HomeWeather NewsWeekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #548 – Watts Up With That?

Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #548 – Watts Up With That?

The Week That Was: 2023-04-15 (April 15, 2023)
Brought to You by SEPP (
The Science and Environmental Policy Project

Quote of the Week: “It is easy to forget that science offers more than a body of knowledge and a process for adding new knowledge. It tells us not only what we know but what we don’t know. It identifies areas of uncertainty and offers an estimate of how great and how critical that uncertainty is likely to be.” Norman Borlaug [H/t Henry Miller, ACSH]

Number of the Week: 0.14 K increase per decade


By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

Scope: The issues to be discussed include the following: Last week’s discussion of the March paper by van Wijngaarden and Happer stated that about 60% of the infrared energy emitted by the surface of the earth is released into space. The balance is hindered by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, thus warming the Earth. This is a snapshot, not a cumulative process. As stated in the Stefan-Boltzmann law, the warmed Earth emits significantly more infrared radiation than the Earth would emit if not warmed by greenhouse gases. In a response to a reader’s question, AMO physicist Howard Hayden brings up additional detail which illustrates a glaring deficiency in understanding the greenhouse effect by the IPCC in its first report.

Some additional points in the van Wijngaarden and Happer paper are discussed including the changing solar energy hitting the globe as it orbits the sun. The earth is closest to the sun in early January and furthest from the sun in early July. If there are any strong positive feedbacks from a warming, regardless of cause, they should occur during the earth’s orbit of the sun.

Ecologist Jim Steele has another good, simple presentation on how the Earth cools by convection and how the parts of the Earth become unusually warm. Unfortunately, he uses the term trapping heat. The term may apply to heat domes, but it does not apply to greenhouse gases which inhibit heat loss to space. Also, he does not discuss how subsurface volcanic activity may be warming the oceans.

Econometrician Ross McKitrick discusses a paper in JGR Atmospheres verifying the work by John Christy and Roy Spencer on atmospheric temperature trends.

Washington is using a combination of subsidies (which are really bribes) and false health claims (which are really coercion) to force automobile and light truck manufacturers into producing more electric vehicles. To properly identify the type of system Washington is imposing, the actions will be discussed in light of classical economic systems. Further, Washington appears to be totally unaware of the massive expansion of the minerals extraction industry that its policies will require as discussed in last week’s TWTW.

The World Health Organization and the US EPA as well as many once-respected medical journals have claimed that fine air borne particles are a deadly threat to human health. It appears that nature is testing their claims.

After gaining approval and paying their fees, a small group from the CO2 Coalition was evicted from the National Conference on Science Education by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). Physicist Gordon Fulks, a director of the CO2 Coalition and chair of the Education Committee, sent a letter to the NSTA questioning science teaching today.


The Gap: In responding to last week’s TWTW, Reader John Shanahan asked why is only 60% of the Infrared Radiation emitted by the surface of the Earth going to space. Is the difference in energy used to do work for all the events in climate? (Motion of air and oceans, transport of fresh water from ocean to land and ocean, lightning, growth of plants, etc.?). AMO physicist Howard Hayden who wrote the essays on Basic Climate Physics on the SEPP website responded quickly.

“On average, the surface radiates as a blackbody of ca. 289 K, which means that it radiates ca. 398 W/m2 [watts per square meter]. The radiation to space is ca. 239 W/m2, so the net effect of GHGs [Greenhouse gases] is to absorb 159 W/m2. 159/398 = 40%. (Happer uses numbers that are a bit different — and probably better — but I use IPCC numbers, lest I be accused of using ‘unapproved’ data.)”

“What is the nature of that absorbed energy?  Some of it moves the air around.  Some of it radiates toward the Earth. Some of it evaporates water. But the long and short of it is that these are internal processes. The only external processes are incoming sunlight and outgoing IR [Infrared radiation], and the two are equal in quantity (though the spectra are entirely different).  Consider just one of the balances: Heat leaving the surface (through IR, evaporation, and conduction/convection) equals the heat reaching the surface (sunlight, IR from clouds, IR from GHGs.

