A Lumo Christmas playlist
Gavin Schmidt wrote a RealClimate.ORG blog post about the difference between the temperatures and temperature anomalies – or temperature changes – and which of them is known, predicted, and important.
If the temperature were the changing to the same values every January and every February etc. (at a given location, or globally), the temperature anomalies would be equal to zero.
The global mean temperature is something like 14.5 °C or 15 °C. No one can really determine the value at this amazing, subdegree accuracy. Different methodologies – and indeed, different detailed definitions of the global mean temperature – produce different answers.
When we talk about the temperature anomalies, the absolute part of the temperature is subtracted, so the information about the anomalies only remembers the temperature changes. They are somewhat easier to be predicted from theories or models. And they are also easier to measure – and, for this reason, they are less ambiguous, too.
Gavin Schmidt is saying pretty much the same things. Well, he uses a different accent – because he tries to sell a defect as a virtue. If we could measure and/or predict the temperatures themselves and not just the changes/anomalies, it would be better. We really can't do it and the temperature changes/anomalies are easier to access.
However, there is one critical sentence that is highlighted in Anthony Watts' blog post by Bob Tisdale
To be clear, no particular absolute global temperature provides a risk to society, it is the change in temperature compared to what we’ve been used to that matters.His polite wording makes it hard to become certain whether Tisdale agrees with Schmidt. I tend to say that he does.
Well, your humble correspondent disagrees with this assertion entirely.
Instead, if something about the temperature is dangerous, it is the temperature itself, and never its change.
For example, a naked human is doing fine between +5 °C and +35 °C or so. A moderately dressed one is doing well between –10 °C and +40 °C. Inside a certain house with heating and air-conditioning, the interval may be from –80 °C to +80 °C. Each organism, plant, animal species, ecosystem, or agricultural activity has its allowed temperature range. It's never quite sharp – the extreme temperatures start to be harmful gradually – and the "ideal temperature window" and the tolerance may depend on the stage of the life, and so on, and so on.
But if you can't formulate the restriction in terms of the absolute temperature, then it shows that the temperature change cannot be relevant!
Some WUWT readers think that by saying that it's the temperature change and not the temperature itself that is a risk to the society, Gavin Schmidt seems to deny the whole foundation of the climate change hysteria. But I totally disagree with this comment, too. Why?
The whole point of the climate change hysteria has always been the temperature change – that's why the word "change" appears in "climate change" (and, effectively, in "global warming"), too. The scientists ceased to be climate scientists and they were turned into climate change "scientists". And that made a big difference.
A popular "target" has been to prevent the temperature change exceeding 2 °C. Note that this alarmist slogan is formulated in terms of the temperature change – and it has to be. They just can't say what is the "right temperature". If we talk about the "ideal temperature", it also becomes clear that this is very different for different cultures and purposes, and the "ideal temperatures" will differ by dozens of degrees, proving that it is preposterous to discuss very small changes comparable to 1 °C.
In fact, one can't even define what was the "pre-industrial global mean temperature" – the benchmark with which we are supposed to compare the future temperatures. Ice ages were pre-industrial, too, and even if we look at recent centuries, their global mean temperatures have differed by pretty much the same amounts – temperature changes comparable to 0.6 °C or 1 °C – as the 20th or 21st century changes that are supposed to make us nervous.
Because of all these reasons, the climate change hysteria has always depended on this taboo that Schmidt confirms – namely that we never talk about the temperatures but only about their changes. And this fundamental tenet of this whole ideology is completely incompatible with the basic physics of all "dangerous" processes that are caused by the temperature.
To remind you of a trivial example, let's mention saunas, for example the Finnish saunas. You first spend some time in a hot room whose air has temperature 80 °C – 110 °C. No kidding, check the Wikipedia page. Within less than 10 seconds, you jump into a swimming pool where the water may be as cold as 10 °C. The temperature surrounding your body changes by 100 °C in 10 seconds. The rate, 10 °C per second, is something like one billion times faster than the "global warming" that we are supposed to be afraid of. For some reason, the Finns (and others) survive this ritual in their sauna.
(Similar comments apply to the reverse sauna. If you have never heard of it: you spend 15 minutes in the freezer before you jump into hot baking oil.)
The climate change alarmists such as Gavin Schmidt want to claim that the temperature change – effectively, the time derivative of the temperature – is what determines whether there is a risk for the society. I said that it is more accurate to say that exceeding some safe intervals of the temperature itself is what may be dangerous.
In fact, the truth stands on the opposite side of my proposition than Schmidt's claim. The truth is close to the anti-Schmidt comment. It is the integrated temperature over some (short) period of time that defines what is dangerous – and the integration is the opposite to Schmidt's differentiation. What do I mean?
Imagine that you are facing some wind and the air in the wind changes the temperature between –100 °C and +150 °C and back ten times a second. The rate of the temperature change will be huge. But I claim that this environment will actually be just fine for you despite the fact that the rates are huge (which is irrelevant, as I have already said) and the "safe" interval for the temperature is exceeded at almost every moment. Why? Because the air heats up or cools your skin so quickly that the layers of your skin just beneath the surface are already able to keep their temperature near the comfortable +25 °C.
So the very fact that the champions of the climate panic are forced to define the hypothetical risks in terms of the temperature changes or anomalies, and not the temperatures themselves, proves that they have no evidence for any risk because by the basic laws of physics, only a wrong value of the temperature (sustained over a sufficiently long period of time) may threaten humans, animals, other organisms, or ecosystems and economies.
If the discussion about the hypothetical "climate risks" is supposed to get meaningful, one must demand the claims to be formulated in terms of the actual temperatures rather than the temperature changes. The change itself, however fast, just cannot be dangerous if the temperatures stay within a safe window at all times, and people – and everyone else – are used to the temperature changes and lots of any other changes, anyway. In the context of biology, changes are also known as life.