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BARRY BRILL: A Climate Crisis? Or Just Weather?

Weather is to climate as an election in Eketahuna is to the history of the world.


“Weather” is an hour-to-hour variation in atmospheric conditions within a tiny local section of the Earth’s surface. You can see and feel weather, measure it, record it – and even forecast it for a few days in advance.


“Climate change” is the multi-decadal trend of the change in global mean surface temperature anomalies (GMST), averaged over the entire planetary atmosphere and hydrosphere; and caused by anthropogenic global warming (AGW) arising from human-related increases in the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs). It is a statistical construct that has no counterpart in the real world.


Mathematician Lorenz exaggerated when he said: “climate is what you expect; weather is what you get”.


Even Blind Freddie knows that the concepts of weather and climate are as different as chalk and cheese. Obviously, the bright journalists in our corporate media know this as well.


So, why do we get fed daily stories conflating local weather events with global climate change?


Perhaps it’s a co-ordinated and patronising attempt to falsely persuade worldwide audiences that AGW is at last morphing into “dangerous” status (DAGW)? (As we saw in a previous essay, we have all signed up to a global project to ensure that AGW does not become DAGW – as that term is defined in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change).


Or perhaps media owners/journalists seriously believe they are reflecting settled science?


Let’s explore that second hypothesis…


Weather Facts


UN Scientists – the “gold standard” source of climate science – have told us for years that official data shows no increase whatever in the frequency or severity of weather events across the Earth. Even more shocking, their GCMs say that no increase in most such events is likely to occur throughout the remainder of this century.


(IPCC) WG1 reports have publicly offered official advice to all the world’s governments that , despite ceaseless attempts, they have been unable to find scientific evidence linking extreme weather to increasing global temperatures. In AR4 (2007), AR5 (2013) and AR6 (2021) that advice has remained remarkably consistent.


In AR6 (2021), Chapter 11 :


“No signal of climate change has yet emerged beyond natural variability for any of the following phenomena:

River floods

Heavy precipitation and pluvial floods

Landslides

Drought (all types)

Severe wind storms

Tropical cyclones

Sand and dust storms

Heavy snowfall and ice storms

Hail

Snow avalanche

Coastal flooding

Marine heat waves


There is a glossary, a regional breakdown and a summary table for a range of extremes in Chapter 12.


As the dense IPCC text tends to be rather inaccessible, the following translation by leading commentator and author Professor Roger Pielke Jr is recommended. In What the IPCC Actually Says About Extreme Weather , he comments:


“…you will realise that the difference between what you see in the news (including statements from leading scientists) and what the IPCC has concluded could not be more different.


One day PhD dissertations will be written about our current moment of apocalyptic panic.”


Pielke reproduces the above long list of extremes that cannot be linked to climate change – and then adds:


“Furthermore, the emergence of a climate change signal is not expected even under the extreme RCP8.5 scenario by 2100 for any of these phenomena – except heavy precipitation and pluvial floods and that with only medium confidence [about 60:40] Since we know that RCP8.5 is extreme and implausible, that means that there would be even less confidence in emergence under a more plausible upper bound, like RCP4.5”


The UN Scientists do say that an increase in heat extremes has emerged or will emerge in most mid-latitudes within the next three decades (according to modelled simulations which use RCP8.5). Pielke concludes:


“Clearly, with the exception perhaps of only extreme heat, the IPCC is badly out of step with today’s apocalyptic zeitgeist… how can science like this co-exist with an end-of-times panic? Something would seem to have to give, right?”


Heat records


GMST has been trending upwards for over 40 years. If extreme weather events were really caused by small increases in that metric, then you would expect that most local all-time weather records would have fallen before or during the 1990s – and many of those new records would have been re-broken in the 2000s – and then re-broken again in the 2010s – and so on and on, with broken records raining down like confetti.


But that didn’t happen. The official list of heat records in each of the 50 US States shows that not even one has occurred in this century. That dearth of extreme heat throughout the USA (which keeps the world’s most extensive records) can also be seen in this graphic.


All around the world, thousands of all-time heat records that were set in the 1930s remain intact today.


How can we possibly reconcile all this hard data with the media’s evidence-free narrative that extreme weather is being caused by climate change?


Theories : Some basic physics


A handful of scientists around the world have developed various hypotheses that increasing GMST should produce weather extremes, without being concerned with the data. There are three commonly-cited theories underpinning the Alarmists’ pitch. All three seem to be built on rather obvious fallacies.


a. Temperature increases everywhere


GMST trends are by definition averages of averages. At any given time, thousands of the grid cells in any global climate model (GCM) will show a wide range of warming trends, whilst almost as many are displaying a range of cooling trends. Subtracting the aggregate of the latter from the former provides a notional “global mean” of the trends occurring in multiple disparate climate regions.


