Thursday, December 06, 2018

It's spin to call 1850-1900 "pre-industrial era"

The climate hysteria has faded away but some people keep on doing their propaganda work as if it were 2007. Tomorrow, I have an introductory talk about physics of the climate change in front of some selected audience, including a young presidential candidate from 2018.

At the beginning of the talk, I mention some elementary-school science such as the days and nights and seasons. Everyone understands why we have days and nights and why the weather changes during the year as well, doesn't she? Well, when I opened a news app in the morning, I could see that the media-savvy geologist Mr Cílek claims that the traditional seasons will disappear.

Holy cow. So I looked inside the article, to check what he actually wanted to say. He can't be this insane. He claims that springs and autumns will shorten and mostly disappear. I think that even this claim is mostly a pseudoscientific superstition. Any "global warming" affects all the seasons almost equally and the differences don't change much. But the worse news is that most of the actual readers who interact with this article will really start to believe that the Earth will stop spinning or its axis will cease to be tilted or that these astronomical facts will stop affecting the weather on Earth. What "helps" them to change the opinion is that they don't feel terribly certain about the spinning Earth or the tilted axis in the first place.

No, these processes really, really won't stop. It's terrible that people are being "de-educated" because believing in bombshell claims such as the disappearance of seasons is helpful for someone's political goals.



Similar things are happening all the time. A friend who is a climate skeptic sent me his new article. I had to correct him because he questioned that the CO2 concentration is highest now in the recent 3 million years. Well, an alarmist could have made such a statement but it doesn't mean that it's wrong. It's true. 2.6 million years ago, the Earth generally cooled down and the glaciation cycles started to oscillate. We normally call this period – from 2.6 million years ago to the president – Quaternary. The beginning of this period is defined as the point when the glaciation cycles began.

All the data indicate that the climate was indeed rather predictable, ice ages and interglacials differed by some 8 °C (it is the difference between the good enough maxima and minima), and the CO2 was near 180 ppm during the ice ages and 280 ppm during the interglacials. This is directly measured from the ice core that informs us about the recent 600,000 years but it seems very likely that the same conditions existed in the previous 2 million years, too. So the CO2 level was almost certainly not above 405 ppm, the current average.



If you want a CO2 level higher than 405 ppm of the present, you need to go some 50+ million years to the past, which is about 1% of the age of Earth. You will find some warmer period over there. It looks like a long time ago but 50 million years ago, the mammals – the most advanced class of animals – were already thriving. The flora was almost the same as it is today. The landscapes looked like they look today. There were forests, perhaps meadows, and insects and rodents and lots of other things in them. They clearly didn't have a problem with the CO2 above 405 ppm.

But I was also attracted by a sentence that "the climatologists want to compare the temperature relatively to the pre-industrial era, 1850-1900". In the media, I first detected this weird statement in the Czech media but I have verified that it's everywhere: Indian press, Google News, Google.

Just to be sure, I have seen this terminology, "1850-1900 is the pre-industrial era", in the would-be expert literature before but I still assumed that those were isolated authors who weren't really competent and the bulk of the researchers still agrees it's a highly stretched terminology. However, when I looked at the literature in a more comprehensive way, it became clear that this statement became omnipresent, a part of the "consensus".

Now, even the BBC in 2017 and an IPCC member at the same time agrees with me that this definition of the pre-industrial era is just weird. The Wikipedia defines the pre-industrial society as the social patterns before the Industrial Revolution. And the Industrial Revolution took place before 1750 and 1850. So pre-industrial era was ongoing before 1750 and "maybe" also a bit before 1850 but surely not between 1850 and 1900.

Mr Amos from the BBC reminds us that James Watt patented the steam engine in 1769. The steam engine was actually being developed between 1698 and 1751, the patent was just an event at the point when the commercial value of the invention was already self-evident. Needless to say, England was the most advanced part of the world and that's where the Industrial Revolution occurred first. The "timing" of the Industrial Revolution isn't really a number that climatologists may redefine; it's a number that the historians quantified in a certain way for centuries and climatologists shouldn't try to "redefine" it, especially if they have no legitimate reason to do so.

The global CO2 emissions were tiny before 1850 and the industrialization of "next to England" territories such as my homeland of Bohemia began shortly after 1850. But the fact that the industries hadn't spread much before 1850 doesn't allow you to twist the standard terms such as "pre-industrial era". So I will kindly keep on using the definition of "pre-industrial era" as something before 1750, I will use Maria Theresa as the non-numerical name of that era (both her life and reign were centered at the mid 18th century), and consider the "pre-industrial era between 1850 and 1900" to be a terminology of crackpots.

