JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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The Skeptics Handbook II

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Local Event: Gold – and Western History – plus wine, cheese, Perth Friday night

Perth readers may want to come tomorrow night as David Evans discusses the role of gold in western history.

Gold – Past, Present and Future?

Classic Nights — History of Western Civilisation An Adult Education initiative from St Augustine’s

Explores the history of gold as a medium of exchange, and its role in curbing financial shenanigans down the ages. The origins of banking, the global financial crisis, and the next decade — the world has more debt than ever before, the situation is not sustainable, and major changes of some sort are afoot. It’s a chance to discuss ideas that have shaped human history.

Current financial markers are a long way from the norm:

The welfare state enabled by the bubble in taxes, made possible by the bubble in money manufactured due to Greenspan’s policies.

To reduce the current bubble, central banks are trying to generate moderate but controlled inflation. The winners will be the borrowers (who don’t get wiped out with the volatility), the losers will be everyone else, especially the savers.

Event details below.

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New Science 25: Seven possible ways the sun could change our cloud cover

Earth and the solar wind.  | Credit: NASA/GSFC

There’s a nuclear fusion reactor in the neighborhood that weighs 300,000 times more than Earth. It’s eight minutes away at the speed of light, has 99.8% of the mass of the solar system, and surrounds us with changing magnetic and electric fields while it rains down charged particles. Some years the Sun throws ten times as much extreme-UV our way as it does in other years. Virtually none of this is included in mainstream climate models.

The constant wind of charged particles blows at a million miles an hour — the flow waves and wiggles, shifting direction. The speed of the solar wind correlates with sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic. The solar magnetic field reaches right to the edge of the solar system, but despite that size, it turns itself completely upside down every 11 years. Reconnecting magnetic field lines cause explosions in space, and we have barely started to collect data on this. During the magnetic cycle the sun changes color, though the changes are invisible to us. The spectrum rolls from more UV to [...]

Another climate model paper in Nature misses a whole class of feedbacks

It’s always the same.  A new paper adds one more magical fine-tuning-cog to the models and promises “more accurate predictions”. There are a million small cogs we can add and it takes years to show they don’t deliver. These wheels can spin forever. The real climate machine has a whole extra exhaust pipe to which the models are blind.

 Why some climate processes are more effective at warming Earth

Conventional models assume increasing atmospheric CO2 warms the surface, then apply the feedbacks to the surface warming. But if feedbacks start up in the atmosphere instead, everything changes.

The assumption (bolded below) is the problem –

There are many processes which affect the surface climate: changes to the sun’s activity, to the cloud cover, precipitation patterns, or soil water content to name just a few. Currently climate scientists relate these processes by looking at how much they change the energy budget, described by perturbations in the radiative forcing. The existing assumption is that if a given process introduces a certain radiative forcing, then there will always be the same response in the surface air temperature. However, this assumption doesn’t hold for the temperature response on [...]

New Science 24: Is that one new Solar force, or two? The Force-ND Hypothesis

Is Force X two different forces? The Sun could influence Earths climate through magnetic fields, solar particle flows, or spectral changes. | Image: ESA

There are two key clues, almost contradicting each other, which we must solve to figure out what Force X is. How do we explain that mysterious pattern — the little spike of extra sunlight each sunspot cycle doesn’t warm the Earth as it arrives — and it should. Instead, the warming appears greatly amplified 11 years later (or one sunspot cycle later). What’s going on? Logically the sunlight itself is not the direct cause, but only a signal, a leading indicator of something else going on — perhaps the solar wind, the magnetic fluxes, or the changes in the UV-Infra Red spectrum. Any one of these (or all of them) or maddeningly, even something else, could be influencing cloud cover on Earth — and some action on clouds is by far the most likely mechanism to amplify the solar effect. They blanket 60% of Earth, and small changes make large differences. We live on a Water-Planet. So having looked at the reasons for Force X, we now split it into two different forces (N and [...]

New Science 23: Four mysteries and The Force-X Hypothesis

What is Force x? The Sun could influence Earths climate through magnetic fields, solar particle flows, or spectral changes. | Image: ESA

What’s going on with the Sun?

In the last post in the climate research series we described David’s major finding that changes in total sunlight lead Earth’s temperature by one sunspot cycle. But what’s going on with the Sun — what is the mechanism? In this post David lays out four puzzling clues about solar influence on our global temperature, then puts forward a hypothesis. What force (or forces) are required to resolve all these odd points?

To recap: Both his Fourier analysis and many independent papers suggest there is a delay between total solar irradiation (TSI) and global temperature. David reasoned that the delay is a true delay, not just a smoothing effect while increased heat propagates around the planet. Because the timing is so tied to solar cycles, the trigger for the delay must start on the Sun, not on the Earth. This is not just a case of our oceans slowly absorbing the extra energy from the Sun — and there simply isn’t enough, in any case. Something quite different [...]

