# Good Grief!

Hypothesis, design experiment to try and disprove hypothesis, wait for results.

Are we absolutely certain that this bloke has chosen the right part of science to be working in? Aren\’t hand waving and alarmism more usual in this sector?

#### 6 comments on “Good Grief!”

1. Above all, we must not let any downturn in temperatures be used as an excuse by reluctant nations to wriggle out of pollution controls.

As long as we remember that CO2 is NOT in and of itself a pollutant.

2. In the referenced newspaper article by Dr Stuart Clarke, I did not find any mention of the low-pass filtering effect caused by the specific heat capacity of the oceans. I actually think this is very important, not least because that specific heat capacity is vastly greater than that of the atmosphere.

The mass of water in the oceans is about 1.4×10^21 kilogrammes: from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean#Physical_properties

The specific heat capacity of sea water (at 36F is about 3.93 kJ/kg (compared to 4.19 kJ/kg for fresh water): from http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/specific-heat-fluids-d_151.html

Assuming the sea water specific heat capacity of 3.93 kJ/kg, this means that approximately 5.5×10^21 kJ of energy is required to heat the oceans by 1C (one degree Celsius).

The average solar irradiance hitting the disc of the earth is 1,360 W/m2; the Earth’s cross sectional area is 127.4×10^6 square kilometres, so the average total solar irradiance of the Earth is 1.740×10^17 Watts: from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_irradiance#Solar_constant

It thus requires the total energy from around 31.61 million seconds of solar irradiance, totally adsorbed and directed to that end, to warm the oceans by 1C. This is 1.0023 years.

Given that, in practice average annual solar irradiance varies by only a very small proportion (IIRC less than 1%), that only a fraction of that energy is not re-radiated, that average cloud cover causes only a small fractional change, that only a (perhaps largish) fraction of that energy difference goes towards ocean warming or cooling, and the limitations from deep-to-surface and surface-to-deep ocean currents, I think we can expect that the oceans impose a lowpass filtering effect on any fluctuations in the Earth’s average temperature that will have its effect over many decades, perhaps even centuries. Obviously though, there will be shorter term and more direct effect at the Earth’s surface and in the atmosphere, even as rapidly as day and night and summer and winter.

Overall, I don’t think we should expect some definitive and fairly simply interpreted scientific evidence next year, or even in a couple of years after that.

However, if the weather over several years returns pretty much to that we experienced in the 1960s in the UK, I think we can draw the conclusion that the theory of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming, IIRC put forward in the 1970s (after the ice-age scare disappeared), is distinctly weakened.

Best regards

3. MikeinAppalachia says:

I think it was the mid- 80’s; regardless, good points.

4. Brian, follower of Deornoth says:

“Above all, we must not let any downturn in temperatures be used as an excuse by reluctant nations to wriggle out of pollution controls.”

Yes, quite. We mustn’t let the fact that it won’t make any difference to the problem we are ostensibly trying to solve prevent us from doing it.

5. Mark T says:

Interesting that the leader in the Times only last week referred to the world as a global village and the majority as yet unconvinced by the AGW brigade as the village idiots. It’s a religion, and frankly that is fine, just don’t ask me to pay for your beliefs

6. The Pedant-General says:

“… and all data must be published, not cherry-picked.”

Ow. That smarts a bit doesn’t it…

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