One estimate is that the world is spending about $1.5 trillion per year on “green energy.” Never in the history of the world has so much been spent on the basis of so little valid science. The general circulation (computer) models (GCMs) relied upon by the UN and EPA consistently substantially overestimate the actual temperatures measured by both balloons and satellites and are inherently incapable of predicting climate due to its chaotic nature even if built in good faith.
But just as serious, very little effort has been devoted to determining whether the models’ characterization of natural atmospheric processes actually corresponds with the real world and whether the alarmists’ hypotheses survive use of the scientific method. Building a GCM does not guarantee that it corresponds with reality rather than the answers the model builders desired. Modelers, in fact, apply much “tuning” to get their models to produce the results they desire. And then they have the nerve to argue that the models show that the world must reduce CO2 emissions!
The models have never been validated. “Green energy” is being marketed on the basis of preventing both climate change and higher levels of atmospheric CO2. But what if neither of these claims nor many others used by climate alarmists are scientifically valid and that the principal results of using more green energy are much higher costs and decreased reliability of the energy needed by humans and the economy?
An Important Example: The Thunderstorm Thermostat Hypothesis
All this is not just words on a page. The climate system is immensely complicated, not the simple CO2-dependent system portrayed by the IPCC. One of the many problems with building GCMs is that Earth’s climate system includes a number of “emergent phenomena” which only appear when certain conditions occur. Perhaps the best known example is hurricanes. Even trends in hurricane occurrence cannot be predicted with much accuracy. But probably the most important emergent phenomenon goes by the name of the thunderstorm thermostat hypothesis. This Hypothesis, summarized here, is that tropical clouds and thunderstorms actively regulate atmospheric temperatures when certain thresholds are exceeded. In these circumstances, this appears to keep the atmosphere from catastrophic temperature increases in areas where the thresholds are exceeded regardless of likely changes in atmospheric CO2, contrary to the IPCC’s analyses.
When surface temperature and humidity reach a threshold, clouds form which reduce incoming energy from the sun reaching the surface, particularly in Earth’s vast oceanic tropics (where a disproportionate portion of it enters the climate system), while daily afternoon thunderstorms remove enough heat from surface areas to bring surface temperatures back into line. This process prevents surface temperatures from significantly exceeding threshold levels (and therefore rules out the alarmists’ Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming hypothesis in these areas) and controls maximum and minimum temperatures in these areas. This emergent phenomenon is ignored by the IPCC despite its evident importance to global temperatures, and it appears impossible to predict no matter how complicated the GCMs may become.
It also means that no likely reduction in the level of atmospheric CO2 can change these critical temperatures, contrary to the conclusions of the IPCC. They appear to be determined by basic physical properties of the climate system. The thunderstorm thermostat hypothesis is far from settled science, but it is clearly a much better hypothesis (in terms of explaining the available data) than the IPCC’s assumption that global temperatures are determined primarily by changes in atmospheric CO2 levels. So this example concerning just one of the emergent phenomena shows how difficult, if not impossible, it is to build a model to predict what the climate system will do. It may also partially explain why the Wallace et al., 2016 report does not show any significant temperature effects from higher atmospheric CO2 in the real world, contrary to the basic finding of all the IPCC reports. The hypothesis would appear to offer an explanation of such findings in areas where the hypothesis applies, but not elsewhere. But it does raise further questions concerning the validity of the models on which the alarmist viewpoint is based.
The recent Wallace et al., 2016 report, which is summarized here, also shows that the tropical hot spot, which EPA used as one of its three principal lines of evidence for its Endangerment Finding does not exist.
Yet it is these same GCM models that the climate alarmists depend on for their policy conclusions and as the basis for spending the $1.5 trillion per year. With all the unmet needs on Earth, does the developed world not have some productive use for the $1.5 trillion?