From: Burl Henry
Date:01/24/2015 5:00 PM (GMT-06:00)
To: Chris Keating
Subject: The Role of SO2 in Climate Change
Back in 1977, the Nobel prize for peace was awarded to Albert Gore and the IPCC for their work in promoting the theory that global warming was caused by greenhouse gasses, and that, based upon computer simulations, increasing amounts of these gasses in the atmosphere would eventually cause runaway warming, with disastrous consequences for the planet.
At the time, this appeared to be a plausible explanation for the observed warming, since CO2 levels in the atmosphere were clearly rising. However, for the past 16 years or so, there has been a "pause" (no statistically significant warming) in the warming trend, leaving climate scientists around the world scratching their heads for an explanation, since this was not predicted by any of their models.
After studying the problem, I find that it can be proved, from published data, that the observed warming was actually a "side effect" of the American Clean Air Acts (1970, 1990) and similar efforts abroad, and had nothing to do with greenhouse gasses.
Just as the global cooling caused by a large volcanic eruption ends after its emissions have settled out of the atmosphere, warming will naturally occur whenever other pollutants are removed. As the Clean Air efforts were implemented, warming gradually occurred (the hockey stick)--as it HAD to--but the warming was wrongly attributed to greenhouse gas emissions rather than simply to the cleaner, more transparent air (fewer dimming aerosols to weaken the sun's rays)
(This climatic response can be considered to be a "Law of Nature", since some warming will naturally occur whenever a pollutant haze is removed from the atmosphere)
For example, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 injected 17-22 Megatons of SO2 (plus other fine particulate matter) into the stratosphere, resulting in 0.4-0.5 deg.C. of global cooling. As the pollution settled out, temperatures rose to pre-eruption levels, due to decreased dimming, an increase of 0.4-0.5 deg. C. from the nadir. Using the averages of 0.45 deg.C and 19.5 Megatons, this represents a temperature rise of approx. .023 deg. C. for each Megaton of SO2 removed.
Again, simply removing pollution from the air will cause surface temperatures to naturally rise,due to greater insolation (warming of the earth's surface).
The global atmospheric loading of dimming anthropogenic SO2 aerosols peaked around 1972 at approx 126 Megatons, and by year 2000, due to Clean Air efforts, SO2 emissions in the West were reduced by about 56 Megatons, a reduction of 44%. However, in the same time period, SO2 emissions in the East rose by about 28 Megatons, for a net decrease of 28 Megatons.
(The changing loading of SO2 in the atmosphere is nicely shown in the graph "Global Anthropogenic SO2 Emissions" in the paper "Anthropogenic Sulfur Dioxide Emissions: 1850-2005" by S.J. Smith, et al. This graph was compiled by Robert A. Rhode from published data. Most of the SO2 levels cited herein were carefully extracted from that graph.
Applying the ".023 deg. C. per Megaton of SO2 removed" relationship to the 28 Megatons of SO2 removed, 1972-2000, gives an expected temperature rise of 0.64 deg. C. This is essentially identical to the amount of anomalous warming that actually occurred, leaving NO room for, or any indication of, warming due to greenhouse gasses.
The fact that an empirically-derived factor from the Mount Pinatubo eruption accurately predicts the amount of temperature rise resulting from the removal of 28 Megatons of dimming anthropogenic aerosols due to Clean Air efforts proves that the climatic effect of removing stratospheric and tropospheric aerosols and dust is identical.
It also proves that the IPCC "Graph of Radiative Forcings" is incorrect, since it fails to include any forcing due to the removal of dimming anthropogenic aerosols from the atmosphere
The ultimate test of any hypothesis lies in it ability to make accurate predictions. Here, it accurately predicted the amount of warming that would occur if a net 28 Megatons of anthropogenic SO2 aerosols were removed from the atmosphere.
Another example: Between 2000 and 2005, there was an additional decrease of 4.2 Megatons of SO2 emissions in the West, and an increase of 5.0 Megatons elsewhere, for a net increase of 0.8 Megaton, representing a rise of only .023 x 0.8 = .024 deg. C (illustrating the "pause"--which is simply areas with decreasing emissions offsetting those with increasing emissions as they diffuse through the atmosphere.
In contrast, the models incorporating CO2 shown in the IPCC fourth assessment report (Fig. SPM 5) projected an increase of 0.8-1.2 deg. C.--which did not happen.
