How much weather is being caused by climate change? Maybe 1 part in 1,000.

February 14th, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

The great blizzard of Dec. 1947 dropped over 2 feet of snow on New York City.

The great blizzard of Dec. 1947 dropped over 2 feet of snow on New York City.

In another silly pseudo-science rambling, the President’s science advisor, John Holdren, has recently stated, “Weather practically everywhere is being caused by climate change.”

Drought in California. Record snows in the East. It’s tempting for many to blame it all on our use of fossil fuels.

What Causes Weather?
Let’s start with the basics. Weather is caused by energy imbalances, primarily (1) between the solar heated surface of the Earth and the atmosphere above it, and (2) between different geographic regions (e.g. the tropics vs. high latitudes; the warm oceans versus cold continents in winter).

These energy imbalances have associated temperature differences, which in turn cause atmospheric circulation systems which form clouds, precipitation, and high and low pressure systems.

How much energy is involved? On a global basis the average rate of solar energy absorbed by the Earth is estimated to be about 240 Watts per sq. meter. In order for the climate system to stay at the same average temperature year after year, the Earth has to lose exactly the same amount of energy (240 W m-2) to outer space, in the form of infrared energy.

It’s all about the energy…and especially about imbalances in energy, which causes “weather” as the ocean and atmosphere seek to reduce those imbalances. On a local basis, those imbalances can be tens or even hundreds of watts per sq. meter.

So, How Much of Weather Could be Caused by Manmade Climate Change?
Our best estimate of how much the climate system has been perturbed from energy balance comes from the slow warming of the oceans, which since the 1950s equates to a 1 part in 1,000 energy imbalance (say, if 240 W m-2 of solar energy has been absorbed on average, 239.75 W m-2 has been lost to space…the slight ~0.25 W m-2 imbalance leads to slow warming).

Now, how exactly can a 1 part in 1,000 energy imbalance lead Holdren to state, “Weather practically everywhere is being caused by climate change”? Well, all I can think of is that his statement is not based in science.

Maybe that imbalance in recent years is somewhat more…say 2 parts in 1,000 (about a 0.5 W m-2 imbalance). But even that depends upon whether you believe in the measurements of tiny, multi-decadal oceanic warming trends of tenths or hundredths of a degree (depending on depth).

And it’s far from clear that even that is entirely our fault.

Now, how that tiny imbalance gets translated into a change in weather is, admittedly, not well understood. But, ultimately, weather is still related to energy imbalances, and mankind’s role in changing those rates of energy flow is miniscule.

You might say, “But what about global warming causing a warmer Gulf Stream, which then clashes with the cold air masses and makes bigger East Coast snowstorms?” The trouble with that argument is that “global warming” warms those winter air masses more than it warms the oceans, reducing the temperature contrast. So, if the opposite is happening this winter, then it’s not due to global warming.

The idea that any of the weather we are seeing is in any significant way due to humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions verges on irrationality.

94 Responses to “How much weather is being caused by climate change? Maybe 1 part in 1,000.”

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  1. I’ve been telling you all for a long time that our emissions, if they have any affect at all, will only alter the global air circulation a miniscule fraction compared to the circulation shifts that occur naturally all the time from oceanic and solar variability.

    Between the MWP and LIA and from LIA to date the latitudinal position of the jet stream approaching Western Europe shifted by up to 1000 miles latitudinally.

    I would be surprised if our emissions could shift it by as much as a mile which accords with Roy’s 1000 to 1 estimate.

  2. Whoops. Effect not affect.

  3. Stephen Richards says:

    You don’t need the truth in order to lye.

    • Massimo PORZIO says:


      • Better effect is “cascade effect”; usually requiring a tipping point. butterfly effect remains unproven on a climate scale; although you can say humans are here today because of a butterfly effect…

        Cascade effect is where several significant but smaller effects reach a tipping point and act together to cause a more massive effect…

        One of those effects is a sudden or abrupt melting of permafrost and changes in thermoclines which cause a massive amount of methane to be released…

        the release of that much methane isn’t going to cause cascade on its own, so we also have enormously high levels of CO2 in the oceans, which then alter thermoclines even more. these oceanic temperature changes suppress circulation of seasonal warming and cooling, causing oceanic stalling.

        Added to the stalling is a change in salination,n where glacier ice is not salinated, it melts into the ocean changing thermoclines and oceanic currents like in that movie the day after tomorrow.

        That still isn’t enough to cause a cascade effect, but globally we’re also adding higher levels of salts, including metals into the ocean as well.

        Now we are starting down that road to cascade effect I mentioned before. I didn’t include all the waste run off, as well as nitrogen rich fertilizers we’re putting into the oceans.

        Damn, forget global warming, we’re poisoning our oceans…

        never mind…

  4. MikeR says:

    Hops, are you suggesting that because of the butterfly effect/chaotic nature of weather, that the small effect of climate change can have a major impact? Of course it can. Your waving your hand in the air can have a major impact as well – due to the butterfly effect. However, that impact will be random, as likely to improve matters as harm them.

    I have wondered whether some of the attempts by climate scientists to explain, say, how climate change might have caused Hurricane Sandy ( are of this type. Perhaps one can identify a series of events that led up to a hurricane, and can show that some of those events were results of global warming. (Maybe). But it can still remain completely true that a different series of changes might have led to a different hurricane, or no hurricane at all. Perhaps we would have had a worse hurricane than Sandy last week, except that global warming changed things slightly and caused it not to happen.

