Solar variability and the Earth’s climate

By Andy May

According to Javier and the IPCC total solar radiation output varies little, less than 0.1%. This is only 0.7 to 1.4 Watts/m2 and converted to incident radiation striking the Earth this is reduces to about 0.05 to 0.4 W/m^2.  The latter values can be compared to an IPCC anthropogenic effect estimate of 2.3 Watts/m. They believe it has a small effect on the Earth’s climate. Others, like Abdussamatov, think solar output is more variable, perhaps varying 3 Watts/m2 (their Figure 3). Other variable stars, similar to the sun, seem to have 3% dimming in their minima, which is certainly significant. Both of the latter two examples are larger than the IPCC estimate of man’s influence. We don’t want to get any further into this debate here other than to note the IPCC may be significantly underestimating the effect of solar and ocean cycles in their models. The key point is we don’t know what drives the Earth’s climate. There are a bewildering number of natural and man-made factors that influence it.

While variations in total solar irradiance (TSI) may be small, there is clear evidence that Earth/solar cycles affect our climate. This is discussed in detail by two well referenced posts by Javier here and here. While measured TSI variations are small, the solar UV (ultraviolet) output varies by up to 10%, this affects ozone heating in the stratosphere which may have an influence on the troposphere. The varying UV radiation from the sun and other solar impacts on climate are discussed by Dr. Isaac Held and others at an NRC workshop here.

An interesting quote from the NRC (National Research Council) workshop in 2013:

“In recent years, researchers have considered the possibility that the sun plays a role in global warming. After all, the sun is the main source of heat for our planet.”

They follow this by explaining that solar influence is regional, how exactly does that work? The sun is 109 times larger in diameter than the Earth and 93,000,000 miles away, how can its influence be regional? The Pacific Ocean covers almost one third of the Earth’s surface and 68% of the landmass is in the northern hemisphere; so changes in the surface that the solar radiation hits are bound to cause uneven warming in the short (hundreds or thousands of years) term. As they correctly note, solar changes and regional surface variations cause changes in precipitation and in air circulation. Uneven warming can be expected to do this. However, an uneven warming effect does not disprove solar-caused global warming. It just means global warming of a heterogeneous surface cannot occur evenly everywhere instantaneously. The main means of heat distribution are through water phase changes, that is evaporation, circulation and precipitation. The adjustment of the Earth’s surface to a change in solar activity takes a long time, thus we have long term ocean cycles like the 1,500-year cycle.

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Environmentalism is a religion

The late Dr. Michael Crichton was wonderful writer. In 2003 he presented a wonderful essay in San Francisco equating environmentalism to religion. Nobel prize winning physicist Dr. Ivar Giaver makes the same point in a presentation here. In religion man is meant to be saved from the consequences of his sins. In the environmentalist religion the world was a wonderful, beautiful Eden until man and his technology came along. Man has eaten the apple and lost Eden. Now we must give up our “evil” technology and go back to nature, otherwise all is lost.

As Crichton notes:

“There is no Eden. There never was. What was that Eden of the wonderful mythic past? Is it the time when infant mortality was 80%, when four children in five died of disease before the age of five? When one woman in six died in childbirth? When the average lifespan was 40, as it was in America a century ago. When plagues swept across the planet, killing millions in a stroke. Was it when millions starved to death? Is that when it was Eden?

And what about indigenous peoples, living in a state of harmony with the Eden-like environment? Well, they never did. On this continent, the newly arrived people who crossed the land bridge almost immediately set about wiping out hundreds of species of large animals, and they did this several thousand years before the white man showed up … And what was the condition of life? Loving, peaceful, harmonious? Hardly, the early peoples of the New World lived in a state of constant warfare. … The warlike tribes of this continent are famous: the Comanche, Sioux, Apache, Mohawk, Aztecs, Toltec, Incas. Some of them practiced infanticide, and human sacrifice. And those tribes that were not fiercely warlike were exterminated…”

Environmentalists are horrible at predictions. We haven’t run out of oil, millions haven’t starved due to overpopulation, half of all species have not gone extinct, temperatures have not risen in over 18 years, total Antarctic ice and sea ice are increasing and on and on. But, it’s a religion, facts don’t matter. The bearded idiot on the street doesn’t put down his “end of the world is near” sign just because we pass the date he predicted we would all die. He just changes the date of destruction and carries on.