“For the time being, ignore the Boltzmann factor which determines the equilibrium fraction of molecules are in excited states. Think of layers The 15-micron peak in the CO2 spectrum is so large that at present concentration, the mean free path is only 20 cm. Now imagine a photon of that wavelength leaving the surface — not directly upward, but at some angle, say, 45º. On average it would rise about 14 cm before being absorbed. For a more horizontal angle, it would be even less of a rise. So (without getting our noses out of joint about precision), imagine that there is a layer of (say) 15 cm thickness in which (say) 95% of the IR of that wavelength is absorbed. For that layer, a molecule can emit an IR photon in some random direction, half with some upward inclination, and half with some downward inclination. For the next layer up, the same sort of thing happens, half goes upward, half goes downward. Layer after layer, the same thing happens.  Each layer receives IR from the layer below and also from the layer above.  Owing to the decreasing pressure with altitude, the layer thickness increases as you go up, but it is clear that there are MANY thousands of such layers between the surface and the ‘top of the atmosphere.’”

This thinking leads to a false conclusion that the amount of radiation to space (for each given wavelength) is far less than the surface radiation.  For example, with a mere 100 layers, about 99% would be radiated back to the surface and a mere 1% would be radiated to space. Hayden uses the results of the NIMBUS satellite program (1964 to 78) over Guam (April 27, 1970) to show that the thinking is false. Also, it shows that carbon dioxide’s (CO2) influence is strongest in wavelengths about 15 micrometers. [This is similar to Figure 7 in the March van Wijngaarden and Happer paper which shows the theoretical infrared radiation to space (the smooth Planck curve) and the actual, observed infrared radiation to space (the jagged Schwarzschild line), with the wavelengths of the principal greenhouse gases identified.]

Hayden addresses the first Assessment Report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It had no radiation in the wavelength band where CO2 interferes with infrared radiation going to space – even though the observations taken 20 years earlier over Guam clearly show that significant radiation in those wavelengths does go to space. Further, the report does not discuss water vapor, the principal greenhouse gas, which changes the influence of other greenhouse gases. Thus, right from the start, the IPCC had the greenhouse effect wrong.

A possible out for the IPCC is that it discusses only man-made emissions. Yet, global climate modelers add an amplification effect from water vapor in their calculations. Separately, by law the US National Climate Assessment (NCA) is required to consider both natural and human induced processes of global change. By adopting findings of the IPCC, the authors of the NCA are failing to meet the requirements of the law. No wonder that Washington was so upset when a small group headed by David Legates published honest findings in 2021.

See link under Challenging the Orthodoxy,,,  and


Additional Points: In their paper in the section “A Model Atmosphere” van Wijngaarden and Happer (W & H) write: [Boldface added]

Solar heating drives Earth’s climate. At the mean distance of Earth from the Sun, sunlight carries an energy flux of about 1,360 Watts per square meter (W/m2). We are familiar with this flux, part of which warms us when we sunbathe at the beach on a cloud free summer day. The flux at the top of Earth’s atmosphere actually varies a little bit over the year, since Earth’s orbit around the Sun is slightly elliptical. Earth is about 3.3% closer to the Sun in early January than in early July. Since solar flux decreases as the square of the distance from the Sun, the solar flux at the top of the atmosphere is about 6.7% or 91 W/m2 greater in January than in July. As we will discuss in more detail below, for cloud-free temperate latitudes, doubling the concentration of CO2 would decrease thermal radiation to space by about 3 W/m2. Note 3 W/m2 is much less than the planet-wide, [Northern Hemisphere] winter-summer difference of 91 W/m2. And we are a long way from doubling CO2.

