The ignorance of the Warmists


I include this graph for the general shape of the logarithmic curve.  The absolute temperatures used are open to debate.

One of the points that should be better understood, and more widely known, in the climate debate, is the fact that the theoretical warming effect of any additional atmospheric CO2 becomes lower as the overall level of atmospheric CO2 increases.  In mathematical terms, this is a logarithmic relationship.  In vernacular parlance, it’s a “Law of Diminishing Returns”.

We can put it more simply – any doubling of the level of atmospheric CO2 has the same warming effect as any other doubling.  Imagine a world with say only 200 parts per million (ppm) CO2, and we increase it to 400 ppm.  That has the same warming effect (in terms of incremental temperature) as doubling from 400 ppm to 800 ppm.  So the added CO2 between 400 and 800 ppm was only half as effective in warming terms as the CO2 we used to increase the level from 200 to 400.

If you draw a graph of warming against CO2 (see above), you get a curve that is steep to start with, but gradually gets flatter and flatter.  It never gets totally flat (it is not, as we mathematicians like to say, asymptotic), but the gradient gets very low indeed.  The more CO2 you have in the atmosphere, the less you need to worry about additional CO2.

This is not rocket science, and fortunately it is not in dispute, or not at least amongst those who know the first thing about the subject. It is one rare point of agreement between orthodox and sceptical climate scientists.  For a (slightly) more technical description, see “The relationship between carbon dioxide and radiative forcing is logarithmic, and thus increased concentrations have a progressively smaller warming effect”.

While the logarithmic/diminishing-returns point is not in dispute, the actual effect of any doubling of CO2 is disputed, because it is subject to all kinds of messy real-world factors that cut across the perfect theoretical model.  These include, notably, cloud cover, albedo, and consequent positive and negative feedbacks.  The IPCC seems to think that the effect of a doubling is around 3 to 3½oC, while many sceptical climatologists would put it at 1o or less.  But no one disputes that any doubling gives the same result, and that thus the warming effect of a given rise declines as the atmospheric CO2 level increases.

Sorry if I’ve laboured this point, but I hope now you’ll understand why I recently Tweeted: “Diminishing returns: Warmists fail to understand that the higher the level of atmospheric CO2, the less effect any additional CO2 will have”.

I wasn’t sure what response to expect, if any, but sure enough up popped the Warmist trolls, and their responses immediately proved my point — that they really did not know about diminishing returns, and they rushed to try to rubbish my Tweet.  Here comes @john3ners  “I suppose you’ll be coming up with evidence to support that claim?”  You see — he didn’t know!  Or David Tait; “And your qualifications are?”.  Actually, David, a Cambridge Maths degree.  But the speaker’s qualifications don’t make the statement right or wrong.  The facts do that.

These same trolls are constantly accusing me of being ignorant and stupid and ignoring “the science”.  Yet here their own ignorance stands revealed in all its breathtaking glory.

Or take Geoff Hickman @steppenjiff: “Quite right Rog — like when you’re already shot in the head with 3 bullets — a 4th has less impact than the 1st”.  Again, his failure to understand is writ large.  The state of being alive or dead is binary.  You’re either one or the other.  And any given shot in the head is quite likely to kill you.  This is entirely inappropriate as a metaphor for radiative forcing, where the level of atmospheric CO2, the radiative forcing effect, and the mean global temperature are all infinitely variable, and are, moreover, linked by a well-understood logarithmic relationship.

So thank you to those guys, to John and David and Geoff, for rushing to prove the point that I made in my original Tweet – that these Warmists (and Warmist trolls) who claim the cloak of science, and vilify the sceptics, actually don’t know the first thing about it.

Another example — unrelated but on the same theme (and I apologise that despite some time on Google I haven’t been able to find the link) — a Guardian journalist was discussing the alarmist warnings that global temperatures could rise by 5oC by 2100, rather than the 2oC which some Warmists say is the safe limit.  She (I think I recall that it was a she) had clearly been told to use both Fahrenheit and Centigrade.  But she converted 2oC and 5oC as absolute temperatures, when of course she was talking about temperature increments.  So she came out with 2oC as 35.6oF, and 5oC as 41oC.  Correct as absolute temperatures, but nonsense as increments.  She meant 3.6oF and 9oF respectively.  Those who would like to be regarded as authorities on these issues need to take a little more care.



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12 Responses to The ignorance of the Warmists

  1. grumpydenier says:

    Considering that most warmists tend to be socialists, is it any wonder that they don’t understand The Law of Diminishing Returns?

