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Climate Change: The Unsettled Science – Part 1

Climate Change: The Unsettled Science – Part 1

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At the recent 28th Conference of Parties (COP28), convened by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the British aristocrat, political lobbyist and climate activist, King Charles III, said:

I have spent a large proportion of my life trying to warn of the existential threats facing us over global warming, climate change and biodiversity loss. [. . .] The dangers are no longer distant risks. [. . .]  How can we bring together our public, private, philanthropic and N.G.O. sectors ever more effectively, so that they all play their part in delivering climate action, each complementing the unique strengths of the others? Public finance alone will never be sufficient. [. . .] [H]ow can we ensure that finance flows to those developments most essential to a sustainable future.

Two things stand out from Charles’ speech: the warnings of the dire consequences of “global warming” and that his suggested solutions all having something to do with redirecting the investment strategies of a global public-private partnership.

Charles has long warned us of climate catastrophe. It was 14 years ago when he reliably informed us that we had just 8 years left to save the world.

Claimed justification for a new global economic model is, of course, why the people we might call the parasite class are so eager to push “climate alarm.” If we look at the alleged solution of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), they have far more to do with global economic, political, financial and social control then they do with addressing “climate change.” Among the gathered so-called “thought leaders” at COP28, Charles was one of many to declare that fighting climate change necessitates much more global governance.

The global transformation of pretty much everything is based upon the claim that global warming is leading to dangerous climate change and we must all collectively do something about it. Although it is equally clear that “we” doesn’t include aristocrats like Charles, or many of the other COP28 billionaire “climate activists” who each have carbon footprints comparable to small island states.

Nevertheless, even if we accept the selective, collective responsibility demanded of us, when we look at the scientific evidence there are many reasons to doubt the alleged basis for any of it. Not least, because the foundational, underlying theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is eminently questionable.

Broadly, AGW theory posits that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other so-called greenhouse gases (GHGs), such as methane (CH4), are being added to the atmosphere where they accumulate and supposedly reduce the rate that heat is radiated from the Earth. This allegedly causes additional warming in the lower atmospheric layer: the troposphere.

Burning so-called fossil fuels for energy has been identified as the primary culprit for humanity’s emission of alleged GHGs. Proponents of AGW theory add that this man-made warming is unprecedented and adversely affecting weather patterns to such an extent that life on Earth is in imminent peril.

Consequently, our use of energy, often referred to as the energy mix, is said to be leading us toward a “climate disaster.” When reported by the media, this causes widespread “climate alarm.”

Governments and many “climate scientists” strongly argue that we must change the energy mix toward a reliance upon alleged renewable energy, radically alter our consumption patterns and accept increasing restrictions. These measures form part of the United Nations’ “sustainable development” agenda.

The South African economist, Rob Jeffrey, achieved some brief fame after successfully gaining his PhD at the age of 80 years old. His remarkable final dissertation is one of the few published documents to collate a large body of scientific evidence questioning both AGW theory and the prevailing “climate alarm” narrative in one resource. This article series is partly based on some of his finding but cannot hope to do his work justice. Reading his paper is highly recommended.

We will discuss some of the many scientific and other empirical reasons to question AGW theory. For example, a recent statistical review of the historical temperature record published by the Statistisk Sentralbyrå—the Norwegian Statistics Bureau—considered the extent to which historical temperature change is driven by man-made GHG emissions. In the abstract, the researchers noted:

[. . .] [standard climate models are rejected by time series data on global temperatures. [. . .] [T]he effect of man-made CO2 emissions does not appear to be strong enough to cause systematic changes in the temperature fluctuations during the last 200 years.

The article you are reading does not represent “climate change denial.” No one who seriously questions AGW theory, the claimed “climate crisis” or the resultant “climate alarm,” denies either that climate changes or that the planet is in a general warming phase. Nor do sceptics “deny” the potential for climate change to have a significant impact on the environment and the global population.

This article is not intended to be a rebuttal of the consensus AGW climate science. It is a reference to a small percentage of the science that questions the consensus climate science. Much, but not all of this evidence is cited by Rob Jeffrey in his thesis. The objective is to hopefully stimulate open, honest debate. That discussion should also consider the United Nations’ claimed justification for its sustainable development agenda.

