The Science Unsettles
Image Source: Robertson and Chilingar, 2017
In just the first 8 weeks of 2018, 97 scientific papers have been published that cast doubt on the position that anthropogenic CO2 emissions function as the climate’s fundamental control knob…or that otherwise serve to question the efficacy of climate models or the related “consensus” positions commonly endorsed by policymakers and mainstream media sources.
These 97 new papers affirm the position that there are significant limitations and uncertainties inherent in our understanding of climate and climate changes, emphasizing that climate science is not settled.
More specifically, the papers in this compilation support these four main skeptical positions — categorized here as N(1) – N(4) — which question climate alarm.
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.
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.
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.
To reiterate, the 97 papers compiled in 2018 thus 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. Expectations that these papers should do more than support skeptical positions and undermine “consensus” positions to “count” are deemed unreasonable in this context.
Below are the two links to the list of 97 papers amassed as of 26 February, 2018, as well as the guideline for the lists’ categorization. Also included are 24 sample papers included on the list, about 1/4th of the total.
(Parts 2 and 3 are on the same page).
Warming Since Mid/Late 20th Century? (17)
A Warmer Past: Non-Hockey Stick Reconstructions (9)
Lack Of Anthropogenic/CO2 Signal In Sea Level Rise (3)
Sea Levels 1-3 Meters Higher 4,000-7,000 Years Ago (4)
A Model-Defying Cryosphere, Polar Ice (7)
Solar Influence On Climate (21)
ENSO, NAO, AMO, PDO Climate Influence (11)
Modern Climate In Phase With Natural Variability (3)
The CO2 Greenhouse Effect – Climate Driver? (2)
Climate Model Unreliability/Biases/Errors and the Pause (6)
Failing Renewable Energy, Climate Policies (2)
Elevated CO2 Greens Planet, Produces Higher Crop Yields (2)
Warming Beneficial, Does Not Harm Humans, Wildlife (2)
No Increasing Trends In Intense Hurricanes (2)
No Increasing Trends In Drought/Flood Frequency, Severity (1)
Kim et al., 2018 Recent surface cooling in the Yellow and East China Seas and the associated North Pacific climate regime shift … The Yellow and East China Seas (YECS) are widely believed to have experienced robust, basin-scale warming over the last few decades. However, the warming reached a peak in the late 1990s, followed by a significant cooling trend. … The most striking evolution pattern is that a robust warming trend at a rate of +0.40°C per decade reached a peak in the late 1990s, and then it turned downward at a rate of −0.36°C per decade. The positive and then negative trends are estimated throughout the YECS for the periods 1982−1997.
Clem et al., 2018 Over the past 60 years [since 1957], the climate of East Antarctica cooled while portions of West Antarctica were among the most rapidly warming regions on the planet. The East Antarctic cooling is attributed to a positive trend in the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) and a strengthening of the westerlies, while West Antarctic warming is tied to zonally asymmetric circulation changes forced by the tropics. [CO2 is not mentioned in the paper as a factor in warming/cooling trends.] This study finds recent (post-1979) surface cooling of East Antarctica during austral autumn to also be tied to tropical forcing, namely, an increase in La Niña events. … The South Atlantic anticyclone is associated with cold air advection, weakened northerlies, and increased sea ice concentrations across the western East Antarctic coast, which has increased the rate of cooling at Novolazarevskaya and Syowa stations after 1979. This enhanced cooling over western East Antarctica is tied more broadly to a zonally asymmetric temperature trend pattern across East Antarctica during autumn that is consistent with a tropically forced Rossby wave rather than a SAM pattern; the positive SAM pattern is associated with ubiquitous cooling across East Antarctica.
Shu et al., 2018 The link between boreal winter cooling over the midlatitudes of Asia and the Barents Oscillation (BO) since the late 1980s is discussed in this study, based on five datasets. Results indicate that there is a large-scale boreal winter cooling during 1990–2015 over the Asian midlatitudes, and that it is a part of the decadal oscillations of long-term surface air temperature (SAT) anomalies.
