civilization would want to interview me, a proponent of small and local government. More discussion and debate between differing worldviews is needed today. The interview was October 10th, but it has not been posted or published yet.
Most of this talk is based on Chapter 11 of Javier Vinós’ new book: Climate of the Past, Present, and Future: A Scientific Debate. This is a graduate school level review of natural climate change processes, an often-ignored area in modern discussions of climate science. The book comprehensively introduces Javier’s new Winter Gatekeeper hypothesis of natural climate change.
The Winter Gatekeeper Hypothesis, proposed by this author in his book “Climate of the Past, Present and Future” (Vinós 2022), is based on evidence that climate change is primarily the result of changes in poleward energy transport, and that solar variability is an important modulator of this transport. If correct, the hypothesis will provide a new answer to two important questions: How climate changes naturally on the multi-decadal to the millennial time scale, even in the absence of changes in the greenhouse effect, and how changes in solar activity can profoundly affect climate despite their small energy changes. One conclusion of the hypothesis is that the Modern Solar Maximum of 1935-2005 contributed to 20th-century global warming, implying a significant reduction in climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide.
The Earth’s greenhouse effect is much larger than suggested so far. If surface radiation and the greenhouse effect set surface temperatures, our oceans would be boiling. Fortunately, they don’t. Water Earth has a strong water-vapor-based evaporative surface cooling mechanism that effectively sets and stabilizes surface temperatures at a much lower level than cooling by surface radiation emissions can do. Thanks to water vapor our temperature system is far more stable than admitted by the consensus, and thanks to water, water vapor, and clouds surface temperatures are favorable for present life.
“No philosopher has been able with his own strength to lift this veil stretched by nature over all the first principles of things. Men argue, nature acts.”
Climate is a thermodynamic process determined by the energy flux from its entry point, mostly at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) of the tropics on the day side of the planet, to its exit point distributed across the TOA of the entire planet. The Earth’s infrared emission depends on the absolute temperature scale, and on this scale the planet’s surface temperatures occupy a narrow range. The average outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) emission of the planet is c. 240 W/m2 and the all-sky average for most of the surface is in a relatively narrow 200–280 W/m2 range (Dewitte & Clerbaux 2018). OLR is determined more by the irregular distribution of atmospheric water (cloud and humidity) than by surface temperature. The cloud effect on OLR can reach –80 W/m2 (negative values mean cooling) in some equatorial areas. Thus, while 62 % of the energy enters the climate system over 25 % of the Earth’s TOA area (the 30°N-S daytime side), its exit is much more evenly distributed over the entire TOA area.
In the great climate change debate between Princeton Professor, emeritus, William Happer and University of Melbourne Professor David Karoly, they were asked the following question by the moderator, James Barham:
“The IPCC’s official position may be summarized as making four claims: global warming is a well-established fact; it is anthropogenic; it is a major problem for humanity; and concerted global governmental action is required to combat it.”
In this talk we will only cover a portion of the second and third parts of the question, which we rephrase as “Is burning fossil fuels and emitting CO2 and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere a good thing, or a bad thing for humanity.” The other facets of the question are well covered in my latest book. Much of this talk is from Chapter 10.
“Once you start doubting, just like you’re supposed to doubt. You ask me if the science is true and we say ‘No, no, we don’t know what’s true, we’re trying to find out, everything is possibly wrong’ … When you doubt and ask it gets a little harder to believe. I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing, than to have answers which might be wrong.”
Richard Feynman (1981)
The 1990s discovery of multidecadal variability (see Part IV) showed that the science of climate change is very immature. The answer to what was causing the observed warming was provided before the proper questions were asked. Once the answer was announced, questions were no longer welcome. Michael Mann said of a skeptical Judith Curry:
“I don’t know what she thinks she’s doing, but it’s not helping the cause, or her professional credibility”
But as Peter Medawar stated:
“the intensity of a conviction that a hypothesis is true has no bearing over whether it is true or not.”
Peter Medawar (1979)
Scientists’ opinions do not constitute science, and a scientific consensus is nothing more than a collective opinion based on group-thinking. When doubting a scientific consensus (“just like you’re supposed to doubt,” as Feynman said) becomes unwelcome, the collective opinion becomes dogma, and dogma is clearly not science.
“These shifts are associated with significant changes in global temperature trend and in ENSO variability. The latest such event is known as the great climate shift of the 1970s.”
Anastasios A. Tsonis, Kyle Swanson & Sergey Kravtsov (2007)
While the study of weather variability has a long tradition, the science of climate change is a very young scientific topic, as attested to by the 1984 discovery of the first multidecadal oscillation, the primary global climate internal variability phenomenon, by Folland et al. The impact of this fundamental feature of the global climate system was discovered ten years later by Schlesinger and Ramankutty (1994), after modern global warming had already been blamed on CO2 changes, illustrating the risk of reaching a consensus with insufficient understanding of the topic at hand. The Pacific (inter) Decadal Oscillation (PDO) was discovered three years later (Mantua et al. 1997; Minobe 1997). The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) was not named until just two decades ago (Kerr 2000).
The SOHO Forum Debate began at 5:30PM (Central Time) on August 15, 2022 in the New York Sheen Center, as I announced here. Koonin won the Oxford Style debate since 25% of the in-person and online audience shifted to his view that the debate question: “Climate science compels us to make large and rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” is a false statement.
Here I will lay out both Dessler’s and Koonin’s most important arguments, in my opinion. Steve Koonin has generously given me his PowerPoint slides. I also requested Andy Dessler’s slides, but he did not respond to my request, if he does at some point, I will post them and let you know. Steve Koonin’s slides can be downloaded here. You will be able to see the full debate on YouTube before the end of next week, probably by August 24.