Garbage in, garbage out


Meteorologist Craig James, new Squire columnist

Okay… back to the subject of why I am skeptical of the idea of dangerous global warming. I have shown you in an article a couple of weeks ago how just the addition of CO2 into the atmosphere will not produce significant warming. The significant warming scenario comes only from computer models. These models are tuned to bad data, make false assumptions and when tested have proven to be wrong.

I’ve written several times about why I believe there are problems with the surface-based temperature data and why I believe the satellite observations are better. We don’t have the data available for the month of April yet but for March, the global temperatures were 0.10°C below average based on the satellite observations but 0.57°C above average in the surface observations. Since the computer models are fine-tuned using what I think is erroneous surface temperature information, it is no wonder their forecasts show too much warming in the future.

More importantly, the computer models are constructed using false assumptions about the atmosphere. Current manmade global-warming theory asserts that our climate is dominated by positive feedback. The IPCC postulates that a small increase in temperature from CO2 is multiplied two, three, four times or more by positive feedbacks.

An example of positive feedback would be the following: If the global temperature warmed and the warming caused clouds to evaporate, this would allow more sunshine, which would allow temperatures to warm even further. Clouds are always treated as a positive feedback in the computer models, but even the National Science Foundation has stated we don’t know for sure whether cloud feedbacks are positive or negative. We don’t currently know if they ultimately warm or cool the earth.

Positive feedback from water vapor seems to play an even bigger role than clouds in the computer models producing large amounts of warming. The theory is that in a warmer world, there would be more evaporation, thereby producing more water vapor in the air. Studies show that the increased water vapor in the air would double the warming from what it would be if the water vapor did not increase.

Has the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere increased? Not according to NOAA’s Environmental Research Laboratory. Their graph shows the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere was much higher in the 1950s than now.

Several studies, including one from the Journal of Theoretical and Applied Climatology in 2009 has found that the water vapor feedback is slightly negative, not positive. A study released at the American Meteorological Society Conference in January 2011 stated, “We do not find a positive water vapor feedback as do the global climate models, but rather a weak negative water vapor feedback.”

Another example of positive feedback is that as the air warms, the oceans warm too. As the oceans warm, they release CO2 into the atmosphere, which causes more warming.

The problem with assuming the climate is dominated by positive feedbacks is if global temperature is built on top of so many positive feedbacks and multipliers, what stops the temperature from rising once it starts? Why hasn’t the Earth become incredibly hot like Venus?

The answer is that there are negative feedbacks which tend to bring our climate back to some sort of equilibrium if it gets beyond a range of natural variability, be it on the cold or warm side of the long-term average. There is no observed evidence either in the short-term or long-term temperature records of positive feedbacks dominating our climate. Our wonderful atmosphere seems to have a built in thermostat that prevents runaway warming or cooling.

In the case of climate models forecasting catastrophic global warming, this seems to be another classic case of “garbage in, garbage out.” I’ll take a look at some specific climate model forecasts and how well they have turned out in another article.

Craig James has been retired since July 1, 2008, after 40 years of broadcasting television weather. He was chief meteorologist at WZZM-TV for 12 years and chief meteorologist at WOOD-TV for 24 years. He is a graduate of Penn State University, where he received a Centennial Fellowship Award. He was also honored as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.



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