The change in solar radiation the earth receives between January and July should stop any speculation of amplification of warming and “run-away” greenhouse effect from positive feedbacks. But it will not. Van Wijngaarden and Happer conclude their paper with:


Greenhouse gases are responsible for the most striking feature of Earth’s atmosphere, a lower troposphere, and an upper stratosphere. In the troposphere, below the tropopause boundary, a large fraction of the energy flux from the solar heated surface is carried by convection, and not by thermal radiation. Convection maintains average temperature lapse rates in the troposphere that are close to adiabatic [heat does not enter or leave the system]. In the stratosphere, most of the upward heat flux is carried by radiation. Greenhouse gases warm the surface because they increase the “thermal resistance” of the atmosphere to the vertical flow of energy from the solar-heated surface to space. The larger the thermal resistance between the surface and the emission altitude, the larger the temperature difference needed to drive the solar energy absorbed by the surface back to space. Without the thermal resistance induced by greenhouse gases, Earth’s surface would be much colder and life as we know it would not be possible.

Increasing carbon dioxide will cause a small additional surface warming. It is difficult to calculate exactly how much, but our best estimate is that it is about 1 C for every doubling of CO2 concentration, when all feedbacks are correctly accounted for. Alarming predictions of dangerous warming require large positive feedbacks. The most commonly invoked feedback is an increase in the concentration of water vapor in the upper troposphere. But most climate models have predicted much more warming than has been observed, so there is no observational support for strong positive feedbacks. Indeed, most feedbacks in nature are negative as expressed by Le Chatelier’s Principle: When any system at equilibrium for a long period of time is subjected to a change in concentration, temperature, volume or pressure, the system changes to a new equilibrium, and this change partly counteracts the applied change.

We have barely touched atmospheric dynamics, perhaps the most interesting part of the grand drama of weather and climate. We are all familiar with manifestations of atmospheric dynamics: warm fronts, cold fronts, droughts, floods, hurricanes, tornados etc. Equally fascinating ocean dynamics, like the El Nino cycles of the tropical Pacific Ocean, also contribute to weather and climate. Earth’s atmosphere works like an extremely complicated engine that transforms heat from the Sun into the work that drives the winds, the weather and ocean dynamics. Greenhouse gases are the heat exchanger which allows the atmospheric heat engine to dump waste heat into cold space.

See link under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Convection Simplified: Ecologist Jim Steele gives a clear, simple description on how convection works to cool the planet. In discussing heat domes that occur with stationary high-pressure systems Steele writes;

“Heat domes trap heat for days. They are high pressure systems where sinking air inhibits convection and reduces cloud cover which also increases solar heating.

“Canada’s record high temperature was set and reset 3 days in a row at the end of June 2021 in Lytton, British Columbia. The final record was 45F (25C) warmer than the average maximum temperature for June. A difference that’s intriguingly like the increased temperature inside a car with its raised windows.

“Southwestern Canada’s heat wave was caused by an exaggerated ridge in the jet stream known as an omega block. Omega blocks regularly cause high-pressure systems that linger in one location. As the block remained in place for days, more heat accumulated each day driving Canada’s record temperature higher and higher.”

As mentioned above, TWTW has two comments on the entire presentation clarify possible misunderstandings. One, greenhouse gases do not trap heat. They delay infrared radiation in reaching space. Second, Professor Yim’s studies on subsurface geothermal activity in oceans appear to be a better explanation of recent ocean warming than Steele’s explanation of salinity gradients. See link under Challenging the Orthodoxy and the October 29, 2022, TWTW.


Measurement, Not Speculation: Atmospheric temperature trends are not keeping up with IPCC predictions (forecasts, projections). Claims of a climate emergency or climate crisis are based on these predictions rather than actual observations. The temperature trend data by John Christy and Roy Spencer (University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH)) have been frequently attacked. An admitted problem has been orbital drift of satellites, which was recognized and corrected in the 1990s. Working with John Christy, econometrician Ross McKitrick studied the problem. He writes about a new study: [Boldface added]

“I’m referring instead to a new paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres by a group of scientists at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) headed by Cheng-Zhi Zou, which presents a new satellite-derived temperature record for the global troposphere (the atmospheric layer from one kilometer up to about 10 km altitude).

The troposphere climate record has been heavily debated for two reasons. First, it’s where climate models say the effect of warming due to greenhouse gases (GHGs) will be the strongest, especially in the mid-troposphere. And since that layer is not affected by urbanization or other changes to the land surface it’s a good place to observe a clean signal of the effect of GHGs.