    It still remains true AFAIK (IPCC SREX) that the stats show that the frequency and intensity of hurricanes has not increased. Same for droughts, same for tornadoes, etc. Extreme weather events may be eventually increased by global warming, but it apparently hasn’t happened yet and no one is sure that it will.

    • ron hyde says:

      It really has nothing to do with the butterfly effect. It is really the chicken little affect. “The sky is falling, the sky is falling.”

      • Talon MacDonald Ph.D. says:

        Amused at the Wikipedia References. A fast way to tell which writer is really paying attention to Science.

  5. Nice photo and post, Roy.

    Is that Enzo The Baker delivering some Cannoli?

  6. Threepwood says:

    All very well put, the problem is that one loses AGW believers almost instantly with scientific explanations- to them Wikipedia, the UN and Leonardo Di Caprio already covered that and it’s settled.

    I don’t think believers are stupid, gullible, part of a conspiracy- for the most part they are well meaning intelligent people who simply have no motive to scrutinize the ‘problem’ when they like the ‘solutions’ so much.

    It goes without saying that if Lake Superior never melted all summer or boiled away, it would still be our fault as global cooling, volcanoes and earthquakes used to be. The problem can be anything, it’s not really all that relevant. The belief is rooted in the same old solutions.

    • Hops says:

      I like to step basic from complex problems just get to the basics. In this case,

      1. CO2 reflects IR, so the baseline expectation is for warming, and warming means a more energetic climate system and more extremes, and
      2. Fossil fuels are finite and have an increasingly lower return on investment, and
      3. Fossil fuels release a lot of pollution even aside from CO2.

      • Scott Scarborough says:

        Not true,

        Tropics are warmer than temperate zones but they do not have worse storms. CO2 has the biggest effect where there is less moisture in the air since water is a more powerfull green house gas than CO2. That means the poles, a place where there is little moisture in the air, will be effected more than the tropics by CO2 (warm more). This will reduce the temperature difference between the equator and poles which is what drives most weather. CO2 warming will reduce severe storms as the record shows (if you care to look at the record instead of the nightly news. i.e. truth instead of lies).

        If fossil fuels have a diminishing rate of return there is no need to even discuss this. Do you know any buissness man who invests more money in something that has a diminishing rate of return?

        • Fonzie says:

          Scott, excellent analysis… Never thought of that before. Water vapor and co2 share bands so that when vapor is absent co2 shoulders more of the load. Very good…

        • AlecM says:

          Incorrect: there is zero net surface IR emission in the self-absorbed IR bands of water and CO2. This applies everywhere on Earth, radiative physics 101 taught outside Climate Alchemy.

          Because the Arctic humidity is lower in winter than at the equator, proportionately more of the OLR comes from those bands than CO2, so the effect you arre claiming is reversed.

        • Hops says:

          Good point about the water vapor. But what is a “worse” storm?– the storms hitting the U.K. haven’t been more powerful, but have dumped more rain over a given period of time. Nor does drought arrive as a storm.

          Yes, the returns on fossil fuels are diminishing, but we still have an infrastructure in place for fossil fuel use, so it isn’t just a question of energy return on investment. If we tax carbon, we can make the inevitable transition sooner and leave the kids a less polluted atmosphere. At present, we subsidize fossil fuels by allowing CO2 to be dumped in the global commons at no charge.

          Do you know some of our congressmen want to spend a trillion dollars on a new nuclear submarine fleet? Geez, just spend that on some next-generation nuclear power plants…

          • AlecM says:

            I agree. However, what was being done to us by demagogues like Gore was for them to get rich by carbon trading on the back of IPCC fake fizzicks. Also the same fizzicks was being used to support a return to Nazi-era Eugenics , to justify the killing of about half the Western populations and most of the Third World. The final aim is allegedly 500 million World population.

            This extreme fascism, a Global Pol Pot regime, is unacceptable. We have a couple of centuries to make the transition.

      • Steve says:

        Hops, I agree with 2 and 3, but they belong in a different discussion. As for 1, it makes a fine starting point for a hypothesis, but I’m afraid the climate system is far more complex than that – and I’m pretty sure you already know that.

      • Massimo PORZIO says:


        just to inform you, because it’s not the first time that you write that CO2 reflects IR:
        CO2 doesn’t reflect LWIR, it absorbs LWIRs and (if it can) re-emits them, otherwise (such as at lower tropospheric levels, where it is well mixed with a bunch of other gases), it shares the photon energy with the surroundings gases without re-emitting anything at all.

        Have a nice day.


        • JohnKl says:

          Thank you Massimo!

          You beat me to it. I planned to make the same reply, and definitely second your observation.

          Have a great day!

        • Hops says:

          Yeah,I know . But in the end, some fraction of LWIR comes back down to the surface. I suppose it could be considered diffuse as opposed to specular reflection.

        • MikeB says:

          No that’s not right Massimo. Didn’t you learn anything. Do you not remember how we knew the temperature at the altitude the plane was flying? How we knew the temperature of the air near the ice sheet?
          CO2 emits at 15 micron. It emits at low altitude as well. In fact, it emits more. How much it emits is proportional to the air temperature.

          You probably said that it didn’t emit because you are thinking that the re-emission time is much longer than the time between collisions with other air molecules (through which the CO2 loses its photon derived energy). But the process is REVERSIBLE. The CO2 is also excited by collisions with air molecules. The number of molecules in the excited state is held constant (equipartition principle) and thus we can link the amount of radiation emitted to the local air temperature. Which part didn’t you understand last time?

          Look at this graph.

