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Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

  • 1.  Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 05-04-2020 03:00 PM

    Please see my attached full letter to the editor of Civil Engineering which was shortened for publication in the May/June issue. I would like to continue the conversation here. I would like to hear your thoughts on what should serve as the basis of an ASCE position on CO2 emissions related to global warming?

    I have also attached my more complete paper on the subject for your reference.

    Thanks Larry Von Thun






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    J Lawrence Von Thun P.E., M.ASCE
    Consulting Engr
    J Lawrence Von Thun
    Lakewood CO
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 05-05-2020 08:24 AM
    What should serve as the basis of an ASCE position on CO2 emissions related to global warming are the studies and conclusions reached by every credible scientific institution in the world (IPCC, the National Academies, NASA, NOAA, etc.) that are respected and have credentials in climate science:  (1) climate change is happening, (2) it is human caused primarily from the burning of fossil fuels for heat and power, (3) it is raising the global average temperature, producing extreme weather events, raising sea levels, disrupting ecosystems and other forms of devastation on a global scale, and (4) if we humans don't act quickly and decisively to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 (IPCC Special Report, 2018) and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels, the devastation will increase dramatically.

    Moreover, ASCE needs to act soon before society figures out that the folks who plan, design, construct and operate civil infrastructure, primarily civil engineers, are the ones who apparently have a preference for fossil fuels over renewable energy sources.

    Finally, if you want to have a discussion, let's not play "Dueling Factoids," i.e., starting with a conclusion and trying to prove your point by pulling materials from a wide range of sources:  some credible and some not so credible.  Let's play "Who do you trust," i.e., start with the premise that the credible and respected scientific institutions the U.S. and other developed nations of the world have set up to study the climate issue are in fact good at their jobs, are really, really worried about the direction the Earth's climate is headed,  believe strongly that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are the primary cause and are recommending quick and decisive actions to bring emissions down to net zero before it's too late.

    Let's let the scientific community do its work and learn from it.  Let's get the civil engineers to do their work:  making civil infrastructure, existing and planned, climate safe, and get us on the road to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

    ------------------------------
    Bill Wallace, ENV-SP, F.ASCE
    Wilsonville, Oregon
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  • 3.  RE: Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 05-13-2020 09:51 AM
    Only the Paris agreement is cited in ASCE CO2 policy.  This is based on IPCC findings from 2015.  I think this citation requires updating.  Citing a specific agreement or report in policy could result in it being continually updated. Universities should not be excluded from the conversation, as their teachings determine how the issue is viewed by engineers entering the workforce.


    Asking engineers to meet net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is a huge leap and the basis needs to be sound.  How can anything be built of concrete if that is the goal?  While the process is expected to take 30 years, does this mean that I can disregard it because I will be retired by then?  The policy should underlay current practices to mitigate CO2 emissions and be written in a way that is as applicable today as it is in 2050.

    Policy basis should be ASCE member driven, not reliant on outside sources.  To that extent, the engineer seeks balance, realizing that any emission has an effect on the environment (even H20) and needs to be understood and managed.  Our membership is diverse in the industries served and policy should reflect that diversity.

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    Chad Morrison P.E., M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI
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  • 4.  RE: Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 05-19-2020 11:42 AM
      |   view attached

    The idea that findings and opinions that are being disseminated and promulgated by the IPCC on climate change, the foundation of which are climate models, should just be accepted, by civil engineers in general or by ASCE in particular in the face of empirical data and information that is clearly divergent from those opinions, is neither "right nor safe".  John Stuart Mill in On Liberty stated: "He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion... Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them...he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form." 

    The now widely held perception that human source carbon dioxide emissions are the primary cause of the ongoing global warming, arose based on a logical hypothesis (circa 1980-90) stemming from the observed temporal juxtaposition of (1) the great and sustained increase in CO2 emissions post 1950 and (2) a period of significant planetary warming (1979-1998). This hypothesis, although not able to be experimentally tested or made subject to rigorous proof according to the scientific method, was nevertheless shored up via the climate modeling studies commissioned by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC was appointed by the United Nations and charged with showing "The Effects of Human Activity on Climate Change". The IPCC was not charged with the onerous task of proving this premise or hypothesis but rather with demonstrating and reinforcing the premise of anthropogenic global warming. Through their periodic assessments, largely based on climate modeling studies with input parameters and weightings selected by their modelers, they have been highly successful in fulfilling this charge. The IPCC climate models were also employed to predict future global warming outcomes.  Long term climate change forecasting via modeling is an extremely complex exercise as there are many parameters that contribute to climate that are included in the models and their relative influence and interaction / feedback are not well known or established.  The inputs to the models by various investigators are thus subjective.  Interestingly, and perhaps predictably based on the IPCC charge, the models have typically greatly overestimated the actual warming that has been experienced since the IPCC began its work around 1990.   (See Figure 1 showing temperature projections taken from the 5th IPCC report in the attached file.)

    In contrast to the two major conclusions drawn or inferred from the IPCC assessments that: (1) CO2 emissions are the primary cause of the ongoing global warming and (2) that without a radical diminution of global CO2 emissions a planetary warming catastrophe will result, the empirical data paint a completely different picture. Although it certainly seems presumptive to challenge these conclusions that have literally swept the nation and world and have become ingrained in people's minds, the actual data, information and facts belie these conclusions.  And, it is not really presumptive inn that there are indeed thousands of professionals, climatologists, scientists, engineers and geologists, that do not subscribe to the IPCC claims and opinions and many articles as well as books have been written that present data and information that countermands the IPCC conclusions.  To borrow Mark Twain's quote which he modified from John Adams and substituting "models" for "statistics": Facts are stubborn things but "models" are pliable.       Here are 3 relevant pieces of factual data and information.

    1. Global warming is ongoing and has been since the end of the Little Ice Age 1700-1750. But NASA temperature records (see figure 2 in attached file) show CO2 emissions are not driving global warming. Analysis of temperature and CO2 data (1880 to present) show, that despite CO2 emissions steep rise post 1944, the overall warming rate has not notably changed. Data show that from 1917 to 1944, when CO2 emissions were minor, the global mean temp. rose +0.68 0C (0.025 0C per year) over the period. The next rise in global temperatures occurred from 1979 to 1998 and was +0.47 0C over that period (also a rate of +0.025 0C per year). These two warming periods in the post-1880 temp record had identical rates even though 462,000 Million Metric Tons (MMT) of CO2 was emitted from (1979-1998) and a total of 750,000 MMT of CO2 emissions since 1944. Thus, there were huge increases in CO2 emitted but no increase in global warming rates.  Further, no CO2 emissions effect is evident in the temp record from 1944 to 1979.  CO2 annual emissions actually quadrupled from 5000 MMT (1944) to 20,000 MMT (1979) while global cooling occurred! Global temperatures were below the 1944 temp. from 1944 to 1979.   Thus, the facts are that: (1) For 35 years right after CO2 emissions ramped up, global temperatures lowered, and (2) the global warming rate from 1917-1944, prior to much higher CO2 emissions was the same as the global warming rate from 1979-1998.  Thus, unlike climate models with subjective input, empirical data show CO2 is not driving global warming.

        Figure 2 - NASA global surface temperature data plot – (NASA Headquarters release No. 12-020 - now archived

    1. The last glacial period began about 120,000 years ago and reached a glacial maximum about 21,000 years ago. Average global temperatures dropped about 10-12 degrees centigrade (C) over that period.  Then, rapid warming began and sea levels rose markedly. Over the next 15,000 years sea levels rose about 400 feet (122 meters) and the temperatures rose about 10 deg. C.  Then the current, warmer interglacial period began and has lasted 10,000 years to date. Compared to the glacial periods, global temperatures and sea levels are relatively stable during interglacials.  However, even during interglacials there are warmer and colder cycles of significance. For example, there is documented, experiential history that prior to our Current Warm Period (CWP), there was the Roman Warm Period, the Dark Age Cool Period, the Medieval Warm Period, and the Little Ice Age, which immediately preceded our current warming cycle. The Greenland Ice Sheet Project disclosed that to date there have been 10 cycles of warming and cooling in the current interglacial, (the Holocene epoch). Historic records confirm sea level changes and movements of people in these periods of warming and cooling within our current interglacial period.  Currently we are still heading up on the warming portion of the 10th cycle which has been ongoing since about 1650-1700.

