Ecology and Political Strategy, was Re: Forwarded from Hans Ehrbar

Jose G. Perez jg_perez at SPAMbellsouth.net
Sun Jun 18 19:02:25 MDT 2000


> Jose, you simply don't understand the physics. It is not news that water
> vapour is a GHG.

Mark is again erecting straw men which have nothing to do with what I said.

Remember what this disussion is about. I've been insisting that many in
ecological circles are reckless with the science about climate change and
global warming; that there are lots of things the scientists do not yet
know.
Among those replying was Louis, who posted an article from Rachel's Weekly,
which, among other things, asserted that the main greenhouse gas was CO2. I
replied saying no, that's wrong, the greenhouse effect is due mostly to
water vapor, that's ABC.

Mark then jumped in with a post about what I was saying about water vapor
being the main greenhouse gas was the argument of the oil company stooges. I
replied to Mark that I was making no statement about the global climate
hypothesis in reporting the "scientific consensus" -- really, an established
fact -- that it is mostly water vapor that is responsible for the greenhouse
effect. In that post to Mark I added, referring to my earlier post to Louis:

"I noted that people who could be so ignorant about the basic scientific
facts involved were not to be taken seriously, and it leads one to wonder
what it is about global warming that causes Louis and Mark to suspend
disbelief when they see howlers like that.

"It is also interesting to see the degree to which Mark and Louis have been
reduced to ad hominem attacks, with the chief boogey man being this Singer
person.

"It may well be true that Singer works for the bourgeoisie; presumably, the
scientists on the other side of the debate all work for the revolutionary
proletariat. But even so, it is NECESSARY to demonstrate that what the other
side is saying is mistaken; you can't simply dismiss it."

To which Mark now replies:

> Jose, you simply don't understand the physics. It is not news that water
> vapour is a GHG.

Of course it is "not news." That was precisely the point Mark! Louis, after
having assidiously followed the matter for a decade in the left press, was
so unfamiliar with the basic scientific concepts involved that he could see
no problem in posting the following from Rachel's Weekly:

"RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH WEEKLY #596, April 30, 1998

"A NEW DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN

"A new study concludes that this has been the warmest century in 600 years,
and that the hottest years during this century have been 1990, 1995, and
1997.[1,2] This is further evidence that global warming is upon us, and
that humans are contributing to it by burning coal and oil. (See REHW #430,
#466.) "Our conclusion was that the warming of the past few decades appears
to be closely tied to emission of greenhouse gases by humans and not [by]
any of the natural factors," say Michael E. Mann, principal author of the
new study.[1]

"The global temperature varies as time passes because of natural changes in
sunlight reaching the Earth, dust from volcanoes (which reflects sunlight
back into space), and changing amounts of greenhouse gases in the
atmosphere.

"So-called greenhouse gases (mainly carbon dioxide [CO2], but also methane
and a few others that are less important) allow sunlight to strike the
Earth but don't allow heat to escape back into space as readily, thus
trapping heat near the surface, just as the glass roof on a greenhouse
does. Scientists have recognized the existence of this "greenhouse effect"
for about 100 years and they know that, sooner or later, increasing the
amount of "greenhouse gases" in the atmosphere must warm the planet. Thus
scientists don't debate whether greenhouse gases will cause global warming.
They debate when it will be noticeable, how big the warming will be, and
what its consequences might be.

"During the past 100 years, humans burning coal and oil have increased the
atmosphere's concentration of carbon dioxide [CO2] --the main greenhouse
gas --by 25%, and the concentration is still rising."

Thus far the Weekly. I've quoted the first few paragraphs in toto to show
that what Rachel's Weekly was pretending to do was present a summary of the
latest science. This summary, as apparently Mark himself will now readily
admit, was scientifically ignorant. It is part of the mountain of junk
pseudo-science that surrounds discussions of global warming among many
environmentalists.

It is unfortunate because in at least one respect the Weekly is
conscientious. It reports on the UN panel on climate change: "the consensus
reached in 1996 by an overwhelming majority of the world's climatologists,
[was] that (a) global warming is probably noticeable now; and (b) human
activities are probably contributing to the rise in the planet's average
temperature. " Notice the use of the word "probably."

In fact, the exact wording of the UN panel report is even more cautious:

"2.4 Global mean surface temperature has increased by between about 0.3 and
0.6oC since the late 19th century, a change that is unlikely to be entirely
natural in origin. The balance of evidence, from changes in global mean
surface air temperature and from changes in geographical, seasonal and
vertical patterns of atmospheric temperature, suggests a discernible human
influence on global climate. There are uncertainties in key factors,
including the magnitude and patterns of long­term natural variability.
Global sea level has risen by between 10 and 25 cm over the past 100 years
and much of the rise may be related to the increase in global mean
temperature."

