Sultan Al Jaber, president of the Conference of the Parties 28 (COP28), has injected some pragmatism into the meeting in Dubai this week with his comment, “There is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5.”
Science can do a lot better than Al Jabar’s claim, it can show that the United Nations’ (UN) imperative of eliminating human emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels by the year 2050 (a.k.a., Net Zero 2050) is unwarranted.
Here are three recent scientific advances that, separately, could invalidate the need for Net Zero by 2050:
1. Current carbon dioxide emissions alone cannot cause an additional 3.5°C of global warming by 2100.
The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)report (AR6) warns of a worst-case scenario wherein the global average temperature is 3.5°C warmer in the year 2100 than today, mainly due to human emissions of the greenhouse gas CO2.
The 3.5°C predicted forecast is based on computer models that are riddled with pro-warming assumptions and biases that have a long history of running too hot. They are accepted by the IPCC based on the consensus of the political appointees from the UN.
In 2019 two eminent physicists, Dr. W. A. van Wijngaarden and Dr. W. Happer, developed calculations to predict the warming effect of CO2 in the atmosphere, and their results matched public-domain satellite observations.
This complies with the scientific method, which relies on observations of natural phenomena that others can replicate and challenge, and disproves the IPCC consensus.
Van Wijngaarden and Happer found that if CO2 concentrations were to continue to increase at the same rate as they do currently, which is 2.3 parts per million (ppm) each year, global warming of approximately 1.8°C over 180 years would occur. That would equate to only a 0.8°C increase by 2100.
The results of Wijngaarden and Happer’s equations are not a surprise. We will see below that buried deep in its 2023 report, the IPCC scientists came to similar conclusions.
2. The IPCC uses amplified carbon dioxide equivalent emissions to reach 3.5°C of warming.
When the IPCC states in headlines that by 2100 the average global temperature may be 3.5°C higher than today, that represents the net effect of all the human-emitted greenhouse gases (and to a minor extent human land uses).
Their models predict CO2 emissions will cause only 70% of the warming, the rest being made up of four other greenhouse gases. The headlines fail to make that distinction and convert those other gases to a carbon dioxide equivalent.
But there is another layer to peel off. Even when the IPCC states that CO2 alone (as opposed to CO2 equivalent) will cause 2.5°C of global warming, that number is at least double the value they calculated. They assume an exaggerated effect of water vapor on CO2.
Here’s how water vapor factors in: as the planet warms there will be more water vapor in the atmosphere. Water vapor is by far the largest component of the total greenhouse gas effect, but it is not human-emitted.
These facts are not disputed; the dispute arises from IPCC models assuming a strong positive water vapor feedback loop (meaning it promotes global warming).
They’re operating under the notion that CO2-induced warming increases water vapor by evaporation, which will add even more warming as a greenhouse gas, which then compounds itself by adding yet more water vapor.
NASA states that this amplification by water vapor more than doubles the warming by CO2 alone. Deep in the latest IPCC report (AR6 WGI Chapter 7 – Executive summary) is the statement: “The combined water-vapor and lapse-rate feedback makes the largest single contribution to global warming…”
In the same chapter, the lapse rate feedback (the relationship between surface air temperatures and temperatures in the upper troposphere) is confirmed as a smaller negative feedback that promotes global cooling.
If this is the case, water vapor feedback itself must be larger than the warming of CO2 by itself, thereby at least doubling it. But is this the case?
The IPCC models have long predicted this amplification will be detectable in the upper troposphere within the tropical latitudes of the Earth.
The positive feedback loop of water vapor is a key component of the UN’s claim that continued CO2 emissions will cause crisis-level global warming, yet it cannot be detected.
3. The IPCC forecast ignores the urban heat island effect.
A pattern of normal daytime highs combined with warmer nights is the signature of the urban heat island (UHI) effect.
A city’s asphalt, concrete, and brick absorb more heat during the day than the grass, trees, and water they’ve replaced. These man-made structures then release the heat at night, and ongoing human activities generate heat around the clock.
There is no controversy that the nighttime temperatures can be several degrees warmer than normal due to the UHI effect, increasing the daily average temperature at that spot.
The IPCC regards the UHI effect as a localized phenomenon, hard to determine or predict, but not a factor outside the major urban areas.
That assumption could be very wrong.
Dr. Spencer’s latest work included continental U.S. temperature data from 1895 to 2023 and analyzed it between hundreds of thousands of pairs of adjacent grid blocks.
By comparing the average temperature combined with the average population density of adjacent blocks, he found that in larger cities the UHI effect was responsible for over 50% of the total recorded warming. Most surprisingly, across the whole of the continental U.S. (urban and rural), UHI caused 24% of the 1895 to 2023 warming trend.
The UHI effect increased with time because the population of the U.S. grew by a factor of just over six times, and urban areas grew tremendously. More importantly, the data detected that UHI followed all human settlements, urban and rural, but proportional to population density.
During the same period, the world’s population grew nearly six times larger. The previously discounted UHI effect in rural areas could be a global, human-caused non-CO2-related source of warming that has been historically misattributed to CO2 warming.
Because the world’s population growth has slowed and is forecast to plateau, the hidden UHI component of the forecast trend, perhaps as large as 24%, needs to be identified and excluded.
Observed science backs Sultan Al Jaber.
Let’s summarize the three scientific advances:
- Wijngaarden and Happer’s 2019 work, consistent with satellite observations, predicts that CO2 emissions as normal will cause 0.8°C of warming from now to 2100.
- The 100%-plus amplification of CO2 by water vapor assumed by the IPCC forecast models could not be detected in Spencer’s 2015 satellite search project.
- Spencer’s 2023 work with public domain data of the UHI effect shows it is a much larger and broader non-CO2 human contributor to past global warming than the IPCC acknowledges, and it may be one of the factors the IPCC models run too hot.
Surprisingly, the worst-case IPCC model forecast of 3.5°C stripped of non-CO2 gases (70% of warming left), detached of the minimum 100% water vapor amplification (further reduced to 35% of warming left), and allowing for a 24% UHI effect is reduced to 27% of the original forecast, 0.9°C, or 0.12°C per decade.
Dr. Spencer is already famous for his work with Dr. John Christy in extracting global temperature values from satellites (which the IPCC also fails to evaluate) going back to 1979.
The 40-year satellite trend for the global average temperature has been increasing at 0.11°C per decade. The trend would have to be 0.44°C per decade to get to 3.5°C warmer by 2100.
Al Jaber wants a “roadmap for a phase-out of fossil fuels that will allow for sustainable socioeconomic development.”
This won’t happen as long as the IPCC puts their long-failed computer models of the climate, amplified by UN hysteria, ahead of the scientific method of careful observation of natural phenomena.
But thank you Al Jaber for requesting a “sober and mature conversation.” It’s long overdue. [Al Jaber has since walked back his comments after major backlash from political parties. –CCD Ed.]
Ron Barmby (www.ronaldbarmby.ca) is a Professional Engineer with a Master’s degree, whose 40+ year career in the energy sector has taken him to over 40 countries on five continents. His book, Sunlight on Climate Change: A Heretic’s Guide to Global Climate Hysteria (Amazon, Barnes & Noble), explains in layman’s terms the science of how natural and human-caused global warming work.
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