    The data from the Greenland Ice Sheet Project also reveal that our current warming is neither unusual or unprecedented. Each of the previous interglacial warming cycles, none of which were influenced by CO2 emissions, reached higher global temperatures than we are currently experiencing. Other research on the Greenland Ice Sheet indicated that temperatures during the last interglacial (the Eemian), about 120,000 years ago, were 80C (14.40F) warmer than today. These data clearly reveal that the current warming cycle is proceeding in a manner similar to those previously experienced in this interglacial. Thus, these data belie the notion that CO2 emissions have already caused global temperatures to reach unparalleled levels and are driving global temperatures toward planetary collapse. (Gregory Wrightstone – geologist – author of Inconvenient Facts was my source for data on the Greenland Ice Sheet Project)

    1. 3. Two factual pieces of information are very significant with respect to the second major conclusion of the IPCC Assessments, namely that "radically cutting of worldwide CO2 emissions will address the projected global warming catastrophe". These facts are:
    • Natural variability in climate over the last 740,000 years has produced 8 cycles of glaciation with intervening interglacial periods and as described above natural variability produced 10 warmer/colder cycles within our current interglacial. If one adheres to the anthropogenic global warming premise, it follows that CO2 emissions at some point, within our current warming cycle, had to take over primary control of global warming and supplant natural variability. Juxtaposition of the history of global temperature data and CO2 emissions shows that date would have to have been after 1944 (when carbon dioxide emissions escalated) and could not have been before 1979 as global cooling was occurring from 1944 to 1979. The sharp rise in global temperatures post 1979 would thus suggest that 1979 is the logical date of CO2     
    • Beginning around 1880 human source CO2 emissions began to slowly and gradually increase and then around 1944 the yearly rate of increase rose substantially and that rate of increase has essentially been sustained over the last 70 years. (Note: The rate of yearly increase of worldwide CO2 emissions continued despite the IPCC warnings (circa 1990) and despite the fact that both the United States and the European Union have basically not increased their emissions for the last 25 years). The significance of this steady, unabated increase in human source CO2 emissions since 1880 relative to the assertion that cutting CO2 emissions will curtail global warming is that there has been no possibility for testing, observing or verifying the planetary warming response to a reduction in CO2 The assertion that cutting CO2 emissions will address global warming comes via climate models. The model inputs are the contributions of various parameters that are believed to influence global warming. One of these parameters is the impact of CO2 emissions. Which, in accordance with the fundamental premise of anthropogenic global, is presumably given substantial weight. This weighting assignment in turn backs the model predictions of increased global warming with increasing CO2 emissions. Then, when the amount of contributing CO2 emissions is reduced or removed from the model inputs, it follows that the warming would be reduced. Simply put, if CO2 emissions are modeled as substantive contributors to the current and future global warming then cutting them will equally reduce future global warming.  

    Thus, the commonly accepted assertion that cutting CO2 emissions will curtail global warming is not based on physical or empirical evidence but rather is the product of climate modeling assumptions that replicate the basic premise and original charge to the IPCC to show the degree of effect that human activity (e.g. CO2 emissions) has on climate.

    Paradoxically, even though there has never been a period of decreasing CO2 emissions since 1880, there was a period of decreasing global temperatures between 1944 and 1979. If indeed lower CO2 emissions result in lower global temperatures, one would have expected that this "lower global temperature period" from 1944-1979 would have correlated with lesser CO2 emissions, but in fact during that period CO2 emissions quadrupled.                 

    Combining the above two pieces of factual information reveals the relatively startling conclusion that if the premise that CO2 emissions has taken over primary control of global warming and supplanted natural variability is true, then that take over demonstrably occurred some time ago and we are past doing anything substantive about it. 

    Here is the data:     

    Table 1 – Change in global warming vs cumulative amount of CO2 emitted (1917-2015)

     Period              CO2 emitted      CO2 emitted in     Accumulated  CO2     Temp. change   Temp. rise /                                                                                          

                                  Annually - MMT        the period MMT           emissions  MMT                   + or -                  year                                                                  

    1917-1944       3,500 -5000              114,750                      114,750              + 0.68 deg C      +0.025

    1944-1979       5,000-20,000           287,500                      402,205                - 0.05 deg C

    1979-1998      20,000-24,000          462,000                      864,205               + 0.47 deg C       +0.025

    1998-2013      24,000-32,000          420,000                  1,284,000                - 0.06 deg C

    1998 -2015     24,000-32,000          476,000                  1,350,000               - 0.30 deg C   UAH satellite

    Based on NASA's recorded history of global warming, the anthropogenic CO2 effect would have logically begun with the sharp rise in the global temperatures after 1979 on the heels of the great amounts of carbon dioxide emissions accumulated by 1979.  Considering CO2 emissions as causative of enhanced global warming before that time would not make sense because global temperatures had remained below the 1944 level for the preceding 35 years.  So, if CO2 emissions cause enhanced global warming it would follow that by 1979 enough human CO2 emissions had been introduced into the atmosphere for them to become the primary driver of the observed steady rise in global temperatures from 1979 to 1998.  This period of temperature rise generated and sustained the ongoing global warming concerns.

    The accumulated quantity of CO2 emitted by 1979 was about 400,000 MMT.   Thus, following the theory of anthropogenic warming one could deduce that when CO2 emissions reached that cumulative total of 400,000 MMT (raising the atmospheric CO2 level to about 330ppm) their effect overtook the other factors producing natural global temperature variability.   Following that logic and continuing to recognize the cumulative effect of the portion of the CO2  emissions that reach the atmosphere remain there for over 100 years, two corollaries follow: (1) Continued accumulation of CO2 emissions post 1979, which as of 2018 had reached 1,450,000 MMT would have not just sustained but also accelerated the annual rate of global warming, and (2) most importantly, with respect to the claim that cutting CO2 emissions now will  substantively stop global warming,  the quantity of human source CO2 emissions in the atmosphere would have to be reduced to a level below the level existing in 1979. Since the accumulated human source CO2 emissions now stand at over 1,500,000 MMT and are increasing at an annual rate of 33,000 MMT per year and the current atmospheric level of CO2 in the atmosphere is at 410 ppm, accomplishing such a task is unreasonable to fathom. To return to a point where ostensibly CO2 emissions were not producing global warming, would mean not only reducing worldwide emissions to minimal values but somehow removing from the atmosphere the portion of the over 1,000,000 MMT of CO2 emissions added over the last 40 years. If indeed our CO2 emissions are causing grave, perilous global warming consequences, then that ship has sailed and, realistically, there is no recalling it back to port. In light of the vast amounts of CO2 emissions that human activity has already emitted the claim that a drastic reduction in CO2 emissions in the next 12 years would effect a significant change in global warming appears to only be an illusory projection of climate models.  

    Fortunately, empirical temperature data clearly indicate that such a task is not necessary since (1) global warming since 1979 does not indicate an acceleration in rate consistent with a tripling of the amount of human produced CO2 emissions present in the atmosphere and (2) increasing CO2 emissions do not consistently correlate with increasing / decreasing global temperatures over the modern period of record. The empirical evidence shows that the massive quantities of CO2 emissions that have already been introduced into the atmosphere have produced no drastic global warming effects. Global temperatures have marched on at a pace at or only marginally above what had occurred previously occurred. Further based on ice core records global temperatures in our interglacial have not yet reached the peaks evident in earlier global warming and cooling cycles.

    The good news with respect to the global preoccupation with assessing almost every activity in terms of its carbon footprint is that many of the resulting physical actions that have taken place are beneficial on their own accord even if they have no effect on global warming.  These actions include reducing known pollutants from fossil fuel, constructing / manufacturing sustainable products and facilities, developing specific works to address global warming effects (sea level rise) and developing alternative energy sources.

    Thanks for reading this note, Larry Von Thun



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    J Lawrence Von Thun P.E., M.ASCE
    Consulting Engr
    J Lawrence Von Thun
    Lakewood CO
    ------------------------------

    Attachment(s)



  • 5.  RE: Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 05-25-2020 09:48 PM

    Thank you for conducting research and providing me an opportunity to learn, Mr. Von Thun. 

    I often say that the Earth will here in orbit (assuming no collisions with relatively large celestial bodies haha) long after we perish or leave the Earth; therefore, sustainability and resiliency are principles to protect humanity's health, safety, and welfare. Let atmospheric concentrations of water vapor, CO2, NH4, and N20 rise unabated, and the Earth will simply establish a new equilibrium over time. I assume that the new equilibrium will not be hospitable to most ecosystems and will disrupt human activity.  

    We have observed a changing climate through the Earth's billions of years of existence. Climate change is natural. I do not argument against that. In your letter, you mentioned that other effects of the Anthropocene deserve more attention than anthropogenic CO2 mitigation (i.e. waste in the oceans and fossil fuel pollutants). I extend other effects of the Anthropocene to include common resource overexploitation and pollution, fragile geopolitical relationships, inadequate and non-systematic environmental laws/policies/monitoring/enforcement/resolution, damaged and declining biodiversity of ecosystems, an exponentially growing population, and unknown unknowns.

