Hot news: Climate Damage May Be Irreversible, Report Indicates

Written by S. Fred Singer


February 2, 2009
by S. Fred Singer
Bad news: President Barack Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider California’s request for a waiver from the Clean Air Act so that it can begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles. (In December 2007, then-EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson had denied the request to cut emissions from new vehicles by 30% by 2016.) If EPA grants the waiver, the matter may end up in court.

In a companion move, Mr. Obama directed the Transportation Department to finalize the interim nationwide fuel-efficiency standards called for in the 2007 energy bill. These standards would eventually require fuel-efficiency increases in the American car and light-truck fleet to roughly

35 miles per gallon by 2020 from the current average of 27 m.p.g. The California standards would require automakers to reach the same 35 m.p.g. target four years ahead of the federal timetable.

As the NYT reports (Jan 27) once California receives permission to move ahead as it surely will 13 states, and possibly more, are expected to impose similar rules. Once California receives permission to move ahead as it surely will 13 states, and possibly more, are expected to impose similar rules

Either policy will surely ruin America's auto industry - already on life support. It will offset the subsidy to automakers -- for sure: "He giveth with one hand and taketh away with the other." Seemingly, the real goal of the politicians and global-warming wackos is to do away with the automobile entirely - or at least, with the internal combustion engine (Gore's ultimate objective). When these new regs get in place, many think it will have just the opposite effect and the U.S. will turn into a sort of Cuba with the continued rebuilding of 1956 Chevys and Fords; air pollution (NOx and HC) will rise. Or there will be a popular revolt.


SEPP Science Editorial #5-09 (1/31/09)

Hot news: Climate Damage May Be Irreversible, Report Indicates.

"Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions." Susan Solomon, Gian-Kasper Plattner, Reto Knutti, and Pierre Friedlingstein.

PNAS 28 January 2009, 10.1073/pnas.0812721106

NBC Nightly News (1/26) reported on a

"disheartening finding on the environment." The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

(NOAA) says "that if carbon dioxide continues to build up unchecked in our atmosphere, then the effects of global warming could be irreversible for more than a thousand years. That could mean severe drought in some parts of the world.

Researchers conclude things are not hopeless as long as immediate action is taken to cut greenhouse gases."

ScienceDaily (1/28/2009): A new scientific study reaches a powerful conclusion about the climate change caused by future increases of carbon dioxide: to a large extent, there's no going back. The pioneering study, led by NOAA senior scientist Susan Solomon, shows how changes in surface temperature, rainfall, and sea level are largely irreversible for more than 1,000 years after carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are completely stopped.

On its front page, the Los Angeles Times

(1/27) reports, "The gas already here and the heat that has been absorbed by the ocean will exert their effects for centuries, according to an analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."* According to the report, "changes in rainfall patterns will bring droughts to the American Southwest, southern Europe, northern Africa and western Australia comparable to those that caused the 1930s Dust Bowl in the U.S." The Times adds, "Scientists familiar with the report said it emphasized the need for immediate action to control emissions."

As far as I can tell, the paper is all

bunk. Looks like PNAS is trying to outdo Science and Nature in publishing really bad science -- all to get some media publicity. Deplorable. Actually, the bunk is 5-fold. But I want to run my thinking past some fellow physicists -- before I go public and make an ass of myself:

(1) There is the fundamental issue of whether increases in CO2 produce any appreciable warming. If you read the NIPCC report, you all

know where I stand on this. The authors adopt a

climate sensitivity that is likely too high by a factor of ten. Much ado about nothing. I trust they remembered the fact that the response to increasing CO2 grows only logarithmically.

(2) Then there is the claim of increased drought (and related disasters). Ah, Clausius-Clapeyron, where are you when we need you? If the oceans warm, then there must be more evaporation and precip. Can one really trust models to know where it will rain? If circulation is affected so that the Earth's desert belts expand, then wouldn't this also guarantee more negative climate feedback from water vapor - offsetting the warming from CO2? And what about the ‘verdant Sahara' during the Holocene Warm Period?

(3) Sea-level rise. The paper produces numbers that greatly exceed those of the 2007 IPCC report (and even more those of NIPCC - 18cm per century) by ignoring the considerable offsetting effects that come from ice accumulation, mainly on the Antarctic continent.

(4) Much more subtle -- and disputed -- is the question of lifetime of CO2 increases. Is it really the complicated composite of several removal mechanisms that would let CO2 increases remain in the atmosphere for millennia? I don't think so -- but to overcome conventional wisdom I will have to make my arguments more convincing. We also have contrary empirical evidence from volcanic injections.

(5) Finally, this business of "the warming in the pipeline," which has become folklore and unchallenged since Hansen and Wigley first invented it about 20 years ago. Hansen used it recently [Science 2005] -- and now Solomon. The "pipeline principle" claims that even if GH gases are stabilized, temperatures will keep increasing because of heat stored in the oceans. Apparently, many 'skeptics' believe it also. I think it may violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics - which is a no-no for physicists like me.


1. The WashPost is somewhat critical of Obama's environmental approaches

2. Real power on enviro policy is held by EPA --- in principle

3. Why don't we drill like Brazil?

4. British climate policy in disarray

5. Elephants vs African children - Bjorn Lomborg

6. Germany uneasy about EU emissions trading scheme

7. Why kick the auto industry when it's down? - Holman Jenkins

8. The Goracle tells the Senate: We're doomed

9. Global warming poetry


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