While the headline at Breitbart was presumably assembled for the expressed purpose of attracting readership (mission accomplished, if so), it will be explicitly stated here that this compilation certainly does not assert that “Global Warming Is A Myth”. It isn’t. Large regions of the Earth have undergone a warming trend in the last century, rising out of the depths of the Little Ice Age.
It is also true that these papers are not claimed to literally “debunk” any positions currently held by those who advocate for the main “consensus” positions related to anthropogenic global warming. That particular d-word was used in another headline. Instead of using such ambitious and affirmative language, the nuanced words used to describe what this list is proposed to accomplish were carefully chosen so as not to assert it does more (or less) than actually claimed.
What the papers and graphs in this compilation actually do is support many of the main skeptical positions which question climate alarm. Namely, they support the position(s):
N(1) natural mechanisms play well more than a negligible role (as claimed by the IPCC) in the net changes in the climate system, which includes temperature variations, precipitation patterns, weather events, etc., and the influence of increased CO2 concentrations on climatic changes are less pronounced than currently imagined;
N(2) the warming/sea levels/glacier and sea ice retreat/hurricane and drought intensities…experienced during the modern era are neither unprecedented or remarkable nor do they fall outside the range of natural variability, as clearly shown in the first 100 graphs (from 2017) in this volume;
N(3) the computer climate models are not reliable or consistently accurate, and projections of future climate states are little more than speculation as the uncertainty and error ranges are enormous in a non-linear climate system; and
N(4) current emissions-mitigation policies, especially related to the advocacy for renewables, are often ineffective and even harmful to the environment, whereas elevated CO2 and a warmer climate provide unheralded benefits to the biosphere (i.e., a greener planet and enhanced crop yields).
In sharp contrast to the above, the corresponding “consensus” positions that these papers do not support are:
A(1) Close to or over 100% (110%) of the warming since 1950 has been caused by increases in anthropogenic CO2 emissions, leaving natural attribution at something close to 0%;
RealClimate.org: “The best estimate of the warming due to anthropogenic forcings (ANT) is the orange bar (noting the 1𝛔 uncertainties). Reading off the graph, it is 0.7±0.2ºC (5-95%) with the observed warming 0.65±0.06 (5-95%). The attribution then follows as having a mean of ~110%, with a 5-95% range of 80–130%. This easily justifies the IPCC claims of having a mean near 100%, and a very low likelihood of the attribution being less than 50% (p < 0.0001!).”
A(2) Modern warming, glacier and sea ice recession, sea level rise, drought and hurricane intensities…are all occurring at unprecedentedly high and rapid rates, and the effects are globally synchronous (not just regional)…and thus dangerous consequences to the global biosphere and human civilizations loom in the near future as a consequence of anthropogenic influences;
A(3) The climate models are reliable and accurate, and the scientific understanding of the effects of both natural forcing factors (solar activity, clouds, water vapor, etc.) and CO2 concentration changes on climate is “settled enough“, which means that “the time for debate has ended.”
A(4) The proposed solutions to mitigate the dangerous consequences described in N(4) – namely, wind and solar expansion – are safe, effective, and environmentally-friendly.
The 400+ papers compiled so far support the N(1)-N(4) positions, and they undermine or at least do not support the “consensus” A(1)-A(4) positions. The papers do not do more than that. Unreasonable expectations that these papers should do more than support skeptical positions and undermine “consensus” positions to “count” are rooted in straw man argumentation.
Specifically, claiming that a scientific paper must assert that CO2 does not play a major role in climate to be characterized as a paper supporting skeptical positions in N(1)-N(4) is disingenuous at best. The opposite wouldn’t ever stand, of course. Let’s say an author of a scientific paper did not explicitly state that she disagrees that natural factors play a significant role in modern climate change. Would that mean that we could say the paper affirms that climate changes are significantly natural? Of course not. And yet this very same non-sequitur is employed here with regularity when disingenuously arguing that these papers do not do what they claim to do – especially since what they are claimed to do has not been accurately characterized.
As an aside, if we were to look at the papers that Cook et al. (2013) used to concoct the 97% “consensus” document we would find that Cook and his colleagues actually classified papers (and magazine articles) about cooking stoves in Brazil, phone surveys, asthma-related ER visits in Montreal, TV coverage . . . as scientific papers “endorsing” the position that all or nearly all of the global warming occurring since 1950 has been human-caused (the “consensus” statement). Of course, none of the papers identified in the link below that were categorized as “endorsing” the clearly defined anthropogenic/post-1950 “consensus” statement actually used those specific words. And yet they’ve been curiously counted anyway.
“The Cook et al. (2013) 97% paper included a bunch of psychology studies, marketing papers, and surveys of the general public as scientific endorsement of anthropogenic climate change.”
With that lengthy (but necessary) introduction, I will now take the time to carefully construct a response to the YouTube video critique of the 400+ papers list as authored by potholer54, who I shall hereafter refer to as PH54 for lack of a better title.
1. After having thoroughly criticized James Delingpole’s analysis and style for the first few minutes, PH54 digs in and correctly suggests that the NoTricksZone headline and the emboldened first paragraph is more “nuanced” than Breitbart‘s. He attempts to summarize what the 400+ papers represent by claiming they are meant to cast doubt on the conclusion that CO2 is a major driver of climate change — and no more. Of course, as described above, there is far more to it than that, but soundbites are to be expected in short videos like this.
2. PH54 then, for reasons that are not clear, returns to using the Breitbart interface instead of using the NoTricksZone article and paper reference lists — which have far more detail and may include graphs that correspond to the paper. Perhaps the reasons why will become apparent.
