Interview: Climate Change – A Different Perspective with Judith Curry

by Judith Curry

My recent interview on the Strong and Free podcast.

I recently did an interview with Christopher Balkaran on his Strong and Free podcast [link]

While I wasn’t previously aware of Balkaran or his podcast, you can see why I agreed to this interview, from these excerpts from the ‘About’ page:

“I created the Strong and Free Podcast to explore news topics by gathering multiple perspectives together and allowing people and organizations to discuss their opinions with detail. This allows for a nuanced conversation. It also means putting aside my own bias to explore these to the fullest. It means making all guests feel welcomed to share their opinions safely, without fear that the host will paint them into a corner, or make them sound incoherent. I want this place to be truly safe. I believe everyone, even those I disagree with, deserve to be treated with respect and to be on the Podcast to share their perspective. It also means having a concrete discussion on issues and determining the best way forward.  As long as we restore thoughtful approaches to the biggest issues of our time our conversations will have deep, valuable meaning. And, we enrich our own opinion.”

We covered a lot of topics that I think will provide good fodder for discussion and debate here.

Here is a transcript of the interview (quicker to read than to listen to the hour long podcast).  I edited the transcript eliminate thousands of ‘like’, ‘you know’, ‘okay’ (I am really a much better writer than speaker).  I also edited to increase overall coherency of what was said.

Transcript:

Welcome to the Strong and Free podcast where my goal is to showcase multiple perspectives on the topics and ideas of our time, regardless of your politics and views, you will find a home here because I simply have no agenda to push. My name is Christopher Balkaran and let’s start the conversation.

Christopher Balkaran: So I wanted to pose this question to you, even though I know you can’t reply because this is a podcast. But how often have you heard from scientists who are respected in their field that have openly questioned and been critical of the findings and the climate modeling put forward by the intergovernmental panel for climate change? I know I haven’t, and I know the majority of us probably haven’t. So I want to just sit down with professor Judith Curry. Professor Curry has been openly critical of the intergovernmental panel for climate change. Professor Curry openly accepts that climate change is real and it is happening, but the topic is so, so complex. And so determining what governments need to do is also complex.

But so often today we hear about these very simple slogans and solutions to climate change, you know, just to accept the science and provide a rebuttal or to meet these, these lofty targets at a global scale, which is so challenging because  every country, every region has differentt issues, but getting countries around the world to all agree on common goals, is very, very challenging. So I wanted to sit down with Professor Curry to understand a little bit more about why the climate modeling that has been put forward by the IPCC is flawed y. And also what professor Curry would do if she were in power in terms of what policies should be pursued. I hope we can continue having these conversations with multiple perspectives on climate change.

Judith Curry: My pleasure. Thanks for the invite.

Christopher Balkaran: You are so well known in the climate change and climatology space. But before we get into that, I want to know a little bit more from you about what drew you to this space .

Judith Curry: Okay. I guess it goes back to fifth grade. I was in a little academically talented group that was selected for broader exposure to things, beyond the normal curriculum. And this geologist came to talk to us and I was fascinated. So I really started liking that. When considering majors in college, in the seventies geology was really too qualitative of a field. So I wanted to combine this with physics. And then at the university where I was, there was a program in meteorology, which had the sameconnection to the natural world, but seemed more physically based at least at the time. And then I continued on for my PhD at University of Chicago in the department of geophysical sciences. And this was late seventies, early eighties. My PhD thesis was on the the role of radiative transfer in Arctic weather. I wasn’t really thinking in terms of manmade climate change at that point. But understanding the processes in the Arctic atmosphere and sea ice became a pretty important factor as global warming ramped up. And so, I still have my foot in what I would call the weather field, but I also do climate dynamics in the Arctic, but also more broadly at this point.

Christopher Balkaran: And how was the conversation on climate change in the seventies and eighties? Definitely we’ll talk a little bit more about what it is today, but what were some of the major issues that climatology and environmental sciences?

Judith Curry:  Climate change wasn’t a really big issue at that point. At the time, it was all about geophysical fluid dynamics, trying to understand the circulations of atmosphere and the ocean, tradiative transfer, cloud physics. It was, it was very physics based. I would hear in the media about people talking about, Oh, the ice age is coming , or doom and gloom from CO2 emissions, but nobody was really paying attention to all that very much in terms of what I would say the mainstream field until the late 1980s, really. There were some very rambunctious people who were talking about this publicly and painting alarming scenarios on both sides, the cold and the warm side, and most people that I knew and where I was, nobody was really paying much attention to all that.

Christopher Balkaran: It’s so fascinating that you say that because you know, me being a kid of the nineties watching Captain Planet and other cartoons at a young age, all I heard of, on a much smaller scale was how important the environment is. It’s taken over so many, so many spheres of our discourse. But in the late eighties, you start seeing this kind of discussion on climate change. What do you think are, were some of the underpinnings that guided both sides, was kind of this kind of protest towards big oil or capitalism more broadly?

Judith Curry:  Well, a lot of it comes from the UN Environmental Program. At the time, there was a push towards world government, socialistic kind of leanings, don’t like capitalism and big oil. A lot of it really comes from that kind of thinking. And the UNEP was one of the sponsoring organizations for the IPCC. And so that really engaged more climate scientists and really brought it more into the mainstream. But in the early days, a lot of scientists didn’t like this at all, they didn’t think that we should be going in this direction. And this was even the World Climate Research program and the World Meteorological Organization, they didn’t want to get involved in man-made climate change under the auspices of the IPCC.

They said, this is just a whole political thing. This is not what we do. We seek to understand all the processes and climate dynamics, we don’t want to go there. And that was really a pretty strong attitude, through, I would say the mid nineties, say 1995. We had the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at that point, they’re trying to get a big treaty going. And so defenders of the IPCC started pushing the idea that anybody who doubts us or challenges us, they are in the pay of big oil. After that, it became much more difficult to really challenge all that. And certainly by the turn of the century, anybody who was questioning the hockey stick or any of these other things were slammed as deniers and ostracized. And then after Climategate in 2010, the consensus enforcers became very militant. So it’s a combination of politics, and some mediocre scientists trying to protect their careers. And, they saw this whole thing as a way for career advancement, and it gives them a seat at the big table and political power.

All this reinforces pretty shoddy science and overconfidence in their expert judgment, which comprises the IPCC assessment reports. And then at some point you start to get second order belief. I mean, it’s such a big, complex problem. Individual scientists only look at a piece of it, and then they start accepting what the consensus says on the other topics. A scientist working on some aspect of the climate problem may know very little about carbon dioxide, the carbon budget, radiative transfer, all that fundamental science, but they will accept the climate consensus because it’s easy and good for their career. And so it just becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And now we have way too much confidence in some very dubious climate models and inadequate data sets. And we’re not really framing the problem broadly enough to really understand what’s going on with the climate and to make credible projections about the range of things that we could possibly see in the 21st century.

Christopher Balkaran:  Just as a student who is always looking at reports to understand a little bit more about topics, we have Statistics Canada. So always reading stats can reports on different segments of the population and how they’re dealing with certain government interventions, whatever they may be. In October, I did a series on abortion in Canada and looking at the statistics behind abortion, and I had this kind of recurring thought about climate change. And that was if I’m a scientist and I want to fully study climate change in a specific way, I’m dependent in some part, perhaps a large part on government funding. And if government is politicized in saying climate change is happening and it’s human caused or, or whatever the case is, if my research doesn’t align with that, I can see my research being defunded. And then I think, well, if the public is only seeing the research that government is funding or being a big a big contributor to the funding, It’s not really unbiased research.

Judith Curry: Well, it’s worse than that because the government funding is not that they just re reject those kinds of proposals. They make it hard for you to even submit them because their announcement of opportunity for proposals already implicitly or explicitly assume this, and they are soliciting proposals on impacts of manmade, global warming, regional impacts on whatever. So there’s already either an implicit or explicit assumptions about all this. As a result, it’s really the independent scientists, retired people, people in the private sector, independently wealthy people who are doing this work.

Christopher Balkaran:  Professor from your experience, what do you think has been some of the major causes for this shift in how we understand climate change, especially given how recent relatively it is and why do you believe it’s so politicized.

Judith Curry: Well, there is almost certainly a signal of manmade emissions the earth climate. All other things being equal, it’s warmer than it would otherwise be. The real issue is the magnitude of man-made warming relative to the whole host of other things that go on in the natural climate system. And then the bigger issue is really whether this warming is dangerous. You know, a certain amount of warming is generally regarded by people as a good thing. But a whole lot of warming, isn’t especially a good thing, especially if it’s melting ice sheets and causing sea level rise.

Sea level rise operates on very long timescales. And the manmade warming that we’ve seen so far, I don’t think is really contributing much to the sea level rise that we’ve observed so far. I mean, that’s just a much longer term processes. And even if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide today, the sea level rise would keep rising. So, the climate system is way more complex than just something that you can tune, with a CO2 control knob. That just isn’t how it works.

Christopher Balkaran: And that’s exactly what I want to chat with you about because you’ve been quite skeptical of climate change modeling. For those on the outside, looking in, it’s extremely challenging for anyone to be that familiar or, have a good command of the science. A common theme I hear from my friends is I just accept the science when it comes to climate change. Can you explain to me why, first of all, so let’s be clear that climate change modeling is very complex. And then why are you skeptical of current climate change modeling, and why am I the only one that feels that there’s just not enough skepticism of climate change modeling and there’s just blind acceptance sometimes of what we’re being told.

Judith Curry: Okay. The climate models originated from weather forecast models, and then they added an ocean then land surface biosphere, and then chemical processes, and now ice sheets. They keep adding all these modules and increasing complexity of the models,  but the basic dynamics are driven by the same kind of models that model the weather. We’ve learned a lot from climate models, by running experiments, turning things off, turning things on adjusting parameters, taking clouds out, taking sea ice out, holding the sea surface temperature constant in the tropical central Pacific and see what happens, you know, we learn how the climate works by using climate models in that way. However, the most consequential applications of climate models are to tell us what caused the 20th century climate change, how much the climate change is going to change in the 21st century and what’s causing extreme weather events.

I mean, those are the more consequential applications and climate models aren’t fit for any of those purposes. And that’s pretty much acknowledged even in the IPCC report. Well, they, they do claim that they can attribute the global warming, but this can’t be easily separated from the natural variability associated with large-scale ocean circulations. And the way they’ve used climate models to do that involves circular reasoning, where they throw out climate simulations that really don’t match what was observed. So you, you end up, even if you’re not explicitly tuning to the climate record, you’re implicitly tuning. And then the thing with extreme events, weather events is beyond silly because these climate models can’t resolve the extreme events and they can’t simulate the ocean circulation patterns that really determine the locations of these extreme events. And then when you start talking about 21st century, the only thing they’re looking at is the manmade human emissions forcing, they’re not predicting solar variability.

They’re not not predicting volcanic eruptions. They can’t even predict the timing of these multidecadal to millennial ocean oscillation. So all they’re looking at is this one little piece. Okay. So, what are you supposed to do with all that? Not sure we know much more than the sign of the change from more CO2 in the atmosphere, which is more warming. And then there’s another thing. The most recent round of global climate model simulations, the so-called CMIP5 for the IPCC 6th assessment report. All of a sudden the sensitivity to CO2 the range has substantially increased in a lot of the models, way outside the bounds on the high side of what we thought was plausible, even five years ago. So what are we to make of that? And how did that happen? Well, it, it’s a, it’s a rather arcane issue related to how clouds cloud particles interact with aerosol particles.

By adding some extra degrees of freedom into the model related to clouds, then it becomes all of a sudden way more sensitive to increases in CO2. What are we supposed to make of that? I mean, we do not have a convergent situation with these climate models. And this is not mention that the 21st century projections from the climate models, don’t include solar variations. They don’t include volcanoes or the ocean circulation, all of these things that they don’t include. So what are we left with? And then there are these precise targets, such as we will exceed our carbon budget in 2038. This is way too much precision that is derived from these very inadequate climate models.

Christopher Balkaran: Everything that you said professor makes so much sense, and I can’t understand how results from the climate models can totally shift the politics of almost every nation in the world including Canada here. Every single major political party has an entire section in their policy platform about climate change and what their government would do to fight it. That wasn’t always the case and routinely political parties were challenged for not doing enough. We need to have a healthy level of skepticism here.

Judith Curry: Well, first off, people are looking for simple problems with simple solutions, and they thought that climate change was a simple problem, sort of like the ozone hole. Stop emitting chloroflourocarbons – stop the ozone hole; stop emitting CO2 – stop the global warming. There’s no way we’re going to make progress on CO2 emissions until we come up with alternatives that are reliable, abundant, secure, economical, et cetera, Wind and solar, aren’t the answer. All other things being equal, everybody would prefer clean over dirty energy. That’s a no brainer, maybe a few coal companies prefer dirty, but everybody would prefer clean, clean energy, but they’re not willing to sacrifice those other things like cost and reliability.

So it just doesn’t make sense. All of these targets and promises about energy are just so much hot air, if you will, sound and fury. We don’t have solutions and nobody’s meeting their targets. I mean, all they do is go to these meetings, make more and more stringent commitments that everyone knows aren’t going to be met. And at the same time, we’re not dealing with the real problems that might be addressed. For example, water is a big issue, we either have too much or too little. Independent of man-made global warming, let let’s sort out our water supply systems and our flood management strategies. How, how do we prepare for droughts? Lets focus on the current problems that we have – food, water, and energy. Those are the three big ones.

And the other thing, while we’re trying to make energy cleaner, we’re basically sacrificing grid electricity for many parts of Africa and we’re inhibiting their development. How does that help human development and human wellbeing? It makes no sense. Even if we were successful, say stopping CO2 emissions by 2050 we might see a few tenths of a degree reduction in the warming by the end of the 21st century, how does that help us now?

What we should worry more about is our vulnerability to hurricanes and floods and wildfires, and all of these kinds of hazardous events that have happened since time immemorial. Whether or not they get a tiny bit worse over the course of the century is less important than really figuring out how to deal with them now. If we are concerned about reducing our vulnerability, all the money that we spend thinking we’re reducing CO2 emissions, it could be applied to these other problems, such as better managing water resources, decreasing our vulnerability to extreme weather events and so on. So there are many more sensible things that we could be doing.

It’s an opportunity cost – all of this focus on trying to reduce emissions with 20 century technologies distracts from addressing the fact that we need new technologies.

Christopher Balkaran: When you look at ancient societies, they dealt with the immediate needs and immediate concerns. And I think what I want to emphasize too, is we’re not saying governments aren’t doing this. I’m sure they are, but to the extent in which they can be doing them and making them a priority, as much as they’re making, you know, the Paris Accords, climate change targets.

Judith Curry: Actually people are doing a lot less of that than you think, because, you know, especially in the developing world, such as South Asia where they just get hammered with hurricane after flood, after whatever. Each one of these events sets them back a generation in terms of trying to get ahead – they lose all their livestock and seeds and, it sets them back enormously. Then we spend all our money trying to clean up the mess afterwards. Why not help them develop adequate grid electricity so they can develop economically and better protect themselves. Again, the problem is over simplifying the problem and the solution, and then tying this in with some broader political agendas, such as anti-capitalistm and world government. Many people have bought all this largely because they’ve been scared.

Christopher Balkaran: You know, professor, everything that you’ve said is very reasonable and, you know, most people they, those familiar with the scientific method would think, Oh, this makes a lot of sense. And yet in January, 2017, you leave academia because of their very poisonous nature on human caused global warming. And I know for a fact that there are so many people that share that this idea of they can’t even have a conversation anymore.

Judith Curry: I regard myself as sort of a centrist. I’m politically independent. I don’t have any allegiance to one side or the other.. I understand the complexity of the problems, and I don’t really advocate for any solutions because I can’t think of any that I would want to advocate for that actually makes sense. You know, other than broadly talking about, we need to adapt no matter what, and if you want clean energy, you need to invest in better technologies. You’re not gonna get very far in preventing climate change by trying to massively deploy 20th century technologies. These are the kind of general statements that I’ve been making. But because I wasn’t actively advocating with the greens and I was critical of the behavior of some of the scientists involved in the climate gate episode. I got booted over to the denier side. And they tried to cancel me. I don’t have any allegiance to the extremes of either side of this, but the alarmists seem to be completely intolerant to disagreement and criticism.

There’s crazy people on both sides of the debate. There’s a range of credible perspectives that I try to consider. it’s a very complex problem and we don’t have the answers yet

Christopher Balkaran: And it’s fascinating to me that being in the center puts you at odds with academia and that you felt forced out almost because of the very poisonous nature. To me, it’s like the there’s an extremist view that has taken over academia and has taken over our discourse. I want to learn from you, how can we reverse this? And re-institute a healthy level of skepticism and saying, I don’t accept fully the IPCCs modeling because there are gaping holes in it and we should be able to talk and convey that message in a straightforward manner.

Judith Curry:  Well, you know, I wish I knew. There’s a social contract between policy makers and the scientists, which sort of reinforces all this. I thought maybe that could be broken with president Trump, but a whole lot of other things got broken under president Trump, but not that one in particular. So, I don’t know what it would take. At some point we’re going to hit another slowdown in warming. And then maybe that will wake people up a little bit more. We just have to wait and see how the climate change actually plays out. We could be waiting 30 years, which is a long time during which a lot of stupid things can happen in the meantime.

Christopher Balkaran: I just want to quickly mention your blog Climate Etc, which is filled with articles. I had Andy West on, and he’s talked a lot about the cultural narrative that’s been built. But there was a really interesting quote that I found in one of your articles. You said “we’re breeding a generation of climate scientists who analyze climate model outputs, who come up with sexy conclusions and get published in Nature. Like we won’t be able to grow grapes for wine in California in 2100, that kind of stuff gets headlines. It gets grants. It feeds our reputation. It’s cheap, easy science. But t’s fundamentally not useful because it rests on inadequate climate models, especially when you’re trying to look at regional climate change. That is where the field is going. We’ve lost a generation of climate dynamism, and that’s what worries me greatly.”

Judith Curry: Okay. I call that climate model taxonomy, where you look at the outputs of climate models mostly regionally, and then over interpret them, relating the output to some really bad impact act. But it’s scientifically completely meaningless. First, the climate models don’t have any skill on regional spatial scales. And second, when climate scientists start making these linkages with wine growing or whatever, they forget a whole lot of other ancillary factors like land use and, all sorts of other things that can contribute to whatever they might be looking at. And it ends up with climate change being the dominant narrative for everything that’s going on. And that’s just simply not the case. With the over-reliance on climate models, climate dynamics is really becomes sort of a dying field.

You know, I was old school at the university of Chicago with geophysical fluid dynamics and all this really hard stuff. Okay. Now people do statistical analyses on climate model output, and we’ve lost our sense of understanding of how the atmosphere and the ocean interact to produce our climate. There’s very few universities that have good programs in climate dynamics at this point. And you don’t see a lot of students in those research groups, they rather do the sexier, easier climate model taxonomy studies. Climate dynamics is still there, but it’s far from dominant. I mean that you geophysical fluid dynamics, clmate dynamics that ruled in the sixties, seventies, eighties, and even into the nineties, but in the 21st century, we’ve seen that really become like a renascent subfield, with climate model taxonomy ruling the roost.

