Climate change and the Paris climate agreement. A Limerick.

Re-enter the Paris accord?

A folly we ill can afford.

We’ll help China pollute,

they won’t still give a hoot.

Re-sign is a Damocles sword.

I am a climate realist, that means I look at the totality of what is happening to the climate with increasing CO2 levels, and what it means for our future.

Climate alarmists and IPCC believe that the thermal response to increasing CO2 is a feedback gain from increasing water vapor that results from higher temperatures, leading to much higher temperatures. Current climate model averages indicate a temperature rise of 4.7 C by 2100 if nothing is done, 4.65 C if U.S keeps all its Paris commitments and 4.53 C if all countries keep their part of the agreement. In all cases, with or without Paris agreement we are headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.

As the chart indicates, implementing all of the Paris agreement will delay the end of mankind as we know it by at most 4 years.

The cost is staggering. The developing countries want at least 100 billion dollars a year to implement the Paris accord, all paid for by the developed countries. The most infuriating thing about that is that China is considered a developing country, and being a developed country The U.S., while reducing their CO2 footprint will be paying China until the year 2030 to further develop their coal burning electric plants until the China CO2 output is six times our output. They had plans to add 65 GW  (+6.5%) of coal-burning power plants this year alone to their grid. The china-virus delayed that by a few months, but their intent is still to dominate the world by 2025. They already consume 48% of the world’s output of coal, produce over half of the world’s steel and cement (it takes a lot of reinforced concrete to create multiple islands in the South China Sea).

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Myself and quite a few scientists, meteorologists, but mostly engineers believe the feedback loop in nature is far more complicated than what the climate models suggest, in fact, there is a large negative feedback in the system, preventing a temperature runaway, and we have the observations to prove it.  The negative feedback manifests itself in 2 ways:

Inorganic feedback, represented by clouds. If there were no clouds, the tropics would average a temperature of  140 F  thanks to the greenhouse effect. The clouds reflect back up to 300 W/m2 into space rather than the same energy being absorbed into water or soil. Clouds are highly temperature dependent, especially cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds. The figure below shows temperature at the equator in the Pacific Ocean.

Cumulus clouds are formed in the morning, earlier the warmer it is, and not at all if it is cold, thunderstorms appear when it is warm enough. The figure shows how temperature in the equatorial Pacific rises until about 8:30 a.m, then actually declines between 9 and 12 a.m. even as the sun continues to rise. The feedback, which was positive at low temperatures becomes negative at warmer temperatures, and in the equatorial doldrums, surface temperature has found its equilibrium. No amount of CO2 will change that. Equatorial temperature follows the temperature of the ocean, warmer when there is an el niño, cooler when there is a la niña. Here is a chart of temperature increases since satellite measurements began as a function of latitude.

The tropics follow the ocean temperature closely, no long term rising trend, the extra-tropics are also stable.

Not so at the poles. the temperature record indicate a noticeable warming with large spikes up and down, up to 3 degree Celsius difference from year to year, especially the Arctic. So, how much has the Arctic melted? Here is a chart of Arctic ice cover for 31 May for the last 39 years.

If this trend continues, all ice may melt in 300 to 400 years, faster if there is further warming and nothing else is changing. Let’s take a look at the Arctic above the 80th latitude, an area of about 3,85 million square kilometers, less than 1% of the earth’s surface, but it is there where global warming is most pronounced. Here are two charts from 2016 and 2017.

meanT_2017

Starting at summer 2016, the Arctic was melting quite normally, but something else happened that is not shown in the chart. Every 5 years or so, the Arctic suffer a large storm with full hurricane strength during the summer. In 2016 there was no one, but two such storms, and as they happened late in the season when the ice is rotten they result in a large ice loss, making the ice minimum the lowest on record, and the ice volume nearly 4,000 Gigatons (Gt) less than the 30 year normal. Then the temperature from October thru April did run 7 degree Celsius warmer than normal with a spike as high as 20 degrees warmer. Yet today the deficit is down to 2,500 Gt. What happened? It snowed more than normal. In the Arctic, it gets warmer under clouds, warmer still when it snows. Take a look at Greenland and what happened during the freezing season. It snowed and snowed and Greenland accumulated 150 Gt more ice than normal. So, at that point in the season we were a total of 1650 Gt ahead of previous year, and this was with Arctic temperatures being seven degrees warmer than normal during the cold season. The counter-intuitive conclusion is that it may very well be that warmer temperatures produces accumulation of snow and ice, colder temperatures with less snow accumulates less. What happens during the short Arctic summer? With more snow accumulated it takes longer to melt prevous year’s snow, so the temperature stays colder longer. In 2017 the Arctic temperature was running colder than normal every day since May 1. If this melting period ended without melting all snow, multi year ice will accumulate, and if it continued unabated, a new ice age would start.

 

The second feedback loop is organic. More CO2 means more plant growth.  According to NASA there has been a significant greening of the earth, more than 10% since satellite measurements begun. This results in a cooling effect everywhere, except in areas that used to be treeless where they have a warming effect. The net effect is that we can now feed 2 billion more people than before without using more fertilizer. Check this picture from NASA, (now they can publish real science again) showing the increased leaf area extends nearly everywhere.

In addition, more leafs changes the water cycle, increases evapotranspiration, and more trees and vegetation reduces erosion and unwanted runoff. Good news all around.

In short, taking into account the negative feedback occurring the earth will warm up less than 0.5 degrees from now, not at all in the tropics, and less than 3 degrees at the poles. Without the Paris agreement there will be no increase in the death rates in the cities, except from the slight increase of city temperatures due to the urban heat effect. With the Paris agreement we will have to make draconian cuts in our use of electricity, meaning using much less air conditioning and even less heating, and life expectancy will decline.

We need energy. It takes a lot of energy to clean up the planet. Developing nations should be encouraged to use electricity rather than cooking by dried cow-dung. Coal is limited, and we should leave some for our great great grandchildren. Oil and gas should be preserved for aviation, since there is no realistic alternative with a high enough energy density. Therefore I am an advocate for Thorium based nuclear energy, being safer than Uranium based nuclear energy, and, properly implemented will produce about 0.01% of the long term radioactive waste compared to conventional nuclear power plants. And there is a million year supply  of Thorium available. Once the electricity power plants have fully switched away from coal and gas, then and only then is it time to switch to electric cars. The case for Thorium generated electric energy can be found here.

Published by

lenbilen

Retired engineer, graduated from Chalmers Technical University a long time ago with a degree in Technical Physics. Career in Aerospace, Analytical Chemistry, computer chip manufacturing and finally adjunct faculty at Pennsylvania State University, taught just one course in Computer Engineering, the Capstone Course.

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