    As you imply, I see harm when fear, instead of progression, is used as motivation to influence behavior change. We should find solutions to ensure our resiliency against the effects of the Anthropocene from a willingness to advance our society rather than a fear of destruction. To me, mitigating anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions is one solution in a portfolio of necessary solutions to make humanity resilient to changes in the world around us, but your analysis makes me questions not the importance of greenhouse gases in global warming but the focus on anthropogenic CO2 mitigation.

    This reminds me of statement's that I have heard flat-earthers make in a discussion with scientists. (I am in NO WAY equating you with flat-earthers).
    They said that NASA and governments are withholding information about the flat earth. To this the scientists said, how would there be such a global conspiracy? Its untenable. 

    Why would there be a global conspiracy to hide the assertion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are negligible driver of global warming?
    I see no purpose in it.

    Thank You for Your Time and Effort,
    Naim



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    Naim Vilabrera A.M.ASCE
    Port Saint Lucie FL
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  • 6.  RE: Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 05-26-2020 09:48 AM
    Dear Von Thun,
    I read your writing with an open mind bearing in mind John Stuart Mill's quote. There is a lot of adopted models that does not explain the actual process, they widely accepted because people who propagate it and have constantly reinforced it with predetermined data.

    I have wondered while nuclear and related ballistic test and detonations have been consciously removed from basic primary source CO2?
    Further, I do not reject the hypothesis that favours the increase in CO2 is proportional to temperature change. But data presented above strongly suggest that CO2 is not the primary cause of rising and fall in global temperature. More research is required and I am happy that you have provided another perspective to guide independent research in questions the reliability of existing acceptable fact.

    Thank you for the information provided on another perspective.

    Ikenna D. Uwanuakwa Aff. M.ASCE
    Civil Engineering Dept.
    Near East University, Turkey


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    Ikenna Uwanuakwa Ph.D., Aff.M.ASCE
    Graduate Assitant
    Near East University
    Nicosia / Trnc
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  • 7.  RE: Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 06-01-2020 09:40 AM

    Naim Vilabrera  - Thank you for your thoughtful response and your open mind on the subject. With respect to your closing comments on a "global conspiracy regarding suppressing the idea that CO2 has a minimal role on global warming" and on you see "no purpose in that", here is my response.

     

    There is no such a global conspiracy. Such a possibility is hardly even considered seriously by the proponents of anthropogenic global warming. However, there was always, and has increasingly been, "purpose" in pushing the converse (i.e. the idea that CO2 has a major / indeed primary role on global warming), by various stakeholders who are invested philosophically, economically, or politically in that idea being true or being believed as true.

     

    I do not consider that there originally was or is now a global conspiracy with respect to promulgating the concept that CO2 emissions are the primary source of the on-going global warming and the corollary that reducing those emissions will control the advance of global warming. These assertions, were (and still are) based on a logical, readily evident theory/hypothesis that rising temperatures correlated with the ever-increasing burning of fossil fuels. This hypothesis was subsequently and relatively rapidly bolstered by the IPCC solicited climate model studies and their assessments. The assertion, in short order, became a common knowledge "fact" as opposed to a hypothesis despite the reality that there had been no rigorous study or concrete evidence developed to verify the hypotheses according to the scientific method – "a problem is identified, relevant data are gathered, a hypothesis is formulated from these data, and the hypothesis is empirically tested".

     

    How did this nearly instantaneous acceptance happen?  It was not advanced by a conspiracy. Rather, it was at the outset of its public awareness debut, circa 1990 and continuing to the present, advanced by conditions and circumstances ripe for its adoption, promotion and opportunistic cultivation. And this is far from the first time that a misconception, endorsed by authorities became "common knowledge" or "conventional wisdom".  In such cases it took years, even decades (and in some cases they have yet to be corrected), to correct a misinterpretation. To paraphrase, "An inflammatory misconception can go around the world, while the truth is putting on its boots." (truthhasitsbootson.com)

     

    When the association of the burning of fossil fuels and the "renewed" global warming began to widely take hold in the 1980's and the theory that the former was causing the latter was officially formulated (UN commissioning of the IPCC) and publicly declared as the case (1st IPCC report 1990) this association/correlation was seen as reasonable, logical and easy to believe (without documented proof) because (1) it was what people were experiencing, and (2) it was what a number of advocacy organizations already believed to be true and they eagerly endorsed and capitalized on this authentication.

     

    With regard to the populous in general, after 32 years of cooler planetary temperatures from 1944 through 1976, (NASA annual global temperature data show that the 1976 global temperature was 0.3oC cooler than the 1944's global temperature), the planet had begun a sharp warming period.  And by 1990, people had experienced (1) rising global temperatures for 14 years, (2) the global oil crises of 1973 and 1979 which brought adverse attention to fossil fuels and (3) increasing interest in alternative energy sources.  Thus, the declaration, circa 1990, that the burning of fossil fuels (CO2 emissions) was the cause of the global warming were readily accepted.  This revelation, which explained why we were having a heat wave (which generally continued until 1998) was repeated over and over and when that is done it tends to become "fact".  Further, as noted, the notion was picked up by and adopted as fact by special interests (e.g. groups pushing alternative energy sources, environmental organizations, anti-fossil fuel lobbies, etc.), whose objectives were furthered if the hypotheses were indeed true. These organizations with specific vested interests in reducing carbon emissions likewise readily reiterated the assertion, further establishing the hypothesis, not as a theory but as fact.

     

    Although not really a conspiracy there was formidable, intentional, pushback from multiple sources against anyone or any group who raised questions or concerns about the attribution of global warming to CO2 emissions.  Those engineers, scientist and climatologists with a differing opinion on the significance of the role of CO2 in global warming were mocked and ridiculed. They were called "deniers" and "skeptics", and were accused of being in the pocket of "big oil". A legitimate debate of the issue was not held. Efforts to present the alternative point of view, largely around consideration of various "natural variability" contributors to climatic variations are in numerous books, scientific articles, websites and have been discussed in organized conferences. These efforts have likewise been condemned, ridiculed, censored and relatively speaking have remained obscured from public awareness. This obscurity has been fostered by the fabricated allegation that 97% of scientists agree with the attribution of global warming to CO2 emissions and that the issue is "settled science".  I became aware of all of the documentation * countering the "conventional wisdom" only after I had personally studied the subject on my own. (e.g. See books by Roy W. Spencer, Gregory Wrightstone, Bruce Bunker and M J Sangster )

     

    As a lifelong environmental advocate, and also as an engineer versed in geology, I was aware of the cyclic nature of glaciation and interglacial periods in the Quaternary period which had occurred as a result of natural variability. Further, being of advanced age, I was aware of climatic events in my lifetime or which I had read about (e.g. the drought and dust bowl in the 1930's) that were as bad or worse than events currently being experienced that were being attributed to CO2 emission driven climate change.  I became deeply concerned, in the interest of the potential adverse impact on environmental consciousness, that if the claims being made turned out to be false that there would be a backlash against the environmental movement that had made great strides since the 1970s. Thus, I decided to check it all out on by own and I studied the subject thoroughly. I read the IPCC assessment reports looking for actual data and findings that supported their conclusions / warnings and I reviewed the historic geologic data, the Ice Core Data, and the modern, recorded empirical data. The latter data review, which not only elucidates that CO2 emissions are not the primary driver of global warming, the evidence in the historical geologic record, the past climate record and the modern (since 1880) temperature record have basically been either discounted or ignored in the considerations of the role of  CO2 emissions on global warming.

     

    My interest in this subject is in getting to and presenting the truth and in getting others to review the actual data for themselves. I am eager to learn if my presentation/evaluation of the data are wrong in any respect so that it can be corrected. Millions of children and adults, suffer the unintended consequence of great distress over the catastrophic pronouncements of the planets demise. Billions of dollars and untold human energy are being spent on futile, untested and unproven efforts to control global warming rather than directing those efforts in direct response to dealing with actual projected effects of global warming (which is being done now to some extent) and dealing with the long recognized pollution from fossil fuels and with other environmental problems (like plastic in the oceans).  

     

    Thus, I thank ASCE once again for providing the opportunity and the venue to allow alternative points of view on this subject to be expressed and discussed among the rank and file of civil engineers.

     

    Respectfully, Larry Von Thun



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    J Lawrence Von Thun P.E., M.ASCE
    Consulting Engr
    J Lawrence Von Thun
    Lakewood CO
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  • 8.  RE: Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 05-27-2020 12:18 PM

    Dear Mr. Von Thun,

    Studies and reports published by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP, globalchange.gov), have arrived at a much different set of conclusions than you have regarding climate change.  For credentials, the USCGRP is a "...Federal program mandated by Congress to coordinate Federal research and investments in understanding the forces shaping the global environment, both human and natural, and their impacts on society",   USGCRP is supported by 13 Federal member agencies to advance understanding of the changing Earth system and maximize efficiencies in Federal global change research.  USGCRP's findings are in line with those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  Both organizations are staffed with and use the work of competent climate scientists.  Also, their work is not just peer reviewed, but intensely scrutinized, knowing the importance of the resulting conclusions and their impacts on key decisions.  Government organizations using those conclusions include NASA and NOAA, organizations with critical climate-related missions.  Their success in those missions depends to a large degree on the reliability of our current understanding of the Earth's climate.