“Since the 1990s the records from both weather satellites and weather balloons have shown that climate models predict too much warming. In a 2020 paper, John Christy of the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) and I examined the outputs of the 38 newest climate models and compared their global tropospheric warming rates over 1979 to 2014 against observations from satellites and weather balloons. All 38 exhibited too much warming, and in most cases the differences were statistically significant. We argued that this points to a structural error in climate models where they respond too strongly to GHGs.

“But and this is the second point of controversy, there have also been challenges to the observational record. Christy and his co-author, Roy Spencer, invented the original method of deriving temperatures from microwave radiation measurements collected by NOAA satellites in orbit since 1979. Their achievement earned them numerous accolades, but also attracted controversy because their satellite record didn’t show any warming. About 20 years ago scientists at Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) in California found a small error in their algorithm that, once corrected, did yield a warming trend.

“Christy and Spencer incorporated the RSS correction, but the two teams subsequently differed on other questions, such as how to correct for the positional drift of the satellites, which changes the time of day when instruments take their readings over each location. The RSS team used a climate model to develop the correction while the UAH team used an empirical method, leading to slightly different results. Another question was how to merge records when one satellite is taken out of service and replaced by another. Incorrect splicing can introduce spurious warming or cooling.

“In the end the two series were similar, but RSS has consistently exhibited more warming than UAH.  Then a little more than a decade ago, the group at NOAA headed by Zou produced a new data product called STAR (Satellite Applications and Research). They used the same underlying microwave retrievals but produced a temperature record showing much more warming than either UAH or RSS, as well as all the weather balloon records. It came close to validating the climate models, although in my paper with Christy we included the STAR data in the satellite average and the models still ran too hot. Nonetheless it was possible to point to the coolest of the models and compare them to the STAR data and find a match, which was a lifeline for those arguing that climate models are within the uncertainty range of the data.

“Until now. In their new paper Zou and his co-authors rebuilt the STAR series based on a new empirical method for removing time-of-day observation drift and a more stable method of merging satellite records. Now STAR agrees with the UAH series very closely — in fact it has a slightly smaller warming trend. The old STAR series had a mid-troposphere warming trend of 0.16 degrees Celsius per decade, but it’s now 0.09 degrees per decade, compared to 0.1 in UAH and 0.14 in RSS. For the troposphere as a whole, they estimate a warming trend of 0.14 C/decade.

“Zou’s team notes that their findings ‘have strong implications for trends in climate model simulations and other observations’ because the atmosphere has warmed at half the average rate predicted by climate models over the same period. They also note that their findings are ‘consistent with conclusions in McKitrick and Christy (2020),’ namely that climate models have a pervasive global warming bias. In other research, Christy and mathematician Richard McNider have shown that the satellite warming rate implies the climate system can only be half as sensitive to GHGs as the average model used by the IPCC for projecting future warming.

“Strong implications, indeed, but you won’t learn about it from the IPCC. That group regularly puts on a charade of pretending to review the science before issuing press releases that sound like Greta’s Twitter feed. In the real world the evidence against the alarmist predictions from overheated climate models is becoming unequivocal. One day, even the IPCC might find out.”

Note that the data TWTW cites is for the lower troposphere (surface to about 8 km) not the middle troposphere (1 to 10km) used in the above. But there is little difference. The paper claimed that the rate for recent, (truncated) data was 0.22K (C) per decade. The start date was 2002, much cooler than the previous hot year of 1998. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Washington Control: Washington is attempting to control the production of light vehicles by a combination of subsidies (bribes) and regulations (coercion). In classical economics (1930s) economic systems were classified by who decided what to produce and who owned the means of production. In Free Market economics (called Capitalism by Marx) the actions of hundreds or thousands of individuals decided both. In Communism the government controlled both. In socialism the government owned the means of production but individuals decided what to produce. In Fascism, individuals (companies) owned the means of production and the government controlled what to produce. Using this analogy, one can decide what direction Washington is moving. See links under EPA and other Regulators on the March and Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Vehicles,