Understanding AGW Theory

According to the German theoretical physicists Sabine Hossenfelder AGW theory determines that primarily shortwave “ultraviolet” solar radiation is initially absorbed by the Earth then emitted, in the form of longwave “infrared” radiation. The infrared radiation emitted by the surface slowly spreads upwards through the atmosphere where it is trapped by GHGs.

The total incoming solar energy must balance with total outgoing energy to achieve “radiative equilibrium.” The radiative balance is called the Earth’s “radiation budget.”

Atmospheric pressure and temperature decreases with altitude, thus the density of GHGs reduces to the point where the infrared radiation from the Earth’s surface is emitted by GHGs, notably CO2. It is emitted in all directions and some is emitted “back” toward the Earth’s surface

In order to maintain radiative equilibrium, the resultant, average surface air temperature (SAT – very low altitude, only 2M above the surface) will always be proportionately warmer than the “top of atmosphere” (TOA) where the infrared radiation is finally released by more sparsely distributed GHGs.

Loeb et al. (2018) states:

Climate change involves a perturbation to Earth’s energy budget [. . .]. Changes in the composition of the atmosphere either through natural or anthropogenic sources alter how energy is distributed and can lead to irreversible changes in regional climate. At the top-of-atmosphere (TOA), the Earth’s energy budget involves a balance between how much solar energy Earth absorbs and how much terrestrial thermal infrared radiation is emitted to space. Since only radiative energy is involved, this is also referred to as Earth’s radiation budget (ERB). Approximately 30% of the incident solar radiation reaching Earth is scattered back to space by air molecules, clouds, the Earth’s surface, and aerosols. The remaining 70% is absorbed by the surface atmosphere system, providing the energy necessary to sustain life on Earth. The absorbed solar radiation (ASR) is converted into different forms of energy, and transported and stored throughout the system. The Earth also emits thermal infrared radiation to space as outgoing longwave radiation, which must balance ASR in an equilibrium climate.

Different GHGs have different wavelength absorption and emission properties. CO2 best absorbs longwave radiation with a wavelength of around 15 micrometers. This means, at approximately 12km above the earth, where the atmospheric temperature is about 220K (-53°C), CO2 causes a notable dip in outgoing longwave radiation.

However, CO2 doesn’t just absorb and emit longwave radiation in this narrow emission band at this altitude. It also absorbs it at shorter and longer wavelengths to a lesser degree at both lower and higher altitudes. Increasing total atmospheric CO2 slows the emission of an expanding chunk of long wave radiation. In essence, this raises the altitude at which infrared radiations leaves the Earth.

Speaking about what she calls the “enhanced greenhouse effect,” Dr Hossenfelder said:

The greenhouse effect works because pushing the effective altitude of emissions up reduces the temperature emission, and that brings the system out of balance.

This positive “radiative forcing” creates the Earth’s energy imbalance (EEI) measured as radiative flux (W/m2). Shukmann et al, (2023) currently estimated the EEI to be +0.76 W/m2.

The radiative forcing adds additional heat energy to the climate system. This largely manifests as potential and kinetic energy causing more frequent and severe weather anomalies. Proponents of AGW theory claim that this positive radiative forcing leads to an ever more energetic climate system, with possible dangerous implications for life on the planet.

AGW theory is allegedly proven by the observation of stratospheric cooling. In 1967 Manabe and Wetherall predicted that increasing energy trapped in the troposphere would lead to an observable cooling in the Stratosphere. This is said to be the “fingerprint” of AGW. Santer et al, (2023) has observed stratospheric cooling and, combined with tropospheric warming, claim this as “incontrovertible evidence of human effects on the thermal structure of Earth’s atmosphere.”

Sabine Hossenfelder explained the significance simultaneous stratospheric cooling and tropospheric warming for AGW theorists:

This was a super important prediction because, if global warming was caused by an increase in solar radiation, rather than an increase in global gases, then they should both warm. And the upper stratosphere has in fact cooled. If someone asks you how we know it’s not a change in solar radiation a good answer is [. . .] “stratospheric cooling.”