    Clearly engineers, especially those working in the built environment, need to be skeptical about the information they use, since they are responsible for protecting public health, safety and welfare.  The research and conclusion you’ve presented - that carbon dioxide isn't the major driver for global warming - is at odds with the most current conclusions by the organizations cited above.  You then rationalize that if carbon dioxide is not a major driver, then it shouldn't be taxed, i.e., create economic penalties for people and organizations generating carbon dioxide.  This implies that increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not a problem, so we as a society can burn fossil fuels for heat and power to its heart's content.  This is in stark contrast to the warnings of the IPCC in their 2018 Special Report:  if the world's nations do not reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 and keep warming below 1.5C, the devastation from extreme weather events will increase substantially.  It seems to me that these projections should be taken by practicing engineers as a really loud alarm bell, warning of the danger to the public if they don't seek alternatives to fossil energy sources. (See Canon 1)

    Experienced engineers are not (usually) climate scientists, and we should not be contradicting the work of expert organizations in climate science if it is outside our areas of practice. We pledge in the ASCE Code of Ethics, Canon 2 to “perform engineering assignments only when qualified by education or experience.” While your opinions on global warming and climate are not classed as engineering services, I think, unless engineers can show otherwise, they are outside our field of practice.  I know they are outside my areas of competence, but I tend to read and follow closely the scientific content and conclusions provided by the credible institutions that the U.S. and other nations have established to provide this sort of advice.  I believe that's what engineers are supposed to do.



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    Bill Wallace ENV-SP, F.ASCE
    Wilsonville, Oregon
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  • 9.  RE: Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 06-02-2020 02:51 PM

    This topic (along with many others, posted under different topic headlines) is important and has rightly caught attentions of many – especially after JL Von Thun's long discussion piece. Carefully laid out, it is provocative enough to have generated thought processes – despite the fact that one may not agree with all aspects of it. I have discussed this issue, under similar topic headlines for number of times. Thought of adding a different but general rationale to it:

    • Perhaps a brief look into the philosophical fundamentals of Absolutism and Relativism is useful. Absolutism – look at things from a single perspective – advocating the existence of a single right answer for a certain issue – that claims to transcend geographical boundaries, culture and time. The idea has led to the justification for concentration of powers on single entities or systems such as monarchy and dictatorship. It has long been abandoned by evolving societies – giving birth to the necessity for rationalization, empiricism and multiplicity – by encouraging the exploration, interpretation and inclusion of ideas from different perspectives. And when different perspectives are given a role to play – there flowers various aspects of relativistic ideas.

    • On another breath, one can look at things from the perspectives of common human inclinations toward accepting established norms, ideas and findings. This happened with PS Laplace (1749 – 1827), who was so convinced of the powerful deterministic paradigm of Newtonian (Isaac Newton, 1642 – 1727) physics that – it led him to declare that determinism is sound and solid, and is the only method needed to solve any of world's problems including social relations. Despite declaration from such a renowned French scientist, frontiers of science did not stop questioning conventional wisdom – while at the same time looking for breakthroughs.

    • Perhaps a line from Socrates (469 – 399 BCE) may appear illuminating. He said: I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing. This is a philosophical statement developed out of deep realization – neither practical nor useful in the mundane hustle-bustle of daily lives and economic processes. Philosophers tend to see the world differently sometimes beyond ordinary comprehension – but something a society looks upon to move forward in the right direction. Scientists and engineers – for that matter any investigator, who explores deep into something, comes across this type of feeling nonetheless – the feeling that there appear more questions than definitive answers. This implies that our scientific knowledge is only perfect to the extent of a workable explanation or solution supported by assumptions and approximations – but in reality suffers from transience embedded with uncertainties.



    ------------------------------
    Dr. Dilip Barua, Ph.D, P.Eng, M. ASCE
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Website: https://widecanvas.weebly.com
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 06-03-2020 03:37 PM
    I appreciate the philosophical approach.  When we encounter such complex problems, we need to go back to the root of the scientific method.


    Much of my opinion on the matter stems from the novel "State of Fear" by Michael Crichton.  Let's be clear, it is a novel and Crichton's research aligns with that which is presented here and has been questioned.  Crichton was branded as a climate change denier, while the author notes in the book do not reflect this at all.  Of all his notes, I think one is most applicable to this conversation:

    "Before making expensive policy decisions on the basis of climate models, I think it is reasonable that those models predict future temperatures accurately for a period of ten years.  Twenty would be better."

    The book was written in 2004 and I am not aware of such a model.  If one exists it is not cited by ASCE.

    Engineers are bound by the code of ethics to protect the environment, but without a sound basis we will bid ourselves right out of work.  You do not need to accept the science presented in the novel to hear its message (it's in the title) policy decisions should never be based on fear.


    ------------------------------
    Chad Morrison P.E., M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 06-08-2020 12:26 PM

    Dear Mr. Wallace

    Thank you for responding to my post intended to call attention to the evidence from empirical data showing that CO2 is not the primary driver of the on-going global warming.  I get your points that: (1) There are literally hundreds of peer reviewed papers on the model studies and associated reports that have been done providing interpretations/ predictions based on those studies by credentialed climate scientists / researchers and organizations presenting the opposite conclusion and therefore, (2) I should accept what these individuals and organizations are presenting because they are immensely more qualified than I am on the subject (of climate models and the input parameters to those models).

    I also noted that you said that when I explain how the data on the relationship of CO2 to global temperatures show that CO2 is not the primary driver of global warming, that I am implying that "we as a society can burn fossil fuels for heat and power to its heart's content". Such is not my implication at all. As I often point out in my comments and in my papers, my initial quest for answers to determine whether or not CO2 was driving global warming was due to my concern that attention to such things as awareness of the "millions of tons of nitrous oxide, sulfur oxide, carbon monoxide, and particulate emissions from the burning  of fossil fuels was being diverted and would be lost due to all the attention on Carbon Dioxide".

    Now with regard to your main point in both your responses to my posts, which was "just accept what is being said by the organizations and experts who are putting out the authoritative projections and warnings", I would like to rebut such advice and directive with just two of the many lines of reasoning that I could present refuting such advice.

    1. I consider and accept that the climate models, studies, and reports being solicited by and used by the various IPCC working groups to develop their understandings/ projections and recommendations are earnestly and rigorously carried out by their authors/modelers, and are adequately checked and peer reviewed. The selection of the climate models to be used and the parameters used in the climate models, the characteristics and idiosyncrasies of each of those variables, the interrelationships and feedbacks between the parameters and their weighting must be an extremely involved process. The process is inherently subjective and each investigator's background, training and knowledge impacts the inputs and thus the output / results of the models and their future forecasts.  The uncertainty of the process is reflected in the wide range of forecasted future temperature graphs provided by the various investigators (e.g. IPCC 5th report –Figure 1 in my first ASCE Collaborate response – 3rd item in the chain).  Other than reading about the nature / complexity of the various inputs to these models I have no knowledge or expertise to prepare or evaluate them.  The working groups of IPCC and the IPCC principals are then left with the unenviable and challenging task of collating and assessing all the disparate results into future global warming temperature forecasts, which are likewise subjective as they weigh the relative merits of the contributory models and their authors defense of their rationale and results.

     

    However, in sum, I consider that this "climate modeling" approach, which is fraught with uncertainty" is being used as best it can be to achieve the IPCC charge of "determining the extent of the effects of human activity on climate".  This modeling approach has been built on and used by the IPCC since its inception in 1988 but, it should be recognized that their approach represents just one possible approach to characterizing / examining / forecasting what will happen in the coming years. The ladder for the IPCC approach is leaning against the wall with the premise that says: "On the basis of climate modeling, we (the IPCC) can predict what the future holds with respect to global warming by inputting into these climate models what various climate scientists believe is the relative effect of numerous parameters of in which our key study variable is the level of CO2 emissions."

    This is very challenging and complex work that takes a great deal of knowledge and understanding of climate variables.  But is the ladder which they have been resolutely climbing on now for 32 years, leaning against the right wall?

     

    The empirical approach puts the ladder against the wall that says:  Do the available data show that the rate of global warming increases due to an increase in the rate  of carbon dioxide emissions and does the rate of global warming accelerate as more and more carbon dioxide from these emissions continues to build in the atmosphere.  Such a straightforward analysis/evaluation of tabular and graphical data is the approach I used and is well within my capabilities and those of civil engineers who choose to examine and evaluate the raw data on their own. Thus, allowing all to draw their own conclusions as to what the data show.