Yellow Dust: A large cloud of yellow dust has spread from Mongolia eastward as far Tokyo. This is an unusual event in April, but more common in May-June. It is as if Nature is testing the toxicity of fine particles claimed by the World Health Organization and US EPA as well as many once respected medical journals. Writing in the Asian Society, Korea, Brendan Pickering describes Hwang Sa (Yellow Dust) [Boldface added]

“In less than one month a phenomenon dating back to the second century AD will take place – the arrival of “Hwang Sa” or Yellow Dust in Korea. Originating in the deserts of Northern China and Mongolia, Yellow Dust is whisked into the atmosphere by strong winds and carried to the Korean Peninsula via the jet stream. Other than reduced visibility, when the dust arrives it brings along industrial pollutants (like pesticides), viruses, fungi, bacteria, and even heavy metals, none of which are good for respiratory health. Over time, the heavy metals and industrial pollutants also damage crops and soil, meaning the contamination is not restricted to humans.

“Health Risks: When Yellow Dust reaches an unhealthy concentration, around 400 micrograms/cubic meter, people are warned to limit their outdoor activity, especially in regard to heavy exercise and sports. Healthy people can develop sore throats and dry eyes, and children, the elderly, and people with previous respiratory health conditions are advised to remain indoors. In some cases, the concentration of Yellow Dust will exceed 800 micrograms/cubic meter, whereupon schools will be closed, outdoor events cancelled, and a general warning issued to stay indoors unless going outside is absolutely necessary.”

In doses such as these, if PM2.5 is as toxic as the EPA and WHO claim, we should be seeing hundreds of thousands of deaths. Will we? See links under Changing Weather and Health, Energy, and Climate.


You Teach What? Physicist Gordon Fulks, a director of the CO2 Coalition and chair of the Education Committee, sent a letter to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) questioning science teaching today. The letter asserts “Children should be taught how to think, NOT what to think.” See link under Challenging the Orthodoxy.



SEPP is conducting its annual vote for the recipient of the coveted trophy, The Jackson, a lump of coal. Readers are asked to nominate and vote for who they think is most deserving. Senators Schumer and Manchin won in 2022.

The voting will close on June 30. Please send your nominee and a brief reason why the person is qualified for the honor to The awardee will be announced at the annual meeting of the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness on July 7 to 9.


Number of the Week: 0.14 K increase per decade. The increase in temperatures in the middle troposphere, where global climate models predict temperature increases will be the greatest, is 0.14 K or 0.25 °F per decade from all causes, including increases in water vapor. There is no climate emergency or climate crisis. On a typical sunny spring day in Northern Virginia, temperatures can rise that much in 5 minutes between 9 and 10 am. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.

Commentary: Is the Sun Rising?

Cosmic rays, atmospheric ozone and global climate change

By John Robson, Climate Discussion Nexus, Apr 12, 2023

From the CO2Science Archive

Challenging the Orthodoxy — NIPCC

Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science

Idso, Carter, and Singer, Lead Authors/Editors, Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), 2013


Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts

Idso, Idso, Carter, and Singer, Lead Authors/Editors, Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), 2014


Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels

By Multiple Authors, Bezdek, Idso, Legates, and Singer eds., Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, April 2019

Download with no charge:

Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming

The NIPCC Report on the Scientific Consensus

By Craig D. Idso, Robert M. Carter, and S. Fred Singer, Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), Nov 23, 2015

Download with no charge:

Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate

S. Fred Singer, Editor, NIPCC, 2008

Global Sea-Level Rise: An Evaluation of the Data

By Craig D. Idso, David Legates, and S. Fred Singer, Heartland Policy Brief, May 20, 2019

Challenging the Orthodoxy

Atmosphere and Greenhouse Gas Primer

By W. A. van Wijngaarden and W. Happer, Department of Physics and Astronomy, York University, Canada & Department of Physics, Princeton University, USA, March 3, 2023

Global Warming Greenhouse Theory’s Greatest Weakness

By Jim Steele, A Walk On The Natural Side, Apr 5, 2023



NOAA Confirm UAH Tropospheric Temperature Trends

By Paul Homewood, Not a Lot of People Know That, Apr 13, 2023

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