One of the most-used denier myths about the cause of global warming has been "it's the sun". It's still number two on the SkepticalScience.com list. You'll be surprised to find that at WUWT, Christopher Monckton is now ignoring the sun's role in keeping Earth warm.
First there's CO2
Yesterday's article (archived here) is a bit of pseudo-science, in which Christopher fudges some numbers that he claims came from an older IPCC report (from 2007) and proclaims that:
Broadly speaking, the IPCC expects this century’s warming to be equivalent to that from a doubling of CO2 concentration. In that event, 1 Cº is indeed all the warming we should expect from a CO2 doubling. And is that going to be a problem
I don't know if he's talking about an additional one degree rise this century or if he's arguing there will only be another 0.2 degree rise this century. If the former, many scientists would disagree. If we continue with business as usual we'll probably be in for at least two degrees of warming by 2100, so that would mean another 1.2 degrees this century. That's being optimistic. It could be four degrees.
The thing is, with only 0.9 degree rise in the temperature in Australia we're seeing events never before recorded, like the unreal summer of 2009 in south eastern Australia, our Angry Summer of 2012-13, our hottest year ever plus this past year, catastrophic fires and floods all over the nation at once - so much so it dropped the global sea level. Another one degree and our summers will be monstrous. A four degree rise would be beyond monstrous.
What about the sun?
In the comments Christopher wrote about the Neoproterozoic era:
Mr Tyler asks whether there were earlier periods when CO2 concentrations were higher than today and the weather was colder. The best example of many is the Neorproterozoic (sic) era, 750 million years ago, when I was young. At that time there was at least 30% CO2 in the atmosphere, compared with 0.04% today, and yet glaciers came and went, at the equator, twice. It is fascinating watching true-believing paleoclimatologists trying to explain that one away. They usually do it by saying that the CO2 concentration must have been much more variable than it was. But we know it was at least 30%, for otherwise the dolomitic limestones could not have precipitated out of the oceans.
Thing is that there were a lot of things different about the the Neoproterozoic world. Days were shorter, the moon was closer, land masses were organised differently and, most particularly for climate, the sun was fainter. We're talking about a period spanning from around 1,000,000,000 years ago to 540,000,000 years ago. Before there was much life on Earth at all. Some organisms appeared over that time - mostly in the water of course. There were no plants on land so silicate weathering, an important part of the long term carbon cycle, would have been less efficient than now.
I'm no expert in paleoclimatology but I found a review paper called "Climate of the Neoproterozoic" written by some experts, Raymond Pierrehumbert and colleagues. Here is an excerpt by way of a short introduction to the era:
The Neoproterozoic is a time of transition between the ancient microbial world and the Phanerozoic, marked by a resumption of extreme carbon isotope fluctuations and glaciation after a billion-year absence. The carbon cycle disruptions are probably accompanied by changes in the stock of oxidants and connect to glaciations via changes in the atmospheric greenhouse gas content. Two of the glaciations reach low latitudes and may have been Snowball events with near-global ice cover....
...Until near the end of the Neoproterozoic, however,much of the Neoproterozoic show played out on the microbial stage and was recorded only dimly in the fossil record. The Neoproterozoic is like a dark tunnel. The ancient microbial world enters the far end, endures the biogeochemical and climatic turbulence of the Neoproterozoic, and comes out into the light of the metazoan-rich Phanerozoic world on the other side.
The paper is fairly easy to read at the beginning. (It gets technical further in.) In regard to carbon dioxide and climate, this is some of what was written:
The Neoproterozoic glaciations provide the main indication of climate variability, but apart from that and the broad inferences that can be drawn from survival of various forms of marine life, there are no proxies to tell us how hot it may have been between glaciations.
Christopher Monckton seems a lot more sure of himself than are scientists, when he talks about the Neoproterozoic. He's convinced that "there was at least 30% CO2 in the atmosphere, compared with 0.04% today, and yet glaciers came and went, at the equator, twice" - implying that CO2 levels didn't change in 460 million years or so. Given how CO2 has increased by 40% in the blink of an eye since industrialisation, that seems a strange position for him to take. Not so strange when you know something of the potty peer I suppose.
The paper states that the "absorbed solar radiation averaged over Earth’s surface would have been approximately 14Wm-2 less than it is at present". Therefore, to keep the temperature the same as today, there would have had to be around 12 times as much CO2 as there was prior to industrialisation. That is, around 3,360 ppmv - with perhaps some CH4 substitution. However in the non-glacial periods of the Neoproterozoic, it was probably warmer than the Ordovician, with higher levels of CO2 than 3,360 ppmv.
What about the glacial periods? It's likely or at least possible that there were two periods in the Neoproterozoic era during which Earth probably or possibly had snowball earth events. That is, most of the oceans froze over. What would have caused that to happen would be a large reduction in CO2. And to come out of the snowball earth would have taken probably an even greater rise in CO2 or other greenhouse gases.