Christopher Balkaran: And that taxonomy captivates on the emotional level and allows us to override our ability to be rational and be able to say, let me be okay with being challenged on this. And my followup to that is if you’re president of a university, how do you make sure that climate dynamics is part of your environmental science bachelor’s degrees and master’s,

Judith Curry:  Well, it’s so low on the totem pole of what people high in higher university administration worry about. I mean, you still have like meteorology undergraduates learn about atmospheric dynamics. There aren’t too many oceanography undergraduate programs, but when you go to graduate school in oceanography, you get a lot of fluid dynamics. But there are all these new degree programs spinning up in climate, that are far away from the geo-physical roots . These new programs combine policy with a little bit of science and economics and whatever. And then the science part of it basically gets minimized. And that’s where all the students are running to these environmental science, climate policy kinds of programs, leaving a talent dearth of people with the good mathematical physical mindset and wanting to enter into the more challenging fields. So, these more difficult fields are not especially thriving.

I mean, they don’t bring in the big bucks in terms of research centers and whatever. It’s hard to maintain them. A couple of years ago, I visited University of Chicago, my old Alma mater, and they still maintained their very strong focus on the dynamics. There was nobody there running climate models and doing this silly stuff, and they didn’t have a lot of students and they didn’t have hardly any funding, but they were carrying the torch and doing fantastic work. Unfortunately, that’s not where the that’s not where the center of mass is – its in these new climate policy degree programs or environmental studies kind of programs. As a result we’ve lost a lot of our infusion from physics. There, there still is an infusion from chemistry, more on the atmospheric chemistry. Part of this seems to be thriving, relatively relating to air quality and complex chemical reactions in the atmosphere. That seems to be thriving. But I would say the more physics based side of all this is really dwindling.

Christopher Balkaran: And that’s my worry. As someone whose parents are first-generation immigrants to Canada, education is number one priority. That’s why so many people from around the world come to North America for education. And if something as important as climatology is becoming politicized and politically motivated, I worry about that. We’re training the next set of leaders that are not solidly versed in atmospheric sciences to be briefing the government . And that should worry more Americans Canadians as well.

Judith Curry: Yeah. you know, people have said Trump is anti-science. I don’t think he’s anti-science, he just doesn’t pay attention to it. What he pays attention to is energy policy. This doesn’t necessarily make you anti-science it makes you ignoring science, so it’s different. So that’s what we’ve seen in the U.S. under the Trump administration. And then we have on the other side of the aisle, politicians say “I believe in science” and they don’t understand anything about it. They say they believe in it. It’s like they they’re believing in Santa Claus. it’s really a political and cultural signifier rather than any real understanding. So it’s just become so politicized, you know, how do you get around that? How do you get past that? I don’t know.

Christopher Balkaran:  Can you talk about what the Obama administration got wrong in the eight years while they were in power? When it comes to climate change?

Judith Curry:  Okay. Well, the first four years, Obama saw that climate change was a political tar baby, and so he pretty much ignored it and went on and tried to do other things where he thought he could be more successful. I think that was a good choice. He picked up on climate change  in his second term, but he politicized it. John Holdren, his science advisor really politicized it. President Obama was tweeting about deniers and stuff like that. And on the White House web page, there was stuff about calling out the climate deniers, and it was very polarizing. I think a lot of the polarization that happened in the U S, really accelerated during Obama’s second term. Then you get whiplash with the Trump administration who, doesn’t care about climate change. He does care about energy policies, you know, he was on a completely different tangent.

Christopher Balkaran:  So that’s fascinating. What I try to do is put the guests in the driver’s seat. If you were president of the United States what would you say would lead to effective climate policy knowing what you know. I wanted to ask you what you saw as effective climate policy and what parties should pursue.

Judith Curry:  Well, first is reduced vulnerability to extreme weather events. Second is like clean up the real pollution, like air and water pollution, dirty stuff. You know, I don’t see any way to make coal clean. I mean, this whole thing about all fossil fuels are terrible. Some are much worse than others. Coal does so much damage to the environment, strip mining and coal ash and all this other kind of stuff, apart from CO2 emissions. Get rid of coal and acknowledge that we need natural gas, at least for awhile. And then focus on research and development for new energy technologies: next generation nuclear power, a 21st century transmission grid, etc.. The other thing is managing our water: too little, or too much. If you do these things, you’re going to  improve human wellbeing, regardless of what the climate is doing.

Judith Curry:  The climate is going to change independent of what we do with emissions. People think climate change equals the CO2 control knob. With that kind of thinking, we’re bound to be surprised by what happens with the 21st century climate. I won’t even hazard a guess as to whether something really crazy will happen, or whether it could be relatively benign. A lot of people are talking about a solar minimum in the mid to late 21st century that could very well happen and have a significant impact. We just don’t know. Thinking that we can control the climate is misguided hubris.

And we need to electrify Africa and we need to help people in South Asia and central America so they’re not so vulnerable to these extreme weather events, help them develop economically help them become less vulnerable to these events. These are things I would focus on. This makes much more sense than setting emissions targets and then trying to enforce them. These targets aren’t going to change the climate on a meaningful time scale. It’s just going to screw up the economy. And at the end of the day, it’s an opportunity loss when we could have spent all that effort doing these other things that would have made a real difference.

Christopher Balkaran: Yeah. just on coal, I know that there are there are places like in Canada which I’m sure it’s the same in the United States. You know, wind and solar are much easier. Hydro is much easier. But coal seems the cheapest solution. You can get energy the quickest and perhaps the fastest over large amounts of distance. And it might be harder for those regions to switch over to something more renewable or less damaging to the environment. And a lot of people talk about that switch and how costly that can be.

Judith Curry: Well, I think natural gas can do anything that coal is doing. So natural gas is a much cleaner transitional option. You need one or the other in the near term. When the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining, you can’t fire up a nuclear power plant, turn it on and off. Having wind and solar in the mix really means you do need coal or natural gas because you can switch it on or off. So the more wind and solar you add, the more reliant you’re going to be on gas. Regarding battery storage, until we get new storage technology, there isn’t enough lithium in the world for all that storage. Rethinking and re-engineering the grid could also better redistribute wind and solar generated energy.

Apart from the storage issue, wind and solar use so much land space. It’s the land use that is bad. A nuclear reactor uses tiny fraction of the land space. I mean, there’s environmental issues related to mining and storage for nuclear power, but those seem to me a lot easier to address than the  issues related to wind and solar. So I think on balance, you know, nuclear is probably the best solution based on our current on the near horizon technologies that will be available.

Christopher Balkaran:

It’s fascinating. You mentioned that land use, because I have  another professor from the university of British Columbia coming on the podcast. And there’s an article recently about indigenous communities in Mexico, worried about solar farms near their traditional lands that take up the majority of the land. And the same is true with biofuels and ethanol production. The amount of agriculture that’s necessary for trucks to be powered by biofuels is, you know, the amount of land that’s needed is, is quite a bit. So if there’s negative externalities with this switch, as you just mentioned these are really fascinating thoughts, professor. You know, I love the idea of, you know, helping the developing world. I know Pakistan is going to suffer from severe water shortages over the next 20 to 30 years.

Judith Curry:  The population of Pakistan is exploding. Right after the big floods in 2010 my company got involved trying to help Pakistan with flood forecasting and, and water management and whatever. And my colleague, Peter Webster even went to Pakistan with a delegation from the World Bank, but the whole issue was so politicized as to even who would be allowed to help. And at the end of the day, I don’t think anybody helped. We have a solution, but getting it through the political process and implementing it, was a hopeless situation. So, part of the problems is governance within country. And this is apart from the issue of financial and somebody coming up with a real solution, but in country governance can be a real impediment in many of these places. So a lot of tough problems out there.

Christopher Balkaran:  And again, if there’s anywhere we can coalesce around common goals and hopefully get governments of all different stripes to commit to. I mean, that’s always the ideal. But I think about what we’re doing on climate change and the Paris accord and do that in the reverse, but on critical real issues

Judith Curry: There’s one example from today in the U.S, they’re passing the new budget and wanting to get a rider included related to clean energy. And what they agreed on was an R & D program for nuclear, carbon capture and all that kind of stuff. And the people on the left really objected to it because they don’t like nuclear just because they don’t like it. And they don’t like carbon capture and storage because  that lets the oil companies off the hook. So, so the hard core green activists don’t like either one of those. Here you have a bipartisan agreement to do something that is fundamentally pretty sensible. Then you’ve got the people on the far left objecting to it over silly biases and things that just make no sense

Christopher Balkaran: Politically, economically or for the environment. So, these, aren’t the deniers, these are our people on the other side who are putting up the road blocks. How do you break free from that? I have no idea. And that’s something that I definitely want to explore with more people. It’s how did all of a sudden, it seems to me, these groups on the extremes have so much political power dominating the conversation, determining whose research gets funded, determine what books make the New York Times Bestseller List. I mean, if you really go down the list and you look at all the ways in which media touches us, it’s largely affected by extremist views more so now than ever before. And I always wonder, where is that space for rational discourse, which is why I created this podcast, which is to get back to that we need this mind.

Christopher Balkaran :  Thank you so much Professor for your time. I know this is probably the first of many podcasts because I want to definitely talk to you more about many of the things we’ve discussed today. And thank you for, for, for being reasonable, standing up for what you believe in and, you know, trying to spark so many peoples you know, what a lot of people are thinking when it comes to climate change, which is we need more rational discussion on this.

 

 

368 responses to “Interview: Climate Change – A Different Perspective with Judith Curry

  1. It was an excellent interview! You seemed to have some technical problems with your microphone which resulted in periodic clicks on the audio. Slightly distracting, but not so much I wasn’t able to listen all the way through and enjoy.

  2. I hope this isn’t too boring or repetitive but the simplest approach to mitigating climate change is to adopt win-win options which make sense regardless of the nature, extent, cause and direction of climate change. Less waste, cleaner energy, restoring fish stocks, silviculture, integrated methods yielding massive soil carbon capture (e.g. Gabe Brown’s methods in N Dakota), combining conservation with careful use, fewer cash crops and reducing the impact per head and probably numbers of conventional livestock all make sense if the expected heating occurs. They also make sense if climate change were a damp squib, temperatures fell (e.g following a major volcanic eruption like Tambora in 1815) or a major food crop collapsed. Grassy stunt virus threatened global rice supplies in the 1970s.

    Instead of such actions there has been a total waste of time, effort and resources bickering about who is right on whether human activities could be having such effects. Future generations will struggle to forgive such idiocy although there is a further trap. Suppose it makes sense to cut global cattle numbers (although huge reductions in impact per head are also possible). That needs major investment up front, appropriate targeting, a commitment to conservation, alternatives to by-products (especially manure) with current stocks of meat and dairy eaten anyway. If a cull were sensible or just occurred then the resulting meat and offal should be eaten too. The whole “eat this, not that” approach is utterly misguided, a cop-out, the wrong way round and exemplifies everything wrong with Western attitudes on food. Supplies need to be the priority, although they may vary with time, with consumption based on them e.g. eating fewer fish while stocks are restored. I put a few more details in an article on food security on the Climate coalition website. They seem too obvious for words although I’m not even a farmer.

    • OK, we’ll just put you in charge of everything and you’ll tell us all what to do and when to do it.

      • Geoff Sherrington

        Iain C,
        Did someone end there to a nunnery? Geoff S

      • Geoff Sherrington

        That started out “Did someone send thee to a nunnery?”
        Then the message changed as if by magic.
        Last week on WUWT I sent a poem that included the word “suicide”.
        That word did not appear in the thread. A reader noted how the poem did not scan or made sense. Poetry in distress.
        Maybe I am beginning to dislike the cancel culture thing that impresses uneducated youth. Geoff S

      • No way, I know what I’m like in the mornings – I’d be a nightmare I suspect What I am trying to do is to drum up support for the massive improvements in food security which are possible given sufficient time, money and effort ; I outlined them in an article on the Climate Coalition website about food security. There are so many options available that I’d hope many people could find something constructive to support. I accept that there is a risk that everyone leaves it to everybody else of course and then says “Well why didn’t people do something about it…?”

        Your call on whether I’m a cynic, a realist or partly both.

      • “… given sufficient time, money and effort …” I’ll accomplish anything you want.

      • Good point Dave – it clearly can’t be unlimited. Ideas like reducing waste though should be an obvious and effective way forward despite the economic problem. Plentiful food supplies in free markets can punish suppliers as gluts depress prices more than proportionately; demand for food energy is price inelastic. Planned economies are worse though – look at Mao’s 1958 – 1962 famine in China during peacetime.

      • David lacks the required skills or knowledge to deliver food security. Millions of farmers do.

        https://www.4p1000.org/.

    • “the simplest approach to mitigating climate change is to adopt win-win options which make sense regardless of the nature, extent, cause and direction of climate change.” I was advocating that in the 1990s, I even got it included in the conserative Queensland Government’s climate policy, but the incoming Labor government saw more mileage in the scary warming scenario.

      • Hi Faustino,

        Thanks for that. Delighted I’m not the only one plugging what I think is too obvious and sensible for words. You might be interested in Colin Tudge’s new book “The Great Rethink” and his concept of enlightened agriculture.

        Regards, Iain

      • Yes, Faustino and Iain. And God bless Judith Curry, for having the fortitude to stand up to all this blather.

  3. “So, the climate system is way more complex than just something that you can tune, with a CO2 control knob. That just isn’t how it works.” ~JC

    Appreciated your assessment of the current reality that the Left simply rejects bipartisanism in the politics of climate.

  4. An issue you alluded to tangentially that is also a contributor to the climate policy conundrum is the increasing unwillingness of people to take responsibility for their own actions, i.e., walk the talk. John Kerry damns the fossil fuel companies while flying around in his gas-guzzling jet. Instead of diversity training, we should be taking on the much harder job of reinvigorating the family as the basic unit of society. And, as you said so well, we should be taking on the much more important [and difficult] jobs of reducing the impacts of extreme events and increasing our ability to come back from their devastation. Too many are blaming others for their problems rather than sucking it up and solving them. As Cassius said, “the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars [or our climate] but in ourselves.”

  5. Thank you Dr. Curry, the interview made some of the points in my own thinking, particularly regarding models. Now, I am aware, your business is inextricably linked to models, so your knowledge about models and their inner workings gives your insights value to me. I do build models in my mind all the time to forecast some event in my own life. Yet, I continue to “poo poo” model outputs that give projections a 100 years out. I admire your ability to write with clarity about these thoughts just as I admire Chief Hydrologist for his bringing to the table articles I can read and digest, after a while.

    Again, thank you for this summation in the form of a podcast.

  6. Nice interview. Great that the interviewer let you talk.

  7. Good interview. It accurately homes in early on on the climate models and their inadequacy for predicting patterns of change. The point about the CMIP6 models in some cases having implausibly high ECS is a good one.

    Most experts who are not involved in climate modeling know that the levels of numerical error in the models are orders of magnitude larger than the changes in energy flows that they are trying to model. That means that any skill will be only on quantities related to those used in tuning and will be caused by cancellation of errors.

  8. Nicely done, Judy, very bracing. As a Canadian, I am pleased to hear rational voices from the dark climate corner of that political wilderness. I do fear though, that in all three countries in which I hold citizenship, the ideological battle is lost, and I will just have to watch the damage roll out. I have turned for consolation to relearning thermodynamics far from equilibrium, and watching YouTube videos (Numberphile) on Navier-Stokes.

  9. This really is a supremely important point from Judith:

    “You know, I was old school at the university of Chicago with geophysical fluid dynamics and all this really hard stuff. Okay. Now people do statistical analyses on climate model output, and we’ve lost our sense of understanding of how the atmosphere and the ocean interact to produce our climate. There’s very few universities that have good programs in climate dynamics at this point. And you don’t see a lot of students in those research groups, they rather do the sexier, easier climate model taxonomy studies. Climate dynamics is still there, but it’s far from dominant. I mean that you geophysical fluid dynamics, climate dynamics that ruled in the sixties, seventies, eighties, and even into the nineties, but in the 21st century, we’ve seen that really become like a renascent subfield, with climate model taxonomy ruling the roost.”

    This is the main problem in fluid dynamics generally. Most codes are very inadequate to doing real uncertainty estimates and are inadequate generally. The turbulence models are also in need of a massive theoretical effort. There is a vast knowledge gap about time accurate eddy resolving simulations (that includes weather and climate models). Yet everyone is focused on building “frameworks” to make the codes easier to run and on making more and more simulations and over-analyzing the results without taking uncertainty into account. I keep saying this over and over again. While there are some signs of people sobering up a little, I worry about the future of the field and of the massive waste of resources.

    • I agree and paraphrase that what is wrong that

      you can get higher impact publications on the question how to grow wine in 100 years from now than on the question if the model is accurate enough for such predictions.

  10. “And then we have on the other side of the aisle, politicians say “I believe in science” and they don’t understand anything about it. They say they believe in it. It’s like they they’re believing in Santa Claus.”

    This is a fundamentally important observation. A lot of science’s problem originate in this politicization. Over the last 12 years everything has become political and that’s I think our most important problem in the West. It has a lot to do with the abysmal state of many of our Universities.

    You can see it on Judith’s comment threads with the prominent role played by anonymous politically motivated actors with zero qualifications to be taken seriously on science.

    • What a politician says:
      “I believe in science”

      What a politician means:
      “I believe any scientist who predicts a crisis, that convinces most people the government MUST ACT NOW, spending a lot of money, and telling everyone what to do.”

  11. Well done Judith, thank you for that. Keep up the excellent work. It is so difficult to get the message across that climate is far too complex and that there are far too many gaps in our knowledge and understanding in order to model it successfully or even meaningfully. Certainly, it is increasingly apparent, they are not fit for the purpose of prediction (sorry, should I say “projection”) It seems that the general populace are only too ready to believe in the predictions of catastrophe arising from the outputs from these models and the more panic-stricken the predictions the more trust seems to be placed in them. The best explanation that I have come across is inherent negativity bias which may have proved beneficial in primeval times but not so much in present times. Otherwise known as the Chicken Little Syndrome.

  12. Another critically important observation:

    “I mean, if you really go down the list and you look at all the ways in which media touches us, it’s largely affected by extremist views more so now than ever before.”

    I think our US based media are more corrupt than at any time since the Gilded Age. Hyper partisanship, sensationalism, and dishonesty prevail. It’s actually worse than the Gilded Age where there were tens of thousands of newspapers. We have vast tech monopolies that try to control the flow of information for everyone.

  13. ‘So, the climate system is way more complex than just something that you can tune, with a CO2 control knob. That just isn’t how it works.’

    Hear Hear!

    • I really liked that one too. It seems these people always ignore that big bright hot sun that goes by every day! I’ve always thought that thing controls our atmosphere.

  14. “…and some mediocre scientists trying to protect their careers.”

    Dr. C., would you mind sharing some names? :)

    • The list is very long, and it includes the scientists who sue people for saying critical things about them :).

    • “…and some mediocre scientists trying to protect their careers.”
      When people accept consensus and peer reviewed junk as science and defend it at any cost, while accepting salary and grants and making large profits on the worse than useless stuff produced, I say they are not any kind of scientist.