          It is a measurement of downward LWIR taken by an instrument on the ground, looking up. You see that most of the downward radiation (back-radiation) is centred on the wavelength of 15 microns – the band that CO2 emits in. This is the ‘fingerprint’ of CO2 emission. And by comparing that to what a blackbody would emit at those wavelengths, we can determine the temperature of the air immediately above (because transmission through CO2 is limited to a few metres at those wavelengths).
          You see it all fits together. There is no need for you nor anyone else to invent stuff of your own!

          • Massimo PORZIO says:

            Yes MikeB,
            I know what you mean in fact I wrote “if it can” then it re-emits, but it seems to me that if a molecule is already excited by a photon can’t receive any other energy from the surrounding until it has re-emitted that photon or released that energy to the surroundings, and I’m still convinced that the in-line morphology of the CO2 molecule make it more and absorber than an emitter.

            One question to you: How do you know that “most of the downward radiation (back-radiation) is centred on the wavelength of 15 microns – the band that CO2 emits in” is really emitted by the CO2 and not by the WV which is active in that band too?
            What wonder me is that I always read that CO2 have a thin resonating pit @ 666cm-1, while that graph has a wide emission column with a thin pit in the middle, very close to the CO2 666cm-1 one, I guess.
            I find at least curious that the CO2 molecules re-emit so much around their natural resonance WL and not exactly there where they should re-emit, don’t you?

            Have a nice Sunday.


          • Massimo PORZIO says:

            Hi MikeB,
            I missed one more thing.
            You wrote: “because transmission through CO2 is limited to a few metres at those wavelengths)”
            If that is true, why all the power dissipation computations practically ignore the air composition in computing the final temperature of the dissipating device?
            I mean: I often had to dimension an heatsink for a power device such as a transistor, but I never had to establish the concentration of GHGs to get with a good approximation the heatsink at the predicted temperature for that power dissipation.
            If it’s true that CO2 blocks so much energy in few metres via the EM path, I would expect a loss of efficiency of the heatsinks.
            I still remain convinced that in lower troposphere the thermal dissipation is driven by collisions not by EM emissions, but maybe I miss something that is crucial to explain that.

            Have a nice day.


          • policycritic says:

            Using Wien’s Law then, 15 microns is 193 Kelvin or -112.27 F. Actually the graph shows absorption starting around 13.5 microns, which would be 215 K or -72.67 F.

            The other band that CO2 absorbs in is 4.3 microns, which is 674 K or 753.53 F.

            The earth only emits IR from 220 K/-63.67 F (13 microns) to 320 K/116.33 F (9 microns).

            CO2 doesn’t absorb in the infrared spectrum that the Earth emits in.

          • Kristian says:

            MikeB says, February 15, 2014 at 12:55 PM:

            “It is a measurement of downward LWIR taken by an instrument on the ground, looking up. You see that most of the downward radiation (back-radiation) is centred on the wavelength of 15 microns – the band that CO2 emits in.”

            Again with this nonsense?

            This is not ‘back-radiation’ you measure, MikeB. This is ‘forward radiation’. The sensor of this instrument is not the surface of the Earth. It is (much!) colder than the atmosphere. Hence, the heat travels down.

            You can always ONLY detect the ‘heat’. Everything else is merely calculated, inferred. ‘Back-radiation’, even if it did exist, could never itself be detected. SoD should know this. He’s been told and explained a multitude of times.

          • Ball4 says:

            Kristian 3:34pm – ”This is ‘forward radiation’.”

            Agree, this just is Kristian’s term for LWIR emitted by earth’s atmosphere forward toward earth surface which is measured by instruments looking up as MikeB. wrote: ” …. measurement of downward LWIR taken by an instrument on the ground, looking up.”

            Kristian will just have to come to grips with the common MSM usage term “back radiation” which is exactly the same physical radiation as Kristian’s term “forward radiation”. It is all relative.

            ”You can always ONLY detect the ‘heat’.”

            Kristian also has not yet come to grips with and moved into modern times where “heat” is not a “thing” to be detected anymore; “heat” once was a fluid poured from hotter metal bars into cooler metal bars, this fluid never has been “detected”. So “heat” as a thing to be detected is now outdated in modern physics, Kristian remains stuck in the caloric theory past.

            Radiation emitted from the earth surface and radiation emitted by the atm. is measured by calibrated radiometers similar process but different method as thermometers calibrated to measure temperature.

          • Kristian says:


            I will not partake in your ongoing and bizarre crusade on the universally accepted physical concept of ‘heat’. Because that is yours and yours alone. Heat is heat, Ball4, no matter how and where you look at it. It doesn’t stop being heat whenever radiation is involved.

            I will only comment on this part, which demonstrates quite clearly how you don’t get what I’m saying:

            “Agree, this just is Kristian’s term for LWIR emitted by earth’s atmosphere forward toward earth surface which is measured by instruments looking up as MikeB. wrote: ” …. measurement of downward LWIR taken by an instrument on the ground, looking up.”

            No, Ball4, as I’m saying, this LWIR is specifically not directed toward Earth’s surface, but toward the cooled down sensor of the instrument. Radiation doesn’t go UP a temperature/radiation gradient. It always goes DOWN.

            There is no such thing as ‘back radiation’, Ball4. It is a made up concept. Heat, on the other hand, is a very real phenomenon, the effects of which we feel and experience every day.

            In your world, then, we should preferably dump the knowledge of this very real phenomenon to the benefit of a bogus, imaginary one.

            Good plan.