     

    My investigative case of the empirical data evaluation of the NASA temperature data would have been quickly closed had the data shown: (1) that global warming significantly/measurably increased with the accelerated rate of CO2 emissions post 1944 (the annual CO2 emissions quadruped between 1944 and 1978) and/or (2) had shown a definite increased warming rate during the 1978 to 1998 period (after substantial CO2 emissions had accumulated in the atmosphere and annual CO2 emissions had continued at an accelerated rate) over a comparable earlier period of warming between 1917 and 1944 prior to any significant CO2 emissions influence,  --- then the empirical review of data would have been consistent with the anthropogenic warming hypothesis and in the simplest form a future warming trend could have been estimated using a linear or non-linear extrapolation of the available data as a function of the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere.  In actuality neither of those tests for correlation / causation were met.  Global temperatures were actually cooler rather than warmer during the 4-fold increase in CO2 emissions from 1944 to 1978 and the rate of global warming from 1917 to 1944 essentially matched that from 1978 -1998.  In the face of these unequivocal facts taken from the actual data (with no pre-judgment or interpretations), my accepting the premise that CO2 emissions are driving the global warming would clearly not be logical or reasonable.

     

    The empirical data evaluation approach used, as opposed to the UN / IPCC approach, does not start out with the conclusion that CO2 is causing an increased global warming effect and use it as a key driving (forcing) parameter in the models to determine how great the future effects may be.  

    I am putting my examinations of the data and facts out for other civil engineers to see, evaluate and let me know if I have erred or have a misunderstanding in presenting the data. To just accept what clearly appears to be in conflict with the data (obtained from NASA and reputable bodies tracking CO2 emissions), would be foolish and irresponsible. What I am looking for is confirmation or correction of my understanding of the available data, facts and information rather than just admonition for presenting data and their implication on the issue.

        

    1. The second major assertion being made by the IPCC and that is being generally accepted with no real proof and little understanding of the facts and of reality of the CO2 emissions situation is that reducing worldwide CO2 emissions will significantly "control / reduce" the amount of global warming. A recent (2018) IPCC report implies improbable precision in their ability to predict future global temperatures as a function of CO2 The report asserts that we (the world) must not increase global temperatures by more than another 0.5oC over pre industrial levels between now and 2050 and that we now have only 10 years to get the changes in place or we are headed to planetary catastrophe. To keep the global temp rise to 0.5oC, they state fossil fuel use will have to decrease from supplying 80% of energy needs now to zero by 2050.  There are significant practical, technical and sociological problems with the basic claim, with the efficacy of the proposed solution and with adverse, unintended consequences generated by their various predictions and warnings.

     

    • With respect to the basic claim that reducing worldwide CO2 emissions will significantly "control / reduce" the amount of global warming, while there may be theoretical constructs to indicate this, there are no empirical data or measurements to show that reducing CO2 emissions will measurably reduce global warming or to quantify what the effect might be. This is because during the period of modern record keeping/estimating of global temperatures, (circa 1880), CO2 emissions have always been increasing and very significantly increasing since 1944. Thus, it has been impossible to test, on our planet, whether or not there is any measurable/detectable effect of a reduction of CO2 within the noise/variation of natural global temperature variability. Since it is established that CO2 is a minor greenhouse gas, it is known that there would be some effect from increased atmospheric CO2 but whether or not the CO2 effect is detectable within the natural variability of global temperature is not known. Although CO2 emissions have been increasing during the modern period of record, paradoxically, global temperatures have not. Between 1944 and 1976 global temperatures decreased 3oC while annual CO2 emissions increased from 5,000 MMT (Million Metric Tons) to 20,000 MMT. During the entire period the annual global temperatures were cooler than that recorded in 1944. So, the only empirical data that can shed light on the question of whether or not reducing CO2 can reduce global temperatures exists in a case where temperatures decreased as CO2 emissions increased both annually and cumulatively over an extended period of time. The data for this case counters, rather than supports, the basic claim that reducing CO2 emissions will reduce global warming. While the reverse effect observed is certainly not being suggested as the purported effect of CO2 , it does demonstrate the large fluctuations and variations in global temperature produced as a result of natural variability as well as the lack of a dominating/controlling response due to significantly increased CO2 emissions .

     

    • The recommendations/directives given by the IPCC are of course intended to induce action to address the concerns evident in their findings and conclusions. As a practical matter they convey messages of hope (something can be done) and fear (planetary collapse if not enough is done.  A rational examination of the actual data on the quantity of CO2 emissions already released, being released and projected to be released juxtaposed with the contention that CO2 emissions drove/initiated the increase in global warming beginning experienced illustrates that the claim that reducing emissions will substantially and successfully reduce/control/limit global warming is not reasonable or realistic. This claim sets up an idealistic hope on which millions of people are counting on and working towards.

    Here are the relevant facts that put the effect of reducing emissions into perspective:

     

    Neglecting the relatively small cumulative CO2 emissions prior to 1917, one can calculate that by 1979 (about the time when the planet emerged from a long cooling period) and headed into a relatively steep warming period, there was a cumulative amount about 400,000 MMT of CO2 emitted. According to the IPCC anthropogenic global warming hypothesis by 1979 CO2 emissions were primarily responsible for global warming.  CO2 emissions added in 1979 were 20,000 MMT and despite  the IPCC cautions beginning in 1990 that CO2 emissions would need to be reduced and despite  essentially no annual increase in emissions from the United States and the European Union after 1995, the worldwide COemissions continued to increase unabated such that CO2 emissions now stand at about 33,000 MMT annually.  But most importantly the total, cumulative CO2 emissions which enter the atmosphere (40-60%) atmosphere are there for a long time (over 100 years) and ostensibly drive global warming rose from 400,000 MMT in 1979 to about 1,500,000 MMT in 2018. The point is that the applicable portion of all these CO2 emissions are already now residing in the atmosphere making whatever their true contribution to global warming is and this leads to 3 observations.

    (1) If indeed the amount of CO2 emitted last century (e.g. by 1979) was adequate to put CO2 in control as the primary driver of global warming then ostensibly to depose CO2 from global warming control would not only require eliminating additional CO2 emissions by 2050 but also removing the massive amount of excess CO2 in the atmosphere to at least the 1979 level.  (2) by 1998 the cumulative CO2 emissions had reached around 864,000 MMT more than twice the amount released by the late 70's when the steep warming period up to 1998 began that is theoretically linked to CO2 emissions had initiated, if the CO2 emissions theory of it being responsible for the advance in global warming were indeed true, then the great increase in the cumulative emissions from 1979 to 1998 would portend not only a continuation of the global warming rate but an acceleration of the global warming.  That was not the case, global temperatures actually fell between 1998 and 2013 by -0.06oC, (NASA Land -Ocean record), and global temperatures fell between 1998 and 2015 by -0.3oC, (UAH satellite data). (3) the current IPCC recommendation calls for elimination of CO2 emissions by 2050. If that goal were indeed able to be accomplished (assuming a uniform rate of reduction), there would be an additional, 500,000 MMT of CO2 emissions by that time bringing the total emitted since 1979 to about 1,600,000 MMT or about 4 times the amount that theoretically produced the anthropogenic effect.  These cumulative numbers are so great that it is beyond comprehension that it would be possible to restore the atmospheric CO2 to a point where CO2 "theoretically" no longer drives global warming.  It also seems beyond comprehension that it is possible with all the uncertainty inherent in climate modeling and the lack of any definitive data on the actual global temperature effect from reducing atmospheric CO2 to discern the timing and specific effects of reducing our current CO2 emissions in light of the massive amounts that are already emitted.    All of the above is not to say that we should not reduce fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions as there are many good reasons to do that as I have previously discussed but the claims of the ability to effect significant change on global warming appear unrealistic.   

     

     

     

    Thus, being aware of and being faced with data and facts that are: inconsistent with the conclusions drawn by the IPCC on the degree of the role of CO2 on global warming, and having not seen these data and facts taken into consideration or accounted for, I considered that it is appropriate and responsible for me to point them out and present an alternative way to look at the global warming situation.

    Thank you for considering this explanation in response to your concern.  Larry Von Thun



    ------------------------------
    J Lawrence Von Thun P.E., M.ASCE
    Consulting Engr
    J Lawrence Von Thun
    Lakewood CO
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 06-09-2020 08:48 AM
    I consider and accept that the climate models, studies, and reports being solicited by and used by the various IPCC working groups to develop their understandings/ projections and recommendations are earnestly and rigorously carried out by their authors/modelers, and are adequately checked and peer reviewed. The selection of the climate models to be used and the parameters used in the climate models, the characteristics and idiosyncrasies of each of those variables, the interrelationships and feedbacks between the parameters and their weighting must be an extremely involved process. The process is inherently subjective and each investigator's background, training and knowledge impacts the inputs and thus the output / results of the models and their future forecasts.  The uncertainty of the process is reflected in the wide range of forecasted future temperature graphs provided by the various investigators (e.g. IPCC 5th report –Figure 1 in my first ASCE Collaborate response – 3rd item in the chain).  Other than reading about the nature / complexity of the various inputs to these models I have no knowledge or expertise to prepare or evaluate them.  The working groups of IPCC and the IPCC principals are then left with the unenviable and challenging task of collating and assessing all the disparate results into future global warming temperature forecasts, which are likewise subjective as they weigh the relative merits of the contributory models and their authors defense of their rationale and results.

