Climate change, cause and effect, Part 1

Climate Change, cause and effect. Is it real? Part 1 (of 4)

Intercourse, Pa, Oct 27, 2009

This morning I read an article in our local Newspaper, The Intelligencer Journal/New Era by Seth Borenstein via AP. The article states that Statisticians debunk Global Cooling. It says that global cooling is not true, and as proof the author mentioned that several independent statisticians say so. They shall remain unnamed since they participated in a blind test. This was about as scientific as the article went. It didn’t even meet the standards set fourth in the old, humorous book “How to lie with Statistics.”
I was a supporter of Global Warming awareness promotion until about 1990, when I saw some disturbing signs that the dialogue shifted dramatically from scientific to political. Since then I have followed the discussion with increased alarm. Nobody is addressing the real problem. All the attention shifted from the problem to a perceived solution. The problem is too much CO2, the solution is Global Governance, or even Global Government. Nobel Peace Prize and Oscar winning ex-Vice President Al Gore declared that “the Science is settled”. Shouldn’t we first come to an understanding what the real temperature control mechanisms are? Let me give this my best try:
We have all heard the maddening squeal from an amplifier system that did have too much gain in the feedback loop. The sound from the loud-speakers got picked up by the microphone and the whole system became unstable. There was positive feedback in the loop. All control engineers, of which I “are” one, know that the only stable system is one with negative feedback. All good parents also know that if they give only praise and never correct their kids, the behavior of those little Imps become more like amps and difficult to control. The earth’s temperature is inherently unstable. We have two “squeals” easily before our senses. Since the earth is bigger than any amplifier system the squeals are of lower frequency, the first one is called “day”, the second one “year”. Within any given day and any given year the control system is insufficient to give stable feedback. We also know that the earth has experienced times of much colder climate, called Ice Ages. Al Gore starts out in his book “Earth in the balance” with a chart showing a remarkable good correlation between CO2 levels and the earth’s temperature. During ice ages the CO2 level is low, in the interglacial periods it is higher. When looking at the original data it is apparent that rising temperatures came first, then the CO2 levels followed suit. This time around the CO2 levels rose first. Does temperature follow? That depends on cause and effect. Let me explain: You se a nice clothed man all wet coming down the street and you ask him why he is all wet and he answers: I just fell into the canal. Next day the same thing repeats itself with another man and the third day the same. You start to perceive a pattern. So the fourth day you see a wet man you ask him where he fell into the canal so you can put up a barrier to prevent further disasters and he answers: “What are you talking about? Didn’t you see how it rained cats and dogs ten minutes ago?”.

The ecosystem of the whole earth can be seen as one big control system with many feedback terms, some positive, some negative. If the negative terms are greater than the positive terms we have a stable system, (provided the phase margins and time lags are within bounds).
Let us first take the positive terms, those that make the system unstable.
1. Ice/albedo feedback. As the earth’s temperature is lowered, ice sheets and oceanic pack-ice build up. Glaciers form and grow.
The bright ice reflects more solar radiation back into space, and the cooling is amplified. If warming is occurring, ice melts and the warming is amplified. Power gain factor: 0.4 W m-2/°C.
2. Water vapor/temperature feedback. The saturation vapor pressure of water increases with temperature. Water vapor is a greenhouse gas, a weak one but a greenhouse gas nevertheless, absorbing infrared radiation. Increasing global temperature causes additional water to evaporate, and the water vapor content of the atmosphere rises. The greenhouse effect of the increased water vapor “feeds back,” and amplifies the warming. Since water vapor is counted in percent of the atmosphere it becomes a huge factor. At 15 °Celsius and 80% relative humidity about one percent of the air is water vapor. At 37 °C and 60% relative humidity about 3.7% of the air is water vapor. About 95% of all greenhouse gases effect is from H2O vapor, almost all of it natural, maybe 0.001% is anthropogenic (man-made). Power gain factor taken as an average over the whole earth: 1.5 W m-2/°C.
3. CO2 feedback. This is a simple, direct feedback, since the amount of CO2 remains constant with increased temperature. The CO2 contribution to the greenhouse effect is about 3.502% from natural sources and 0.117% from man-made sources (2000 data).
Power gain factor is 0.055 W m-2/°C. due to natural occurring CO2
and 0.00185 W m-2/°C. from anthropogenic (man-made) sources.
4. Methane feedback. This is a simple, direct feedback. The CH4 contribution to the greenhouse effect is about 0.294% natural and 0.066% man or animal made.
Power gain factor is 0.0046 W m-2/°C from natural causes and 0.001 W m-2/°C from man or beast chewing its cud.
5 Nitrous Oxide feedback. This is no laughing matter even if it is called laughing gas. The feedback loop is the same as for CO2 and methane. The contribution of N2O to the greenhouse effect is about 0.903% from natural causes and 0.047% from man-made causes such as cars, diesel trucks, trains and generators.
Power gain factor is 0.015 W m-2/°C from natural causes and 0.0007 W m-2/°C from man-made causes.
6. Other greenhouse gases feedback. These are gases, such as CFC and other, mostly man-made. They are rare, but have a huge effect because of their large greenhouse effect. For example, Sulphurhexafluoride has a greenhouse effect that is 22000 times larger than that of CO2. Their contribution to the greenhouse effect is about 0.025% from natural sources, and 0.047% from man-made sources.
Power gain factor is 0.0004 W m-2/°C from natural causes and 0.0007 W m-2/°C from man-made causes.