          • Ball4 says:

            Kristian 4:16pm – You remain stuck in the bizarre caloric past. Show or explain to me a “heat” measurement detector. Not a thermometer that detects energy, not a radiometer that detects energy, not your skin that detects energy, just a plain old “heat” detector. I should think if “heat” is actually a very real phenomenon then it can be easily detected so one should be able to find one of these instruments. Can you?

            Energy is conserved, has the unit of joules in SI, just what are the units of unconserved “heat”? Can’t answer joules because energy already took that one; if you do answer joules then you would advance into modern times and realize “heat” is just plain and simple energy. You can forget the “heat” term, use energy term, and live a normal, productive life here on out.

            The atm. is a gas that radiates. Deal with it; call it what you will. An atm. radiates (emits photons) toward space and radiates (emits photons) towards a planet surface. No getting around it. All matter .GT. 0K radiates; so far as we know all matter is .GT. 0K.

            Heat, on the other hand, is a very real phenomenon, the effects of which we feel and experience every day.

            Energy is the very real phenomenon, the effects of which we feel and experience every day. And energy can be readily detected from across the room or across a universe ~13.8Bln years old.

        • Hops says:

          So, Massimo,

          How does a molecule of CO2 “share the photon energy with the surrounding gases”?

          I thought a quantum of energy put a valence electron into a higher energy state, and either that electron is going to drop and re-emit the photon, or it just stays that way. What is sharing?

          Also, isn’t reflection always absorption and re-emission?


          • Massimo PORZIO says:

            Hi Hops,

            AFIK in LWIR band absorption isn’t about any valence electrons related, it’s all about molecular binds “bendings”.
            If the CO2 molecule if photon charged (its binds are bended) and the molecule bumps against two other molecules so that it transfers energy to those (this process is my “shared” energy) , for the conservation of energy principle the photon which charged the molecule can’t be re-emitted.
            Do you get the point?
            My very personal point is that since the CO2 molecule is linear at rest, it’s easier to discharge its energy by collisions than charge it by that way. That because three points of force are needed to bend a linear molecule via collisions, instead of the only two needed for discharge it.

            While “reflection” is about a surface considered sufficiently flat for that photons wavelength so that those photons do not enter the surface at all.
            For example a mirror is surely a good reflector for VIS SWIR & LWIR, while a wall 2um plastered wall could be a good LWIR reflector but it is surely a Vis & SWIR absorber and re-emitter.
            If you point a thermal FLIR camera to look a man against a 2um plastered wall, you see his specular thermal image on it. That’s because the man’s LWIR photons don’t enter the wall but are reflected instead.

            See this dog on the wood floor for example.


            It’s visible image can’t be reflected by the wood floor (so you don’t see that), but it’s thermal it is (so you see that).
            This is because of the roughness of the floor which is too high for the visible wavelength but good as a mirror for the LWIR.

            Have a nice day.


          • Hops says:

            Thanks Massimo. I found some additional references on the topic.

            From some of what I read, energy loss from collisions dominates in the lower atmosphere, but there is more re-emission in the upper atmosphere.

          • Massimo PORZIO says:

            Hi Hops,
            “From some of what I read, energy loss from collisions dominates in the lower atmosphere, but there is more re-emission in the upper atmosphere.”

            I agree, but I agree with some reserves with MikeB when he wrote that “the process is REVERSIBLE. The CO2 is also excited by collisions with air molecules. The number of molecules in the excited state is held constant (equipartition principle) and thus we can link the amount of radiation emitted to the local air temperature”
            I agree to that sentence at the thermal steady state only, that is when the LWIR photons at the given altitude and the collisions at that very same altitude fixed the temperature for that atmospheric layer. But if that’s the case, I don’t really know if GHGs changes the global temperature at all, because that just represent a parallel way for ground energy to go there up in the sky. Maybe that it just changes the place where the LWIR exits the planetary system.

            Please, I repeat the above “I don’t really know if GHGs changes the global temperature at all”, which no ways means that I’m sure that the contrary is true, that is, I’m not telling that I’m sure that GHGs are not influential on the climate.

            Have a nice day.


          • Dr. Strangelove says:

            “Starting at 13 we get CO2 absorption but that wavelength corresponds to temperatures below even that of the south pole. Nowhere from 9 to 13 microns do we see appreciable absorption bands of CO2.”

            Infrared astronomer,
            Your IR spectroscopy is wrong. Earth emits IR from 5 to 30 um centered at 10 um. CO2 absorbs IR from 14 to 16 um centered at 15 um. The IR bands overlap.


        • policycritic says:

          This is a comment by an Infrared astronomer that puts a different cast on the bands that CO2 can absorb in the infrared: “IR Expert Speaks Out After 40 Years Of Silence : “IT’S THE WATER VAPOR STUPID and not the CO2”

          Further down in the post, he writes in response to someone’s explanation:

          “You just gave us 6 paragraphs on where the energy absorbed by CO2 goes, but never mention how it got there in the first place. Listen carefully. Earth radiates IR in the N band. Carbon dioxide does not absorb IR in the N band. That’s why it’s the N band. Other wavelengths of IR that CO2 can and might absorb, are not emitted by Earth.”