Westergaard-Nielsen et al., 2018 Here we quantify trends in satellite-derived land surface temperatures and modelled air temperatures, validated against observations, across the entire ice-free Greenland. … Warming trends observed from 1986–2016 across the ice-free Greenland is mainly related to warming in the 1990’s. The most recent and detailed trends based on MODIS (2001–2015) shows contrasting trends across Greenland, and if any general trend it is mostly a cooling. The MODIS dataset provides a unique detailed picture of spatiotemporally distributed changes during the last 15 years. … Figure 3 shows that on an annual basis, less than 36% of the ice-free Greenland has experienced a significant trend and, if any, a cooling is observed during the last 15 years (<0.15 °C change per year).
Oppedal et al., 2018 This advance was documented by historical evidence (Hayward, 1983), showing that many glaciers advanced in the twentieth century. Cirque and valley glaciers were at its most advanced position in the 1930s, while larger valley and tidewater glaciers reached their maximum glacier extent in the 1970s. Such a glacier advance is also documented for the Hamberg glacier by Van Der Bilt et al. (2017). Furthermore, during the recession phase after the twentieth century advance, many cirque glaciers deposited annual moraines (Gordon and Timmis, 1992), such as the ones observed in the innermost moraine cluster. Thus, Diamond glacier followed a similar pattern to that observed for small glaciers (0.1–4.0 km2) on South Georgia during the late Holocene, with a Little Ice Age advance, a period of recession, a twentieth century advance and a recent recession (Gordon and Timmis, 1992).
Badino et al., 2018 Between ca. 8.4-4 ka cal BP [8,400 to 4,000 years before present], our site [Italian Alps] experienced a mean TJuly of ca. 12.4 °C, i.e. 3.1 °C warmer than today [9.3 °C]. … Between 7400 and 3600 yrs cal BP, an higher-than-today forest line position persisted under favorable growing conditions (i.e. TJuly at ca. 12 °C).
No Increasing Trends In Intense Hurricanes
Truchelut and Staeling, 2018 The extremely active 2017 Atlantic hurricane season concluded an extended period of quiescent continental United States tropical cyclone landfall activity that began in 2006, commonly referred to as the landfall drought. We introduce an extended climatology of U.S. tropical cyclone activity based on accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) and use this data set to investigate variability and trends in landfall activity. The [hurricane landfall] drought years between 2006 and 2016 recorded an average value of total annual ACE [accumulated cyclone energy] over the U.S. that was less than 60% of the 1900–2017 average. Scaling this landfall activity metric by basin-wide activity reveals a statistically significant downward trend since 1950, with the percentage of total Atlantic ACE expended over the continental U.S. at a series minimum during the recent drought period.
Klotzbach et al., 2018 Continental United States (CONUS) hurricane-related inflation-adjusted damage has increased significantly since 1900. However, since 1900 neither observed CONUS [Continental United States] landfalling hurricane frequency nor intensity show significant trends, including the devastating 2017 season.
No Increasing Trend In Drought/Flood Frequency, Severity
Guo et al., 2018 In drought-prone regions like Central Asia, drought monitoring studies are paramount to provide valuable information for drought risk mitigation. In this paper, the spatiotemporal drought characteristics in Central Asia are analyzed from 1966 to 2015 using the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) dataset. Central Asia showed an overall wetting trend with a switch to drying trend since 2003.