A third example: During the 1930's depression era, anthropogenic SO2 levels decreased by approx. 29 Megatons, largely due to decreased industrial activity. Using the ".023" factor, a temp. rise of 0.68 deg. C would be expected--again, essentially identical to that which did occur.
The accuracy of the above three cited examples proves that the ".023 deg. C. temp. rise for each Megaton of SO2 removed" factor is basically correct (although some minor tweaking might be needed, as it is more closely examined). Conversely, an increase in the amount of SO2 in the atmosphere will cause a decrease in global temperatures.
Another example of the cooling effect of SO2 aerosols: In the period 1960-1972, the atmospheric loading of SO2 increased from 91 Megatons to 126 Megatons, an increase of 35 Megatons. Using the ".023" factor, a temperature decrease of about 0.8 deg. C. would be expected--again basically correct (This was the era when there were worries about the dawn of a new Ice Age).
The correlations noted above should make it possible to predict ensuing temperature changes based upon changing levels of SO2 in the air (apart from any changes due to changes in solar irradiance)-
Hundreds of billions of dollars and much human misery have been caused by efforts to reduce atmosphere CO2 levels (which, as I have shown, have had no detectable warming effect), and SO2 levels to the point where excessive warming has occurred. It is unfortunate, but continued efforts to clean the air will only cause more warming and misery, not less..
As the climatologist Beate Liepert once remarked "We thought we live in a global warming world, but this is actually not right. We live in a global warming plus a global dimming world and now we are taking out the global dimming. So we end up with a global warming world, which will be much worse than we thought, much hotter".
Let's give Mr. Henry the benefit of the doubt on his start. Al Gore and the IPCC received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, not 1977. Let's just say that was a typo on the part of Mr. Henry.
The Nobel Peace Prize 2007 was awarded jointly to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change"
That description is considerably different than Mr. Henry's description of their award as:
for their work in promoting the theory that global warming was caused by greenhouse gasses, and that, based upon computer simulations, increasing amounts of these gasses in the atmosphere would eventually cause runaway warming, with disastrous consequences for the planet.
I can't give him a pass on this one. It took me all of about 5 seconds (and I had to correct a typo on my search) to get the exact wording of the award. So, why didn't Mr Henry make the effort to be accurate? This is a political statement, not a scientific one.
Mr Henry's next paragraph is full of factually incorrect statements. There has been no "pause" and warming has continued unabated. Take a look at this graph and explain to me how warming has stopped:
We know that 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded. We know the 15 years since the turn of the century have all been in the top 20 hottest years ever recorded and the probability of that is about 1 in 1.5 quadrillion. The facts are there, there has been no pause in global warming. Mr. Henry was incorrect about that.
Ultimately, this claim of a "pause" is a false argument and very deceptive. It fails the test in two ways. First, the claim is based on the idea of doing a comparison between 1998 and today. Take a loot at the graph above. You can see 1998 was an abnormally hot year. Still, if you draw a line from 1998 to today you get positive warming. But, try this and see how it is a false argument. Instead of using 1998, use 1999. Mr. Henry stated there has been no warming "for the past 16 years or so." If you can count starting in 1998, then 1999 certainly falls within that time frame and we can easily see there has been considerable warming between 1999 and today. Further, try this again using 1997 and you get the same result, considerable warming between then and now. This is know as cherry picking and it is one of the favorite false arguments of deniers. What is disturbing about their claim is they are telling us the exceptional year of 1998 is not the the routine year of today. We have reached the point where 1998 is 'the good old days.'
Look at it this way: The 1980s where the hottest decade ever recorded at the time. Every year of the 1990s was hotter than the average of the 1980s, making it the hottest decade ever recorded at the time. Every year of the 2000s was hotter than the average of the 1990s, making it the hottest decade ever recorded at the time. Every year of the 2010s has been hotter than the average of the 2000s, making this decade the hottest ever recorded. So far.
The second way it is false is because he has failed to include 93% of global warming - the warming of the oceans.
If you wish to say the rate of warming has slowed down, that is fine. But, when you say the warming has stopped, that is a completely false statement.