          • policycritic says:

            I forgot to give the beginning o this moment:

            “I’m a professional infrared astronomer who spent his life trying to observe space through the atmosphere’s back-radiation that the environmental activists claim is caused by CO2 and guess what? In all the bands that are responsible for back radiation in the brightness temperatures (color temperatures) related to earth’s surface temperature (between 9 microns and 13 microns for temps of 220K to 320 K) there is no absorption of radiation by CO2 at all. In all the bands between 9 and 9.5 there is mild absorption by H2O, from 9.5 to 10 microns (300 K) the atmosphere is perfectly clear except around 9.6 is a big ozone band that the warmists never mention for some reason. From 10 to 13 microns there is more absorption by H2O. Starting at 13 we get CO2 absorption but that wavelength corresponds to temperatures below even that of the south pole. Nowhere from 9 to 13 microns do we see appreciable absorption bands of CO2. This means the greenhouse effect is way over 95% caused by water vapor and probably less than 3% from CO2. […]

          • tonyM says:


            That is not a good reference.

            You will find in the comments an author reply that effectively says he made a blue.

            He is simply wrong; of course CO2 absorbs at those wavelengths. He was looking at the peak emission frequency.

            A better reference is an article by Dr. Martin Hertzberg:


      • Joe says:

        (1) is not true, CO2 absorbs IR.

    • Lewis Guignard says:

      Threepwood, you’re getting into what is known as the conventional wisdom. Most people don’t have the time, ability or the inclination to do investigation for themselves and thus must rely on others. Not having done the investigation, their beliefs are just beliefs and, having come to their conclusions by emotional methods, have a difficult time changing them, just because someone offers a rational reason to do so. They also get into peer pressure type situations, where it is easier to agree with your social group than to disagree. Then, when someone does disagree, the social group will, so to speak and even literally, point their fingers, laugh and make fun, because they can’t defend their position rationally, having no personal knowledge, but they know what they believe and will brook no interference with such belief.

      (This is the type behavior Dr. Spencer encountered on his recent TV interview)

      In the meantime, I suspect if we offer a virgin sacrifice to the gods, perhaps the weather will calm down to being what the true believers tell us it should be like. Perhaps M. Cyrus would offer her services.

  7. Andrew says:

    It’s more than a little frustrating to here the ignoratii blather on in media and elsewhere blaming weather that is driven by temperature gradients on global warming. But it’s downright criminally irresponsible when people who claim to be scientists make the same claims.

    I have to say, I’m rapidly losing all tolerance for this sort of nonsense.

  8. Svend Ferdinandsen says:

    It is more or less a game of words. Climate Change has two meanings. The normal perceived as a change in the actual climate/weather meaning that the weather is somehow different from what is concidered the normal variability. The difference can swing both ways, both warmer/colder better/worse whatever that means.
    The IPCC meaning of climate change is mostly antropogenic changes only and most often to a warmer climate.
    These two meanings are never expressed clearly of those who talk of climate change, and because the weather and climate has changed forever and will do, you can say that every weather is a sign of climate change.
    It is Orwellian manipulation of first class.

    • Kit Blanke says:

      The meaning of “climate change” as Svend notes is delibrately vague.

      Climate change has two components, Natural, and Anthropogenic. If used without defining which one is being discussed most people will assume that Anthropogenic Climate Change is the topic.

      TO avoid this using “ACC” and “NCC” to distinguish between them in discussions I think would be useful in minimizing confusion. If discussing ‘global warming’, AGW and NGW would be appropriate.

      • Fonzie says:

        Kit, they used to call it “climate variability” when referring to natural warming. Don’t know if they still do…

        • Kit Blanke says:

          I’ve seen that terminology, it still leaves room to quibble about what climate variability is being dicussed. The climate is always variable, when discussing what part of the variability is from what cause, clear definitions are needed.

          a bit pendantic, but there is a lot of hand waving and fudging going on.

      • Dan Murray says:

        One term exists. The other is conjecture.
        One is science. The other is religion.

  9. Speaking of blizzards, check out this photo from the 1966 North Dakota blizzard. Impressive. More like an avalanche. Juxtapose this with the dusting Atlanta just received and you realize what invalids people have become. “Oh my God, a snowflake hit my cheek…please, someone call the doctor, I have a case of global warming and it’s highly contagious.”

  10. Christopher Game says:

    There is no single simple general principle that says that the ocean and atmosphere should maintain balance of energy by reducing imbalances. The balance is in fact approximately maintained, but that is known primarily as an empirical observation, contingently but not necessarily so. Of course we work from the basic premise that the maintenance must accord with simple general principles of physics. Oour task is to work out which ones, and, not easy, how, by examining the contingent facts that Dr Spencer reports.

    As Dr Spencer remarks, we can think of slow changes which we can choose to call climatic, and of rapid ones, which we can choose to call weather. But how to draw a line between slow and rapid? That there is a sort of line means that there is some kind of stability in the dynamics of the system. We say that climate drifts slowly, while weather is fluctuation about a climatic trend. The fluctuation can be analysed as compensatory or moderating mechanisms, responding to departures from the trend. As a kind of metaphor, we unconsciously or habitually think as if the system were ‘trying to maintain a balance’, but there is in fact no one who is trying and no design for the balance. It is just that the system has a kind of stability as a historical accident. That stability provides an intellectual framework to analyse the system.

    In telegraphic engineering, the notion of feedback was invented by H.S. Black, describing a circuit that contained an actively powered amplifier, while it also had a supercharged kind of compensation, that reduced the non-linearity of the transfer of the device. The IPCC, and others, have abused the term “feedback”, invented by Black, to refer to compensation or moderation such as describe weather fluctuations.

    The propaganda advantage of the IPCC’s term “feedback” is that it eases their speaking of the specious and fear-provoking idea of “runaway climate change”, through the clever and misleading use of the term “positive feedback”, wrongly citing Black. Properly speaking, the weather mechanisms are compensatory or moderative, not described by Black’s idea of “feedback”, because his idea presupposes that there is an actively powered amplifier, with an arbitrarily available auxiliary power supply in the interior of the system. Which isn’t there in the weather mechanisms.