    Their whole credo is based on ignoring it.

  2. John Poynton says:

    Nice one. There is also the point that all science is only theory – theory that has yet to be disproved. To hear the warmists talk it is clear they are confusing science (inherently uncertain) with fact (historical observation). Even Newton’s Laws of Motion were eventually disproved by Einstein and Plank when beyond the boundaries of everyday life.

    Given the massive political and economic risks involved with increasing energy costs, you would have though they would take a more prudent and balanced approach. But like the EU itself, they are fanatical. For them the ends justify the means. And we saw plenty of that during the 20th Century. The sort of cost increases they envisage are simply not politically sustainable.

  3. Ex-expat Colin says:

    BH picked it up:
    Fiona Harvey, award winning environment writer for the Guardian, struggles with mathematics

    I guess no science subject was in her schooling or none that she remembered…. or might reference to.

  4. omanuel says:

    The UN’s Paris Climate Conference is the latest in seventy years (1945-2015) of ‘scientific’ deception about the Creator and Sustainer of every atom, life and planet in the solar system,

    The last of ~500 years (1543-2015) denying the influence on humanity of the fountain of energy Copernicus reported at the gravitational center of the solar system in 1543.

    After atomic bombs revealed the Sun’s real source of energy in 1945, B2FH published a pseudo-‘scientific’ story of creation (element synthesis in stars) in 1957.

    B2FH’s values of neutron-capture cross sections and abundances of seventy-two (72) types of atoms produced by neutron-capture in the Sun in fact refute the conclusions of the B2FH paper, as noted at the 2005 Lunar Science Conference [O. Manuel, W. A. Myers, Y. Singh and M. Pleess, “Solar abundance of elements from neutron-capture cross sections,” Thirty-Sixth Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, paper number 1033 (March 2005)]:

    Those data show the interior of the Sun is mostly iron (Fe), as was well known in the scientific community in 1945. (See pp 153-154 of Fred Hoyle’s 1994 autobiography on sudden changes in solar physics in 1946):

    Thank you for helping society regain contact with reality (God, Truth).

    With kind regards,

    ~Oliver K. Manuel

  5. Jane Davies says:

    To use a quote from this article…..
    “Trapped inside this vast, fortified canvas palace of self-congratulation, with a staggering 40,000 people preaching to the converted – politicians, bag-carriers, lobbyists, pressure groups and ‘activists’ (including a posse of women who have flown all the way from Australia dressed as guardian angels) – it is easy to feel that this may indeed be the biggest thing since the Resurrection.
    But then comes a point when a nagging doubt sets in. Perhaps it was the moment Zimbabwe’s despot, Robert Mugabe, shuffled on to the stage yesterday afternoon, blamed everything on the imperialist nations and shuffled off again.”

    We are all being conned big time, all of these 40,000 people have flown in gas guzzling and pollution spewing jets from all over the world to discuss how stop people guzzling gas and polluting the air we breathe
    What is certain the upshot will be ordinary Joe’s like you and me will end up paying more for everything.

  6. Mike Sugar says:

    Roger, there are 10 types of people that understand binary – those that do, and those that don’t.

  7. Ian Terry says:

    Very good post Roger.

    When are all these numpties going to stop talking about and scaring the worlds population by changing their attacks on you and like minded people by talking about the problem if it really exists and not just solutions.

    It all adds up to the £trillion dollar con.

    A curse on all their houses

  8. I have contact with two people, now rapidly approaching their 40 birthday. For them both, Global Warming, like Homophobia and Humanist Atheism are fundamental truths. If you question them, you get either an angry silence or, if they are drunk, loud desperate abuse.
    They are, in no way, skilled mathematicians although both hold down professional jobs.

  9. omanuel says:

    Both sides in yesterday’s Senate Hearing on AGW – Data or Dogma ignored this empirical fact: The Sun is the Creator & Sustainer of every atom, life and planet in the solar system !

    After watching the entire debate, I am convinced the AGW debate cannot be won if AGW doubters accept the false premise of AGW believers: The Sun is NOT the Creator & Sustainer of every atom, life and planet in the solar system !

    Climatology itself has too much uncertainty and too few issues to be settled with yes/no answers. E.g.,

    _ a.) Does interstellar hydrogen collapse into stars, or

    _ b.) Do stars make and discard hydrogen to interstellar space?

  10. Pingback: Straight Talking: The EFDD's new EU alliance, COP21, and The "hottest" year on record -

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