3. PH54 spends some time providing visuals of electric heaters warming an indoor room. CO2 and the Sun are assumed to be just like two equally powerful heaters. The Sun drives climate when the CO2 is stable, which it was during much of the Holocene. Low solar activity causes cooling and high solar activity causes warming. And in modern times, PH54 asserts, the Sun has been “turned down” just as the CO2 heater has been turned up. So, during the modern era, CO2 drives climate. The Sun used to drive warming and climate changes, but it no longer does.
4. Li et al. 2017 is the first paper directly discussed. PH54 identifies what he calls the keywords in the paper: Late Holocene. He writes that the paper only addresses the last 2,200 years, and it does not address the impacts of solar activity on modern climate. He notes that solar forcing is not even mentioned in the title. (CO2 isn’t either.)
PH54 then starts in on his main theme (as introduced in 2. above). Yes, the Sun drives climate in the Late Holocene, and not CO2. How do we know this? Because CO2 was stable during the last 10,000 years – coasting between 250 ppm and 280 ppm. So PH54 agrees, apparently, that the cold temperatures occurring during centennial-scale solar minima (Maunder, Dalton) would allow us to conclude that the Sun was a main driver of climate during those periods. Likewise, the Medieval Maximum, a period of high solar activity, led to warm temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period, or Medieval Climate Anomaly (as it is preferred).
But it’s at that point – the Late Holocene – where the Sun apparently stops driving temperatures. Why? Because the CO2 heating machine took over.
5. But let’s get back to the Li et al. (2017) paper. Now, because PH54 used the Breitbart article for a reference instead of the more detailed NoTricksZone visuals, he apparently missed the graphs shown below that appeared in the paper. The top graph (red trend line) is a solar activity reconstruction for the last millennium. Notice the sharp uptick in solar activity during the modern era. This is referred to as the Modern Grand Maximum, with the levels of solar activity exceeding those occurring the Medieval Warm Period. Now notice the bottom graph (gold). It’s a graph of Northern Hemisphere temperatures. Interestingly, there appears to be a very close correlation between the solar activity and the hemispheric temperature, including during the 20th century, when CO2 is said to have been the temperature driver.
6. Another aspect of this Li et al. (2017) paper that was ostensibly missed by PH54 (apparently because he chose to use Breitbart‘s one- or two-sentence summary rather than NoTricksZone’s much more detailed summary complete with graphics) is the commentary about the impact of CO2 forcing relative to solar forcing. The authors conclude that CO2 may play a role in “partly affecting climate variability” in North China, but that the overall long-term control on temperature is “solar-dominated.”
“High volumes of greenhouse gases such as CO2 and CH4 during the recent warming periods, may also play a role in partly affecting the climatic variability in NC, superimposing on the overall solar-dominated long-term control (e.g., Wanner et al., 2008; Tan et al., 2011; Kobashi et al., 2013; Chen et al., 2015a,b).”
7. The Li et al. (2017) paper also contains a graph of North China that shows the modern temperatures (which have been flat since about 1950) are no warmer now than they were during Medieval times. And, like the Northern Hemisphere in general, they appear to follow the general pattern of solar activity. In other words, this paper supports both N(1) and N(2), and it does not support A(1) and A(2). That’s why it was included on the list.
8. Then, continuing the Holocene-only theme introduced in 2. and 4. above, PH54 addresses the second paper on the Breitbart list (again ignoring what is shown on NoTricksZone), Yndestad and Solheim (2017). He again claims these scientists were only talking about the Holocene in their paper, not the modern period. He even includes a visual of the abstract with underlined red lines over the years 1000 AD and 1700 AD. Had PH54 decided to read the rest of the paper – or even look at the NoTricksZone summary – he would have seen that the authors clearly referred to the modern period (multiple times), and they even referenced the coming solar minimum for the coming decades. They especially made note of the millennial-scale uniqueness of the very high solar activity for the 1940 to 2000 period, referring to it as a rare event with levels exceeding all but the grand maximum events of 4,000 and 8,000 years ago.
“Deterministic models based on the stationary periods confirm the results through a close relation to known long solar minima since 1000 A.D. and suggest a modern maximum period from 1940 to 2015. Studies that employ cosmogenic isotope data and sunspot data indicate that we are currently leaving a grand activity maximum, which began in approximately 1940 and is now declining (Usoskin et al., 2003; Solanki et al., 2004; Abreu et al., 2008). Because grand maxima and minima occur on centennial or millennial timescales, they can only be investigated using proxy data, i.e., solar activity reconstructed from 10Be and 14C time-calibrated data. The conclusion is that the activity level of the Modern Maximum (1940–2000) is a relatively rare event, with the previous similarly high levels of solar activity observed 4 and 8 millennia ago (Usoskin et al., 2003). Periods with few sunspots are associated with low solar activity and cold climate periods. Periods with many sunspots are associated with high solar activity and warm climate periods.”
9. Here is the solar activity reconstruction featured prominently in the Yndestad and Solheim paper (and in NoTricksZone):
10. Ignoring the TSI graph from the paper itself, which shows a net +3 W m-2 increase in solar forcing between 1900 and 2000, PH54 produced a graph showing declining sunspot numbers that did not appear in the Yndestad and Solheim paper. Why not use the Yndestad and Solheim reconstruction? Probably because it showed the opposite of what his graph of declining solar activity showed: That we have experienced a Modern Grand Maximum of solar activity, +3 W m-2 of forcing, since the beginning of the 20th century and continuing on through to about 2000. It’s rather odd that the author of a video “exposing” that a paper doesn’t say what is claimed would proceed to refuse to actually read the paper itself (that references the modern period), or that he would avoid using the graph that was provided in the paper or by NoTricksZone. Instead, PH54 chose to comment using a preferred graph of solar activity that supports his own viewpoints…and a summary provided by Breitbart.
Read rest of commentary at NoTricksZone