    The weather mechanisms, in the terms of Black’s idea, are passive, not active as in a feedback amplifier. Still the IPCC has succeeded in tricking people to speak of “amplification” through the water-vapour absorption of infrared radiation. The proper term is ‘reduction of compensation’. But that doesn’t work too well for a quick television sound bite.

    The term ‘magnification’ is not as misleading as is the term “amplification” in this context. Magnification can be passive, while amplification is essentially actively powered. But the weather compensations are passive.

    • Thanks Christopher, very well said.
      Positive feedback is a familiar runaway phenomenon than cannot exist without its own independent large power supply.
      Much unlike CO2 re-radiating some LWIR back to the ground.

    • But I cannot see how “weather is fluctuation about a climatic trend.”
      What I can see is “Weather is climate. More specifically, aggregations of weather are climate. Means, averages, and distributions of daily weather comprise climate.”
      From Actually, Weather Is Climate (William M. Briggs, Statistician & Consultant. Jan. 22, ’10), at

      • Christopher Game says:

        How you like to label these things is a matter of choice. It is an expression of the form of analysis that you prefer. As you like.

        Either way, the current epochal mean of the weather equals the current climate.

        You can regard the climate as a variable that is independent of weather (as I have suggested above), or as dependent entirely on weather (as your source is proposing). If you choose to make climate dependent entirely on weather, you are committed to such ideas as that the motion of Jupiter and Saturn directly affect the weather. But if you choose climate as independent of weather, you can say that the motions of Jupiter and Saturn significantly affect the climate, but do not affect the weather, except inasmuch as the climate affects the weather.

        As a fine point, in the Black theory, feedback is usually described in the frequency domain. It is associated with a so-called ‘loop gain’, presupposing an active part in the circuit. There can be positive feedback at some frequency without runaway, provided the loop gain at that frequency has magnitude less than one. The full test for runaway was worked out by Nyquist. Roughly speaking, when the loop gain for a positive feedback exceeds one, then one finds instability or runaway. The more general mathematical stability analysis does not use the loop gain idea, but examines the eigenvalues of a linearized transfer matrix. For stability, they must all be negative. In a passive system, such as the weather system, they are indeed all negative.

  11. Fortunately the Earth comes equipped with numerous emergent phenomena which are designed to stabilise its climate conditions. These have proved good enough, for long enough, to create conditions under which life emerged and flourished, including people, on the Earth. If CO2 had made disastrous climate alterations or variations on Earth, the emergent phenomena like clouds, winds, waves, dust devils, El Ninos, La Ninas and the like would have come into play and negated the effects. If imbalances or level changes of CO2, such as those which have already occurred in the distant and nearer past could lead to disastrous effects for life from CO2, it would have happened already, and life and us would have been here no longer.
    As polls reveal, people realise that we have more pressing problems than regulating the level of CO2 in the air.

    • Aaron S says:

      Interesting point Nicholas but earth also has thresholds and one co2 related threshold may have led to the evolution of bipedalism in humans and ultimately to out big brains. 4 to 7 million years ago there was a global shift in flora at mid latitudes and the c4 grasses began to overtake the c3 plantst like trees. The leading theory as to why this shift occurred relates to a decline in co2 below about 400 ppm. Low co2 favors c4 metabolic processes and therefore grasses began to dominate, which created a new niche that humans and other animals like Equids evolved to fill. I am curious if this threshold has any impact on earths system as we cross back into the high co2 regime but this is probably off topic except I guess trees would have a different friction coefficient for fluid flows than grass. Probably minor.. Obviously there are other thresholds, for example it is thought that the pacific can switch to a continuous el niño state when a threshold is crossed in earth temperature… It’s called the permanent el niño but I prefer continuous bc it is clearly not permanent, and last time it is thought to have existed was in the Pliocene epoch.

  12. Fonzie says:

    “Internet Skeptic” Robert Wagner (Ohio State) used to often say that where ever rain fall totals are up temps are up. Shouldn’t we expect bigger storms then?

  13. Lewis Guignard said: Threepwood, you’re getting into what is known as the conventional wisdom. Most people don’t have the time, ability or the inclination to do investigation for themselves and thus must rely on others. Not having done the investigation, their beliefs are just beliefs and, having come to their conclusions by emotional methods, have a difficult time changing them, just because someone offers a rational reason to do so. They also get into peer pressure type situations, where it is easier to agree with your social group than to disagree. Then, when someone does disagree, the social group will, so to speak and even literally, point their fingers, laugh and make fun, because they can’t defend their position rationally, having no personal knowledge, but they know what they believe and will brook no interference with such belief.

    Excellent point, Lewis, but there’s even more. I know we often like to give as many people as much benefit of the doubt as possible so we go out of our way to find ways to defend their willful ignorance, but I’m reaching a point in my life where I’ve grown weary of making excuses for them. I’ve come to realize that the willful part of willful ignorance can often be quite maliciously motivated, and when this is the case, as it increasingly is in my opinion, the truth, or as close as we can get to something resembling truth, is damned.