Dr Hossenfelder recognised that the basic diagrammatic representation of the mathematical model of the greenhouse effect—something we’ll discuss shortly—in nearly all the major introductory “climate science” textbooks is confusing. Therefore, she simplified the scientific explanation of how the greenhouse effect “really” works:

The incoming radiation from the sun comes through the atmosphere and hits the surface. It’s converted into infrared radiation and that heats the atmosphere from below. Somewhere up here [TOA], the infrared light escapes for good. If the concentration of CO2 goes up then infrared light escapes from somewhere further up where the atmosphere is a little colder. So now the total emitted energy is smaller and the system is out of balance. The Earth then has to heat from below until the emission comes into balance again.

This simple, layman’s explanation from a climate scientist is important for sceptics because, as Einstein allegedly said to Louis de Broglie:

All physical theories, their mathematical expressions apart, ought to lend themselves to so simple a description that even a child could understand them.

If the theory is sound then it should be simple enough to explain it.

Temperature “lapse rates” in the lower atmospheric layers

Questioning AGW Theory Consensus

AGW theory is widely considered “settled science” and the scientific consensus on the theory is equally “settled” and said to further strengthen the notion that AGW theory is scientific fact. Legacy media (LM) outlets, such as the BBC, have editorial policies that prohibit any questioning of AGW theory in its news and scientific coverage. Other LM outlets like the UK Guardian refuse to call the questioning of consensus climate science “scepticism,” instead insisting upon labelling it “climate denial.”

Scientific consensus is scientifically irrelevant. It is not even evidence, let alone proof of anything. The very fact that there is scientific debate about the alleged consensus emphasises that science is never settled, either by consensus or otherwise.

In many respects, it is ridiculous that Rob Jeffrey Ph.D even needed to address the question of consensus. Unfortunately, it is frequently cited by AGW theory advocates as if it were reason to accept their claims. Therefore, he was compelled to briefly tackle the issue.

Rob Jeffrey wrote:

Some years ago, a claim was made by Bedford and Cook (2013) that “There is an overwhelming consensus within the scientific community [. . .] the Earth’s global average temperature is increasing, and human emissions of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, are the main cause.” The conclusion of Cook was that on AGW [Anthropogenic Global Warming], “97.1 % endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.” [. . .]. This figure is often bandied about as experts’ clear-cut consensus on humans’ responsibility for Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). Many other experts have strongly disputed this, notably Legates (2015). They set out strong arguments that the figure of 97% is blatant misrepresentation.

Cook et al. (2013) examined the abstracts from 11,944 papers, published between 1991–2011, where the topics “global climate change” or “global warming,” etc. were discussed. The researchers deemed the abstract to be supportive of AGW theory “consensus” if it expressed some degree of agreement with the following statement:

Human activity is very likely causing most of the current warming (anthropogenic global warming, or AGW).

Later, Legates et al. (2015) would describe this as Cook’s “standard definition” of AGW consensus. From Legates (2015) we note:

It is not possible to discern either from the paper or from the supplementary information what percentage of all abstracts the authors considered to have endorsed the standard definition. [. . .] Of the 11,944 abstracts, 3896 (32.6 %) were marked as explicitly or implicitly endorsing at least the unquantified definition that humans cause some warming. It was only by arbitrarily excluding those 7930 abstracts that expressed no opinion (but retaining forty abstracts expressing uncertainty) that Cook et al. (2013) were able to conclude that 97.1 % endorsed ‘consensus’. However, the authors’ data file shows that they had marked only 64 abstracts (0.5 % of the entire sample) as endorsing the standard definition of consensus. Inspection shows that 23 of these 64 do not, in fact, endorse that definition. Only 41 papers (0.3 % of the sample) do so.

Effectively it appears that Cook (2013) excluded papers that did not promote the “standard definition” and rated the degree of agreement among the remaining papers to derive the 97.1% “consensus.” Yet, as Legates (2015) highlighted, this level of agreement is not evident from the full Cook (2013) reported dataset.