And, Mr. Henry continues to be in error with his statement of models. Take a look:
|Source: Nature Geoscience (via The Guardian)|
The model forecast from the 1990s is the dashed black line. The actual measurements are the yellow triangles and the red line is the 10-year running average. As you can easily see, repeated claims that models are not accurate are complete false. So, why do deniers keep repeating it? This is just one example. There are many more. Take a look here. Here's another. The argument about models is both false and a false argument. As we have seen, models are actually quite accurate. But, so what? We are talking about the real world, not some numerical representation. This is what is known as a strawman. The deniers are trying to take the attention off the real problem - global warming - and bring up a new topic - climate models. Stick to the topic, Mr. Henry.
Mr. Henry then goes into his claim that global warming is nothing more than a consequence of the Clean Air Act. He has been pushing this claim on this website since last summer when I was running the Global Warming Skeptic Challenge. You can see his submission and my response here and his resubmission with my second response here. He has also continued to push his claim in many comments. Now, he is back for another try. Clearly, Mr. Henry is just not satisfied with any science that is counter to his claims.
For instance, he states,
As the Clean Air efforts were implemented, warming gradually occurred (the hockey stick)--as it HAD to--but the warming was wrongly attributed to greenhouse gas emissions rather than simply to the cleaner, more transparent air (fewer dimming aerosols to weaken the sun's rays)
Wait, a minute. The Clean Air Act was passed in the U.S. in 1963. Here is the hockey stick:
Yikes! Not a match. I don't know why he made a reference to the hockey stick, but it wasn't a good one. But, we aren't concerned with the historical record, just the record since 1963.Take a look:
When we examine this record, we can see the global temperature starts rising right around 1964, just after the Clean Air Act was passed. Does Mr. Henry have a point? From this data alone, you might think so. The problem is this - The Clean Air Act was an American law, not international one. We need to take a look at global SO2 emissions. After all, that is the gist of Mr. Henry's claim. If the temperature changes in tandem with changes in the the SO2 levels, he might have a point. Now, it doesn't have to change perfectly in synch with the SO2 levels changes, but we need to see temperature go up when SO2 goes down, and vice versa.
This plot shows worldwide SO2 emissions:
This plot shows there is a nearly continuous rise in SO2 levels between sometime in the 1940s until about 1980. It then drops from roughly 1980 until 1990 before rising again until the mid-1990s, then dropping again. What is not shown in this graph, but is reported elsewhere, is that the SO2 levels continued to rise after the turn of the century.
Now, compare that to the temperature record. The temperature record rose almost continuously for the entire period. There was one drop in the early 1990s and that is attributed to the eruption of Mt Pinatubo in 1991. Based on Mr. Henry's hypothesis and the SO2 record, we would expect to see the temperature drop until 1980, rise from 1980 until 1990, then drop until the mid-1990s (with consideration for Mt Pinatubo), then rising again. And, based on the 21st century SO2 levels, we would expect to see the temperature drop again.
But, in fact, the temperature record does not show that. There is a very poor correlation between the actual temperature record and the expected temperature based on Mr. Henry's hypothesis.
We can conclude there is, at best, only a neglible effect on global temperature based on the Clean Air Act. Even worldwide emissions from all countries fails to account for the rise in the global temperature record.
It is fair to say Mr. Henry's hypothesis does not pass scientific scrutiny.
So, where did he go wrong?
There are two fatal flaws in his claim. The first claim is he equates U.S. SO2 emissions to worldwide emissions. The fact that the U.S. (and even Europe) decreased their emissions does not mean the world did and we can see, in fact, the worldwide emissions continued to climb long after the Clean Air Act was enacted.
The second fatal flaw is his belief that SO2 in the stratosphere is the same as SO2 in the troposphere and this is not true. The daily SO2 emissions from industry creates an SO2 density of about 1 part per billion. Mt Pinatubo created a density of about 15 parts per billion, about 15 times as great. For this reason, you cannot equate an amount of SO2 from Mt Pinatubo to an equal amount of SO2 from industry. One lingers and builds higher concentration levels than the other.
I am 100% convinced Mr. Henry is convinced of the validity of his claim, but it doesn't matter how many times he says it, the science just does not support his claim.
This claim has now been submitted three times and been shown to be scientifically invalid three times.
Additionally, readers of this blog have been subjected to Mr. Henry's comments that simply reject the data and the science. I know he will not be satisfied, but that is what happens when you decide to reject science.
I will not accept anymore submissions on this topic. The horse is dead. Stop beating on it.