As Dr. Crichton explains, DDT is not a carcinogen, it did not cause birds to die and the people who banned it knew these facts. But, they banned it anyway and as a result tens of millions of poor people, mostly children, died. This was because of religion, not science.

The “Church of Global Warming” is probably the worst sect. The world has warmed from 288 Kelvin to 288.8 Kelvin in the last 135 years and not at all since 2002 according to the UAH satellite data. This is insignificant and very normal variability. The world is greener, food crops better and larger than ever, fewer people are hungry or in poverty, life expectancy is longer than ever before, and we have more arable land. There is no evidence that global warming is either man-made or dangerous and there is no evidence that carbon dioxide is either the sole cause of the minor warming we have seen or the dominant cause. We can show it is a greenhouse gas like water vapor, but that is about it.

We must get the religion out of environmentalism. We must get it back on a scientific basis. Too many organizations are simply lying, pure and simple. It started with DDT and has only gotten worse since. Science, especially environmental science, is becoming more and more politicized and this could have disastrous consequences.

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Can Earth be compared to Venus?

By Andy May

This post was updated 11/27/2020

We are often confronted with the idea that if the carbon dioxide level in the Earth’s atmosphere gets too high we will suffer from a “runaway greenhouse effect” and the Earth will become like Venus. This would be catastrophic. The temperature on the surface of Venus is roughly 737K (464°C or 867°F). It is hotter on the surface of Venus than on the daytime side of Mercury! In addition, Venus has very thick clouds of sulfuric acid. It is not a hospitable place. Could the Earth “go runaway” and become like Venus with the addition of more carbon dioxide to our atmosphere? James Hansen famously wrote in 2009, page 236:

“. .. if we burn all reserves of oil, gas, and coal, there’s a substantial chance that we will initiate the runaway greenhouse. If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe the Venus syndrome [the runaway greenhouse] is a dead certainty”

Could this be true? He got the idea by studying Venus. Is Venus “runaway?” Figure 1 is a profile of the Venusian atmosphere from a 2010 post by Steve Goddard. The graphic is originally from

Figure 1. The Venusian atmosphere.
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Comparing early 20th Century warming to late 20th Century warming

By Andy May

This post was updated August 25, 2015 to clarify the text on sea surface temperatures, provide a correlation coefficient between the two warming periods and to discuss the Planck parameter.

Many writers, including Professor Richard Lindzen and Ed Caryl have noticed the remarkable similarity in global warming observed from around 1910 to 1944 and 1975 to 2009. The similarity in slopes exists in all global surface temperature datasets. Figure 1 shows the HadCRUT version 4 dataset and the NASA GISS land (GHCN v3) and ocean (ERSST v4) temperature dataset. We’ve identified the two periods of interest on the figure. All datasets also show some cooling between 1945 and 1975.

Figure 1

Figure 2 shows the two periods overlain with data from the HadCRUT version 4 dataset. This display is scaled to actual average temperature. Unlike Figure one this figure uses monthly smoothed data. In that way, we can see some of the variation within each year.

Figure 2

The left side of Figure 2 represents 1910 for the blue line and 1975 for the orange line. On average the earlier blue line is 0.36°C cooler than the later line. The later line also has a steeper slope, the earlier represents 0.144°C of warming per decade and the later line shows 0.192°C warming per decade. Figure 3 shows the yearly HadCRUT v4 anomalies from the mean with the two means forced to be the same.

Overlay of the two 20th century HadCRUT warming periods

Figure 3

Now we can easily see the similarity in the two warming periods. The linear correlation coefficient (also called the Pearson product moment correlation coefficient) between the two periods is 0.81, so they are highly correlated.  Yet the IPCC in their AR5 Summary for Policy Makers states on page 17:

“It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together.”

On page 14 of the Summary for Policy Makers they provide a description of the anthropogenic “radiative forcing” from man’s emissions and other actions. This is shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4

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The May Book

A record of the May genealogy compiled by Jeremy (Jerry) Pine can be downloaded here.  This is a result of many years of work by Jerry.  As with any family this large this record is already outdated, but it contains a lot of great information.

