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The Science of Dryness & California Droughts & Fire • Watts Up With That?

Jim Steele

This video provides the science revealing how droughts are caused by dry weather that then result in warmer temperatures. It also shows there is no correlation between rising greenhouse gases vs droughts and wildfires.

Jim Steele is Director emeritus of San Francisco State University’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus, authored Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism, and proud member of the CO2 Coalition.

Transcipt for this video is at:

The Science of Dryness and  California’s Droughts

Here I will deal with how people are being misled by a toxic mix of scientific truths re-framed by false narratives.

Increasing CO2 undeniably re-directs more energy back to the earth’s surface increasing the earth’s potential warming.

However, as easily demonstrated in this video, increasing CO2 is not causing more drought and wildfires

Physicists have reliably determined that CO2 is increasing the earth’s warming potential by about 2.5 watts per meter squared. That science is indeed settled.

However, how it will affect earth’s climate is definitely not settled. Depending on the earth’s sensitivity, different scientists hypothesize a doubling of CO2 concentrations since the mid 1800s has the potential to raise global temperatures somewhere between 1.5 to 4.5 Celsius.

So far, CO2 has only increased by about 40%.

So, to convince you that a 1 degree rise in a hundred years is deadly & dangerous, politicians like Al Gore repeat claims by alarmists like climate scientist Jim Hansen, that CO2 is adding the equivalent of 600 thousand Hiroshima bombs each day.

To justify that ridiculous scary narrative, they simply multiplied CO2’s 2.5 watts per meter squared by the earth’s 500 trillion square meters of surface area and then multiplied that result by over 86,000 seconds. Finally, they ignore how much energy quickly escapes back to space.

At the 2023 World Economic Forum a desperate Al Gore claimed those bombs were boiling our oceans. He must believe the public is stupid or just too scared to think critically.

The average temperature for the earth’s oceans is about 4ºC, just 4% of the temperature need to boil water! Even the warmest hot spots on tropical ocean surfaces only reach 33% of the boiling point.

If your kids or friends have been terrified by such lies, I suggest doing a real scientific experiment in your own home.

The average ranch house has a living room that is about 31 square meters large. A lamp with a 100-watt light bulb, will provide about 3.2 W/ m2 of energy to that room, a little more energy than currently being added by CO2.

Seal the living room off from the rest of your house and only use that light bulb to warm the room during the winter. It will be very clear that 2.5 watts/square meter is not providing dangerous heat nor preventing dangerous cold.

Click-bait media profits from cherry-picking disasters, fear mongering and misinforming.

For example, in November 2022 CNN announced California’s climate crisis is intensifying and taking a heavy toll on residents.

Reading on, they reported the stark reality of climate change in California is clear: record high temperatures, unrelenting drought and unprecedented wildfires.

I’ve addressed the wildfire misinformation in earlier presentations. Just google “Understanding Wildfires and How We Must Adapt” or “Setting Senator Whitehouse Straight on Climate and Wildfires”

Because climate alarmists can only claim that wildfires are getting worse because rising CO2 is raising vapor pressure deficits and drying out the land, this video focuses on the causes of drought and dryness.

First, using the Palmer Drought everity Index, an EPA time series for the United States contiguous 48 states, shows absolutely no trend in droughts for the last 125 years. The worst drought conditions happened in the 1930s.

Looking at 100-year regional trends, there have been fewer droughts in the eastern half of the United States.

The only region with a significant drying trend is California and the American southwest where drying due to La Nina-like conditions have the greatest impact.

And that drying trend will be greatly reduced with another year of data as California’s 2022-2023 water year is experiencing record high rain and snowfall.

Using tree rings of the Blue Oak, a moisture sensitive tree growing in the Sierra Nevada foothills, rainfall variability can be extended back to the 1300s. Yet again, there is no long-term drying trend. The 21st century is not experiencing any unusual precipitation trends, also called meteorological drought.

Similarly, NOAA modeled the Palmer Drought Severity Index back for the past one thousand years. This metric evaluates agricultural drought and soil moisture nonetheless they determined worse droughts happened when CO2 concentrations were much lower than today

NOAA’s data on California’s annual rainfall since 1900 also shows no trend.

So, there is absolutely no correlation at all with rising greenhouse gases.

There are better correlations with the all-natural Pacific Decadal Oscillation which refers to the 20–30-year switches between El Nino-like and La Nina-like ocean conditions.