The paper I referred to discusses how δ13C had enormous fluctuations during the Neoproterozoic and puts forward potential mechanisms for this. If, like me, you're not all that familiar with these topics, then you might find you need to concentrate. I won't attempt to distil the information here at HotWhopper. I've learnt a lot more than I knew before reading the paper but my knowledge of the subject is way less than the authors (and probably less than many HW readers). One little fact I can impart - the enormous shifts in global temperatures during the 460 million years or so of the Neoproterozoic era had much to do with greenhouse gases.
The point is that Christopher Monckton doesn't have much of a clue when it comes to climate science. Whether it's science of the present day climate or that of a thousand million years ago. And given how deniers love to claim "it's the sun", it's ironic that Christopher ignores the sun when he talks about climates of the deep past, arguing as if the world back then was in the same situation as it is today. It was different in so many ways.
From the WUWT comments
A swag of comments - here are some for you to enjoy - or whatever.
Martin A says:
March 26, 2014 at 7:31 am
I’d like to thank the quaintly named Monckton of Brenchley for his kind reply (3:05 am) to my comment and my question.
The quaintly named Monckton of Brenchley goes some small way to redeeming himself (extract):
March 26, 2014 at 8:01 am
...Mr Kelly says that because CO2 concentration change lags temperature change by an average of 800 years the overall temperature feedback gain factor must be zero. Mr Haynie makes a similar point. However, theirs is a common misconception. Though it is clear on paleoclimate timescales that it is temperature that changed first and CO2 concentration change that followed, the CO2 concentration change was – and is – capable of reinforcing and amplifying the temperature change.
KevinK isn't buying the idea and says:
March 26, 2014 at 6:04 pm
Go on, pull my other leg while you are at it. That is not only a bad example of circular logic it isn’t even a good example of mobius strip logic.
So to state it another way; temperature drives CO2 levels AND CO2 levels drive temperature, UM KAY….. If you say so.
Surely you are joking….. (Ok, apparently you are serious and I’ll refrain from calling you Shirley).
It has to be ONE or the OTHER, not BOTH.
CO2 levels could conceivably affect the response time of the gases in the atmosphere (causing them to warm/cool more quickly after sunrise, for example), but they cannot be controlled by AND ALSO control the average temperature.
How, one would reasonably ask, can this mythical molecule (CO2) know when to “obey” the temperature and when to “command” the temperature ?????
Your logic would lead to a runaway train…….
March 26, 2014 at 9:14 am
I cannot buy into CO2 warming a H2O system as it (the CO2) would dilute molecule for molecule any concentration of H2O vapor, resulting in a cooling response as CO2 is less a heat absorbent than water. The cooling would then dry the atmosphere causing even further cooling. How many time do we have to look at the ice cores to verify an increase in CO2 cools the planet? And then there is the fact that it is the surface that warms the atmosphere, so first there must be warmer temps on the surface to increase air temperature. All being equal, less concentration of H2O is a cooler atmosphere.
GogogoStopSTOP (as Bernard) said he was having a problem viewing WUWT and wondered if it was the site or him, to which Anthony replied in a somewhat condescending manner. GogogoStopSTOP wasn't impressed and says:
March 26, 2014 at 9:57 am
Well pardon me Anthony! The last time I spoke with you personally, it was at the Heartland meeting in DC a few years ago. You seemed like such a pleasant, knowledgeable gentleman.
I’ve followed your blog for years. I have an Apple Macbook pro, running Mac OS X 10.7.5…
Thanks for the advice, but it’s a little unbecoming of you, as was, probably, my asking if there was something affecting your operation more broadly.
Christopher greets the men in white coats
Let's finish up with one of Christopher's incomprehensible ravings as he toddles off to greet the men in white coats. The quaintly named Monckton of Brenchley says (excerpt):
March 26, 2014 at 3:56 pm:
As it becomes ever more apparent to all that the claims of the totalitarian Left about the climate are in all material respects exaggerated, people will perhaps look more closely at the habit of routine and egregious mendacity that is a consequence of the enormous campaign of disinformation by a million agents of Soviet propaganda, that infected our media, our academe and our other institutions for decades. Though the evil empire that promoted that vicious campaign of lies was eventually flung into oblivion, today’s hard Left, having learned how to dissemble on the grand scale, have now largely lost the ability to tell the difference between that which is true and that which is not. To them, as to the Soviets who trained them so well and often without their knowledge, it is not the truth but the Party Line that matters. On the climate, the Party Line is now being daily demonstrated to have been in substance false. As more and more people come to realize this, they will begin to question everything they are told by the left/Green inheritors of the Communist/fascist mantle, and the world will be a merrier place for that.
Pierrehumbert, R. T., D. S. Abbot, A. Voigt, and D. Koll. "Climate of the Neoproterozoic." Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 39, no. 1 (2011): 417. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-earth-040809-152447