Below is the earliest photograph of a May.  Isaac May was born in Kentucky September 7, 1814.  He  migrated to Decatur County Indiana prior to 1832 and to DeKalb Missouri in 1839.

Isaac May, born September 7, 1814 and died February 21, 1873.

Review and Summary of “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels”

By Andy May

The best-selling book The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels was first published November 27, 2014 by Penguin. The author, Alex Epstein, took a BA in Philosophy from Duke University in 2002. He is the President of the Center for Industrial Progress, a former fellow of the Ayn Rand Institute and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute. He was also named as one of the top 10 in Rolling Stone’s 2013 “Global Warming Denier Elite.” High praise indeed! He was fourth on the list.

Epstein presents a very well written discussion of the climate change debate. He destroys the 97% consensus myth, explains that the carbon dioxide greenhouse effect decreases logarithmically with concentration and shows that the climate computer models used to compute man’s influence on climate have never successfully predicted anything. He also shows that global warming has not increased extreme weather of any kind and that the dangers from extreme weather are less today than at any time in man’s history largely due to fossil fuels. He discusses Craig Idso’s pioneering research proving that increasing carbon dioxide acts as a powerful fertilizer for many plants. But readers of this review know these facts, so we will focus on his discussion of the merits of fossil fuels. He is a good writer and has superhuman skills at laying out a compelling logical argument. He would have put Daniel Webster and Clarence Darrow to shame. I highly recommend the book.

According to ExxonMobil’s 2016 report, in 2014 fossil fuels produced 82% of the energy in the world. Fossil fuels have produced more than 80% of the energy used in the US for over 100 years according to the EIA. They predict that in 2040 fossil fuels will still produce 78% of the world’s energy. Oil will grow at a 0.7% annual rate and natural gas will grow 1.6% per year. Coal will slightly decline. Yet, many in society think fossil fuels are bad for us and the world.

Figure 1: Energy demand in 2014 and 2040, by source

The book challenges this idea that fossil fuels have a negative effect on society. It is a fascinating, fact filled and well-reasoned discussion of the impact fossil fuels have had on our world since they were introduced on a mass scale over 120 years ago. There are 7 billion people on the Earth today and we are better fed, live better and longer than nearly every one of the 900 million people who lived in 1800. It is worth remembering that the average life expectancy, at birth, in 1800, in the UK was about 39 years. Epstein argues that with fossil fuels:

“We don’t take a safe environment and make it dangerous; we take a dangerous environment and make it far safer.”

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Politifact or Politi-fiction?

By Andy May

This is a critique of the coverage of the man-made climate change debate by It’s an update of a post I wrote last year. Journalism has not improved in the last 19 months and may actually be worse. Because Politifact is often characterized as an unbiased and credible source by the rest of the media it must be held to a very high standard. This is why finding two well documented cases of the organization deliberately mischaracterizing the facts and misquoting sources on the climate change debate is so shocking. As a result of these “fact checks” it is annoying that the press cites Politifact as if it were objective and honest, it is neither.

In their fact check of Senator Rick Santorum they misquoted Professor Richard Tol on several points. Tol pointed out the errors and Politifact refused to correct them. This is all well documented here. They also erroneously labeled Santorum’s statement false, Santorum did confuse his numbers a bit, but got the basics right. As Professor Tol put it in an email to Politifact:

“I think you were unfair on Santorum. He mixes up his numbers here: “The most recent survey of climate scientists said about 57 percent don’t agree with the idea that 95 percent of the change in the climate is caused by CO2.”

In fact, the statement is that 57% disagree that there is 95% confidence that 50% was caused by greenhouse gases. In other words, Santorum had the spirit right but the letter wrong.”

Politifact, like many in the news media, conflate “anthropogenic global warming” (man has some unknown amount of influence on climate) with “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming” (man is driving climate change with his emissions and causing a climate catastrophe). The debate is not whether man affects climate, I think everyone agrees with that. But by how much and whether or not it’s a problem.

