Clean skies=faster global warming?

Global warming may proceed more quickly and be more severe than previously predicted according to research about to be published in the scientific journal “Nature”. Reductions in airborne particle pollution, or aerosols, as air quality is improved, will amplify climate change by reducing the cooling effect due to aerosols and also by increasing the amount of carbon dioxide that remains in the atmosphere. Uncertainty about the magnitude of past and present cooling, however, means that we cannot be certain about the strength of future warming, which may exceed previous estimates.

Prof. Meinrat O. Andreae of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany, Dr. Chris Jones from the Met Office’s Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, and Prof. Peter Cox from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology have studied the consequences of the cooling effect from man-made aerosols (tiny airborne particles) on present and future climate, and on the uptake of carbon dioxide CO2 by the land biosphere. Such aerosols have reduced the amount of the sun’s radiation that reaches the Earth’s surface, and thereby have offset some of the warming impact of greenhouse gases – such as carbon dioxide – which have warmed the global climate during the 20th century. However, their harmful effects on air quality and human health have led to clean air legislation requiring us to clean up our emissions.

This necessary reduction in aerosols will result in a reduction of their cooling effect and hence will accelerate global warming. Dr. Jones likens this to driving a car whilst pressing both the accelerator and the brake, “Now we are taking our foot off the brake, but we don’t know how fast we will go. Because we don’t know exactly how strong the aerosol cooling has been, we do not know how strong the greenhouse warming will be.”

Any such warming will be further amplified by interactions between the climate and the carbon cycle ie, the Earth’s natural biosphere. Ocean and land based ecosystems presently absorb about half of our CO2 emissions, but the impact of climate change will be to reduce this natural buffering service. “Higher temperatures mean dead matter decays faster”, explains Prof. Cox, “so if future warming is greater than expected, due to declining aerosol cooling, less CO2 will be taken up by the land, which will leave more CO2 in the atmosphere where it can add to greenhouse warming.”

The authors of the paper recognise the uncertainties, but maintain that this is a reason for action rather than inaction to cut global CO2 emissions. That’s because aerosol uncertainties act to increase the upper estimate of 21st century climate change without impacting on the lower estimate. As Prof. Andreae puts it: “The policy implications of even a 5-6 ºC temperature increase, comparable to the temperature rise from the previous ice age to the present, are enormous. Given the very grave potential consequences for the Earth’s environment and human society, the only prudent course of action would be to immediately reduce the emissions of climate-warming substances, with reduction targets well below those of the Kyoto protocol.”

The research was funded by the German Max Planck Society, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under its Climate Prediction Programme, and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and will be published on 30th June in Nature.


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4 thoughts on “Clean skies=faster global warming?”

  1. A Layman’s Review of the latest IPCC report (2007)

    Is global climate changing?

    Yes, undoubtedly. The only constant in climate is change. Average surface temperatures rose by around 0.6°C over the period from 1900 to 2000, possibly a few tenths of a degree less if we correct for the “urban heat island effect”. This warming trend already started around 1800, with 0.5-0.6°C warming over the period from 1800 to 1900, as well. Prior to 1800 the earth was in a global Little Ice Age, which started around 1300, with temperatures cooler than today.

    Have atmospheric CO2 levels risen?

    Yes. From around 290 to 375 ppm over the period from 1900 to 2000.

    Is this increase in atmospheric CO2 levels man-made?

    While man-made CO2 emissions are only a small percentage of the total carbon cycle, there is no doubt that man-made CO2 has contributed to at least a part of this increase.

    Is there a scientifically proven link between increased CO2 and higher temperatures?

    No. Just model scenarios that have been programmed in by the IPCC to demonstrate this link. Certainly the warming actually experienced from 1800 to 1900 and from 1900 to 1940 had little to do with man-made CO2 emissions.

    If it isn’t from higher CO2 levels, from where is the warming coming?

    We all know that the primary source of energy for Earth is the sun (not the exhaust gas from your automobile). Warming and cooling trends on Earth have always come from swings in solar activity, long before there were any automobiles or humans, for that matter. There are many scientific studies that show this link.

    Is the “warmth of the last half century unusual in at least the previous 1300 years”, as the IPCC report states?

    No. This is not true. It ignores the existence of the scientifically proven and historically well-documented global Medieval Warm Period, with temperatures higher than today.

    But the latest IPCC report (2007) states that it is very likely that man-made CO2 is causing the recent and projected future temperature rise and that this will lead to all sorts of problems: melting ice caps; rising sea levels and flooding; reduction of snow cover and thawing of permafrost; higher ocean salinity; increase in severe weather events including droughts, heavy precipitation, heat waves and the intensity of tropical cyclones; loss of habitat and possibly even extinction for many species; increase of tropical diseases; increased deaths from heat waves; etc.

    This all sounds pretty scary (as it is obviously intended to do by the writers).

    But is there any sound scientific basis for these dire predictions?

    Fortunately not.

