New York City and seventeen other U.S.Cities has just joined 650 cities worldwide in declaring a climate emergency. We may have environmental and ecological disasters such as urban asphalt jungles where lots of people live and suffer, erosion and using up the aquifers, but climate disaster, no, not if you live closer to nature and can observe the temperature controller it provides in the forming and disappearing of clouds.
Many years ago the earth was in an ice age and the CO2 level was around 180 ppm, barely sustaining plant life. The ice age ended, most of the ice melted, and the CO2 level rose to around 260 ppm. The oceans warmed up, the humidity increased, more clouds formed and the temperature rise stopped and has been on a slow cooling trend since then. The Greenland ice cores give a good record:
All this time the CO2 level was fairly constant at around 260 ppm. This time is different; CO2 levels are now over 400 ppm, rising about 2 ppm per year with no end in sight. The question is: Is it good or bad? If it is bad, how bad is it going to be?
To answer this question the world spends over 400 billion dollars a year in climate research and are starting to spend much more in climate remediation. Over 30 nations are making climate models trying to predict future temperature trends. Of the models so far all but one fail miserably when compared to what actually is happening. The sole exception is the Russian model which tries to fit the model to past temperature records rather than postulate that response from CO2 and water vapor are always additive.
There is a better, far simpler way to predict future temperature trends. The reason CO2 and water vapor are not always additive is because water vapor is a condensing gas, sometimes forming clouds, which drastically alter the temperature of the surface. Clouds forming at day reflects a large portion of the sunlight back into space, clouds at night keep the heat in.
Willis Eschenbach has made en excellent analysis of 19 years of data from CERES (Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System from NASA). He compensates for the effect of Advection (horizontal heat transfer of energy from one place on earth to another.) The results are startling:
The 3.7 W/m2 is the expected increase of heat retention for a doubling of CO2 as per IPCC (the U.N Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). A similar result is obtained if one is to include data from HadCRUT (Temperature data from the Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office)
Tis agrees very well with my own, much coarser examination of data, but sould include that the expected temperature increase observed for a doubling of CO2 is by no means evenly distributed. In addition, if temperature rises 0,39C there will be about 2.6 % more water vapor in the air which would rise temperature another 0.35 C. This too is not evenly distributed. Here are the expected result:
In the tropical doldrums there will be no change at all, the water vapor is all dominant and thunderstorms keep the average temperature constant.
In the 10-40 latitude there will be an increase, but increased clouds will moderate the increase except in the most arid deserts that will carry the full 0.9 C increase.
The temperate regions will experience about a 0.4 C increase in the wet areas, and about a 0.6 C in the arid parts.
Most of the increase will be experienced around the poles, with minimum temperatures rising five to ten degrees, but maximum temperatures staying about the same.
Why is that? With on the average 2.6 % increase in water vapor there will be an increase in the rainfall, about 2.6% on average, but since there is no change in the tropics it will be concentrated at the higher latitudes, especially around the poles where it will manifest itself as more snow, and that is the main reason for the increased minimum temperatures.
So, how bad is it going to get if nothing is done to stop the increase in CO2?
The temperature difference between poles and equator will be less, which means:
Fewer and less severe hurricanes, less severe tornadoes, less severe winter storms, less droughts.
But there will be about 2% more average cloud cover, more rain and more flooding.
So, with an 0.4C average temperature we will not even be back to the medieval warm period, much less the Roman warm period, not to speak of the Minoan warm period.
The sinking eastern seaboard is a problem that has very little to do with ocean rising, and all to do with tectonic plates movements, which we will have to accept.
Will anything good come out of this climate change?
Yes, indeed. With a doubling of CO2 there will be a corresponding response from plant life increasing biological productivity 30 to 60%. It is not linear, and above 800 ppm it tapers of for most plant species. But we will be able to feed at least another 3 billion people and keep them from hunger, but also much cattle and wild animals, (yes that includes flies and gnats, but I digress)
This picture gives us hope for the future. Notice the most significant increase was in Sub-Saharan Africa and eastern India.