    You keep on saying it is subjective, yet also say the data is adequately checked and peer reviewed. How can it be both? And even so, if these investigators are the "authoritative experts" then who is in a better position to give results that are contrary to theirs?


    ------------------------------
    Yance Marti P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer IV
    City of Milwaukee
    Milwaukee WI
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  • 13.  RE: Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 06-09-2020 05:36 PM
      |   view attached
    Mr. Marti - Thank you for your response and inquiry. It is a great question I will be happy to clarify that point. Models inherently allow variation in the values of the parameters to be used as inputs in order to test the sensitivity and effects of the various parameters and to allow "tuning" * the model to match know realities. Thus, models  by their very purpose and nature allow the users / analysts to use their judgment, knowledge, and experience to "subjectively" select the magnitudes/relative influences of the input parameters that contribute to the model results. Use of predictive models, such as climate models, not only require inputting the characteristics of each input parameter (i.e how it influences the outcome), but also have the additional capabilities/challenges of weighting the relative impact of each parameter and, if they believe, applicable defining the non-liner interrelationships of various parameters. In addition to these complications the analyst must select/devise a model that conforms to their theory of planetary climate development.  All of these selections are "subject to" the analysts judgment, knowledge, and experience as well as advice and influences they make take from others. These choices are clearly subjective. Never the less the inputs can be checked for accuracy (are the intended values correctly input), and peer reviewed (for reason-ability and/or being in accordance with others in the field are using).  The clear, practical evidence of the subjectivity inherent in the climate modes is the wide deviation in the predictive results (see attached file), as I have pointed out in my paper and in previous posts.   With regard to your question concerning authoritative experts, i.e.: "who then is in a better position to give results contrary to theirs, my answer is not "who is" but "what is"  and that answer is: the raw data supplied by empirical evidence, which is what I am providing for others to review and evaluate.  Thank you for the opportunity to clarify the point you raised.
    Regards, Larry Von Thun

    *Note: The models referenced in the IPCCs 5th Assessment report were apparently tuned/calibrated for or within the years incorporating the reality of a significant warming period in the temperature record (post 1979), it would be interesting to know if any of the analysts have attempted to calibrate their models with the temperature record back to 1944 (incorporating then period where temperatures declined and CO2 quadrupled beteen 1944 and 1979) or even back to 1880.


    ------------------------------
    J Lawrence Von Thun P.E., M.ASCE
    Consulting Engr
    J Lawrence Von Thun
    Lakewood CO
    ------------------------------

    Attachment(s)



  • 14.  RE: Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 06-10-2020 07:09 PM

    With neither agreeing with some of what JL Von Thun elaborated nor denying some arguments from the other side of the coin, it is safe to say – as ancient wisdoms suggest – that unless one is present or is directly involved, one cannot be certain of things. But one cannot be involved in everything – therefore we accept things conveyed to us through others' lenses – in that case we justify them by saying or thinking: to the best of my knowledge or judgment, etc. With this brief, I am tempted to add the following to the interesting discussion:

    • Climate/environmental sciences are a conglomerate of other basic sciences such as: Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Mathematics – as well as of Geosciences and a non-deterministic science of numbers: Statistics/Probabilities (see The World of Numbers and Chances). Climate/environmental scientists rely mostly on observations, therefore heavily on the science of numbers. On a global climate scenario, the interactions of Earth's Fluid, Solid and Life Systems of different scales and energies are bound to be highly complex, together with the reality that Earth is a net receiver of solar energy and its processes are affected by what happens in our galaxy.

    • Climate/environmental scientists also depend on models – statistical/probabilistic, and on mathematical models – the solutions of which are made on the paradigm of numerical models. A numerical model is a soft tool – its capability is great (my own experience of water modeling in coastal environments tells me that; see Water Modeling), but one is always required to be mindful of its limitations and constraints. Model uncertainties can result from at least 8 different sources: (1) representitiveness (difference between the real and the modeled situations), (2) empiricism (weak relations embedded into the model formulation), (3) discretization of the continuum (unavoidable but minimizable; for a global scale model this task becomes difficult to accomplish in desirable resolutions), (4) iteration to convergence (when the solution residuals could not be completely eliminated), (5) rounding-off (when machine calculation rounds-off up to certain digits), (6) application (use of erroneous or questionable data in developing and running the model), (7) modeler (when the modeler has poor understanding of the processes he or she is modeling, and of the model theoretical basics), (8) and the numerical code (codes contain thousands of lines and subroutines, therefore it is not unlikely that inadvertent errors could creep in).

    • How soft is a model as a tool? The answer to this question knocks on our door each time we see the differences in hurricane forecasts brought in by media outlets – displayed in the form spaghetti tracks. But the performance of a model is continually improving and getting robust. For example, if one compares the model results of the same event – the outcomes of present efforts are more accurate and reliable than those in the past.

    • We, as civil engineers mostly see things through the lens of physics – as well as of the science of numbers. Our works are also highly dependent on mathematical/numerical modeling efforts.

    • A few words on subjectivity – or the observer-observed relationship. Let us consider a simple example from our own experience. When we are angry for some reasons, we may see (let us say) the behavior of a person in disgust. The same person may appear different when our mind is calm or loving. Therefore, the subjectivity is there even if we witness things ourselves, or are directly involved – because our lenses are not always clear or transparent. Interestingly at a fundamental level, Quantum Mechanics (see The Quantum World) supports/verifies such observer-observed relationships {e.g. the Copenhagen Interpretation by NHD Bohr (1885 – 1962) and WK Heisenberg (1901 – 1976)}.

    • This leads us to conclude that individual observations of climate parameters may not be free from subjectivity. But when many years of observations from around the globe point fingers to the same trend, then the observations become an undeniable fact (despite with some degree of uncertainty).

    • The question therefore is whether or not the warming trend is natural, or due to human actions/interventions. I am of the opinion (see Warming Climate and Entropy) that both the factors have a role – in their own way. The human actions are real and noticeable – and perhaps exceeded the reversible capacity of the Earth. These actions are: in the net energy addition into the Earth-Sun energy balance by fossil fuel burning, and in changing the Fluid System composition (resulting in the enhanced trapping of atmospheric radiation by high concentration of Green House Gases like CO2). The natural trend (including carbon sinks and sources) is also real and hard to miss if one examines the present as well as the paleoclimatic (including the Holocene) cycles and trends. It is not unlikely that the trend and cyclic variations are so subtle – in contexts of their long time-scales and magnitudes – that to climate scientists' characterization they appear as outliers or scatters.

    • Considering all these, one could dare to say that human-induced causes are an exacerbating factor (to the extent of jeopardizing the Earth's reversible capacity) – not the sole cause. This answer should not deter us to act, however. One important reason is that over thousands of years of evolution – and our way of livelihood (especially during the past two centuries or so) – have made us very vulnerable to the exceedence of the narrow thresholds we got used to.



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    Dr. Dilip Barua, Ph.D, P.Eng, M. ASCE
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Website: https://widecanvas.weebly.com
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 06-09-2020 03:01 PM

    To quote Neil DeGrasse Tyson, "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."  When one sets out to prove something, and fit the data to reach their conclusion (confirmation bias), then the conclusion has violated the scientific method.  I understand you claim that's what was done with the climate change models.  But, these models have been scrutinized by the leading climate change experts.

    I normally ignore these posts.  It's exhausting beating to death established science to anyone that's not going to change their position no matter what.  But, I feel the need to weigh in. What's the worst case scenario here?   We invest in a greener future spawning thousands if not millions of engineering jobs.  We get a cleaner environment: air and water.  We reduce and eliminate our dependence on foreign powers.  We prevent wars fought over resources.  We make new discoveries along the way that benefit mankind in ways we can't begin to imagine yet.  Is that the horrible outcome we seek to prevent by ignoring emissions from CO2?

    New avenues of science cost money, but ultimately save money.  Most of these costs could be offset by eliminating or at the very least reducing subsidies to oil and gas industries.  If paying a little more now means that future generations don't have to worry about resources like we do AND they get cleaner air and water then it's worth it.  As a Cub Scout we were taught to leave places better than we found it, not worse.  The planet is no different.  The reality is this:  Doing nothing has the potential to be far too costly.