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The Kerr-McGee Bohai Bay Block 0436 20 year Reunion

Those of us that worked to obtain block 0436 in Bohai Bay, China and were involved in the discoveries met today (July 28, 2016) in Greg Cleveland’s beautiful Memorial Area home for a 20th anniversary celebration of the first discovery. Quite a few were able to come. The block has gone back to the Chinese government now. But according to Jeff Pan, the last production manager in the Beijing office before the turnover, 150 million barrels of oil were produced! This far exceeds the minimum amount of oil production we computed before the field was developed. Below are some pictures from the party, click on any of the pictures to download a high resolution version.

If any other attendees have good pictures to share, please email them to me and I will add them to this post. I will also be adding some historical photos as soon as I can obtain good descriptions of them.

A brief history

In the early 1990’s Mark Seely noticed that onshore oil production around Bohai Bay went right up to the water’s edge and then stopped. This gave him the idea that if Kerr-McGee could get production rights in the bay we would have a good chance of a discovery. The early exploration team was formed in 1993 and it included Mike Patterson, Mark Seely, Gene Murray, and myself (Andy May). There were others, but they didn’t make the party. We got the block in 1994, the first discovery was a non-commercial oil test, the CFD 2-1-1, in July of 1996. It was this event that we were celebrating. The next discovery was the CFD 11-1-1 in November of 1999. It was proven commercial after much work, many beatings, fights and angst. Right up until first oil was produced from the field the Kerr-McGee Manager of Reserves, Kurt McCaslin, would tell anyone who would listen that Bohai would never make a profit. But, it turned out that the field moved into profitability after only six months of production!

Below is a group picture taken by Greg Cleveland:

From the top, then left to right: Bao Ming Zheng, Lin Yang, Don Turner, Andy May, Debbie Casares, Mike Patterson, Ling Duan, Ian Roberts, John Campion, Mark Seely, Michael Verm, Joan Verm, Greg Cleveland , and Eugene Murray.

Click to see more pictures

A Review of Temperature Reconstructions

By Andy May

In previous posts (here and here), I’ve compared historical events to the Alley and Kobashi
GISP2 Central Greenland Temperature reconstructions for the past 4,000 years. Unfortunately, these two reconstructions are very different. Recently Steve McIntyre has suggested a third reconstruction by Bo Vinther. Vinther’s data can be found here. Unfortunately, Vinther is often significantly different from the other two. The Alley data has been smoothed, but the details of the smoothing algorithm are unknown. So the other datasets have been smoothed so they visually have the same resolution as the Alley dataset. Both datasets (Kobashi and Vinther) were first smoothed with a 100 year moving average filter. Then 20 year averages of the smoothed data were taken from the one year Kobashi dataset to match the Vinther 20 year samples. The Alley data is irregularly sampled, but I manually averaged 20 year averages where the data existed. If a gap greater than 20 years was found that sample was skipped (given a null value).

All three reconstructions are shown in Figure 1. There is no reason to prefer one of the three reconstructions over the other two, so I simply averaged them. The average is the blue line. I’m not presenting this average as a new or better reconstruction, it is merely a vehicle for comparing the three reconstructions to one another and to other temperature reconstructions. This is an attempt to display the variability in common temperature reconstructions for the past 2,000 to 4,000 years.

Figure 1

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Facts and Theories

By Andy May

Sometimes people ask climate skeptics if they believe in evolution or gravity. They want to ridicule our skepticism by equating man-made climate change to evolution or gravity. Evolution and gravity are facts and man-made climate change is a hypothesis. Equating “climate change” to gravity or evolution is valid, as all three are facts. Climate changes, gravity holds us to the Earth’s surface and species evolve. Gravity and evolution have generally accepted theories of how they work. Einstein developed our current scientific theory of gravity. Newton provided us with his descriptive “Law of Gravitation.” Newton’s law tells us what gravity does and it is very useful, but it tells us nothing about how it works. For that we need Einstein’s theory of relativity. Theories and laws are not necessarily related in science. A law simply describes what happens without describing why. A scientific theory attempts to explain why a relationship holds true.

In the scientific community, for both a law and a theory, a single conflicting experiment or observation invalidates them. Einstein once said:

“No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.”

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