    Let me explain since I, probably like yourself, have first-hand experience with this. In one of my stints in corporate finance, I was tasked with creating an analysis for the North American division of a large agricultural equipment manufacturer. This was a company quite literally cobbled together in under two short decades by one acquisition after another; they were a consolidating force in the industry. Since they grew through acquisition at such a tremendous pace, they couldn’t keep up with integration efforts so their internal systems of control and reporting were––well, let’s say nearly non-existent. I found this out in the process of creating this statistical analysis; quite literally almost every statistic I compiled was eschewed by the directors because “it would create too much noise.” But me being me wouldn’t let it go at that. I countered to them that was precisely what the report should do…create noise because then something could be done about the poor reporting environment that existed of which upper management was unaware. For example, this company had no standard, agreed upon procedure for determining gross margin for any product, so various departments in the company were left to develop their own gross margins arbitrarily and one such department was product development that was tasked with creating new, more highly profitable products and product lines. What do you think that department is going to do when they have to show the financial evaluation for their latest product idea? Of course they’re going to show it in the best possible light and that means they’ll have strong incentive to fudge the gross margin data and make their potential projects look profitable or highly profitable, and since the company has no mechanism to challenge those financial assertions before, during or after the fact, those who championed the project are never held to account and in fact are awarded with promotions when in fact, more often than not, their projects were unprofitable since the North American division had been operating at a loss for years.

    Needless to say, once I let on that I was privy to this predicament and that I felt strongly that upper management should no so they could provide the big stick necessary to change the predicament, I was quickly assessed as a threat and eventually shoved out. The day I was asked to leave and ushered out the door they had a file an inch thick on me and had even gone to the length of installing video surveillance equipment to keep an eye on me. This is no lie. They were this threatened. I consider the reaction to my Joe Kenda approach (let the evidence speak for itself) to be maliciously motivated and intended, so it goes beyond the benefit of the doubt you charitably offer those who compromise themselves every day.

    Now, take my example and apply it to this climate change debate. The same thing’s happening to many people as part of this climate change debate and the only difference is it’s another “industry.” The clamoring and climbing managers and directors of the agricultural company where I worked were willing to smother the truth and keep the company unprofitable in furtherance of their own personal gratification and ambition, and when enough people do this en mass, well, I think you and every other sentient, intelligent person reading this can see such a scenario doesn’t bode well. Cutting off the nose to spite the face comes to mind as an appropriate idiom to describe this malicious nonsense.

  14. lemiere jacques says:

    As long people are unable to predict weather on a seasonal basis, it is nonsense to pretend to explain weather afterwards.

    If you know the cause then you are able to make predictions; if you fail at predictions…

    In the best case they can pretend to be able to give probabilities, which take a long time ,several decades, to be proven right or wrong, and without any certainty.

    The issue is to guess whether they lye or they are incompetent.

  15. What must be kept in mind is that solar activity post Dalton Minimum thru 2005 ,was overall very high.

    Post 2005 solar activity has been low.

    When people that believe in AGW theory try to snowball the public by saying in the last 20 years of the 20th century temperatures rose as solar activity declined therefore solar has nothing to do with the temperature, is a bunch of BS.

    Solar activity was declining perhaps but there are THRESHOLDS, and solar activity was above the thresholds which would equate to it having a positive influence on the temperatures up to year 2005, although it perhaps was declining from the peak of it’s activity earlier that century.

    Look at the AP INDEX for reference.

    What mainstream does not want acknowledge are the following:

    Solar activity increased significantly throughout the 20th century and although may have declined for the last 20 years of that century activity was still high enough to be above the thresholds to have the sun be a positive influence on the temperature.

    Mainstream does not accept or appreciate lag times between changes in solar activity and a temperature response.

    Mainstream does not understand that just because solar activity is on the decline that ,that has to translate to a temperature reduction. They don’t understand that in order for declining solar activity to translate into a temperature reduction the declining solar activity has to cross a threshold of low solar activity both in degree of magnitude and duration of time to have the temperature effect both through primary and thru secondary solar /climate connections. I listed those solar parameters that I feel are necessary to accomplish this on previous post.


    Mainstream ignores past history which clearly shows quiet solar prolonged periods equate to colder global temperatures while prolonged active solar periods equate to warmer temperatures.

    The typical 11 year sunspot cycle is not going to have any major effects on the climate ,so to try to equate a solar /climate connection based on that cycle of 11 years is in vain.

    Last but not least many sun like stars show variability in irradiance many times above the .1 that mainstream keeps trying to convey to the public is the extent of our sun’s variability. Further how they can say this with confidence is beyond me ,since they keep changing the data and the instrumental record for solar variability is ONLY 20 years in length. In addition parts of TSI light spectrum from the sun vary much more then other parts ,and probably have a much greater impact on the climate.

    Ozone formation versus UV light variation from the sun as a prime example.

    • Aaron S says:

      Agreed! The way I see it we are at a high frequency 11 yr cycle max (schwabe cycle), but at the start of a lower frequency 90 year minimum… So the composite cycle is currently out of phase…. I am really excited to watch the temperature data in the next decade when these two cycles are in phase with each other. There might be a lag (I’ve measured 7years in proxy data) but I anticipate there will be some cooling near the schwabe minimum.

    • Rick Adkison says:

      I work in the communication’s area and we have a term called latency. I believe that is what you are describing; solar latency. Same could be said for the oceans and their currents. Their effect on arctic ice could be delayed by years. Too many people have to see immediate cause and effect.

  16. OZONE FORMATION AND DISTRIBUTION – this is the reason why the jet stream is what it is. It has been shown at times of prolonged solar activity the jet stream buckles and at times of prolonged high solar activity the jet stream is more zonal.

    Their(AGW) garbage about a decline in Arctic Sea Ice leading to a more meridional jet stream is BS.

    All one has to do to show this is a lie ,is look at the sea ice amounts in the Arctic during the 1970’s decade and see how zonal or meridional the jet stream pattern was.