New Science 22: Solar TSI leads Earth’s temperature with an 11 year delay

We’re launching headlong back into the New Science series with a major post

Lots of things will fall into place — as befits a potential paradigm step forward. For decades, people have been looking to see if the Sun controlled our climate but the message was perplexingly muddy. In the long run, solar activity appears linked to surface temperatures on Earth.  (Solar activity was at a record high during the second half of the 20th century when temperatures were also high.) But when we look closely, firstly the solar peaks don’t exactly coincide with the surface temperature peaks, and secondly, the extra energy supplied during the solar peaks is far too small to do much warming. So how could changes in surface temperature be due to the Sun?

A few researchers noted an esoteric correlation of long solar cycles with lower temperatures in the next solar cycle, but mostly those papers were left on the shelf, ignored. Dr David Evans’ notch-delay solar delay theory can explain this odd pattern.

To unravel the connections David took a new approach which cleared out the dead-end complexity of the current climate research. Instead of trying to predict everything from a bottom [...]

New Science 21: The mysterious Notch in the Sun-Earth relationship — the dog that didn’t bark

The notch in the Sun-Earth relationship is the dog that didn’t bark — the clue that was there all along, telling us something about the way the Sun influences Earth’s climate. There is a flicker of extra energy coming in at the peak of every solar cycle — roughly every 11 years. It’s only a small peak, but there is no warming on Earth at all — it’s like the energy that vanished. A good skeptic would be saying but, the increase in energy is so small, how could we find it among the noise? And the answer is that Fourier maths is so good at doing this that it is used every day to find the GPS signals which (as David details below) are so much smaller than the noise that they are much harder to find than this signal from the Sun.

Thousands of engineers know about and use Fourier maths and notch filters, but due to a strange one-sided bureaucratic funding model, none of those thousands of experts have applied that knowledge, which is so well adapted to feedback systems to the Sun Earth energy flows. David has used an input-output “black box” method to find [...]

New Science 20: It’s not CO2, so what Is the main cause of Global Warming?

We are back in the hunt for the main mystery drivers of our climate. The IPCC says it can’t be the Sun because the total amount of sunlight barely changes. Which is the usual half-truth that  pretends the Sun is simple a ball of fire with no magnetic field, no solar wind, and has no changes in the “color” of the spectrum it emits. But the Sun has a massive fluxing magnetic field that turns itself inside out and upside down regularly, it churns off a stream of charged particles that rain on Earth, and if human eyes could see infra red and UV, we’d see the color of the Sun change through the cycle. We  are only just beginning to figure out how these aspects affect the climate. But we know these factors influence ozone, probably cloud seeding, and possibly jet streams.

The only good long data we have on the Sun are the sunspots, which give us a reasonable idea of total sunlight since 1610. David uses Fourier maths to find the way that total solar irradiance (TSI) might relate to temperatures on Earth. TSI itself barely changes, so it could only have caused about 10% of the variation [...]

New Science 19: The invisible nameless model that controls the whole field of climate science

Don’t underestimate the importance of the nameless basic model. It sounds small, but in the culture and philosophy of climate science it’s bigger and carries more weight than the massive hairy GCMs. Like an invisible gossamer web, it’s overarching. It spans and defines all the other models. When they produce “dumb” answers, the basic model holds them in, for thou shalt not stray too far from the climate sensitivity defined by the basic model. It defines what “dumb” is. (It’s just “basic physics” after all.) One model to bind them all. What could possibly go wrong?

A lot, apparently. The physics might be right, but the equations are calculating imaginary conditions. The answers might be arithmetically correct but useless at the same time. They miss the real route that energy flows through to space.

By definition, as long as the basic model is wrong, the GCM models can never  get it right.

It’s not like climate scientists consult the oracle of the basic model every day, or even once a year… they don’t need to. They were taught it their climate larval stage, often long before they’d written one paper. The basic model shows that the warming of [...]

New Science 18: Finally climate sensitivity calculated at just one tenth of official estimates.

Image: NASA

In years to come it may be recognized that this blog post produced the first modeled accurate figure for climate sensitivity. Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity sounds dry, but it’s the driving theme, the holy grail of climate science. The accurate figure (whatever it is) summarizes the whole entirety of  carbon dioxide’s atmospheric importance. That number determines whether we are headed for a champagne picnic or a baking apocalypse.

To calculate a better estimate, David identified the flaws of the conventional basic model, and rebuilt it. The basic climate model is the top-down approach looking at inputs and outputs of the whole system. It defines the culture and textbooks of the modern global warming movement. GCMs (the big hairy coupled global models) are bottom-up approaches, doomed to failure by trying to add up every detail and ending up drowning in mile-high uncertainty bands. But the GCMs are ultimately tweaked to arrive at a similar ballpark climate sensitivity as the textbook model for the “basic physics” dictates. Hence this core model is where the debate needs to be. (Everyone knows the GCMs are broken.)

For decades the world of conventional climate research has been stuck in a groundhog day [...]