      Even a mediocre scientist is still is skeptical of even their own ideas.

  15. In a couple of places in the podcast, you mention CO2 as the control of the Climate. I have a simple diagram to show this is not the case.
    The Arrow of Causality
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/r6swmn8rhp7yjxm/Arrow%20of%20Causality-CO2.pdf?dl=0
    The Scientific Method applies to any assertion or attribution – and needs to be validated by experiment and data collection.
    The slide at the link states that the Sun Angle is the primary driver of local weather and climate in the long run. If the Sun is higher in the sky the temperature is warmer.
    Note there is a delay/lag of 5 to 6 weeks between the maximum sun angle and the maximum temperature – this proves we have got the direction of the causality arrow correct for this assertion. (It can’t be the other way round!)
    As the temperature rises so does the humidity level. Humidity is measured as a percentage as in RH (Relative Humidity). Montreal summers have an RH of about 80%.
    Another way of referring to humidity is to compare the number of molecules of water vapor (WV) to the number of CO2 molecules. In the polar regions, the humidity is low, and the ratio of WV H2O/CO2 is close to 1. In Montreal, in the summer the ratio is in the range of 30 to 50. In the Tropics it can be as high as 100 to 1 – namely, there are 100 times more H2O (WV) molecules than CO2 molecules. In the Tropics the CO2 in the air (and all non-condensing greenhouse gases) is reduced by the WV – so there is less heating from CO2. See the measured data in the slide.
    Also, the Ideal Gas Law by Charles states that as the temperature increases (in degrees Kelvin) this will further reduce the CO2 concentration. CO2 is not the control knob of climate!
    If you agree with this chain of reasoning (cannot prove it is in error) then you will understand that the assertions of the IPCC, the Paris Accord, and the design of climate models that say that CO2 is the main driver of climate change and the hypothesis of global warming (AGW) are in error. The target should be to reduce pollution of all forms, but not CO2, as it is not a pollutant.

  16. “In sum, a strategy must recognise what is possible. In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.” IPCC, 2001

    Edward Lorenz showed that for even for a simple set of nonlinear equations, the solution was changed by minute perturbations to the initial conditions. The fundamental property of models known since the first convection models is that there is no unique deterministic solution.


    Click to access rowlands2012.pdf

    This is the output of the HadCM3L model perturbed with non unique parameter choices and with solution trajectories constrained to the vicinity of observed global surface temps. Even then the range of trajectories exceeds the IPPC effectively qualitative ‘expert range’. It is a property of models that gave rise to chaos theory as such. A property understood by climate modellers for decades. The ‘debate’ on models between believers and contrarians is not an argument on science.

    “The idea that the science of climate change is largely “settled”, common among policy makers and environmentalists but not among the climate science community, has congealed into the view that the outlines and dimension of anthropogenic climate change are understood and that incremental improvement to and application of the tools used to establish this outline are sufficient to provide society with the scientific basis for dealing with climate change.” https://www.pnas.org/content/116/49/24390

    The view from the other side of the battle lines is the presumed failure of models to do what they are structurally incapable of doing invalidates all scientific knowledge of processes in Earth’s climate. It is presumed because you equally have no knowledge of the future evolution of climate. All that the ubiquity of chaotic tipping points in Earth’s climate suggests is the likelihood of surprises. Cloud and Arctic ice sheets top my list.

    The next generation of models has arrived. They are forcing GCM with observed sea surface temperature (SST) giving cloud feedback consistent with the observed planetary energy dynamic.

    e.g. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2019GL086705

    The near future is real time assimilation of global observing system data with knowledge based data. Predicting the future of climate will require understanding and predicting the spatio-temporal patterns of ocean and atmospheric circulation. Something that would need much more powerful computers or the maths of the statistics of spatio-temporal chaos. Quantum computing seems more likely than the math.

  17. Pingback: Interview: Climate Change – A Different Perspective with Judith Curry – Watts Up With That?

  18. Judith

    Nice podcast.

    A lot of the answers as to why the left hate nuclear and why we have the arrogance to tell poor people in third world companies how to live their lives is contained in shellenbergers new book. It’s a good read.

    I read a number of climate books and reviewed them here, including his.

    https://superforestblog.wordpress.com/2020/11/27/books-on-the-climate-emergency-suggested-christmas-reading-for-sceptics/

    Tonyb

  19. The money quote:

    “…. , people are looking for simple problems with simple solutions, and they thought that climate change was a simple problem,…..”

    When the Enclave chooses a 15 year old as Pontiff of the Church of Climate Change, is there any other choice but to make it simple?

  20. Pingback: Interview: Climate Change – A Different Perspective with Judith Curry |

  21. Very well done. You are still very much in the climate game. The next four years are going to be crazy with dense people like Kerry leading the Biden climate charge. Your voice will be much needed.

  22. Pingback: Interview: Climate Change – A Different Perspective with Judith Curry – Climate- Science.press

  23. Congratulations on the interview Dr Curry And to Christopher Balkaran for interviewing you with thoughtful questions. If only more interviewers were like him.
    I believe you hit on the nexus of the issue. Cheap, reliable grid electricity is essential for a first world economy, or even one that aspires to be one. Clean generation would be nice but modern coal fired power stations are clean. And all the policies the alarmists push are aimed at stopping that happen. I believe that is why people like Michael Shellenberger has changed sides. Nothing riles the cultists more than apostasy.

    • Chris, your words mean very much as I continue to grow and develop as a Podcaster. I’m glad that the conversations I am having are resonating. It’s a big topic, and one that needs further exploration. Simplistic narratives undo the hard work of what western civilizations have been based on: having thoughtful dialogue and valuing objectivity.

  24. Thank you very much for this, Dr. Curry. Very interesting.

    And also thanks for including a text transcript!!

  25. Great job! I found Chris very encouraging and armed with astute questions which very quickly get to the nub of things, and to which in your case you had excellent responses even over such a wide range of issues. I worried that I talked too fast during my session; haven’t heard it back yet 0: Out on Tuesday 2nd.

  26. I read the transcript, and have no complaints about anything said, except for the term “clean energy”, which some people apply to burning wood, causing the most air pollution, and CO2 emissions, of any energy source.

    The interview did not:
    (1) Refute the claim that CO2 emissions are a pollutant, or differentiate between CO2 emissions with the use of modern pollution controls, and CO2 emissions WITHOUT the use of modern pollution controls.

    (2) Remind people that CO2 is ‘greening’ our planet, and if it is the cause of warming since the 1970s, that warming has been beneficial. No one lives in the global average temperature. The warming since the 1970s has most affected colder climates in the Northern Hemisphere, mainly in the colder months of the year, and mainly at night. Warmer winter nights in Siberia could be the “poster child” of the warming since the 1970s. How is that a climate crisis? … Antarctica has had the least warming. And sea level rise has been steady for 150 years, based on ling term tide gauge records, with no obvious acceleration from the warming since the 1970s.

    (3) Specify how consistently climate models have significantly over-predicted warming, on average. Those wrong predictions are proof that climate model long term temperature projections are very likely to be wrong — and their accuracy is not getting better over the decades, as if accuracy is not important, and

    (4) Provide a rough cost estimate for replacing the reliable US electric grid, powered mainly by fossil fuels. with a less reliable electric grid, powered mainly by solar and wind. Some Americans want to spend all that money on themselves, for a less reliable electric grid, while ignoring one billion people in the world with no electricity at all.

  27. Very well done. Thank you for speaking up.

  28. Dr Curry – one of your comments about electricity generation that gas can do anything coal can do is not quite correct. Coal can store its energy on-site, basically allowing it independent generation.
    Gas turbine stations rely on the gas pressure in the pipelines to provide their supply (gas generally has to be >30bg) and the high pressure gas pipelines as their storage. When there is a lot of demand, then the gas pressures can drop quite rapidly.
    As there is often opposition to new pipelines being installed, gas companies operate on the usage margins and run their kit hard. More compressors can be easier than a new line.. When pressures drop, the turbines have to go off-line. That is a situation New England and California will soon find itself in.
    If you have got a coal stockpile of a few million tonnes, you can run independent of a fluctuating supply chain.

    • Good points. Plus the U.S. is falling behind in nuclear power. Such as shame.

      • John – nuclear is baseload power. It doesn’t take to kindly to being ramped up and down. As its SRMC is near zero, it is more economic to run it that way. Coal can be ramped up and down as well as baseloaded. Gas turbines are a lot faster at doing this ramping, especially as OCGTs. CCGTs generally are run near baseload but often reduce output in the 10pm to 6am window 9 the two shifting regime. They all have their place in a well-managed grid.
        But yes, if people are serious about climate change being the major issue, then they should be promoting a lot more nukes, especially in countries that already have them.

      • ” It doesn’t take to kindly to being ramped up and down. ”

        What happens if you leave it ramped up and just don’t generate electricity? Can the system work that way – i.e. can you dump the energy you would have used to generate power – and can you then ramp up energy generation relatively quickly since the thermal plant is already at power – you just are not generating the electricity?

        Obviously, that’s “wasting energy” – but the marginal cost of nuclear energy is pretty low, anyway.

      • Chris Morris has taken a good peek at the innards of the system. But one should not forget the source of the power; the plant. That is subject to other influences.
        The book ‘Ethics in Engineering’ has a section on what was once called “The Phases of the Moon”. Nothing to do with Climate, but shows how choice of plant may be rarely what the system needs but commercial/political maneuvering. Then they expect the bald men in the system to squeeze out good juice out of rotten lemons. (Plus – polar bears don’t fare well in Africa).
        There is another problem that came to the fore with ‘Privatization’. Systems need to be integrated for best overall ‘unit cost’ of power. It is hardly the case at present. To cut it short, the idea does not seem to exist any more.

      • meso When you ramp a thermal unit up, you increase the fuel burn. It tries to speed up. However, as the machine is “locked” onto the grid, the MW generated increases rather than a speed increase. There is a direct relationship between fuel burn and MW output. For a nuke, a similar thing but you have the control rods coming out rather than more fuel.
        You can’t just disconnect part of the output – dumping power isn’t feasible. A common arc welder is maybe 5kW. Imagine what a 500MW one would be. You could have a machine fully loaded all the time and have something adjustable on the grid that absorbs power, for example, a pumped storage hydro facility. But these are expensive so have a relatively limited capacity. I think Dinorwig at 1700MW is still the biggest, and that can only do 5 hours at full load.
        melita -You are right that many power stations and grid facilities aren’t the “best” option. They are just the ones they know that the utility can get through the planning and regulatory authorities for permits. Privatisation is not necessarily bad. It often stops things being built because they were a good idea or to give excessive redundancy. If the load increases so new stations have to be built, then the price of power needs to be economic for the new stations and higher than it is now. Generation costs from existing facilities are cheaper than building new ones. Something to bear in mind for the massive grid expansion that is needed for the Green Revolution. And the competitive edge has driven things like thermal efficiency. There is still a public utility ethos among many power station workers – there are too many financial disincentives for there not to be.

      • “You can’t just disconnect part of the output – dumping power isn’t feasible. A common arc welder is maybe 5kW. Imagine what a 500MW one would be.”

        I understand that part. But what if you bypass the generator’s steam circuit. You’d need to be able to cool at a 500MW rate more than normal.

        I’m just wondering, as an engineer who is not a power station guy, if one could engineer a nuclear plant to be able to be variable, by dumping its energy (and not the electrical energy, for obvious reasons, unless you want to heat a really huge resistor).

      • meso -to dump the equivalent of 500MW of power, you would need a 1500MW condenser. It is theoretically feasible but would be horrendously expensive (and unreliable) as you have to reduce the steam temperature right down from very high pressure and temperature to something a condenser (which is a pressure vessel) could handle. Condensers normally run at a very good vacuum, maybe 50mbara. Then you would need extra cooling towers as well
        And when you ramp up, it is not just the boiler and turbine components that have to be given time to heat up. It is the generator as well.

      • Something many do not realise on power generation. Whatever the heat source, one ends with a steam cycle with a steam turbine driving a generator. The steam turbine efficiency varies and peaks usually at its maximum load (MCR). Those intended for continuous base load aim for highest efficiency at near full load. That type of machine loses half its efficiency at near half load. So at half load you burn same amount of fuel as at full load – meaning doubling the unit cost from that machine.
        Many plant proposers do not give a hoot on the customer’s load regime during a 24hr day. And the boffins who buy on the basis of initial plant cost, or just fuel cost, do not go into those details.
        It is why hydro as a storage battery is attractive. Keep the machine at maximum load and efficiency and store the excess in hydro. It is also an immediately available reserve.

      • melita – that’s not right. One of the CCGTs we ran was a heat rate of 9,400 at 380MW and about 11,500 at 200MW. The coal fired plant definitely use a lot less coal at part load as they can shut off mills.
        If your pumped storage is buying off the market, then running plant at higher load just depresses prices, often below SRMC. That is why they two shift most boiler plant. OCGTs you just turn off. Pumped storage is really best for nukes where you can’t two shift.

      • Chris Morris — You likely have confirmed what I said above.
        Re CCGT; Was it designed to work best at part load. If for full load then it likely had skimped hrsg design. For best efficiency, that is achieved at full g/t load; depends on what temperatures are allowed on the G/T (one or two or ?). From there on its efficiency droop. Effcy picks up again when one of two g/t is shut down and other ramped up. All design options.
        Re coal plant, just look at the steam turbine design and efficiency curve. Impulse and reaction have very different curves with different droops. eg impulse optimised for 80% mcr will have same effcy at 100% and near 60% mcr. Reaction has greater droop at part load, but higher near design mcr than impulse.
        That is why planning and design for holistic system matters.

      • “Was it designed to work best at part load. If for full load then it likely had skimped hrsg design. For best efficiency, that is achieved at full g/t load; depends on what temperatures are allowed on the G/T (one or two or ?). From there on its efficiency droop. ”

        A request… would you explain a few of the terms? I’m an engineer, but not a power plant engineer – but I’m very curious about them in this context.

      • melita – we are on a 50Hz grid so we get 380MW out of single GT and HRSG. From memory as it was near 25 years ago it was installed, it was optimised for near full load. That was why the heat rate was quoted. At full load the split GT to ST is about 240/140.
        Your wording was “So at half load you burn same amount of fuel as at full load – meaning doubling the unit cost from that machine.” This is what I was doubting.
        Yes, you optimise the design of your machines for the load profile that you expect them to have. And running off-design has a poorer efficiency. I am in full agreement there with you.

      • mesocyclone: ok. There are several factors to consider; I’ll pick some mentioned above.
        First imp jargon: heat rate = The heat rate is the amount of energy used by an electrical generator/power plant to generate one kilowatthour (kWh) of electricity wiki.. it is the inverse of efficiency.
        Relevant to CCGT. G/T effcy depends on temp. Basic. Compressor is constant flow (=conts power absorbed from turbine end), so more fuel = higher temp = higher output = higher effcy. see fig 1 here https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Relative-efficiency-curves-for-combined-cycle-gas-turbines-solid-line-and-open-cycle_fig1_331781339

        heat recovery stm gen (hrsg) picks heat from exhaust and feeds steam to turbine. At max g/t load = max temp in exhaust. hrsg is designed for that flow. so is turbine. But hrsg can have less heat area (tubing – skimped to reduce cost) so loss to stack is high at high load. Loss will be less at part load. Not good design but it happens.
        Note See chris’ reply above; heat rate higher at part load. There are several options in design; one needs to look at best for site and op regime.
        Something relevant to this site – Climate. Over the years (and I have too many) sea water temp rose, so average for design changed by several degrees. Sea water is the thermodynamic heat sink (2nd law); the higher, the less one gets juice from fuel. The impact is not only on effcy but also on design of stm turbine last stage. One designed for cooler climes will not generate power in last stage with hotter sink/sea water, and may actually absorb some in windage.
        No expert here but I have met kind betters/experts who took the trouble to be patient with me and explain. Others just take advantage of you. Digging deep helps. Look your horse at both ends :)

      • Thank you for the details. In the US many plants are far from ocean water and thus can’t use the ocean (or large rivers) as a heat sink. Near where I live in Arizona is Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, the nation’s largest nuclear plant – 3 1200 MW units.

        The Gila River is nearby, but normally dry due to diversion for agricultural and urban uses. The plant does get waste water from Phoenix, but I don’t know what they do with it in any detail. They have the canonical cooling towers, so my guess is they use it directly to conduct heat from the steam system via a condenser, and then dispose of that heat through evaporation (plus this water is colder than steam obviously, ranging from perhaps 10C to 40C).

        And, of course, that’s a nuclear steam plant, not a gas turbine plant.

        So back to the what if – what if the nuclear plant needed to supply power on a short term basis…

        Could you:
        -keep the generators spinning, with no current in the field coils, and
        -have a second condenser and run most of the steam through it when demand was lower, and into a larger cooling tower, to dispose of the heat, thus not overheating the reactor?

        Obviously, this would add to the cost of the system, but if nuclear got cheaper on a learning curve (rather than more expensive on a NIMBY/Enviro regulatory curve), it might be worth it if hydrocarbons were to be avoided or in the far future when we run out of them.

        Anyway, just speculating. I design things for a living, but not big thermal systems :-)

      • mesocyclone: “So back to the what if”. Your conditions are site specific. And being a nuke i am sure there are other conditions to be observes. So on that – I do not know. It is also probably part of a large grid.
        I learned from the other extreme. Very small island system (you control voltage and frequency= everybody’s electric clock). Had to be self reliant, cost effective, a dependable setup; an island economy depends on your output. When at one point I got my own station – an ex British Admiralty – we separated grids in storms so at least one survived lightning strikes. (Forty years later and now everyone is talking about black-outs!!!)
        A variety of steam plant, queer diesels, and one of the earliest gas turbines. No black-start. Those came later.
        It is why I said above the need to consider holistically for optimising one’s options; what one already has and about to get.

        Chris: At one point I had to explain the benefits of CCGT. So I compared to the stm plant we had. I dug up the performance curve of the turbine, a reaction unit. Below half load effcy dropped by half. We ran units at quarter load during night to avoid shutdown (one rarely starts again at 5am repeatedly). Night load was very expensive. Contrary to the prevailing belief from reading on large systems. CCGT was two shifting with nightly+wkend shutdown.

      • melita most of my experience in recent times has been on open cycle geothermal steam turbines. A combination of GE and Parsons/ Westinghouse clones and all condensing sets. These are similar to the LPs of nukes and all below the saturation line. For them, talk of reaction or impulse is confusing as almost all blading has some degree of reaction in it but at the back end, even impulse machines like Toshiba have near 50% reaction.
        All the machines are optimised to be most efficient at or near full load, with the units designed as baseload. We do Willans line measurements on the machines and all have a very flat curve with around 5% full steam flow needing to spin them at synchronous speed.
        The two CCGTs on our grid generally two shift as well with load at night around 30% of full load. The OCGTs generally just start up for the shoulders with hydro covering the peaking.
        We are a standalone grid typically about 6000MW day, 3500MW night and a 1000MW DC between the two islands. There is a 500MW aluminium smelter anchoring the system. That means we see a lot of things (like 2Hz frequency swings) that other grid engineers only read about in text books. That means you have to learn all about the interactions, behaviours and risks very fast.
        meso – to keep a unit on the grid, it has to keep excitation in the rotor and the machine under load. This can be as low as 5% of rating, but typically is around 25%. Any lower generation/ steam flow and you get recirculation in the last stages of the blading. This is both very wet steam at the inner section of the blades and superheat at the extremities. It happens even with exhaust hood sprayers. You rapidly do permanent damage. On our biggest units, the last stage blades are only good for 80 hours running in their lifetime at below 25% load.
        If you wanted to have an all nuke grid, I do not know how you would be able to make most of them load following other than having pumped storage. Maybe one of the nuke men could answer how the the steam generators of the like could be modified. Could be by not using steam at all but having the closed loop Brayton cycle units that some designers are working on.