Nearly half of all weather events will ipso facto have their genesis within a cooling climate region. Clearly, such weather owes nothing whatever to AGW.


The ‘greenhouse effect’ recognises that sunlight energy (short-wave) warms the Earth’s surface during the day, while surplus energy is emitted to space at night by infrared (long-wave). GHGs can interact with the infrared pixels, and slow them down. Consequently, AGW generally occurs only at night and mainly in the winter (when nights are long and cold).


Very little AGW occurs in tropical regions because of their high ambient humidity. Water vapour is the dominant GHG – so greenhouse warming in the tropics was already maxed out millennia ago, long before anthropogenic impacts even came into play.


Most AGW occurs in the polar regions. As NASA points out, “temperatures have increased about twice as fast in the Arctic as in the mid-latitudes”.


So the impact of AGW is very uneven - being largely confined to winter nights in the mid-to-high latitudes. The resulting warmer winter nights have decimated frosts and reduced mortality rates within many species, but they have not caused extreme weather events!


b. More moisture in the atmosphere


The maximum water vapour that can potentially be held in the air (ie humidity) increases by about 7% for each 1°C. Some climate campaigners argue that AGW therefore increases both humidity (directly) and precipitation (indirectly).


Note, however, that no increase in the air’s potential carrying capacity of H2O occurs where the pre-existing humidity is already less than 100%. Only the maximum is moved. The regions which constantly have RH near 100% are the tropics – regions where AGW barely has any effect, as noted above.


So, it is no surprise that there has been no increase in measured global average humidity or precipitation during more than a half-century of AGW. On the contrary, UN Scientists have reported that “global annual land mean precipitation showed a non-significant decrease since 1950 (Figure 9.18; see also Table 3.4)".


The Hunga-Tonga volcano has increased water vapour in the stratosphere by up to 15% and, for years to come, will have a much greater influence on temperature and weather than AGW.


c. More energy from the sea


This Alarmists’ argument regarding tropical cyclones (called hurricanes in the Atlantic and typhoons in the Asian area of the Pacific) is that higher sea surface temperatures (SSTs) caused by AGW might provide extra fuel for incipient cyclones and therefore increase the number of land-falling cyclones. They speculate that the heat energy from these higher SSTs also magnify the intensity.of cyclones.


The fatal flaw in this argument is that measured tropical SSTS have not increased at all in recent decades. For the reasons set out above, AGW has barely affected tropical temperatures. On the contrary, NASA satellite readings establish that the average SST in equatorial regions has apparently decreased by 0.22°C over the past 30 years.


If there has been any change in the frequency or severity of tropical cyclones in recent decades (which is denied by the official data) then such changes cannot possibly be the result of AGW!


The main driver of extreme weather events is wind-force from the temperature gradient between the equator and the poles. As NASA puts it:

“As the difference between the temperature at the poles and the tropics decreases [because of AGW], there could be less energy for these storms to absorb, a change that could weaken them or make them less frequent.”[1]


The laws of atmospheric physics ensure that climate change reduces the number of tropical cyclones during any period. By flattening the equator-pole gradient, it probably also ameliorates the force of any given cyclone.


So much for the theories ….


Extreme Heat’


The adjective “extreme” is here used relatively and simply refers to new heat records (either night or day). It has to be read in the context that the expected GMST increase by 2100 will only be 1.5°C higher than the present and that AGW adds its warmth on winter nights, outside the tropics.


With more heat comes less cold. The largest study on deaths attributable to heat or cold found that cold weather kills 20 times as many people as heat. Another study in the U.K. and Australia found that cold-related deaths in these countries accounted for more than 15 times higher mortality than heat. And cold mainly kills on winter nights in high latitudes.


Over the past hundred years, annual climate-related deaths have declined by more than 96%. In the 1920s, the death count from climate-related disasters was 485,000 on average every year. In the last full decade, 2010-2019, the average was 18,362 dead per year—or 96.2% lower.


In the first year of the new decade, 2020, the number of dead was even lower at 14,885 — 96.9% lower than the 1920s average. For 2021, the death count was even lower at 7,705 or 98.4% lower. For 2022, which is now complete, we see a continuation of this very low number of deaths: 11,873 or 97.6% lower than the 1920s average.


As previously noted the AGW period of 1870-2020 has proved very hospitable to global food production – the dominant concern of the UNFCCC. Famines peaked in the 1870s with more than 20 million deaths. In the 1880s, the least hungry decade in the 19th century, close to 3 million people starved to death worldwide.


The average annual rate of famine deaths per 100,000 dropped from 19.5 in the 1880s to 4.3 in the 2000s. Between 2010 and 2016, it was only 0.5, which amounts to a 40-fold decline since the 1880s.