Paradoxically the narrative on how rising CO2 concentrations raise temperatures depends partly on increasing moisture, not increasing drought.

Here is the suggested mechanism. First, rising CO2 adds about 2.5 watts of energy and potentially raises air temperatures.

The air holds more moisture as temperatures rise.

Increasing water vapor is a greenhouse gas that amplifies that temperature increase by 1.7 times.

Despite the small temperature change, some very impressionable people who never think critically, become convinced that climate change is causing human extinction.

Those impressionable pawns of climate alarm have been misled by many so-called experts, such as those at the National Science Foundation funded UCAR Center for Science Education.

Their website writes-that global warming is causing “more evaporation, so there is more water in the air, so there will be more intense rainfall causing flooding.

But under the category that all things are possible if you just believe in the government

Their very next paragraph states the opposite dynamic where “more evaporation turning water into vapor causes drought”.

Thus, we are inundated with a pseudo religious scientific claim that with “CO2 all things are possible”.

Our impressionable and vulnerable children then become depressed falsely believing rising CO2 is destroying their future with both floods and drought!

In contrast, drier and warmer weather happens when greenhouse warming is most reduced.

Scientific consensus shows drier land causes higher temperatures, as measured in California’s Death Valley or the deserts of the Sahara and Middle East. Those deserts have been created by atmospheric circulation that brings dry weather.

Wet weather has more clouds and water vapor.

More clouds have a cooling effect by reducing solar heating.

More water vapor promotes more evaporative cooling.

But because water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas, absorbing 3 to 4 times more heat than CO2, water vapor increases greenhouse heating.

Still those combined dynamics show wet weather results in cooler temperatures.

Dry weather however brings clear skies and reduced water vapor. That increases solar heating.

Less moisture reduces evaporative cooling further warming the surface.

Reduced water vapor reduces greenhouse warming,

Thus, dry weather increases temperatures when greenhouse warming is most reduced.

Due to powerful moisture effects, there is no need for an increase in solar or greenhouse radiation to account for rising temperatures.

First, to be clear, joules are simply a measure of energy, and watts are a measure of how much energy is delivered each second.

So, to put joules into perspective, it takes 4.18 joules to raise a gram of water by 1 degree Celsius.

But a whopping 2,257 joules are required to convert a gram of liquid water to water vapor. And despite absorbing that much energy, there is no change in temperature, which is why evaporation causes latent or “hidden” heating.

When there is no water to vaporize, all that energy will quickly raise air and soil temperatures. It only takes 1 joule to raise a gram of air by 1 degree Celsius. Because that energy input can be detected as a rising temperature, it is called sensible heat.

It is the shift from latent heat to sensible heat that accounts for the increasing soil and air temperatures as the soil dries. Soil temperature can rise by 10 degrees Celsius as the soil goes from 30% to 0% moisture content.

Air temperatures are primarily governed by contact with the ground. Air that contacts warm surfaces rises, allowing cooler air above to sink and warm. This convection loop determines the air temperatures used in climate science.

Accordingly, several scientific studies show the strong relationship between air and soil temperatures.

Human groundwater extraction lowers the water table and can reduce soil moisture, hasten the arrival of the local wilting point and preventing further transpiration, while shifting temperature control to greater sensible heating.

Stress from ground water depletion further amplifies the Southwest’s vulnerability to dryness and resulting warming

Urbanization further reduces soil moisture and removes cooling vegetation driving the urban heat islands. Climate scientist Dr Roy Spencer has presented evidence from his research showing that Urban Heat Island effects are largely indistinguishable from any theoretical CO2 driven warming.

Similarly, dog lovers concerned about dangerous surface heat that could burn their dogs’ paws present this warning:

When air temperature is at 95 F,

Dry black asphalt reaches 140 F, while lighter colored cement reflecting more sunlight, only reaches 125 F.

As asphalt and cement increasingly covered urbanized areas more surface temperatures increased by 35 to 50f higher than surfaces with living grass.

Weather stations in the Global Historical Climate Network are becoming increasingly urbanized and skewing global temperatures.

Only 13.2% of all GHCN weather stations can be called truly rural, where natural warming is best measured.

In addition, airport weather stations with their asphalt and cement runways and parking lots are increasingly becoming the backbone of weather stations in the climate network. So how often are alarmist scientists and click bait media incorrectly attributing warmer temperatures and natural droughts to rising CO2??

Democracy depends on a better-informed public. A public succumbing to fear mongering and lies only opens the door for bad solutions and government tyranny.

Thank you

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