      • Chris Morris – thanks for the details. It takes me way back a college thermodynamics course, with steam tables and slide rules (yeah, I’m old).

        I like the pdf you put in there. Your comments on the difficulties highly the need for some out of the box thinking, and one paragraph in there highlights what might be the important point in using nuclear for other than caseload:

        “With nuclear systems, fuel costs are a small percentage of output costs and a small reduction in thermodynamic efficiency may be acceptable…”

        I think that typical systems go for maximum possible thermodynamic efficiency in order to squeeze the most energy out of the investment. But, if one were to use a nuke plant for non-baseload use, one would have to sacrifice efficiency (or low maintenance costs, or more likely, both) for flexibility in delivered output.

        Anyway… thanks for this discussion. I’m way over my head in the thermo and mechanical engineering, but it will be interesting to see if experts go this route.

        Obviously, if we are forced to a very low CO2 emissions regime, then we need either large amounts of storage at radically lower costs than we can currently achieve, or we need nuclear generation that can throttle up and down relatively quickly, or some sensible combination.

        That said, I am with many on this blog who are very skeptical of the need to do this, certainly not any time soon, especially in a world where most of the population will really not want to go along with the huge costs and lost opportunities for development it implies.

      • meso
        Here is one design for a nuclear GT.

        Click to access Updated-engines-20201224.pdf

      • I hope Dr Curry allows more of this. In a way this highlights the problems with the many proposals here of small isolated systems.

        Chris; You near had me confused. My old text book never even mentioned the Willan’s line, but i had heard of it. Kempe’s mentions it once. It is the relationship of steam flow with load for throttle governed turbine – a straight line-. However the effcy variation is still there, and loss is slightly higher with throttle gov. (ie low heat rate at full load and increasing substantially at part). But technology has changed; its now full throttle and pressure slides with load. That requires new design considerations and 15 yrs ago many were not yet up to date there.

        Do you mean you operated condensing units exhausting to atmosphere rather than to ‘design vacuum’ conditions?

        Your mention of frequency swings is an important issue. You say 2%; I recall 3.5% before lights-out. A lesson here, of relying on consultants and vendors in general. An island system was supplied with ‘Load-set’ control. In a disturbance the frequency drifted about, and down to the first trip point when some load returned. It occurred to no one that island mode requires different governing than that of large continental grid connected machines. There are many other issues to consider. The newer CCGT took care of that, but it tested its stability. (The full load loss test was one such incident; full marks, but i sweated gallons).

        Now are they proposing small nukes as independent systems in cities? I shudder.

      • I have a post in prep on grid transmission, should be ready next week

      • melita
        My goto book is Kearton – fortunately India is still doing reprints as my original was more sticky tape than book in the end.
        Not a 2% grid swing, 2Hz which is 4% on our grid speed and that is in 10 seconds. Enough for them to start initiating load shedding. At 6%, our grid goes black. Fortunately, we have enough turbines on the grid to give it inertia to ride through. That and some hydros on tailrace depression. On our grid, everyday swings of 1% are unremarkable, though I suspect they cause havoc for VSDs and the like. We don’t have the big industries where stable frequency is critical. To add to that, we have a long stringy grid so you need big VARs swings to stabilise it. On an 80MW generator, not unusual to go from +30 to -20MVAr and back again over the course of a day.
        We have 40 year old Rankines on our grid with sliding pressure. On small grids, they were essential. to two shift.
        With steam separated out of hot water (initially 220-290degC) from geothermal wells, heat rate is a meaningless concept. If anything you do efficiency by exergy. I found the Willans was actually a curve, but I got a better fit using specific volume ratio as the independent variable. All our condensers are vacuum (~70mbara) but most are direct contact -you can do it with open cycle – freaks the fossil fuel plant guys out when they know our NCG load is around 1%
        But to get back to the initial thread, yes, I shudder when I read all these people thinking no inertia asynchronous plant is the way to go and you cover the ancillary functions with batteries. They really have just no idea. And these shiny shoes snake oil salesmen are the ones making the most noise, advising no-nothing politicians on the way to go. A text book (or nowadays, a TED talk) does not teach you about the compounding things that go wrong when your frequency and voltage are falling through the floor. And as ever more places are showing, a black grid is a very deep hole to get out of.

      • Chris; I see you have your own special brand of ‘fun’.
        Re 2Hz (= 4%, my going astray there), that was the best performance quote obtained from a vendor for off-frequency safe blading operation without serious life expenditure. From bitter experience I was quite worried there, once i saw what happens. (the sure identity of blade fatigue is now a personal trophy I still keep; the rest is a brown site)
        Any experience there? with your 4%? Not that I worry today, but the mention brings it all back.

        And stay safe. I have fared better than a cat with nine lives, but this time this one I don’t understand.

      • melita. Fortunately geothermal blades have to be soft (Sulphide Stress Corrosion risk) so they are smaller and less stressed. The OTRs specify wider operating frequency range. And our units have inverse time frequency trips. We also do very regular NDT and have found no LSB cracking so far.
        However you have highlighted a big risk in the system that I hope Planning Engineer (I gather he will be writing the article Dr Curry talked about) discusses. As the unreliables get a larger slice of the generation, instability will get bigger and more frequent. It will be a nightmare for grid managers, especially on the stringy networks. And these swings will push the remaining turbines into a place they shouldn’t be. Once the tripping cascade starts, it just spirals down. As a harbinger, it looks like Europe almost crashed their grid last month
        https://kaltesonne.de/8-januar-2021-knapp-am-blackout-vorbeigeschrammt/

      • Chris: Thanks for the link; informative, in more ways than one.

    • As you imply, Chris, the devil is in the details. That’s why smart people being held to account for the outcome proceed in cautious steps. The “all-in” mentality often leads to catastrophic results.

      • Dave – if you mean that “people being held to account for the outcome” are the grid operations of generation company engineers then what you say isn’t correct. They are often overruled by the politicians and the political process. That is why California got into the situation it did. To top it all, the Governor rather than giving a mea culpa, gave “climate change” as the reason for the manmade disaster. No doubt when New England gets in the same situation, but that will be winter, the governors will give the same excuse .It’s why so many of the senior people in control rooms are bald — they tear their hair out in frustration at the ineptitude of the politicians. Those in power might have a very poor understanding of science, but they have none at all about engineering and grid management.

      • Circa 1979, we warned Jerry Brownout (Ver. 1.0) that within about 20 years CA would have rate shock and systemwide blackouts if he stayed on his then-current course. In 2000, people blamed other, then current politicians for those predicted eventualities. As a private consultant in 2000 I helped CA cope with the problems. I warned the CA PUC and Energy Commission that a continuation of their climate policies would results in similar problems within a couple of decades. Gee, guess what is happening today! And, yes, I am prescient (in some areas). Sadly for CA, I’m no longer consulting on electric power supply issues.

      • Dave – as you are (or possibly were) in the industry, you would know that your prediction ranks up there with the Pope’s Catholicism.

      • Prediction is hard, especially about the future. [H/O to Yogi.]

  29. When I click on the podcast link I get: “about:blank#blocked”.
    Are others getting this message, or only me or only in Australia?

  30. Going all in – does Judith Curry agree with this or not? I quoted it just yesterday. It is now almost 2 decades old but these are words of an esteemed bevy of climate scientists. The sentiment is now the dominant climate science paradigm. Tipping points are everywhere in the Earth system. It posits a risk in our nonlinear world of a catastrophe from unrestrained anthropogenic changes. The emphasis then comes down to managing the risk.

    “Abrupt climate changes were especially common when the climate system was being forced to change most rapidly. Thus, greenhouse warming and other human alterations of the earth system may increase the possibility of large, abrupt, and unwelcome regional or global climatic events.” https://www.nap.edu/read/10136/chapter/1

    • Precautionary principle run amok.

      • David has no basis for challenging the scientific paradigm of a coupled nonlinear climate system. This is not remotely the precautionary principle.

      • I’m not “… challenging the scientific paradigm of a coupled nonlinear climate system.” I challenge mental masturbation disaster scenarios.

      • So you don’t deny that the world is nonlinear? Complex dynamical system are non-computable. They are forced past a threshold and transition to a new state determined internal dynamics.

    • An excellent reason to spend precious resources on adaptations that will protect the lives and livelihoods of people rather than on pie-in-the-sky schemes that will have negligible impact, if they work at all.

      • It seems an excellent reason to focus on cost effective mitigation. A multi-gas and aerosol strategy – CFC’s, nitrous oxides, methane, black carbon and sulfate. Along with ongoing decreases in carbon intensity and increases in efficiency and productivity. And technical innovation across sectors – energy, transport, industry, residential agriculture and forestry. In a puzzling nonsense many on both sides seem to focus exclusively on electricity.

        Some of the answer is under our feet. Rattan Lal – himself a scientific treasure – estimates that some 500 Gigatonne (GtC) carbon has been lost from terrestrial systems. A sequestration potential of 157 ppm of atmospheric CO2 by 2100 was estimated. Carbon sequestration in soils has major benefits in addition to offsetting anthropogenic emissions from fossil fuel combustion, land use conversion, soil cultivation, continuous grazing and cement and steel manufacturing. Restoring soil carbon stores increases agronomic productivity and enhances global food security. Increasing the soil organic content enhances water holding capacity and creates a more drought tolerant agriculture – with less downstream flooding. There is a critical level of soil carbon that is essential to maximising the effectiveness of water and nutrient inputs. Global food security, especially for countries with fragile soils and harsh climate such as in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, cannot be achieved without improving soil quality through an increase in soil organic content. Wildlife flourishes on restored grazing land helping to halt biodiversity loss.

        Increased agricultural productivity, increased downstream processing and access to markets build local economies and global wealth. Economic growth provides resources for solving problems – conserving and restoring ecosystems, better sanitation and safer water, better health and education, updating the diesel fleet and other productive assets to emit less black carbon and reduce the health and environmental impacts, developing better and cheaper ways of producing electricity, replacing cooking with wood and dung with better ways of preparing food thus avoiding respiratory disease and again reducing black carbon emissions. A global program of agricultural soils restoration is the foundation for balancing the human ecology.

      • Geoff Sherrington

        RIE,
        You talk often of ramming C back into soils which have been depleted.
        That takes energy.
        Would it help if you accepted an analogy, that is, schemes to recover C from CO2 from fossil fuel combustion. That takes energy.
        For both schemes, there is a point where the required energy is so large that there is no point in starting. Where is that point in your plant nutrition scheme? Geoff S

      • Uhhh,,, the energy for photosynthesis comes from the sun. Then it is just management practices to keep it there. The make it even simpler for the most obtuse defeats the purpose.

    • Discussing ‘mediocre science’ gives the impression that there is some doubt about the fundamentals of climate science. That there is a climate science debate worth having.

      “As our nonlinear world moves into uncharted territory, we should expect surprises. Some of these may take the form of natural hazards, the scale and nature of which are beyond our present comprehension. The sooner we depart from the present strategy, which overstates an ability to both extract useful information from and incrementally improve a class of models that are structurally ill suited to the challenge, the sooner we will be on the way to anticipating surprises, quantifying risks, and addressing the very real challenge that climate change poses for science.” https://www.pnas.org/content/116/49/24390

      • ‘ … there is some doubt about the fundamentals of climate science.’

        No we understand alright, the big surprise is that CO2 doesn’t cause warming.

      • That’s just not so. And is not something advocated by Judith Curry.

      • It is the amount of warming in the real world engendered by CO2 that is in dispute. All reputable estimates are a net less than 2C per doubling of CO2 concentrations. Anything above that is CliSci hyperbolae.

      • I’m well aware of Dr Curry’s lukewarm status, but for the life of me I can’t find any convincing evidence to support the AGW theory.

        The MWP was warmer than this modern thermal optimum, so it stands to reason that CO2 is not a major player.

      • Why is it lukewarm? Anthropogenic warming – based on physics fundamentals – is superimposed on extreme dynamic variability in a nonlinear system. So while the risk of doubling CO2 is noncalculable it cannot be discounted.

      • “You imagine that’s calculable? Using models I suppose? How quaint.”

        I consider it “observable.” I observe the “climate concerned” in Europe- where there is no GOP or Exxon or Fox News – turning off nuclear power, replacing it with fossil fuels (Russian gas), and issuing press releases claiming they’re concerned about CO2 and will, some day, build islands in the North Sea for windmills. Then they’ll gather at some remote vacation destination to, once again, claim Chinese CO2 molecules don’t have any impact on atmosphere.
        Then they come here and declare anyone who isn’t (selectively) worried about CO2 is nuts.

      • Robert I Ellison, I think your point eminently reasonable.

  31. Thank you very much for an excellent informative blog that does so much to help me understand the complexities of the global warming debate.

  32. When talking about the evolving energy supply picture, you might like to consider how much energy can be saved by designing buildings to be energy efficient, no matter where they are located in the world (i.e. lots of different design principles for different lattitudes, longitudes, distance from oceans etc).

    Glass technology now is more efficient than traditional masonry, which means that houses can be fully lit naturally without losing energy. Insulation technologies, underfloor heating to provide better temperature profiles within rooms; cavity-filling insulation technologies, proper roof insulation etc etc.

    It is perfectly conceivable for the USA to reduce its external energy footprint for domestic and commercial property by 50% as old energy-inefficient stock is replaced by new energy-neutral stock.

    Where one valid discussion of ‘human-induced climate change’ can be had is what the ‘pioneers’ did after arrival to radically alter whole ecosystems e.g. in the Central Valley of California. What happened to Tulare lake after all the damming? How many trees got chopped down in California? What happened to all the wetland habitats that served so many millions of birds?

    You can also ask about the value of ‘green grass’ in a Mediterranean climate in terms of water usage. Quite how much water could be saved by replacing grass lawns with a mulch-covered garden ‘forest’ is anyone’s guess. Replace artificial ‘beauty’ with functional eco-friendly micro-food-markets and not only do you cut down on water requirements, you also create masses of home-grown food from perennial trees, shrubs and bushes too.

    I’m not saying abolish cars. I’m saying look at where very specific, small-scale alterations multiplied millions of times can have very, very significant impacts on energy budgets, water budgets etc etc.

    • How do you hang a calendar on a glass wall?

      • Project it visually, plus other info too. Consumes less power than requires the printed version; and less material. :) My point is he’s right.
        Reading into much of what is being said, I get the impression that in general there is the want to improve the quality of life but with yesterday’s methods and means.
        Covid, it is being claimed by the media, has shown there are gains to be made in working away from office. Nothing new for those who tried it before (did it on a project in 1997). It is overcoming the resistance to change, and change is taking risks to which most are averse.

      • How much do glass walls cost vs conventional building methods? (This is always the thing not mentioned when it comes to “greeeeeeen!”)

      • Embed circuitry into the glass and make it as functional as a modern dashboard. Why stop at calendars?

      • Or tape or blu-tac for low tech solutions.

      • I’m less interested in how to hang the calendar than I am to see their plan for getting around the “historic preservation commissions” to tear down all those 17th, 18th, and 19th century buildings. Heck I’ve even seen them reject renovations or replacement of structures built in the 1950s or ’60s.
        Based on the ages I’ve seen of buildings even in the US, there is a small chance of “efficiency” having some sort of noticeable impact in about the 23rd century. Which of course is almost entirely a waste of money if you make energy from emissions-free functional sources.
        It’s like switching to LED lightbulbs on a nuclear aircraft carrier and claiming it helps fight global warming. Which, by the way, you can bet our science-based betters will demand if they haven’t already.

  33. Christopher: “But so often today we hear about these very simple slogans and solutions to climate change, you know, just to accept the science and provide a rebuttal or to meet these, these lofty targets at a global scale, which is so challenging because  every country, every region has differentt issues, but getting countries around the world to all agree on common goals, is very, very challenging.”

    There’s a quickening to the Biden fuelled climate response:

    Aviva Investors, one of Britain’s top asset managers, will divest from oil, gas, mining, and utilities companies that do not meet its expectations on tackling climate change.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-01-31/aviva-to-divest-from-companies-that-don-t-act-on-climate-ft

  34. The PLANET ROTATIONAL WARMING phenomenon is the reason the FASTER ROTATING Planets have the satellite measured MEAN SURFACE TEMPERATURE values HIGHER than the theoretically calculated planet Black Body Emission Temperatures.

    https://www.cristos-vournas.com

  35. Has climate science become political science?

    • Only via vested interests, but quite possibly. I’ve been bangi g my head on the wall for years on this to try and get win-win options adopted (see my post) but largely in vain. I need hardly point out that those arguing for inaction or naive but well-meaning actions will be the last to accept responsibility if their ideas misfire. It will be the world’s poor who pay the price for such incompetence sadly – no change there!

      • “I need hardly point out that those arguing for inaction or naive but well-meaning actions will be the last to accept responsibility if their ideas misfire.”

        So, not only are you a mind reader, you can also predict the future. Impressive!

      • Hi Jim2,

        Thanjs for that. Firstly I work in engineering risk assessment so it is my job to look st what could go horribly wrong e.g. with avionics systems. Boeing’s efforts on MCAS were less than impressive but far worse things can happen to food supplies e.g. a rerun of the Tambora eruption in 1815 or grassy stunt virus threat to rice supplies in the 1970s. Look also at global overfishing and the rainforests being wrecked instead of being carefully exploited (see E O Wilson’s The Diversity of Life) while methane-reducing feed additives for ruminant livestock (Asparogopsis taxiformis Is a recent example) have existed for decades but not been adopted even though some would boost growth.

        In terms of responsibility, look at the frenzied attempts to work out of trouble on the 737 Max 8 MCAS (see what I mean) or Hillsborough and Grenfell Tower in the UK and the sloping shoulders from Tony Blair when Iraq proved not to have WMDs (although they certainly had and used chemical weapons on Kurd in 1991 and Iranian troops in the 1980s). Now imagine any politician being prepared to stand up if their country ran short of food and accept blame. They’d be lynched and that may not just be a metaphor, while Soylent Green (1973) should have been a wake up call. Of course I don’t know exactly what is coming, while some scenarios are unsurvivable, but it is worth having secure enough food supplies to cope with major disruption. After all, individuals and countries might well stockpile or profiteer even in a world where food overall is dutiful. Yemen (ravaged by war and locusts recently) also shows another risk.

        I appreciate the challenge, but would you want to take the blame here if your policies or ideas (including business as usual) were adopted but mjsfired? Trying to pin down responsibility would be like trying to handcuff an eel. Take care in any event.

      • Reputation management.