Why did they switch to this weird interpretation of the "pre-industrial era"? I think that the main reason is the following: The climate alarmists want to pretend that they know what they are talking about – even though they don't know – and one of the comparisons they are often making are the comparisons between the present or the future on one side; and the pre-industrial paradise on the other side. They really can't live without it.

But they sort of realize that they have no clue what the global mean temperature was in 1750. It could have been the same as in 1850 but it could have been one degree Celsius higher or lower, too. The systematic measurements of the temperature began in England – like the Industrial Revolution – but a century earlier. So before 1700, East England was already measuring the temperatures. In 1776, the "next to England" places such as Prague-Klementinum began to do the same. But some good coverage of the globe has only existed from 1850-1880 or so.

For this simple reason, the very existence of the century between 1750 and 1850 is another "inconvenient truth". It's a period in which the steam engine and other things were already spreading intensely and coal was being burned a lot. But it's also a century whose "climate change" is basically impossible to quantify due to the absence of measurements from that period. That's inconvenient because certain people want to say that they know "everything" even though they demonstrably don't. So what do they do with such an inconvenient century? They simply erase it. The fact that the temperature change between 1750 and 1850 could have been about as large as the temperature change after 1850 or 1900 is another piece of the inconvenient truth. Shouldn't the climate only change because of the humans? Just erase the temperature before 1850 – and maybe many preceding centuries, too.

Why couldn't they say that the industrial society started after 1850-1900 or really in 1900? Never mind that my hometown of Pilsen already saw more industrial smoke in the 1860s than in most of the 20th century. It's inconvenient for the "cause" so people need to mask that century and the public is obliged to forget about its existence. There was some murky "pre-history", the pre-industrial paradise when nothing happened; and then the industrial hell came, the ideology says. Needless to say, it's similar to the communists' caricature of the history. There was some evil society before 1948 when everyone was exploiting everyone else for the eternity, you don't need to know any details about that period; and then the paradise and real history started in 1948.

The climate hysteria exerts pressure on similar scientific questions and the beliefs, terminology, and methodology are being distorted in similar ways at hundreds of places. Richard Lindzen likes to remind us that the pole-to-equator temperature difference was a more important time series to describe the "global climate" than the global mean temperature and experts generally agreed with it – up to some point when the climate hysteria began to spread.

For a while, I didn't quite understand why he said those things but these days, I understand it very well. You know, the global mean temperature is a "mode" of the oscillation of temperatures on Earth that is multiplied by \(Y_{00}\), the simplest spherical harmonic which is the constant function. Does this component describe the main part of the variability as a function of time? Well, it doesn't.

The spherical harmonic \(Y_{20}\) is more important as the description of the "main pulsating component" of the Earth's climate. Why? Because the time-dependent changes of the coefficient of \(Y_{20}\) are basically expressed by the oscillating difference between the temperature of the poles and that of the equator. And that difference, which is about 40 °C today, used to be 20 °C or 60 °C in the Eocene and the ice ages, respectively.

So the pole-to-equator temperature difference oscillates in an interval whose width is some 40 °C. On the other hand, the global mean temperature oscillates in a window that is at most 10 °C. So even with some factors of two (or square root of two) that take the "difference character" into account, it's still true that the coefficient of \(Y_{20}\) – which governs the oscillating pole-to-equator difference – has a greater variability as a function of time than the coefficient of \(Y_{00}\). And that's why this coefficient, i.e. approximately the variable pole-to-equator difference, is a more important function of time to describe the changing global climate than the global mean temperature, the coefficient of \(Y_{00}\)! It's that straightforward.

But the greenhouse effect "mostly" affects \(Y_{00}\) because the Earth radiates the infrared radiation everywhere and CO2 partly blocks it everywhere, although the greenhouse effect isn't "quite" uniform over the Earth's surface. And that's why this whole ideology wants to focus on the global mean temperature and neglect the pole-to-equator temperature difference – although the difference is a better function of time that captures the "main" pulsation of the temperatures on Earth. Ironically, the main conceivable "catastrophes" are linked to the higher spherical harmonics, anyway, so the climate alarmists try to sell implausible, irrational, and incoherent stories about the influence of \(Y_{00}\) on the higher \(Y_{\ell m}\).

All these examples, the definition or the very existence of seasons, the definition of the pre-industrial era, or the main function of time to describe the global climate, show that the political goals have become more important than the scientific truth in this discipline. Most of the people who were hired to this discipline since 1988 or so became (or have always been) fraudsters and demagogues who are spinning and fabricating the facts, terminology, and emphases in order to strengthen the case for a predetermined political goal. This is not science.

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