The "uncertainties in key factors" the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) points to are a very important point, which is entirely lost
on the environmental chicken littles, and apparently on Mark. A few days ago
he was lecturing me:

"I don't think it is necessary to bore the list any more with the details;
they are out there on the web, anyone who
wants to can do the reading, and they will quickly discover that the UN
reports, individual reports by specific governments, and the IPCC reports in
1995 and afterwards are absolutely clear about the issue.  To speak of
'uncertainties' is simply disingenuous, it is false reporting: there simply
are no longer uncertainties about the principal facts of anthropogenic
climate warming.I do not know why you are avoiding the facts, but you are.
Global warming is a terrifying fact."

It was "unnecessary" to "bore the list" with "details" . . . yet it turns
out those "details," including the main IPCC report, *contradict* Mark's
assertions that "To speak of 'uncertainties' is disingenous: there simply
are no longer uncertainties about the principal facts of anthropogenic
climate warming."

Contrast Mark's "there simply are no longer uncertainties" to the UN Panel:
"There are uncertainties in key factors, including the magnitude and
patterns of long­term natural variability." The "scientific consensus"
extended no further than saying that the observed global warming was
"unlikely" to be 100% natural; and that the "balance of evidence . . .
suggests a discernible human influence."

What the "principal facts" about which there was no longer any doubt may
have been in Mark's mind we do not know, as he was unwilling to "bore" us
with details. But among them, evidently, is not the MAIN mechanism theorized
for global warming, which is that a small rise in the amount of CO2 leading
to much bigger increases in water vapor. In his latest post, Mark says:

> The problem about positive feedbacks in climate forcing is
> that seemingly quite small changes in CO2 result in huge new volumes of
> water vapour because small temperature rises produce increased evaporation
> from the soil and oceans, which magnify greatly the original effects. It
is
> true that the position is complicated; increased cloud cover may reflect
> some sunlight back into space.

Mark describes the theory quite well, including the idea that "the position
is complicated," i.e., that there is a great deal of uncertainty. No one
actually knows what the H2O "multiplier" will be, or whether the feedback
will be positive or negative. In addition to reflection by increased cloud
cover, evaporation itself is a cooling mechanism, taking heat from the
ground into the atmosphere where it is more easily dissipated. This is one
of the biggest uncertainties in the whole debate on climate change, and it
is central to the theses that there will be catastrophic warming. There is
also a question about what happens to the transfer of heat from the surface
by convection.

In addition, I've seen the claim in the partisan, so to speak, scientific
literature that based on the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,
if there were only radiative effects, the earth's average temperature would
be 77 degrees centigrade instead of the current 15 degrees; in other words,
based purely on the radiative physics, the current greenhouse effect should
have a magnitude of 95 degrees centigrade, but the actual magnitude is 33.
If that is true, then a key question would be whether the mechanisms that
operate to dissipate heat trapped by the greenhouse effect produce a linear
function; and if not, what is the shape of the curve.

José

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mark Jones" <jones118 at lineone.net>
To: <marxism at lists.panix.com>
Sent: Sunday, June 18, 2000 6:16 AM
Subject: RE: Ecology and Political Strategy, was Re: Forwarded from Hans
Ehrbar


> Jose, you simply don't understand the physics. It is not news that water
> vapour is a GHG. The problem about positive feedbacks in climate forcing
is
> that seemingly quite small changes in CO2 result in huge new volumes of
> water vapour because small temperature rises produce increased evaporation
> from the soil and oceans, which magnify greatly the original effects. It
is
> true that the position is complicated; increased cloud cover may reflect
> some sunlight back into space. But the general trend is clear, and despite
> your odd misrepresentation of the US govt's most recent report on climate
> change, highly ominous. BTW, even Greg Easterbrook understands this and
has
> become convinced of the reality of greenhouse. So it's just you and Fred
> Singer against the world, now.
>
> Mark Jones
> PS: I see you just told Lou that >>As far as I know, no climatologists
claim
> that the amount of water
> vapor in the atmosphere is being directly influenced to a significant
> measure by human activity. This, Louis, appears to be your own
> discovery.<<
>
> Jose, this is simply banally wrong.
>
>
> http://www.egroups.com/group/CrashList
>
>
>







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