        If nuclear power is the answer (note the “if”) then the environmental movement is responsible for most of the coal burned in the west since about 1985.
        If natural gas is the only way you can realistically make renewables a part of your energy grid, then the environmental movement was dead wrong to oppose hydraulic fracturing (and the construction of pipelines).
        If the massive growth of Chinese emissions over the last 30 years – becoming the globe’s largest emitter by a large margin – has any impact on the climate, you can say ‘thank you’ to the climate glitteratti who literally and enthusiastically wrote permission for those coal plants into every single “climate accord” going back to 1991.

        To avoid admitting this we get elaborate fairy tales in the press and political arena. It’s been more than 20 years since Al Gore insisted that contrary to the obvious, the left got nothing wrong and wind and solar can power western nations alone, we only lack “the political will” to make it so. Twenty years since moderates replied that wasn’t so, and the cost of trying would wreck the economy.
        There still isn’t a single nation on earth using them to any real extent and every place that’s tried to any noticeable degree is suffering economic impacts from high energy prices and grid instability. For those of you who want to reply that Germany once almost saw 50% renewable power for residential only at 2 p.m. on a summer day, save your breath. German industry is powered by coal plants attached to the factories. Those are switching to natural gas. Russian natural gas.

      • Iain Climie – OK, fair enough. Real world data indicate food production has consistently increased. If you want to actually be helpful, go to Africa and fix their food production issues. Just be sure you use your forecasting abilities to pick peoples who won’t come back to fight us later.

        http://thebritishgeographer.weebly.com/spatial-patterns-of-food.html

        We can always get hit by a giant asteroid, but I personally don’t believe global warming will be like that.

      • Hi Jim2,

        Thanks for that and I can understand your concerns e.g. about Boko Haram. I suspect the way to do this is to ensure that local people do well enough out of aid and/or development so they don’t think they are either being patronized as on going charity cases nor ripped off e.g. via cash crop production where they don’t see much of the money and their own food security and job prospects aren’t helped. FWIW I chuck money at Water Aid every so often as nobody will get far without adequate water supplies.

      • Iain – Abundant energy in and of itself won’t ensure food supplies, but without it, food production would fail. We have to be very careful what we wish for. Right now, fossil fuels fill the bill. They are abundant and we have the infrastructure in place. I’m also OK with nuclear power. I’m not OK with only wind and solar. Those are not reliable and are difficult to manage.

        On that note, how large a battery would you need to run a tractor?

        http://climatecoalition.org/future-food-security-must-focus-on-supplies/

      • Hi Jim2,

        A very good and interesting question. Solar power has huge potential in poorer hotter countries but they can’t necessarily afford it while ploughing with livestock (a nicely bucolic image) is probably one reason why industrialisation leads to a stampede, away from the countryside. I’m going to add a note to the comments on that article flagging that the energy and raw material needs for farm machinery, ploughing (or seed sowing in no till setups), harvesting, spreading fertilser, applying insecticides, food distribution etc. need to be considered too. Whether biogas / bioethanol could fit the energy bill remains to be seen it again the processing needs thought.

        Many thanks for that – very useful and appreciated although a criticism.

      • Thanks for that Iain. I consider that a nod to the usefulness of free and unfettered speech.

      • Hi Jim2,
        I probably have to moderate my own reply on the CC website (!) but this is what I’m posting:

        I received an interesting and important comment on this article via an indirect source – a guy blogging as Jim2 on Judith Curry’s Climate Etc blog in reply to the following Interview: Climate Change – A Different Perspective with Judith Curry. Although my focus was on considering what could be produced and how in high level and general terms e.g. intensive, organic, synthetic, integrated, regenerative and even vertical where I could have said more) he noted the following in reply:

        Iain – Abundant energy in and of itself won’t ensure food supplies, but without it, food production would fail. We have to be very careful what we wish for. Right now, fossil fuels fill the bill. They are abundant and we have the infrastructure in place. I’m also OK with nuclear power. I’m not OK with only wind and solar. Those are not reliable and are difficult to manage.
        On that note, how large a battery would you need to run a tractor? (or a combine harvester for that matter – IC)

        Although I suspect the resources needed to address farm equipment won’t be anywhere near (say) modifying cars and gas central heating worldwide, at least unless biogas really takes off, farming needs significant resources in terms of ploughing, planting (even in no till systems), harvesting, the Haber or Haber-Bosch process, fertilizer application (organic or otherwise), harvesting, processing, distribution and the like. The materials and power needed for all this are not automatically available or affordable and turning the clock back to ploughing large areas with livestock won’t be acceptable or effective although there are still many small farmers out there still relying on traditional methods and even draught animals, a point made by “Livestock’s Long Shadow” in 2006. Although I think the top-level approach is still sound (i.e. emphasising supplies as the priority, backed up by and/or combined with conservation and measures to reduce emissions and capture carbon) Jim2’s comment is a vital reminder that many practical problems will need to be addressed and will cost money.

        Could solar, hydrogen or bio-ethanol powered machinery be the way to go or should fossil fuel powered farm equipment be kept for longer? The UK government is banning the sale of petrol, diesel and some hybrid cars from 2030. I suspect that farm equipment like tractors and combine harvesters have crept under the radar but the issue will need to be addressed at some point. How practical, as Jim2 asks, would electrically powered replacements for currently fossil-fuelled farm machinery be?

        Thanks again!

    • Well sort of. You should hear what Katherine Hayhoe has to say on this – she is climate scientist by training, but is faculty in a political science department

      • Gerald Ratzer

        I went to one of her in-person talks at Cambridge University, UK, in 2018 and I was horrified by what I heard!

      • Please describe it, Gerald.

      • Gerald Ratzer

        I have to correct the date – it was 2019. It was an official sponsored talk with a good turnout at the Divinity College at St. John’s College, Cambridge. I was a graduate student at the College and get invited back on a regular basis.
        For her talk, Prof Hayhoe was well prepared with lots of slides.
        She also engaged the audience by asking them to type in a single word on their cell phone about a topic and then produced a mosaic of the words – repeated ones got a larger font.
        It was the contents of the talk that disturbed me. She sprouted the seven tenets of the IPCC – namely
        • CO2 is a well-mixed gas in the atmosphere
        • CO2 increases the temperature (the control knob of the Climate)
        • Temperatures will increase by 1.5-5.0 Deg C
        • Storms will become more frequent and more severe
        • Drought will occur more frequently and be more severe
        • Floods will occur more frequently and be more severe
        • Sea levels will rise by meters
        There was no indication at any of these tenets were wrong or that any alternate solution or Science existed.
        I told my colleagues that I thought she was a fraud and misled people.
        I think Judith Curry agrees with me.

      • Thank you, Gerald. Did she provide any real-world data on droughts, floods, storms, sea level rises, etc.? Did she provide any detail as to how people derived the 1.5C to 5C temperature increases?

      • Gerald Ratzer

        David,

        If she did provide any information on the 7 IPCC tenets – it was of the type you get from the mainstream media. Photos of flooded homes, and California fires. I do not remember too many charts of the trends of this type of data from her talk.
        I wonder if it was recorded. I will have a look.

      • Gerald Ratzer

        Hi David,

        I had a first look for Hayhoe presentations in May 2019 – there are 4.
        There is one with lots of students at 3 pm – the one I went to was at 5:00 pm and had more senior people there. If you look at some of the others around that time frame – you will see similar talks. She is a good communicator – but I do not agree with the content she puts out.
        I went to one of her websites –
        https://www.depts.ttu.edu/politicalscience/Faculty/Hayhoe_Katharine.php
        and followed the red link for more details.

      • joe - the non climate scientist

        David & Gerald

        I recall seeing a list of Katherine Hayhoe studies a year or so back. Most of those studies provided quite detailed predictions of the weather/climate 25-50 years out for very small regions of the planet , such as northern California or the covering just the states of Maine, NH and vermont. Almost as much detail as the farmers almanac for the coming season. Seemed to be far too much precision of the weather / climate in her studies to be believable.

        Her claim of being a evangerical Christian seems dubious since “activist climate scientists ” and christians dont seem to fit into the same venn diagram.

      • Gerald Ratzer

        After digging a bit deeper – found a recording of the talk I went to.
        It was on 15th May 2019 at 6:00 pm, the Old Divinity School, St. John’s, Cambridge.
        The event was sponsored by the Faraday Institute and the recording is on their website in many formats.
        https://www.faraday.cam.ac.uk/event/christians-climate-and-our-culture/
        I will let you judge for yourself on the Climate content of this presentation.

    • There ae those who would argue it was ever thus and never anything else? (I don’t agree, but I would be in the minority of commenters here.)

  36. Thank you Dr. Curry.

  37. “(quicker to read than to listen to the hour long podcast)” I’m a fast reader, and can’t cope with pod-casts.

  38. Nicely done Doc!

    One thing that has always plagued me is the lack of understanding, or even basic general discussion, on what large scale wind and solar deployments would do to the local and extended environment around them as it relates to changing the climate. I recall reading a study from MIT on the local climate impact of large scale wind farms years back, but that message of reasoned analysis has since been squelched. One can only imaging what it would be like living down wind of a 1,000 square mile solar deployment, let alone the complete destruction of the natural environment under them.

  39. Dear Dr. Curry,
    While reading the interview transcript, I kept being reminded of a book I read many years ago and which described in one section a kind of sinus-like swing over the millennia between a scientific centered view of the world and a religious centered view. From the Greek science based view (before BC) to the ptolemaeian era (religious view) back to enlightenment and now back to religious based view. Yes, I know the scientific basis for that is shaky but I‘m observing for almost 20 years now, that more and more of our approach of the world around us is based on beliefe and not on knowledge.
    Being an engineer, my work has to be based on facts and not interpretations, however there are so many scientific fields where the experimental verification of theories of the physical world become less and less important. Combine this with human behavior (recognition, prestige, power, successful carriers, ego) and I’m afraid we approach a new era of dogmas, where reality counts little and believe very much.

    • Hi Klaus,

      Join the club, I work in engineering risk assessment. Things are improving but I still get the occasional idiot asking me to show or even prove a system is safe instead of accurately assessing whether it is. The Challenger space shuttle (1986) and Boeing 737 Max 8 MCAS were obvious examples of why this is madness.

  40. Pingback: A Dark Green Background | The Ludwig von Mises Centre

  41. “Variable renewables are set to play a larger role in tomorrow’s power systems. The combined share of solar and wind in global electricity generation is set to double from 9% in 2020 to nearly 20% in 2030 under stated policies. This is truly a global phenomena, with rising shares all around the world. In leading markets for solar and wind, the share of variable renewables is set to nearly double in the European Union by 2030, double in the United States and China and increase by 150% in India.” https://www.iea.org/topics/world-energy-outlook

    Do planning engineers have the skill set for the new energy systems? On principle innovation leads to productivity gains and lower unit costs. And stopping it is akin to trying to turn back the tide.

    • “Do planning engineers have the skill set for the new energy systems? On principle innovation leads to productivity gains and lower unit costs. And stopping it is akin to trying to turn back the tide.”

      The one who pops in here no doubt does, as his analyses were quite deep.

      It’s the advocates for these variable sources who seem to not have the knowledge required to understand the hidden costs that variability brings.

    • I’m an innovation advocate, a technology enthusiast and an economic rationalist. I’m also a trained and very experienced engineer. The global energy transformation is underway driven by policy. Lament it as you may. Gas, coal and oil are finite resources and my feeling is that without alternatives demand in a growing global economy puts pressure on prices. With cheaper alternatives fossil fuel resources very quickly become valueless. There is already pressure on the value of reserves and the cost of financing new developments. Alternatives are technically feasible and it only remains to deliver them at the right price. And no – engineers are highly specialised and ‘planning engineers’ do not have the skills required. And it is a matter of not getting locked into one mindset.

      Advanced nuclear reactors may equally contribute to the future resource mix.

      • Curious George

        Innovation at any price! Windmills .. tall ships .. Down with timetables.

      • The innovation windfall increases economic productivity and reduces unit cost. Otherwise why do it?

        Oh the tedium of responding to disingenuous contrarian stereotypes. It’s astonishing. How can they be so comprehensively wrong and irrelevant?

      • And tall ships and windmills aren’t technically innovative. They have been around for a very long time.

      • ” With cheaper alternatives fossil fuel resources very quickly become valueless. There is already pressure on the value of reserves and the cost of financing new developments. Alternatives are technically feasible and it only remains to deliver them at the right price. And no – engineers are highly specialised and ‘planning engineers’ do not have the skills required. And it is a matter of not getting locked into one mindset. ”

        Nice words, but I have yet to see evidence that there are less expensive sources than fossil fuels – especially natural gas.

        You denigrate other engineers when you say planning engineers do not have the skill set. Right off the bat, they have a far better understanding of both the technology and costs of mass delivery of electric energy. Some may be hide bound, as is true in any field, but do you think “A Planning Engineer” is in that category? If so, please show us where he was wrong in his long, detailed posts?

        What kind of engineer, in your mind, does have the “skill required?”

      • I think its unlikely that wind and solar will be cheaper than gas anytime soon. There are a lot of externalities for wind and solar including environmental damage. Government subsidies have to be taken into account.

        Fossil fuel prices are low because of the depression and a glut caused by fracking.

        Solar is particularly insane in Northern lattitudes. Here in Seattle, wintertime average insulation averaged over 24 hours is roughly 10 Watts per square meter.

        But the most intense insanity is chopping down trees and burning them in power plants.

      • Solar is now providing the cheapest grid scale energy ever seen. The problem inter alia is intermittency. But equally it would be useful for gas, coal and nuclear generation to have ancillary markets for heat, hydrogen and reformed liquid fuels derived from excess energy at periods of low demand. What is required is a solid science foundation and entrepreneurial skills to bring products to market.

      • “Solar is now providing the cheapest grid scale energy ever seen. ” – only if you don’t measure it right. Sure, solar has a zero marginal cost, but that’s just a piece of the puzzle. But actually, wind I think has the cheapest energy – due to distortions introduced by silly lawmakers, wind farms actually pay the grid to take their power at times, even though they could just not generate it.

        Intermittency is a huge problem with solar – but it is an externality – the solar plants or solar rooftop types don’t pay for it because it isn’t regulated that way. We export the hazardous waste externalities to China, and ditto the mining externalities. And, solar takes a lot of real estate compared to an equivalent thermal plant.

        Wind is the really crazy one. If one had gone back in time 40 years, and told people that environmentalists would love putting up towers hundreds of feet high, with giant generators on top and huge plastic blades, and putting them on ridge lines and other scenic places, you’d have been laughed out of town.

      • Set the carbon price to zero in the calculator. The LCOE of solar is marginally less than gas even with low US natural gas prices. In most places solar is substantially cheaper. It’s an objective fact. What is done with that fact is another story. One that involves lots of hand waving from contrarians it seems.

        https://www.iea.org/articles/levelised-cost-of-electricity-calculator

      • “Set the carbon price to zero in the calculator. The LCOE of solar is marginally less than gas even with low US natural gas prices. In most places solar is substantially cheaper. It’s an objective fact. What is done with that fact is another story. One that involves lots of hand waving from contrarians it seems. ”

        As has been pointed out, LCOE is just part of the cost of technology. Citing it by itself is not interesting.

      • LCOE is the the starting point for cost analysis. Then there are system costs that were evaluated by the value metric. Value declines depending on the energy mix and penetration. You are not interested in objective numbers?

      • Any person who uses LCOE to compare disparate forms of electricity production just proves they don’t know what they are talking about. Cost per MW or MWh is only a very small part of the equation that generation companies and grid operators take into account. They look at where the generation fits in the profile – that also means dispatchability.
        The main reason why electricity has got so expensive in all the places the unreliables are significant generators is because of all the extra costs needed to support them.

      • The LCOE is an objective starting point resulting from further substantial cost decline in the last decade.

      • This is a metric showing the value of renewable – representing system costs objectively – at different penetrations. The point at which value declines depends on the existing energy mix. It is copied from the December 2020 IEA global energy report. So unless you have other data – rather than hand waving – I will assume that wind and solar are cheap at relatively low penetrations seen in most places in the world.

      • I weep. Robert does not show the average cost of electricity in the countries with high penetrations of unreliables. Lies, damned lies and statistics.

      • In the new lost cost environment – historic costs are irrelevant. Obvious even to run of the mill buffoons.

      • Since I’m not a “run of the mill buffoon” (I’m an exceptional buffoon, thank you), I assert that current costs are costs, no matter where they come from. Economically, destroying an asset is a cost. But I assume in your brave new world, Robert, one can ignore the cost of retiring currently producing assets.

      • The LCOE is the starting point for any analysis of new generation. System costs depend on the existing energy mix and intermittent penetration. And yes – assets are retired all the time. This is the real world of winners and losers. It is sometimes called the creative destruction of capitalism.

      • How many power stations has IEA built?

      • The IEA is of course the OECD energy authority directed by energy ministers from around the world. Engineers can always be hired.


        https://www.iea.org/

      • OMG! Robert says the politicians can always hire engineers. I tell you, as an engineer, manager and entrepreneur, politicians are liars. Their tools also lie for them. Prove me wrong.

      • No Robert. IEA is a super lobby group full of economists and bureaucrats. They have had significant mission creep on their original purpose. There is no-one on staff with any expertise in planning or building power stations and grid assets. They don’t want engineers as they might inject a sense of reality. IEA have an agenda to push and everything is seen through that prism.

      • And with regard to the unreliables lobby claiming wind power is getting cheaper, it isn’t. Paul Homeward links to an extensive report that audited accounts show it is getting more expensive.
        https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2020/09/23/the-costs-of-offshore-wind-power-blindness-and-insight/
        So who is right? IEA or taxman? I would put my money on the latter.

      • I would put my money on offshore wind in the North Sea being much more expensive. LOL

      • joe - the non climate scientist

        Chris Morris | January 31, 2021 at 11:48 pm |
        Any person who uses LCOE to compare disparate forms of electricity production just proves they don’t know what they are talking about. Cost per MW or MWh is only a very small part of the equation that generation companies and grid operators take into account.

        Wikipedia’s explanation of LCOE
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levelized_cost_of_energy

        Any guesses what costs get omitted by proponents of Renewables?

        Cliff’s comment is supported by market reality.
        The deeper the penetration of renewables in grid, the more expensive the overall cost of the electricity

      • This is from the EIA. It compares LACE to LCOE. A ratio of greater than 1 implies that it’s an attractive option for future generation. Other factors then come into consideration. Diversification of supply, future fuel price volatility, public policy…


        https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/

  42. In a complex system there are multiple factors involved.
    Earth’s system is very complex…

    But in a complex system there are some major factors which play the dominant role, and there are many minor factors.
    Also in a complex system there are multiple micro factors.

    It is said that in complex system there are millions nano factors.
    Science admits that in complex system there is an infinite number of infinitesimal significance factors.