Temperature Change Leads CO2 Change, Processes Governing CO2 Changes ‘Poorly Understood’
Koutavas et al., 2018 The EEP [eastern equatorial Pacific] stack shows persistent covariation with Antarctic temperature on orbital and millennial timescales indicating tight coupling between the two regions. This coupling however cannot be explained solely by CO2 forcing because in at least one important case, the Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5e–5d glacial inception, both regions cooled ∼5–6.5 thousand years before CO2 decreased. More likely, their covariation was due to advection of Antarctic climate signals to the EEP by the ocean. … . The discovery that atmospheric CO2 covaries with Antarctic temperature and global ice volume (Lorius et al., 1990; Lüthi et al., 2008; Petit et al., 1999) has propelled CO2 to the forefront as climatic “globalizer”. However, the processes governing CO2 variability are themselves poorly understood, and likely require an oceanic/climatic trigger in the first place (Adkins, 2013; Ferrari et al., 2014; Sigman et al., 2010). Antarctic ice core records are furthermore ambiguous with regard to the causal relationship between CO2 and temperature. Phase relationships show CO2 lagging behind temperature in the obliquity band (Jouzel et al., 2007) and across some major transitions (Caillon et al., 2003; Fischer et al., 1999; Kawamura et al., 2007; WAIS Divide Project Members, 2013), most prominently during the Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5e–5d boundary, i.e. the last glacial inception. Antarctic cooling at this time was associated with a major Milankovitch signal, and appears to have transpired almost entirely before the change in CO2 concentration. It remains unclear whether the temperature lead was restricted to Antarctica or was broader.
Ozone ‘Hole’ Still Widening Since 1998 (Despite CFC Ban)
Ball et al, 2018 Here we report evidence from multiple satellite measurements that ozone in the lower stratosphere between 60° S and 60° N has indeed continued to decline since 1998. We find that, even though upper stratospheric ozone is recovering, the continuing downward trend in the lower stratosphere prevails, resulting in a downward trend in stratospheric column ozone between 60° S and 60° N. We find that total column ozone between 60° S and 60° N appears not to have decreased only because of increases in tropospheric column ozone that compensate for the stratospheric decreases. The reasons for the continued reduction of lower stratospheric ozone are not clear; models do not reproduce these trends, and thus the causes now urgently need to be established.
Arctic Methane Emissions Natural, Not Anthropogenic
Wallmann et al., 2018 Gas hydrate dissociation off Svalbard induced by isostatic rebound rather than global warming … Methane seepage from the upper continental slopes of Western Svalbard has previously been attributed to gas hydrate dissociation induced by anthropogenic warming of ambient bottom waters. Here we show that sediment cores drilled off Prins Karls Foreland contain freshwater from dissociating hydrates. However, our modeling indicates that the observed pore water freshening began around 8 ka BP when the rate of isostatic uplift outpaced eustatic sea-level rise. The resultant local shallowing and lowering of hydrostatic pressure forced gas hydrate dissociation and dissolved chloride depletions consistent with our geochemical analysis. Hence, we propose that hydrate dissociation was triggered by postglacial isostatic rebound rather than anthropogenic warming.
Climate Model Unreliability/Biases/Errors
Collins et al., 2018 Here there is a dynamical gap in our understanding. While we have conceptual models of how weather systems form and can predict their evolution over days to weeks, we do not have theories that can adequately explain the reasons for an extreme cold or warm, or wet or dry, winter at continental scales. More importantly, we do not have the ability to credibly predict such states. Likewise, we can build and run complex models of the Earth system, but we do not have adequate enough understanding of the processes and mechanisms to be able to quantitatively evaluate the predictions and projections they produce, or to understand why different models give different answers. … The global warming ‘hiatus’ provides an example of a climate event potentially related to inter-basin teleconnections. While decadal climate variations are expected, the magnitude of the recent event was unforeseen. A decadal period of intensified trade winds in the Pacific and cooler sea surface temperatures (SSTs) has been identified as a leading candidate mechanism for the global slowdown in warming.
Hunziker et al., 2018 About 40 % of the observations are inappropriate for the calculation of monthly temperature means and precipitation sums due to data quality issues. These quality problems undetected with the standard quality control approach strongly affect climatological analyses, since they reduce the correlation coefficients of station pairs, deteriorate the performance of data homogenization methods, increase the spread of individual station trends, and significantly bias regional temperature trends. Our findings indicate that undetected data quality issues are included in important and frequently used observational datasets and hence may affect a high number of climatological studies. It is of utmost importance to apply comprehensive and adequate data quality control approaches on manned weather station records in order to avoid biased results and large uncertainties.