As a result of scientists and other sceptics questioning the “consensus” claim, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) funded some more scientists to double-down on the consensus irrelevance. Presumably for economic or political, rather than scientific reasons, they were eager to promote the consensus narrative.

Bill Gates and his foundation are heavily invested in climate alarm—Gates even wrote a book about his “alarmist” beliefs. Like many other billionaires, having profited enormously from the policy response to the pseudopandemic, Gates seems eager that we should all embrace the UN’s sustainable development goals and the related climate change policies.

BMGF board member Mark Suzman wrote:

As bad as the pandemic has been, climate change will be even worse if we do not start applying the same spirit of global collaboration right now to address it. [. . .] [O]ur global civilization needs to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050 [. . .] this is the time to aggressively reduce global emissions and help vulnerable populations adapt to the changing climate.

The BMGF paper claims that the consensus on AGW now stands at 99%. Building on the methodology of Cook et al. (2013)—referenced as C13 in the Gates paper—the BMGF scientists didn’t mention Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) but used the term Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC) instead.

The AGW theory claim is very clearly based upon the idea of unprecedented global warming. Anthropogenic climate change (ACC) is exclusively an alleged consequence of nothing but unprecedented global warming.

From more than 88,000 related articles catalogued by Web of Science between 2012 – 2020, searched using a set of questionable keywords, Gates’ researchers identified just “28 papers from the full dataset” that were said to be sceptical of ACC, not necessarily AGW. Hence their reported certainty about the ACC “consensus.”

Web of Science is a database of scholarly books, peer reviewed journals, original research articles, reviews, editorials, chronologies, abstracts, as well as other items. Web of Science is a maintained by Clarivate.

Clarivate is a British based, global data analytics company which claims to be a “global leader in trusted and transformative intelligence” that collates “enriched data” with a view toward enabling investors to “direct funding toward the most promising research areas.” Clarivate asserts that Web of Science is “curated with care” by its “expert team of in-house editors.” Clarivate stresses that its “corporate sustainability goals are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals”

Effectively the BMGF team had searched a biased source, using biased criteria to demonstrate a biased and evidently predetermined conclusion. Searching funding reliant climate science for evidence that the prevailing climate science is doubtful is like surveying the opinions of postal workers for evidence that the postal service is unnecessary. It is junk “science” in other words.

The funding bias in science reached crisis proportions years ago. We are now at the stage where scientific papers are often rejected for peer review by the so-called “prestigious journals” if they don’t support the “consensus.” There is an orthodoxy and perfectly legitimate scientific theories have become heretical. Bluntly, science is in deep trouble and is increasingly used as little more than political propaganda.

The problem with such scientific junk is that it is then deployed by the legacy media to bamboozle the population. It enables leading “climate scientists,” such as the BMGF funded Mark Lynas, who is a climate change activist and lead author of the 99% consensus paper, to make anti-scientific statements like “it is really case closed.” This unscientific claim is consequently believed by millions as if there was such a thing as “settled science.”

In 2019, approximately five hundred scientists, engineers, economists and academic researchers submitted a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations stating the following:

  1. Natural as well as anthropogenic factors cause warming.
  2. Warming is far slower than predicted.
  3. Climate policy relies on inadequate models.
  4. CO2 is not a pollutant. It is a plant food that is essential to all life on Earth. Photosynthesis is a blessing. More CO2 is beneficial for nature, greening the Earth: additional CO2 in the air has promoted growth in global plant biomass. It is also good for agriculture, increasing the yields of crops worldwide.
  5. Global warming has not increased natural disasters.
  6. Climate policy must respect scientific and economic realities.
  7. There is no climate emergency. Therefore, there is no cause for panic.

Throughout his paper, Rob Jeffrey cited numerous peer reviewed scientific papers and articles from renowned climate scientists that question AGW theory and the associated climate alarm. As he put it:

There have been many papers and much research done on this subject [AGW theory]. This thesis considers that the debate at this stage indicates that the Science is not settled, nor is there consensus.