    Doing nothing WILL lead to great loss of life.  Not just for humanity but all life on earth.  As natural disasters beat down more relentlessly millions will be displaced.  Where will they go?  How will we feed them on decreasing land in harsher weather?  This is a future I fully anticipate to watch in my lifetime if we continue to do nothing.  It's not acceptable.  It's not a world I can responsibly bring children into.  I will not entertain these squabbles over facts as time runs out.

    The best time to act was decades ago, the second best time to act is now.



    ------------------------------
    James Smith P.E., M.ASCE
    Project Engineer
    Bergmann
    Grand Rapids MI
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 07-24-2020 12:50 PM

    Dear Mr. Smith - Thank you for your comments and input to the discussion.

    The bright side of your response to the information I have posted on the empirical data relationship between global temperatures and CO2 emissions, is that we agree that there are positive side benefits that can result  from the widespread acceptance of the theory that CO2 emissions are the primary cause of the global warming being experienced.  In my initial discussions with ASCE Magazine editor Laurie Schuster about posting my data on the subject, I mentioned that  "The good news with respect to the global preoccupation with assessing almost every activity in terms of its carbon footprint is that many of the resulting physical actions that have taken place are beneficial on their own accord even if CO2 has little effect on global warming.  These side benefits include reducing the known pollutants from fossil fuel burning, constructing / manufacturing sustainable products and facilities, developing specific works to address global warming effects (e.g. sea level rise) and developing alternative energy sources." Laurie agreed and said that point should be made, thus I included it and thank you for reiterating that reality.  

    Please note that I do not consider and did not purposely try to convey the idea that the IPCC set out to "fit the data to reach their conclusion". My understanding is that the IPCC leadership primarily used /uses studies, reports and information solicited from various providers to fulfill their charge from the United Nations and the World Meteorological Association, which was to "determine the degree of impact human activity had on climate change”. As you point out, these providers may or may not have had confirmation bias and also perhaps “acceptance” bias, i.e. providing what they believed the IPCC was seeking. The IPCC themselves may have enthusiastically received and readily used such “mission confirming” inputs that facilitated the accomplishment of their charge, but that would only be logical not purposely deceptive.  Notwithstanding, I think understanding the nature of the charge to the IPCC and understanding the IPCC approach in obtaining input is instructive for understanding and evaluating the results the IPCC presents. 

    I revere and endorse science and the scientific method.  But “science”, the way the term is now commonly used, covers a wide range of approaches, disciplines and methods (and even opinions from experts in a scientific field). Traditionally, science means using the scientific method which involves (posing a question – doing research – forming a hypothesis – experimenting to test the hypothesis – evaluating results and modifying the hypothesis as necessary and then drawing conclusions).  The science around the CO2 global warming culpability hypothesis followed the scientific method up to the “testing and experiment step”. Then that step was replaced /fulfilled by the IPCC via the use of climate modeling. True testing of this hypothesis is limited to what can be done using empirical data. Thus, the IPCC “science”, in the absence of any testing or experimenting to /verify the hypothesis, does not follow the traditional understanding of the scientific method. However, in terms of the broad, now accepted definition of science, what the IPCC has done and continues to do can certainly be considered science.

     

    The lack of testing / verification of the hypothesis, as well as the remedy, is an extremely important factor in accepting the veracity of the hypothesis as “settled science”. The IPCC positions that (1) CO2 emissions are primarily responsible for the global warming being experienced and (2) cutting CO2 emissions will significantly reduce the rate of global warming, both lack physical/observational verification. This “testing deficiency” is understandable because of the planetary scale of the issue and because no modern period of record with reduced CO2 emissions exists to examine / verify the effect of their reduction. I just point out that neither the IPCC nor any other entity has truly fulfilled the scientific method step of testing / experiment. The products of peer reviewed model studies do not constitute "settled science" or "established" science. There is way too much uncertainty in the method and the output to qualify for such designations. The empirical approach does allow the scientific method step of testing of the hypothesis via juxtaposition of the data on CO2 emissions vs global temperatures back to 1880. Further, that relationship can continued to be tested.

     Finally, you raised the very good question of "What's the worst case scenario here?", and then gave some "best case scenarios" that assumed CO2 emissions were eliminated and that curtailed global warming. But the "worst case scenarios here" are either already here or are being fomented. The worst case, that I originally envisioned was the sacrificing of environmental consciousness efforts on other environmental concerns on the altar of "attention to your carbon footprint". To, a great extent that has happened but it pales in comparison to two other effects / unintentional consequences that have arisen. The distress / worry / fear / depression / despondency and potential disillusionment that is being foisted on people, especially on millions of young people, who are told and believe the planetary doomsday forecasts are valid and who see so little being done. and 2. The potential development and implementation of draconian governmental policies, based on no real evidence of efficacy, that will alter our way of life and freedoms and potentially have disastrous economic effects.

    I am seeking the truth on this issue and am simply asking those who take the time to review the data and information I have put together (that uses empirical data to illustrate that CO2 emissions are not significantly driving global warming) to show or suggest how my analysis is correct or incorrect. 

    Thank You for reading my response to the points you made and the questions you raised.  Larry Von Thun

    ------------------------------
    J Lawrence Von Thun P.E., M.ASCE
    Consulting Engr
    J Lawrence Von Thun
    Lakewood CO
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 06-03-2020 03:06 PM
    I appreciate that you have compiled a lengthy summary of information on this topic. It should be noted, though, that the arguments presented have been thoroughly rebutted by scientific papers. Please read through the excellent summaries at skepticalscience.com (which relies on and cites scientific papers throughout) to claims like 'climate's changed before' or 'Increasing CO2 has little to no effect' or 'There's no correlation between CO2 and temperature.'


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    Edwin Maurer Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
    Professor
    Santa Clara University
    Santa Clara CA
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  • 18.  RE: Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 06-04-2020 08:55 AM
      |   view attached
    It would be highly unethical and damaging for ASCE to go against the currently accepted theories put forth by respected climate scientists who base their ideas on mounds of research and empirical data. That's not to say you don't have the freedom to believe what you want, personally.

    As an example, I want to point you to this article that was printed in a local newspaper back in November 1913. It was in reference to a political fight going on at the time relating to the "smoke nuisance." The smoke nuisance was the problem from industries and power plants not filtering their smoke before it was expelled from smokestacks into the air. Today, there would be just one word for that practice - "ick." Any firefighter will tell you that not all smoke is equal and they make an attempt to find any chemicals that may be in a burning building before they start fighting the fire. By the 1970's there was enough scientific evidence about the ill-effects of air pollution that the EPA had to enforce many industrial regulations to protect the health of the public. It is very damaging to try and convince people that something is not dangerous based on a faulty premise like, "I burn wood every day in a fireplace and never get sick, therefore smoke is not injurious to health," or even any similar argument.

    ASCE needs to focus on the need for civil engineers to design and build infrastructure that resists the real effects of climate change, whether it is natural or man-made. We also need to focus on procedures and systems that do not add to global or local environmental problems.

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    Yance Marti P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer IV
    City of Milwaukee
    Milwaukee WI
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  • 19.  RE: Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 06-07-2020 09:30 AM
    SkepticalScience.com is nothing more than a classic study in Strawman Fallacies.  Their rebuttal to "Climate has changed before" is tautological by saying that climate just reacts and now it's being "forced" by CO2.  However, I'm not aware that this is being made as an argument on the scientific merits anyway.  Their rebuttal to "There's no consensus" merely points out that there is a consensus that a vast majority agree that humans are influencing the climate.  There are two problems with this.  First, even the skeptics agree that anthropogenic CO2 adds to Earth's Greenhouse Effect, whether the effect is negligible or not.  So like strawmen, they're attacking a made up notion.  Second, the scientific method relies on an independently testable hypothesis and falsifiable results.  Computer model predictions of climate conditions 80 years from now are neither testable nor falsifiable.  The scientific method does not rely on a supposed majority of popular opinion, no matter how convincing it may sound to some.  Their rebuttal to Climate Sensitivity completely ignores research and empirical findings conducted by Craig Idso, referring back to IPCC model results instead, another tautology.

    Having said this, the simple arguments being made on both sides of this issue detract from the greater endeavor of learning more about the climate system and being more informed as to how life on earth interacts with it.  Engineers should remain skeptical, like all good scientists, and at the same time be open to cost effective and forward thinking solutions that will endure over time.


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    Daniel Dovey P.E., M.ASCE
    Senior Engineer
    King County Dept Of Transp
    Bellevue WA
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  • 20.  RE: Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 08-04-2020 01:02 PM

    Dr. Mauer - Thank you for your response and your suggestion to read the rebuttals provided by Skeptical Science with regard to questions raised about the veracity of the hypothesis that CO2 is primarily responsible for the current global warming. I took your advice and reviewed the current rebuttals by Skeptical Science to comments or points of view that they refer to as Climate Myths, which are raised questioning anthropogenic global warming. As I have been attentive to the question of anthropogenic global warming for many years, and have thus been reading the pro and con articles and arguments I am very familiar with the very prominent internet sites “Skeptical Science” (founded in 2007) and their foil “Watts Up With That?” (founded in 2006). The authors contributing to these sites as well as many other individuals and organizations have presented alternative viewpoints and rationale in books and articles on the many issues surrounding the question of the degree to which there is anthropogenic global warming.