Scanlon et al., 2018 The models underestimate the large decadal (2002–2014) trends in water storage relative to GRACE satellites, both decreasing trends related to human intervention and climate and increasing trends related primarily to climate variations. The poor agreement between models and GRACE underscores the challenges remaining for global models to capture human or climate impacts on global water storage trends. … Increasing TWSA [total water storage anomalies] trends are found primarily in nonirrigated basins, mostly in humid regions, and may be related to climate variations. Models also underestimate median GRACE increasing trends (1.6–2.1 km3/y) by up to a factor of ∼8 in GHWRMs [global hydrological and water resource models] (0.3–0.6 km3/y). Underestimation of GRACE-derived TWSA increasing trends is much greater for LSMs [global land surface models], with four of the five LSMs [global land surface models] yielding opposite trends (i.e., median negative rather than positive trends) … Increasing GRACE trends are also found in surrounding basins, with most models yielding negative trends. Models greatly underestimate the increasing trends in Africa, particularly in southern Africa. .. TWSA trends from GRACE in northeast Asia are generally increasing, but many models show decreasing trends, particularly in the Yenisei.
Subtracting the modeled human intervention contribution from the total land water storage contribution from GRACE results in an estimated climate-driven contribution of −0.44 to −0.38 mm/y. Therefore, the magnitude of the estimated climate contribution to GMSL [global mean sea level] is twice that of the human contribution and opposite in sign. While many previous studies emphasize the large contribution of human intervention to GMSL [global mean sea level], it has been more than counteracted by climate-driven storage increase on land over the past decade. … GRACE-positive TWSA trends (71 km3/y) contribute negatively (−0.2 mm/y) to GMSL, slowing the rate of rise of GMSL, whereas models contribute positively to GMSL, increasing the rate of rise of GMSL.
The CO2 Greenhouse Effect – Climate Driver?
Davis et al., 2018 [T]he contemporary global warming increase of ~0.8 °C recorded since 1850 has been attributed widely to anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. Recent research has shown, however, that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has been decoupled from global temperature for the last 425 million years [Davis, 2017] owing to well-established diminishing returns in marginal radiative forcing (ΔRF) as atmospheric CO2 concentration increases. Marginal forcing of temperature from increasing CO2 emissions declined by half from 1850 to 1980, and by nearly two-thirds from 1850 to 1999 [Davis, 2017]. Changes in atmospheric CO2 therefore affect global temperature weakly at most. The anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis has been embraced partly because “…there is no convincing alternative explanation…” [USGCRP, 2017] (p. 12). … The ACO [Antarctic Centennial Oscillation] provides a possible [natural] alternative explanation in the form of a natural climate cycle that arises in Antarctica, propagates northward to influence global temperature, and peaks on a predictable centennial timetable. … The period and amplitude of ACOs oscillate in phase with glacial cycles and related surface insolation associated with planetary orbital forces. We conclude that the ACO: encompasses at least the EAP; is the proximate source of D-O oscillations in the Northern Hemisphere; therefore affects global temperature; propagates with increased velocity as temperature increases; doubled in intensity over geologic time; is modulated by global temperature variations associated with planetary orbital cycles; and is the probable paleoclimate precursor of the contemporary Antarctic Oscillation (AAO). Properties of the ACO/AAO are capable of explaining the current global warming signal.
Gray, 2018 [T]he globe’s annual surface solar absorption of 171 Wm-2 is balanced by about half going to evaporation (85 Wm-2) and the other half (86 Wm-2) going to surface to atmosphere upward IR (59 Wm-2) flux and surface to air upward flux by sensible heat transfer (27 Wm-2). Assuming that the imposed extra CO2 doubling IR blockage of 3.7 Wm-2 is taken up and balanced by the earth’s surface as the solar absorption is taken up and balanced, we should expect a direct warming of only ~ 0.5°C for a doubling of the CO2. The 1°C expected warming that is commonly accepted incorrectly assumes that all the absorbed IR goes to balancing outward radiation (through E = σT4- e.g., the Stefan-Boltzmann law) with no energy going to evaporation. … This analysis shows that the influence of doubling atmospheric CO2 by itself (without invoking any assumed water vapor positive feedback) leads to only small amounts of global warming which are much less than predicted by GCMs.