Questioning The Greenhouse Effect

To illustrate the point about the lack of “consensus,” even the greenhouse effect is not beyond scientific dispute. Rob Jeffrey noted:

A crucial part of the argument against CO2 is the so-called “greenhouse gas theory.” At this stage, this is purely a hypothesis, and there is significant evidence that the greenhouse gas hypothesis is oversimplified and inaccurate.

As previously discussed, advocates of the greenhouse effect postulate that solar shortwave radiation—measured in watts per square meter (W/m2)—is the sole energy source that creates the climate. Some of the shortwave radiation is reflected off clouds, ice, snow, etc. This is called the albedo effect. Light coloured surfaces have high albedo, dark surfaces have low albedo.

The shortwave “ultraviolet” solar radiation is absorbed by surfaces with a low albedo, often referred to as a theoretically ideal “blackbody.” Shortwave solar radiation heats the low albedo “blackbody” surfaces which then emit effective longwave “infrared” radiation that translates into heat energy in the atmosphere. GHGs impede the outgoing longwave radiation. This is said to destabilise the Earth’s “radiation budget” causing the troposphere to warm.

Based on this greenhouse theory, NASA states:

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (such as water vapor and carbon dioxide) absorb most of the Earth’s emitted longwave infrared radiation, which heats the lower atmosphere [troposphere]. In turn, the warmed atmosphere emits longwave radiation, some of which radiates toward the Earth’s surface, keeping our planet warm and generally comfortable. Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane increase the temperature of the lower atmosphere by restricting the outward passage of emitted radiation, resulting in “global warming,” or, more broadly, global climate change.

The greenhouse effect is allegedly a radiative, heat trapping phenomenon which assumes the reduction of surface cooling because GHGs absorb the outgoing longwave radiation and then re-emit part of it “back.” This process supposedly causes net warming of the troposphere and the Earth’s surface.

In 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—more on the IPCC in Parts 2 and 3—provided a handy diagram [Fig 1] revealing how the “enhanced greenhouse effect” is said to work. The IPCC claimed the diagram was based upon the measured radiative flux taken from a combination of terrestrial measuring stations, balloon and satellite readings.

IPCC AR5 measured readings demonstrating the enhanced greenhouse effect

The yellow arrows show the total absorbed incoming solar flux to the Earth as 340 W/m2. Of this, 100 W/m2 is said to be reflected by the  albedo effect at the top of atmosphere (TOA). Consequently, the IPCC AGW theory model—allegedly drawn from empirical measurements—shows net solar radiative flux supposedly received by the Earth as 240 W/m2. This is comprised of 79 W/m2 absorbed in the lower troposphere (by clouds) and 161 W/m2 absorbed by the Earth’s surface.

In AGW theory, the TOA is also the point where radiative infrared flux emitted from the Earth is finally released back into space. As shown by the orange outward flux arrow in the top right (thermal outgoing TOA), the enhanced greenhouse effect emits 239 W/m2 from the Earth via the TOA “atmospheric window.” Therefore there is a suggested net imbalance of about 1 W/m2. This is the claimed “radiative forcing” leading to runaway net warming of the Earth’s surface and climate system.

We note from Dr Sabine Hossenfelder that the only source of infrared flux absorbed by the “enhanced” GHGs, which allegedly cause the problem, is the “incoming radiation from the sun” that “comes through the atmosphere and hits the surface.” Hossenfelder states that this 240 W/m2 of solar flux is “converted into infrared radiation” and “heats the atmosphere from below.”

In the IPCC diagram of the enhanced greenhouse effect, the outward surface radiative flux from the Earth’s surface—shown by the orange arrow as “thermal up surface”—is 398 W/m2. This appears to be more than twice the radiative flux the surface received from the sun—161 W/m2—and, even if we add the 79 w/m2 absorbed in the lower atmosphere, it is still considerably more radiative flux than initially delivered by the sun. If Hossenfelder’s simple description is correct, this suggest another energy source in addition to the sun.

This is supposedly accounted for in AGW theory by so called “back radiation” shown as the orange 342 W/m2 downward arrow—marked as “thermal down surface.” But this is still more than twice the solar radiative flux initially received by the Earth’s surface and remains much higher than the total 240 W/m2 allegedly input into the “heating” of the troposphere.

