I like to have something a bit light-hearted for the Saturday post, but there’s nothing rib-tickling about. I did come across little ‘handy dandy’ calculator, however, and I thought that might do, because it’s fun. More about it in a moment.
One of the things that I can never understand about the orthodox AGW folk, especially the passionately convinced, is what they expect would happen if we all followed their wishes, cut our use of fossil fuels to the bone, avoided aeroplanes, wore more jumpers in winter, abandon the air conditioner — all that stuff. What would happen to global warming?
I know that Professor Flannery, when pushed, finally said that if we in Australia did all these things we wouldn’t notice the difference in terms of global warming for a thousand years. I can’t remember whether or not his interlocutor then asked him how sensible all this really was, then.
After all, if the efforts we are putting into carbon taxes, ETSs, RETs, wind turbines, solar cells and all the rest of the fossil-fuel-avoidance are not intended to significantly reduce global temperature, what are they for? I put something related to this to one of our MPs, whose response was that ‘the suggestion we shouldn’t be acting brought to mind Ross Garnaut’s riposte — “that suggests Australia is a pissant nation, rather than the world’s 12th largest emitter!”‘
But that simply avoids the question. Why are we doing this? Now to the handy dandy calculator, drawn to my attention by two sceptics, Pat Michaels and Chip Knappenberger, but using only data and values drawn from the IPCC. The calculator itself is called MAGICC (Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse-gas Induced Climate Change), and was developed by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research through funding by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. You can read about the calculator here.
It works like this: you specify the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions that you think will occur by 2050 (from a 2005 baseline), where this is to occur, and what level of climate sensitivity you think applies (that is, roughly, the extent to which water vapour and clouds magnify or minimise the warming that would take place from an increase in carbon dioxide alone).
Michaels and Knappenberger, being American, didn’t think to specify ‘Australia’ as a region, but did include us in the list of ‘industrialised countries’, so I had a go at the calculator for that group, choosing values I thought, given what I had read over the last few years, were possible or likely if there were a sustained effort to reduce emissions.
I thought we might achieve a 20 per cent reduction, and I thought climate sensitivity was likely to be at the +1.5 level. And if all the industrialised countries managed to pull this 20 per cent reduction off, by 2050 we would see a shift in global temperature of a whole -0.016 degrees Celsius. Carried through to 2100, it would mean a shift of -0.067 degrees C.
Well, that’s not much at all, I thought. Back to the calculator. What if we reduced emissions by 40 per cent and doubled climate sensitivity to 3.00? Answer: by 2050, -0.045 degrees C, by 2100, -0.136 degrees C. But that’s not very different, is it? What if we go the whole hog, which is what the designers did with respect to the USA. They assumed that there was a complete, 100 per cent, reduction in the USA’s carbon dioxide emissions, and at a +3 level of climate sensitivity they could reduce global temperature at 2050 by 0.052 degrees C.
In short, none of these calculations does anything at all to global temperature, at least anything that would be discernible. The authors point out that you only see any differences because they used measurements to three decimal places, which is much more precise than what we can learn from thermometers. In point of fact nothing that we can do has any measurable effect on global temperature, partly because China and India aren’t in the list of industrialised countries, and partly because the effects would still be small even if they were included.
So I ask again: why are we doing this? If global warming is a real scare, then plainly what the orthodox want us to do will not achieve their stated goals. This has puzzled me for years, and the calculator enables me to show arithmetically that this is the case.
And while I’m on it, the same applies to the projected increase in sea levels, which regular readers know is another of my interests. Here you need to go to another excellent piece written last year by Professor Roger Pielke Jnr. He looked at recent work done by others without a handy dandy calculator, but employing the same kind of logic.
His conclusion? ‘[R]ecent research suggests that our ability to halt the rise of the seas is extremely limited.’ And the reduction in sea-levels over a century from what he called an ‘aggressive’ reduction in American carbon dioxide emissions seems to be around 8 centimetres. The IPCC is expecting an increase of more than 60 cm, though there are other, lower, estimates.
Why, again, are we doing this?