Modern Climate In Phase With Natural Variability
Ault et al., 2018 The western United States was affected by several megadroughts during the last 1200 years, most prominently during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA; 800 to 1300 CE). A null hypothesis is developed to test the possibility that, given a sufficiently long period of time, these events are inevitable and occur purely as a consequence of internal climate variability. The null distribution of this hypothesis is populated by a linear inverse model (LIM) constructed from global sea surface temperature anomalies and self-calibrated Palmer drought severity index data for North America. Despite being trained only on seasonal data from the late twentieth century, the LIM produces megadroughts that are comparable in their duration, spatial scale, and magnitude to the most severe events of the last 12 centuries. The null hypothesis therefore cannot be rejected with much confidence when considering these features of megadrought, meaning that similar events are possible today, even without any changes to boundary conditions. In contrast, the observed clustering of megadroughts in the MCA, as well as the change in mean hydroclimate between the MCA and the 1500–2000 period, are more likely to have been caused by either external forcing or by internal climate variability not well sampled during the latter half of the twentieth century.
Brickman et al., 2018 In 2012, 2014, and 2015 anomalous warm events were observed in the subsurface waters in the Scotian Shelf region of eastern Canada. Monthly output from a high resolution numerical ocean model simulation of the North Atlantic ocean for the period 1990-2015 is used to investigate this phenomenon. … The observed warming trend can be attributed to an increase in the frequency of creation of warm anomalies during the last decade. Strong anomalous events are commonly observed in the data and model, and thus should be considered as part of the natural variability of the coupled atmosphere-ocean system.
Kendon et al., 2018 Natural variability appears to dominate current observed trends (including an increase in the intensity of heavy summer rainfall over the last 30 years) … [T]he attribution of rainfall trends to human influence on local and regional scales is not yet possible (Sarojini et al., 2016).
Failing Renewable Energy, Climate Policies
Schäfer et al., 2018 Multiple types of fluctuations impact the collective dynamics of power grids and thus challenge their robust operation.
(press release) More renewables mean less stable grids, researchers find … [I]ntegrating growing numbers of renewable power installations and microgrids onto the grid can result in larger-than-expected fluctuations in grid frequency.
Jewell et al., 2018 Hopes are high that removing fossil fuel subsidies could help to mitigate climate change by discouraging inefficient energy consumption and levelling the playing field for renewable energy. Here we show that removing fossil fuel subsidies would have an unexpectedly small impact on global energy demand and carbon dioxide emissions and would not increase renewable energy use by 2030. Removing subsidies in most regions would deliver smaller emission reductions than the Paris Agreement (2015) climate pledges and in some regions global subsidy removal may actually lead to an increase in emissions, owing to either coal replacing subsidized oil and natural gas or natural-gas use shifting from subsidizing, energy-exporting regions to non-subsidizing, importing regions.
Elevated CO2: Greens Planet, Higher Crop Yields
Pau et al., 2018 Long-term increases in tropical flowering activity across growth forms in response to rising CO2 and climate change … Here, we analyze a 28-year record of tropical flower phenology in response to anthropogenic climate and atmospheric change. We show that a multidecadal increase in flower activity is most strongly associated with rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations using yearly aggregated data. Compared to significant climatic factors, CO2 had on average an approximately three-, four-, or fivefold stronger effect than rainfall, solar radiation, and the Multivariate ENSO Index, respectively.
Zeng et al., 2018 Leaf area index (LAI) is increasing throughout the globe, implying the Earth greening. Global modelling studies support this contention, yet satellite observations and model simulations have never been directly compared. Here, for the first time, we used a coupled land-climate model to quantify the potential impact of the satellite-observed Earth greening over the past 30 years on the terrestrial water cycle. The global LAI enhancement by 8% between the early 1980s and the early 2010s is modelled to have caused increases of 12.0 ±2.4 mm yr-1 in evapotranspiration and 12.1 ±2.7 mm yr-1 in precipitation — about 55 ±25% and 28 ±6% of the observed increases in land evapotranspiration and precipitation, respectively.