The atmospheric GHGs do not “reflect” infrared radiation received from the Earth. They absorb it and then supposedly re-emit it “back” toward the surface. It is difficult to understand how 240 W/m2 somehow becomes 398 W/m2 in the first place, or how GHGs can emit 342 W/m2 without additional energy from somewhere.

AGW theory suggests that the lower troposphere and the surface are “warmed” by re-absorbing infrared energy they have previously emitted. If true this represents a net gain in energy from an unknown source. But this only adds further apparent problems to the GHG model.

In physics, Kirchoff’s Laws of thermal radiation states that the radiation emissivity and the absorptivity of a surface at a given temperature and wavelength are equal. In addition, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamic states that net heat always flows spontaneously from hotter to colder regions of matter. That is to say heat energy flows “downhill,” from warmer regions to colder regions. This includes energy transferred by radiation.

As stated by Hossenfelder, atmospheric temperature decreases with altitude. Furthermore, according to Hossenfelder, CO2 absorbs most infrared energy at about 12km above the Earth at around 220K (-53°C). In keeping with Kirchhoff’s Law and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, even if we overlook the apparently inexplicable additional energy source problem, it does not seem possible that atmospheric CO2 can “warm” the planet‘s surface with “back” radiation.

The rate at which the atmosphere cools with altitude is called the adiabatic lapse rate. This refers to the rate of reduction of a gas’ temperature without loss or gain of heat energy. Thus, gaseous temperature deceases with altitude overwhelmingly as a result of reduced internal gas pressure. Lapse rate varies with moisture content but, in AGW theory, the average lapse rate is around -6°C per kilometre (km) until it reaches the tropopause.

Adiabatic dry lapse rate

AGW theory posits that the adding CO2 enhances the greenhouse effect by increases the altitude at which infrared radiation is ultimately emitted but, crucially, this somehow transpires without changing the temperature at which it is emitted or it doesn’t, depending upon which “climate scientist” is explaining it.

Professor Raymond Pierrehumbert is a lead author for IPCC assessment reports. Like Dr Hossenfelder, he has followed Einstein’s evident advice and explained the enhanced greenhouse effect—from an adiabatic lapse rate perspective—in layman’s terms:

[The Earth receives] energy at more or less a fixed rate from the sun. [. . .] When what goes out equals what comes in that’s your equilibrium temperature and that is called the radiating temperature of the planet [. . .] The radiating temperature may be around -20°C, though the surface temperature is a lot hotter than that. The difference between the radiating temperature and the surface temperature is accounted for by greenhouse gasses. When we add CO2 to the atmosphere we’re not primarily changing the radiating temperature. What we’re changing is the radiative altitude. [. . .] The temperature at the radiating level [. . .] remains at -20°C but that temperature is occurring higher up. And since the radiative temperatures increase as you go deeper in the atmosphere, and this [adiabatic lapse rate] is approximately fixed, but you’re starting at that -20°C from higher up, by the time you extrapolate to the ground you wind up with a higher temperature.

Professor Pierrehumbert agrees with Dr Hossenfelder and all other AGW theorist “climate scientists.” They all maintain that the Earth’s surface warms because the Earth’s radiation budget is perturbed by additional CO2 absorption and then “back” emissions of longwave infrared radiation.

But Pierrehumbert and Hossenfelder disagree about how “radiative forcing” supposedly works. Dr Hossenfelder thinks “pushing the effective altitude of emissions up reduces the temperature [of] emission.” From the layman’s perspective it is hard to know what’s going on. These simple explanations don’t concur.

Many other physicists have numerous problems with both of these explanation. The laws of physics determine that to increase the temperature of a gaseous atmospheric layer one of two processes must occur. Either diabatic heating provides additional heat energy from some external source or adiabatic compression heats the gas by increasing the internal gas pressure.

As far as anyone knows, absent these additional forces, the Ideal Gas Law suggests that both pressure and temperature decrease with altitude. Dr Hossenfelder appears to be right in this regard. But if adding CO2 complies with known physical gas laws, by expanding its concentration higher up in the atmosphere while simultaneously maintaining the adiabatic lapse rate, there doesn’t appear to be any logical reason to explain why this would cause any “enhancement” or “additional warming” of the surface.

