While the debate rages over at WUWT about how the laws of physics work, with well known skeptics explaining patiently that CO2 really does warm the earth’s surface to legions of skeptics determined to show that the laws of physics are being broken, or misapplied, or are just plain wrong, not matter how many real world examples there are that they are right… Everyone is missing the most important question.
Does it even matter?
Every ChickenWarmingLittle scare graph is magnified to the point where the blips and curves in the temperature record that we are arguing about are measured in tenths of degrees, sometimes hundredths, and over decades, sometimes centuries. With our attention focused through the lens of a microscope on a tiny piece of graph, we’ve forgotten that we live in the real world where changes in temperature are orders of magnitude larger every day, every season, and over every latitude change. We forget perhaps the most important factor of all, which is that ChickenLittleWarming speaks about averages, forgetting that in climate, temperature in particular, there is little meaning, and almost no value, to the word “average”.
Over at WUWT the Stefan-Boltzman Law is being quoted by both sides to discredit the other in regard to how CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas. But no one disputes the Stefan-Boltzman Law itself which is remarkably simple, and proven by thousands upon thousands of lab experiments. Without going into the math, it just says that the hotter something is, the more power (watts per square meter) you need to warm it up one more degree.
So let us take the oft quoted ChickenWarmingLittle figures from the IPCC that say doubling CO2 in the atmosphere will result in an extra 3.7w/m2 going downward toward earth surface, and simply accept them at face value. But instead of getting all wound about if that is possible or not, let’s just set aside the notion of “average”, let’s put the microscope analysis of tiny fragments of the record away, and just use their claim to put things into the proper perspective.
We’ll simply take the annual average temperature records from Yakutsk with pretty much the highest annual temperature variations over the course of the year on earth (not to mention also the coldest), Vancouver, one of the mildest annual temperature variations on earth, and Khartoum, pretty much one of the hottest locations on earth all year long. Using the IPCC’s 3.7 w/m2 for doubling of CO2 and the logarithmic nature of that, and Stefan-Boltzman’s Law, we can calculate how much warmer each day through the course of the year would be for a given amount of CO2.
To make it easy to understand, I used temperature records from a period in the range of 380 ppm, which is 100 ppm more than what the IPCC says is normal, and which took over a century of human activity to cause. Then let’s plot those annual temperature curves on something realistic, a scale humans actually understand. Not hundredths of degrees of some artificial construct called an anomaly, which is what the ChickenWarmingLittle hockey stick graphs use, just a regular temperature range that you can buy a $10 thermometer for. -40C to +40C.
To complete the graph, showing those three cities on an annual basis, will add the ChickenWarmingLittle catastrophic, doomsday, we’re all going to die of spontaneous combustion numbers for increased CO2. We added 100 ppm over more than a century, let’s add double that, 200 ppm more. That’s about another 150 years from now provided we can somehow find enough oil to sustain our peak burn rate. Now converting that into w/m2, using Stefan-Boltzman to calculate the new daily temperatures in each of those cities, and graphing them on the same graph, we should be able to see the enormity of the problem.
Yup, that’s it. That’s what the IPCC says is going to happen because of all that CO2
We won’t even be able to resolve the argument by real world observation because the chances that we’re going to burn enough fossil fuel to get to 580 ppm in 150 years is about nil, even if we were trying to do it on purpose. But I can only wonder..will Ira, and Phil, and George and and all the other’s over at WUWT still be beating each other over the heads with physics text books? I dunno…let’s go check in on them…