    One will find when Arctic Sea Ice was at RECORD HIGHS the jet stream pattern was as meridional as it is now.

    The upshot of this being there is NO correlation between Arctic Sea Ice and the jet stream pattern.

  17. Then can carry this argument further in that sea ice amounts have nothing to do with CO2 (GLOBAL WARMING) but rather the phase of the PDO/AMO and the AO mode, for the ARCTIC.


    One last note the greater the contrast in global temperatures(global cooling) the more extreme weather one will get.

    Global warming would promote less extreme weather.

  18. I bet this summer high Arctic temp. will be below normal once again ,showing the reason why Arctic temp. have been above normal this winter is due to the atmospheric circulation and not CO2 global warming.

  19. Lastly as I have been maintaining for YEARS, in order to start N.H. cooling one needs the Arctic to be warm, due to a more -AO /MERIDIONAL atmospheric circulation.

    This kind of circulation will if persistent enough and strong enough will promote greater snow coverage, precipitation and cloud coverage over the N.H.

    And what I said in these last several post I will put up against AGW theory any day of the week, and show them up for the frauds they are.

  20. Publius says:

    Just a dumb HVAC guy here with a question to whomever will address it.

    For the sake of argument, assume the earth surface temperature has warmed 1/2 degree Celcius (0.9 deg. F drybulb). The argument goes that the Earth has warmed (warmed means heat – not just temperature) 1/2 deg. C DB.

    Warming (heat) is expressed as BTU/LB dry air (calorie/gram). We have been only told the change in drybulb temperature only.

    If we are talking about air here on Earth, if we do not know the change in the wet bulb temperature as well, how can we possibly know whether the heat (i.e. BTU/LB dry air) at the surface of land alone has changed over the past several thousand years (or even the past 100 years)?

    In other words, if we do not know the corresponding change in dry bulb and wet bulb temperatures, how can we possibly know whether the HEAT has changed?

  21. George Chatraw says:

    Why does no one mention the rain forest destruction when talking about extreme weather? Rain forests play a large part in weather conditions, and as it is decimated and becomes smaller, the effects on weather become more profound. I’m much more concerned about rain forest destruction affecting weather, than I am about fossil fuel emissions.

    • Bill Sparling says:

      Yes. Very true and a serious problem, not just for rain forests but world wide. Also, what the media and the fruitbat lobby are claiming to be a result of (gag) climate change; refering to human geographic damage due to natural events, are related far more to our human foolishness in building in vulnerable areas (we think they are desireable places), urban sprawl, and increasing population density. You can’t legislate smarts. And having to deal with the fanatics who truly believe in this nonsense, you quickly learn that You’re never too old to learn something stupid.

  22. Bob Weber says:

    Salvatore,you speak the truth.

    Solar flux increases cause tropical temperature rises that follow within days of such increases. Extreme weather events are caused by outbursts in solar activity. It’s photons, protons, and electrons that do the work, not CO2. I’m currently putting a presentation together for a conference at the end of March where I will deliver the evidence for what we are saying here.

    History is repeating itself because people are not learning from the past, when solar cycles brought “climate change” and predictions of either excessive warming or cooling every time the 22-year cycle peaked in either direction.

    A good primer on the subject is “The Sunspot Mystery”, a 1977 gem by the BBC, here at

  23. Bob Weber says:

    Sorry, The Sunspot Mystery is at

  24. brady delrio says:

    This was asked about the article above and this was the response. What is the best way to respond to this questioning that seems out of touch with the scientific information that differs from the status quo? Thank you if you will respond. Brady
    “Ah, yes, Roy Spencer, he of Remote Sensing fame. He had a paper published that completely ignored his opponents and prior art. Unfortunately, the reviewers didn’t pick it up either. The editor of Remote Sensing had to step down because of the controversy.” continuing “Let me hasten to add that Spencer sees it differently. But, the record shows that his model was under-constrained because it is such a simple model. If you have a model with only 5 degrees of freedom and 5 parameters, you can fit anything you want. And so he did — he chose data showing no warming, but he could have as easily chosen data with lots of warming. More complex models with more degrees of freedom and far fewer parameters don’t have that luxury. They fall where they will. And, they consistently show robust warming. Here’s a good summary of the issues:

  25. policycritic says:

    You just be a great teacher, Dr. Spencer. Your explanations are always so clear.

  26. The sunspot mystery – They are not going about it correctly which is the 11 year so called sunspot cycle is going to have little if any effects on the climate of the earth because the solar parameters whether going to maximum values or minimum values DO NOT stay at those values for a sufficient duration of time in order to bring about thresholds due to direct and indirect solar changes that will translate to a climate change.

    In order for the sun to have a climate impact prolonged solar minimum or prolonged solar maximum periods must occur. Examples are the Maunder Minimum, Dalton Minimum, and Modern Sunspot Maximum.
    One is not going to find correlations in the climate with the 11 year sunspot cycle, you need prolonged unusual periods of solar activity to accomplish that.

    Further as I have said mainstream does not accept the idea that the sun in the past has entered periods of quiet and active , which has impacted the climate. The sun’s solar irradiance varies by more then .1 %. I say up to .4% in extreme cases.



    Not to forget the earth’s magnetic field and if that is enhancing or diminishing present solar effects.

    I maintain weak solar and earth magnetic fields result in a colder climate, while strong solar/earth magnetic fields result in a warm climate, but thresholds have to be met which depend on duration of time and degree of magnitude of the changes.

  27. Keep on working, great job!

  28. Ensure says:

    TBH this is a bit confusing.

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