If, as Professor Pierrehumbert contends, CO2 somehow maintains it’s temperature at higher altitude—without any added energy or compression—effectively elongating the distance over which adiabatic lapse occurs, perhaps reducing the average lapse rate to something like 5.6°C/km, this would theoretically support the notion of “radiative forcing.” Such a mechanism could cause surface temperature to rise. But this suggested process appears to contravene the known laws of physics.

It is all very confusing. Perhaps Einstein would have suspected something was amiss with AGW theory. If we accept fundamental physical principles, the suggested AGW “enhanced greenhouse effect” doesn’t appear to be physically real.

The AGW Theory Physical Reality Problem

The astrophysicist, Joseph E. Postma, has tried to point out what he considers to be a glaring error in the basic mathematical formula for the greenhouse effect. He suggests this may account for the apparent divergence of AGW theory away from basic physical laws, such as known gas laws.

In AGW theory, the Earth’s equilibrium temperature is calculated by applying Stefan Boltzmann’s Law of thermal radiative emissions to a theoretically average Earth. Postma highlights that this calculation assumes that the Earth is an isothermal flat disc—a constant temperature flat Earth—whereas, in reality, it is a globe with uneven solar radiative flux and temperature distribution. The greenhouse effect “model” is seemingly based upon something that physically does not exist.

This basic “greenhouse effect” equation calculates the Earth’s equilibrium “radiating temperature.” Postma’s argument is that the product of this erroneous mathematical model is then used as an input for the “more complex” AGW climate models which are, therefore, based upon an initial, fundamental error.

Postma presented his relevant paper for peer review to some “prestigious journals.” His submissions were ultimately rejected because the scientific reviewers would not accept his observation that energy from the sun, not GHG radiative forcing, creates the Earth’s climate. Fortunately, the paper was published by Dr Tim Ball’s website, so at least we have a chance to read it.

In Postma’s paper, he noted that the basic greenhouse effect model assumes that the “radiative equilibrium temperature”—the average surface temperature of the Earth warmed by the sun—was 255K or -18°C. This, Postma observed, is assumed to be the result of the warming effect of the solar radiative flux “input” into climate models. In physical reality, Postma contends, it is the net “output” of the Earth’s climate system.

Harvard University’s mathematical model of the greenhouse effect

Postma observed, with an assumed solar input that equates to -18°C, the basic greenhouse effect model determines:

[. . .] the average ground temperature is +15°C or 288K.

This appears to suggest, he says, that the 33°C additional warming is created solely by the greenhouse effect. That is to say, in the basic model, the atmosphere, not the sun, apparently generates considerable energy. As the sun is the only energy source, Postma concluded that the basic greenhouse effect model must, therefore, be wrong.

Postma’s argument has been resoundingly rejected and ridiculed by the proponents of AGW theory, among them the Skeptical Science website. Skeptical Science was founded by John Cook who was the lead author of the 2013 Cook et al. (consensus) paper. Skeptical Science has published a summary of John Cook’s academic background:

John Cook is a Senior Research Fellow with the Melbourne Centre for Behaviour Change at the University of Melbourne. He obtained his PhD at the University of Western Australia, studying the cognitive psychology of climate science denial. His research focus is understanding and countering misinformation about climate change.

In two articles—posted by Skeptical Science—offering a rebuttal to Postma, it is conceded that the model Postma criticises “is described in many climate books [. . .] and radiation books.” Skeptical Science adds that the model “fails to capture the physics of the greenhouse effect.”

This is why Hossenfelder also questioned it. Why you would continue to publish a mathematical model in numerous “climate science” text books that supposedly “fails” to explain “climate science” is perplexing.

Describing this apparently incorrect model as a “simple textbook model,” Skeptical Science nonetheless asserts that the same model enables climate scientists to “build in complexity from there.” Postma repeatedly stresses that adding complexity to a model that is wrong will not result in more convoluted models that are correct.

