Energy Tribune Professor,
University of Houston
Michael J. Economides is a chemical and petroleum engineer and an expert on energy geopolitics. He holds a number of positions, including professor at the Cullen College of Engineering, University of Houston, Chairman of the Board of XGAS, a natural gas firm, and Managing Partner of Dr. Michael J. Economides Consultants Inc., with a wide range of industrial consulting, including major retainers by several Fortune 500 companies and national oil companies. Economides is the Editor-in-Chief of Energy Tribune and Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed Journal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering, published by Elsevier.
Michael J. Economides and Art Horn
The story of man-made global warming, the one for which “the science was all in,” is over. In reality it never existed except in the minds and hearts of grant seeking scientists and academics, ratings obsessed television networks and opportunistic eco-activists. The recent outrage of “climate-gate” showed really only one thing: the motivations of the advocates and alarmists, headed by Al Gore, are every bit as political as most people have suspected. But there is some science and some data that need to be discussed and the science shows much different conclusions than what has been passed as the “consensus”. After the recent furor it is almost preposterous that President Barack Obama pledged a “cut in emissions” in the Copenhagen successor to the Kyoto Protocol.
Copenhagen is shaping out to be Emission Impossible and the best it can ever achieve is some lukewarm pledges, some of which may appear on the surface as substantive but under close examination they will amount to very little. There is no way that China and India will agree to what will amount to economic hara-kiri as has been suggested by some developed countries, especially in Europe.
But there are some new underlying facts that will most likely render any attempts at Copenhagen obsolete, anyway.
Climate change is real. The earth has been coming out of a 450 year cold era known as the “Little Ice Age” since it bottomed out in the late 1600s. Hundreds of studies have verified the existence of this cold period. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tried to erase the climate history of the last 1,000 years in its 2001 report. They replaced all the peer reviewed studies of past climate with one that fit their needs. The now defunct “hockey stick” graph showed virtually no significant change in temperature of the world over the last 1,000 years. Conveniently the graph then shows a rapid and abrupt increase in global temperature during the last 100 years. This is of course due to our sin of burning fossil fuels and stoking the fires of global warming.
The only “evidence” that human activity is causing global warming has been computer models. These models take what the people who develop them know about how the earth’s climate system works and attempt to predict the future. Computer models are not evidence. Evidence is something real, something concrete. The creator of the model can make it say whatever the creator wants it to say by adjusting parameters.
From this people have conjured up all sorts of climate disasters, movies, concerts, fixes and swindles with their varied political and economic benefactors and, of course, victims.
There was a study done in 2007 that showed the failings of computer model forecasts. The models showed that there exists a global warming “fingerprint” in the air. This fingerprint is a dramatic warming of the atmosphere, not on the ground but up twenty to fifty thousand feet in the air above the tropics. If this fingerprint is not there then the current global warming theory is wrong. The 2007 study revealed that real world temperature observations by weather balloons over a 50 year period showed no global warming fingerprint at all, none. The computer models had grossly overestimated the warming over the tropics. Real world observations trump computer models. Despite this revelation the climate alarmists continued to trumpet the coming doom if we don’t change our sinful ways. To do otherwise would threaten government grants to colleges and universities, research facilities and government agencies. Large corporations are developing eco-friendly technologies to replace fossil fuels and brokerage houses are looking to cash in big time on the evolving carbon trading markets. The United Nations is looking to use climate treaties to wrestle control of carbon emissions from independent nations. This will elevate the United Nations and its leaders to the role of effectively ruling the world energy consumption as a one world government authority.
Enter 2009 and a new study by Dr. Richard Lindzen and Yong-Sang Choi from MIT. As background we start with the prevailing predictions. The climate models say that as the oceans warmed by one degree celsius from the 1980s into the 1990s the amount of heat escaping to space would decrease. More heat would be trapped in the atmosphere, ultimately due to the burning of fossil fuels. The warming of the oceans was natural. All part of the large multi decadal temperature changes that have been known for years. Now if only we had a way to measure the amount of heat going out to space. If we did we could get some answers. We do, it’s called the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment Satellite (ERBE). It was in orbit above the earth measuring outgoing longwave radiation (heat) for sixteen years from the mid 1980s to the late 1990s. This is very significant. Now we had a tool, real world data that we could compare to the computer model predictions. It is the ultimate climate system umpire.
The results were stunning. The computer models, all eleven of them predicted that as the oceans and atmosphere warmed, the amount of heat escaping to space should decrease by 3 watts per square meter. If this were true then the theory of man-made global warming would have a strong footing.
The satellite data inflicted a bone crushing blow to this assumption. As the oceans and atmosphere warmed, the measurements showed that the amount of heat escaping to space increased by 4 watts per square meter from the mid 1980s to the late 1990s. All the computer models were wrong. If the atmosphere is not trapping heat generated by warming oceans then there is no man-made global warming taking place. The atmosphere compensated for the additional heat by opening the window a little more. The theory of global warming is lying on the canvas bloodied and dying. Alarmists will attempt to revive the carcass with even louder cries of impending doom and calls to repent. But increasingly this clamoring will fall on deaf ears. Science will ultimately prove the winner and the world will bury global warming in an icy grave where it belongs.
Economides is a professor at the Cullen College of Engineering, University of Houston, Horn is a meteorologist who has worked for CBS, NBC and ABC.
Prof Michael J Economides PhD,
It never ceases to amaze me that people will confuse manmade global warming with manmade air polution and then equate CO2 with CO. Without CO2 the planet would be barren and all humans would die. Increasing CO2 helps crops grow and feed more people.
Forget about burping cows, airliners and green IT - just tune up your diesel engine and chip in towards modern stoves for everyone.
The new research, by NASA’s William Lau and collaborators, reinforces with detailed numerical analysis what earlier studies suggest: that soot and dust contribute as much (or more) to atmospheric warming in the Himalayas as greenhouse gases.
"We need to add another topic to the climate dialogue," says Lau.
Hal Maring of NASA headquarters goes further, though he cautions that more field results from the "roof of the world" are necessary to validate Lau's modelling.
"Even at this stage we should be compelled to take notice," says Maring. “Airborne particles have a much shorter atmospheric lifespan than greenhouse gases, so reducing particle emissions can have much more rapid impact on warming.”
One of the most troublesome types of aerosol is "black carbon", dark particulate soot emitted when fuel is incompletely burned. Diesel engines are a particular villain here, but coal burning and primitive cooking are also big contributors. If the new research is right, huge reductions in warming are on offer from comparatively easy initiatives such as better stoves, more efficient modernised diesel engines and cleaner coal powerplants, boilers etc. These measures would also take effect much more quickly than comparatively difficult, expensive and unpopular cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases like CO2 or methane.
Even Lau's Goddard colleague Dr James Hansen, who has spent the last several decades relentlessly bigging-up the greenhouse gas threat and pushing for emissions cuts, now admits that soot is a major issue - though he can't bear to suggest it might actually be bigger than greenhouse gases.
"Black soot is probably responsible for as much as half of the glacial melt," he says.
It seems that the assembled, warring delegates at the Copenhagen greenhouse-gas talks - trying to prevent global temperature rises in the next few decades, ie in the fairly short term - may be arguing over the wrong things. According to the latest NASA research the human race might achieve more by sorting out its soot emissions first, a thing which would be comparatively easy to do, and get to the much more difficult, unpopular and less effective greenhouse gas cuts afterwards.
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