    When we model the Earth’s system mean surface temperature, we should take in consideration the major factors ruling the surface temperature.
    These factors are:

    1. The Solar flux So = 1.362 W/m2
    2. The Earth’s average albedo a = 0,306
    3. The Φ = 0,47 (smooth spherical surface solar irradiation accepting factor)
    4. The Earth’s rotational spin N = 1 rotation /day
    5. The Earth’s average surface specific heat cp = 1 cal /gr.oC

    The Earth’s atmosphere is very thin to play a significant role in Earth’s mean surface temperature.

    https://www.cristos-vournas.com

    • The dynamical complexity of the Earth system involves powerful and mutually interacting subsystems. In the words of Michael Ghil (2013) the ‘global climate system is composed of a number of subsystems – atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere – each of which has distinct characteristic times, from days and weeks to centuries and millennia. Each subsystem, moreover, has its own internal variability, all other things being constant, over a fairly broad range of time scales. These ranges overlap between one subsystem and another. The interactions between the subsystems thus give rise to climate variability on all time scales.’

  43. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #439 – Watts Up With That?

  44. The Labour parties of Australia & UK have moved from a party of the worker to a party obsessed with climate change. Cost of going net-zero on incomplete science is questioned in this passionate interview:

  45. For an Earth’s surface at 15.5°C (the estimated average temperature), a 100% CO2 atmosphere could absorb 0.177 of the emitted radiation. The laws of thermodynamics mandate that an object can only be increased in temperature by receiving heat from a source of greater temperature than that of the object. Hence the Earth cannot be heated by back-radiation of a fraction of its own emitted heat. For example, a household thermos flask does cause its contents to get hotter by reflecting its heat back on itself. Cylinders of CO2 do not get hot while standing in storage. The radiative properties of CO2 gas do not generate any heat so they cannot make anything hotter.

    The total energy density for the four main absorption bands of CO2 in the above case would be 9.23×10^-7 Joules per cubic metre. For the Sun at 5772°K, at the Earth distance, the four main absorption bands would absorb 1.514×10^-7 Joules per cubic metre before the radiation reached the Earth’s surface. This would cause the surface to be cooler as the CO2 concentration increased, before any supposed back-radiation of the Earth’s emittance. Of the four major absorption bands, the 15 micron band is responsible for 9.174×10^-7 Joules per cubic metre and makes up 99.8% of the surface emitted photons. The 15 micron band represents a temperature of -80°C which is definitely not going to cause warming by back-radiation. It is the minimum temperature reached occasionally at the South Pole.

    The other three main absorption bands create more absorption at greater temperature for the incoming Sun’s radiation than that of the outgoing Earth’s radiation being:
    at the 4.3 micron band which represents a temperature of 412°C, 1.789×10^-8 Joules per cubic metre for the Sun compared to 5.618×10^-9 Joules per cubic metre from the Earth’ surface,
    at the 2.7 micron band, temperature 807°C, 7.518×10^-8 Joules per cubic metre from the Sun compared to 6.447×10^-11 Joules per cubic metre from the Earth, and
    at the 2 micron band, temperature 1173°C, 5.53×10^-8 Joules per cubic metre from the Sun verses 1.081×10^-13 Joules per cubic metre from the Earth.
    Clearly, increasing CO2 concentration should be markedly decreasing the Earth’s temperature if the Greenhouse Effect was in operation.

    Finally, the photon density from the four major surface emission bands equates to one photon for every 166,772,000 CO2 molecules at the current concentration of 415.67 parts per million of CO2 at Mauna Loa Observatory on 28 January 2021. Consequently all of the emitted photons will be absorbed by the CO2 molecules within a few hundred metres of the Earth’s surface and increasing the CO2 concentration will not increase the absorption of photons as they are already completely absorbed at the current concentration. Increasing CO2 concentration will not cause an increase in the Earth’s surface temperature.

    Conclusion: the warming of the Earth due to the Greenhouse Effect is the greatest hoax man has imposed on mankind. There is no Greenhouse Effect outside of a common garden greenhouse house where the warming is due to reduced convection and nothing whatsoever to do with radiation.

    • Shouldn’t it be possible to demonstrate (or disprove) the greenhouse effect under lab conditions with an IR source? I would be surprised if this hadn’t been done. The standard belief in ecology textbooks (Chapman and Reiss Ecology Principles and Applications) is that the presence of the relevant gasses in the atmosphere traps re-radiated heat. Water vapour is relevant here although clouds reduce UV input and the suggestion is that the Sahara desert is hotter by day and colder by night than many areas at the same latitude as the air above it is dry..

      Failing that, I’ll boringly repeat my usual suggestion of win-win options like reducing waste and restoring fish stocks which make sense regardless of what is going on and work (barring doomsday scenarios) against a variety of current and future threats.

      • Iain, There is a significant difference between the effect of water and that of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere. Water exists in the atmosphere in three different states, gaseous, liquid and solid, and changes between these states involve the absorption or release of heat that has a major effect on our climate. There is no such effect from CO2 as it only exists in the gaseous state and the radiative process does not generate or absorb any heat energy whatsoever. There is only an exchange between infrared radiation and kinetic energy of motion due to collision between activated CO2 and other atmospheric molecules. The amount of energy involved does not change, only the form of the energy.

        CO2 has a melting point of -57°C and a sublimation point of -79°C (Wikipedia) but apparently does not occur in liquid or solid (dry ice) form because at 415 ppm there are insufficient CO2 molecules close enough to merge into one of those states. However as its solubility increases with decreasing temperature, at the Poles it is precipitated in the ice and snow and locked into the ice sheets covering the Poles, a major sink for the CO2.

        As for the ecology textbooks claiming that gases in the atmosphere trap heat, this is only possible for water due to its continual change of state which we see all of the time in the change of appearance of clouds due to the changing local conditions of temperature, pressure and humidity. Radiative gases do not trap heat, they simply re-radiation the infrared at its absorption frequency or change the frequency of passing infrared radiation, be that from the Sun or the Earth’s surface, depending on the gases vibrational modes with the balance of the energy being kinetic energy of motion of atmospheric molecules, that is, the temperature of the atmosphere.

        The important point to remember is that an object can only be raised in temperature by receiving radiation from a source of higher temperature. The UN IPCC incorrectly add cold and hot energy levels together and then claim that this causes objects to be heated by the ‘cold’ radiation. This is but a small part of the false claims made by the UN IPCC.

      • Hi Bevan,

        Thanks for that, interesting and needs a closer look. What did you make of my early suggestion that there are win-win options which make sense regardless of the nature, extent, cause and direction of climate change e.g. less waste, restoring fish stocks, combining conservation with careful use, carbon capture in soil (which improves its quality anyway), methane-reducing feed additives like Asparogopsis taxiformis in livestock feed (some of which boost growth anyway) etc. Adopting these ideas plus alternatives to fossil fuels, which have problems other than emissions, would surely make sense in any event. After all, a rerun of the VEI 7 Tambora eruption in 1815 could give us a very nasty surprise as temperatures would fall for a while.

    • “Conclusion: the warming of the Earth due to the Greenhouse Effect is the greatest hoax man has imposed on mankind. There is no Greenhouse Effect outside of a common garden greenhouse house where the warming is due to reduced convection and nothing whatsoever to do with radiation.” – Bevan

      Agreed. But what is the cause of past and present abrupt climate change if it doesn’t involve greenhouse gasses?

      • Alan, The main driver of our climate is obviously the Sun. However its effect is modulated by the ever-changing configuration of the Solar System. Even the monthly passage of the Moon between the Sun and Earth causes a drop in the temperature. This is too small for us to notice except when it takes the form of a Solar eclipse.

        The Fourier Amplitude Spectrum of the annual rate of change of CO2 concentration reveals the 29.5 day mean synodic and the 27.2 day mean draconic periods of the Moon. Details of the analysis may be seen on my web site by clicking on my name at the head of this item.

        This result shows that the CO2 concentration does not cause the Earth’s temperature to change but that the temperature determines the rate of generation of atmospheric CO2. Consequently the CO2 concentration has been continually increasing over recent time because the temperature has not fallen to the critical level at which CO2 generation ceases. This may be 0°C at which water freezes and is no longer available to the life forms that generate the CO2 – the next Ice Age?

        Unfortunately both the satellite temperature record and the reliable CO2 time series are too short for the analysis to determine the long-term drivers of our temperature although the Milankovich cycle is an important indicator. At this stage all that I can say is that there is a dominant 1310 day cycle that is expressed as the El Ninõ Effect and a hint of an effect from Mercury and Venus passing between the Sun and the Earth. Jupiter also has a major effect on our climate because its gravitational effect on the Sun is five times greater than that of all of the other planets combined.

        I am hoping to achieve more results in the future as more data comes available freely on the Internet. Note that the above is a consequence of analysing empirical data from the real World instead of blindly accepting the pronouncements from a higher authority such as the UN IPCC.

      • “Alan, The main driver of our climate is obviously the Sun.” – Bevan

        I disagree because the 100kyr eccentricity cycle only changes the Earth’s distance from the Sun by 1-5%. Not enough to generate 5km high glaciers imo.

        The 100kyr inclination cycle combined with new physics is the only alternative imo. When Earth’s orbit crosses the plane of Jupiter is has a strong gravitational interaction which generates a huge extra tidal effect. This transports warm equatorial waters to higher latitudes which increases precipitation which falls as snow.

    • ERROR: please note the sentence in the middle of the first paragraph should read “For example, a household thermos flask does NOT cause its contents to get hotter by reflecting its heat back on itself.”

      • I did wonder about that but typos are all too easy when posting. Thanks for the earlier comment though but can I point out what is happening in polar regions. As ice sheets melt they reflect less solar energy and the darker surfaces exposed absorb more heat. Even ignoring the greenhouse effect and/or escaping trapped gasses from previously frozen deposits, doesn’t this mean that local temperatures will increase and melt more ice? If so this is a classic case of positive feedback. Also I don’t think any physical laws are violated.

        This does raise further questions of course but any thoughts?

      • ” Even ignoring the greenhouse effect and/or escaping trapped gasses from previously frozen deposits, doesn’t this mean that local temperatures will increase and melt more ice? If so this is a classic case of positive feedback. Also I don’t think any physical laws are violated.” – Iain

        The ideology was created in the early stages of ice age theory. It’s never been scientifically proven that ice reflects *heat* back into space. It doesn’t make any intuitive sense imo. *visible light* is reflected, yes, but this has a minimal amount of energy compared to infra-red thermal emissions.

        It only makes sense if one accepts Milankovitch eccentricity theory as given. Having an alternative explanation via new physics tidal forcing allows the mind to see how ridiculous the idea is. “Positive feedbacks” are a concept required to shoehorn the insolation hypothesis into a viable theory. It’s gobbledegook.

      • Hi Alan,

        Positive feedback is well established in control theory as shown by the loss of the Ariane 5 rocket and I can dig out other examples. The natural world is more complex than engineered systems though but you seem to be ignoring data. Why are there so many reports of rocketing temperatures in the Arctic and nearby e.g. Siberian temps of over 100 reg F last year? Ultimately if predictions from physics based models don’t match accurate real measurements, the model is in error. I accept that getting measurements wrong is always a possibility.

        Any thoughts here? Retreating Arctic ice sheets and soaring temperatures can’t be discounted unless someone is messing up data big time while surely it would be simple enough to check what happens to surface and lower temperatures given the same solar input with or without ice coverings. Alternatively what is wrong with my suggestions of win-win options like reducing waste and restoring fish stocks which make sense regardless of what is happening and how?

      • Hi Iain

        “Alternatively what is wrong with my suggestions of win-win options like reducing waste and restoring fish stocks which make sense regardless of what is happening and how?”

        I agree but it’s not a vote winner it seems. Politics isn’t run by people who think like us unfortunately.

        As I posted recently, the Antarctic ice sheets are expanding slightly and the Arctic ice sheets receding quickly. The evidence doesn’t fit manmade global warming. Increasing tidal strength does imo

        https://earthdata.nasa.gov/learn/sensing-our-planet/unexpected-ice?mc_cid=5f6d75c92f&mc_eid=8249944246

      • Hi Alan,

        Thanks for that and a good point. With food waste though (see the IMechE’s Waste Not Want Not report and numerous other examples) condoning it is the equivalent of people burning their own banknotes. I’d hope some politicians at least might go for that. It needs careful handling though; lecturing people gets knee-jerk resistance but a more measured suggestion while pointing out the advantages may still be worth a go. Accusations that is like saying “If we clutch at enough straws we can build a raft” may still have a point but I feel obliged to try.

  46. Dear Dr. Curry,
    Thank you for the interesting interview and for inviting critical comments.

    https://www.cristos-vournas.com

  47. “The climate models originated from weather forecast models..”

    That could work well if the weather forecast was based on the solar forcing of NAO/AO anomalies and the inverse response of ENSO and the AMO. But then who needs a global climate model if NAO/AO, ENSO, and AMO anomalies can be predicted, that’s all we practically need to know. Predicting global change due to CO2 forcing levels says nothing about those anomalies.

    “However, the most consequential applications of climate models are to tell us what caused the 20th century climate change, how much the climate change is going to change in the 21st century and what’s causing extreme weather events.”

    Indirect solar variability discretely drives heat and cold events, that’s primarily what is missing from the climate models. Predicting climate cannot change predict temperature extremes, but predicting temperature extremes is essential for predicting climate change.
    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/major-heat-cold-waves-driven-key-heliocentric-alignments-ulric-lyons/

    “Well, they, they do claim that they can attribute the global warming, but this can’t be easily separated from the natural variability associated with large-scale ocean circulations. And the way they’ve used climate models to do that involves circular reasoning..”

    The very worst circular reasoning is in regarding the large-scale ocean circulations as unforced internal variability. That obscures the most important climate dynamic, that ENSO and the AMO act as negative feedbacks to indirect solar variability, and self amplified by the changes in low cloud cover and lower troposphere water vapour which they drive.
    Such that the 1970’s global cooling was the response to very strong solar wind conditions, and post 1995 global warming is the response to weaker solar wind states since then. This is why the climate has never had a crisis or a breakdown before, that is reserved exclusively for paranoid climate scientists.

    • ‘“The climate models originated from weather forecast models..”

      That could work well if the weather forecast was based on the solar forcing of NAO/AO anomalies and the inverse response of ENSO and the AMO. ‘

      To be fair, they are no longer weather forecast models, because they’ve tossed in variables (and parameterizations) that are not needed to forecast short term weather. So they originated from weather forecast models, have the same or similar physics packages, but with other stuff added in, either as more physics, or more parameterizations. Note that parameterizations (not to be confused with simple parameters) make up most of the code of a weather model, and no doubt, a climate model.

      And as Dr. Curry mentioned, these models are useful for some purposes. You can *assume* a starting system state in the future, and see how it evolves short term by running the model with the appropriate variables tweaked. That can be interesting, and some of it usefully back-fitted into the weather models. It might give you useful information about some sensitivities, but then… if it’s science and we like Hopper… how to we falsify it?

      And, as others have pointed out, this is a non-linear system with lots of feedbacks, which means it is chaotic. I’ve seen arguments that the effects of chaos can be a ameliorated by using ensembles and by tweaking parameters to keep the system from departing physical possibility. I’m skeptical. But again… where’s the test against the real world?

      As far as chaos goes, ensembles are used to help with the chaos in weather models, and I look at their outputs all the time. All they do is let you peak a bit farther into the future, and they give you a probabilistic rather than deterministic forecast. The probabilities are more useful than a deterministic output. Still… that’s looking a few weeks out, not years. And that means, the oscillations are too long range to be generated.

      As a side note – a major boost to get Chaos Theory into use was Lorenz’s discovery of its effects in his early weather model in 1961.

      • mesocyclone wrote:
        “And, as others have pointed out, this is a non-linear system with lots of feedbacks, which means it is chaotic.”

        No one has “pointed out” any such thing, it’s pretending to know about what they have not begun to understand. The discrete solar forcing of NAO/AO anomalies is not chaotic, and they are predictable decades and centuries ahead. I’ve produced four years ahead predictions at a weekly resolution.

      • ‘“And, as others have pointed out, this is a non-linear system with lots of feedbacks, which means it is chaotic.”

        No one has “pointed out” any such thing,’

        So you are unaware of the many papers and tutorials teaching about chaos in the weather system, nor the original work by Lorenz on the topic? Note that climate is just a function of weather.

      • Of course I am aware of their baseless and false assumption of chaos. It’s because they don’t have a clue about indirect solar variability driving NAO/AO anomalies, but they need to make it look like they know what they are talking about.

      • I know very well that they have no idea of how the Sun discretely drives NAO/AO anomalies, so what is your point?

  48. The latest research finds a clue to the cause of ice ages but greenhouse gases just don’t complete a perfect picture:
    —-
    Simon agrees that the transport of fresh water by icebergs seems to have been important for the beginning of the ice ages.

    “It’s an important discovery that icebergs have been identified as the source of large amounts of fresh water that was transported a good distance from Antarctica. This may explain global changes in ocean circulation at that time. It is a strength that evidence for the deposits was found repeatedly over the last 1.6 million years,” she said.

    Still, scientists have not found out all the details of what caused the ice ages.

    “There are many things we still haven’t fully investigated or discovered. For example, after large amounts of greenhouse gases are extracted from the atmosphere, we still don’t know how they got trapped in the Southern Ocean for extended periods and at some point released again,” Simon said.
    —-
    https://sciencenorway.no/climate-climate-change-ice-age/the-missing-link-that-triggered-the-ice-ages/1806986

    • Good catch, it makes sense, we also emerged from the LGM with the help of a volcanic eruption in the Southern Ocean.

      • “This may explain global changes in ocean circulation at that time.”

        Or that something completely different caused global changes in ocean circulation. (It’s worth mentioning that the iceberg armadas are the Southern equivalent of Heinrich Events)

      • Angular momentum and length of day maybe of interest, a binge and purge phenomenon brought on by some kind of internal dynamic.

        http://www.warwickhughes.com/climate/Iceberg.htm

      • Very interesting piece, thanks. I would put the phenomenon down to increasing tidal energy via new physics due to the ~215-yr or ~88-yr cycle evidenced in paleoclimate data going back 98 million years and observed as solar cycles.

        The extra tidal strength would breakup ice shelves and allow ice buildup on slopes to descend to the sea.

        Ocean currents would also increase and change direction/circulation.

      • It just reminded me of the infamous Titanic iceberg impact of 1914 at 41°N. I suspect that this may have been one of the last big ones after a series of smaller ice fields from 1850 onwards, correlating with the Southern phenomena.

      • Thanks, I’ll take a closer look.

  49. A little OT, but the hypocrisy here is so exquisite it is a true work of art:

    https://www.rt.com/op-ed/514318-big-tech-censorship-paper-disinformation/

    Social media deny censorship of conservative voices, while in the same breath calling for censorship of conservative voices.

  50. Latest research confirms that manmade global warming isn’t the simple model that fits empirical evidence:

    “According to climate models, rising global temperatures should cause sea ice in both regions to shrink. But observations show that ice extent in the Arctic has shrunk faster than models predicted, and in the Antarctic it has been growing slightly. Researchers are looking much closer at Antarctica, saying, “Wait, what is going on down there?” Holland is one of those intrigued.”

    https://earthdata.nasa.gov/learn/sensing-our-planet/unexpected-ice?mc_cid=5f6d75c92f&mc_eid=8249944246

    Why do they never mention the research which concludes Antarctica’s snowfall has increased in the last 200 years?

