You recently published (January 12, 2018) a piece of nonsense by Dave Rothbard and Craig Rucker, which completely misstates the science of the greenhouse effect, the state of climate science, and the feedback loops driving climate change. Not surprising given that one of them has a bachelor’s in political science, the other a degree in public affairs – and their organization, CFACT is funded by oil companies and the backers of Breitbart. In other words, combined they bring zero analytic, quantitative, or scientific background. And it shows in their “work.”
Regardless of from whence comes their funding, facts are stubborn things. And thankfully, political science and public affairs degrees cannot overcome facts.
First, they argue that “heightened solar activity of the past century has driven recent global warming.”
This claim is utterly preposterous because the data on that point is wholly, utterly, and overwhelmingly the opposite. Since 1880 (the year in which global data on temperature was first complete enough to build a credible baseline), solar irradiance and global temperature data has been compiled.
From 1880 to 1960, they correlated, i.e., years with heightened solar irradiance led to corresponding high temperatures on Earth.
From 1960 to 1980, solar irradiance and global temperatures were fairly static (i.e., on average neither changed much); between 1980 and 2000, solar irradiance remained fairly static, yet global temperatures increased over 0.5 degrees Celsius.
Worse for the claims of Rothbard and Rucker, since 2000, solar irradiance has declined every year. And global temperatures have increased every year.
The curious reader can see that data in a simple chart at SkepticalScience.com, in a post entitled “solar activity sunspots global warming.”
Second, they argue that water vapors will increase as a result of increased temperatures and that will lead to clouds, and those clouds will block more sunlight and finally, that rainfall from all these new clouds will “scrub CO2 out of the atmosphere.”
Facts and evidence totally disprove their claim.
According to Scientific American, “An analysis of satellite data has found that, since the early 1980s, clouds have shifted toward Earth’s poles and cloud tops have extended higher into the atmosphere. The changes match what climate models predict and are a rare step forward among much scientific uncertainty about how clouds will behave in a warming world.”
This change in cloud formation is a problem because, according to NASA, “Low, thick clouds primarily reflect solar radiation and cool the surface of the Earth. High, thin clouds primarily transmit solar radiation, at the same time, they trap some of the outgoing infrared radiation emitted by the Earth and radiate it back downward, thereby warming the surface of the Earth.” In simpler words, the clouds we want are low thick clouds, that would be helpful – but what we actually get from climate change (and NASA and dozens have studied this and confirmed this) are the high thin clouds that make warming worse.
Finally, their argument on the magic of clouds concludes that rain (from the clouds they erroneously claim will exist) “scrubs CO2 out the atmosphere.”
Rain’s impact on atmospheric CO2 has, like all the other items in their OpEd, been studied – and the results are these:
Rain does absorb CO2, so the CO2 is then “in the raindrop.” So far, so good.
But raindrops either reach the ground, or they dissolve in the air (as everyone in Arizona has seen, when the rain doesn’t reach the ground on a summer day).
In the latter case, rain evaporating in the air simply releases the CO2 again. And when rain does hit the ground, at least half of it re-evaporates, again releasing the CO2. When it does saturate, it captures about 3 percent of the CO2 that was in the air the water fell through.
Before the denial people start celebrating that “rain will cut CO2 by 3 percent!” they should bear in mind that to get that level of CO2 absorption, the modelers had to assume an “enormous rainfall intensity”; and even then, within an hour or two after rainfall, the CO2 concentrations returned to their prior concentration. Also bear in mind that enormous rainfall amounts are local – and thus only affect hyper-miniscule amounts of the Earth.
It would be great if climate change science was, as many people wish, unproven or uncertain. Alas, it is neither unproven nor uncertain and the impacts on our state, our country, and our planet are disastrous, certain, and growing ever more dangerous each year that we ignore the need for responsible, common-sense approaches to reduce emissions.
— Paul Walker is executive director of ConservAmerica.
The views expressed in guest commentaries are those of the author and are not the views of the Arizona Capitol Times.