According to Skeptical Science, while the model does not “capture the physics of the greenhouse effect” it provides “a useful approximation on Earth when coming up with an average emission temperature (255 K).” Effectively, Skeptical Science proposes that a failed model that does not explain the physics of the greenhouse effect nevertheless accurately describes -18 °C as the average Earth equilibrium radiative “emission temperature.”

As Skeptical Science puts it:

Of course, this [simple text book equation] is never done in climate modelling or in more detailed analyses appropriate for scholarly literature.

This is precisely Postma’s criticism. He accepts that the model is discarded in the more complex climate science, but points to what that infers. The product of the failed equation is used as an input, without further verification, to the more complex models. Ultimately this means that the AGW theory “climate science” starts from an incorrect assumption because it effectively ignores the natural variation caused by solar energy.

Postma’s paper explores what would happen if you don’t reduce the impact of solar flux and apply it’s full effect to a globe that has a day and night cycle. He concluded the following:

We hold that the average solar radiative input heating is only over one hemisphere of the Earth, has a temperature equivalent value of +30°C, with a zenith maximum of +87.5°C, and that this is not in any physically justifiable manner equivalent to an instantaneous average global heating input of -18°C.

Postma subsequently calculated the radiative aggregate output of the globe model which, he claims, does indeed equate to 255K or -18°C. Tellingly, however, all of the energy supplied to the climate model he describes is accounted for as solar radiative flux—energy from the sun. There is no additional energy provided by any “greenhouse effect.”

Postmas’s argument includes the observation that the failed “simple textbook model” is used by the IPCC to define the greenhouse effect. This, in turn, forms the entire basis for the AGW theory. From the IPCC AR4 Synthesis Report 2008:

Effectively, infrared radiation emitted to space originates from an altitude with a temperature of, on average, –19°C, in balance with the net incoming solar radiation, whereas the Earth’s surface is kept at a much higher temperature of, on average, +14°C. An increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases leads to an increased infrared opacity of the atmosphere, and therefore to an effective radiation into space from a higher altitude at a lower temperature. This causes a radiative forcing that leads to an enhancement of the greenhouse effect.

This is a written account of the “simple textbook model.” Postma proffers that claiming -19°C is “in balance with net incoming solar radiation” is completely wrong.

In Part 2 of its Postma rebuttal, Skeptical Science expands upon how the additional 33°C, or 33K, is apparently generated by the greenhouse effect in the more complex AGW climate models:

The way CO2-induced warming really works [. . .] is by reducing the rate of infrared radiation loss to space. [. . .] Increasing CO2 would nonetheless warm the planet by throwing the TOA [Top of Atmosphere] energy budget out of whack.

This is in keeping with Hossenfelder’s and Pierrehumbert’s claim that “the difference between the radiating temperature and the surface temperature is accounted for by greenhouse gasses.”

Postma concludes that the greenhouse effect is based upon a model where the atmosphere independently generates the energy that controls the Earth’s climate. The same model practically ignores the energy supplied by the sun.

Postma suggests that the greenhouse effect model is totally ridiculous. He questions why “climate scientists” maintain, what he considers, an absurd folly.

The frequent rebuttal from “climate scientists” is that all of these criticisms fail to grasp the intricacies of highly complex climate science. But Einstein’s apparent observation shouldn’t be easily discarded. There is little point claiming that we mere mortals don’t understand the “climate science” if the so called climate scientists can’t explain it logically, based upon known physical principles. This suggests they don’t understand it either, especially when their attempts to explain it are contradictory.

There is no “consensus” and, even if there was, this is a scientifically meaningless claim. At the same time any questioning of these seemingly sacrosanct theories is attacked as “climate denial.” All debate is dismissed and scepticism is framed as merely the confusion or mendacity of people who don’t understand or refuse to acknowledge “the Climate Science™.”

Along with the official climate science comes a raft of alleged “proofs” and consequent “climate models.” The proofs supposedly demonstrate the validity of AGW theory and the models predict the impact of AGW driven climate change, assuming we do nothing to “save the planet.” Yet, when we look at these experimental and measured proofs, and the models that stem from the theory, again we find that they too can and should be questioned.

Which is precisely what we’ll do in Part 2.


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