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the latest climate science-denying physicist

John F. Clauser: the latest climate science-denying physicist

Posted on 4 September 2023 by dana1981

It’s a familiar story – the physicist who draws attention for declaring that climate scientists have got climate science all wrong. He (it’s always a ‘he’) was born before color television was invented, usually retired, perhaps having won a Nobel Prize, but with zero climate science research or expertise. William Happer. Fritz Vahrenholt. Ivar Giaever. Roger Cohen. Steven Koonin. The latest example from this mould is John F. Clauser.

Although Clauser has never published any peer-reviewed climate science research, he has made several climate-related claims whose veracity we will examine below.

Humans are responsible for the increase in CO2

In a July 2023 interview with the Epoch Times, Clauser claimed that the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) “may or may not be made by human beings.

In reality, several lines of evidence have proven the incontrovertible fact that the human combustion of fossil fuels – which today releases nearly 40 billion tons of CO2 per year – is entirely responsible for the 50% increase in Earth’s atmospheric CO2 concentrations since the Industrial Revolution. For example, there’s basic accounting: those 40 billion tons of CO2 have to go somewhere, and Earth’s natural sinks like the oceans and biosphere only absorb about half of those emissions. The other half ends up in the atmosphere, as explained in the Denial101x video below. And atmospheric carbon isotope ratio measurements also demonstrate that the CO2 increase is coming from ancient plant matter, a.k.a. fossil fuels.

Anyone who understands even the most basic aspects of climate science should not question such a simple and thoroughly-established fact.

Clouds won’t save us

The Epoch Times also wrote of Clauser:

He argues that climate is primarily set by what he refers to as the “cloud cover thermostat,” a self-regulating process whereby more clouds start to enshroud the Earth when the temperature is too high and vice-versa.

Clouds play a complicated role in Earth’s climate because they both reflect sunlight, causing a cooling effect, and trap heat, causing a warming effect. Higher clouds tend to have a net warming effect while lower clouds tend to have a net cooling effect. How each type of cloud cover will change as the planet warms will determine whether they dampen or amplify global warming on the whole.

So far, both observational evidence and climate modeling suggest that if anything, changes in cloud cover will act to slightly amplify global warming. Moreover, if cloud cover acted as Earth’s thermostat, then we wouldn’t have seen the large historical swings between ice ages and warm periods, as explained in the Denial101x video below. So, the available evidence strongly contradicts Clauser’s hypothesis.

Climate change worsens extreme weather events

In July 2023, Clauser gave a talk at the event Quantum Korea 2023 in which he claimed, “climate change does not cause extreme weather events.

In fact, climate change increases the intensity and/or frequency of many types of extreme weather. This is basic physics. An increased greenhouse effect traps more heat energy within Earth’s climate system. That increased heat raises temperatures, directly causing more extreme heat waves. It also increases evapotranspiration, amplifying droughts in drought-prone regions, and also wildfires. A warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor (Clauser should read up on the Clausius–Clapeyron relation), which can amplify extreme precipitation and flooding in flood-prone regions. And warmer ocean waters fuel stronger hurricanes.

The World Weather Attribution group has quantified the climate contribution to a number of extreme weather events, and these general relationships have been established by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IPCC is a great scientific body

In his Quantum Korea talk, Clauser also described the IPCC as “one of the worst sources of dangerous misinformation.

In reality, the IPCC is one of the world’s greatest scientific bodies. It is composed of the world’s foremost climate scientists, who every 5 to 8 years devote tremendous amounts of time and effort to author reports summarizing the latest climate science research, without any remuneration whatsoever. The IPCC reports are in fact the world’s best source of accurate and valuable climate science information.

Energy can come from clean sources

In May of 2023, Clauser joined the board of directors of the climate-denying CO2 Coalition, at which time he stated:

In my opinion, there is no real climate crisis. There is, however, a very real problem with providing a decent standard of living to the world’s large population and an associated energy crisis.

Developing nations do need cost-effective energy sources to reduce the number of people living in poverty. But that energy needn’t come from fossil fuels. Africa, for example, has the largest solar power potential in the world, and also vast wind energy potential. As Andrea Willige has argued, the continent could leapfrog fossil fuel infrastructure in favor of decentralized power generation using renewable energy, just as it leapfrogged fixed-line telecommunication infrastructure to move straight to mass mobile phone use. In the process, it would avoid the detrimental health effects associated with fossil fuel air and water pollution, as well as the resulting climate pollution. Moreover, according to Lazard, the costs of clean technologies have fallen so far that solar energy plus storage is often cheaper today than building new fossil fuel power plants.

Old climate denial

Like so many of his old physicist colleagues before him, Clauser has repeated a number of long-debunked climate myths without providing any supporting evidence whatsoever. Until that changes, there is no reason to lend any credence to this brand of stale, reheated climate denial.  Remember: whenever John F. Clauser and his statements related to climate change get bandied about, it is a prime example of using a fake expert on climate change.

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