Climate change update

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on March 6, 2009

There's a new paper out that is pouring some cold water on the climate change alarmists. I'll try to explain this in layman's terms, because the science can be difficult even if you do follow it rather closely.

Carbon dioxide -- manmade or otherwise -- is a miniscule gas in the atmosphere, even growing as it obviously has recently. A helpful analogy by the late Michael Crichton asked readers to imagine a football field as representative of the gases making up the atmosphere. Of that football field, 77 yards of it is Nitrogen, 22 yards is oxygen and 1 inch is carbon dioxide. With all of man's breathing and coal-fired power plants and cars, that inch has grown less than 3/8 of an inch in the past 50 years -- less than the width of a pencil.

So, how does such a small change in a miniscule gas cause all manner of horror? Well, the idea is that you reach a tipping point and a bunch of positive feedbacks start happening. Carbon dioxide is supposed to snowball, affecting other gases -- notably oxygen in the form of water vapor -- to turn Minnesota into a sauna.

The paper just released shows that water vapor may not be amenable to a snowball effect. Water vapor may in fact have the effect of stopping the snowball and pushing it back up the hill.

Negative trends in q as found in the NCEP data would imply that long-term water vapor feedback is negative—that it would reduce rather than amplify the response of the climate system to external forcing such as that from increasing atmospheric CO2.

That's the latest on the science. The politics, posted over at Steve McIntyre's Climate Audit blog, is that Al Gore's cadre of preferred climate scientists aren't interested in actual science. The first publication that the authors attempted to get their article published in rejected it because one of the reviewers wrote:

“the only object I can see for this paper is for the authors to get something in the peer-reviewed literature which the ignorant can cite as supporting lower climate sensitivity than the standard IPCC range”.

Yes, let's not actual science get in the way of the political goals and grant money.


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March 2009



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