  51. Pingback: Politics and Global Warming Poll – Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York

  52. This interview is just the latest example of Judith’s fidelity to science and allegiance to the scientific method. I’ve now followed this blog for 10 years. Not once has she diverted from a thought process that should be aspirational for all other scientists. Quarrel about her conclusions but how she addresses the issues at hand should be above reproach.

  53. The last time I had such a vitriolic stoush with ‘planning engineers’ was on rotational inertia. South Australia was the poster child for grid instability due to the loss of turbine rotational inertia. Replaced by wind and solar. They lost a few pylons in a storm, supply frequency fluctuated, that caused a wind farm to shut down causing too much power to flow through the interconnector with the rest of the east coast causing it to trip out. The fix was to first off make windfarms less sensitive to frequency fluctuations and then virtual rotational inertia with a Tesla battery bank. Obvious even at the time and shortly after from various public reports. Batteries provide a more precise and faster response to frequency fluctuations than traditional rotational inertia.

    But there is an idée fixe among contrarians that wind and solar ‘wont work’ – at all, at any time, in any amount and is ay any rate far too expensive. In which quantitative data is conspicuously absent. One thing that has escaped their attention apparently is the cost decline in the past decade now makes some level of penetration cost competitive. Are wind and solar ready for 100% penetration? Of course not and the very idea seems a far fetched red herring. Presuming that the technical problems of storage batteries that use cheap and abundant materials can be solved – e.g. liquid metal batteries – the ultimate limiting factor may be the energy density of wind and sunshine. For a high energy future advanced nuclear reactors is the technology closest to fruition. But if the LCOE of wind and solar is low it creates opportunities for useful power generation. Rooftop commercial, retail and residential applications come to mind.

    This is from EIA modelling. It compares LACE to LCOE. A ratio of greater than 1 implies that it’s an attractive option for future generation. Other factors then come into consideration. Diversification of supply, future fuel price volatility, public policy… Or is the EIA another suspect organisation intent on installing a world government?


    https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/

  54. Pingback: Andy West – Strong and Free | Climate Scepticism

  55. Positing complexity to counter quantum mechanical behaviours of greenhouse gas molecules in the atmosphere is a contrarian red herring designed to suggest that all is not known therefore everything is in doubt. The Earth system is dynamically complex with the potential for extreme variability on which warming over the last century from anthropogenic emissions of CO2 – primarily – is superimposed. The crux of the matter is that we are changing the composition of the atmosphere – post industrial increases in CO2 emissions and atmospheric content is not just a coincidence – with little understanding of the complexities and consequences. Despite the convoluted and frequently bonkers ratiocination of cognitively committed contrarians.

    Earth’s climate quite literally is a turbulent fluid flow problem. Turbulent flow is fractal. All the way down from planetary waves to micro-eddies. Atmosphere and oceans are just one big, coupled flow field.

    “Big whirls have little whirls that feed on their velocity, and little whirls have lesser whirls, and so on to viscosity.” – Meteorologist Lewis Fry Richardson (“Weather Prediction by Numerical Process.” Cambridge University Press, 1922)

    If you look at a mountain stream patiently you will see that the vortices are the same size, number and location – this is dictated by boundary conditions. As flow gradually dries up there is a point when the patterns of vortices abruptly shift.

    I imagine I could have a go at modelling it with enough information on the bedrock form and water flow – although such calculations in bridge engineering are pared down to the basics. Earth system boundary conditions are of course vastly more complex. Glacials are characterised by extensive ice sheets, aridity, low CO2 and more dust in the atmosphere. The transition from interglacials to glacials may triggered by changes in NH insolation in a context of a freshening Arctic and declining deep water formation. But the proximate cause of glacials is runaway ice sheet feedback.

    The global energy equation at top of atmosphere is very simple. The change in work and heat on the planet is equal to energy in less energy out. Energy in varies very little. There may be indirect effects from UV at the poles or solar wind modulation of the global electrical circuit. But you might as well ask what rock in the river caused which vortex.

    Energy out is a function of temperature, atmospheric composition and albedo. Large variability in each of these is caused by changes in ocean and atmospheric circulation. In the past two decades there was a substantial decrease in reflected shortwave and an increase in emitted infrared. This is diagnostic of changes in low level cloud.


    That is dominated by cloud changes in the eastern Pacific anti-correlated to sea surface temperature.

    e.g. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2019GL086705

    • I take it that Andy’s topic is the religiosity of catastrophe in a nonlinear world in which catastrophe is at the core of the dominant scientific paradigm of system behaviour. As opposed to being something the IPCC and mainstream science doesn’t support?

      https://watertechbyrie.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/bifurcations.png .

      “Abrupt climate changes were especially common when the climate system was being forced to change most rapidly. Thus, greenhouse warming and other human alterations of the earth system may increase the possibility of large, abrupt, and unwelcome regional or global climatic events.” https://www.nap.edu/read/10136/chapter/2

      I note the failure of Judith to agree or disagree with this 2002 quote from a bevy of eminent climate scientists. But this seems to be the crux of the climate problem. And not how much warming is natural and how much anthropogenic.

      • “I take it that Andy’s topic is the religiosity of catastrophe in a nonlinear world in which catastrophe is at the core of the dominant scientific paradigm of system behaviour.”

        No. Certain and imminent (decades) global catastrophe in the dominant cultural narrative, is emotively emergent, and so has no scientific context. The podcast is about the cultural context.

      • Qualifying it as certain and immanent seems to miss the tipping point.

      • On the other hand – surprises are inevitable. :)

      • I agree with this.

        ‘To increase understanding of abrupt climate change, research should be directed toward aspects of the climate system that are believed to have participated in past abrupt changes … ‘

      • I’d agree if we could turn the clock back 30 years. At the moment though I would suggest getting out of the current mess via sensible mitigation of a whole range of threats and future scenarios – hence the win-win options I keep talking about which make sense regardless of the nature, extent, cause and direction of climate change. Examples are silviculture, soil carbon capture, restoring fish stocks and reducing waste. I apologise for being a “results merchant”.

    • Victor Ovid Adams

      Transcript available?

      • Sorry I don’t think Chris Balkaran usually does transcripts. Judith’s episode appears to be an exception in this respect.

      • I asked him to do this. He applied some software. It was pretty rough, I spent alot of time editing

      • Ah, I see. (Thanks for putting in the work, very handy to have readable!)

      • Victor, if you’re still there, and anyone else interested too, via the heavy lifting of Geoff Chambers at ‘Climate Scepticism’, there *is* now a transcript. See https://cliscep.com/2021/02/09/andy-west-podcast-transcript/ .

      • Thank you, Andy. An interesting and thought provoking interview.

      • Thanks, Dave, much appreciated :)

      • You have a very interesting insight and angle on the human cultural condition Andy. This was one of your best paragraphs imo:

        “AW: Absolutely. You’ve hit the nail right on the head there. They do literally bypass rationality. And the reason that they can do that, is that these narratives have co-evolved with the actual development of our brain. So the narratives and our brain architecture fit hand in glove, and they’re there for a purpose. The purpose is to hold the cultural group together, ‘cos the only way – I guess you know from evolution, groups survive better than individuals – and therefore group selection is a thing. There’s a lot of argument about the relative importance of group selection versus gene selection and so on, but it’s there from an evolutionary perspective to hold the group together. And it’s more important that the group holds together than it is to have anything to do with truth. If you have a thousand people and you don’thave culture, you have a thousand opinions. If you have a thousand people and you have a cultural narrative, they’re all literally singing off the same hymn sheet – which phrase actually comes from holding the same brand of culture together. And it does that by bypassing rationality.”

  56. Geoff Sherrington

    Judith,
    How nice it is to read your words that have so much similarity to my own recollections. If I have a madness, I am not alone! Thankyou for your transcription of this talk.
    You recall “At the time, it was all about geophysical fluid dynamics, trying to understand the circulations of atmosphere and the ocean, radiative transfer, cloud physics. It was, it was very physics based. “
    By chance, I found an old exam paper in Physics, second year for a B.Sc., typically sat by people aged 18-19.
    Here is a page of the exam:

    I remember Physics, Chemistry, geology as being quite hard to pass. I also remember, maybe wrongly, that these exams were marked not so much for rote learning, but for understanding of that vague term, ‘the scientific method.’
    When one looks at papers by others, even 60 years later, it is through the prism of science as well as the through the various social influences that attempt to distort that view.
    What does a second year Science Physics exam paper look like today? If you are a reader here who is teaching and could show us one, or a student sitting one, it might make an interesting comparison. Geoff S

  57. Victor Ovid Adams

    Given my background (grew up in a Soviet Style country) I have three comments:
    1) The scandal of attributing just about any unusual weather/wild fire/flood event invariably to the looming Climate Change “crisis”, similar to the Soviet Organization SMERSH (death to spies) and its successor organizations where all regime failures were blamed on foreign spies
    2) I have read that the current Russian Climate model (cannot recall the acronym) can validate PAST earth’s climate unlike IPCC’s models, any comments on this?
    3) The CO2 control knob term is really huge and it should be somehow disseminated even by unorthodox methods such as the very successful, clandestine “Samizdat” in the old Soviet Union

    Great job Ms. Curry, I sent the transcript to all my friends (mostly petroleum engineers, horror!)

  58. Clouds can be modelled at eddy resolving scale over small regions using equations of state rather than parametrizations. Doing it at a global scale would still require 1000’s of times more computing power than the fastest computer available.

    Doing so shows a tipping point in low level cloud cover at CO2 concentrations that could be reached this century – if the world were not on a low carbon trajectory. This would drive some 8 degrees C of global warming. This mechanism goes some way to explaining the PETM.

    How much further advanced is the understanding of ocean and atmospheric circulation than it was with Ed Lorenz in the 1960’s?

    ‘Perhaps we can visualize the day when all of the relevant physical principles will be perfectly known. It may then still not be possible to express these principles as mathematical equations which can be solved by digital computers. We may believe, for example, that the motion of the unsaturated portion of the atmosphere is governed by the Navier–Stokes equations, but to use these equations properly we should have to describe each turbulent eddy—a task far beyond the capacity of the largest computer. We must therefore express the pertinent statistical properties of turbulent eddies as functions of the larger-scale motions. We do not yet know how to do this, nor have we proven that the desired functions exist’. Lorenz E. N.. 1969 Three approaches to atmospheric predictability. Bull. Am. Met. Soc. 50, 345-351.

    50 years later the problem is unsolved and may be unsolvable.

  59. Geoff Sherrington

    TIE,
    “50 years later the problem is unsolved and may be unsolvable.”
    Why do you not admit that a similar comment can be made about climate sensitivity?
    It really does shorten the list of topics to which you feel you must respond.
    …………………………….
    Do you think that people should not respond on science blogs like this, unless they are able to pass exams like I showed with a tiny example?
    Like that surgeons ought not operate on people without passing set qualifications and update exams as specified?
    Did you ever study spectroscopy, including topic like the Bohr theory of the atom? Were you also adept at deriving the main Schrödinger wave equation from first principles? Geoff S

    • It always surprises that contrarians don’t why GCM don’t work. It is a mastter of irreducible imprecision. “Sensitive dependence and structural instability are humbling twin properties for chaotic dynamical systems, indicating limits about which kinds of questions are theoretically answerable. They echo other famous limitations on scientist’s expectations, namely the undecidability of some propositions within axiomatic mathematical systems (Gödel’s theorem) and the uncomputability of some algorithms due to excessive size of the calculation.” https://www.pnas.org/content/104/21/8709


      Solutions of an energy-balance model (EBM), showing the global-mean temperature (T) vs. the fractional change of insolation (μ) at the top of the atmosphere. (Source: Ghil, 2013)

      This 1-D climate model uses physically based equations to determine changes in the climate system as a result of changes in solar intensity, ice reflectance and greenhouse gases. With a small decrease in radiation from the Sun – or an increase in ice cover – the system becomes unstable with runaway ice feedbacks. Runaway ice feedbacks drive the transitions between glacial and interglacial states seen repeatedly over the past 2.58 million years. These are warm interludes – such as the present time – of relatively short duration and longer duration cold states. The transition between climate states is characterised by a series of step changes between the limits. It caused a bit of consternation in the 1970’s when it was realized that a very small decrease in solar intensity – or an increase in albedo – is sufficient to cause a rapid transition to an icy planet in this model (2).

      The model has two stable states with two points of abrupt climate change – the latter at the transitions from the blue lines to the red from above and below. The two axes are normalized solar energy inputs μ (insolation) to the climate system and a global mean temperature. The current day energy input is μ = 1 with a global mean temperature of 287.7 degrees Kelvin. This is a relatively balmy 58.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

      Ghil’s model shows that climate sensitivity (γ) is variable. It is the change in temperature (ΔT) divided by the change in the control variable (Δμ) – the tangent to the curve as shown above. Sensitivity increases moving down the upper curve to the left towards the bifurcation and becomes arbitrarily large at the instability. The problem in a chaotic climate then becomes not one of quantifying climate sensitivity in a smoothly evolving climate but of predicting the onset of abrupt climate shifts and their implications for climate and society. The problem of abrupt climate change on multi-decadal scales is of the most immediate significance.

      Now suppose you demonstrate the relevance of the Bohr model of the atom or the Schrödinger wave equation to climate science?

      • The relevance is that wavefunction collapse is not driven by conscious observers alone.

      • Wave function collapse occurs when a wave function—initially a propagating superposition of probabilities – reduces to a single observable state. The other probabilities are coherent in many different worlds. LOL

        What matters for radiative physics of greenhouse gases is the observation of photon absorption and emission – and not the propagation of the wave function. The latter happens in the never never space of wave/particle duality.

      • Neither of us are quantum mechanics, nevertheless we can agree the cat is dead.

        On a different matter, your earlier chart on TOA Shortwave Flux shows a striking resemblance to January temperatures in Tokyo. Is it just a coincidence?

      • A striking resemblance aye? Some knowledge of spectroscopy and quantum mechanics is required if you presume to understand something about climate. In spirit closer to old style Natural Philosophers – having been introduced to both in university and studied relevant fields for decades – I know something about it.

        I’d agree more with Tim Palmer that quantum mechanics is not a fundamental physical theory – and that a unified field theory is more likely to involve fractal geometry.

  60. Pingback: Judith Curry Interview (Part I: Climate Science) - Master Resource

  61. Pingback: Judith Curry Interview (Part I: Climate Science) Interview (Part I: Climate Science) – Climate- Science.press

  62. Pingback: Global Warming Poll Constructed to Support Pre-Conceived OutcomeNatural Gas Now

  63. It is very persistent task to make people see the DIFFERENCE between

    the planet UNIFORM RADIATIVE EQUILIBRIUM surface temperature

    Te = [ (1-a) S /4σ ]¹∕ ⁴
    vs
    the planet MEAN surface temperature, which is also based on the RADIATIVE EQUILIBRIUM PRINCIPLE, but IS NOT a surface uniform temperature – it is surface AVERAGE temperature.

    Tmean = [ Φ (1-a) S (β*N*cp)¹∕ ⁴ /4σ ]¹∕ ⁴

    https://www.cristos-vournas.com

  64. Christopher Monckton says we are in another pause.

    ‘The least-squares trend on the latest UAH data show no global warming for 5 years 6 months from August 2015 to January 2021 inclusive.’

  65. Victor Ovid Adams

    Professor Curry,
    Besides working on adequate supplies of “food, water and energy”, as essential needs facing our planet rather than trafficking’s in lofty, expensive and questionable goals such as “zero carbon ” by such and such precise date I would add two more terms actually often mentioned by you:
    1) No regrets measures for adaptation and mitigation and
    2) GW problem is a wicked problem with at best clumsy “solutions”

  66. A multi-gas and aerosol strategy is required – CFC’s, nitrous oxides, methane, black carbon and sulfate. Along with ongoing decreases in carbon intensity and increases in efficiency and productivity. And technical innovation across sectors – energy, transport, industry, residential and agriculture and forestry.

    Some of the answer is under our feet. Rattan Lal – himself a scientific treasure – estimates that some 500 Gigatonne (GtC) carbon has been lost from terrestrial systems. ‘Soil is like a bank account – we must replace what we have removed.” There is a potential to sequester the carbon in157 ppm of CO2 by 2100.

    This soil carbon store can be renewed by restoring land. Holding back water in sand dams, terraces and swales, replanting, changing grazing management, encouraging perennial vegetation cover, precise applications of chemicals and adoption of other management practices that create positive carbon and nutrient budgets and optimal soil temperature and moisture.

    Carbon sequestration in soils has major benefits in addition to offsetting anthropogenic emissions from fossil fuel combustion, land use conversion, soil cultivation, continuous grazing and cement and steel manufacturing. Restoring soil carbon stores increases agronomic productivity and enhances global food security. Increasing the soil organic content enhances water holding capacity and creates a more drought tolerant agriculture – with less downstream flooding. There is a critical level of soil carbon that is essential to maximising the effectiveness of water and nutrient inputs. Global food security, especially for countries with fragile soils and harsh climate such as in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, cannot be achieved without improving soil quality through an increase in soil organic content.

    Increased agricultural productivity, increased downstream processing and access to markets build local economies and global wealth. Economic growth provides resources for solving problems – conserving and restoring ecosystems, better sanitation and safer water, better health and education, updating the diesel fleet and other productive assets to emit less black carbon and reduce the health and environmental impacts, developing better and cheaper ways of producing electricity, replacing cooking with wood and dung with better ways of preparing food thus avoiding respiratory disease and again reducing black carbon emissions. A global program of agricultural soils restoration – already well underway – is the foundation for balancing the human ecology.

    Electricity is 25% of the problem – but we need process heat and liquid fuels as well. It is just technology – and the fundamental science is known. There is a need for engineers who can solve problems – but they are not usually in short supply. Ambitious targets are in view and niggling contrarian naysaying is getting very old.

  67. On or before Earth Day, April 22nd, the Biden Administration will announce its carbon emission reduction targets for the year 2030. Climate activists are pushing for reductions in the range of from 50 to 70 percent of America’s year 2005 carbon emissions.

    Building enough wind, solar, and nuclear to replace even half of our carbon energy resources by 2030 is impossible. The only practical means of quickly achieving the emission reductions climate activists say are necessary is to impose a series of drastic energy conservation measures on the American public.

    The fact remains that the Executive Branch has all the authority it needs to quickly reduce America’s carbon emissions on a highly aggressive fast-track schedule. What remains to be seen is whether or not President Biden and his climate czar John Kerry will use that authority.

    If climate change is indeed the existential threat to our existence Joe Biden and John Kerry claim that it is, then they are ethically and morally obligated to act in accordance with their claims and to quickly reduce America’s carbon emissions just as far and as fast as current law allows them to do.

    More important, under current law, President Biden and the Executive Branch can do it unilaterally without another new word of legislation being passed by the Congress.

    Every action listed under the following five-point GHG reduction program — the Supply Side Carbon Emission Control Plan (SSCECP) — has a past historical precedent in the application of environmental and national security law.

    The SSCECP imposes an artificial shortage of fossil fuels on the American economy while greatly increasing the price of carbon energy for all energy consumers.

    In the space of a decade, the SSCECP transforms America from an energy rich nation into an energy poor nation relative to the energy cornucopia we enjoy today. This is a feature of the plan, not a bug.