    In recent years, as I examined various global warming related debates on various issues, I would generally read the specific Skeptical Science viewpoint along with those countering their point of view.  But based on your suggestion, I visited the site and read the rebuttals for the top ten “climate myths” and then reviewed the content of full site.  The site fulfills its purpose very well in that it provides Anthropogenic Global Warming proponents with either a “basic level” or “intermediate level” rebuttal of the counter point being made. 

    I found it rather remarkable that the site identifies and provides rebuttals for 194 so called “climate myths”. It is not as remarkable that a rebuttal can be formulated for each point made but that there were 194 of them to make.  Many of the 194 points addressed are thoughts or ideas (not climate myths) that legitimately come to mind to other scientists, engineers, geologists, climatologists or just people with an inquiring mind that raise questions about what they are hearing or being told that does not seem to make sense based on their own experiencing, knowledge or training. The fact that 194 such thoughts/ideas are raised about the issue belies the narrative that Anthropogenic Global Warming is a settled issue. Further, along that line of thinking, the Skeptical Science contributors generally provide their rebuttal without presenting/debating the merits of the alternative point of view.  However, to its credit, the site maintains the discussion contributions which are typically point-counter point on the issue.  Again, remarkably, this record of the discussions illustrates a continuing, vigorous debate of the many sub-issues related to the assertion of Anthropogenic Global Warming.  For example, Skeptical Science indicates that the number 1 most used “Climate Myth” is “Climate’s changed before”.  There are 826 discussion contributions on this topic spanning from 2007 to 2020.  Many of the contributions are technical in nature in which supporting evidence and/or arguments for one side or the other of the issue are presented and then countered or debated.

    In looking at the big picture of “defending” CO2 induced Anthropogenic Global Warming, which is what Skeptical Science does, I consider that because there are so many factors that affect climate and because the evidence of what the climatic and atmospheric conditions were throughout geologic time are inferred, the position taken by each person is based on which pieces of evidence or information they place the greatest weight.  Thus, with so many variables to work with and combine it is not a problem for knowledgeable persons in the field to formulate a very convincing and “science” based argument that counters or rebuts an alternate “science based” point of view. 

    I examined the topics to which a rebuttal was by provided Skeptical Science that relate to the points that I have presented in my data analysis that shows CO2 emissions are not the primary cause of the global warming currently being experienced. There were no rebuttals that deal specifically with the three key pieces of evidence that I discuss, however there are three rebuttals that are generally related to CO2’s role and that I cover in my analysis, they are:, rebuttal number 1, (climates changed before), number 12 ( CO2 lags temperature) and number 30, (Increasing CO2 has little to no effect). Upon review of the reasoning presented I did not find the Skeptical Science rebuttal arguments compelling, further as would be evident to anyone reading through the literally hundreds of discussion comments / issue debate provided by the site on each of these topics that many others also do not.

    I cannot reasonably go into a detailed discussion on these issues in this response but I will point out one particularly interesting aspect related to rebuttal 12.  There was one, key assertion or implication that had a major impact on and turned the tide on the widespread acceptance of the CO2 induced Anthropogenic Global Warming claim.  This was Al Gore’s 2006 assertion or inference that:  based on Ice Core Data, temperature increases lagged CO2 increases and thus increases in CO2 produce warmer temperatures.  This is how Gore’s statements were understood and such clear, easily understandable “evidence” had the effect of convincing the general populous of the Anthropogenic Global Warming theories validity, and with the media feedback effect, it was widely publicized, and became a “common knowledge” misconception that has persisted.

    The initial analysis of the Antarctica Ice Core data analysis indicated that changes in Global Temperatures and CO2 were closely correlated, however in short order subsequent, more detailed analyses (completed prior to Al Gore’s 2006 film) showed that CO2 increases actually lagged temperature increases.  Subsequent additional analyses have confirmed those findings and reveal that Ice Core data shows the CO2 lag is substantial (mean estimate of 800 years). These data are now generally accepted and Skeptical Science confirms this finding in their rebuttal 12. But the “Al Gore” Genie was out of the bottle and this misstated “science” spread “halfway around the world before the truth got its boots on” and as is usually the case any retraction if there was one was totally ineffective.

    Skeptical Science folks in 2007 were apparently aware of the more detailed data available, and correctly presented the fact that CO2 does indeed lag Temperature in the Ice Core data, in their rebuttal. The rebuttal therefore does not rebut the “Climate Myth” but rather the rebuttal presents a feedback theory, acknowledging that initially, coming out of an ice age, CO2 lags temperature increases but as temperature increases occur, the warmer temperatures produce more CO2 from ocean outgassing. (Which was, by the way, my immediate theory/explanation/thought of why there would to be a close correlation between Temperature and CO2 in the Ice Core Data.)  Skeptical Science’s rebuttal (my simple explanation) consists of an account of the interrelationship of the added CO2 outgassed taking over the warming from whatever sun orbital effect initiated the emergence from each of the ice ages over the last 800,000 years. Then at some point other natural variability effects take over, an interglacial “stable period” of 10-15,000 years occurs, before CO2 and temperatures plunge back into another Ice Age.  Read in isolation the rebuttal of how CO2 can lag temperatures (i.e. the higher temperatures produce a higher atmospheric concentration of CO2) at first and then take over control of the climate may sound plausible, as a knowledgeable person employs the many and varied global climate influencing factors to weave an explanation. However, that is not the end of the story. As I noted earlier comments pour in questioning and supporting the details of the explanation.  In this case 628 comments have been made between 2007 and 2020.

    Interestingly Skeptical Science’s rebuttal cautions: “To claim that the CO2 lag disproves the warming effect of CO2 displays a lack of understanding ….”, indeed just the opposite claim “that it proved the warming effect” became a lynch pin in the anthropogenic global warming argument.

    As I noted, none of the 194 rebuttals deal directly with the specific empirical data that I provide in my analysis that show (1) a lack of effect of the great CO2 emission increases on global temperatures when comparing the rate of temperature rise from 1917-1944 with that between 1979 -1998, (2) the lack of effect of major CO2 emission increases between 1944 and 1979 on global temperatures when global temperatures fell, and (3) the tabulation (Table 1) that shows the massive amount of CO2 that has been emitted over the last 75 years and the timing of those emissions in relation to global temperature gains that clearly illustrates that these CO2 emissions have had little effect on the rate the global warming that the planet has been experiencing.  Further, that tabulation shows that if indeed our world’s CO2 emissions have the Anthropogenic Global Warming effect claimed, and the longevity of CO2 in the atmosphere is as it is reported to be, then the CO2 influence ship on global warming sailed long ago (1979). Recovering the fuel that the world has been providing for its continued journey, such that we can bring it back to port, is an unfathomable task. Fortunately, while  this period of global warming continues as it has since around 1700, the data show that the acceleration in rate that would logically be anticipated in accordance with the great amount of CO2 emissions and the anthropogenic global warming postulation, has not occurred. That is good news, but it still does not take us off the hook for planning for and addressing the effects of the global warming that will be experienced, from developing more clean energy to reduce pollution resulting from fossil fuel consumption and for enhancing our efforts to in produce sustainable buildings and products.     

    With regard to the assertion that the information (data) I present have been thoroughly rebutted by scientific papers, I consider that the empirical data, and calculations, as enumerated above that I present and emphasize as key points are factual, based solely on data and not on opinion or theory.  I consider them subject to correction, if I made any errors, but not really subject to "debunking.

    Thank you again for your suggestion. Reviewing the Skeptical Science Site was instructive.


       .

    ------------------------------
    J Lawrence Von Thun P.E., M.ASCE
    Consulting Engr
    J Lawrence Von Thun
    Lakewood CO
    ------------------------------



  • 21.  RE: Empirical Data on Global Warming and CO2

    Posted 10-25-2020 08:29 PM
    Hi Larry,
    I recently joined ASCE, but worked on the climate change issue for many years now. I have also developed the Stalker method for improving predictability of fluids in generally and the atmosphere for weather/climate variability. I will be able to augment my points here, but I refer you and others to my video series on this topic at Stalker videos on the RESPR technology (episodes 14 through 21).
    Looking forward to reviewing your material  and other comments as well.
    Regards,
    James

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    James Stalker Ph.D.,Aff.M.ASCE
    President & CEO
    RESPR, Inc.
    Tolland CT
    ------------------------------