If this is the result of climate change, give us more!


Why is all of this good news being withheld by our national media?


Attribution of Weather


Even The Economist, a world-leading Alarmist, acknowledges that weather is always chaotic and that science cannot plausibly link any weather event anywhere to a small increase in GMST:


“In practice, though, there are so many influences upon the weather—famously expressed by Lorenz’s idea of a butterfly’s wingbeat in one part of the world causing a hurricane in another—that isolating any individual factor is hard. That remains true. It is not possible to say that climate change has caused any individual storm, flood or heatwave."


Dr Myles Allen of Oxford University[2] has long contended that climate computer models (GCMs) can show that heatwaves become “more probable” because of climate change. A GCM that can “hindcast” a heatwave can be run again with the AGW component subtracted, and the heatwave may not then appear.


This is disingenuous, at best. Every GCM has to be reprogrammed and endlessly ‘tweaked’ until it is able to meet the parameters prescribed by the IPCC for its CMIP6 programme. For example, it will be rejected unless it shows that most GMST increase is caused by GHG emissions and that Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS) falls between 1.5 to 4.5°C.


For weather attribution studies, the relevant grid cells must be greatly magnified to create a “regional GCM” which is then ‘tweaked’ remorselessly until it is finally able to simulate the observed heatwave with reasonable accuracy in most runs. After (probably) weeks of work, a regional heatwave-exposing GCM is supposedly constructed.


For the next step, the modeller removes one of the major foundational assumptions – such as the axiom that the local temperature is driven by AGW. Surprise! After this change, the GCM’s quite different outputs no longer disclose a heatwave. Hence, the modeller claims to have proven that the heatwave was made more probable by AGW.


This sequence is surprisingly unsophisticated. It proves nothing more than you get out what you put in. It is reminiscent of the schoolboy magician who asks you to “take away the number you first thought of”.


Of course, the climate modellers invariably cloak their efforts in black boxes described by dense jargon in page-long sentences. For a scientific rebuttal of these new ‘weather attribution studies’ see the analysis of Professor Ross McKitrick.



Summary


Although everybody knows“weather” and “climate” are as different as chalk and cheese, the media incessantly conflate the two


The UN’s IPCC (the “gold standard”) reported officially in 2021 that no change has been observed in global extreme weather events, including storms, floods, heavy precipitation, cyclones, landslides, tornadoes, hailstorms, or droughts.


The IPCC further reported that none of the above extreme events are predicted to become more frequent during the next 80 years. The only change expected is that heat records will be broken in mid-latitude areas.


Despite AGW in the last 50 years, about half the world’s climate regions have experienced cooling trends. Greenhouse warming occurs on winter nights, mainly in polar and high-latitude regions.


Neither moisture in the atmosphere (global humidity) nor tropical sea-surface temperatures has increased in the past 50 years. The equator-to-poles temperature gradient (the major determinant of global wind force) has been decreasing.


The all-time heat records of each of the 50 US States was experienced before the year 2000. Not a single State record has been set this century.


Cold weather kills 20 times as many people as hot weather


Over the past 100 years, global climate-related deaths have fallen by 96%. Totals have fallen further in each of the last three years.


The attempt to use computer models to link the ‘probability’ of an individual weather event with global GMST rise is illusory and flawed


Tailpiece


The last word goes to commentator Dr Matt Ridley, author of that great bestseller “The Rational Optimist”:


“The IPCC has consistently confirmed that there is insufficient evidence to prove a long-term increase in the frequency of floods, cyclones, tornadoes, hailstorms, lightning, or strong winds.


Every weather event is now recruited to the cause of net zero in a shameless way. Bizarrely, we are reverting, after a brief century of sanity, to the old habit of blaming somebody for every weather event.


In Peru during an El Nino in the 1400s, the Chimu civilisation sacrificed children to appease the weather gods.


The Lisbon earthquake of 1755, in which up to 60,000 people died, was no reason to doubt the goodness of God, said those who espoused theodicy, because Lisbon had earned its punishment through sin – a ridiculous assertion that elicited an angry poem from Voltaire.


We may think we live in enlightened times, but is the BBC’s determination to link any event, however local, to our sinful use of fossil fuels much different? Somebody always has to be blamed, or cancelled."

[1] NASA also notes that tropical cyclones need weak ‘wind shear’ – which strengthens proportionately to AGW [2] The chief critic of methane metric GWP



Barry Brill OBE JP LL.M(Hons) M.ComLaw is a former MP and Minister of Energy, Petrocorp director, and chair of the Gas Council, Power NZ, ESANZ, and EMCO. He is presently the Chairman of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.

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