    These are the five points of the plan:

    I: Establish the Legal Basis for Regulating All of America’s Carbon Emissions (2007-2020, Complete)

    I-a: File and win lawsuits to allow regulation of carbon dioxide and other carbon GHG’s as pollutants under the Clean Air Act. (2007)
    I-b: Publish a CAA Section 202 Endangerment Finding as a prototype test case for regulation of carbon GHG’s. (2009)
    I-c: Successfully defend the CAA Section 202 Endangerment Finding in the courts. (2010-2012)
    I-d: Establish a recent precedent, the COVID-19 pandemic, for taking strong government action in response to a declared national emergency. (2020)

    II: Expand and Extend Regulation of All Carbon Emissions (2021)

    II-a: Issue an Executive Order declaring a carbon pollution emergency.
    II-b: Assign a joint task force comprised of all cabinet level departments, plus the National Security Agency, to manage the carbon pollution emergency.
    II-c: Create a joint interagency control board to manage a phased systematic reduction in the production and distribution of all carbon fuels.
    II-d: Place this control board under the direct supervision of the president and his national security staff.
    II-e: Research and publish a US Treasury policy plan for redirecting energy market financial investments as needed to support the government’s GHG reduction goals.
    II-f: Defend the president’s emergency actions as needed in response to specific lawsuits filed in the courts.

    III: Establish an Expanded Carbon Emission Regulation Program (2021-2022)

    III-a: Publish a Clean Air Act Section 108 Endangerment Finding which complements 2009’s Section 202 finding.
    III-b: Declare carbon emissions as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) under CAA Section 112.
    III-c: Establish a National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for carbon pollution.
    III-d: Use the NAAQS for carbon pollution as America’s tie-in to international climate change agreements.
    III-e: Defend the Section 108 Endangerment Finding, the NAAQS, and the Section 112 HAP Declaration in the courts.
    III-f: Publish a regulatory framework for carbon pollution under Clean Air Act sections 108, 111, 112, 202, and other CAA sections as applicable.
    III-g: Establish cooperative agreements with the states to enforce the EPA’s anti-carbon regulations.
    III-h: Establish a system of carbon pollution fines which is the functional equivalent of a legislated tax on carbon.
    III-i: Establish the legal basis for sharing the revenues collected from these carbon pollution fines among the federal and state governments.
    III-j: Defend the comprehensive system of carbon pollution regulations in the courts.

    IV: Establish a Carbon Fuel Rationing Program (2021-2022)

    IV-a: Research and publish a system for government-enforced carbon fuel rationing.
    IV-b: Establish a time-phased, hard-target schedule for reducing the production and distribution of all carbon fuels.
    IV-c: Establish cooperative agreements with the states to enforce the government’s system of carbon fuel rationing.
    IV-d: Establish production control agreements with private sector fossil fuel producers and distributors.
    IV-e: Establish a guaranteed profit schedule for the carbon fuels industry in return for production & distribution cutbacks.
    IV-f: Defend the government’s system of carbon fuel rationing in the courts.

    V: Perform Ongoing GHG Reduction Monitoring & Control Activities (2023 through 2050)

    V-a: Issue a further series of Executive Orders, as needed, to further define and further implement America’s carbon emissions regulatory framework.
    V-b: Issue a further series of Executive Orders, as needed, to further define and further implement America’s carbon fuel rationing program.
    V-c: Monitor the effectiveness of the EPA’s carbon regulation framework in reducing America’s GHG emissions.
    V-d: Monitor the effectiveness of renewable energy projects in reducing America’s GHG emissions.
    V-e: Monitor the effectiveness of energy conservation programs in reducing America’s GHG emissions.
    V-f: Monitor the effectiveness of carbon fuel rationing programs in reducing America’s GHG emissions.
    V-g: Adjust the schedule of carbon pollution fines upward if progress in reducing America’s GHG emissions lags.
    V-h: Adjust the carbon fuel rationing targets upward if progress in reducing America’s GHG emissions lags.
    V-i: Continue to defend the comprehensive system of carbon pollution regulations and the government-mandated energy rationing programs in the courts.
    V-j: Continue to assess the need for enforcing the government’s GHG reduction programs beyond the year 2050.

    REMARKS:

    The plan described above is completely legal and constitutional. Under current law, the SSCECP can be implemented unilaterally by the Executive Branch using its existing environmental protection and national security authorities. Not another word of new legislation is needed from Congress either to enable the plan legally or to fund its operation.

    Nor does the plan require a separate line of funding in the federal government’s budget. The planning activities and regulation roll-out activities are easily accomplished within the existing spending authorities of the US-EPA, the US-DOE, and the US-DHS.

    A plan like the SSCECP will generate many lawsuits. But if the plan is applied with equal force against all major sources of America’s carbon emissions and with equal impact upon all affected economic sectors and demographic groups, those lawsuits will go nowhere. It is specifically designed to survive any lawsuits brought against it.

    Even if the House of Representatives and the Senate were both in Republican hands in January, 2023, and passed legislation specifically forbidding the adoption of a plan like the SSCECP, a presidential veto can kill that legislation with the stroke of a pen.

    So the big question remains. How far will President Biden and John Kerry go in acting upon their stated convictions? Will they, or won’t they, do all that is in their power as our Chief Executive and our climate czar to reduce America’s carbon emissions just as far and as fast as climate activists say is necessary?

    • Hi Beta Blocker,

      Good points but potentially electoral suicide although, as you say, it all looks legal. Is more carbon capture a more acceptable (OK less unacceptable) alternative? In agricultural terms, have a look at the carbon capture in soil achieved by North Dakota’s Gabe Brown and many others. I accept there may be a case for reducing cattle and sheep numbers (although what does that mean in practice? The 2007 cull of 5000 healthy sheep in Shetland most of which weren’t eaten is how not to do it) but feed additives like Asparogopsis taxiformis in livestock feed could make a huge difference too.

      A further concern is that even net zero human greenhouse gas emissions may not be enough due to gas escapes from once frozen deposits coupled with the effects of fires, dying vegetation and reduced solar reflection as ice sheets melt. Despite the gloom, good luck!

    • Demand for meat will increase with population and wealth. This requires an expansion of the herd on essentially the same 5 billion hectares.

      • Lately, I’ve taken to substituting a microwaved veggie burger for my former weekly trip to get a Big Whopper at the Burger King down the street from where I work.

        Load enough cheese onto a veggie burger and the overall culinary effect is kind of, sort of, similar. Depending on what mood I’m in that day.

    • The Dimowits have wandered so far off the farm, they don’t even know what planet they are on anymore. Poor numbskulls. But if they implement SSCECP, they may never see the inside of Congress again. Let’s hope they do it.

  68. Take a deep breath and – relaxxxx. The USGS and USDA have done some great work on the land use sector and agriculture. Building on that is part of the Biden plan. Ultimately you will need advanced nuclear reactors for electricity, process heat and liquid fuel synthesis. That is also on Biden’s radar.


    “Total Emissions in 2018 = 6,677 Million Metric Tons of CO2 equivalent. Percentages may not add up to 100% due to independent rounding…

    Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry in the United States is a net sink and offsets approximately 12 percent of these greenhouse gas emissions, this emissions offset is not included in total above. All emission estimates from the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990–2018.”

    • Hi Robert,

      I’m forwarding this to Colin Tudge in the IK who has long argued for “Enlightened Agriculture “. I suspect he’ll be interested.

      Iain

  69. OT but Time magazine just admitted that the media-political establishment of the US rigged (sorry – “fortified”) the 2020 election in favour of Joe Biden.

    It is proclaimed with pride and without secrecy:

    https://www.rt.com/op-ed/514770-time-electiion-fortified-color-revolution/

  70. Pingback: The false science behind the Biden green program | Founders Broadsheet

  71. “Technology and economics evolve” avoids excess verbiage.

  72. Does David and just doesn’t want to say it out loud? Technology is a product of human creativity best fostered by economic freedom.


    https://www.heritage.org/index/ranking?version=13

    There is as well an element of social interaction in the democratic process that requires knowledge and communication in a struggle that commenced even before the French reign of terror. Those who don’t know history are condemned to repeat it.

    “The main lesson which the true liberal must learn from the success of the socialists is that it was their courage to be Utopian which gained them the support of the intellectuals and therefore an influence on public opinion which is daily making possible what only recently seemed utterly remote. Those who have concerned themselves exclusively with what seemed practicable in the existing state of opinion have constantly found that even this had rapidly become politically impossible as the result of changes in a public opinion which they have done nothing to guide.” Friedrich Hayek

  73. A chart for non-condensing greenhouse gases would be meaningful if water vapor (WV) increase was actually a result of only temperature increase (feedback). It is not.

    Water vapor is driven into the atmosphere by its vapor pressure. Vapor pressure depends only on the temperature of the liquid water. Data showing vapor pressure vs temperature of the liquid water is widely available. Evaporation is slowed by the partial pressure of WV in the atmosphere and when the partial pressure gets to be as high as the vapor pressure, net evaporation stops.

    The figure at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_2m02r30FmvtgSnOEZunFRpUJwTUFU_V/view?usp=sharing shows the measured WV (Total Precipitable Water (TPW) measured globally by NASA/RSS using satellite instruments) and what the WV would be if calculated only on the basis of temperature of the liquid water. The graph shows that the trend for the measured WV is greater than the trend for WV calculated from temperature increase (feedback). Because the partial pressure of WV in the atmosphere is ignored, the calculated temperature increase is somewhat higher than it would be.

    This demonstrates that increasing WV is NOT a result of increasing non-condensing greenhouse gases. All of the average global temperature increase attributable to human activity is from increasing WV. Most (about 90%) of the WV increase attributed to humanity is from increased irrigation. Increasing CO2 does not now, never has, and never will have a significant effect on climate.

    The temperature increase from WV increase is self-limiting. More WV indicates an increase of the rate of transport of energy from the surface to an elevation where the energy can be radiated to space and also will result in increased cloud cover which reflects more solar radiation energy away and provides more area for broad-spectrum radiation to space. Lower cloud altitude and thus warmer temperature also increases broad band radiation from clouds to space. Therefore, the average global temperature increase is also self-limiting.

  74. Higher sea surface temperature results in less low level cloud and less reflected SW. It is to do with the persistence of closed cloud cells over cooler water.

    Lets add IR for completeness. The pattern shows that it is low level cloud.

    The spatial signature shows it to be dominated by marine boundary layer strato-cumulus changes over the eastern Pacific.

    There really is no shortage of water to evaporate. And it is a vastly slower process than radiative loss to space.

    Not believing that CO2 warms the nonlinear planetary system with both positive and negative feedbacks is not an argument worth having. It is flogging a dead horse. People are not going to believe contrarian blog science. I don’t. And it therefore abdicates any moral responsibility for guiding public opinion down responsible – contrarian certainty is clearly impossibly arrogant at best – and pragmatic paths.

  75. Just saw this by Indur Goklany. This should cause an interesting reaction.

    Click to access Goklany-EmpiricalTrends.pdf

  76. The natural sources for water vapor are pretty much unchanged for millennia. WV from natural sources provides the base for regulation of the temperature of the planet. WV has been increasing faster than possible from temperature increase. The graph at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_2m02r30FmvtgSnOEZunFRpUJwTUFU_V/view?usp=sharing demonstrates that. Human activity, mostly from increasing irrigation especially after about 1960, has contributed to increasing WV. With more WV, the temperature of the planet will be regulated at a slightly higher level.

    The conclusion that CO2 has no significant effect on climate is consistent with:
    Hitran is valid.
    MODTRAN is valid.
    Relaxation time is much longer than the time between molecule collisions.
    Energy absorbed by CO2 is shared with surrounding molecules.
    Irrigation water is shallow and therefore quickly warmed.
    Most irrigation is practiced in arid areas.
    The separation between vapor pressure and partial pressure contributes to evaporation rate.
    CO2 increase follows temperature increase.
    CO2 level has been many times higher in the past.
    Over the Phanerozoic eon there is no correlation between temperature and CO2 level.
    GCMs which assume CO2 affects climate overestimate temperature change by a factor of two or more.
    Antarctic ice core data show that CO2 trend direction change occurs after temperature trend direction change.

    These and corroborative assessments are included in Section 2 of http://globalclimatedrivers2.blogspot.com

    Against all this is your assessment of reflected short wave radiation is what you think it is.

    Time will tell who has been “beating a dead horse”. We will see what happens.

  77. Evaporation depends on humidity, wind speed and surface roughness. It fills the atmosphere to the extent that is thermdynamically possible. As for reflected SW.

    “We compare top‐of‐atmosphere (TOA) radiative fluxes observed by the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) and simulated by seven general circulation models forced with observed sea‐surface temperature (SST) and sea‐ice boundary conditions. In response to increased SSTs along the equator and over the eastern Pacific (EP) following the so‐called global warming “hiatus” of the early 21st century, simulated TOA flux changes are remarkably similar to CERES. Both show outgoing shortwave and longwave TOA flux changes that largely cancel over the west and central tropical Pacific, and large reductions in shortwave flux for EP low‐cloud regions. A model’s ability to represent changes in the relationship between global mean net TOA flux and surface temperature depends upon how well it represents shortwave flux changes in low‐cloud regions, with most showing too little sensitivity to EP SST changes, suggesting a “pattern effect” that may be too weak compared to observations.” https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2019GL086705

  78. The energy in = energy out
    balance should be met.

    The faster rotation does not change the real planet’s energy balance.

    Also, the real planet never achieves uniform temperature, because it receives the solar flux only on the sunlit side.

    The faster a planet rotates (n2>n1) the higher is the planet’s average (mean) surface temperature T↑mean, because the Tmin↑↑ grows higher, than Tmax↓ goes down.

    Tmin↑↑→ T↑mean ← T↓max

    https://www.cristos-vournas

  79. RIE,
    Your statement “Evaporation depends on humidity, wind speed and surface roughness.” perhaps reveals a serious deficiency in your knowledge. Are you not aware of the importance of vapor pressure to evaporation? Are you not aware that vapor pressure depends only on the temperature of the liquid water? Also, the term ‘humidity’ is not definitive. It commonly is used to mean relative humidity which also involves the temperature of the atmosphere and is meaningful to evaporation only to the extent that, if the temperature is also measured, the partial pressure of the WV can be determined.

    I accounted for the wind speed and surface roughness as well as everything else (such as the turbulence in the boundary layer) with the statement “contributes to”

    Your statement “fills the atmosphere to the extent that is thermdynamically possible” is pompous BS. Evaporation happens until partial pressure equals vapor pressure.

    • Humidity as you say is related to temperature despite your diversion into vapour pressure – and limited by water availability. Local humidity may be higher over irrigated areas – in limited areas over the growing season and depending on irrigation efficiency. But the water the atmosphere can hold is determined by temperature and dominated by ocean evaporation. So really you can stick your pompous BS where it belongs.

      • That was an eye opener. Vapor pressure is the primary driver of evaporation. Wind, etc. just helps it. Without vapor pressure there would be no evaporation, wind or not. Calling vapor pressure a diversion indicates a serious lack of understanding of the process. Saying “local humidity may be higher over irrigated areas” is obviously true compared to before it was irrigated. Wind and the fact that weather moves across the land replaces that air with dry air that was responsible for the need for irrigation.

        Temperature determines the MAXIMUM WV that the atmosphere can hold. It’s called saturation. Saturation is the exception that exists in the vicinity of clouds and fog. The global average is far less than saturation. Why is this so hard to understand?

        Like I said, the ocean area hasn’t changed much in millennia. What has changed is the increased evaporation attributed to human activity. Most (about 90%) of the increase is from irrigation.

        Years ago I suspected that the wrong people have been trying to understand climate change. You are helping to confirm that suspicion.

      • RIE,
        This statement “Actual vapor pressure is a measurement of the amount of water vapor in a volume of air” is misleading at best. That is the first time I have seen the term ‘vapor pressure’ incorrectly used like that. What they are referring to is the ‘partial pressure’ of the WV in the total pressure of the atmosphere. Vapor pressure is a property of (in this case) liquid water that depends only on its temperature. The correct description of vapor pressure, as commonly used is given here: https://tinyurl.com/yjqy7r5x

        This reveals a serious lack of understanding of a basic process that might be widespread in the study of meteorology. What do you call the property of liquid water (and any other liquid or solid) commonly referred to as vapor pressure?

      • I was shocked to see the error exhibited by that “broad scientific establishment” Sounds like you agree with them and in addition, you appear to be too stubborn to do a little investigation. Are you afraid to discover that you and possibly a lot of others have been wrong for a long time? If this mistake is wide spread in meteorology it might help explain why Climate Science has done such a miserable job of explaining how water vapor and CO2 interact in the atmosphere.

    • Oh for God’s sake – Dan is incorrect on this very simple matter. To take it back to basics. There is an empirical formula known to any hydrologist – the Penman formula.

      “Evaporation of water from a water surface – like a swimming pool or an open tank – depends on water temperature, air temperature, air humidity and air velocity above the water surface – online calculator.”
      https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/evaporation-water-surface-d_690.html

      Evapotranspiration involves water loss across stomata during plant respiration. The loss varies with seasons, vegetation type and with soil water content – and is commonly assessed as some fraction of the evaporation from an open water surface.

      Atmospheric moisture content depends on diurnal temperature variability.
      The maximum amount of vapour in the atmosphere is determined by minimum daily temps. Excess water condenses at the dew point. The atmosphere at higher temps holds more water vapour.

      Being ‘shocked’ at a presumed misapprehension is not proof that established science is wrong. But unless you are doing the empirical studies – and not simply simplistic thought experiments – then the way to understand it is via the literature.

      • No, I am correct. You miss the whole point which is merely use of a term.

        You never answered my question: “What do you call the property of liquid water (and any other liquid or solid) commonly referred to as vapor pressure?” From the context, it looks like you call it ‘saturation vapor pressure’ which, of course, is correct and not ambiguous. Calling the partial pressure of WV at less than saturation in the atmosphere ‘vapor pressure’ can be misleading but perhaps it is merely sloppy writing or ignorance of the fact that ‘vapor pressure’ has a special meaning to many. Saying pressure of the water vapor would not have rung an alarm bell.

  80. Hi Dr. Curry, thank you so much for your valuable and sane voice in this whirlwind of media madness. How I would love to hear your voice on a national media broadcast (say Radio NZ!!!), but I know I never will. Farewell, and I wish you all the best in your new endeavours. I concur exactly with what you have said. Instead of trying to clean up our polluted water systems here in NZ we are throwing money at illusionary windmills (ie. climate change). There are so many environmental crises more worthy of our attention than the fabricated “climate change crisis”.

  81. Outstanding interview! I was especially happy to see you discuss the importance – and the unknowns – of volcanic activity and ocean circulation, a topic I’m very partial to. Keep up the good work!!!

  82. Having studied a thousand years of English weather via a variety of sources including the archives aNd library of the met office, these flash floods can be seen throughout our history. Many places have been destroyed by them and landscapes changed. Who can forget the lynton flood disaster in north Devon only some 60 Years ago?
    https://www.blogaraby.com
    https://www.wikiuni-trier.de/

  83. Pingback: Climatologist Dr. Judith Curry: ‘The climate is going to change independent of what we do with emissions’ – ‘Thinking that we can control the climate is misguided hubris’ | Zwiby News

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