These were the terms with positive feedback. To add up: the total power gain factor of the positive terms is 1.5754 W m-2/°C from natural causes and 0.00425 W m-2/°C from man-made causes.

This means that about 0.27 percent of the positive gain factor in the total feedback system comes from man-made causes, and 99.73 % from natural causes.

All the terms above were positive feedback terms, and this would lead to an instable system. But we know that for the most part the earth has a stable temperature if one averages it out over a year.

The earth acts as a black body where the total radiation out in space is proportional to the fourth power of absolute temperature. This term is about
0.27 °C/W m-2. For a one degree rise in the earth’s temperature, the radiation out in space increases by 1.6%. This reduces the total temperature rise.

If there were no greenhouse gases at all on the earth, the black body radiation would give us a stable temperature of -18 °C. But the earth’s average temperature is about 14 °C, which means we have right now a greenhouse effect of 32 °C of which 0,086 °C ( 0.15 °F) is anthropogenic (man-made)

The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is set to double by the year 2050 if we do increase CO2 production like we have the last 100 years. Applying the same formulae as before we get the term from man-made causes to be a whopping 3,528% and warming from natural causes is down to 96.462 %. This would heat up the atmosphere a whole 1.2 °C (2.16 °F).

If there is gain in the system, such as from melting the ice-caps the temperature rise would be larger, if there was a dampening in the system such as from the increase in radiation out in the universe by increased black body radiation and/or some other stabilizing factor the temperature rise would be lower than 2,16 °F.

We know there has been no temperature runaway in the past, but the Minoan warm period right after the Ice age was 3 to 5 °C warmer, the Roman warm period was 1 to 3 °C warmer, the Medieval warm period was 1 to 3 °C warmer , and the little Ice Age was more than one degree cooler than today. Why? The CO2 level during that time was remarkably constant. In the distant past there has been Ice Ages with much higher CO2 concentrations than today.
Let us find the stabilizing factors!

We will examine what makes the feedback loop stable in part two of this document, the sources of climate change in part three, and what we can do to improve climate stability in part four.


Here are some references to 95% contribution of water vapor:

a. S.M. Freidenreich and V. Ramaswamy, “Solar Radiation Absorption by Carbon Dioxide, Overlap with Water, and a Parameterization for General Circulation Models,” Journal of Geophysical Research 98 (1993):7255-7264

b. Global Deception: The Exaggeration of the Global Warming Threat
by Dr. Patrick J. Michaels, June 1998
Virginia State Climatologist and Professor of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia

c. Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Appendix D, Greenhouse Gas Spectral Overlaps and Their Significance
Energy Information Administration; Official Energy Statistics from the U.S. Government

d. The Geologic Record and Climate Change
by Dr. Tim Patterson, January 2005
Professor of Geology– Carleton University
Ottawa, Canada
Alternate link:
e. EPA Seeks To Have Water Vapor Classified As A Pollutant
by the ecoEnquirer, 2006
Alternate link:

f. Does CO2 Really Drive Global Warming?
by Dr. Robert Essenhigh, May 2001
Alternate link:

g. Solar Cycles, Not CO2, Determine Climate
by Zbigniew Jaworowski, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., 21st Century Science and Technology, Winter 2003-2004, pp. 52-65

This last reference suggests a 96 to 99% contribution of H2O to greenhouse gas warming.


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