    To put it in plain words, the IPCC 2007 report is largely based on “junk science” backed up by “garbage in / garbage out” computer models and leading to unfounded “disaster scenario projections”. Some examples:

    · uncorrected surface temperature records show more rapid warming than is actually occurring
    · claim (unsubstantiated) that urban heat island effect has a “negligible effect” of “less than 0.006°C per decade” has been proven by two separate studies to be untrue
    · more accurate, more comprehensive and more pertinent satellite temperature record of the troposphere (available since 1980) is ignored (this shows 0.3°C lower temperatures during last 10 years than the uncorrected surface record)
    · claim (unsubstantiated) that discrepancy between surface and satellite record has been reconciled is not true
    · models created to show that greenhouse effect from “anthropogenic CO2” is the primary driving force for climate change when there is no scientific evidence or proof for this supposition and a significant amount of paleoclimate evidence to show that CO2 does not drive climate change
    · greenhouse effect of naturally occurring water vapor is ignored – instead water vapor has been programmed into the models as a “positive feedback” to man-made CO2, more than doubling the calculated impact of CO2 alone on warming
    · impact of clouds is ignored
    · effect of variations in solar activity are relegated to a very minor role in driving climate despite fact that past records for millions of years show this is the major driver of climate on Earth
    · claims made that Greenland ice cap has melted from 1993 to 2003, causing an increase in sea levels of 0.21 mm per year while latest ESA study of essentially same period shows an increase in Greenland ice, equivalent to a lowering of sea levels by 0.27 mm per year
    · claims that reductions in the Antarctic ice sheet have contributed to a further 0.21 mm per year rise in sea levels over the period 1993 to 2003, when latest ESA studies show a net increase in Antarctic ice, corresponding to a lowering of sea levels by 0.08 mm per year
    · forecasts sea levels rising by up to 59 cm (23 inches) over next 100 years, when the international organization responsible for monitoring sea levels worldwide states that any prediction for the next 100 years exceeding a maximum of 20 cm (7.9 inches) is nonsense and 10 cm (4 inches) is more likely
    · claims that world-wide tropical cyclone activity has increased both in frequency and intensity due to global warming, when the record outside USA shows a net reduction in both frequency and intensity and the US record shows a reduction from 1940 to 1995 followed by an increase from 1996 to 2005 (including 2005 with Katrina and Rita), followed by a drop in 2006, with overall 1940-2006 record showing essentially no statistical increase in either intensity or frequency; also, theory says these are driven by the temperature gradient between tropics and poles, which will decrease with warming
    · claims that other extreme weather events, such as heat spells, extreme precipitation events, thunderstorms and tornados are increasing due to global warming when there are no comprehensive reports to show this and many local reports show there is no statistical change in extreme weather events
    · claims that tropical diseases have increased and will continue to do so as a result of anthropogenic warming have been refuted by world experts on these diseases
    · population checks on polar bears, for example, show these are stable or increasing slightly on average and have increased from around 5,000 in 1970 to 22,000 to 25,000 today despite the warming

    All in all, we should ignore most of what is in the IPCC 2007 summary report, just as we should ignore the sensationalist press reports on global warming and its dire consequences and the calls by politicians for immediate action to stop this “impending disaster”.

    It’s all hot air.

    But why do so many scientists and political leaders plus many in the media support the man-made global warming theory?

    “Cherchez l’argent.”

    It’s driven by an estimated 2.5 to 4 billion dollars per year in climate research grants, with the grants going selectively to those scientists who make the most disastrous predictions.

    The media also love disaster stories, since they sell better to the public than “it’s OK” reports, thus generating more profits for the media.

    The politicians and bureaucrats love the idea of “carbon taxes”, higher taxes on fossil fuels, “carbon footprint offset” schemes, etc., because it gives them more money to spread around (and more power).

    Not only that, but it’s also become “sexy” and “trendy”, with pop stars, Hollywood figures and many other “media darlings” jumping on the bandwagon.

    It’s truly a “win-win” situation for everyone, except for the people that will end up paying for this circus: you and I.

    We’d be much better off diverting our time and resources from this non-problem of “CO2 pollution” to address the true problems of today, such as poverty, hunger, genocide, slavery, disease, terrorism driven by religious fanaticism, illiteracy, lack of clean drinking water and electrical power for millions of people, world dependence on a dwindling supply of imported fossil fuels, killing off of the rain forests, real pollution of the environment, etc.

    Just think what we could do in these real problem areas with 2.5 to 4 billion additional dollars per year, not to mention the hundreds of billions it would take to truly implement the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol…

    Max Anacker 30 March 2007

  2. I think we must replace the word WARMING , we are at a debut of a exponential trend . I think that civilisation as we know it have within 4 to 7 years to go ..

  3. Can you please post this on your Blog? From Edward Romanoff ..
    Re: Before, after and the next 9/11 …
    As a young man, growing up in Siberia setting fires on thawing permafrost was a favorite past-time. Then, little did I know, these flames were burning methane and I had stumbled on to a contribution to Global Warming, an indication of how the world could end.

    In the U.S., I joined the Preventech Foundation the developers of technologies preventing Global Warming.
    We submitted these technologies to the authorities, but received no response. Finally, the article in Fresno Bee by Seth Borenstein AP (09/07/06) might convince the Public, that there is no escape from Global Warming. So, we have submitted this technology again! As you may have guessed – no response! History repeats itself – for example, the technology of ‘motioncodes’ which would makes the 9/11 terrorists attack impossible, was submitted one year before 9/11, but again no response!

    Actually the scientists receive an automatic electronic form letter, saying “Thank you, we would contact you” – but they never did. Preventive technologies were submitted by different groups of scientists independently from different parts of the world. Ignoring modern technology is the reason why 9/11 did happened.

    It appears that the U.S. may not necessarily be destroyed by environmental disaster or by terrorists. Americans could destroy themselves! The mystery – why have Americans decided to self-destruct?

    This time we are appealing directly to all citizens. We are looking for a producer to make the multimedia phenomena ‘THE END OF THE LAST EMPIRE’ movie. It would demonstrate technology preventing the END.
    The ‘all-in-one’ – drama, horror, suspense and education tool for children, teaching that crime and terrorism will no longer be possible. To avoid the shock and sensationalism the movie will be released as ‘science fiction.’ Once the movie is released, this preventive technology would become every day commodity. Please request for Motion Science Memorandum – the listing of preventive motion devices and systems.

    Dr. Edward Romanoff
    Preventech Foundation
    [email protected]

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